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Contact:
Eric Friedman
(212) 382-6754
Christina Bruno
(212) 382-6656

 

New York City Bar Letter Expresses Concern over Treatment of Lawyers in China

 New York , July 21, 2009 – In a letter to the President of the All China Lawyers Association, the New York City Bar Association expresses its concern over reports by lawyers in China of increased harassment in the course of their work.

The letter, signed by City Bar President Patricia M. Hynes, specifies, in particular, “the harassment of Shanghai human rights lawyer Zheng Enchong, the denial of annual licensing for numerous rights defense lawyers, and the continued disappearance of lawyer Gao Zhisheng ( 高智晟 ).”

The letter states, “The City Bar is deeply concerned about these reports that lawyers are being harassed for merely trying to do what lawyers everywhere are supposed to do: zealously represent their clients. China’s own Law on Lawyers states that lawyers may accept engagement acting as legal counsel in both criminal and civil cases, and such engagement includes the provision of legal advice and representation.”

“Further,” the letter continues, “as of the beginning of June, 2009, numerous human rights lawyers had not received their ‘annual licensing inspection and registration’ approval from the Lawyers Associations in their local districts, an annual requirement in order to practice law in China. The cases these lawyers take on include representation of families of school children killed during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake; families of children injured after drinking milk tainted with the industrial chemical melamine; Tibetans arrested during the March 2008 protests; and members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement.”

Stating, “This intimidation and harassment undercuts the role of lawyers, which are essential to a society to be governed by the rule of law,” the letter concludes, “We therefore respectfully request that you immediately investigate these reports of intimidation and harassment and ensure that all lawyers are free to represent individuals in detention without fear of retribution. The City Bar remains firmly committed to the rights of lawyers to do their jobs without reprisal regardless of nationality.”

The letter may be viewed on the City Bar’s Web site at: http://www.nycbar.org/pdf/report/20071773%20-%20Letter%20to%20All%20China%20Lawyers%20Association.pdf

About the Association
The New York City Bar Association (www.nycbar.org) was founded in 1870, and since then has been dedicated to maintaining the high ethical standards of the profession, promoting reform of the law, and providing service to the profession and the public. The Association continues to work for political, legal and social reform, while implementing innovative means to help the disadvantaged. Protecting the public’s welfare remains one of the Association’s highest priorities.

 

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