China: Harassment of human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong must stop, say UN experts

GENEVA September 24, 2019 – UN human rights experts* have called upon China to immediately end harassment and surveillance of prominent human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong.

Mr. Jiang was initially forcibly disappeared for a period and then sentenced in November 2017 to two years in prison for inciting subversion of State power. He was released in February this year.

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“Despite his release, Mr. Jiang is not a free man. He remains under constant surveillance by the authorities and his movement is severely restricted. He continues to be punished, along with his family and friends, with harassment and intimidation by the authorities,” said the experts. They noted that while this is being done on the ground that he has been deprived of his political rights for three years, such treatment is both gratuitously punitive and legally unjustified.

The experts also expressed concern about Mr. Jiang’s lack of access to appropriate medical care, especially in view of his deteriorating health. “As a result of ill-treatment in prison, he reportedly suffers from high blood pressure, memory loss, poor vision, and swollen legs and feet which hinder his mobility. However, he has not been allowed to see a doctor of his own choice to seek appropriate medical care,” said the experts.

UN human rights experts had previously condemned Mr. Jiang’s conviction and expressed concern that his confession may have been coerced by the use of torture. They also raised concern that his enforced disappearance and conviction may have occurred, at least in part, in reprisal for his cooperation with the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, during his visit to China in August 2016. The Secretary-General has also noted allegations of continued reprisals against Mr. Jiang, in his latest report on reprisals against those who cooperate with the United Nations.

“Under international human rights law, civil and political rights cannot be ‘deprived’ and can only be limited under exceptional and narrowly defined circumstances. The domestic legal provisions allowing for ‘deprivation of political rights’ are nothing but an instrument of oppression, used to punish human rights defenders for their work in violation of international human rights law and standards,” said the experts.

“We urge the Chinese Government to immediately cease the measures against Mr. Jiang and guarantee his freedom of movement and access to adequate medical care,” said the experts.

The experts have been in contact with the Chinese Government on several occasions to raise their concern about Mr. Jiang’s situation.

*The UN experts: Mr. Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; Ms Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on  extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; and Mr. Bernard Duhaime (Chair), Mr. Tae-Ung Baik (Vice Chair), Ms. Houria Es-Slami, Mr. Luciano Hazan and Mr. Henrikas Mickevičius (members) of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. 

UN Human Rights country page: China