UK Foreign Ministry 2003 Human Rights Report criticises China’s Record and Attitude towards Human Rights

The UK Foreign Ministry has just published its 2003 Human Rights Report this September. With regards to China, the report revealed:

“China stated at the UN Commission on Human Rights in April 2003 that international concern over human rights in China was “unimportant, meaningless and irrelevant”. This has led to concerns among both other governments and in the NGO community as to the value China places on human rights dialogue.”

The report also stated that the UK Government “have concerns about a wide range of human rights issues in China including: freedom of religious belief [and] treatment of Falun Gong practitioners.”

The Report also focused on a few specific human rights areas. “The Chinese authorities put severe restrictions on the freedom of expression and information.…The Chinese authorities...have blocked over 19,000 websites…Websites containing information on topics such as human rights, Falun Gong, Tibet, Taiwan, religious affairs as well as general news and media sites are targeted for careful scrutiny.”

In addition, “Religious freedom has not improved since the last Annual Report.…We are also concerned at the continuing Strike Hard Campaign which has singled out Falun Gong and a number of other groups for particular attention. A Chinese court sentenced fifteen Falun Gong members in September 2002 to terms of between 8-20 years for broadcasting Falun Gong material on a Chinese cable network. A US citizen and Falun Gong practitioner, Charles Li, was arrested in January 2003 and charged with sabotaging radio and TV systems on behalf of Falun Gong.…The use of torture by the police remains a problem despite an official commitment to eliminate it.”

Furthermore, “The World Psychiatric Association has not yet received a response to its request to send a working group to inspect these institutions following a Human Rights Watch report, published in 2002, which alleged abuse of patients.”

Moreover, there have been no signs of progress in the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Nor does China have any current plans to accede to the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture (OPCAT)”

Concerning the arrest of sixteen Falun Gong demonstrators in Hong Kong after Chinese pressure in March 2002, and the subsequent show trial, the report stated “it is crucial that the SAR government continues to uphold Hong Kong’s longstanding adherence to the rule of law, and maintains its respect for the freedoms of assembly and speech, if Hong Kong is to retain its image as a free and open society. Equality before the law is an essential tenet of the rule of law.

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