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Implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in the People’s Republic of China

March 7, 2014

A Parallel NGO Report by Human Rights in China

June 2009

Submitted to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in advance of its review of the thirteenth periodic report of the People’s Republic of China on implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination

Download entire report [43 pages, PDF, 426KB]
Chinese translation of Executive Summary and Recommendations

Table of Contents
Executive Summary
  Key Areas of Concern
  Summary of Recommendations
 
Recommendations
 
Progress under Specific Articles of the Convention
  Article 1
    Failure to adopt a definition of racial discrimination
    Failure to incorporate descent-based discrimination into legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures to end racial discrimination
 
  Article 2
    Detailed and disaggregated statistics support the effective implementation of the Convention
    Obstacles posed by the state secrets system
 
  Article 5
    Crackdowns on the civil and political rights of Tibetans
    National security policies and the rights of Uyghurs
    Economic development and the impact on Mongol culture
    Descent-based discrimination against rural hukou holders
 
Annexes
  Annex 1: Previous requests by the Committee and other treaty bodies for disaggregated statistical information
  Annex 2: Relevant state secret classifications and previous requests by the Committee for disaggregated statistical information
  Annex 3: Select hukou reforms  
 
Selected Bibliography
 
Endnotes

Executive Summary

Human Rights in China (HRIC) respectfully submits this report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Committee), in advance of the Committee’s review of the Government of the People’s Republic of China’s (State party) combined tenth, eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth periodic reports on implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (Convention).

HRIC recognizes that the challenges of Convention implementation are complex and ongoing. The State party’s report focuses on formal legislation and policies, and provides limited information on implementation and impact.  HRIC’s report addresses specific areas of concern and presents a number of recommendations with the goal of providing constructive input into the Committee’s review process and advancing the State party’s implementation of the Convention.

Key Areas of Concern

HRIC’s report focuses on the following areas of concern:

  • Definition of racial discrimination: The State party’s failure to adopt a definition of racial discrimination in conformance with the Convention undermines both the Committee’s evaluation of the State party’s obligations and the State party’s ability to implement the Convention.
  • Descent-based discrimination under the hukou system: Under the hukou household registration system, the distinction between rural and urban status, a descent-based characterization, substantially impacts the equal enjoyment of fundamental rights by rural hukou holders.
  • Limited disaggregated information and information on implementation and impact: Although the State party addresses ethnic groups, its report is limited to formal descriptions of anti-discrimination laws and policies. Yet, as noted by this Committee in its prior reviews, there are serious ongoing concerns about China’s ethnic groups and their right to equal enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms. Without baseline information, benchmarks, and comparative indicators, a meaningful assessment of implementation progress is hampered.  The the lack of socio-economic data disaggregated by ethnicity undermines the Committee’s review as well as the State party’s efforts to address more effectively the inequalities faced by ethnic groups, particularly the Tibetan, Uyghur, and Mongol groups. Disaggregated socio-economic data would also be useful for identifying and combating descent-based discrimination against rural hukou holders. The State party’s provision of generalized information, presented without comparative indicators, undermines its efforts to undertake measures to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. Moreover, the State party’s state secrets system presents obstacles to obtaining transparent and reliable information.
  • State secrets system: The State party’s state secrets system presents obstacles to obtaining transparent, comprehensive and reliable information relevant to Convention review and implementation, including the State party’s reporting and ability to provide relevant and requested information.
Summary of Recommendations

HRIC’s recommendations to the Committee are summarized generally as follows:

  • Definition of racial discrimination: HRIC urges the Committee to press the State party to adopt a definition of racial discrimination in conformance with the Convention.
  • Descent-based discrimination under the hukou system: HRIC urges the Committee to request that the State party provide specific information on current reforms to the household registration or hukou system, including the progress, timeframes, and impact of these reforms.
  • Limited disaggregated information and information on implementation and impact: HRIC urges the Committee to require more detailed and comprehensive responses, including baseline information, benchmarks, and comparative indicators, from the State party to the Committee’s prior information requests, and to make additional requests for statistical data disaggregated by basis of discrimination, particularly regarding the apportionment of relative benefits and burdens of economic development for Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongols, and for rural inhabitants and rural-to-urban migrants.
  • State secrets system: HRIC urges the Committee to request clarification from the State party as to whether and to what extent information requested from the State party is in fact classified as state secrets or why such information has not yet been provided. The Committee should also request that the State party provide updated information on the current status of reforms (if any) to the state secrets system.

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Recommendations

HRIC makes the following recommendations in connection with the Committee’s review of the State party’s report. The recommendations are grouped according to three main areas of concern: first, the State party’s failure to adopt a definition of racial discrimination in conformance with the Convention; second, the State party’s failure to address descent-based discrimination under the hukou system; and third, the State party’s failure to provide adequate information in response to the Committee’s requests, thereby undermining an effective review.

Definition of racial discrimination

  • HRIC urges the Committee to press on its 2001 recommendation that the State party adopt a definition of racial discrimination in compliance with Article 1(1) of the Convention. Specifically, the Committee should urge the State party to adopt a definition of racial discrimination that clearly prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin, as set forth under Article 1(1).

Descent-based discrimination under the hukou system

  • HRIC urges the Committee to press the State party to provide specific information on current reforms to the hukou household registration system, including specific details concerning the progress, timeframes, and impact of these reforms.
  • In addressing inequalities between rural and urban areas, HRIC also urges the Committee to request that the State party provide more detailed and comprehensive information, including baseline information, benchmarks, and comparative indicators, regarding the enjoyment of economic, social, and cultural rights by rural inhabitants, including rural-to-urban migrants, and the measures taken to ensure that rural inhabitants have equal enjoyment of these rights.

Limited disaggregated information and information on implementation and impact

  • HRIC urges the Committee to press the State party to provide more detailed responses to the Committee’s 2001 requests for:
    • Socio-economic data, disaggregated by national and ethnic group;
    • Information on measures taken to prevent gender-related racial discrimination, including in the area of trafficking and reproductive health; and
    • Statistics, disaggregated by nationality and region, relating to detention, imprisonment, alleged, investigated and prosecuted cases of torture, death sentences and executions.
  • In addition to requesting more thorough responses to its prior requests, the Committee should press the State party to provide additional information including:

    With regard to the arrest, detention, imprisonment and mistreatment of Tibetans in the wake of the March 2008 demonstrations, the Committee should request information detailing:

    • The number of persons arrested, detained and imprisoned after the March 2008 demonstrations, and the current status or conditions of those persons;
    • The number of cases investigated or prosecuted as a result of the March 2008 demonstrations, and the current status or outcomes of those cases;
    • Whether and to what extent arrested, detained and imprisoned individuals have access to legal counsel, and the number of investigations or prosecutions in which the held individuals have and have not been represented by legal counsel; and
    • Whether and to what extent the requested information is in fact classified as state secrets or may instead be made available for review by the Committee.

    Regarding the State party’s participation in regional agreements, the Committee should request information on the State party’s participation in the SCO and the impact of State party measures to implement the SCO on the State party’s obligations under international law, including the Convention.  The Committee should also request specific and detailed information on:

    • The databases maintained by the SCO’s RATS mechanism, the types of individualized information that is compiled and analyzed by RATS, and how that information is used and exchanged by the State party as an SCO member;
    • The number of individuals extradited to or from the State party’s jurisdiction pursuant to the Shanghai Convention, and for what crimes; and
    • Protections for ensuring the appropriate balance of national security and protection of rights under international law standards.

    The Committee should also request detailed statistics, disaggregated by ethnicity, on the impact of economic development and ecological management policies on the rights of the Mongols and other ethnic groups, including:

    • The number of ethnic group households that have been displaced and relocated by the State party’s desertification prevention programs;
    • The locations to which such households have been relocated, and the numbers relocated to the respective locations;
    • Whether and to what extent displaced ethnic group households have been compensated for dispossession of their land and assets, including livestock;
    • Whether and to what extent the State party has implemented economic, social and cultural adjustment programs, including occupational skills training, for displaced ethnic group households relocated to urban areas; and
    • Whether and to what extent displaced members of ethnic groups have been able to find new occupations or livelihoods in their new locations.

State secrets system

  • To the extent that any of the information requested above is implicated by the State party’s state secrets system, the Committee should specifically ask the State party to explain whether and to what extent information requested from the State party is in fact classified as state secrets or may instead be made available for review by the Committee. 
  • The Committee should also request that the State party provide updated information on the current status of reforms (if any) to the state secrets system, and whether regulations hindering implementation of the Convention will be assessed under such reforms.

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