China: Huang Qi sentenced to 12 years in prison

21/08/2019
Urgent Appeal

New information
CHN 001 / 0119 / OBS 005.1
Sentencing / Arbitrary detention /
Denial of medical care
China
August 21, 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 conviction 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 [1].

According to the information received, on July 29, 2019, the Intermediate Court in Mianyang, Sichuan Province, convicted Mr. Huang Qi, who is seriously ill, of “intentionally leaking State secrets” and “illegally providing State secrets to foreign entities” and sentenced him to 12 years in prison and a 20,000 RMB (2,605 EUR) fine. The court did not inform Mr. Huang’s mother of the hearing and sentencing. It is unclear if Mr. Huang had access to any legal counsel during the sentencing hearing.

The conviction and sentencing of Mr. Huang come after a closed-door hearing on January 14, 2019, which violated international standards of fair trial (see background information).

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. The Observatory remains deeply concerned about his conditions of detention and health, which has seriously deteriorated while in detention (see background information).

The Observatory urges Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr Huang Qi and to ensure his psychological well-being and physical integrity. The Observatory also calls on the authorities to immediately provide adequate medical treatment to Mr. Huang.

Background information:

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 “intentionally leaking State secrets”.

For the first 10 months of his detention, police did not allow Mr. Huang 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.

On January 14, 2019, Mr. Huang Qi 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 was 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 his lawyer was never informed about the hearing.

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.

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].

Lawyers representing Mr. Huang Qi have also faced retaliation. Two of his lawyers, Mr. Sui Muqing and Mr. Liu Zhengqing, were disbarred in reprisal for their work. During the January trial, Mr. Huang dismissed his other lawyer, Mr. Li Jinglin, to protect him from reprisals. Moreover, authorities denied lawyer Zhang Zanning, hired by his mother in February 2019, the right to meet with Mr. Huang.

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 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 as well as of all human rights defenders in China;

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

iii. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Huang Qi as his detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishing him for his 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, August 21, 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

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