EU Statement at the 33th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council
Item 4 – Human Rights situation that require the Council’s attention
19 September 2016
In China, the detention of human rights lawyers and defenders since mid-2015 and the harassment of their families remain as major concerns. The EU calls for the immediate release of all individuals detained or convicted for seeking to protect the rights of others or for the peaceful exercise of their freedom of expression, including Liu Xiaobo, Illham Tohti, Xu Zhiyong, Li Heping and Wang Quanzhang. The use of closed hearings and public confessions raise serious questions about China’s respect for its international human rights obligations, and for its own legal and constitutional safeguards and stated commitment to upholding the rule of law. We are also concerned by the reports that detained human rights defenders are regularly subjected to coercion and prevented from choosing their own defence council or receiving visits from their families. The EU is concerned that China’s new law on the Management of Foreign NGO Activities could hamper the development of independent civil society and urges China to provide a safe and fair environment for all NGOs to operate freely and effectively. The EU also urges China to respect cultural diversity and freedom of religion, not least in Tibet and Xinjiang, and foster dialogue with the different ethnic groups.