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Article

18 Feb 2016

Author:
UN News Centre

China’s clampdown on lawyers and activists draws concern of UN human rights chief, China responds

"China’s clampdown on lawyers and activists draws concern of UN human rights chief", 16 Feb 2016

The top United Nations human rights official announced today he has sought clarifications from the Chinese authorities about the recent arrests of lawyers, and intimidation of Government critics and workers of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), describing these incidents as “a very worrying pattern” that has serious implications for the activities of civil society there.

“Civil society actors, from lawyers and journalists to NGO workers, have the right to carry out their work, and it is the States’ duty to support and protect them,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement.

He raised such cases with Chinese officials in Geneva, and acknowledged their efforts to clarify the matters at issue. However, their responses indicate that the authorities “too often reflexively confuse the legitimate role of lawyers and activists with threats to public order and security,” he said.

Police have detained about 250 human rights lawyers, legal assistants, and activists across the country since a nationwide crackdown began last July, although many were subsequently released. Last month, 15 additional human rights lawyers were formally arrested, 10 of them for the crime of ‘subversion of State power,’ which carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison. Among those facing that particular charge are leading human rights lawyers Li Heping and Wang Yu…

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