Around 50 UN independent experts and from 30 UN Special Procedure Mandate Holders have called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to “act with a sense of urgency to take all appropriate measures to monitor Chinese human rights practices.” They have called for decisive measures to protect the fundamental freedoms in China in their latest UN news release.
The experts have denounced the repression of protest and democracy advocacy in Hong Kong and have raised grave concerns on the collective repression of the population, especially religious and ethnic minorities, in Tibet and Xinjiang. Highlighting the suppression of COVID-19 whistleblowers, the experts expressed concerns that “journalists, medical workers and those exercising their right to free speech online in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak and pandemic have allegedly faced retaliation from the authorities, including many being charged with ‘spreading misinformation’ or ‘disrupting public order.”
The UN independent experts have called for “renewed attention on the human rights situation in the country, particularly in light of the moves against the people of the Hong Kong SAR, minorities of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, the Tibet Autonomous Region, and human rights defenders across the country.” Further, the UN experts called on the “international community to act collectively and decisively to ensure China respects human rights and abides by its international obligations.”
China has always repeatedly refused to allow access to UN independent experts for official visits and has no standing invitations to the experts. In the last 10 years, only five experts were permitted to visit China and not a single one to Tibet. In view of this, the UN experts urged the Chinese government to invite the UN independent experts to visit, monitor, and report on the ground realities. The experts have also called for the protection of the human rights defenders and civilians who meet the mandate-holders during such visits.
The news report highlighted the “measures available to the Council and the Member States include but need not be limited to the possibility of:
- A special session to evaluate the range of violations indicated in this statement and generally;
- The establishment of an impartial and independent United Nations mechanism – such as a United Nations Special Rapporteur, a Panel of Experts appointed by the HRC, or a Secretary-General Special Envoy – to closely monitor, analyse and report annually on the human rights situation in China, particularly, in view of the urgency of the situations in the Hong Kong SAR, the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, and the Tibet Autonomous Region; and
- All Member States and UN agencies in their dialogues and exchanges with China specifically demanding that China fulfills its human rights obligations, including with respect to the issues identified in this statement.”
The 44th regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council will commence from 30 June 2020. Due to the Wuhan originated COVID-19 pandemic, the 43rd regular session was suspended in March and was resumed on 15 June 2020. For administrative purposes gap of one week was proposed between the sessions and the 44th regular session will commence with stringent modalities.
The UN experts are: Ms. Agnès Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression; Ms. Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Ms. Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; Mr. Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues; Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights of peaceful assembly and association; Surya Deva, Elżbieta Karska, Githu Muigai (Chair), Dante Pesce, Anita Ramasastry (Vice-chair), Working Group on Business and Human Rights; Ms. E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism; Mr. Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context; Ms. Leigh Toomey (Chair-Rapporteur), Ms. Elina Steinerte (Vice-Chair), Mr. José Guevara Bermúdez, Mr. Seong-Phil Hong, Mr. Sètondji Adjovi, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mr. Diego García-Sayán, Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers; Mr. Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967; Mr. Michael Fakhri, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Mr. Tomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences; Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Mr. Baskut Tuncak, Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes; Mr. Léo Heller, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to water and sanitation; Mr. Livingstone Sewanyana, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Ms. Karima Bennoune, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; Ms. Kombou Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on the right to education; Ms. Claudia Mahler, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons; Ms. Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons especially women and children; Mr. Dainius Pūras, Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health; Members of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances: Mr. Luciano Hazan (Chair), Mr. Tae-Ung Baik (Vice Chair), Mr. Bernard Duhaime, Ms. Houria Es-Slami, and Mr. Henrikas Mickevičius; Ms. Mama Fatima Singhateh, Special Rapporteur on sale and sexual exploitation of children; The Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination: Mr. Chris Kwaja (Chair), Ms. Jelena Aparac, Ms. Lilian Bobea, Ms. Sorcha MacLeod and Mr. Saeed Mokbil; Mr. Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; The Working Group on discrimination against women and girls: Ms. Elizabeth Broderick (Chair), Ms. Alda Facio, Ms. Meskerem Geset Techane, Ms. Ivana Radačić, and Ms. Melissa Upreti (Vice Chair); Mr. Joe Cannataci, Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy.