Michelle Bachelet is the first United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit China since 2005.
“I should say from the outset that this visit was not an investigation,” Bachelet said at a press briefing in Guangzhou, north of Hong Kong. “This visit was an opportunity to have direct discussions – with the most senior Chinese leaders – on human rights, to listen to each other, to raise concerns, to explore and to pave the way for more regular and meaningful interactions in the future, with a view to supporting China in fulfilling its obligations under international human rights law”.
Visit to Xinjiang
During her visit, Ms Bachelet traveled notably to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, as independent UN-appointed human rights experts expressed serious concerns over allegations of detention and forced labor. of Muslim Uyghurs.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said that in Xinjiang she had “raised questions and concerns about the application of counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures and their wide application – in particular their impact on the rights of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities”.
“While I am unable to assess the true scale of the Vocational Education and Training Centers (VETCs), I have noted with the government the lack of independent judicial oversight of the operation of the program, the use by law enforcement officials of 15 indicators to determine trends in violent extremism, allegations of use of force and ill-treatment in institutions, and reports of unduly harsh restrictions on religious practices legit,” she added.
“During my visit, the government assured me that the VETC system has been dismantled. I have encouraged the government to undertake a review of all counter-terrorism and deradicalization policies to ensure that they are fully in line with international human rights standards, and in particular that they do not are not applied in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner,” Ms. Bachelet said.
Inform the families
She said that before coming to China she learned that some Uyghur families now living abroad had lost contact with their relatives. “In my discussions with the authorities, I urged them to take steps to inform families first,” she said.
“I also share the concerns of the UN human rights mechanisms regarding the legitimate activities of lawyers, human rights defenders and other persons sanctioned in the context of national security. United Nations human rights bodies have concluded that the residential surveillance system constitutes arbitrary detention and have called for its repeal,” the UN human rights chief added.