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Activists must not forget the plight of Chinese human rights lawyer Lu Siwei

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

This blog is authored by Chakra Ip, Executive Director of the 29 Principles.

On the 28th of July this year, Chinese human rights and Hong Kong 12 lawyer Lu Siwei was arrested by the Lao police prior to boarding a train to Thailand. His arrest sparked an international outcry that has since gone under the radar, yet the 29 Principles' concern regarding Lu Siwei's extradition to China is louder than ever before.

Lu Siwei's extradition to China has weak and arbitrary merit as well as serious impacts for the global legal community. At the time of his arrest in Laos, Lu Siwei had not received any formal notice of arrest or summons prior to leaving China. His Chinese passport was valid, and his visas to Laos and the United States were valid, indicating that he had not violated any immigration laws. Therefore, there are no grounds to accuse Lu Siwei of serious criminal offences or place him on any official wanted list.

On this legal basis, we urge the Lao PDR to disclose the grounds on which Lu Siwei's extradition request was founded.

According to paragraph 3 of Article 10 of the Law on Extradition of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, "extradition shall not be granted in any circumstances where Lao PDR has well-founded reasons to believe that the request for extradition is incompatible with humanitarian considerations... which may subject the person to torture or inhumane treatment." The Lao PDR also ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) on the 26th of September 2012. Article 3 of the CAT states: "No State Party shall expel, return ('refouler'), or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that they would be in danger of being subjected to torture."

The Lao PDR must uphold the prohibition against torture as outlined in the CAT. This not only entails refraining from engaging in torture themselves (Article 1) but also includes the responsibility to not extradite or deport individuals to countries where they may face torture (Article 3).

That is why I will continue to call on the Lao PDR to explain why they agreed to extradite Lu Siwei to China. Human rights activists must not forget the plight of Lu Siwei. We must engage with the United Nations and other international bodies to ensure Hongkongers, Tibetans, Uyghurs and other Chinese dissidents are not punished like Lu Siwei at home or abroad.

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