China: Gordon Brown urged to raise human rights issues during China visit as Amnesty issues briefing on key concerns
As Gordon Brown heads to China for his first visit to the country as Prime Minister, Amnesty International has sent a briefing to him, outlining key human rights concerns that must be raised with the Chinese authorities.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
“As the Beijing Olympics approaches, China will be increasingly sensitive to its reputation in other countries. Gordon Brown must make clear that Britain does not approve of its record on human rights. Basic values like justice and free speech are held dear by the British people and our Prime Minister must reflect their importance.
“China is still failing to honour the promises it made when bidding for the Olympics, to improve human rights. It still locks up dissidents, shuts down opposition websites and executes more people every year than the rest of the world put together.
“In his speech at China’s Chongqing University in December, David Cameron talked about the need to improve human rights for China, particularly the use of the death penalty and restrictions on free speech. Gordon Brown must go one step further and raise this at government level.”
Amnesty International is calling on the Chinese government to fulfill its promise to develop human rights as part of the Olympic legacy. The organisation has identified four key areas of concern that must be addressed in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics in August:
The Chinese authorities should significantly reduce the use of the death penalty in China as a step towards abolition. By the end of 2008, measures should include:
- the regular publication of official statistics on the total number of death sentences and executions, consistently providing families and lawyers of those sentenced to death with access to them as well as to administrative and procedural information
- reducing the number of capital offences with substantial reforms in regard to nonviolent crimes.
Justice and detention
The Chinese authorities should ensure that all forms of detention in China are in accordance with international human rights law, including measures to uphold the rights to fair trial and to prevent torture. By the end of 2008, this should include:
- abolishing Re-education Through Labour, Enforced Drug Rehabilitation and Custody and Education, ensuring that decisions on detention are no longer exclusively in the hands of the police;
- ensuring that these systems are not used in relation to the hosting of the Beijing Olympics as a method of ‘cleaning-up’ the city in the build-up to and during the Games.
Persecution of people who stand up for human rights
The Chinese authorities should ensure that human rights defenders are free to carry out their peaceful activities. This should include:
- ensuring that human rights defenders are not subjected to house arrest; are able to communicate with foreign journalists without penalty or harassment; and are able to highlight legitimate issues of concern without penalty or harassment;
- releasing human rights defenders who are currently detained as prisoners of conscience.
Freedom of expression
The Chinese authorities should end the unwarranted censorship of the Internet in China. This should include:
- Ensuring that no one is arrested or tried for legitimate use of the Internet;
- Ensuring that those detained or imprisoned for use of the Internet, including human rights defenders and journalists are released.
While it is positive that foreign journalists attending the Olympics will have restrictions on reporting removed during the games, application of this is far from consistent and Amnesty has received numerous reports of foreign journalists being prevented from carrying our their legitimate work. It is also a concern that the restrictions on foreign journalists are due to be reinstated after the Games. Meanwhile, here has been an increase in persecution against domestic journalists and human rights defenders in the run up to the Games.
Amnesty International is campaigning for the Beijing Olympics to leave a lasting legacy of improvements in human rights for China. More information about the campaign can be found at: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/china
Journalists writing about China and the Olympics can download a Media Kit detailing key human rights concerns at: