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FACTBOX-The U.N. human rights review of China

February 10, 2009

Mon Feb 9, 2009 4:45am GMT

(Reuters) - China comes up for scrutiny at a U.N meeting in Geneva from
Monday to Wednesday. Here are some facts about the meeting and China's
human rights record.

WHAT IS THE U.N. REVIEW ABOUT?

The U.N. Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review examines all
U.N. member states' performance in protecting rights enshrined in
international declarations and covenants. Begun last year, the process
will examine each state every four years.

Governments under review submit reports and non-government groups can
also make submissions. At the meeting, other states can also raise
questions. A troika of states chosen by lot to work with the country
under review helps write a summary report.

WHAT WILL CHINA TELL THE MEETING?

China's opinions of its human rights record are laid out in a report to
the review, and its officials will also be at the meeting to respond to
questions and criticisms.

China says it "respects the principle of the universality of human
rights" and says the country has made big advances in citizens' social,
economic and legal rights.

But the report also says China's version of human rights naturally
differs from other countries given different political systems, levels
of economic development and cultures.

Sophie Richardson of Human Rights Watch, a New York-based advocacy
group, said Chinese officials in Geneva had indicated that they consider
issues such as unrest and repression in Tibet "political" and so unfit
for discussion at the Geneva meeting.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CRITICISMS THAT CHINA FACES?

International human rights groups have already laid out their criticisms
of China in submissions to the review. The main ones include:

-- China's detention and jailing of dissidents and activists, using
sweeping state security laws and secretive Communist Party-run courts to
punish critics.

Other countries may raise the cases of the detained rights lawyer Gao
Zhisheng and the writer Liu Xiaobo. Liu helped organise "Charter 08," a
petition campaign demanding democratic transformation of the one-Party
state.

-- Re-education-through-labour camps. This imprisonment system is used
to hold people for up to three years -- four years on extension --
without trial or easy means to appeal.

Labour-re-education allows police to sidestep courts and critics say the
system violates international rules and China's own laws. The camps hold
many tens of thousands of people accused of prostitution, illegal drug
use, theft and other offences, and also members of the outlawed Falun
Gong sect.

- Executions. China does not disclose the number of people it executes.
But outside groups believe thousands are killed, and critics say Chinese
courts fail to give accused adequate defence and almost always find them
guilty. China says it has begun to tighten up use of executions, by
re-imposing rules requiring that the national supreme court review all
death sentences.

- Tibet and Xinjiang. China faces international criticism that it is
repressing religion and legitimate political demands in these two
western regions with large ethnic populations.

(Editing by Nick Macfie and Dean Yates)

(Sources: Reuters; submissions to the review found at
http:/www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/PAGES/CNSession4.aspx)
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