Statement on the Chinese government’s Blocking of Mo Shaoping and He Weifang from Traveling

In blocking Mo Shaoping and He Weifang from attending the International Bar Association meeting in London today, the Chinese government continues an unworthy pattern of harassment of Chinese lawyers who have the courage to provide representation to disfavored clients.

Mo Shaoping has been targeted in the past, as noted in a City Bar Association report issued in May 2010 that describes in detail the treatment of lawyers in China. The world’s largest country must have a justice system that the rest of the world respects, and that foreign and domestic individuals and businesses can rely on. An independent bar, free from government intervention, is essential to the fair administration of justice and a true commitment to the rule of law. We urge the Chinese government to permit Mo Shaoping and other Chinese lawyers to represent their clients freely–including those whose interests are politically or economically sensitive or who are defending fundamental rights–without fear of government retribution.

Samuel W. Seymour
President, New York City Bar Association