CHINA: Warning to lawyers handling protest suits

The South China Morning Post

New rules from government-controlled All-China Lawyers Association demand
awyers to be wary of foreign media contact
Copyright The South China Morning Post
Friday, May 19, 2006
Beijing — Mainland officials have announced curbs on lawyers who
represent protesters and warned them to beware of contact with foreign
organisations and media.
The All-China Lawyers Association, a government-controlled body that
regulates the profession, issued a “Guiding Opinion on Lawyers Handling
Mass Cases”.
The rules demand that lawyers who take on “mass” cases brought by
protesters and other groups of 10 or more should report the cases to
the
association and “accept the monitoring and guidance of the judicial
administration agencies”.
The association said the rules were needed to ensure that sensitive
disputes did not threaten social stability.
“Mass cases often involve complex social, economic and political causes
and have a varied impact on the state and society that cannot be
ignored,”
said the rules posted on the association’s website,
www.chineselawyer.com.cn.
“Therefore, there is a need to regulate and guide lawyers who handle
mass
cases.”
Early this year, the Ministry of Public Security said there had been
87,000 protests, demonstrations and other “public-order disturbances”
last
year, a rise of 6.6 per cent on 2004.
Growing numbers of aggrieved citizens had raised their claims in court,
helped by a small but growing band of full-time rights campaigners,
said
Xu Zhiyong , a Beijing law professor who often represents citizens
suing
government officials and police.
“This imposes a new obligation on lawyers to report these cases, and
that
may attract problems and pressure,” he said of the rules.
The new rules also warn lawyers not to help organise or participate in
mass petitions to government and Communist Party offices, and warn
against
contact with foreign organisations and media. They must show a “high
level
of social responsibility”.




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