GENEVA 16 July 2015 – Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E Méndez joined group of other UN human rights experts to urge Chinese authorities to stop what appears to be a targeted campaign of intimidation of lawyers.
More than 100 lawyers have allegedly been arrested and detained or interrogated since July 9, 2015 in direct connection with their legal work. Most are believed to have been working on human rights-related cases, with many representing well known political dissidents, journalists and artists.
“In societies governed by the rule of law, lawyers advocate within the legal system on behalf of clients, even where their personal views may differ from the clients’ views,” the independent experts stated. “Lawyers should never have to suffer prosecution or any other kind of sanctions or intimidation for discharging their professional duties.”
The experts are concerned that these arrests and detentions are in direct contravention of the Chinese Criminal Procedure Code, the UN Basic Principles of the Role of Lawyers, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They further emphasized that “as one of the three main actors of an independent justice system, lawyers have an essential role to play in protecting human rights, in particular due process and fair trial guarantees, and ultimately contribute greatly to ensuring respect for the rule of law.”