Dear United Nations, please here is what you should ask China on human rights, says CHRD
Pro-rights organisation lists a number of issues the United Nations should raise with China, whose human rights record will shortly come under scrutiny.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A United Nations commission will examine China’s human rights record on 9-11 February in Geneva (Switzerland) and should ask a few simple questions, this according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), a pro-rights group which has published a list of questions that need answers covering every aspects of Chinese life.

Personal freedom. The CHRD notes the broad power of administrative detention held by the Chinese state and the existence of re-education-through-labour camps (i.e. forced labour camps) where people can be sent for up to two years without trial, the benefit of a defence lawyer or the right to appeal; a system used against dissidents, pro-rights activists, and petition organisers. For the CHRD the 1998 Protection of State Secret Law and China’s penal laws deny people the right to speak to a lawyer or to an open trial.

Right to life. The death penalty is applied to a broad range of crimes at the discretion of courts. For the CHRD it would better to limit its application to clearly specified cases.

Administration of justice and the rule of law. According to the CHRD, Articles 306 of China’s Criminal Law and 37 of the Lawyers Law allow the state to jail lawyers for defending their clients in criminal cases. It also noted that many lawyers involved in the defence of dissidents have been assaulted and threatened.

Freedom of speech and information. The group points out that many people have been condemned for expressing their opinions or simply exercising freedom of speech after being charged with “inciting subversion of state power”. It wants the United Nations to get China to make sure that simple criticism of the authorities is not automatically equated with such an offence.

Freedom of religion, freedom of association and peaceful assembly. The list of questions slams China for persecuting anyone who practices a religion outside state-sanctioned limits, for banning meetings of a religious nature, and for denying believers the right to organise themselves as they sit fit. It also notes that the state exerts violence against minorities like Uyghurs and Tibetans.

Protection of social, economic rights and workers' rights. The list of rights left unprotected by China is long. It includes the right to form independent trade unions, to strike and to check working conditions. For the CHRD wage payment procedures should be simplified and employers who fail to pay their workers should be sanctioned. The right to social security and a dignified life should be recognised as should the right to health and health care, to a clean environment and adequate housing, to protection from property seizure on grounds of public necessity and to an education.

Discrimination against women. The CHRD wants the commission to ask questions about the forced implementation of the state’s one-child policy, which usually comes with threats and even forced abortions.

The CHRD wants participants to the Geneva meeting to raise such concrete points rather than discuss general trends or how much China has improved human rights in relation to the past, which are impossible to verify.