New York [US], April 29 (ANI): The planned visit to China by the United Nations high commissioner for human rights should meet minimum standards to be considered credible, several rights groups have said.
Bachelet announced on March 8that she has secured a visit to China “foreseen to take place in May”.
Her announcement in an update to the UN Human Rights Council comes three and a half years after she publicly requested unrestricted access to China for the first time.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) and 59 other groups last week urged High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet to take several steps to prevent the Chinese government from manipulating the visit, announced for May 2022.
This comes as the five-person delegation of the UN rights chief, invited by the Chinese government was reached China. Once out of quarantine from Guangzhou, they are expected to visit Xinjiang province, according to media reports.
The Campaign for Uyghurs (CFU), a Washington-based Uyghur rights organization, welcomed the news that Bachelet’s team had arrived in China, but doubted that she would be given unimpeded access because China had refused a visit unless the trip was “friendly” in nature.
CFU said the Chinese government has given no sign that Bachelet will be allowed unimpeded access, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.
“While I welcome news that the high commissioner’s visit is seemingly moving forward, I am concerned that this is another tactic to delay the release of her report on Uyghur genocide until her term expires,” CFU executive director Rushan Abbas said in a statement issued Monday.
“Her visit is contingent on COVID restrictions, and she may spend weeks in quarantine moving from city to city, hampering her ability to investigate,” Abbas said.
Dozens of rights groups say the Chinese government has committed widespread and systematic policies of mass detention, torture, cultural persecution, and other offenses against Uyghurs and members of other Turkic groups in Xinjiang that amount to crimes against humanity.
In September 2021, Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council that her office was “finalising its assessment of the available information on allegations of serious human rights violations in that region with a view to making it public.”
Bachelet’s office has not yet published its report, and in March informed the Human Rights Council of her intention to visit China in May. According to HRW, it is unclear when or whether her office’s report will be published.
The groups urged Bachelet, in addition to releasing her report, to ensure that meetings with rights advocates in China are carried out safely, that her arrangements with the Chinese government are transparent, and that minimum standards for an unfettered visit are met, among other considerations. (ANI)