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China: United Nations Fails to Act

(Geneva) China will escape scrutiny of its human rights record at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights precisely at a time when abuses are increasing, Human Rights Watch said today.

The deadline passed today for delegations to file resolutions that condemn a particular country for human rights abuse.

"The absence of a China resolution is a diplomatic fiasco," said Reed Brody, Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch. "China's human rights record couldn't be clearer, and members of the Commission should be very embarrassed."

This is only the second time since 1990 that a China resolution has not been tabled in Geneva by either the European Union or the United States. In 1995, a China resolution came within one vote of being adopted, and since then, the Chinese government has lobbied vigorously to keep any resolutions off the agenda.

Neither the U.S. nor the EU appeared to put a high priority on getting China on the agenda of the Commission this year.

Human Rights Watch was particularly critical of the European Union and its member states for today's debacle. On March 11, 2002, the EU foreign ministers met in Brussels and expressed concern about the "lack of respect for human rights in China, including the freedoms of expression, religion and association." The EU declined to sponsor a China resolution, but did leave open the possibility of an individual EU member sponsoring a measure. However, no EU country stepped forward. The Bush administration expressed interest in supporting a resolution if one were tabled, but without a seat on the Commission this year, the U.S. could not be an original sponsor.

In April 2001, a China resolution sponsored by the U.S. was blocked by a "no action" procedural motion by China. That motion was adopted: twenty-three yes, seventeen no, 12 abstentions, and one absent.

Human Rights Watch has documented increasing human rights violations in China over the past year, fuelled by Beijing's preoccupation with stability in the face of social and economic upheaval. China launched a massive anti-crime campaign last April, leading to thousands of arbitrary arrests and summary executions; new restrictions on the Internet have been imposed; efforts to organize independent trade unions have been crushed; and officials have carried out an intense crackdown on Falun Gong and unofficial religious groups of all kinds.

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