Law Council announces support for foreign affairs minister’s remarks on Yang Hengjun

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The Law Council of Australia announced support for remarks by the Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne concerning the criminal detention of Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun in China.

Yang, a known critic of the Chinese government, has been detained in an unknown location in China since January on suspicion of endangering China’s national security. Last week, Payne’s office released a statement saying that the Australian Government was “deeply disappointed” that Yang had been transferred to criminal detention.

“The Government has expressed concern about Dr. Yang's welfare and the conditions under which he is held,” said Payne. “And we have asked for clarification regarding the reasons for Dr. Yang's detention. If he is being detained for his political views, then he should be released.”

In a statement, the Law Council said that it remains concerned that Yang does not appear to have the benefit of any of the traditional safeguards expected of an independent criminal justice system and the rule of law – including access to a lawyer of his choice, the right for the public to know what he is being detained for and when it is expected that he will be released.

The Law Council said that it stands ready to offer any assistance required to the Australian Government in this matter.