The Tough Road Chinese Lawyers Are Facing: Sensitive Cases
“Crime of picking quarrels and provoking troubles",
" inciting racial hatred", " inciting to subvert state power",
“assembling a crowd to disturb social order", “sabotaging legal
enforcement by organizing and using evil religion" ……
It is hard to believe these are the charges against
many Chinese lawyers.
This is what the rights defending Chinese lawyers are faced with.
The so-called “sensitive cases" have lawyers, one after another,
been charged and even sentenced with the above mentioned crimes.
According to the latest data of Hong Kong’s China Human
Rights Lawyers Concern Group, there were 13 Chinese rights
defending attorneys either charged with crimes or had their
licenses terminated in 2014, four times that in 2013.
Data show that these lawyers are, without exception,
suppressed by the Bureau of Justice for handling
Shenzhen lawyer Fan Biaowen: “First, it is the handling
of sensitive cases, and second is when we offended
the authorities by condemning in court the illegal conduct
of the judiciary system, the public prosecutor, or the judge."
been no legal provisions on “sensitive cases".
But sensitive cases have been a minefield in the legal system
for the Chinese lawyers.
“No sensitive cases" has been an unwritten rule
in Mainland law firms.
Guangdong lawyer Wang Quanping: “This is how the Bureau
of Justice controls this type of case.
The Bureau of Justice will ask a law firm not to grant
the procedure so that lawyers can not proceed with the cases.
Therefore, without a letter of recommendation from the firm,
lawyers won’t be able to take the cases."
According to the management advice on lawyers handling
sensitive cases from each local judiciary organ,
sensitive cases cover nearly all social issues related
to public anger.
Mass incidents are entirely categorized as sensitive cases.
They include house eviction and demolition, land acquisition,
resettlement of laid-off workers, wage arrears, work related
injury compensation, grassroots democratic elections,
law enforcement injustice, violation of people’s interests
by the public sector and the like.
There are also certain cases particularly ordered to be
prohibited in the firm, such as the Falun Gong, religion,
cases followed-up by media, mass incidents involving triads,
and cases involving large numbers of casualties.
These types of sensitive cases are banned because they pose
risks to “national security" and “the party’s ruling status."
Wang Quanping: “These sensitive cases are defined
by the authorities themselves.
There is no such a thing as a sensitive case throughout the world.
What is sensitive?
All should be handled according to law.
The officials claim the case as being sensitive.
On what grounds is it defined as sensitive?
Isn’t it the officials being lawless?
They are afraid of being exposed."
Justice Minister Wu Aiying openly instructed in 2009
that when handling sensitive cases, lawyers should be
“politically minding the overall situation", “to uphold
the party’s leadership" and “to safeguard the party’s ruling status."
In order to further “oversee" lawyers, the authorities station
an instructor or liaison in law firms that lack party members.
In the party’s “guidance" and “supervision",
many lawyers are faced with the dilemma of
“people rights" vs. “on behalf of the party."
The rights defending lawyers are constantly faced
with the choice between “job" and “conscience".
However, there is a group of lawyers ultimately upholding
the ethics of their profession.
They insist on speaking for the people in “sensitive" cases.
Sure enough, they are also strongly suppressed by the authorities.
Wang Quanping: “One is to manipulate criminal detention
to penalize the lawyers.
The other is to manipulate the administration so that lawyers
would lose their license by failing the annual assessment.
This suppression from the judicial organ forces the law firm
to reject such cases.
The regulation has it, without a law firm for six months
automatically terminates the license of the lawyer.
This is the most commonly used tactic to suppress lawyers."
Although the authorities claim the “rule of law",
the situation has become increasingly harsh for the lawyers.
They are faced with licenses being revoked, annual assessment
being prohibited, arrest, illegal detention, criminal charges,
and even violence and torture.
Wang Quanping: “With law abiding government and officials,
why would lawyers go for rights defending?
Zhou Yongkang has gone to the extreme in his ten years of
heading the political and legal system.
Many Chinese have been violated of their rights.
The rights defending lawyers have been fighting against
those corrupt elements, who manipulate their power to suppress.
That’s the confrontation."
The 13 lawyers who have been suppressed and lost their rights
to practice in 2014 are: Cheng Hai, Wang Quanping, Pu Zhiqiang,
Chang Boyang, Ji Laisong, Liu Shihui, Xu Zhiyong, Ding Jiaxi,
Tang Jingling, Yu Wensheng, Qu Zhenhong, Xia Lin, Cai Ying.
Many of them are still being held and waiting for public concern.
Interview & Edit/Zhang Tianyu Post-Production/ShuCan