Geneva [Switzerland]: Ahead of the Human Rights Council meeting, a group of UN experts have urged the Chinese government to cooperate fully with the UN human rights system and grant unhindered access to independent experts to report on the treatment being meted out to the ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang and Tibet.
“Cooperation includes allowing visits by UN Special Procedures mechanisms and granting full access, particularly to places of detention,” the experts said on Friday. “Strengthening engagement with independent human rights experts and Human Rights Council mechanisms is crucial to full and transparent enforcement of China’s human rights obligations.” Recognising high-level engagement with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights by the Government of China during her recent visit to the country, the experts stressed the value of constructive dialogue with the Government by all UN human rights entities.
The experts stressed that this engagement does not replace the urgent need for a complete assessment of the human rights situation in the country and especially in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong.
“The Government of China must address specific and systematic human rights violations,” the UN experts said, calling on authorities in Beijing to ensure full and transparent cooperation with the totality of the UN’s human rights system.
They renewed the calls made in a June 2020 joint statement by 50 UN Special Rapporteurs and human rights experts, which catalogued concerns about the treatment of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet, allegations of excessive force against protesters including in Hong Kong.
The statement highlighted the need to protect fundamental human rights in China including freedoms of expression, cultural rights, peaceful assembly and association, religion or belief, and non-discrimination.
“Since 2017, we have repeatedly raised concerns about widespread violations of the rights of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) on the basis of religion or belief and under the pretext of national security and preventing the extremism,” the experts said. “Several reports submitted to the Human Rights Council by Special Rapporteurs also have repeatedly raised these and related issues. Deep concerns also persist about the rights of religious and ethnic minorities in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other parts of the country.
“We have yet to see any signs of political will to address the concerns raised,” the experts added. Recent improvements with respect to the rights of persons with disabilities show that progress is possible.
UN human rights experts have previously expressed serious concerns about the alleged harassment, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention and undue prosecution and sentencing of lawyers and human rights defenders.
“UN Special Procedures experts continue to voice their concerns over the absence of protection for the right to privacy, reported use of mass surveillance including in the XUAR, entrenched censorship and consolidation of anti-terrorism and sedition law applied to Hong Kong.”
The experts reiterate recommendations made in the June 2020 joint statement, urging the Human Rights Council to convene a special session on China.