China slams UN expert’s ‘erroneous’ criticism of lawyer crackdown

China has lashed out against a UN expert’s criticism this week of a Chinese “crackdown” on rights defenders and lawyers. — Reuters pic
China has lashed out against a UN expert’s criticism this week of a Chinese “crackdown” on rights defenders and lawyers. — Reuters pic

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GENEVA, Dec 17 — China has lashed out against a UN expert’s criticism this week of a Chinese “crackdown” on rights defenders and lawyers, describing the comments as “erroneous”.

“By using misinformation, relevant (UN) mandate holders blatantly smear China,” Liu Yuyin, a spokesman at the Chinese mission in Geneva, said in a statement issued late yesterday.

His comment came after Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, warned that a clampdown that began more than five years ago aimed at courtroom critics of Communist authorities was continuing unabated.

Rights activists and their lawyers continue to be charged, detained, disappeared and tortured, said the independent expert, who does not speak on behalf of the United Nations.

She charged that the profession of human rights lawyer had “been effectively criminalised in China,” pointing in particular to the arrest and “enforced disappearance” of activist and attorney Chang Weiping.

She said security officials in Baoji city placed the lawyer in a form of secret extrajudicial detention typically used against dissidents known as “residential surveillance in a designated location” (RSDL), for 10 days last January.

He was held on suspicion of “subversion of state power” and his licence was annulled, Lawlor said.

Just days after Chang posted a video online in October describing the torture and ill-treatment he was allegedly subjected to during his detention, he was detained again and returned to RSDL “in retaliation for his video.

“Since then, the defender’s whereabouts remain unknown, his lawyers have been unable to contact him and no charges have been brought against him,” yesterday’s statement said.

Lawlor called on China “to release at once Chang Weiping and all other detained and disappeared human rights defenders”.

Liu slammed the comments, saying the expert, “in disregard of facts, made erroneous remarks on China, which grossly interfered in China’s judicial sovereignty and internal affairs.”

“China firmly opposes and categorically rejects the remarks,” he said.

As for Chang’s case, Liu insisted his “legitimate rights were fully protected.”

Chang “was subject to criminal coercive measures by the public security organ in Shanxi Province on October 22, 2020, on suspicion of criminal offences.”

The remarks by Lawlor and other UN experts about the lawyer’s case, Liu warned, “seriously (violate) the spirit of the rule of law and fully exposes their bias against China.”

He called on independent experts appointed by the UN to “respect facts, act impartially and objectively within their own mandates, and stop exerting public pressure and interfering in the judicial sovereignty and internal affairs of states.” — AFP

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