International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Tag Archives: China

China Hunt’s Down Human Rights Lawyers!

“Is this what being a lawyer is like…? We have worked hard on behalf of the rank and file; and yet this is the misery we end up with!” – li Jinxing (Chinese lawyer)

Human Rights Lawyers in China have defended the countries most deprived citizens including: migrant laborers, ethnic and religious minorities, Political protestors, etc..
Today they face their toughest challenge: defending themselves from the Chinese Government.

China, has now been ruled by The Chinese Communist Party for more than 6 decades, they remain an authoritarian state that continues to suppress basic fundamental human rights. Like many authoritarian regimes, the senior leaders of the state, “perceiving a threat to their power, now explicitly reject the universality of human rights, characterizing these ideas as “foreign infiltration,” and penalizing those who promote them”. In 2015, new restrictive measures were put into place that promotes the “rule of law”. For Human Right’s lawyers this was a beginning of a nightmare.


The first case reported was of a prominent human rights lawyer named Wang Yu. Witnessing the mistreatment and torture of prisoners, when she was jailed in 2008 (for demanding to board a train in which she held a valid ticket), she began defending key human right’s cases which the government considered “sensitive”. She goes missing (along with her husband and son) on the early hours 9th July, 2015. Her friends received a panicked message, which stated that people are invading her home. Until today she is detained for the charges relating to state security, along with her husband who is also a HR lawyer. Between July and September of 2015, 280 HR lawyers were briefly detained. Today about 40 remain in custody in disclosed locations. These lawyers do not have a choice on whether they can have a lawyer and they are not allowed to see their families.

Another extreme case, which AlJazeera brought up recently, is of the lawyer Xia Lin. Xia Lin is best known for defending an outspoken Chinese artist named Ai Weiwei and fellow rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang. He has been sentenced for 12 years on fraud charges. He was also ordered to pay a fine of 120,000 yuan ($18,000) and give total compensation of 4.8 million yuan ($720,000) to fraud victims. The government controls these courts, so the defendants do not have a fair trial.

Coming from Saudi Arabia, this is not news to me. Many states that break Human Rights laws try to suppress those who go against the regime. In Saudi, we all know to not talk about our suppression, as it will lead us into getting in trouble. Today many protestors actually get the death sentence when they try to seek justice. Saudi is a country built on traditions apart of that tradition violates what the West sees as basic human rights. I have now got used to the idea of where I live and I know how to follow the rules, progress is being made in Saudi just like it is in China, but they are baby steps.



China officially rejects U.N. report on crimes in North Korea

Unsurprisingly, Chinese officials have denounced the report alleging crimes against humanity in North Korea at the U.N. Human Rights Council monday morning, says an article from the New York Post. The report, published in February, recommended that the case in North Korea be referred to the International Criminal Court, and that the culpability of the crimes could reach as high as the supreme leader himself, Kim Jong-un. Counselor to the Chinese mission in Geneva, Chen Chuandong, rejected the report based on it’s lacking of substantial evidence for its claim, stating, “the inability of the commission to get support and cooperation from the country concerned makes it impossible for the commission to carry out its mandate in an impartial, objective and effective manner”. However, Chen fails to mention any attempt from China to persuade North Korea to be more cooperative with investigators, who have had to rely solely on testimony from victims that had escaped the regime. The great irony of Chen’s statement is that China is most likely the key opponent to a referral from the security council to the ICC and will likely veto any attempt to pass the case of North Korea along to the ICC for formal investigation. Simultaneously, the U.N., the United States, and the international community as a whole have seemingly exhausted all possible means of coercing North Korea to cooperate and address the crimes that have been alleged against them, and substantial pressure from China, North Korea’s closest ally, has perhaps the only chance of producing any visible behavior changes. Thus, China has the international community in a bind. In cases like this, however, where the country in question is so adamantly uncooperative that even preliminary investigation is impossible, must there be a separate standard of credibility for evidence of crimes against humanity that would warrant investigation, and what should the course of action for institutions like the U.N. and other organizations or governments concerned with human rights be?


The article from the New York Post can be found here:

The ICC in North Korea

Refer N Korea to the Int’l Criminal court: UNHRC

A UN commission of inquiry into human rights abuses has just released a report detailing the horrific atrocities committed in North Korea. The report, which will be officially presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in March, documents crimes ranging from murder, torture, and enslavement to rape, forced abortions, and starvation. The report also implicates China as possibly complicit in these crimes, due to its support for the regime and its policy of returning North Korean refugees and escaped prisoners back to the regime. The report calls for international action, and asks that the UN Security Council refer the case to the ICC.

Though China’s veto power on the Security Council makes it appear unlikely that such a referral would occur, there are reasons to hope. China has rarely vetoed a resolution on its own, and would likely want Russia’s backing if it were to do so here. In 2012, China did not veto a UN resolution condemning human rights violations in North Korea. While China would not want to be implicated in the case, it would likely appreciate the opportunity for leverage over a North Korean leader who recently purged his uncle, an important interlocutor with China.  An ICC trial for Kim Jung Un is far from likely, but this report certainly places his ally China in an interesting position.

China officially declares that it will fight UN efforts to refer North Korea Case to ICC

The Chinese Government announced Monday that it would oppose any UN effort to bring the case against North Korea in front of the ICC. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying was quoted as saying that China opposed the potential referral because “issues concerning human rights should be solved through constructive dialogue on an equal footing”. It was widely expected that China, as a strong ally of North Korea and a member of the security council, would stand against any UN action regarding North Korea.


China’s support of North Korea in this regard is yet another example of the complicated role that politics plays in the realm of international justice. China is North Korea’s key ally, and provides much of the and and trade that is currently propping up a country already experiencing widespread famine. According to a Channel NewsAsia report, China’s support of North Korea is in part due to fears that if the North Korean state collapses, the chaos could spill southward across their own border, and that instability in the Asian continent could allow for the US to bolster its presence.


An ICC investigation and potential conviction of North Korean Officials is sure to generate the instability that China fears. Jared Genser, an international human rights lawyer and North Korea expert, was quoted in the South China Morning Post as saying that “There is no doubt that legally such a referral would be highly justified and appropriate. But it is also bound to infuriate China.” 


The potential of China’s opposition to prevent the referral from reaching the ICC is the latest proof of one of the biggest flaws in the setup of the ICC–its politicisim.  The influence of powerful states–particularly Security Council members and economic powerhouses like China–can still be used to shield injustices from legal accountability.

“Russia and China veto UN Resolution on Syria”

Seen here in the article from alJazeera, they describe a reported mass killing that happened the night before China and Russia vetoed the Security Council Resolution on Syria.

“The diplomatic developments come with activists reporting on Saturday that a Syrian army assault on Homs’ neighbourhood had killed more than 200 civilians since Friday night.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights cited witnesses saying 217 people had been killed in Homs, 138 of them in the Khaldiyeh neighbourhood.”

I found this passage to be particularly resonant with our recent discussion of Srebrenica in class. They later qualify the report by adding that the deaths came during an “assault on the opposition stronghold.” A question I had in response to this report is where the line is drawn according to international law itself and the politics of negotiating international conflicts between what is “too much”? Will 200 deaths of civilians and around 500 injured in one night be enough to ensure that some form of legal action is taken after the immediate conflict is over? Or will it depend entirely on how the conflict is brought to a resolution?

Russia plans to veto Syrian resolution if considered “unacceptable”

As unrest in Syria continues and shows no apparent signs of slowing, the U.N. Security Council has finally decided to meet and come up with a draft resolution to address the crisis and seek to have Syrian President Bashar Assad cede power.  The decision to come together and develop a resolution comes after nearly an 11-month struggle of the Syrian people against the Assad regime and plenty of pressure from Western nations and the Arab League.  However, there are concerns that Russia and China, who have both resisted the push to develop a resolution, will continue to be an obstacle.  “If the text is unacceptable for us we will vote against it, of course.” Russian U.N. envoy Vitaly Churkin told reporters in Moscow.  The Chinese Ambassador to the U.N. Li Baodong voiced their concerns in saying: “China is firmly opposed to the use of force to solve the Syrian problem and resolutely opposes pushing for forced regime change in Syria, as it violates the United Nations Charter and the basic norms guiding the practice of international relations.”  The U.N. Security Council is meeting in a closed session working on a resolution this afternoon, so we’ll have to wait and see if anything meaningful comes out of the session.

What do you think, will Russian and Chinese opposition lead to a neutered resolution?  Or will they just veto whatever happens to be drafted?