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New report critiques ‘rule of law with Chinese characteristics’ amid increased crackdown on civil society in China

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) released today a special report on the state of rule of law in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), entitled Rule by Law: Special Report on the Rule of Law with Chinese Characteristics.

The special report comes in the wake of a severe crackdown on human rights lawyers and advocates in the PRC, hundreds of whom have been detained, disbarred, harassed and intimidated in recent months.[1] Not only does this crackdown raise serious concerns for the status of human rights and civil society in China, the attack on Chinese lawyers directly impacts detained Tibetans who rely on their skill and courageous action to defend them against unfair legal proceedings.

The increased repression in the PRC conflicts with ‘rule of law’ rhetoric used by Chinese leaders to bolster their claims of a reformed China. In 2014, PRC President Xi Jinping incorporated the phrase ‘rule of law with Chinese characteristics’ as part of the current four-year plan developed by the Central Commission of the Communist Party of China.

The special report questions whether the PRC’s ‘rule of law with Chinese characteristics’ is a step toward the implementation of genuine rule of law in China or simply rhetoric under which the PRC will continue its repressive rule by law. The special report explains the underpinnings and outcomes of the rule of law and examines the current legal and political framework of the PRC with reference to the experience of Tibetans and Chinese lawyers living under the current regime. The special report also canvasses recent developments in and out of China that give hope for increased rule of law in the future.

For Tibetans living under the PRC, rule by law (or force) is nothing new. Repressive Chinese state policies, prohibitions on expression of religion and peaceful assembly, regular beatings and arbitrary detentions, denial of legal rights, unfair trials and disproportionate sentences which include torture, abuse and denial of adequate medical care are the reality. Prolonged denial of basic human rights has become unbearably oppressive for many Tibetans, many of whom have resorted to self-immolation protests.

The full text of the report can be accessed HERE.
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[1] For more information, see China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group (CHRLCG) http://www.chrlawyers.hk/en

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