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Wednesday, December 07, 2022

UN rights chief says he urged China to review counter-terrorism policies

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, whose rare visit to China has been criticized by rights groups and Western nations, said she urged Beijing to review its counter-terrorism policies to ensure they comply with international human rights standards. follow.

However, Bachelet reiterated that his six-day visit, which ended on Saturday and included a tour of the western region of Xinjiang, was not an investigation into China’s human rights policies, but an opportunity to engage with the government.

Bachelet began her China visit, for the first time in 17 years by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in the southern city of Guangzhou before moving to Xinjiang.

His office said last year it was believed that Uighurs were illegally detained, abused and forced to work in Xinjiang.

“I have raised questions and concerns about the application of anti-terrorism and radicalization measures under broader application, particularly the impact on the rights of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities,” he said during an online press briefing on Saturday.

China denies all allegations of abuse in Xinjiang.

Bachelet’s access was limited because China arranged for her to travel in a “closed loop” – without any foreign press – isolating people within a virtual bubble to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Rights groups and Western countries worry that China will use his visit as an endorsement of its rights record. US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday that “agreeing to travel under the circumstances was a mistake.”

China initially denied the existence of any detention camps in Xinjiang, but said in 2018 that it had set up “vocational training centers” needed to combat terrorism, separatism and religious fundamentalism in the region.

Bachelet said he raised allegations with the Chinese government of a lack of independent judicial oversight over the centers’ operation and severe restrictions on the use of force, abuse and religious practice.

In 2019, Xinjiang Governor Shohrat Zakir said that all trainees had “graduated”.

During a media briefing, Bachelet described the detentions of activists, lawyers and journalists in Hong Kong as “deeply worrying”.

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