Tuesday, December 14, 2010

UN Experts Express Concerns for Human Rights Defenders

Three independent United Nations experts this week voiced concern over the crackdown on human rights defenders during the two months since jailed activist Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.    

The experts stated that since 8 October they have received reports of over 20 arrests or detentions of human rights defenders, and over 120 other cases of house arrests, including Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, travel restrictions, forced relocations, acts of intimidation, and blocking of means of communication, including removal of content on the Internet regarding the Nobel Peace Prize.    

“This recent and alarming trend to increasingly restrict the space to exercise the right to freedom of expression and the ability of Chinese human rights defenders to carry out their peaceful and legitimate activities calls into question China’s commitments to promote and protect universal human rights,” they stated in a news release.    

Their comments echo those made last week by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay ahead of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway, on 10 December, which is also observed annually as Human Rights Day.     

Mr. Liu was convicted in December 2009 and sentenced to 11 years for “inciting subversion of state power” for his role in the drafting of the “Charter 08” petition, which called for political reforms in China.    

The experts, who report to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in an independent and unpaid capacity, also voiced regret that Mr. Liu could not attend the ceremony in person as he remains in detention.    
   
“We call upon the Government of the People’s Republic of China to take all the necessary steps to put an end to these restrictions and reiterate our appeal to release all persons detained for peacefully exercising their fundamental rights, including Liu Xiaobo,” they stated, while also urging China to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.      

The experts voicing their concern today are the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya; the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue; and the Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, El Hadji Malick Sow.     

(from a UN Press Release)

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