OTHERWISE: ABA comments tepidly on arrests of dissident Chinese lawyers.
China’s Communist party last year made rule of law its overriding theme. They mean it. But they don’t mean it the way we mean it. They are talking about the regularization of procedures, of ways of doing things. They do not mean that lawyers and judges are free to contravene official policy. They mean good governance,not an independent bar and judiciary.
People who challenge the Communist Party’s monopoly on political power face arrest. So do those who would split Tibet or Xinjiang from China. But also vulnerable is anyone who rattles the cage as the Fordham-based Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers explains.
We American lawyers welcome the regularization and strengthening of the everyday operation of the Chinese legal system. We have fruitful exchanges and collaborations. Courts are improving. Law is developing. lawyers and law professors take law seriously. But advocacy that touches “sensitive” issues – a common Chinese euphemism – can run afoul of the authorities. That sort of repression we properly oppose. But as the ABA statement excerpted below demonstrates – there is a fear of jeopardizing working relationships. That is the chilling effect of the recent wave of arrests and detentions of dissident lawyers. – gwc
Statement of ABA President William C. Hubbard on Arrests of Lawyers in China
The ABA encourages the Chinese Government to permit lawyers to discharge their professional duty to assure achievement of the fair and just legal system that the Communist Party has promised to all its citizens. The ABA also urges the many foreign legal organizations, universities, NGOs and government agencies that have been cooperating with Chinese counterparts in advancing the rule of law to continue their collaboration, and encourages other foreign institutions that are objecting to the current treatment of lawyers in China to join in supporting those lawyers and cooperating with China.