Dharamsala, August 29 - The United Nations yesterday urged China to ensure “humane treatment” of people arrested in connection to last month’s Xinjiang clashes and Tibet protests last year. In its final report, United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination asked China to guarantee “fair trial standards according to international law, including access to a lawyer of their choice, presumption of innocence, and handing down proportionate sentences on those found guilty.”
The committee recommended that China must “carefully consider the root causes” of inter-ethnic tensions within its borders.
The Committee emphasized the “need for open access to information,” and recommended that China’s Committee reports and the Committee’s concluding observations be made accessible to the public.
In addition to addressing issues affecting ethnic minority groups, the Committee also expressed concern over the reported “lack of citizen complaints and judicial actions” alleging racial discrimination. It also asked China to “verify if the scarcity of such complaints is not the result of lack of effective remedies enabling victims to seek redress, victims’ lack of awareness of their rights, fear of reprisals, lack of confidence in the police and judicial authorities, or lack of attention or sensitivity to cases of racial discrimination on the part of the authorities.”
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is a body of 18 independent experts tasked with monitoring implementation by State parties of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. On August 7 and 10, 2009, the Committee conducted a review of China’s most recent progress report, submitted on June 24, 2008. Alternative reports from various rights groups and NGOs were also reviewed by the committee but the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy says their alternative report was not accepted apparently under China’s influence.