China: Zheng Enchong – Lawyer | Letter

Re: Zheng Enchong – Lawyer

To: Mr. Hu Jintao, President of China, and others

From: Clive Ansley, LRWC China Country Monitor

Date: 2006-07-28

LRWC is gravely concerned for the safety and well-being of Lawyer Zheng Enchong because of acts of intimidation perpetrated against him by the Shanghai Justice Bureau and the Chinese Public Security Bureau. These acts effectively prevent Mr. Zheng from practising his profession as a lawyer and they deprive him of the most fundamental freedoms enjoyed by all citizens of civilized nations in the modern era.

I am writing, as the China Country Monitor for LRWC, in response to information obtained from a variety of sources indicating that Lawyer Zheng Enchong has been intimidated, harassed, and ultimately detained by police since his release from prison a short time ago.

In 2003, Mr. Zheng Enchong was sentenced to three years in prison on politically motivated charges of providing state secrets (information of police activity against Mr. Zheng’s clients), to a human rights organization outside China. This prosecution appeared intended solely to punish and prevent Mr. Zheng from representing clients or causes unpopular with, or critical of, the government of China and unrelated to any criminal activity on the part of Mr. Zheng.

During his three year incarceration, we know from reports by Mr. Zheng’s lawyer and other reliable sources that Mr. Zheng was regularly subjected to physical beatings. Both the beatings themselves and the failure of the Chinese government to investigate them and prevent recurrence constitute serious violations of China’s obligations under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

After his release on June 5th of this year, Mr. Zheng was followed by police and his movements monitored through 24 hour surveillance, he was denied an identity card and falsely informed that his deprivation of political rights (a component of the sentence he received from the court in accordance with the instructions of the Chinese Communist Party in Shanghai) precluded any freedom of movement.
Finally, he was re-arrested on July 12th and remains illegally in the custody of the Chinese police.

On the same day, police illegally broke into Mr. Zheng’s home, conducted a search without warrant (a warrant was produced later), confiscated his computer and harassed his wife, Jiang Meili, issuing a summons against her on a charge of “obstructing officials in the conduct of their duties”.

China has a responsibility to adopt such measures as are necessary to guarantee the security of the person of Zheng Enchong. China also has an additional duty to take effective measures to protect Mr. Zheng’s right to carry out his professional activities as a lawyer free from intimidation, harassment and reprisals.

These obligations arise from China’s membership in the United Nations (UN) and from declarations and principles adopted by the UN General Assembly including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (welcomed by the UN General Assembly in 1990), and the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (1998). The duty also arises from Conventions ratified by and binding on China including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. (1998)

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights requires that:

every person has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental liberties at the national and international levels.

The Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers requires China to provide additional protection to Zheng Enchong as a lawyer and to protect both his right to practice his profession and also the security of his person.

Article 16: Governments shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.

Article 17: Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.

The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders further requires (see Articles 9(5) and 11) your government to conduct a prompt, impartial and effective investigation of the coercive measures taken against Mr. Zheng Enchong.

Article 12(2) creates the mandatory responsibility of member states to protect lawyers in the practice of their profession.

The recent surveillance, intimidation and detention of Mr. Zheng by the Shanghai Justice Bureau and the Shanghai police have prevented Zheng Enchong from the legitimate practice of his profession and violate these principles. Failure to protect and investigate violations of Zheng Enchong’s rights constitutes a breach of China’s international duties.

The earlier trial and imprisonment of Zheng Enchong appeared to LRWC to have been imposed as a reprisal for his legitimate work as a lawyer. LRWC is concerned that Chinese authorities are continuing to intimidate and harass Mr. Zheng.

The persecution of Zheng Enchong, referred to in this letter, belies China’s claim to be implementing the Rule of Law. The rule of law is founded, in part, on the right to be represented by independent legal counsel, a right that must be protected by the state. A legal system that allows attacks on the professional and personal safety and independence of lawyers and fails to properly identify and punish perpetrators is not operating according to the rule of law. LRWC is alarmed at the frequency with which lawyers in China presenting evidence or raising issues critical of government officials, actions or policy are deprived of their livelihood and professional status, and even incarcerated, simply as a consequence of representing causes of which the Chinese Government or the Chinese Communist Party disapproves.

LRWC calls on the Chinese government to comply with the requirements of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment . LRWC calls on the government of China to take immediate and effective action to protect Zheng Enchong’s liberty and his right to practice his profession and to:

1. instruct authorities to cease illegal activities against Mr. Zheng;
2. release Mr. Zheng from custody;
3. ensure Mr. Zheng is given adequate protection from further interference with his safety and with his right to continue to practice his profession;
4. direct a thorough and transparent investigation into the threats, intimidation and illegal surveillance of Zheng Enchong and ensure appropriate disciplinary measures for those responsible; and
5. direct that Mr. Zheng be issued a new identity card;

LRWC urges the government of China also to take effective action to ensure the security of all human rights defenders in China so they can continue to carry out their legitimate and important work of defending human rights. We further call upon you to release immediately and unconditionally all Chinese human rights defenders who remain arbitrarily detained for the sole reason of their human rights activities, and put an end to any kind of retaliation against them. Finally, we again call upon you to ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards adopted by the UN General Assembly and ratified by the People’s Republic of China.

Please advise LRWC by mail, e-mail or fax of the actions that the government of China is taking to:

1. ensure the present and future safety of Zheng Enchong and other members of the Chinese legal profession, and;
2. investigate the intimidation and illegal sanctions against this human rights defender with the goal of identifying the person(s) responsible and bringing them to trial.

LRWC awaits your response. Thank you for your attention to our concerns.