The Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China* (CCHRC) Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review
Fourth session of the UPR Working Group, 2 - 13 February 2009
Date of the Submission: September 1st, 2008
Key Words: Volontary pledge, minorities rights, freedom of religion or belief, worker’s rights, human rights defenders.
Summary: In this submission, the CCHRC provides information under sections [A, B, C and D] as stipulated in the General Guidelines for the Preparation of Information under the Universal Periodic Review (HRC Decision 6/102:
In section A, we present the work and members of the coalition that is submitting this
In section B, C, D, E we describe concerns and propose recommendations with regard to:
A. Methodology and process
1. The CCHRC is a coalition of Canadian organizations that has been working together since 1993 to promote human rights in China. In particular, the coalition participates in government briefing sessions related to the Canada-China bilateral human rights dialogue and maintains an updated list of people imprisoned in China for reasons that appear to be inconsistent with the provisions of UN HR Covenants.
2. The coalition currently includes Amnesty International Canada (both Anglophone and francophone sections), ARC International, Canada Tibet Committee, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Canadian Labour Congress, Falun Dafa Association of Canada, PEN Canada, Rights & Democracy, Students for a Free Tibet (Canada), Toronto Association for Democracy in China, Federation for a Democratic China, Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement in China, Movement for Democracy in China (Calgary) and the Uyghur Canadian Association.
* the CCHRC members who have endorsed this submission are: ARC International, Canada Tibet Committee, Canadian HIV/AIDS Network, Canadian Labour Congress, Falun Dafa Association of Canada, Students for a Free Tibet (Canada), Toronto Association for Democracy in China, Federation for a Democratic China, Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement in China, Movement for Democracy in China(Calgary) and Uyghur Canadian Association.
B. Normative and institutional framework for the promotion and protection of human rights addressed in this submission
o Labour Law
o Trade Union Law
o Occupational Safety and Health Law
o Reform Through Education camps
o China’s voluntary pledge for its election to the Human Rights Council
o International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
o Declaration on Human Rights Defender
o International Labour Organization’s Conventions No. 87 and No. 98
C. Promotion and protection of human rights on the ground
Implementation of international human rights obligations
National legislation and voluntary commitments
Voluntary pledges and commitments made by China
3. Our Coalition rejects the affirmation contained in China’s pledge to join the Human Rights Council in May 2006 that “owing to differences in social systems, level of development, religious and cultural background as well as historical tradition, it is natural for countries to differ on human rights issues” We believe that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and associated Covenants defines universally applicable standards that transcend, political, and cultural differences.
4. Our Coalition also rejects the affirmation in China’s pledge that “the National People’s Congress has adopted nearly 300 laws and regulations related to the protection of civil and political rights, ensuring complete freedom of the Chinese people in movement, employment, access to information, religious belief and ways of life”. Such affirmation reflects the Government of China ignorance of the gap that exists between its formal adherence to international human rights agreements and its actual human rights practices.
Recommendation: We recommend that the Government of China takes into account the reports on the situation on the ground drafted by the Human Rights Defenders working in this country.
5. In order to win the privilege of hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics, the People’s Republic of China pledged to improve its human rights record. This pledge included specific commitments to expand press freedom and protect such fundamental rights as the right to freedom of expression as it is guaranteed under international law and China’s own constitution. What we witnessed instead in the past year was a grinding and relentless campaign to jail or silence prominent dissident voices and new and brazen efforts to restrict or control both domestic and international press. In December, 2007, PEN Canada, American PEN and the Independent Chinese PEN Center documented 40 cases of imprisoned writers; by August, 2008, the number had risen to 45.The majority of these (30) have been snared by China’s far-reaching, zealous efforts to restrict freedom of expression on the Internet.
Recommendation: We recommend that the Government of China ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that it has signed in 1998 and hasten legislation and the role of judiciary to bring China into compliance with that instrument.
6. According to the Canada Tibet Committee, 209 Tibetans have been killed, 5,714 have been arrested, and over one thousand injured since the March10 clampdown by Chinese authorities. In recent weeks, the government has stepped up its persecution of Buddhist monks and nuns. In a pre-emptive move before the 2008 Beijing Games, at least 1,000 Buddhist monks from monasteries around Tibet's capital, Lhasa, were rounded up and shipped to prisons and detention camps in northern and eastern Tibet. Monks and nuns, as well as laypeople, continue to suffer severe beatings, arrests, interrogation, torture, and imprisonment at the hands of Chinese authorities. These actions violate the most basic human right.
Recommendation: The Government of China should allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Red Cross, and foreign journalists unfettered access to all Tibetan areas.
Freedom of religion or belief
7. The persecution of Falun Gong is a crucial aspect of the overall issue of human right abuses in China. Since July 1999, the persecution has been occurring systematically across all 32 provinces and autonomous regions, impacting a large population. According to official Chinese government estimates, there were 70 to 100 million practitioners across the country just prior to the start of the persecution. UN Special Rapporteur Nowak reaffirmed in his report that Falun Gong practitioners accounted for 66 percent of victims of alleged torture while in government custody. The US State Department’s annual reports indicate that Falun Gong adherents constituted at least half of the 250,000 officially recorded inmates in re-education through labour camps, while the real number could be even higher. According to Falun Dafa Information Center more than 3,100 practitioners have been tortured to death to date. Many more cases of detention and death remain unreported, as the Chinese regime imposes an information blockade, and reporting these cases to outside authorities constitutes a severe crime of “leaking state secrets.’’No lawyer is allowed to defend them.
Recommendation: We recommend that the Government of China:
a) abolishes Reform Through Education camps;
b) facilitates the visit Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to China this year and;
c) enforce the recommendations contained in the Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowak.
8. Many workers found themselves detained or arrested, charged and imprisoned for their involvement in collective protest action during the year. The Trade Union Law bans workers from organising independently. The numerous examples of workers being forced to continue working in unsafe conditions reveal that, in practice, workers have little confidence in using their new found rights to "work-stoppages" foreseen under the Labour Law, Trade Union Law and Occupational Safety and Health Law.
Recommendation: We recommend that the Government of China:
b) ratify the International Labour Organization’s Conventions No. 87 and No. 98 on freedom of association and collective bargaining.
Human Rights Defenders
9. Human Rights defenders are detained, prosecuted and imprisoned as Prisoners of Conscience after trumped up charges and politically motivated trials. Others are being held under ‘house arrest’ as prisoners in their own homes. Human rights defenders who attempt to report on violations or challenge policies which are deemed politically sensitive face risk of abuse including torture or simply not renewing the law licenses of lawyers. The police also use control, surveillance and arbitrary detention against members of activists' families. Lawyers and legal advisors play a crucial role in securing the rule of law and the protection of rights in any society. Attempts to prevent or impede the peaceful activities of HR defenders run counter to the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by consensus by the General Assembly in 1998.
Recommendation: We recommend that the Government of China allow HR defenders to do their work without any interference and gives effect to the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders
D. Identification of achievements, best practices, challenges and constraints
10. We also acknowledge that the government of China has made some progress in the protection of Human Rights, notably, by including a statement on Human Rights in the Constitution in 2004, by adopting a review mechanism for all death penalty sentences and by allowing the growth of a vibrant civil society.
E. Recommendations on key national priorities, initiatives and commitments that the State concerned should undertake
We sincerely encourage the Government of China to implement the recommendations above.