China: Prescott should upgrade dialogue on human rights

In the light of the serious human rights abuses outlined in its new report China: Continuing abuses under a new leadership the human rights organisation is calling on Mr Prescott to use the visit as an opportunity to upgrade the UK's human rights dialogue with China.

The report states that hundreds of thousands of people continue to be detained across China, in violation of their fundamental human rights. Torture and ill treatment remain widespread and systemic, while freedom of expression and information continue to be severely curtailed. Death sentences and executions continue to be imposed after unfair trials, with China remaining responsible for 80 per cent of the world's known executions.

Amnesty International says that official reports in China praising the adoption of lethal injections as a method of execution, and hailing the introduction of mobile execution chambers for their cost-effectiveness and efficiency, should send alarm bells ringing.

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK says:

'Reforms in the commercial sphere are continuing apace in China. But we are not seeing the same level of attention being paid to reforming to the criminal justice system in order to end unfair trials, executions and torture, bringing China closer in line with international standards.'

Amnesty International's key human rights concerns on China include:

  • The continued use of the death penalty during the ongoing 'strike hard' campaign resulting in high numbers of executions, often after unfair or summary trials;
  • The continued use of 'Re-education through Labour', a system which allows for the detention of hundreds of thousands of individuals every year without charge or trial;
  • The persistence of serious allegations of torture and ill-treatment within China's criminal justice system;
  • Increasing arrests and detentions of Internet users or so-called 'cyber-dissidents' in violation of their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and information;
  • An intensification in the crackdown on the human rights of the mainly Muslim Uighur community in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region under the guise of 'anti-terrorism' measures;
  • Continued repression of the rights to freedom of expression and association in Tibet, including scores of Buddhist monks and nuns who remain in prison as prisoners of conscience;
  • The ongoing crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement and other so-called 'heretical organisations', leading to widespread reports of arbitrary detention, torture and deaths in custody;
  • Serious human rights violations in the context of the spread of HIV/AIDS in China, including reports of torture and ill-treatment of people with HIV/AIDS, and the arbitrary detention, harassment and intimidation of HIV/AIDS activists;
  • The plight of North Korean asylum seekers in China, who continue to face forced return to North Korea where they risk imprisonment, torture and even execution;
  • Recent attempts by the Hong Kong administration to introduce new legislation on 'treason, sedition, secession and subversion' despite widespread public concern that this could be used to restrict fundamental human rights.

China: Continuing abuses under a new leadership is available online at: www.news.amnesty.org

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