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China Rejects UN Recommendations for Substantive Reform to Advance Human Rights; HRIC Summary

February 11, 2009

In the report of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of China issued by the UPR Working Group this morning, while accepting some recommendations on the promotion of human rights in general, China rejected many of the recommendations made by UN member states to implement specific measures and reforms to advance genuine human rights in China. The rejected recommendations include measures that would: provide freedom of information and expression; ensure the independence of the judiciary and lawyers; safeguard detainees’ access to counsel; protect lawyers from attacks and harassment; and grant freedom of religion and movement to ethnic minorities such as Tibetans and Uyghurs.

In a glaring act, China not only rejected recommendations to protect human rights defenders, but in fact accepted a recommendation by Cuba to target “people who are qualifying themselves as human rights defenders with the objective of attacking the interests of [the] state and the people of China.”

China also repudiated the work of the UN Committee Against Torture by rejecting a recommendation to implement the measures set forth by the Committee after its November 2008 review of China, particularly on the inadmissibility in court of statements made under torture.

“As a test of a state-driven process aimed at advancing human rights among member states through constructive dialogue, consensus decision-making, and cooperation, the Universal Periodic Review, with regard to China, is a failure,” said Sharon Hom, Executive Director of Human Rights in China. “Instead, the process has given China a ‘cover’ for impunity.”

Below are some examples of the recommendations that China rejected:

Rule of Law - Recommendations Rejected by China

Right to counsel & due process: Ensure every detainee has the right to regularly see visitors and has permanent access to legal counsel.

Judicial independence: Ensure independence of the judiciary and lawyers.

State secrets system: Reform the State Secrets law, and definitions of crimes as incitement to subversion of state power (which are abused vis human rights defenders).

Protection of rights defenders: Investigate reports of harassment and detention of human rights defenders, including alleged mistreatment while in police custody, with a view to ending impunity.

Administrative detention: Abolish administrative detention and forced labor without proper trial.

Death penalty: Provide statistics on number of death sentences.

Freedom of Information and Expression – Recommendations Rejected by China
Extend the media regulations that relaxed restrictions on foreign journalists reporting in China to domestic journalists; release all persons held on the basis of expression.

Cooperation with UN Procedures and Mechanisms – Recommendations Rejected by China
Take immediate measures to implement the recommendations of November 2008 of the Committee Against Torture, particularly on the inadmissibility in court of statements made under torture.

Rights of Ethnic Minorities and Freedom of Religion - Recommendations Rejected by China
Review laws and practices on freedom of religion, movement, protection of culture and language, including those of Tibetans and Uyghurs; investigate all cases in Tibet of police brutality and torture; ensure protection in Tibet of the right of peaceful assembly and release persons arrested for such assembly; resume dialogue regarding Tibet.

HRIC provides four charts that track UPR recommendations:

Summary Chart of Rejected UPR Recommendations [PDF, 45K]

Summary Chart of Accepted UPR Recommendations [PDF, 42K]

Summary Chart of UPR Recommendations Already Implemented [PDF, 18K]

Summary Chart of UPR Recommendations to Be Examined [PDF, 20K]

For more information on China's Universal Periodic Review and related UN work, see: