Anniversary of Crackdown on Lawyers and Rights Defenders in China

Press Statement
John Kirby
Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC
July 9, 2016

The Department of State remains deeply concerned about the continued detention in China of at least 23 defense lawyers and rights defenders and denial of access to independent legal counsel. These actions violate China’s international commitments.

A year ago, the Chinese government launched a nationwide campaign of intimidation against defense lawyers and rights defenders. More than 300 people have been interrogated, detained, arrested, placed under residential surveillance, or forbidden from leaving the country. This campaign undermines China’s development of a judicial system that respects the rule of law.

Jailing those who seek to defend the legal rights of others harms China’s international image and its ability to build a rule of law society, which is a critical component to fostering innovation and creating sustainable prosperity in the 21st century. To this end, we urge Chinese authorities to immediately release the lawyers and rights defenders still in detention, drop the charges against them, and allow them to move freely and reunite with their families who they have not seen in a year.