International lawyers urge UN to condemn detention of missing China rights advocate

[JURIST] An international group of human rights lawyers on Tuesday petitioned [text, PDF; press release, PDF] the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention [official website] to condemn to the detention of Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng [advocacy website; JURIST news archive], missing for more than a year. The group is seeking a declaration that Gao's detention is a violation of international law. According to the petition, Gao's detention violates both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) [texts]:


Mr. Gao's current predicament is merely the culmination of a pattern and practice by which the Chinese government has consistently and clearly violated Article 19 of both the Universal Declaration and the ICCPR. Without an arrest warrant to attest otherwise, we can only assume that Mr. Gao's current detention is related to his outspoken criticism of the Chinese government's human rights record relating to religious freedom. Detaining Mr. Gao as punishment for or to prevent his defense of persecuted religious groups is a violation of Article 19(2).

The group also clams that Gao's detention violates Chinese law.

Last month, human rights organization Dui Hua Foundation [advocacy website] reported that the Chinese Embassy [official website] in Washington DC claims that Gao is working in the Urumqi region [JURIST report] of China. Chinese Foreign Ministry [official website, in Chinese] spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu [official profile] said [JURIST report] in late January that Gao is "where he should be." Earlier in January, Chinese lawyers and US-based rights group ChinaAid [advocacy website] called on [JURIST report] Beijing police to conduct a search for Gao. Gao has been detained since February 4, 2009.

 

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