The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned that journalists
and media outlets in China are not reporting on harassment of human rights
lawyers by the government-run Beijing Justice Bureau and the Beijing Lawyers’
Association due to fear of potential repercussions from China’s authorities.
A mainland journalist, who asked
to remain anonymous, told the IFJ
media outlet had reported on any of the 22 cases of human
rights lawyers being harassed after
they alleged malpractice
by the Beijing Lawyers’ Association and the Beijing Justice Bureau.
“The failure of local media to report on the concerns of
lawyers acting in human rights cases highlights the powerful way in which
official attempts to suppress reporting on matters of public interest has an
effect even without official restrictions,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
The lawyers were reportedly warned their licences would be suspended by the end of May if they continued to assist victims of human rights
took up sensitive cases related to Tibet, freedom of expression and religion, and the government’s alleged illegal repossession
of land, the journalist said.
“The suppression of news of human rights lawyers is just
like the June 4 Tiananmen Massacre. Both of them are taboo for the Central
Government,” the journalist said.
The accusations against the Beijing Justice Bureau and the Beijing
Lawyers’ Association include allegations that the organisations instructed law
firms to rescind employment contracts of lawyers involved in human rights cases
against the Chinese authorities.
one of the targeted lawyers, told the
IFJ that two lawyers had been brutally bashed by police officials in the past
few months. “We have received various kinds of harassment since February,” Jiang said.
“Journalists worldwide are obliged by their professional
duties to research and report on allegations of malpractice by any organisation
or authority, including government
is no exception,” White said.
commitment to greater transparency and respect for the public’s right to know is
clearly stated in the preamble of the Human Rights Action Plan of China
2009-2010. Until journalists are able to report freely without fear of
ramifications, this is yet another
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents over 600,000 journalists in
120 countries worldwide