VIII. Recommendations

To the Chinese government

§ Immediately release all lawyers arrested, detained, or under supervision on account of their professional activities as human rights defenders.

§ Repeal the ACLA’s Guiding Opinions and similar local regulations that interfere with the ability of lawyers to represent the interests of their clients in collective cases.

§ Ensure the effective protection of lawyers carrying out their functions, in part by publicly committing to the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, Cuba, August 27 to September 7, 1990, notably, principles:  

16.    Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.

23.    Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization. In exercising these rights, lawyers shall always conduct themselves in accordance with the law and the recognized standards and ethics of the legal profession.

24.    Lawyers shall be entitled to form and join self-governing professional associations to represent their interests, promote their continuing education and training and protect their professional integrity. The executive body of the professional associations shall be elected by its members and shall exercise its functions without external interference.

§ Limit the authority of judicial bureaus over lawyers and prohibit interference in specific cases and cancel the system of annual renewal of lawyers’ licenses.

§ Ensure access to justice for victims of abuses of power by upholding existing laws, and prosecuting officials who obstruct the course of justice.

§ Make the ACLA fully independent so that it can adequately represent the interests of lawyers.

§ Issue an unconditional invitation to the United Nations special rapporteur on the independence of lawyers and judges to visit China, and allow the rapporteur full access in compliance with the terms of reference for United Nations rapporteurs.

To the United Nations

§ Press the Chinese government to free or cease harassing lawyers and allow “mass cases” to proceed through the legal system.

§ Press the Chinese government to invite the UN special rapporteur on the independence of lawyers and judges to visit.

To the international law community

§ Emphasize to Chinese officials the importance of an independent legal sector to resolving public disputes.

§ Publicly call for the repeal of the Guiding Opinions to bring them into line with international legal standards.

§ Recognize that assistance to improving judicial administration, which receives most international attention, will have a limited effect without commensurate support to the Chinese legal profession and the challenges it faces. 

§ Offer assistance on how to structure an independent lawyers’ association and provide comparative expertise on how other countries manage relationships between judicial branches and lawyers.