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China: Human Rights

Volume 454: debated on Thursday 14 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the fairness of the trials of (a) Chen Guangcheng and (b) Zhao Yan in China. (108937)

Official information on both these trials is limited. However, the Government have received reports of breaches of due process in each case which are deeply concerning.

Chen Guangcheng was for instance denied access to the lawyers of his choice at his trial on 24 August, which contravenes international fair trial standards. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary therefore welcomed news of Chen’s quashed sentence in a statement on 2 November and urged the Chinese Government to guarantee due process at his retrial. Officials from our Embassy in Beijing applied for but were denied access to Chen’s retrial on 27 November. We are concerned by reports that one of Chen’s lawyers was again denied access to the court, and that key witnesses were detained, raising further doubts about the fairness of proceedings against him. We hope that his forthcoming appeal will be dealt with fairly and transparently. Zhao Yan’s trial was held in closed court on 25 August and we remain concerned at serious procedural irregularities, as well as the lack of information on his conviction for “financial fraud”. We are also concerned that Zhao’s appeal was not granted a fair and thorough hearing on 2 December. We continue to urge China to prove its commitment to the rule of law through its handling of these cases and guarantee that international fair trial standards are enforced.