Secret File Prevents Lawyers From Defending Falun Gong Cases
While talking to judges at the Dehui Court in Jilin Province, family members of Falun Gong practitioners heard about an unpublished official document that prevents lawyers from defending Falun Gong practitioners.
A Chinese judge Wang Rongfu had yelled at a Falun Gong practitioner’s family member in April: “Don’t argue with me whether my order is against the law. The higher court told us that Falun Gong-related cases are special, and the practitioners don’t have the right to be defended … A murderer can hire a lawyer. Falun Gong practitioners can’t.”
By chance, the family member read the secret document on April 21 and recorded part of it. The document, labeled as Document No. 226 in 2020, is issued by the Jilin Provincial High Court. It says:
“In principle, no lawyer is allowed to represent cases that are related to an evil religion.”
(Note: Since the persecution of Falun Gong began in July 1999, the Chinese regime has adopted a suppressive attitude toward the practice, including calling the practice an evil religion).
This document violates a number of Chinese laws, including the Constitution, the Criminal Procedure Code, the Lawyers Act, the Judge Act, the Laws Interpretations by High Court, and the Rules of High Procuratorate, which grant all defendants the right to hire a lawyer to represent them.
Officially, the document is not yet effective as the Chinese legal system requires that all laws and rules must be published publicly.
However, the lawyers of practitioners have been continuously meeting with resistance from the courts.
For example, Chinese law requires lawyers to submit an application to the court before they can represent a defendant. When many practitioners’ lawyers tried to submit applications, however, the court stalled them with different excuses. This included asking for different types of certifications that were not typically required.
This is a serious deterrence to a fair trial, as, without the court’s approval, lawyers cannot review the indictments and other related legal documents, nor enter the court.
On July 26, the court handed down sentences without notifying the practitioners, their relatives, or their lawyers. The practitioners finally knew the sentences when they were transferred from the detention center to different prisons.
After learning about this secret document, lawyers and practitioners’ relatives asked the Jilin Provincial High Court for a copy. The court has refused to answer them.