(TibetanReview.net, Jun27’20) – An unusually large number of UN independent experts, numbering nearly 50, have on Jun 26 expressed alarm at the level of repression of “fundamental freedoms” by the Chinese Government and urged it to “abide by its international legal obligations” while also calling for renewed attention to the human situation in the country.
Disappointed by the lack of results after having “repeatedly communicated” their concerns to the Chinese government, the experts have highlighted the repression of protests and democracy advocacy in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR); impunity for excessive use of force by police; the alleged use of chemical agents against protesters; the alleged sexual harassment and assault of women protesters in police stations; together with the alleged harassment of health care workers, reported news.un.org Jun 26 .
In particular, the experts have raised “grave concerns” on issues ranging from the collective repression of specific communities – “especially religious and ethnic minorities, in Xinjiang and Tibet” – to the detention of lawyers and prosecution – in addition to disappearances – of human rights defenders across the country, the report noted.
They have also expressed alarm over allegations of forced labour in both formal and informal sectors of the economy, as well as arbitrary interferences with the right to privacy, cybersecurity laws that authorise censorship; and anti-terrorism and sedition laws applicable in Hong Kong.
The independent experts were also reported to have voiced concern for journalists, medical workers and those speaking out about Covid-19 online inside China, who had allegedly faced retaliation from the authorities, including being charged with “spreading misinformation” or “disrupting public order.”
The experts have also noted that without holding a meaningful consultation with the people of Hong Kong, China had drafted a national security law that “would deprive the people of Hong Kong…the autonomy and fundamental rights guaranteed them under the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration.”
Taking note of the actions Beijing had taken towards Hong Kong, Xinjiang minorities, the Tibet Autonomous Region, and rights defenders across the country, the independent experts have called for “renewed attention on the human rights situation in the country”.
They have urged China to invite civil and political rights monitors to conduct independent missions “in an environment of confidentiality, respect for human rights defenders, and full avoidance of reprisals” and encouraged the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) to urgently monitor Chinese human rights practices.
Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based HRC to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honourary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.