EU calls on China to account for torture cases involving human rights lawyers

A EU spokesperson issues a statement on the matter. The release of Li and Xie Yanyi Chunfu is "a positive step", but the EU wants an explanation for the cases involving Li Heping, Wang Quangzhang and Xie Yang as well as the release of still detained lawyers and activists.

Brussels (AsiaNews) – The European Union wants China to conduct an investigation into the torture cases involving human rights lawyers jailed by Chinese authorities in July 2015, a EU spokesperson said in a statement on Saturday (28 January).

“The release of human rights lawyers Xie Yanyi and Li Chunfu is a positive step,” the statement read. However, “We are aware of recent information regarding the serious mistreatment of detained human rights lawyers Li Heping, Wang Quangzhang and Xie Yang. If verified, this mistreatment would amount to torture.”

The statement then goes on to quote a December 2015 report by the UN Committee against torture that expressed serious concern over the practice of torture in Chinese criminal justice system.

“The European Union,” the press released added, “expects that the competent authorities in China will investigate, without delay, the account of torture in the case of Xie Yang and the allegations of torture in the cases of Li Heping and Wang Quanzhang.

“Pursuant to Article 18 of China's Criminal Procedure Law, if the accounts of mistreatment or torture are confirmed, this should result in the punishment of the responsible persons.”

In a speech in April 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that “China is a country ruled by law” and that “every individual [Communist] party organisation and party member must abide by the country’s constitution and laws and must not take the party’s leadership as a privilege to violate them”.

In view of this, the EU statement urges China to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of prisoners, and concludes with a call for the release of lawyers and human rights defenders still detained, including Jiang Tianyong.