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China dismisses UN calls to release rights lawyer

Beijing dismissed calls by UN to free prominent rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng.



Beijing: Beijing on Tuesday dismissed calls by
a United Nations human rights agency to free prominent rights
lawyer Gao Zhisheng, saying the body should respect China`s
judicial sovereignty.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention demanded
China release Gao, alleging his incarceration breached
numerous UN conventions and China`s own law, according to a
statement released by advocacy group Freedom Now.

"The Working Group requests the Government (of China)
to proceed to an immediate release of Mr Zhisheng Gao and
provide for reparation of the harm caused as a result of his
situation," the statement said.

Written in the form of a judicial opinion, the
statement, which Freedom Now said was given to them yesterday
also called on the China "to bring the practice in the matter
of arrests, detention and trials in conformity with
international law."

But China`s foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu
today maintained she was unaware of the "specifics" of the
case.

"We attach importance to cooperation with the UN human
rights` monitoring mechanism and urge the mechanism to respect
China`s judicial sovereignty," Jiang told reporters. "China is
a country under the rule of law."

Gao, who the Working Group called a "a brilliant
lawyer known for the defence of human rights", was arrested in
February 2009 and has been held incommunicado by the
authorities.

Geo briefly reappeared in March last year when he was
apparently released by police, speaking with a few friends and
colleagues, many of whom reported that he continued to be
tailed by authorities and was in ill-health.

Soon afterwards, he disappeared again and has not been
heard from since.

The UN statement said police and judicial authorities
have refused to issue an arrest warrant, name the charges
against Gao, publicly acknowledge he is in custody or tell his
family why he has been detained.

It also noted Gao was subject to torture and numerous
beatings while in police custody before February 2009.

The statement added that the Chinese government had
refused to provide the UN body with information on Gao`s case.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, made up
of human rights experts, investigate cases of arbitrary arrest
and detention around the world.

PTI

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