Whilst the UK is focused upon the visit of China’s President, Xi Jinping, to the country this week, the Bar Human Rights Committee calls for attention to be given to China’s detained and threatened Chinese lawyers, staff and human rights defenders.

Following a state crackdown in China that started in July this year, around 220 lawyers, staff, human rights defenders and their family members were arrested. Approximately 30 are still detained or missing.

In July, the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) wrote an open letter to the Chinese President calling for the release of those in detention. It raised strong concerns as to the severe methods used by the Chinese Public Security Ministry to orchestrate the arrests, often without following legal procedure or providing reasons. Most of the lawyers were working on human rights-related cases and the wave of arrests were in violation of a host of international human rights standards such as the right to a fair trial, to freedom of expression and to safeguards for those representing accused people.

Today the Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee, Kirsty Brimelow QC, said, “As lawyers we stand in solidarity with those in China who face harassment for working to uphold the rule of law and human rights. We call on President Xi Jinping to demonstrate respect for international law. This should result in the release of those detained and the cessation of threats, surveillance and charges against their family members.”