The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) condemns the reported assault on lawyer and human rights activist Wu Liangshu by courtroom officers following his attempt to file a case in Qingxui District Court in Nanning, China.
Mr Wu has stated that on 3 June 2016 court officials accused him of illegally recording a court session on his mobile phone and that, in the presence of two judges, while being searched for the phone he was partially stripped, beaten and stamped on by court guards. According to Mr Wu, his phone was broken, seized and its content examined by the court’s officers, who found no evidence of a recording.
IBAHRI Co-Chair Baroness Helena Kennedy QC commented: ‘In the context of the crackdown on lawyers in China, begun almost a year ago on 9 July 2015, the reported attack on Wu Liangshu demonstrates the increasingly hazardous environment in which lawyers are carrying out their work in the country. The harassment of or interference with a lawyer in the course of carrying out his or her professional duties is in direct contradiction to the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers – specifically, clause 16, which states, “Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference…”. The IBAHRI calls on China’s authorities to respect and abide by such international norms.’
A government investigation into the incident found that Mr Wu was ‘not subject to intentional harm or physical assault’, but ordered the court to apologise and compensate him. Mr Wu has rejected the apology, demanded the court replace his phone, provide compensation and release the footage from the surveillance cameras to corroborate his version of events.
The IBAHRI notes that according to a report recently released by Amnesty International, Mr Wu was questioned about his professional activities by the authorities on 14 July 2015. Amid an almost year-long period of widespread arrests, detentions and the harassment of more than 300 human rights lawyers and activists, the questioning demonstrates that Mr Wu was known for championing human rights.
Notes to the Editor
The IBAHRI has raised concerns about the treatment of lawyers and rights activists in China over the years, and remains vigilant as abuses continue. Since July 2015, over 300 lawyers and activists have been subjected to harassment, restriction of their freedom of movement, arbitrary arrest and detention and the denial of effective legal assistance. In an open letter to His Excellency Mr Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, the IBAHRI expressed its concern.
The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Through its global membership of individual lawyers, law firms, bar associations and law societies, it influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world.
The IBA’s administrative office is in London, United Kingdom. Regional offices are located in: São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington, DC, United States, while the International Bar Association’s International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law Programme (ICC & ICL) is managed from an office in The Hague, the Netherlands.
The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), an autonomous and financially independent entity, works with the global legal community to promote and protect human rights and the independence of the legal profession worldwide.
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