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United States asked to include Chinese rights abusers in visa ban list

Matteo Mecacci, the President of the International Campaign for Tibet, Washington, D.C.
Matteo Mecacci, the President of the International Campaign for Tibet, Washington, D.C.

(TibetanReview.net, Aug04, 2014) – A Tibet campaign group has asked the United States government to extend its ban on officials in countries responsible for human rights abuses to Chinese violators as well. The call is based on a Jul 30 announcement this year by the State Department imposing restrictions on travel to the United States by certain Venezuelan government officials responsible for human rights abuses.

“The US government can send a clear message: if Chinese officials violate the human rights of the Chinese and Tibetan people, they can’t visit the United States,” Matteo Mecacci, the President of the International Campaign for Tibet, has said. “There is momentum to extend visa bans to human rights violators, and there is no reason China, the world’s largest abuser, should not be included. We value the freedom to travel as we value fundamental human rights. Visa bans are a tool that governments can use to discourage officials who would violate such rights.”

The Jul 30 announcement was made by State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf who said, “With this step we underscore our commitment to holding accountable individuals who commit human rights abuses. While we will not publicly identify these individuals because of visa record confidentiality, our message is clear: those who commit such abuses will not be welcome in the United States.”

The ban on Venezuelan officials followed the establishment of a US visa ban on Russian officials found complicit in human rights abuses, apart from other sanctions imposed on the Russian government, after the Congress passed the Magnitsky Act.

Earlier, in 2011, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order denying visa entry to “perpetrators of serious human rights abuses or humanitarian law.” And in Jun 2014, the US announced a travel ban on certain officials of Uganda based on abuses against LGBT individuals. Visa bans are also applied to officials in Iran, Burma and North Korea, among other countries

The perpetrators subjected to the ban include those involved in cases of terrorism, arms proliferation and those involved in sexual violence, among others.

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