The UN human rights chief says she urges for “significant access” to the region this year.
UN human rights chief Michele Bachelet said she hopes to agree on terms for a visit to China this year, including its Xinjiang region, to examine reports of serious violations against it. to the Uighur minority.
“We continue to discuss China’s modalities for a visit, including significant access, to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,” Bachelet said Monday, addressing the opening of a session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“[I] I hope this can be achieved this year, especially as reports of serious human rights violations continue to emerge. ”
Bachelet’s remarks marked the first time he has publicly suggested a timetable for such a visit, whose office has been negotiating terms since September 2018.
It is under increasing pressure from Western states to ensure unrestricted access to Xinjiang, where at least one million Uighurs, a broadly Muslim ethnic group, have been detained in internment camps in the province, according to the report. UN.
Mass internment camps
Critics, including the United Kingdom and the United States, say detainees in camps have been subdued. violation of human rights, including arbitrary detention, forced labor, torture, forced sterilization, and family separation.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have published reports this year documenting anti-Uyghur practices that say they could amount to crimes against humanity.
Beijing denies the allegations and describes the camps as vocational training structures to combat religious extremism and stimulate economic development in the region.
Dozens of countries, led by Canada, are expected to submit a joint statement to the council on Tuesday, expressing concern over the rights situation in Xinjiang and asking China to grant Bachelet and other independent observers access. .
In anticipation of Tuesday’s statement, the Chinese mission in Geneva last week slammed the group for its efforts “to spread misinformation and lies to frame China” and to use “human rights as a political tool.”
Meanwhile, on the situation in Hong Kong, Bachelet told the council that the national security law imposed by China on the territory a year ago had a “cold impact” on the democratic space and the media in the former British colony.
The legislation has criminalized many dissidents, given jurisdiction to China in some cases and given the authorities new powers of investigation.
Bachelet said 107 people had been arrested under the law, including 57 formally charged.
“This will be an important test of independence for the Hong Kong judiciary in its willingness to respect Hong Kong’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in accordance with the Basic Law,” he said.
Government officials in Beijing and Hong Kong say national security law is necessary to prevent threats to national security, and that the rights and freedoms of ordinary Hong Kong people are protected.
But critics say it is used to crush dissent in the global financial center.