Join our Mailing List

"For a happier, more stable and civilized future, each of us must develop a sincere, warm-hearted feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood."

China: Rights Record Demands Serious UN Review

February 10, 2009

Scrutiny of China’s Rights Situation an Unprecedented Opportunity

February 6, 2009

As UN members prepare to debate China's rights record, they should
remember that this opportunity is one chronically denied to the vast
majority of Chinese people. Those members' decisions to speak should not
be dictated by bilateral issues or fears of how the Chinese government
will react, but rather by the urgent need to address critical human
rights issues.

Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

(New York) - United Nations member states should not green-light further
abuses by staying silent about China's problematic human rights record
during the UN's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process on February 9,
2009, Human Rights Watch said today. The UPR, through which all UN
member states are examined once every four years, allows member states
and the UN's Human Rights Council (HRC) to take stock of China's human
rights record.

The government of the People's Republic of China has committed itself to
strengthening human rights protections. But extensive human rights
violations, including sharp limits on the exercise of fundamental
freedoms, continue and need to be addressed.

"As UN members prepare to debate China's rights record, they should
remember that this opportunity is one chronically denied to the vast
majority of Chinese people," said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy
director at Human Rights Watch. "Those members' decisions to speak
should not be dictated by bilateral issues or fears of how the Chinese
government will react, but rather by the urgent need to address critical
human rights issues."

Human Rights Watch said that in order for the review to be meaningful,
it should include discussion of Tibet and Xinjiang, ongoing violations
of freedom of expression, extrajudicial forms of arrest, and torture.
These and other issues are highlighted in Human Rights Watch's
submission to the review process through the NGO stakeholder mechanism,
available at: http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2008/09/30/china-upr-submission.

Human Rights Watch continues to document extensive human rights
violations in China, including sharp limits on the exercise of
fundamental freedoms. These limits are compounded by the fact that the
ultimate source of authority at every level of government is not the
government itself but the Communist Party of China (CPC). The legal
system, including the judiciary, remains explicitly under the
"supervision and guidance" of the CPC. These imperatives bar any direct
criticism of the CPC by any individual or organization. Every year,
hundreds of prosecutions for "subversion" and "separatism" attest to the
strict enforcement of these prohibitions.

In addition to these institutional constraints, urgent human rights
concerns in the People's Republic of China include: harassment and
prosecution of dissidents and human rights defenders; the use of
re-education-through-labor and administrative detention; deprivation of
liberty without court procedures; forced confessions and torture in the
justice system; active and overt political censorship of media and
internet content; executions; child labor - including in state schools -
persecution of religious believers who refuse to join state-controlled
churches; large-scale forced evictions and involuntary resettlements to
make way for infrastructure projects; discrimination against rural
citizens formalized by the household registration system; and repression
of ethnic Tibetans in Tibet and Uighurs in Xinjiang.

"Chinese officials often say that no country is immune from human rights
problems, but what makes China a focus of particular concern is that it
continues to persecute people who denounce these violations," said
Richardson. "UN member states have an obligation to look beyond the
Chinese government's rhetoric on its human rights performance by raising
specific cases of rights violations and demanding swift and substantive
action to address such abuses."

Although information about rights review is supposed to be widely
disseminated inside each country, and the process is meant to allow for
considerable citizen input, virtually no information about China's
review has been circulated inside the country.

The Chinese government has a long history of censoring information it
deems politically sensitive, most recently parts of US President Barack
Obama's inaugural speech commenting critically on communism and fascism.
The New York Times and the BBC websites have been intermittently
blocked, and Hong Kong-based media Ming Pao and Asiaweek have also been
affected.

Human Rights Watch urged the Chinese government to accept specific
recommendations on a reasonable timetable with a view toward
establishing effective remedies. It welcomed the Chinese government's
stated willingness to engage in discussion of human rights issues, but
is concerned with comments to Human Rights Watch and to governments that
it will reject discussion of what it deems "political issues," such as
Tibet.

"The government is trying to limit discussion of the most serious abuses
in China today, not illuminate them," said Richardson. "A successful
review is one that produces a roadmap of how the Chinese government will
work to ameliorate abuses over the coming four years."

Human Rights Watch urged all embassies and United Nations agencies in
China to assist Chinese citizens in watching the webcast, including
hosting open viewing sessions in their facilities. Webcasts of the UPR
can be viewed at: http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/index.asp.

"This is a big test for the Human Rights Council," said Richardson. "Its
predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights, lost a great deal of
credibility because of the politicized way in which it considered
China's human rights record. There should be no politics this time
around, just a cold, hard look at the situation in China."
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
Developed by plank