A global coalition of more than 300 organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, are calling on the United Nations Wednesday to create a watchdog to investigate human rights violations carried out by the Chinese government.
The request in an open letter for an “impartial and independent U.N. mechanism” to probe China heaps further pressure on Beijing over its handling of issues like protests in Hong Kong and detention centers for Uighur Muslims and others in the western Xinjiang region, which the government has been describing as vocational or training centers.
“The international community can no longer sit back and allow the Chinese authorities to trample on human rights at home and abroad,” Joshua Rosenzweig, the head of Amnesty International’s China team, said in a statement.
“Without decisive action now, things will only get worse,” he added. “It is urgent for U.N. member states to work together and ensure that violations committed by Beijing are officially monitored and meaningfully challenged. No state should be above the law.”
The appeal comes before the start of the 47-member-state U.N. Human Rights Council’s fall session on Monday.
The groups also want U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to “take responsibility for publicly addressing China’s sweeping rights violations,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
Independent experts who work with the U.N. have already called for a special session of the Human Rights Council focusing on the array of issues around China’s rights record, the Associated Press reports.
“They highlighted China’s mass human rights violations in Hong Kong, Tibet, and Xinjiang, suppression of information in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, and attacks on rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and critics of the government across the country,” the letter says.
Advocates insist that no country — no matter how large or powerful — should escape extra scrutiny of their rights records when warranted.
“China has systematically persecuted rights defenders in reprisal for their cooperation with U.N. human rights operations — torture, enforced disappearance, imprisonment, and stripping licenses from lawyers,” said Renee Xia, director of Chinese Human Rights Defenders, in a statement. “The U.N. system should no longer tolerate such treatment.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.