CHINA: Human rights defender facing secret trial in Shanghai

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We are forwarding information from The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint program of FIDH and OMCT China. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact them.


Paris – Geneva, 26 August 2003

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The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in China:

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by the non-governmental organization Human Rights in China (HRIC), that Mr. Zheng Enchong, a Shanghai lawyer involved in the defence of economic and social rights of displaced persons, will be tried in secret before the Shanghai Second Intermediate People’s Court on August 28, on charges of “illegally providing state secrets to entities outside of China”.

According to the information received, the lawyer of Mr. Zheng Enchong’s met him for the first time for an hour and a half on August 22. Mr. Enchong is reported to have told his lawyer that he was arrested because he offended powerful local interests through his involvement in a lawsuit alleging official collusion with a wealthy property developer, Mr. Zhou Zhengyi, and in reason of his long-term legal assistance to families displaced in urban redevelopment schemes.

The Observatory is gravely concerned about the lack of public access to the proceedings against Mr. Zheng Enchong, and fears that the principles of the right to a fair and impartial trial may not be respected. The Observatory recalls that charges for illegally obtaining state secrets can result in heavy prison sentences and consider the charges against him as arbitrary since the judicial proceeding clearly aims at preventing him from continuing to defend economic and social rights and fight against State corruption.

Background information:

The Observatory was informed that Mr. Zheng Enchong was arrested on June 6 after assisting displaced families in more than 500 cases relating to Shanghai’s urban redevelopment projects. He is currently detained at the Shanghai Public Security Bureau Detention Center. His first family visit was allowed on 20th August only. His house was searched at least twice; during the searches, Public Security police warned his wife, Mrs Jiang Meili, not to speak to the foreign media or other parties outside of China.

According to the information received, Mr. Zheng’s license was revoked in 2001 in relation to cases he was handling for people displaced by urban redevelopment. In spite of Mr. Zheng’s deprivation to practice law and increasing official persecution, he has continued to provide legal advice to people, even though he could not represent them in court.

Most recently Mr. Zheng was advising families involved in a lawsuit alleging corrupt collusion between officials and a wealthy property developer, Mr. Zhou Zhengyi.

The Observatory recalls that these acts of reprisal are a flagrant violation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which states in its article 9.3.c that “In the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, [¬°K], everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to offer and provide professionally qualified assistance in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms”. They also contravene the United Nations Basic principles of the Role of Lawyers which state that “Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference” (article 16).

Action requested :

Please write to the authorities of China urging them to:

1 Guarantee in all circumstances Mr. Zheng Enchong’s physical and psychological integrity;

ii Drop the charges against him as they are arbitrary, and release him immediately;

iii. Ensure that Mr. Enchong be immediately given back his license;

v Put an end to any form of harassment against lawyers and human rights defenders in China;

v Conform to the provisions of the Declaration on Humans Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” and 9.3.c above mentioned;

vi. Conform with the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers;

vii. Conform to the provisions of the Universal Declaration on Human

Rights and international human rights standards;

Addresses :

  • President Hu Jintao, People’s Republic of China, c/o Embassy of the People’s Republic of China; 2300 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., 20008, USA, Fax: +01 202 588-0032
  • President Hu Jintao, People’s Republic of China; c/o Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China, Chemin de Surville 11, Case postale 85, 1213 Petit-Lancy 2, Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +4122 7937014, E-mail:
  • Ministry of Justice of the People’s Republic of China, 10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Chaoyangqu, Beijingshi 100020, People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 65 292345



Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme

Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Document Type : Forwarded Urgent Appeal
Document ID : FA-31-2003
Countries : China,
Issues : Human rights defenders,