In an open letter sent to Minister Wu Aiying (吴爱英) on February 17, 2010, the Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers called upon the Ministry of Justice of the People’s Republic of China to investigate the on-going non-renewal of lawyers’ licenses. The Committee believes that these Beijing lawyers lost their licenses to practice law because they represent clients who are unpopular with the authorities, or because of their bar association activities and rights defense advocacy.
The Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers had previously written to Minister Wu about this issue in May 2009, but according to reports, these Beijing lawyers have still not had their licenses renewed: Li Jinsong (李劲松), Liu Wei (刘巍), Jiang Tianyong (江天勇), Tang Jitian (唐吉田), Tong Zhaoping (童朝平), Wen Haibo (温海波), Yang Huiwen (杨慧文), and Zhang Lihui (张立辉).
These lawyers have gone repeatedly to both the Beijing Lawyers Association and the Beijing Judicial Bureau, seeking the renewal of their licenses. Not only have their licenses not been renewed, they have also been unable to obtain any information as to the reasons why. There have also been reports of harassment and intimidation. For example, when Zhang Lihui (张立辉), Yang Huiwen (杨慧文), Tang Jitian (唐吉田), and Liu Wei (刘巍) went to the Beijing Judicial Bureau on December 30, 2009 to inquire about their licenses, they were barred from entering the Bureau’s offices. It was only after they complained to the police that they were able to speak to a member of the Bureau’s staff.
In its letter, the Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers called upon Minister Wu to investigate why these lawyers’ licenses to practice have not been renewed and to intercede on their behalf to secure renewal of their licenses. The Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers emphasized the need for Chinese authorities to adhere to the rule of law and uphold their obligations under relevant international and domestic laws.
The Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers is housed at the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School. It is a group of independent lawyers from outside China whose goal is to support lawyers in China in their quest to strengthen the rule of law there.