In an Apparent Act of Targeted Persecution, Beijing Justice Bureau Refuses Annual License Renewals for Human Rights Lawyers & Law Firms

Sunday, June 2, 2013

China Aid Association

(Beijing–June 2, 2013) Nearly a dozen Beijing law firms and more than 10 lawyers known for taking on human rights and rights defense cases have been unable to get their licenses renewed by the Beijing Justice Bureau in what appears to be a targeted move by the government to neutralize the growing trend of citizens using the law to defend their rights, according to ChinaAid sources.

The annual license renewal period runs from April 1 to May 31, and by early May this year, 99% of Beijing's more than 1,000 law firms had passed their annual review by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice and received their new fraud-proof licenses from the Beijing Justice Bureau.

But by May 31, about 10 law firms and more than 10 lawyers had been told that, for unspecified reasons, they had not passed the Justice Bureau's annual review and have not been able to renew their licenses, according to information that ChinaAid has confirmed through various channels.  Without the licenses renewals, the law firms have effectively been shut down and the lawyers are not permitted to practice.

These law firms and lawyers all frequently take on human rights and rights defense cases.  They include lawyers Liang Xiaojun, Li Xiongbing, Li Baiguang, Li Dunyong and others who have often taken on cases for the public good, such as those involving endangering state security, freedom of religion and re-education through labor.

When the persons in charge of these law firms went to the Justice Bureau to inquire why the lawyers' had been unable to renew their licenses, the Justice Bureau personnel in charge of the annual review process gave vague answers like, "There's a problem with your law firm."  When asked for specifics and details, the Justice Bureau officials all refused to answer.

Each year, the Beijing Lawyers Association, which is part of the Beijing Justice Bureau, collects 10,000 yuan (US$1,630) in membership fees from each Beijing law firm, and a 2,000-yuan (US$326) membership fee from each lawyer practicing in Beijing.  With more than 1,000 law firms in Beijing and nearly 25,000 lawyers, the Association collects more than 60 million yuan (nearly US$10 million) in membership fees alone; yet it does nothing to defend the legitimate rights of the lawyers.  On the contrary, it engages in both covert and overt suppression of human rights and rights defense lawyers who enthusiastically handle cases for the public good and who strive to promote the rule of law. 

ChinaAid regards this illegal and perverse behavior of the Beijing judicial authorities as yet another indication that the rule of law is losing ground under the new Xi Jinping-Li Keqiang leadership.  ChinaAid calls on the Beijing Justice Bureau to abandon its hostile and stubborn attitude toward these lawyers.  History has shown that a society that does not have independent lawyers can never achieve the rule of law.  In China, the Chinese Communists themselves like to shout the slogan of“build a socialist country under the rule of law," but this is nothing but empty talk and will never become a reality.


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