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
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].
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.
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.
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
Activities.” Tang Jitian and Liu Wei, are
targeted for defending human rights activists, political prisoners and
members of Falun Gong.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
TAKE ACTION NOW !
PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY