UN rights chief urges China to review Xinjiang counterterrorism practices

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BEIJING — The United Nations human rights chief has urged China to review all of its counter-terrorism measures in Xinjiang and ensure they meet international standards and are not applied “arbitrarily and discriminatory”.

Concluding her six-day official visit to the country – the first by a United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in 17 years, Ms. Michelle Bachelet said on Saturday evening (28 May) that if the violent acts of extremism have a significant impact on community life and security, it is essential that responses do not violate human rights.

“The application of relevant laws and policies, and all mandatory measures imposed on individuals, must be subject to independent judicial review, with greater transparency of judicial proceedings,” she told reporters via video link. from Guangzhou.

“All victims must be able to seek reparations.”

Ms Bachelet had traveled to Kashgar and Urumqi in China’s western Xinjiang province, where more than a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are believed to have been held in detention camps to be de-radicalised.

Beijing says they are Vocational Education and Training Centers (VETCs) and all participants had graduated in 2019.

The UN rights official said she has been assured by the authorities that these camps have been dismantled.

“While I am unable to assess the true extent of the VETCs, I have raised with the government the lack of independent judicial oversight of the operation of the program, the reliance by law enforcement officials on 15 indicators to determine trends in violent extremism, allegations of the use of force and ill-treatment in institutions, and reports of excessively harsh restrictions on legitimate religious practices,” she said. declared.

She did not specify what these indicators are.

Ms Bachelet’s visit had been clouded by lingering doubts about the level of access she would receive, especially as she would be traveling in a closed-loop bubble to prevent the spread of Covid-19. No media accompanied him.

Last Monday, during her video call with dozens of diplomats, US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns and a few others expressed concern that she would be taken on a highly controlled and choreographed tour. Beijing.

The United States had called his visit under such conditions “a mistake”.

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