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Chinese judges on rights track

Chinese judges on rights track

A cold call from a delegation of Chinese judges to an Australian legal body could indicate the protectionist regime is becoming more receptive to the west, the president of the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has claimed.

Tony Kerin (pictured) told Lawyers Weekly that the ALA received the call from a representative of 20 judges, mostly from China’s Fujian Province, requesting a meeting that took place in Sydney yesterday (27 November). Kerin admitted that he doesn’t know the precise motives behind the call, but speculated that the delegation was interested in the ALA’s approach to rights advocacy.

“Our main theme as an organisation is the protection and promotion of individual rights, and that could be what prompted them to call us,” he said.

Kerin described as “awesome” the two-hour long meeting between the ALA and the Chinese delegation, which included the vice-president of the Higher People’s Court of Fujian Province, Lin Weili.

“They were soaking up what we were telling them,” he said, adding that the visitors singled out mediation, law reform, court case management, appellate rights and the right to representation as topics they wanted to cover. The work of the ALA in promoting individual rights was also discussed.

“They clearly have an interest in how we run our system,” Kerin said.

While China’s human rights record was not specifically spoken about, Kerin said the issue was alluded to in discussions on the individual nature of rights in Australia.

The ALA was represented by Kerin and ALA NSW spokesmen Dr Andrew Morrison SC, lawyer Anthony Scarcella and barrister Richard Royle. 

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