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Case Background: Lawyer Cheng Hai Faces One-year License Suspension

September 5, 2014

Cheng Hai is a Beijing-based rights defense lawyer. He has represented victims of hukou discrimination and Falun Gong practitioners, among others. Cheng was a vocal advocate for the abolition of Reeducation-Through-Labor, and, in 2008, joined other lawyers to call for the independent election of officials in the Beijing Lawyers Association. In 2012, he represented Ni Yulan, a housing rights advocate who, along with her husband, was suffering continued persecution by police authorities after her release from prison in April 2010.

In January 2014, Cheng defended lawyer Ding Jiaxi, a New Citizens Movement activist who was prosecuted for calling for disclosure of officials’ assets and education equality. During Ding’s trial, Cheng withdrew from the court to protest what he alleged as serious procedural violations. He subsequently filed complaints with relevant authorities. 

On August 22, 2014, Cheng received a notice from the Changping District Judicial Administration Bureau in Beijing informing him that the bureau planned to administratively suspend his license to practice for one year. The reason given for the suspension was that Cheng had “disrupted court order during a trial” and “interfered in the normal functioning of prosecutorial activities" when he was defending Ding Jiaxi.  Cheng requested and was granted a hearing, scheduled for September 5, 2014, at the Sunshine Halfway Home in Changping District, Beijing.

On August 26, 157 lawyers and legal scholars from different parts of the country issued a joint statement to protest the planned suspension of Cheng’s license to practice and support Cheng for carrying out his legal responsibilities to withdraw from the court when repeated attempts to prevent procedural violations during a court session were unsuccessful.

On August 31, Cheng filed a complaint with the Changping District Judicial Administration Bureau objecting to the venue of the hearing, Sunshine Halfway Home, which is an agency that provides temporary education, training, and other social services to citizens reentering society after their release from prison or extrajudicial detention centers.

The hearing took place as scheduled on Friday, September 5, at the Sunshine Halfway Home. According to information online provided by rights activist Hu Jia, nearly 100 people came to the hearing location to show their support for Cheng, and “a majority of them were picked up by the police.” (See程海律师听证会声援律师、公民近百人被抓, at http://canyu.org/n92810c6.aspx.)

HRIC items related to Cheng Hai

http://www.hrichina.org/en/defenders/cheng-hai

Profile in China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group database

http://www.chrlawyers.hk/en/content/cheng-hai

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