Historic joint statement at the UN Human Rights Council condemns China’s human rights record

Amb.Harper-China-300x186The United States and 11 other countries have issued an historic joint statement condemning China’s human rights record at the 31st session of the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday 10 March.

The statement was delivered by American ambassador Keith M. Harper and was signed by the US, Australia, Japan, Norway, and seven EU member states: Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK.

We are concerned about China’s deteriorating human rights record, notably the arrests and ongoing detention of rights activists, civil society leaders, and lawyers.  In many cases, these individuals have not been granted access to legal counsel or allowed visits by family members.  These actions are in contravention of China’s own laws and international commitments.“, it read.

This statement followed an annual speech by UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who also mentioned “a very worrying pattern” of detentions in China.

Below is the full text of the joint statement.
Item 2
JOINT STATEMENT – HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN CHINA

Delivered by U.S. Ambassador to the HRC Keith Harper

Geneva,
March 10, 2016 

“Mr. President,

I have the honor to read this statement on behalf of a group including: Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the UK, and the USA.

We share the concerns expressed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the OHCHR’s February 16 press release highlighting China’s ongoing problematic human rights record.

We are concerned about China’s deteriorating human rights record, notably the arrests and ongoing detention of rights activists, civil society leaders, and lawyers.  In many cases, these individuals have not been granted access to legal counsel or allowed visits by family members.  These actions are in contravention of China’s own laws and international commitments.

We remain concerned about the unexplained recent disappearances and apparent coerced returns of Chinese and foreign citizens from outside mainland China. These extraterritorial actions are unacceptable, out of step with the expectations of the international community, and a challenge to the rules-based international order. The actions involving individuals in Hong Kong represent a violation of the high degree of autonomy promised Hong Kong under its Basic Law.

We also note with concern the increasing number of individuals whose confession have been aired on state media prior to any indictment or judicial process. These actions run contrary to the fair trial guarantees enshrined in China’s laws and counter to rights and freedoms set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We call upon China to uphold its laws and its international commitments, and we support the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ call to release all rights activists, civil society leaders, and lawyers detained for peacefully exercising their freedom of expression or for lawfully practicing their profession.”