UPR on China - Empty answers on protecting lawyers’ rights and ensuring procedural justice

On 22nd October 2013, the 17th Session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was held in Geneva, with country representatives reviewing China’s human rights. Despite China’s alliances congratulating China on her human rights achievements, China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group is disappointed with China’s empty answers on protecting lawyers’ rights and ensuring procedural justice.

Representatives of Finland, Canada, Hungary and Cape Verde made recommendations specifically on rights of lawyers, recommending that Chinese government should ensure lawyers in practice face no oppression or obstruction.

China responded the countries’ concern with little relevance to measures protecting rights of lawyers. Representatives of China provided figures of lawyers and law firms in China and the fact that lawyers are involved in the legislation of certain business and property law. Even with more than 20 lawyers disbarred for representing human rights defenders in the past few years, the delegation claimed that lawyers’ rights are safeguarded in China.

Country representative of United States also recommended the Chinese government to immediately release Xu Zhiyong and Yang Moudong (Guo Feixiong), which was not responded by China.

Chairperson of China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group Albert Ho said that China had not taken the criticisms of human rights violations by other countries seriously. It gave no positive response to various recommendations, including the repeated request to ratify ICCPR, which was raised even by some African countries that had close relationships with China. It also refused to made promise to, if not abolish, reduce or improve the transparency of the execution of death penalty.

China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group is disappointed with the Chinese government using increasing numbers of lawyers and litigations as an indicator of improvement in judicial system. An established judicial system should be one with laws protecting human rights, independent courts and lawyers who can deliver legal services without obstruction, regardless of the nature of cases they handle. Sadly, the Chinese delegation mentioned no measures to ensure the independence of courts and citizens’ access to justice.

China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group continues to call for the international community to reject China’s bid for membership in Human Rights Council.