Asian Lawyers Network

Asia Lawyers Network (ALN) is a network that advocates for the rights of lawyers and legal activists throughout the Asia region that are subject to arbitrary detention, sanction, and harassment for their legal advocacy, as well as for strengthening standards of protection for lawyers and for civil and political rights generally. 

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News about lawyers and legal activists in the Asia region, including statements, reports, and activities of ALN


Karakalpak Activist and Lawyer Dauletmurat Tajimuratov

July 2, 2024 marks the second anniversary of the start of the arbitrary detention of the lawyer, activist, and former newspaper editor Dauletmurat Tajimuratov by Uzbekistan authorities following his advocacy and call for protests against proposed constitutional amendments to end the autonomous status and right to secede of Karakalpakstan, an autonomous region in West Uzbekistan. Tajimuratov was later convicted to a 16 year sentence which he is currently serving, and there are reports that he has suffered inhuman conditions and ill-treatment during his incarceration.

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Nguyen Van Binh, head of the legal department of Vietnam's Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs

ALN protests the arbitrary arrest in mid-April in Vietnam of Nguyen Van Binh, a lawyer and head of the legal department of Vietnam’s Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), for allegedly disclosing state secrets.... Binh’s arrest is part of a wider crackdown the government of Vietnam has been waging against human rights activists, journalists, government officials, and other critical voices in Vietnam over the last several months, the origins of which stem from a shake-up in political leadership and a related policy shift in 2023 in an authoritarian direction associated with Directive 24 as explained below.

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Jointly issued by Asian Lawyers Network, The 29 Principles and Lawyers for Lawyers

On March 19, Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) passed the “Safeguarding National Security Ordinance” (SNSO) popularly known as Article 23 or the Article 23 law, referring to Article 23 of the Basic Law, which calls on the region to pass domestic national security legislation. On March 23, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee signed it into law. This statement provides some legal analysis of the law and surveys possible threats it poses for Hong Kong lawyers.

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Rights lawyer Yu Wensheng, his wife activist Xu Yan, and their son. 

13 April marks the first anniversary of the detention of human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng and his wife, activist Xu Yan. We, the undersigned civil society organizations, are deeply concerned about this case and call for the immediate and unconditional release of Yu Wensheng and his wife, activist Xu Yan, as they have been detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their human rights including the right to freedom of expression. 

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Rights lawyer Maria Saniata Alzate, killed on 14 September 2023

Since Bongbong Marcos Jr. became president of the Philippines in 2022, at least nine lawyers have been physically attacked for their legal work, three of whom were killed (Danny Pondevilla, Elmer Mape, and Maria Saniata Alzate) and six severely injured (Ariff Lao, Karen Quinanola-Gonzales, Alexander Lacaba, Hamilcar Bigornia, Gerome Tubig, and Maria R.M. Melendez). 

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Asian Lawyers Network (ALN) co-signed this important statement. Lawyers' rights and the rule of law are at risk in Hong Kong. 

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We, the undersigned, representing civil society and human rights organizations across the world, condemn the Hong Kong government’s plans to introduce domestic security legislation under Article 23 of the Basic Law.

[Read the full statement on Hong Kong Watch's site.]

[Go to the statement on ALN's site.] 

China's 4th UPR Review in Room XX of the UN Palais des nations in Geneva

1.      Introduction and Background on China’s UPR Session

On 23 January 2024, the session for China’s fourth UPR cycle was held at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The session was video recorded, and one can watch it from the link in the following footnote.[1] Very briefly, the Universal Periodical Review (UPR) is an administrative process under the UN’s Human Rights Council to review the human rights record of all states on a four-and-a-half year cycle, administered by the UPR Working Group (WG) of states. 

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Arnon Nampa (Photo credit: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)

On 17 January 2024, activist lawyer Arnon Nampa was convicted to a four year sentence for three social media posts he made in 2021 under Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act and its draconian lèse-majesté law, which criminalizes defamatory speech against Thailand’s king or royal family. Arnon’s posts, made on January 1 and 3, 2021, were deemed to defame, express hatred towards, and lead to public misunderstanding about the king and monarchy.

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As 2023 ends, this article highlights eight important or recent developments in the arbitrary detention, harassment, and repression of rights lawyers and activists in China and Hong Kong over the last year.

The context remains the hostile environment for rights lawyers and human rights defenders created by President Xi Jinping and his administration since the early years of his rule, characterized by “rule by law” authoritarianism, that is, by crackdowns on all potential oppositional actors, including (especially) rights lawyers assisting such oppositional actors, through “legal” procedures ostensibly in the name of “upholding law and order”.
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人權律師唐吉田律師自2023114日再次失聯,再次失蹤的情況令人擔心,除了他身體狀況過去因為肺結核令身體虛弱,他幾年來一直沒法赴日本探望昏迷的女兒琪琪。唐律師面對的困境正是很多在中國的人權捍衛者面對的情況,不單是本人失去人身自由,連和家人見面的機會也被剝奪。

中国の人権派弁護士・唐吉田氏の所在を確認し、拘束されているのであれば釈放し、日本在住で重病の娘との面会のための出国を許すよう、ようせいします。

The prolonged disappearance of Chinese human rights lawyer Tang Jitian since 4 November 2023 is a cause for concern, especially considering his weakened physical condition due to previous lung tuberculosis. For years, he has been unable to visit his comatose daughter, Qiqi, in Japan.

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In 2023, three countries have stood out in the Asia region for their harassment and arbitrary detention of lawyers and other human rights defenders, China, Cambodia, and Myanmar. The four relatively recent cases listed below emphasize the dire situation of lawyers attempting to work in these countries.
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ALN has co-signed a public letter to US President Biden along with 58 other organizations calling for him to prioritize human rights when speaking to Xi Jinping during the upcoming APEC Summit.

Dear President Biden,

On behalf of 59 organizations and individuals devoted to improving respect for human rights in China and communities the Chinese government impacts, we write to urge you to prioritize concerns about Beijing’s lack of concrete human rights improvements in your discussions with Chinese leader Xi Jinping during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco.
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More than eight years after the “709 Crackdown” in China on 9 July 2015, in which more than 300 human rights lawyers and activists were arbitrarily detained, greatly expanding Xi Jinping’s assault on all voices of dissent in China, Chinese human rights lawyers continue to face disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture, disbarment, travel restrictions, surveillance, relentless harassment of them and their families, and other abuses.
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Li Yuhan, the Chinese human rights lawyer who won the 2020 Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison. Detained six years ago, she was charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” [Read More...]