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Lu Siwei barred from leaving the country

Status: 
License Revoked
About the situation

On 8 May 2021, immigration officers at the Shanghai Pudong Airport stopped human rights lawyer Lu Siwei from boarding his flight to the United States, where he is due to participate in a fellowship programme. The officers informed the human rights defender that an exit ban had been imposed against him on "national security" grounds.

On 25 January 2021, the Sichuan Provincial Lawyers Association, a government-controlled entity, informed human rights lawyer Lu Siwei that his membership has been officially revoked as a result of the revocation of his lawyer's license on 15 January 2021.

On 15 January 2021, the Sichuan Provincial Judicial Department formally revoked human rights lawyer Lu Siwei's lawyer's license, citing his "inappropriate" and "malicious" online expressions which it said have "harmed national security", “severely damaged the image of the legal profession”, and “caused negative social impact”.

About Lu Siwei

Lu SiweiLu Siwei (卢思位) is a human rights lawyer based in Chengdu, Sichuan province in western China. He has provided legal assistance to victims of human rights violations and is outspoken against instances of social injustice and the suffering of vulnerable groups. Through legal assistance, legal representation, signature petitions and other advocacy means, he has worked on human rights issues human issues such as freedom of expression, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture, and forced eviction and demolition.

11 May 2021
Lu Siwei barred from leaving the country

On 8 May 2021, immigration officers at the Shanghai Pudong Airport stopped human rights lawyer Lu Siwei from boarding his flight to the United States, where he is due to participate in a fellowship programme. The officers informed the human rights defender that an exit ban had been imposed against him on "national security" grounds.

25 January 2021
Lawyers Association revokes Lu Siwei's membership

On 25 January 2021, the Sichuan Provincial Lawyers Association, a government-controlled entity, informed human rights lawyer Lu Siwei that his membership has been officially revoked as a result of the revocation of his lawyer's license on 15 January 2021. He has the right to request the Association to review the decision within 15 days.

18 January 2021
Lu Siwei's lawyer's license revoked

On 15 January 2021, the Sichuan Provincial Judicial Department formally revoked human rights lawyer Lu Siwei's lawyer's license, citing his "inappropriate" and "malicious" online expressions which it said have "harmed national security", “severely damaged the image of the legal profession”, and “caused negative social impact”. According to information published by Lu Siwei's legal representatives at the hearing, the main "evidence" in the government's case against the defender involved information tweeted or retweeted on Twitter from the account @lulawyer1.

Two days before the revocation decision was issued, the Department held a hearing in Chengdu where Lu Siwei and his two legal representatives contested the allegations made against him. There was heavy presence of public security officers at the scene, who prevented and briefly detained several human rights defenders who went to observe the hearing. Police officers roughly handled and dragged away some of the defenders outside the hearing venue, including one who was tackled to the ground and sustained injuries to his mouth and knee.

In a statement issued after his license was formally revoked, Lu Siwei stressed that he does not accept the decision and reserves the right to seek an administrative and/or judicial review of the decision. He said the revocation of his license, the underlying evidence, and the legal basis for the decision contravene the principles protecting lawyers' basic rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, and China's own Constitution and Law on Lawyers. He also wrote: "When I began to take on "sensitive" human rights cases in 2013, I came to know many ordinary but great citizens who, despite many obstacles, were treading a difficult path forward. I empathised with their suffering and feelings, so I decided to use my profession to help them. I was honoured to be able to closely combine my ideals and my real-life practice as I reached middle age."

Lu Siwei has the right to seek an administrative review of the decision by the Ministry of Justice or the Sichuan Provincial People's Government within sixty days, or launch an administrative lawsuit before a court within six months.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the Sichuan authorities' decision to revoke Lu Siwei's license and believes it is a reprisal for his peaceful exercise of his human rights as a lawyer, including the right to enjoy civil and penal immunity for relevant statements made in good faith in written or oral pleadings or in their professional appearances before a court, as well as the right to engage in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the respect and protection of human rights. It calls on the relevant authorities to quash the decision, fully restore his license, and commit to cease and prevent any future harassment and restrictions against him.

12 January 2021
Upcoming hearing on the revocation of human rights lawyer Lu Siwei’s license

On 13 January 2020, the Sichuan Provincial Judicial Department will hold a hearing in Chengdu, at the request of human rights lawyer Lu Siwei, who will contest the authorities’ decision to initiate the process to revoke his lawyer’s license in response to his human rights work and the exercise of his right to freedom of expression.

Download the Urgent Appeal

Lu Siwei (卢思位) is a human rights lawyer based in Chengdu, Sichuan province in western China. He has provided legal assistance to victims of human rights violations and is outspoken against instances of social injustice and the suffering of vulnerable groups. Through legal assistance, legal representation, signature petitions and other advocacy means, he has worked on human rights issues human issues such as freedom of expression, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture, and forced eviction and demolition.

The human rights lawer has defended fellow human rights lawyers who are or were facing criminal prosecution, including Yu Wensheng, Qin Yongpei, and Wang Quanzhang. In 2019, he faced disciplinary proceedings initiated by the State-controlled Chengdu Municipal Bar Association, which were believed to be in reprisal for his legal assistance to fellow human rights lawyer Chen Jiahong who was detained on suspicion of “inciting subversion”.

In 2020, Lu Siwei was hired to defend one of the 12 Hong Kong youth activists who were intercepted by Chinese authorities in August 2020 while fleeing to Taiwan by boat, but the authorities refused to allow him to meet his client and repeatedly threatened him in a bid to force him to abandon the case. On 28 December 2020, The European Union criticised the trial and subsequent sentencing of ten of the activists for not respecting the defendants’ fair trial and due process rights, including the right to appoint legal counsel of their choice.

In November 2020, the Chengdu Qingyang District Judicial Bureau demanded that Lu Siwei’s law firm turn over all files and legal counsel appointment documents in all cases handled by him since February 2019. The Bureau also required the law firm to inform the Bureau within three days of Lu Siwei signing any agreement to serve as a legal counsel and three days before the start of any trial in which he is the legal counsel.

In early January 2021, Lu Siwei received an official notice from the Sichuan Provincial Judicial Department informing him of its decision to suspend his license as an “administrative punishment” for his online activity which, according to the Bureau, was “inappropriate”, “severely damaged the legal profession”, and “caused negative social impact”.

The notice asserts that Lu Siwei’s actions have violated article 49(8) of the Law on Lawyers, which punishes speech acts that “harm national security, maliciously defame others, and seriously disrupt order in a court”, and article 38(3) of the Measures of the Administration of Lawyers’ Practice, which prohibits lawyers from “organising groups, launching joint signature petitions, publishing open letters, organising online gathering and advocacy” in order to “generate public pressure, attack, and defame judicial organs and the judicial system”. These provisions are overly broad and vague and confer wide discretionary powers to the authorities to punish lawyers for exercising their legitimate rights under both Chinese laws and international human rights standards.

In a statement responding to the Judicial Bureau’s decision, Lu Siwei stated that the provincial authorities abused their powers and did not follow the proper procedures governing license revocation. He also insisted that throughout his legal career, he has never acted in ways that are contrary to ethics and regulations governing the profession.

Front Line Defenders believes the judicial authorities’ actions against Lu Siwei are reprisals for his legitimate human rights work, including his defense of the due process and fair trial rights of other human rights defenders.