For Immediate Release: June 12, 2012
Washington, DC – Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino today urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to demonstrate the administration’s commitment to putting human rights “at the heart of” its diplomacy with China by protecting Chinese dissidents, including public interest lawyers and their family members. Specifically, Massimino noted that Chen Kegui, Chen Guangcheng’s nephew, is currently detained in China and charged with murder. He has been also been denied legal representation, a violation of the Intentional Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“The authorities detained Chen Kegui, 32, and charged him with attempted murder. No family member has been able to contact him, and Mr. Chen fears that his nephew has been tortured. As Mr. Chen noted, although China has signed the U.N. Convention Against Torture and has laws on the books to implement it, the government frequently tortures activists and others to extract confessions. China suffers less from a lack of laws than from the government’s refusal to equitably enforce them,” Massimino wrote in a letter to Secretary Clinton.
She continued, “The family has sought to retain lawyers for Chen Kegui, but the government is preventing them from working on the case. This is a violation of the core human rights principle of due process. Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which China has signed but not ratified, people charged with a crime have the right to a lawyer of their own choosing.”
Last week, in a separate letter, Massimino noted for Secretary Clinton that the United States has too often treated human rights as a marginal concern in its dealings with China. She said that the administration had acted admirably in assisting Mr. Chen Guangcheng and hoped that the handling of his case would marked the beginning of a shift in U.S. policy toward China.
“The State Department can demonstrate the seriousness of this commitment by highlighting Chen Kegui’s case in dealings with Chinese officials. In particular, we recommend that you urge the Chinese government to allow him to speak to family members and to be represented by the lawyers of his choosing,” Massimino concluded.