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UN rights chief wraps up China visit, urges Beijing to review its counter-terrorism policies

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Guangzhou | May 28, 2022 10:24:06 PM IST
United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, who concluded her six-day trip to China, on Saturday said that she has urged Beijing to review its counter-terrorism policies.

In a statement, the UN rights chief also shared the concerns of a number of human rights mechanisms about laws and policies to counter terrorism, radicalism and their application.

"Violent acts of extremism have a terrible, serious impact on the lives of victims, including those tasked to protect the community. But it is critical that counter-terrorism responses do not result in human rights violations. The application of relevant laws and policies, and any mandatory measures imposed on individuals, need to be subject to independent judicial oversight, with greater transparency of judicial proceedings. All victims must be able to seek redress," she said.

Bachelet reiterated, however, that her six-day trip (May 23-28) which included a visit to the western region of Xinjiang, which featured a video call with Chinese President Xi Jinping and a physical meeting with Foreign Minister Wang Yi, was not an investigation into China's human rights policies but an opportunity to engage with the government.

"This visit was not an investigation - official visits by a High Commissioner are by their nature high-profile and simply not conducive to the kind of detailed, methodical, discreet work of an investigative nature. The visit was an opportunity to hold direct discussions - with China's most senior leaders - on human rights, to listen to each other, raise concerns, explore and pave the way for more regular, meaningful interactions in the future, with a view to supporting China in fulfilling its obligations under international human rights law," she said in a statement.

Last year, the UN office had said that it believed Uyghurs in Xinjiang had been unlawfully detained, mistreated and forced to work.

"I have raised questions and concerns about the application of counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation measures and their broad application - particularly their impact on the rights of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities," Bachelet said in her statement after concluding her China visit.

Asserting that she is unable to assess the full scale of the VETCs (vocational training systems), the UN human rights chief raised with the Government the lack of independent judicial oversight of the operation of the program, the reliance by law enforcement officials on 15 indicators to determine tendencies towards violent extremism, allegations of the use of force and ill-treatment in institutions, and reports of unduly severe restrictions on legitimate religious practices.

"During my visit, the Government assured me that the VETC system has been dismantled," she noted.

Human rights campaigners have accused the ruling Communist Party of China of committing widespread abuses in Xinjiang in the name of security, steps which include confining people to internment camps, forcibly separating families and carrying out forced sterilization. (ANI)

 
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