Joint statement on behalf of 47 countries in the UN Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in China

On 14 June, the Netherlands read a joint statement on behalf of 47 countries in the UN Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in China. In this statement, the Netherlands and the large group of countries that endorse the statement expressed their grave concerns about the human rights situation in China, especially in Xinjiang. In view of the recent publication of the Xinjiang Police Files in which the systematic repression was very graphically presented, and the visit of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to China and Xinjiang last month, the government considers it very important that international attention is drawn to this. The Netherlands has therefore taken this initiative.

The Netherlands delivered this cross-regional joint statement in the 50th session Human Rights Council on behalf of 47 countries: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Eswatini, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Palau, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States.

Madam High Commissioner,

We continue to be gravely concerned about the human rights situation in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Numerous extensively researched and credible reports indicate that over a million people have been arbitrarily detained. Furthermore there are reports of ongoing widespread surveillance, discrimination against Uyghurs and other persons belonging to minorities as well as of severe restrictions on Uyghur culture and the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to freedom of religion or belief. We are also concerned about reports of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, forced sterilization, sexual and gender-based violence, forced labour, and forced separation of children from their parents by authorities.

We repeat our call on China to urgently address these concerns and implement the CERD’s eight recommendations relating to Xinjiang from August 2018, as well as the concerns raised by numerous Special Procedures since that time, including to end the arbitrary detention of Muslim Uyghurs and persons belonging to  other minorities.

We also continue to be gravely concerned about the deterioration of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong and the human rights situation in Tibet.

We urge China to ensure full respect for the rule of law, to comply with obligations under national and international law with regard to the protection of human rights and to ratify the ICCPR. In addition, we urge the Chinese government to provide meaningful and unfettered access for independent observers to Xinjiang, including Special Procedures. In view of the severity of the situation in Xinjiang, we call on all countries to respect the principle of non-refoulement.

Finally, we acknowledge your recent visit to China, including Xinjiang, which provided an opportunity for dialogue with the Chinese authorities on various human rights related concerns, and your statement of 28 May. We are interested in more detailed observations, including on the restrictions the Chinese authorities imposed on  the visit as well as on  your access to members of civil society and to places of your choice.

Madame High Commissioner, recalling your announcement at HRC48 that your Office would release a report on human rights in Xinjiang, we look forward to its prompt release. Could you provide the Council with further information on the timeline?

Thank you.