Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rule of Law in China = Battered Lawyers

Rule of Law in trash 

'Arrogantly make a fool of yourself because others are but mere humans and you the Barrister, is the enlightened Supreme Being' said my mentor.

This is certainly true where the rule of law reigns. Where her sovereignty ceases, lawyers become battered hopeless creature (if not be too exaggerating to borrow from Hobbes - living in solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short life).

This Tuesday, a criminal defense team of four lawyers in Guangxi has been arrested for suborning perjury (i.e. inciting clients or witnesses to commit perjury.) Briefly, they spotted holes and inconsistencies in the prosecution's accrued evidence against four defendants involving death case.

It is suspected the local government in Beihai, eager to keep the record - breaking report card in resolving homicide cases, attempted to silence them through these arrests. (The full news can be read here - Chinese version or here - the English version)

This amounts to a public showcase to how China see the law - as a maid to the executive expediency when a shining report - card can trash over innocence of four men, plus another four lawyers. When law serves as the executive's extended arm, no one's rights are guaranteed, not even the lawyers, let alone the people.

What is ironical is when Premier Wen said in last month at Da Lian that the party must separate from politics and law to prevent absolute corruption flowing from the absolute power. What the Beihai government now has done seem to slap right on Premier Wen's face.

Last month, a draft of amendment to Criminal Procedure Law has proposed to add 99 more articles (from 225 to 285), relating to rule of evidence, coercive measures, criminal defense and representation, investigative measures, trial procedures, enforcement and special proceeding. What the Beihai government now has done has shredded those papers into trash.

Rule of law is not empty words, along with a speech from this or that official (not even Premier Wen's speech can be counted on). Rule of law at least mean an independent judiciary and a group of lawyers who don't need to be afraid of get beaten this day, and arrested the next.

Even if the words on paper prima facie ensure protection for victims, like the additional grand proposed 99 articles, how do we know they are followed? The police can still happily stand a strong light against the 'witness' for hours until coercing a 'desired' statement, without letting anyone know.

We can't hold any complacency here in Hong Kong. Do not forget our small island constitute an 'unalienable part' of this imperial empire. Following the precedence from Ng Ka Ling, NPCSC's arm has again successfully encroached Hong Kong's rule of law in the Congo case. Space here does not allow a full explanation but in essence, NPCSC rules Hong Kong will be governed by absolute immunity, in contrast to restrictive immunity practiced by the common law world, marking another blow to Hong Kong's autonomy under One Country Two Systems.

I have recently finished reading a book on 1911 Revolution and realize revolution is not just about Sun Yat-sun but the people. It is the people who made history. Now, we, and the four arrested lawyers are part of the history in retaining the rule of law. 

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