Four UN human rights experts on Tuesday called on [press release] China to release a prominent human rights lawyer who has been detained since November 2016. The lawyer, Jiang Tianyong, is being tried for inciting subversion of the state’s power. The UN’s call for his release comes after Jiang’s August 22 confession [JURIST report], which many believe was coerced and not authentic. Jiang has been detained without access to his family or a lawyer, which has fueled the widespread belief that his confession was not genuine. The experts are also concerned that the criminal activity Jiang is charged with constitutes a violation of the fundamental right to freely seek, receive and impart information about human rights. In the past, Jiang represented another lawyer who was being held in detention and is now accused of fabricating allegations of torture in that case.
China’s human rights record has been of international concern for many years now. Earlier this week Human Rights Watch condemned [JURIST report] both China’s oppression of critics of the nation’s human rights record and the UN’s failure to stop such conduct. In February the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) [advocacy website] released [JURIST report] a report detailing crackdowns of human rights defenders by China. In December the UN called on China to investigate the disappearance of Jiang Tianyong, [JURIST report] after he had been missing for two months. The same month China suspended the law license [JURIST report] of prominent human rights lawyer Li Jinxing, over his apparent allegedly unacceptable behavior in court while defending a client. In September China handed down a 12-year sentence [JURIST report] to prominent human rights lawyer Xia Lin. In July 2016 China announced plans to prosecute [JURIST report] prominent human rights lawyer Zhou Shifeng on charges of subverting state power, furthering its recent crackdown on political dissidents. In April 2016 a civil rights lawyer was arrested and released [JURIST report] for posting an image online mocking Xi Jinping in relation to the Panama Papers release.