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【Strongly Condemn the Chinese Government’s Administrative Suppression against Lawyer Liu Zhengqing】

On 25 Dec 2018, lawyer Liu Zhengqing from Guangdong province received an “Advance Notification of Administrative Penalty” and a “Notification of Hearing on Administrative Penalty” from Department of Justice of Guangdong Province. Lawyer Liu is alleged to have delivered speeches that “endangered state security” and constituted “malicious defamation” in his statements of defense, and therefore violated “Administrative Measures for the Practice of Law by Lawyers”. The authorities now set to revoke Liu’s legal practice license. Lawyer Liu is the 26th rights lawyer who has suffered the administrative suppression since September 2017. In light of this, we strongly condemn the Chinese government’s manoeuvre – repeatedly deprive human rights lawyer’s right to practice through administrative punishment.

 

Lawyer Liu Zhengqing is an experienced human rights lawyer who specializes in criminal defense. In recent years, he has taken up several “politically sensitive” cases, including the cases of 709 lawyer Xie Yang, Qing Yongmin, Huang Qi and Zhang Haitao. The authorities have been employing “administrative punishment” as a means to suppress rights lawyers. As lawyer Liu is a well-known human rights lawyer who nobly represents numerous sensitive cases, we strongly question the administrative penalty imposed on lawyer Liu is in fact a form of reprisal and suppression.
 

Lawyers’ roles and duties are to defend their clients. According to Article 16 of “UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers”, the member states of United Nations shall ensure that lawyers “are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, or improper interference”, and “shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.” Making a statement of defense is a fundamental means for lawyers to uphold clients’ rights as well as to perform their professional duties. Ironically, however, this administrative penalty is exactly made against the statements in lawyer Liu’s defense, undoubtedly undermining the freedom of speech.
 

We hereby solemnly demand the Chinese authorities and Department of Justice of Guangdong Province to:

1. Ensure the hearing is open to the public. From the experiences of previous hearings on administrative penalty, it is a common phenomenon that the public were barred from attending the hearing by unidentified people and public security officers. The public’s right to know is thus severely undermined. We call on the court to allow the public as well as lawyers to attend the hearing without restriction or intimidation;

 

2. Immediately withdraw all the decisions in respect of administrative penalty made against lawyer Liu Zhengqing and other human rights lawyers in the past;

 

3. Ensure lawyers are able to perform professional functions without intimidation or hindrance; and shall not suffer prosecution or administrative penalty for any speech or action taken in accordance with their professional duties;

 

4. Duly abide by “the Chinese Constitution”, “Lawyers Law” as well as the regulations concerning the protection of lawyers’ rights in the “Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers” of United Nations, respecting lawyers’ right to practice and their civil rights.

 

China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group

3rd January 2019