EU Statement at the 45th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council
Item 4 – Human Rights situation that require the Council’s attention
25 September 2020
“On China, the EU continues to be gravely concerned about the existence of a large network of political re-education camps, widespread surveillance, and systemic restrictions on freedom of religion or belief against Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Extensively researched reports alleging forced labour, and forced sterilisation and forced birth control in Xinjiang add to the gravity and magnitude of these concerns. The EU calls for an independent, objective, impartial and transparent assessment of the issues of concern already identified by the UN Special Procedures mandate holders in November 2019 and by a large group of UN independent experts in June 2020. We reiterate our call on China to allow meaningful access to Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region for independent observers, including for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. We also reiterate our call on China to uphold its national and international obligations, and to respect human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, especially in Xinjiang and Tibet. The EU urges China to ensure the rule of law, establish fair trial guarantees and to investigate thoroughly reported cases of arbitrary detentions, ill-treatment, and torture and harassment of human rights defenders and their families. We are gravely concerned about the detentions, trials and sentencing of human rights defenders, lawyers, and intellectuals, including Yu Wensheng, Qin Yongmin, Gao Zhisheng, Sakharov Prize laureate Ilham Tohti, Huang Qi, Tashi Wangchuk, Tiyip Tashpolat, Li Yuhan, Wu Gan, Ge Jueping, Liu Feiyue, Wang Yi, Cheng Yuan, Liu Dazhi, Wuge Jianxiong, Ding Jiaxi, Xu Zhiyong, Chen Qiushi, Fang Bin, Guo Quan and Chen Jianfang. We call for their immediate release, as well as for the immediate release of EU citizen Gui Minhai. His rights, including inter alia to consular access and due process, have not been respected. We are concerned about growing restrictions on freedom of expression, on access to information, and about intimidation and surveillance of journalists. The EU considers the national security legislation for Hong Kong adopted by the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress on 30 June to be a matter of grave concern. The EU is particularly concerned about the extensive erosion of rights and freedoms that were supposed to remain protected until at least 2047; about the lack of safeguards and clarity in the law; and about its extraterritorial provisions. The announced postponement of the elections to the legislative council call into question the exercise of the democratic rights and freedoms guaranteed under Hong Kong’s basic law while the recent disqualification of pro-democracy candidates also weakens Hong-Kong international reputation as a free and open society. The EU calls on the Hong Kong authorities to reconsider these decisions.”
Remarks: The above quote is from the full statement available on the UNHRC’s website, but it was shortened when delivered.