Statement by Ambassador Mary Whelan, Head of the delegation of Ireland on behalf of the European Union.
European Union: The EU reaffirms its commitment to the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue, which is aimed at bringing about practical and measurable improvements in human rights in China. The dialogue enables us to raise issues, which continue to be of concern. These include the extensive use of the death penalty, torture and arbitrary detention. We are also concerned at repression of freedom of _expression, religion and association, and ongoing violations of the human rights of trade unionists, pro-democracy and Internet activists, Christians, and Falun Gong practitioners. We are disturbed at the continued deprivation of religious and cultural rights in Tibet, as well as human rights violations in Xinjiang.
AUSTRALIA: Our bilateral Human Rights Dialogue with China enables a robust exchange of views on human rights. We look forward to further progress in and concrete outcomes from the dialogue. We acknowledge China's progress in recognising social and cultural rights but encourage further steps towards the realisation of civil and political rights. We encourage China's efforts to introduce greater transparency and accountability into its legal and administrative systems. We call on China to ensure that its judicial system does not curtail the right to freedom of _expression, religion and assembly of individuals and groups, including in its counter-terrorism activities at home. We particularly urge China to ensure the rights of its ethnic minorities, including Uighurs and Tibetans.(Statement by Ms Caroline Millar, Head of the Australian Delegation)
U.S.A: We began 2003 with hopes that the incremental but unprecedented progress in China seen in 2002 would continue and expand. However, throughout the year, regrettably, we saw backsliding on key human rights issues. There was an increase in arrests of democracy activists, individuals discussing subjects deemed sensitive by the Government on the Internet, HIV/AIDS activists, protesting workers, defense lawyers advocating on behalf of dissidents or the dispossessed, house-church members and others seeking to take advantage of the space created by Chinese reforms. Harsh repression of the Falun Gong continued, and the Chinese Government, at times, used the war on terror to justify its continuing crackdown on Muslim Uighurs.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Government's record in Tibet remains poor; ongoing abuses include execution without due process, torture, arbitrary arrest, detention without public trial, and lengthy detention of Tibetans for peacefully expressing their political or religious views. There is much China can do to meet its commitments as outlined in the 2002 bilateral human rights dialogue and to make key structural reforms such as the elimination of "extra-judicial re-education through labor." We encourage China to do so and to engage the international community in ways in which it can promote the civic and political rights of the Chinese people. (Statement by Ambassador R. S. Williamson).
CANADA: In China, we applaud the recent release of prisoners, but remain concerned about its restriction on freedom of _expression, association, religion and spiritual beliefs, (especially in Tibet and Xinjiang), as well as extra-judicial measures such as re-education through labour. We encourage China to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. (Statement by: Ambassador Paul Meyer, Head of the Canadian Delegation)
NORWAY: Norway values the opportunity to address human rights issues with the People's Republic of China through our bilateral human rights dialogue. We welcome China's recent inclusion of human rights protection in its constitution. My government attaches special importance to the preservation of the culture and the religious identity of he Tibetan people. We are also concerned about the imprisonment of individuals who publish their views on the Internet, the lack of religious and spiritual freedom and the extensive use of capital punishment in China. Furthermore, we encourage the government to abolish the "re-education through labour" system. (Statement by: Ambassador Sverre Bergh Johansen)
NEW ZEALAND: We remain concerned at the continuing restriction on freedom of _expression and religion, the widespread use and scope of the death penalty, and reports of arbitrary arrest and detention in China. At the same time, we commend the commitment of the Chinese Government to strengthen the rule of law and the decision to add a human rights clause to the Chinese constitution. We encourage the Chinese Government to complete its ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to continue to receive human rights Special Rapporteurs without pre-conditions.(Statement by Ambassador Tim Caughley)
Submitted by Tibet Bureau, Geneva