China: call for action at UN on lawyers and other human rights defenders

The ICJ and other NGOs have written to States urging action on human rights in China, at the upcoming March 2017 session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The joint letter highlights continuing concerns about arbitrary arrests, detentions, denial of access to lawyers, incommunicado and secret detention, and unfair trials of lawyers and other human rights defenders, as well as unjustified restrictions on freedom of expression, alongside other human rights issues in the country.

The letter calls on States at the Council to, among other things:

  • Insist that China uphold its obligations to prevent, punish and remedy torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, including by ordering prompt, impartial, independent investigations into reports of torture of detained lawyers and human rights defenders.
  • Urge China to amend or repeal the Overseas NGO Management Law, which contradicts international human rights standards and undermines the independence of civil society.
  • Call for the repeal or revision of the Counter-Terrorism Law, and speak out against the increasing use of national security legislation and draft ‘regulations on religious affairs’ to criminalise and harass those exercising freedom of thought, conscience and religion and freedom of expression.

The letter comes as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed similar concerns, stating  that, “Lawyers should never have to suffer prosecution or any other kind of sanctions or intimidation for discharging their professional duties”, emphasising that lawyers have an essential role to play in protecting human rights and the rule of law, and urging the Government of China “to release all of them immediately and without conditions.”

The joint letter can be downloaded in PDF format here: UN-HRC34-China-JointLetter-Advocacy-2017

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