CECC Chairman Byron Dorgan and Cochairman Sander Levin Issue Joint Statement on the Trial of Liu Xiaobo

Congressional-Executive Commission on China | www.cecc.gov

CECC Chairman Byron Dorgan and Cochairman Sander Levin Issue Joint Statement on the Trial of Liu Xiaobo

December 23, 2009

(Washington DC)—Following the trial of Mr. Liu Xiaobo in Beijing on the morning of December 23, China once again is at an important crossroads, and seems to be turning in the wrong direction. We call on the Chinese government to release Mr. Liu, and to respect the rights of all Chinese citizens to peacefully express their political views and desires for universally-recognized fundamental freedoms.

Mr. Liu has been detained and tried for exercising internationally-recognized rights to free expression and association; his case should be dismissed, and he should be released. The trial of Mr. Liu demonstrates again the Chinese government’s failure to uphold its international human rights obligations and also its failure to abide by procedural norms and safeguards that meet international standards. The apparent violations of Chinese legal protections for criminal defendants that have marred Mr. Liu’s case from the outset are numerous and well-documented. Serious concerns have been raised over matters such as the failure of Chinese prosecutors to consult defense lawyers and the speed with which they acted in indicting Mr. Liu and bringing him to trial, effectively denying his lawyers sufficient time to review the state’s evidence and to prepare for his defense. Mr. Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, has been harassed relentlessly and prevented by officials from attending the trial, in which she reportedly had hoped to testify on behalf of her husband. Mr. Liu's lawyers reportedly have been ordered by state judicial authorities not to grant interviews.

All nations have the responsibility to ensure fairness and transparency in judicial proceedings. The effective implementation of basic human rights and the ability of all people in China to live under the rule of law depend on careful attention to, and transparent compliance with, procedural norms and safeguards that meet international standards. Instead of signaling its intent to uphold international standards, the Chinese government thus far in its treatment of Liu Xiaobo has demonstrated callous disregard for those standards.

All Chinese citizens deserve unconditional protection of their internationally-recognized rights to free expression and free association. Those in China, like Mr. Liu, who have penned thoughtful essays or signed Charter 08 seek to advance debate on “national governance, citizens’ rights, and social development” consistent with their “duty as responsible and constructive citizens.” Their rights must be protected. As stated in this Commission’s recently-released 2009 Annual Report, the development of a stable China firmly committed to the rule of law and citizens’ fundamental rights is in the national interest of the United States. Those rights include the freedoms of speech, assembly, association and other rights protected under China’s Constitution and laws or under China’s international human rights obligations.

The verdict in Mr. Liu’s case reportedly may be announced on December 25. We call on China’s judiciary to signal genuine commitment to the rule of law and fundamental rights by dismissing the case against Liu Xiaobo, and in so doing to recognize the serious procedural flaws and substantive violations of his rights that have taken place. We call on Chinese officials to release Mr. Liu, and in so doing to demonstrate through action the Chinese government’s commitment to developing the rule of law and to upholding international human rights standards.

Additional Commission Resources on Liu Xiaobo:

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), Chaired by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Co-Chaired by Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), consists of nine Members of the House of Representatives, nine Senators and five Administration officials appointed by the President. The Commission’s Annual Report is among the most comprehensive, public examinations of the state of human rights and the rule of law in China produced by the U.S. government.