Condemning the Enforced Disappearance of Lawyer Lu Tingge

Members of the Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Group, March 8, 2019

Lu Tingge (卢廷阁) is a lawyer based in Shijiazhuang (石家庄), the capital of Hebei province. He is one of the newer faces in the community of human rights lawyers in China. In February he put forward a proposal to limit the legislative authorities of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, and more than a thousand Chinese citizens signed to support the proposal. He has been missing since March 2. — The Editors  

We have learned from multiple sources that, on March 2, the Shijiazhuang-based lawyer Lu Tingge was taken away by officials of Shijiazhuang municipal Justice Bureau and his neighborhood police officers, and that his family and colleagues have not been able to get in touch with him for seven days as of today.

Lawyer Lu called his wife once on the evening of March 2, not using his own cell phone, but that of Xing Qiang (邢强), an official of the Bureau. Since then his family has not been able to get in touch with him.

We as lawyers believe this is a serious violation of a citizen’s basic human rights such as freedom of movement and freedom of communication. It is a typical act of enforced disappearance. Those who are involved in disappearing lawyer Lu Tingge have committed the crime of extralegal detention defined by Article 238 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China.

We have reasons to believe that the enforced disappearance of lawyer Lu is probably related to his proposal for amending the Constitution and his gathering signatures of support because several lawyers who signed have been summoned for talks by officials of their local Justice Bureaus.

Lawyer Lu’s disappearance reminds us of a number of human rights defenders whose freedom has been partially restricted for their expressions. We believe that:

First, it is immoral to secretly categorize and identify citizens for their expressions and political orientations; it is immoral to conduct secret and prolonged investigations of lawful citizens who are merely exercising their constitutional rights.

Second, it is illegal to forcibly evict or limit the movement of certain citizens based on such secret categorization and identification when the National People’s Congress (NPC), the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), or the Chinese Communist Party’s national conference convenes, or on dates deemed particularly sensitive. It is a blatant contravention of constitutional rights and in opposition to the government’s claim of governing the country according to the law.

Third, the central requirement of governing the country according to the law is to respect and protect basic human rights and to allow citizens to be free of fear. Enforced disappearances by the government will create permeating fear. Such inappropriate exercise and transgression of power sets a precedent and can easily be multiplied, creating threats to all citizens. The enforced disappearance of lawyer Lu Tingge will inevitably and adversely affect ordinary people.  

Fourth, according to article 16 and article 23 of the United Nations’ “Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers,” “governments shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference,” that “lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly,” and that “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…” 

We call on Shijiazhuang Justice Bureau and neighborhood police to immediately restore lawyer Lu Tingge’s physical freedom and freedom of communication.

We call on the Hebei provincial government’s disciplinary and supervisory entities to investigate the civil servants who have been involved in committing the crime of illegal detention in this case and to eliminate the ill effects it has created.

Members of the Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Group (中国人权律师团)

March 8, 2019

谴责石家庄市司法局和公安局对卢廷阁律师的强迫失踪

从数个消息来源获知,自2019年3月2日卢廷阁律师被石家庄市司法局和辖区派出所警察联合带走后,就与外界失联。至今已经是第7天了。

虽然3月2日晚卢律师给妻子打过一次电话,但用的却是司法局邢强处长的电话。此后其家人再无法再联系上他。

作为法律人,我们一致认为这是对公民人身自由,通讯自由这些基本人权的严重侵害,是一种典型的强迫失踪行为,相关涉案人员已经构成《刑法》第238条的非法拘禁罪。

我们有理由相信,对卢律师的强迫失踪可能与他提议修改宪法的联署文本有关,因为多个联署律师均已被所在地的司法局约谈。

由卢律师个案联想到以前多位人权捍卫者因言论表达而被区别对待甚至被限制部分自由的情形,我们一致认为:

第一,基于人的言论和政治倾向而对公民进行秘密分类和甄别是不道德的,对践行宪法权利的合法公民进行长期的秘密侦查是不道德的。

第二,在全国人大、政协或者中国共产党的全国会议召开及某些特定日子,基于对公民的秘密分类和甄别,对特定公民进行强制驱逐和限制自由迁移是违法的,是对《宪法》权利的践踏,与政府主张的依法治国精神相违背。

第三,依法治国的核心要求是尊重和保障基本人权,让国民有免于恐惧的自由。而公权力的强迫失踪会塑造弥漫性的恐惧氛围,因为权力的行使具有强烈的示范作用,一旦权力边界被突破,极易被复制,对所有国民都是一种威胁。卢廷阁作为一名律师,他的被强迫失踪不可避免的会带给普通人更大的心理冲击。

第四,依据联合国《关于律师作用的基本原则》第16条和23条之规定,各国政府应该保证律师能履行其所有职责而不受恫吓和威胁,律师作为公民也享有言论、信仰、结社和集会的自由,他们应有权参加针对法律、司法以及促进和保障人权方面的公开讨论。

我们呼吁石家庄市司法局和辖区派出所人员即刻还卢律师人身自由和通讯自由。

我们呼吁河北省纪检监察部门立即对涉案的国家机关工作人员非法拘禁的犯罪行为展开调查,以消除事件带来的恶劣影响。

中国人权律师团

2019年3月8日

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