The Committee, which is housed at the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School, is a group of independent lawyers from outside China whose goal is to support lawyers in China in their quest to strengthen the rule of law there.
The Committee acted on reports that after publishing an appeal online on August 26, calling for direct election of the officials leading the Beijing Lawyers Association (equivalent to a bar association), a number of lawyers have been intimidated, harassed, and even fired from their firms. According to reports, Lawyers Cheng Hai and Li Subin, both signatories to the appeal, were asked to leave their positions at the Beijing Yitong Law Firm on October 30 following a visit to the firm by six or seven officials from the Haidian District Bureau of Justice. The firm’s director is said to have felt pressured to dismiss the lawyers. Another signatory to the appeal, Tang Jitian, was asked to leave the Haodong firm in Beijing “for the sake of the future of the firm.” Other signatories have reportedly been summoned by their district bureaus of justice, and firm heads were told that if lawyers in the firm who signed the appeal failed to withdraw their signatures, then their firms would face problems with their annual licensing inspection.
The Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers emphasized in their letter to the Beijing Lawyers Association Director that penalizing lawyers for expressing their views on this issue is inconsistent with international principles and Chinese domestic law, and is contrary to the rule of law and the development of a vibrant, independent bar. The Committee called on the Director to investigate the reports, and if true, vigorously denounce the dismissals and do all within his power to help the lawyers to be reinstated with their firms.
For information about the Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers, see: http://www.csclawyers.org