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UN must address reprisals against human rights defenders in China
Tuesday, 17 September 2013 17:16


(Geneva, 17 September 2013) -  'China must end reprisals against human rights defenders engaging with the United Nations', the International Service for Human Rights said today. Ms Cao Shunli, a human rights defender scheduled to attend an ISHR training course on international human rights advocacy has reportedly been disappeared when trying to board a flight to Geneva, and is one of two defenders prevented from attending the Human Rights Council's 24th session.
According to a press release issued by Chinese Human Rights Defenders, authorities stopped the activists, Ms Cao Shunli and Ms Chen Jianfang, at Beijing Capital International Airport. The activists were prevented from traveling to Geneva, where they were due to participate in an ISHR training course on United Nations human rights mechanisms. This harassment of human rights defenders follows on from an incident in July, when authorities are reported to have arbitrarily arrested and detained human rights defenders staging a peaceful sit-in aimed at highlighting the importance of the State engaging civil society actors in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. 
'Preventing individuals from engaging with the UN human rights system is a clear violation of international human rights law', said Michael Ineichen, Director of Human Rights Council Advocacy at ISHR. The UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders guarantees the right of everyone to unhindered access to and communication with the United Nations, while the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of movement. 
'Reprisals are a flagrant attack on human rights defenders individually, and it is key that States and the UN itself unequivocally condemn such acts', Mr Ineichen said. ISHR calls on the Chinese authorities to urgently provide information about the whereabouts of Ms Cao and Ms Chen, and the reasons for their alleged detention and disappearance. 'In addition, member States of the Human Rights Council must push for full investigations in all cases of reprisals, ensure perpetrators are held to account, and demand protection for human rights defenders to carry out their legitimate work', Mr Ineichen said. 
'If the UN's top human rights body tolerates that individuals providing information to the UN are targeted, attacked and disappeared, the credibility of the institution is at stake', Mr Ineichen said. 'Silence in the face of such blatant attacks on defenders and consequently on the UN's credibility undermines the human rights protection framework that the international community has built over the past six decades', Mr Ineichen said. 
At its current 24th session, the United Nations Human Rights Council is negotiating a resolution aimed at preventing and addressing cases of reprisals, and ensuring those who cooperate with the United Nations can do so safely, and without fear
Contact: Michael Ineichen, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or +41 78 827 77 86 
Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 September 2013 07:42

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