Direct Litigation

Global Legal Assistance


Direct Litigation

Though HRLF’s mission is to enhance the right of all people to be free from torture, genocide, and other international crimes, the organization’s work thus far has focused on human rights abuses in China. Over the years, HRLF has developed a unique niche, combining years of litigation experience with an in-depth knowledge of the very different role of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese State, and the chain of command that permits and enables the persecutory campaigns in China. To date, HRLF has brought human rights cases in Spain, the United States, and Hong Kong.

United States

In the United States, HRLF has won several favorable judgments as lead counsel and/or in collaboration with others. HRLF’s current docket in the United States also includes several pending cases. HRLF brings civil lawsuits under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and the Torture Victim’s Protection Act (TVPA) against human rights violators.

Peng Liang v. Zhao Zhifei

In July 2001, HRLF filed a complaint against the Director of Public Security and Communist Party Chief of Police Zhao Zhifei, who is also the Chief of Police in Hebei Province and the Director of the Security Division of the Chinese Communist Party, for his role in the torture and persecution of Falun Gong religious believers in the province of Hebei. The case was filed with the Southern District Court of New York. The Judge in the case entered a default judgment against Zhao Zhifei in November of 2001. HRLF filed the case with Attorney Carey D’Avino.

Doe. v. Liu Qi

In 2002, HRLF, along with the Center for Justice and Accountability, filed a complaint against Liu Qi, the former Mayor of Beijing, for his role in the torture and persecution of Falun Gong believers in Beijing, China. Both the Chinese government and U.S. State Department submitted statements urging that the case be dismissed. The Judge in the case rejected the Governments’ arguments and entered a default judgment against Liu Qi. The Judge declared that Liu Qi had violated the rights of Jane Doe I and Jane Doe II “to be free from torture and arbitrary detention” and the right of Petit to be “free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

Detailed Case Summary and Court Documents

Doe v Gua Chuanjie

On February 23, 2005, HRLF filed a complaint against Guo Chuanjie, Deputy Head of the Leadership Group Dealing with Falun Gong, for his role in the persecution and torture of Falun Gong believers in China. The Defendant was served with a subpoena and complaint on the very same day. The Judge in the case issued a default judgment against Gua Chuanjie on DATE.

Does v. Jiang Zemin

HRLF filed a complaint against Jiang Zemin, the former President of China and Secretary of the Communist Party, in the United States District Court of Northern Illinois in October 2002. In 2004, the district court dismissed based on the defendant’s status as head of state when he was served with process. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, which acknowledged that the defendant had played a major role in the persecution of the plaintiffs, upheld the dismissal. Plaintiffs filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court. In April of 2005, certiorari was denied.

Detailed Case Summary and Court Documents

The U.S. case against Jiang Zemin led to HRLF’s filing of criminal cases against Jiang Zemin in Spain and Hong Kong and its assistance in similar cases North American, Central American, Europe, and Asia.

Gang Chen et al. v. Zhao Zhizhen

HRLF filed a landmark case under U.S. law regarding the precise parameters of speech that incites or aids and abets criminal conduct (e.g., Gang Chen et. al. v. Zhao Zhizhen et. al., case no. 3:04-cv-1146 RCN).  Plaintiffs have submitted several briefs in support thereof. The case is pending before the District Court of Connecticut.


In Spain, HRLF collaborated with the Comite de Apoyo al Tibet to file supplemental material on behalf of Tibetan victims from Aba Tibet. HRLF also filed the cases against Jiang Zemin and other major perpetrators on behalf of Falun Gong believers in China.

KG v. Lian Guanglie et al.

The COMITE DE APOYO AL TIBET (CAT) filed a criminal case on behalf of Tibetans subjected to torture, extrajudicial killing, disappearance, and other human rights abuses in Lhasa, China, with the Central Court of the Audiencia Nacional on [date]. The defendants in the case are: Lian Guanglie, current Defense Minister of China and member of the Central Military Commission; Gang Huichang, Minister of State Security and Vice Minister of Security; Zhang Qingli, Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in the Autonomous Region of Tibet; Wang Lequan, member of the Politburo in Bejing; Li Dezhu, Director of the Ethnic Affairs Commission; General Tong Guishan, commander of the PLA in Lhasa; General Zhan Guihia, Political Commissar of the military command of Chengdu; and Meg Jianzhu, current Minister of Public Security and member of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. Judge Santiago Pedraz Gomez accepted the case on January 11, 2006.

In March 2009, HRLF filed additional material to the Court with CAT on behalf of HRLF’s client KG, the brother of a Tibetan nomad who was summarily executed by the local police under the direct orders of the Defense Minister of China, the Minister of State Security, the Minister of Public Security, and several other of the defendants named above. Judge Santiago Pedraz Gomez accepted KG’s case soon thereafter. Based on these and other submissions, the Judge issued an international rogatory commission to the Minister of Justice of the PRC based on the Treaty of Judicial Assistance in Criminal Matters between Spain and China, dated July 21, 2005, instructing the Minister of Justice of China to inform the defendants: (1) of the Court’s acceptance of the cases against them based on their purported participation in the perpetration of crimes against humanity, (2) that their cases are being investigated by the Court, (3) that they have a right to defend themselves according to Spanish law, and (4) that they must provide an address where they can be notified by the Court. The Judge additionally requested authorization from the Chinese Ministry of Justice to permit their judicial commission to go to China to question the defendants directly should they refuse to come to Spain to testify before the Court.

Doe v Jiang Zemin, Bo Xilai, Lou Gan et al.

In Spain, HRLF is lead counsel on behalf of Falun Gong believers subjected to torture and genocide in China. The case was heard before the Central Court for Preliminary Criminal Proceedings Number 2 of the National Spanish Court, and an indictment was issued on November 2, 2009. The defendants in the case are: Jiang Zemin, former President of China and Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party; Luo Gan, Coordinator of the 610 Office; Jia Qinglin, President of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference; Bo Xila, former Chinese Minister of Commerce; and Wu Guanzheng, President of the Chinese Communist Party’s Disciplinary Commission. The defendants are charged with the crimes of genocide and torture. The court exercised jurisdiction over the defendants under the principle of universal jurisdiction. The case is modeled on the Pinochet case, where the Spanish court recognized universal jurisdiction over some of the defendants. The judge in this case, Judge D. Ismael Moreno, admitted important evidence submitted by HRLF. He has also recently indicted the defendants and authorized rogatory letters to be sent to each of the defendants in China, asking them to answer questions based on their involvement in the persecution. By court order, if any of these defendants sets foot in a country with which Spain has an extradition treaty, the defendant(s) must be detained and transported to Spain to stand trial for the atrocities that the defendants have committed.

Detailed Case Summary and Court Documents

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