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>> Chinese activists see an even deeper freeze on the way for the country's human rights. As Xi Jinping cemented his power this week, this man, Fu Zhenghua, was put in charge of the Justice Ministry. He was a top policeman, and state media praised him for law enforcement with an iron fist.
However, rights groups have called for the US to target him with sanctions under an act that lets America punish rights abusers. Fu played a role in the 2013 death of an activist in custody. As Reuters' Christian Shepherd reports, activists now worry he'll work to limit the courts and impact human rights.
>> Xi Jinping has made it pretty clear over the last five years that human rights, the disobedience, dissent is not something that will be tolerated. And Fu's promotion to the head of the Justice Department suggests that this approach is gonna continue. There's gonna be hard line taken on any form of dissent.
Lawyers often wanted to protect rights in the past. But now that they can have their licenses removed by someone within the Justice Department that's now led by Fu, they're concerned they're not gonna be able to do that work anymore.>> Rights groups say more and more, the Justice Ministry has disbarred lawyers who challenge official abuses of power.
After new rules two years ago that required greater political loyalty, Reuters has confirmed four lawyers were thrown out just in the last six months. Some saw Fu's new role as an ironic cherry on top.>> The news of Fu's promotion was met by bitter and sarcastic reactions from rights activists, lawyers, and their families, who feel that it's something quite funny, in a dark way, that someone in charge of brutal police investigations is now in charge of legal affairs in China.
>> The wife of famous rights lawyer Li Heping made light of Fu's new role on China's WeChat messenger, saying he has in the past arrested my husband, made him disappear, and tortured him. Now all he can do is revoke his license.