Lawyers continue to face systemic persecution for defending human rights in China, the Law Society of England and Wales warned.
The Law Society has raised its concerns with the United Nations (UN) as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
The continuing erosion of judicial independence and the independence of the legal profession in China remains a worry.
Lawyers have been subject to harassment, surveillance, politically motivated prosecutions, unfair trials, arbitrary deprivation of liberty, enforced disappearances and torture – largely due to the types of cases and clients they represent.
According to the Law Society, when lawyers find themselves detained, they are denied access to effective legal assistance, leaving them vulnerable to human rights abuses.
Many lawyers are suspended or disbarred with little justification and pressured to demonstrate their political allegiance to the ruling party.
The Chinese authorities’ intimidation tactics have a chilling effect on human rights and the rule of law. It fosters a climate of fear and insecurity for lawyers carrying out crucial work to speak out against the severe abuse of state powers taking place throughout the country.
The Chinese government is not only undermining the independence of the legal profession, but it is also obstructing access to justice and preventing the effective exercise of human rights in the country.
The Law Society has told the UN that it is critical the Chinese government ensures the safety, independence and human rights of lawyers in order to comply with international human rights standards.