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China drafts rules banning lawyers from discussing cases on Internet, media

Published on Jun 18, 2014 2:04 PM
 
China has drafted rules banning lawyers from drawing attention to cases through the Internet and media, which critics say amounts to a gag order stopping them from publicising controversial cases and miscarriages of justice. -- PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China has drafted rules banning lawyers from drawing attention to cases through the Internet and media, which critics say amounts to a gag order stopping them from publicising controversial cases and miscarriages of justice.

China, where rule of law is paid lip service only, has stepped up pressure on freedom of speech and on the small band of rights lawyers and campaigners in recent months, and the latest move is seen as a further step in that direction.

Chinese lawyers have increasingly challenged the judicial system by exposing injustices ranging from undue interference by government officials to barring lawyers from meeting detained defendants.

The draft rules stipulate that lawyers cannot make "misleading" comments, issue open letters or incite demonstrations to pressure courts or judges to review decisions. Criticism of the Chinese legal and political system, as well as the ruling Communist Party policy, will also be banned, and lawyers who break the rules will be punished, according to lawyers who have viewed the draft document.

 
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