China: IBA Human Rights Institute deplores travel ban imposed by China’s authorities on Mo Shaoping and He Weifang

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) deplores the Chinese Government’s decision to prevent travel to the United Kingdom of two law experts, Professor He Weifang and Mo Shaoping. Both had been issued British visas and were scheduled to speak at a panel discussion on the independence of lawyers in China on Wednesday 10 November 2010 in London. – The event will go ahead tomorrow.

Professor He Weifang, a law professor at Beijing University and a long-standing advocate of judicial reform in China, and Mo Shaoping, a Beijing based human rights lawyer who represented, among others, 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, were prevented by Chinese authorities from boarding their flight today at Beijing Capital International Airport.

Everyone should be allowed to travel freely and discuss their experiences and the challenges faced by the legal profession regardless of jurisdiction. Discussion forums are essential to promote informative debate and fruitful exchanges,’ said Mark Ellis, IBA Executive Director. ‘The decision to prevent Mo Shaoping and He Weifang from travelling to London illustrates the importance of holding discussions such as the one organised on the independence of lawyers in China. We call upon China’s Government to reverse the travel ban immediately.

Martin Šolc, IBAHRI Co-Chair commented, ‘Lawyers should not be subjected to harassment because they articulate a particular opinion on the country’s justice system. Neither should the type of cases they undertake, or the clients they represent be seen as reason to harass them.’ He added, ‘We are disappointed that China’s authorities have taken such an oppressive stance. Not allowing Mo Shaoping and He Weifang to travel freely deprives China from participating in an open discussion about issues that are clearly of concern for both the country and the international community.’

The remaining invited speakers are: Professor Fu Hualing, law professor at the University of Hong Kong, who teaches on human rights and has written about the challenges faced by the legal profession in China; and Professor Jerome Cohen, who will join the debate via videoconference link, is the law professor at New York University and an advocate of legal reform in China.

The discussion will take place on Wednesday 10 November 2010, from 17h30 to 19h30, at University College London, Cruciform Building, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT, Lecture Theatre 1, and will be followed by a wine reception.

Attendance is free but registration is essential. Please register with Jemma.McVey@int-bar.org. Simultaneous interpretation from Mandarin to English will be offered. When registering, please indicate whether you require translation headsets or not.

ENDS

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