China: Closed-door trial and arbitrary detention of Huang Qi

16/01/2019
Urgent Appeal

New information
CHN 001 / 0119 / OBS 005
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
China
January 16, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in China.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD) about the closed-door trial and ongoing arbitrary detention of Mr. Huang Qi, founder and Director of the “64 Tianwang Human Rights Center”, which documents and publishes reports on human rights violations - including enforced disappearances and trafficking, and complaints against government officials [1].

According to the information received, on January 14, 2019, Mr. Huang Qi, who is seriously ill, was secretly put on trial before the Mianyang City Intermediate Court in Sichuan Province on charges of “illegally providing State secrets to foreign entities” and “intentionally leaking State secrets”. The Observatory is greatly concerned that, in clear violation of Mr. Huang’s right to a fair trial, court proceedings were held behind closed doors, no information about the trial was made public and one of Mr. Huang’s lawyers, Mr. Liu Zhengqing, was never informed about the hearing.

Mr. Huang Qi is being detained in Mianyang City Detention Centre. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, the court has not yet announced a verdict.

The Observatory strongly condemns the ongoing judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of Mr. Huang Qi, which seems to be merely aimed at punishing him for his legitimate and peaceful human rights activities, and remains deeply concerned about his health and conditions of detention. His health has indeed seriously deteriorated while in detention (see background information).

The Observatory is further concerned that Mr. Huang Qi’s 85-year-old mother has been a victim of enforced disappearance by the Chinese authorities since early December 2018. Her fate and whereabouts remain unknown to this day.

The Observatory recalls that in April 2018, the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an opinion [2] that declared Mr. Huang’s detention arbitrary. However, Chinese government continues to ignore the Working Group’s recommendation that Mr. Huang be released and compensated. In December 2018, four UN Special Rapporteurs further expressed serious concerns about his deteriorating health [3].

The Observatory urges Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr Huang Qi and his mother, and to ensure their psychological well-being and physical integrity. In particular, the Observatory calls on the authorities to give Mr. Huang an immediate and unconditional access to medical treatment.

Background information [4]:

Mianyang city police in Sichuan Province initially detained Mr. Huang Qi on November 28, 2016 and arrested him the following month on charges of “illegally providing State secrets to foreign entities.” A trial scheduled for June 20, 2018 was suspended without any official reason provided. In October 2018 police added an additional charge of “leaking State secrets”.

For the first 10 months of his detention, police did not allow him any access to a lawyer. Once granted access to legal counsel, Mr. Huang reported to his lawyers different forms of torture and other ill-treatment, including extended interrogations, prolonged periods of being forced to stand, and beatings in attempt to force him to confess.

Moreover Mr. Huang Qi is not receiving adequate medical care in detention and his health has seriously deteriorated. Mr. Huang suffers from a chronic kidney disease which requires daily medication, hydrocephalus (accumulation of fluid in the brain), heart disease and dangerously high blood pressure. In October 2018, Mr. Huang told his lawyer that Sichuan authorities had purposely understated the dire state of his health and had tried to cover up his actual condition. Authorities have repeatedly rejected applications for his release on medical bail.

Lawyers representing Mr. Huang Qi have also faced retaliation. One of his lawyers, Mr. Sui Muqing, was disbarred in February 2018 for defending human rights defenders, including Mr. Huang. The Guangdong judicial bureau has begun disbarment proceedings against Mr. Huang’s current lawyer, Liu Zhengqing, in reprisals for his work.

Mr. Huang Qi established China’s first-known human rights monitoring website in 1998, disseminating reports about Chinese individuals who had been trafficked and subjected to enforced disappearance. In the past he has served two prison sentences, totalling eight years, in reprisal for his human rights work, and was often tortured and subjected to ill-treatment.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in China, urging them to:
 
i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Mr. Huang Qi and of his mother, as well as of all human rights defenders in China;

ii. Immediately give Mr. Huang Qi access to an adequate medical treatment and more generally ensure that adequate conditions of detention and medical services are guaranteed to all persons that have been deprived of liberty and detained in China, according notably to the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners;

iii. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Huang Qi and his mother as their detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishing them for their human rights activities;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Huang Qi and all human rights defenders in China, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

v. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular with Articles 1 and 12.2;

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by China.

Addresses:

Mr. Li Keqiang, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 659 611 09 (c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Email: premier@mail.gov.cn
Mr. Guo Shengkun, Minister of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China, Fax: +86 10 63099216, Email: gabzfwz@mps.gov.cn
H.E. Mr. Zhaoxu Ma, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 793 70 14, E-mail: chinamission_gva@mfa.gov.cn
H.E. Mr. QU XING, Ambassador, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32-2-7792895; Email: chinaemb_be@mfa.gov.cn

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of China located in your country.

***
Geneva-Paris, January 16, 2019

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
• Tel and fax FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

[1] http://www.64tianwang.com/
[2] https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Detention/Opinions/Session81/A_HRC_WGAD_2018_22.pdf
[3] https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=24036&LangID=E
[4] See Observatory Joint Statement, published on November 5, 2018.

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