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China rejects UN criticism of lawyer’s detention as meddling

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang

Beijing has dismissed criticism from the United Nations over the detention of a Chinese human rights lawyer as meddling in its domestic affairs.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Monday that the UN was interfering in the internal affairs of the country by claiming that activists and legal staff were subject to ill-treatment by the government.

He was reacting to a Friday statement by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in which it said the UN body was “deeply troubled” by the detention of Chen Jiangang and his family on May 3.

Chen, an active lawyer in human rights and civil society issues, faces charges of conspiring to overthrow China’s political system.

The UN office further said the detention showed that China was pursuing a deliberate policy of harassment against lawyers, adding, “We are dismayed by this continuing pattern of harassment of lawyers, through continued detention, without full due process guarantees and with alleged exposure to ill-treatment.”

However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry official responded by saying that the UN agency’s statement “disregards objectivity and constitutes interference in China domestic affairs and judicial sovereignty.”

Chen Jiangang, the Chinese lawyer known for his role in human rights cases (File photo)

Activists say Beijing has become tough on lawyers who mostly represent political activists and human rights campaigners.

Reports on Thursday said that the Chinese authorities had released Chen’s family and allowed them to fly back to Beijing.

Chen is the former lawyer of Xie Yang, a key anti-government figure who was arrested along with 200 activists and legal staff in the summer of 2015. Chen continued to raise the issue of Xie even after he was denied his pick of defense.

A court on Monday found Xie guilty of “inciting subversion of state power and disrupting court order.” His sentence has yet to be formally announced.

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