(Geneva) - China has made a mockery of its commitment to the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review process, Human Rights Watch said today.
At a June 11 Human Rights Council meeting to adopt the "Outcome Report on China," part of a required review process for all member states, the Chinese government rejected, without exception, 70 recommendations by UN member states related to human rights abuses in China. This includes all recommendations related to freedom of expression and freedom of association, independence of the judiciary, guarantees for the legal profession, protection of human rights defenders, rights of ethnic minorities, reduction of the death penalty, abolition of reeducation-through-labor, prohibition of torture, media freedom, and effective remedies for discrimination.
The Chinese government's defense of its human rights record during the review process was characterized by statements such as, "There is no censorship in the country," and responses that the Chinese government would "never allow torture to be allowed on ethnic groups," despite ample documentation by civil-society groups and international organizations of such abuses.
"Amid heightening repression of China's human rights lawyers, a tightening chokehold on freedom of expression, and an ongoing crackdown in Tibet, the Chinese government has tried to whitewash its human rights record in the hope that the UN will just look the other way," said Juliette de Rivero, Geneva advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "Its statements and denials bordered on farce."
In the "Outcome Report," the government agreed to a number of recommendations, but almost all are broad statements of intent that offer neither acknowledgment of existing violations nor the establishment of remedies for such violations.
As a member of the Human Rights Council, China has an obligation to "uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights" (UN General Assembly resolution 60/251) and to "fully cooperate with the Council."
Human Rights Watch and other groups made critical oral statements to the Human Rights Council today about China's human rights record and its dismal response to the council's recommendations.
"China has betrayed its obligation as an elected member of the council to uphold ‘the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights,'" said de Rivero. "UN member states should not let the review process work this way, or they risk rendering the main reform of the UN's human rights machinery irrelevant."