I have the honor to read this statement on behalf of a group including: the United States, Ireland, the UK, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland.
We share the concerns expressed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the OHCHR’s February 16 press release highlighting China’s ongoing problematic human rights record.
We are concerned about China’s deteriorating human rights record, notably the arrests and ongoing detention of rights activists, civil society leaders, and lawyers. In many cases, these individuals have not been granted access to legal counsel or allowed visits by family members. These actions are in contravention of China’s own laws and international commitments.
We remain concerned about the unexplained recent disappearances and apparent coerced returns of Chinese and foreign citizens from outside mainland China. These extraterritorial actions are unacceptable, out of step with the expectations of the international community, and a challenge to the rules-based international order. The actions involving individuals in Hong Kong represent a violation of the high degree of autonomy promised Hong Kong under its Basic Law.
We also note with concern the increasing number of individuals whose confessions have been aired on state media prior to any indictment or judicial process. These actions run contrary to the fair trial guarantees enshrined in China’s laws and counter to rights and freedoms set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
We call on China to uphold its laws and its international commitments, and we support the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Right’s call to release all rights activists, civil society leaders, and lawyers detained for peacefully exercising their freedom of expression or for lawfully practicing their profession.