German Bar Association (DAV) statement on detentions of Chinese lawyers

Original in German:

English translation done by a volunteer

Press Release (Legal Affairs)
PM 26/15: Wave of detentions of Chinese Lawyers

DAV demands clarification by Chinese authorities

Berlin (DAV). The situation of lawyers in China has worsened in a dramatic manner. In the course of a nationwide campaign, numerous colleagues engaged in the defence of the human rights of others have been detained or ‚disappeared.‘ Moreover, the officers of at least three law firms have been searched, according to Amnesty International’s information. The German Lawyers‘ Association is gravely concerned that these Chinese lawyers might become victims of torture and abuses.

'The severe measures taken by the Chinese authorities against lawers and other representatives of civil society have frankly speaking shocked me very much. We will not stop demanding the protection of human rights and human rights defenders,' said Lawyer Ulrich Schellenberg, President of the German Bar Association. He expressed himself appalled by the fact that these detentions happened very shortly after the 15th German-Chinese Rule of Law Dialogue in Peking on July 6 and 7.

In a letter to Chinese minister Song Dahan, Schellenberg asked for information on the reasons for the detentions and for the searching of law firm offices, and on the whereabouts of his colleagues. He also demanded compliance with international standards the regarding the treatment of lawyers, which China has legally obligated itself to respect.

The president of the German Bar Association calls on the German Minister of Justice, Heiko Maas, to stand up for our Chinese colleagues. In his view, working on realising lawyers’ independence, as well as other conditions necessary for lawyers to represent their clients’ interests in an effective manner, should be given the highest possible priority, also on a political level, and especially in Sino-German exchanges.

The authorities are accusing the lawyers of having formed a ‚criminal association’and of 'having seriously disrupted public order.‘ Their measures have apparently drawn support from the recently enacteed ‚National Security Law,‘ which led to vocal international protests. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, criticised the Security Law as opening the floodgates for restrictions of civil and human rights and [measures against] people, such as lawyers, who are professionally engaged in the defence of the rights of others.

Press release of 16 July 2015 10.44

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