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China: OFMDFM must take opportunity of Chinese new leadership to raise human rights

Ahead of their visit this week to China, Amnesty International has called on the First Minister and Deputy First Minister to raise concerns about human rights abuses in the country - including a continuing crackdown on freedom of expression and use of the death penalty.

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International Northern Ireland Campaigner, said:

"As the Northern Ireland Executive continues to develop its relationship with China, building important economic and educational links, we must ensure that it does not do so at the expense of human rights and the lives of people in China. 

"Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness must take the opportunity of meeting with a new Chinese leadership to underline the importance of human rights discourse as part of Northern Ireland's relationship with China.

"The ability of the Chinese people to bring about human rights change internally, without the support of external pressure, is severely curtailed by the restrictions on freedom of expression and association. That is why ordinary people in China, need the support of voices from abroad to support their attempts to secure human rights.

"We hope that the First and deputy First Minister will raise fundamental concerns about human rights violations in China including the use of torture, execution - in which China is world leader - and repression of dissent."

The Amnesty International annual State of the World report, published last week, highlights ongoing concerns about human rights abuses in China including arbitrary arrests and detentions, human rights defenders and their families unlawfully being targeted for repressive measures, and the use of the death penalty.. 

Death penalty sentences continue to be imposed after unfair trials. More people were executed in China than in the rest of the world put together. Statistics on death sentences and executions remained classified. Under current Chinese laws, there were no procedures for death row prisoners to seek pardon or commutation of their sentence.

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