Jerome A. Cohen and Beth Schwanke: China’s Missing Human Rights Lawyer

Jerome A. Cohen and Beth Schwanke, both members of missing lawyer Gao Zhisheng’s pro bono international legal team, write about his case in an op-ed in the New York Times:

Regardless of where Mr. Gao is or of any new alleged conviction, the Chinese government must follow its own law and release him because his detention violates its own criminal procedures. Beyond violations of procedural law, however, the government’s misconduct violates his rights guaranteed both by the Chinese Constitution and international law.

To punish Mr. Gao for joining a religious minority would itself be a violation of his fundamental rights; to punish him for “subversion” for merely representing religious minorities as a lawyer amounts to jailing a criminal defense lawyer for the crimes his clients allegedly committed.

Perhaps, given the Chinese government’s flagrant disregard of its own law, a call for his release seems pointless. So, we instead also ask the government to do something much easier — produce Mr. Gao to an impartial observer, such as an official from the United Nations or the International Committee of the Red Cross, to verify his well-being, provide details of Mr. Gao’s alleged conviction for “subversion,” and provide family access.

Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang recently told foreign reporters to stop asking about Gao’s case, BBC reports:

Mr Qin was asked several times about Gao Zhisheng’s case but he said he had nothing to add.

He then asked reporters to stop asking about the case, saying: “I will not answer you”, adding “so I hope you will give up such efforts”.

March 18, 2010 2:51 PM
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Categories: Human Rights, Law, Politics