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ATTORNEY URGENT  ALERT

 

CHINA

 7 May 2010 

 After Beijing Municipal Justice Bureau

officially announced the revocation of their legal licenses

 

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Tang Jitian and Liu Wei  .

filed a criminal complaint accusing  Bureau officials, of extorting exceptionally high annual license renewal fees from lawyers and claiming claiming for a loss of 600,000 yuan [about [70 000€] for having been unable to work for 12 months,

 

Source :China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group

and HRIC    

 

 

 

On  7 May 2010, the Beijing Municipal Justice Bureau posted on their website the decision, issued on 30 April 2010, concerning the administrative punishment imposed on Beijing lawyers Tang Jitian and Liu Wei   to officially announce the revocation of their licenses.

On May 4, 2010, lawyers Liu Wei and Tang Jitian  filed a criminal complaint with the Beijing Xicheng District Procuratorate against Xiao Lizhu, head of the Bureau’s Lawyers’ Management Department. The two lawyers claim that Xiao, in revoking their licenses, abused her power and criminally attacked them in retaliation for their activism on behalf of lawyers and in upholding the rule of law since 2008. Specifically, they allege that Xiao retaliated against them because they had previously called for direct elections of officials in the Beijing Lawyers Association (BLA), and filed a criminal complaint accusing Wu Yuhua  – then head of the Bureau – Xiao Lizhu, and other Bureau officials, of extorting exceptionally high annual license renewal fees from lawyers.

Tang and Liu claim that, based upon the “Rules for Standards on the People’s Procuratorate Directly Accepting, Filing, and Investigating a Case”,  the Procuratorate must consider their complaint. Having been unable to work for 12 months, the two lawyers claim that they have sustained a loss of 600,000 yuan [about [environ 70 000€], and the provisions call for investigation into any case that involves a loss of above 200,000 yuan [about $29,200].

 

The decision of the administrative punishment listed various “documented evidence” to support the decision. However, none of them has ever been made public. Given no details of the listed evidence, the justifiability of the evidence became a question. According to Liu, one of the listed evidence was the judicial recommendation filed by Luzhou Municipal Intermediate People’s Court , asking the Beijing Municipal Justice Bureau   to punish her and Tang. The content of the recommendation was found to be different from the record of the court proceedings at the Luzhou Court. The recommendation was merely a letter of complaint lodged by the Luzhou Municipal Intermediate People’s Court. Owing to its subjective nature and doubtful authenticity, the letter couldn’t be used as the evidence to support the decision to revoke the lawyers’ licenses.

 

Apart from the problem of the evidence, Liu and Tang were also not given any chance to examine the evidence. Without an open, fair and independent mechanism, the jurisdiction fell into the authorities’ hand and was abused to put political pressure on the lawyers. We are concerned that the revocation of the two lawyers’ licenses was intended to create a chilling effect to intimidate the legal profession as mainland lawyers are going to face the annual renewal and registration of their licenses later this month. The decision acted as a warning to other lawyers that if they continued to take up Falun Gong cases or other so-called “politically sensitive” cases and challenged the presiding judge in court, they would also be subject to similar punishment in future.

The decision of the administrative punishment did not mention the two lawyers’ defense statements at the hearing on 22 April 2010. It only stated that “after the collective discussion by the Bureau Chief’s Meeting of Beijing Municipal Justice Bureau, held on 26 April 2010″, the Justice Bureau concluded the decision to revoke the two lawyers’ licenses. The notice concerning the rights of the litigant in the hearing of the administrative punishment clearly stated that according to the “Regulations on the Degree of Administrative Punishment by Judicial and Administrative Agencies”, the litigant had the right to make a statement, to defend his/her case and to request for a hearing. Although a hearing was held, the defense statements of the two lawyers were not heard and considered. Why weren’t the points of the defense statements brought into the consideration in reaching decision? If the decision could be made by the Bureau Chief’s meeting, what’s the purpose of the hearing? It was emphasized on the decision that Tang and Liu’s violation of Article 40, Clause 8, of the PRC Law on Lawyers was a serious case. How could the Beijing Municipal Justice Bureau treat the case so frivolously by simply concluding the revocation decision in one-single-page? It was totally unjust and a complete disregard to the lawyers’ right to practice.

 

 

The Bureau of Justice, in an April 12, 2010 noticed to Tang Jitian   and Liu Wei  separately, charged the lawyers with violating Article 49(6) of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Lawyers, which stipulates that in serious cases of “disrupting the order of a court or arbitration tribunal, or interfering with the normal conduct of litigation or arbitration

Activities.”   Tang Jitian   and Liu Wei,  are targeted for defending human rights activists, political prisoners and members of Falun Gong.

 

The lawyers refuted the court’s allegation. Liu Wei, one of the two lawyers, told Human Rights in China (HRIC) that during the April 2009 trial of the Falun Gong practitioner, while members of the public who were listening to the trial outside the window of the courtroom occasionally yelled “Injustice!” in support of the defendant, Liu and Tang did nothing that could be construed as disrupting the court proceedings. Liu said that, in fact, the presiding judge, Li Xudong interrupted her and Tang repeatedly and pounded the gavel loudly during their defense statements, seemingly on cue from a middle-aged man sitting in the front row of the courtroom who would cough and blink at the judge periodically.

 

In a recent statement released by Tang and Liu, which they intend to submit at the upcoming Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice hearing, they say that on the morning of the trial of April 27, 2009, before the trial began, the judge asked the lawyers to comply with an order from personnel who refused to identify themselves that everyone must leave the courtroom to go through further security procedures. The lawyers stated that once they left the courtroom, they saw more unidentified personnel videotaping them and members of the public.

 

According to the statement, the lawyers were interrupted more than ten times by the judge when they were presenting their oral arguments, and the judge similarly interrupted the defendant during his self-defense statement. The lawyers stated that when they felt they could no longer continue to present the defense statement due to the repeated interruptions, they handed in the written defense statement and left the courtroom.

In 2008-2009, Tang Jitian,  (from Beijing Anhui Law Firm) Tang and Liu Wei Beijing,  (from Shun He Law Firm) were some of the principal participants pushing for a democratic election in the Beijing Lawyers Association and  represented Falun Gong cases . After the March 2008 riots in Tibet, Liu Wei signed an open letter offering legal assistance to detainees during the unrest in March 2008 in the Tibet Autonomous Region and neighbouring provinces. Both lawyers were among the initial signers of Charter 08 in June 2009. If the waiver is applied they will never be able to practise law again. Lawyers say the two will be the first lawyers in Beijing to lose their licenses permanently without having a criminal conviction.

Faced with corruption and violence that dominates Chinese society, many people turn to lawyers who, defying the orders of the party seek to have the law enforced. For some years real groups of "human rights lawyers" have arisen, willing - often for free - to defend people who have suffered injustices.  As the cases continue to increase in number, the government sees no other way to stop them other than by revoking their licenses. In 2009, in addition to Liu Wei and Tang Jitian, licenses for 6 other lawyers have not been  renewed *.

*The eight lawyers whose licenses have not been renewed are: Jiang Tianyong , Tang Jitian, Yang Huiwen , Wen Haibo, Liu Wei , Zhang Lihui, Li Jingsong ,  and Tong Chaoping ,

 

PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW

 

Send The IDHAE LETTER TO ADRESSES MENTIONNES BELOW

 

[Your name here]

Dear Madame Minister,

We have been informed that two Beijing lawyers, Tang Jitian  and Liu Wei are currently arguing against a decision by the Beijing Justice Bureau to impose an administrative punishment by revoking their licenses to practice law for disrupting the order of the courtroom  and interfering with litigation activities. The Bureau has notified Mr. Tang and Ms. Liu that it will hold a hearing on this matter on April 22, 2010.

As european  lawyers interested in supporting the work and independence of our Chinese colleagues, we write to express our concern regarding the use of administrative punishment to discipline and intimidate lawyers and law firms in China for activities that they have undertaken as part of the zealous defense of their clients. We are further concerned that such administrative punishments are disproportionate to the acts being sanctioned and may have a chilling effect on the ability of lawyers to represent clients without fearof reprisal.

We remain concerned about restrictions imposed on other lawyers in recent months. In 2009, Beijing lawyer Jiang Tianyong’s legal practice license was suspended, and as of April 2010, at least six Beijing lawyers have still not had their licenses renewed following the annual inspection of lawyers’ licenses in mid-2009.

The threat to permanently revoke Tang Jitian’s and Liu Wei’s licenses to practice law and the passage in April 2010 of new rules providing for administrative punishment of lawyers and law firms that include broad and vague new provisions appears to represent further efforts to restrict the independence of the legal profession in China, and undermines China’s commitment to the rule of law.

We call  on the Beijing Bureau of Justice to withdraw its proposed revocation of the lawyers’ licenses of Tang and Liu and immediately renew them, as well as those of the other human rights lawyers who were denied renewals of their licenses following their annual review in May 2009. The Chinese bureau of justice and lawyers’ associations should end the use of the annual review system to retaliate against lawyers active in defending human rights.

This kind of sanction is clearly out of proportion to the act of withdrawing from a court room, even assuming that any punishment could be justified under the circumstances recorded by the lawyers and by observers of the trial. We have been unable to find documentation of other cases in which lawyers have lost their licenses for disrupting the order of the courtroom—such revocations have, to our knowledge, so far only occurred after a lawyer was convicted of criminal charges. We call upon the Bureau of Justice to clarify its reasons for revoking these licenses and explain why so harsh an administrative punishment is warranted.

We respectfully request that you immediately investigate this case and explain why such harsh sanctions are being contemplated against Mr. Tang and Ms. Liu. If our understanding of the context in which these lawyers are threatened with license revocation is correct, we then ask that you ensure the fairness of their April 22, 2010 hearing, and make a decision in accordance with Chinese law and international standards. It is only when lawyers are able to represent clients without fear of reprisal, and to speak freely about professional concerns and rights defense, that the rule of law can gain a secure foothold.

We  also urge  the Chinese government to immediately cease all forms of harassment, intimidation, and persecution of human rights lawyers, and to hold the government officials responsible for committing any such violations legally accountable for their actions.

We hope that you will take this request into consideration.

Sincerely,

 

 

[Signature]

 

Minister Wu Aiying 

Ministry of Justice of the People’s Republic of China

No. 10, Nandajie, Chaoyangmen

Beijing, People’s Republic of China, Postal Code: 100020

Fax: +86 (010) 84772883

Email: minister@legalinfo.gov.cn         

 

 

TAKE ACTION NOW !

 

MEMBERS ONLY

 

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY

 

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