UN rights experts call for investigation into death of China lawyer

[JURIST] UN human rights experts on Tuesday called for [press release] a full investigation into the death of Chinese human rights activist Cao Shunli. Cao was an influential human rights lawyer and activist in China who "tirelessly campaigned since 2008 for transparency and greater participation of civil society" in the second universal periodic review [materials] of China's human rights record. On September 14, Cao was detained by Chinese officials before boarding a flight from Beijing to Geneva where she was take part in a human rights seminar and observe China's universal periodic review by the Council. Cao's whereabouts became unknown for some time, until she was later charged with the crime of provocation. This disappearance and criminal charge, coupled with the fact that she was being denied medical treatment despite her deteriorating health, led UN experts to send urgent appeals to China. In a public statement [press release], experts stated "accurate information on the detention of any person, including the reasons and place of detention, shall be made promptly available to their family members and their counsel." Due to her failing health while in detention, Cao was later transferred to a hospital in critical condition on February 19, and died less than a month later on March 14.

Human rights have been a controversial issue in China in recent years, along with accusations of corruption within the Chinese government. In December Human Rights Watch urged the Chinese government [JURIST report] to drop all politically motivated charges against human rights activist Xu Zhiyong and release him from prison. In August Chinese writer, lawyer and human rights advocate Yang Maodong became the second leader of the New Citizens movement to be arrested [JURIST report], following Xu, on suspicion of disrupting the peace. In June a Chinese court in Huairou sentenced [JURIST report] Liu Hui, brother-in-law of the Nobel Peace Prize winner and democracy activist Liu Xiaobo, to 11 years in prison on charges of fraud. In May China's Nanjing Intermediate People's Court issued a life sentence [JURIST report] to Huang Sheng, the former provincial deputy governor of Shandong Province, for accepting almost $2 million in bribes form 21 organizations and numerous individuals between 1998 and 2011.

 

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