‘Severe Punishment’ of Human Rights Lawyer is China’s Best Achievement of 2016, Says Chief Justice

(150312) — BEIJING, March 12, 2015 (Xinhua) — Zhou Qiang, president of China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC), delivers a report on the SPC’s work at the third plenary meeting of the third session of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 12, 2015. (Xinhua/Lan Hongguang) (yxb)

The jailing of defense lawyer Zhou Shifeng and his fellow human rights activists were among China’s top legal achievements in 2016, according to Chinese Supreme People’s Court Chief Justice Zhou Qiang.

In an annual work report submitted to the country’s rubber stamp legislature, Qiang commended the Chinese courts for the “severe punishment of the crime of endangering state security” on Sunday.

Zhou singled out the conviction of human rights lawyer Zhou Shifeng and ranked the case as the number one item on a list of measures taken to “safeguard human rights” in China in 2016, according to Shanghaiist.

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Shifeng’s law firm, Fengrui, was known for taking on politically sensitive cases, defending dissident scholars, sexual abuse victims and religious minorities.

This led to his seven-year prison sentence for subverting power, which drew criticism from human rights groups overseas.

Shifeng’s case was part of a widespread investigation into human rights lawyers and activists which commenced in July 2015, with most of the hundreds detained still awaiting trial.

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The Chief Justice also went on to praise China’s President Xi Jinping’s lengthy anti-corruption investigation, which revealed 45,000 cases of corruption in 2016 involving 63,000 people, a jump from 34,000 cases in 2015.

The Supreme People’s Court also heard 23,000 cases in 2016 with only 1,076 defendants found not guilty, according data cited by Qiang.

China’s courts have a conviction rate of 99.92%.

The Chief Justice also said that China, a country that is believed to execute more people than the rest of the world combined, handed down the death penalty “to an extremely small number of criminals for extremely serious offenses” over the past 10 years, according to the Associated Press.

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The precise number of executions in China remains a state secret.

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