Détention arbitraire | 30.01.2019

UIA deplores conviction of Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Wang QUANZHANG

UIA has grave concerns about the recent conviction of prominent Chinese Human Rights Lawyer, Wang Quanzhang. Mr. Wang Quanzhang was found guilty of “subversion of state power” on January 28 and was sentenced to 4 years and 6 months in prison and a 5-year deprivation of political rights by the Tianjin Municipal No.2 Intermediate People’s Court (the Court). UIA deplores the sentence and conviction of Mr. Wang.

Mr. Wang Quanzhang is a human rights lawyer who, prior to his arrest, practiced at Fengrui Law Firm in Beijing. He has a history of taking on sensitive human rights cases, including the cases of alleged Falun Gong members and land rights. He is the last person to be prosecuted among the hundreds of rights lawyers and activists detained and/or interrogated as part of the “709 Crackdown” of 2015.

UIA has repeatedly expressed serious concerns about the circumstances of Mr. Wang’s arrest, detention and trial, alleging a failure of due process resulting from violations of domestic and international human rights standards and laws.

UIA has been informed that since Mr. Wang was seized by the police on August 3, 2015, he has been detained in conditions of total isolation, denied access to his family and to family-appointed defence lawyers. Mr. Wang has been reportedly subjected to torture and ill-treatments during his incommunicado detention. In January 2016, he was formally arrested for “subversion of state power” and only indicted in February 2017. His case was subsequently tried on December 26, 2018.

According to the information received, the Court decided not to hold an open trial for the case, alleging that the case involved “state secrets.” Mr. Wang Quanzhang’s wife, Ms. Li Wenzu, other supporters, diplomatic observers and journalists also were denied access to the hearings.

On August 24, 2018, prior to his trial, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined that the detention of Mr. Wang was arbitrary and called upon Chinese authorities to release Mr. Wang immediately and accord him the right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law. UIA deplores that, by the conviction of Mr. Wang, China ignores the calls from the international community and fails to comply with international standards.

UIA once again calls upon relevant Chinese authorities to take all the steps necessary to afford Mr. Wang’s due process, including his right to a fair trial, representation by a lawyer of his choosing, access to all documents and information related to his charges, the right to visits by his family and lawyer, and all rights set out in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, all in accordance with international norms.

Therefore, UIA requests that the Chinese authorities:

- repeal the guilty verdict; acquit and release Wang Quanzhang immediately;
- guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological safety of Mr. Wang and his family;
- grant Mr. Wang an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law; and
- put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judiciary level, against Mr. Wang and all human rights lawyers in China, including Mr. Wang’s lawyer, since the harassment is aimed solely at curtailing lawyers’ legitimate human rights work and the peaceful exercise of their freedom of expression.