Faculty condemns Chinese sanctions against barristers

The Faculty of Advocates is among a number of bar organisations that have condemned sanctions announced by China against barristers who gave legal advice in connection with human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

In a letter signed by the Faculty, the Bar Council of England and Wales, The Bar of Ireland and The Bar Council of Northern Ireland, China is criticised for violating UN principles.

The professional bodies for barristers and advocates state: “Four barristers gave a legal opinion for lay clients, who then published that opinion publicly. The opinion related to legal issues arising from alleged human rights violations by the PRC authorities against the Uyghur population in the Xinjiang Province of the PRC. The imposition of sanctions on lawyers for providing a legal opinion clearly contravenes the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers which state (at para. 18) that “lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions”.

“The naming in the sanctions of a barristers’ chambers, which comprises some 95 other barristers who practise from the same premises but as independent legal practitioners, is a further indiscriminate attack on legal professionals. It is inconsistent with respect for the rule of law.”

The legal organisations ask the Chinese government to review its sanctions “which call into question its commitment to the rule of law, as well as its status and reputation as a reliable partner in international trade and commerce”.

They conclude by calling on the “national and international Bar associations to condemn the imposition of these sanctions as an unjustifiable interference with the professional role of lawyers and an attack upon the rule of law internationally”.

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