Posts Tagged ‘American Bar Association’

Profile of Chinese human rights Defender Teng Biao

May 20, 2019

China Digitial Times (CDT) is expanding its wiki to include short biographies of , cartoonists, , and other people pushing for change in China. The wiki is a work in progress. Here the case of Teng Biao, of whom I wrote earlier in 2015: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/03/17/stop-dancing-with-dictators-says-chinese-human-rights-defender-teng-biao/.

. (Source: Wikipedia)

Teng Biao, born on August 2, 1973 in Jilin Province, is a human rights lawyer, activist, and former professor who is dedicated to exposing China’s human rights abuses and fighting against its use of the death penalty. After being repeatedly detained for his work, Teng moved to the U.S. in 2014, where he has continued his life’s work as a visiting scholar at institutions such as Princeton, Harvard, and New York University.

Teng obtained his Doctor of Law from Beijing University in 2002 before joining the faculty of the China University of Political Science and Law as a lecturer. He later served as a visiting scholar at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Yale University. He swiftly entered the fore of high-profile legal cases, including but certainly not limited to the Sun Zhigang incident in 2003, serving as counsel for activists Chen Guangcheng and Hu Jia, and death penalty cases such as the Leping case in Jiangxi Province.

Prior to moving to the U.S. in 2014, Teng was subject to multiple instances of police harassment. In 2008, he was detained for two days before being released following widespread calls from both domestic and foreign advocates; in 2010, he was detained for visiting a human rights lawyer under house arrest; in 2011, as those in China began to call for their own Jasmine Revolution, he was detained for ten weeks; in 2013, he was detained for attending Hu Jia’s birthday dinner.

In 2014, Teng relocated to the U.S., where he has continued observing and criticizing Chinese government practices. These include presenting a sobering view on the true nature of Xi Jinping’s corruption crackdown, expressing concern for detained fellow rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong, and calling for President Obama to pressure China on human rights at his last G20 summit appearance.

Teng again roused attention in 2016 when the American Bar Association abruptly cancelled publication of his book “Darkness Before Dawn,” a detailing of his 11-year career as a rights defender in China. The cancellation has been one of many cases of foreign entities who have either bowed to Chinese pressure for fear of upsetting the Chinese government or proactively curried favor for the sake of economic gain.

Over the course of his career, Teng has spearheaded multiple initiatives. He has co-founded two NGOs: Beijing’s China Against the Death Penalty, and the Open Constitution Initiative (Gongmeng), an organization composed of lawyers and academics that advocates for the rule of law in China. From the U.S., Teng co-founded the China Human Rights Accountability Center alongside rights defenders such as Zhou Fengsuo and Chen Guangcheng following the passage of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act under the Obama Administration. The act authorized the president to sanction foreign individuals who commit human rights violations or are engaged in significant levels of corruption. The Center aims to help the U.S. to enforce the Act and introduce similar legislation in other democratic countries.

Teng has been awarded the Human Rights Prize of the French Republic (2007), the NED Democracy Award (2008), Human Rights Watch Hellman/Hammett Grant (2010), Prize for Outstanding Democracy Activist (China Democracy Education Foundation, 2011), and the Religious Freedom and Rule of Law Defender Award (2012).

Entry written by Lisbeth.

Person of the Week: Teng Biao

New report on Guatemala’s failure to protect Human Rights Defenders

November 23, 2013

A report issued on 18 November 18, 2013 by the American Bar Association, Georgetown Human Rights Institute, and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, entitled “Tilted Scales: Social Conflict and Criminal Justice in Guatemala” describes how human rights defenders, civil society organizations, and indigenous community groups in Guatemala operate in a dangerous environment where they live under constant threat.  “The Guatemalan judicial system is being utilized to harass and intimidate human rights defenders, especially in the context of disputes between businesses and indigenous communities over property rights and land use” said Santiago A. Canton, Director of Partners for Human Rights at the RFK Center. “Human rights defenders and indigenous leaders are targeted with threats and violence, and find themselves faced with false criminal charges, while their perpetrators go unpunished.

Attorneys and civil society leaders reported that disputes between indigenous communities and extractive companies resulted from the governments failure to hold culturally appropriate, prior consultations in good faith as required under international law. The report also questions the compliance of multilateral banks and multinational corporations with international standards.  RFK Center President Kerry Kennedy added that “Many defenders report that ex-military officers who committed abuses during the internal armed conflict are now intimidating locals and committing crimes with impunity in the communities where they work.” The authors explain that defenders must contend with widely published derogatory and inflammatory statements against them, in addition to the possibility of being physically attacked or falsely accused of a crime. “Peaceful human rights activists have been labeled as terrorists by prominent commentators, including leaders affiliated with business interests” said Katharine Valencia co-author of the report. The report emphasizes the Guatemalan governments obligations under the American Convention on Human Rights to protect the physical integrity of citizens; guarantee the independence of judicial authorities; thoroughly and impartially investigate allegations of criminal activity; and protect against arbitrary detention and prolonged, unjustified pretrial detention. The report also stresses that prior to the development of projects in indigenous territories, the state must engage in good-faith, culturally appropriate, and fully informed consultations with affected communities. Finally, the report calls upon extractive industries and financial institutions to justly compensate communities that have been displaced or otherwise adversely impacted by business activity, and urges compliance with reparations agreements related to the internal armed conflict.

via New Report: Guatemala Must Immediately Protect Human Rights Defenders – The Paramus Post – Greater Paramus News and Lifestyle Webzine.

American Bar Association Writes to Nigerian Justice Minister about HRDs

September 21, 2013

In the Guardian of Nigeria of 21 September, Joseph Okoghenun writes that the American Bar Association [ABA] yesterday expressed their disappointments on the inability of the Nigerian Government to enforce rule of law and respect the rights of Nigerians, especially of those defending human rights in the country.  In letter specifically addressed to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, the Center for Human Rights of the ABA, said it was deeply  “concerned at recent events in Nigeria that threaten the rights and activities of human rights defenders and undermine the rule of law.” The letter cited several reports it received from Nigerian NGO Civil Liberties Organisation [CLO] about conduct that “reflect a pattern of ongoing human rights abuses by security forces in Nigeria, including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, and extortion”. The ABA strongly but respectfully urged the minister of justice  to look into this matter.

via American Lawyers Write Justice Minister, Seek Enforcement Of Human Rights.

 

Zimbabwe court orders another human rights defender (Beatrice Mtetwa) to be released

March 26, 2013

Having reported on 9 March 2013 on the case of Mukoko, who was arrested and ‘released’ a few days later (although the case against her remains pending), there is now the case of another well-known woman lawyer who was arrested and released after 8 days: As AP reports from Harare on 25 March:  “Zimbabwe’s High Court on Monday freed on bail a top rights lawyer who had been held for eight days on allegations of obstructing the course of justice…. She told reporters outside the courthouse that her arrest was a ploy to intimidate human rights defenders ahead of elections scheduled around July. “It is a personal attack on all human rights lawyers but I was just made the first example.Beatrice Mtetwa was arrested on March 17 along with four officials from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party. ….Mtetwa was accused of shouting at police officers who were conducting a search at Tsvangirai’s staff offices when she demanded to see a search warrant.Mtetwa and the four officials deny any wrongdoing. High Court Judge Joseph Musakwa ruled early Monday that Mtetwa was following professional legal procedures when she demanded to see a search warrant from police at the offices of the four officials.”She was entitled to be appraised of the legality of the search,” Musakwa said. Critics have cited the arrests as the start of a fresh wave of political intimidation against opponents of President Robert Mugabe by loyalist police and judicial officials ahead of elections.

Last week police ignored an earlier High Court order to free Mtetwa and on Wednesday the lower Harare magistrates court ordered her held in custody to reappear in that court on April 3. Charges of obstructing justice carry a maximum of two years imprisonment. Mtetwa said she was not well-treated while in police custody. She wasnt allowed to take a bath and was denied access to her lawyers and family. But she said she will not give up the fight for human rights. The judge said Mtetwa should not have been denied bail because of her “professional standing.”

Mtetwa is a recipient of awards from international jurists groups including the American Bar Association … state media controlled by Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party has criticized Judge Charles Hungwe, who issued the first order for Mtetwa’s release. It said his actions pointed to the need for some judges to come under closer scrutiny over their rulings, and accused him of inefficiency and negligence in hearing other cases.  Mugabe’s party claimed Hungwe illegally made the first ruling not in a court but at his private home during the night after her arrest without giving police the right to state their case against freeing her. The Sunday Mail newspaper criticized lawyers who thought themselves “untouchable” and said Mtetwas “stage-managed antics in and outside the courts” earned her “dubious awards” from African and international lawyers groups.

via Zimbabwe court orders rights lawyer to be released – Yahoo! News.