Statement Expressing Concern with the Taking of a Group of Lawyers in China and Calling for the Guarantee, etc. of Lawyers’ Practice
It is reported that in China, since July 9, 2015, a number of lawyers and others who have been involved in activities regarding the protection of human rights have been taken away in a sweep, and that the number of such lawyers and others, including those who have been temporarily taken away or detained, has exceeded more than 200 in total. According to the media reports, the group taking was carried out on the grounds of those lawyers’ practices or activities.
The “Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers” adopted in 1990 (“the Basic Principles”) by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders guarantee lawyers’ professional practice and expressional activities, stating that “Lawyers shall enjoy civil and penal immunity for relevant statements made in good faith in written or oral pleadings or in their professional appearances before a court, tribunal or other legal or administrative authority” (Article 20), and that lawyers are entitled to various rights including freedom of expression “without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization” (Article 23). If the above-mentioned Chinese lawyers are under investigation and being detained based on their professional and expressional activities, it indicates a clear violation of the above Basic Principles.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (“JFBA”) is deeply concerned with the news of the group taking of Chinese lawyers and others. The independence of lawyers is essential for lawyers in fulfilling their due functions to promote the rule of law. In line with the Basic Principles, the JFBA strongly calls for the guarantee of lawyers’ functions and activities, and their freedom of expression without any unreasonable restriction imposed.
July 24, 2015
Japan Federation of Bar Associations