CHRD Submission to the UN for UPR of ChinaComments Off on CHRD Submission to the UN for UPR of China
CHRD Submission to the UN for Consideration
During the 4th Universal Periodic Review of
People’s Republic of China
January 24, 2024
1. This report was prepared by the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), [i] for the 4th periodic review of the People’s Republic of China. It is a summary of the information collected by CHRD since the 3rd UPR.
II. Information Provided by the Network of CHRD
A. Scope of International Obligations & Cooperation with International Human Rights Mechanisms and Bodies
2. CHRD recommends immediate ratification of the ICCPR. Though China “accepted” the recommendations to “continue working towards” and “accelerate the ratification of” ICCPR (28.4 and 28.9) in the 3rd UPR, it has not implemented these recommendations. In the government’s “Human Rights Action Plan 2021-2025,”  there is no reference to ICCPR ratification, nor any steps toward ratifying, nor any timetable.
3. CHRD urges the government to sign and ratify the ICPPED, ratify the Optional Protocols to the ICESCR, to the CEDAW, and to the CRPD, accede to the Optional Protocol to the CAT, and cooperate with the Committee against Torture by immediately submitting China’s overdue state report for the 6th periodic review.
B. National Human Rights Framework
4. CHRD urges the government to overhaul the legal structure of “national security” laws, including the National Security Law, the Anti-Terrorism Law, the Anti-Espionage Law, the Cyber-Security Law, the Foreign NGO Management Law, the Charity Law, the Regulations on Religious Affairs, to bring them in line with China’s human rights obligations and international standards. These laws, with overly broad and vague stipulations on “national security,” have been used to arbitrarily suppress civil and political rights and persecute human rights defenders.
C. Implementation of International Human Rights Obligations
a. Cross-Cutting Issues
Equality and non-discrimination
5. Discrimination remains prevalent, including discrimination against women, rural migrants, persons with disabilities, and LGBTIQ+ individuals in China.
6. CHRD recommends adopting a national “Employment Anti-Discrimination Law” within one year that contains prohibitions against all forms of discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, rural-urban residential registration, ethnicity, disabilities, and religious affiliation.
Development, the environment, and business and human rights
7. No Chinese law or regulation mandates companies to conduct mandatory human rights due diligence, despite the government claiming that this was the case during the previous UPR.
8. The government has denied allegations of forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), while at the same time making it nearly impossible for businesses to engage in human rights due diligence or allow outside actors to assess such claims. The government has even launched national security investigations against firms providing such services.
9. CHRD recommends that within one year of this review the government adopt legislation to require Chinese companies to engage in human rights due diligence according to the UNGPs, and create a welcoming environment for businesses firms, auditors, and multistakeholder entities to engage in human rights due diligence in China.
Human rights and counter-terrorism
10. In addition to ethnic Uyghurs and Tibetans, ethnic Hui minority persons have also been detained on the pretext of China’s “counter-terrorism” campaigns for peacefully exercising their freedom of expression and religious freedom and maintaining their cultural identify.
b. Civil and Political Rights
Right to life, liberty and security of person
11. The government continues to use enforced disappearances to punish human rights defenders including lawyers, dissidents, and members of religious or ethnic minorities. An emblematic case is human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng. Similarly, Peng Lifa has been the victim of enforced disappearance after he engaged in a one-man protest against the government’s strict pandemic measures in October 2022.
12. In the XUAR, there likely remain hundreds of thousands of ethnic Uyghurs who are subjected to arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance through the legal system. In 2022, the Xinjiang High People’s Procuratorate, stated that 540,826 people had been prosecuted in the region since 2017.
13. As OHCHR has noted, there is almost no public information data about the criminal justice system in the XUAR since 2020 and the government has not made public criminal verdicts or provided relevant information to OHCHR. CHRD is unaware of any Uyghurs, including prominent intellectuals, being afforded lawyers of their choice. Furthermore, as a WGAD opinion noted in a recent decision finding that three Uyghurs had been arbitrarily detained, due to a lack of public verdicts and the fact that the Chinese government did not respond with any information regarding the proceedings, “it is unclear if they have indeed stood trial at all.”
14. CHRD has documented many cases in which people in detention have credibly alleged to have been subjected to torture or other forms of ill-treatment. To illustrate, in the cases of Ding Jiaxi and Xu Zhiyong, both legal reform advocates have alleged that they were tortured while they were held in “residential surveillance in a designated location” (RSDL). Ding’s wife filed multiple applications to the court to exclude “illegally obtained evidence,” without success.
15. Official impunity for torture and reprisal against those who exposed torture has persisted. Human rights lawyer Chang Weiping was detained and sentenced to 3.5 years in jail after he tried to hold officers accountable for his torture.
16. China has eroded an important safeguard against torture of detainees by allowing authorities to deny detainees’ access to lawyers of their own choice.
17. The government continues to use RSDL, despite the UN urging its abolition as it is a form of secret detention and enforced disappearance, and therefore incompatible with China’s human rights obligations.
18. CHRD recommends the immediate repeal of RSDL and abolish Article 73 of the Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) that authorizes police to use RSDL.
Administration of justice, including impunity, and the rule of law
19. The judiciary in China remains neither independent nor impartial, and the CCP has taken steps to strengthen its controls of the judiciary and re-emphasize its supreme leadership over and above any law, legal or judicial processes.
20. CHRD documented numerous cases in which police and detention center authorities have used many tactics to deny lawyers visits, in violation of the CPL.
21. Lawyers who gain permission to meet their clients may face retaliation if the lawyers go public with their clients’ allegations of ill-treatment, torture, or violation of CPL protections.
22. In the aftermath of the 2015 crackdown on human rights lawyers, the government has tightened controls over, and increased retaliation against, rights lawyers. CHRD has documented the cases of 20 rights lawyers who lost their law licenses, four lawyers who were refused applications to renew their licenses, four lawyers who did not pass the “political appraisal” needed to obtain renewal of licenses, and 18 lawyers who were forced to leave their law firms, often due to official pressure.
23. Lawyers who were detained and subsequently released continue to face extralegal persecution and harassment, as in the case of lawyers Jiang Tianyong and Wang Quanzhang. Several remain in prison.
24. CHRD recommends the government ensure protection of lawyers to practice their profession unhindered, free from intimidation and persecution, and repeal legislation that interferes with the independence of lawyers, ending the use of administrative measures, such as the annual inspection of lawyers and law firms, which intimidate or penalize lawyers for efforts to practice their profession independently.
Fundamental freedoms and the right to participate in public and political life
25. The Chinese government continues to engage in reprisals against human rights defenders who have tried to participate in the UN human rights processes or who attempted to cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms.
26. Human rights defenders continue to face criminal persecution for exercising free expression. CHRD’s database of prisoners of conscience documented 324 cases of defenders jailed for the crime of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” a charge commonly used to criminalize expression and dissemination of information on the Internet.
27. During the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities censored information related to the pandemic and detained independent journalists.
28. Authorities arrested dozens of peaceful protesters following the mass protests across Chinese cities against harsh Zero-COVID policies and control measures.
29. CHRD recommends the immediate release of all human rights defenders held in detention or prison and the withdrawal of criminal prosecution of anyone for exercising their right to free expression, free press, freedom of information, freedom of peaceful assembly and association pursuant to the UDHR and China’s obligations as a signatory to the ICCPR.
c. Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
30. The government has further tightened control of civil society space. Many human rights defenders who advocate for ESC rights have been detained/jailed.
Right to work and to just and favorable conditions of work
31. CHRD is concerned about the continuing government ban on independent trade unions. The ACFTU remains the only government body allowed to organize workers, although it does not genuinely represent workers interests. Meanwhile, the government has tightened its control over labor groups and detained labor organizers.
32. CHRD recommends allowing workers to join or establish independent trade unions and to exercise their right to strike, ending criminal persecution of labor organizers and activists.
d. Rights of Specific Persons or Groups
Women and persons in the LGBTIQ+ community
33. Sexual harassment remains commonplace. In legal cases involving sexual harassment, most victims were unable to gain redress. Discussion of such cases was widely censored on the Chinese Internet.
34. NGOs combating workplace discrimination, domestic violence, and advocating for gender equality and LGBTIQ+ rights have been shut down and their staff members put under detention or subjected to surveillance and harassment. Social media accounts of university students’ LGBTIQ+ and gender studies groups have been closed down.
35. There is currently no legal right to same-sex marriage. Anti-discrimination provisions in labor laws do not cover LGBTIQ+ individuals. Adoption of children is limited to heterosexual couples.
36. CHRD recommends that the government adopt necessary measures, within the next two years, to ensure that laws and regulations with respect to sexual harassment are effectively implemented, end its harassment and intimidation of women and LGBTIQ+ rights NGOs, and take specific measures to combat discrimination against these populations.
37. CHRD remains concerned that due to the discriminatory hukou system, many rural migrant parents have little choice but to leave their children behind when they look for work in the cities. Consequently, without parental protection, these children lack are extremely vulnerable to abuse.
38. When HRD’s parents have been detained, some children were left without adequate care, as in the case of vaccine safety advocate He Fangmei and her detained husband, whose children were forcibly placed in a psychiatric institution where they face potential abuse.
Persons with disabilities
39. Some civil society organizations advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities have been shut down and individual activists detained. In detention facilities or prison, persons with disabilities had experienced discrimination, violence, and particular punishments that exploit their disabilities, torture and other ill-treatment, including beatings and the denial of medical treatment.
40. CHRD recommends full compliance with the CRPD; ensuring that all public facilities are barrier free and have suitable accommodations for persons with disabilities, and all government personnel involved in providing government services have undergone CRPD-compliant training.
 The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), founded in 2005, is a coalition of Chinese and international human rights non-governmental organizations. The network is dedicated to the promotion of human rights through peaceful efforts to push for democratic and rule of law reforms and to strengthen grassroots activism in China.
 Human Rights Action Plan of China 2021-2025, The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China, September 9, 2021, http://english.www.gov.cn/news/topnews/202109/09/content_WS6139a111c6d0df57f98dfeec.html
 CHRD and other NGOs joint Open Letter, October 6, 2022, https://www.nchrd.org/2022/10/open-letter-%EF%BF%BC/
 Defending Human Rights in the Era of Dystopia: The Situation of Defenders in China (2019), CHRD, February 2020. https://www.nchrd.org/2020/02/defending-human-rights-in-the-era-of-dystopia-the-situation-of-defenders-in-china-2019/
 Joint CHRD and RDN Civil Society Report Submitted to CESCR, February 2023, paragraphs 20-23. https://www.nchrd.org/2023/02/chrd-rdn-civil-society-report-submission/
 Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Addendum, 15 February 2019, UN Doc A/HRC/40/6/Add.1, https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G19/041/01/PDF/G1904101.pdf?OpenElement
 Joint CHRD and RDN Civil Society Report Submitted to CESCR, February 2023, paragraphs 20-23. https://www.nchrd.org/2023/02/chrd-rdn-civil-society-report-submission/
 CHRD, “China has warned of decoupling and “de-risking”. But its recent actions may get just that”, May 26, 2023, https://www.nchrd.org/2023/05/china-has-warned-of-decoupling-and-de-risking-but-its-recent-actions-may-get-just-that/
 “WILL THE HUI BE SILENTLY ERASED?” CHRD, March 2023. https://www.nchrd.org/2023/03/will-the-hui-be-silently-erased-a-groundbreaking-report-on-muslim-hui-minoritys-crisis-of-survival-amid-chinese-government-policies-aiming-to-eliminate-hui-identity/
 CHRD, “Submission on Enforced Disappearance of Gao Zhisheng”, October 2018.
https://www.nchrd.org/2018/10/submission-to-un-on-gao-zhisheng-october-5-2018/. BBC, “China repression: The families who have left loved ones behind”, November 18, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-63637903
 Peng Lifa, portrait of defenders https://www.nchrd.org/2022/12/peng-lifa-%e5%bd%ad%e7%ab%8b%e5%8f%91/ CHRD, December 2022.
 HRW, “China: Xinjiang Official Figures Reveal Higher Prisoner Count”, September 19, 2022, https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/09/14/china-xinjiang-official-figures-reveal-higher-prisoner-count
 OHCHR Assessment of human rights concerns in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, People’s Republic of China, August 31, 2022, https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/documents/countries/2022-08-31/22-08-31-final-assesment.pdf
 CHRD, “Urgent Actions Needed to Stop Cultural Rights Violations Against Uyghurs”, October 21, 2021, https://www.nchrd.org/2021/10/urgent-actions-needed-to-stop-cultural-rights-violations-against-uyghurs/
 Opinion No. 88/2022 concerning Qurban Mamut, Ekpar Asat and Gulshan Abbas (China), paras 59-63.
 CHRD, Verdict against Chang Weiping Epitomizes China’s Torture Problem, June 8, 2023, https://www.nchrd.org/2023/06/verdict-against-chang-weiping-epitomizes-chinas-torture-problem/ ; Chinese authorities must investigate torture claims by detained web designer, May 13, 2021, https://www.nchrd.org/2021/05/chinese-authorities-must-investigate-torture-claims-by-detained-web-designer/ ; CHRD Communiqué Alleging Torture of Chinese lawyer Wang Quanzhang – August 26, 2020, https://www.nchrd.org/2020/10/chrd-communique-alleging-torture-of-chinese-lawyer-wang-quanzhang-august-26-2020/
 Free Xu Zhiyong, Ding Jiaxi, and All Prisoners of Conscience Immediately, April 10, 2023, https://www.nchrd.org/2023/04/chrd-condemns-sentencing-of-rights-defenders-ding-jiaxi-and-xu-zhiyong/
 April 2, 2021 – CHRD Follow-Up Communiqué Alleging Torture or Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of former Chinese lawyer Ding Jiaxi, activists Xu Zhiyong, Li Qiaochu, and lawyer Chang Weiping during periods of their Enforced Disappearance and Arbitrary Detention in reprisals against them for Exercising their Freedom of Expression, Peaceful Assembly and Association, https://www.nchrd.org/2021/04/chrd-follow-up-communique-alleging-torture-or-cruel-inhumane-or-degrading-treatment-or-punishment-of-former-chinese-lawyer-ding-jiaxi-activists-xu-zhiyong-li-qiaochu-and-lawyer-chang-weiping-durin/
 CHRD, Verdict against Chang Weiping Epitomizes China’s Torture Problem, June 8, 2023, https://www.nchrd.org/2023/06/verdict-against-chang-weiping-epitomizes-chinas-torture-problem/ ; April 2, 2021 – CHRD Follow-Up Communiqué Alleging Torture or Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of former Chinese lawyer Ding Jiaxi, activists Xu Zhiyong, Li Qiaochu, and lawyer Chang Weiping during periods of their Enforced Disappearance and Arbitrary Detention in reprisals against them for Exercising their Freedom of Expression, Peaceful Assembly and Association, https://www.nchrd.org/2021/04/chrd-follow-up-communique-alleging-torture-or-cruel-inhumane-or-degrading-treatment-or-punishment-of-former-chinese-lawyer-ding-jiaxi-activists-xu-zhiyong-li-qiaochu-and-lawyer-chang-weiping-durin/
 UN Doc, OL CHN 15/2018, August 24, 2018, https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=23997
 Joint CHRD and RDN Civil Society Report Submitted to CESCR, February 2023, paragraphs 4-8. https://www.nchrd.org/2023/02/chrd-rdn-civil-society-report-submission/
 See portraits of defenders: Xie Yang (谢阳), https://www.nchrd.org/2016/09/xie-yang/ ; Ou Biaofeng (欧彪峰), https://www.nchrd.org/2021/10/ou-biaofeng/ ; Cao Zhixin (曹芷馨), https://www.nchrd.org/2023/03/cao-zhixin-曹芷馨/ ; CHRD, “China: Immediately release detained journalists on World Press Freedom Day”, May 1, 2023, https://www.nchrd.org/2023/05/china-immediately-release-detained-journalists-on-world-press-freedom-day/; Huang Xueqin (黄雪琴), https://www.nchrd.org/2022/03/huang-xueqin-黄雪琴/
 CHRD, “New Wave of Persecution Against Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Must Sound the Alarm”, December 6, 2021, https://www.nchrd.org/2021/12/new-wave-of-persecution-against-chinese-human-rights-lawyers-must-sound-the-alarm/
 Joint CHRD and HUIF Civil Society Report Submitted to CESCR – January 15, 2023, https://www.nchrd.org/2023/02/chrd-huif-escr-submission-january-15-2023/
 A/HRC/51/47: Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights – Report of the Secretary-General, September 14, 2022, https://www.ohchr.org/en/documents/thematic-reports/ahrc5147-cooperation-united-nations-its-representatives-and-mechanisms; Radio Free Asia, Rights lawyer, activist wife forced from Beijing home following utilities shutoff, April 28, 2023, https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/rights-lawyer-landlord-04282023130203.html; Joint letter by CHRD with 60+ other organizations and individuals, ‘709 Crackdown 2.0’: Global call against China’s renewed crackdown on human rights lawyers, July 10, 2023, https://www.nchrd.org/2023/07/709-crackdown-2-0/
 See their case profiles at: Li Yuhan (李昱函), https://www.nchrd.org/2017/12/li-yuhan/ ; Qin Yongpei 覃永沛, https://www.nchrd.org/2020/03/qin-yongpei/ ; Ding Jiaxi (丁家喜), https://www.nchrd.org/2013/10/prisoner-of-conscience-ding-jiaxi/ ; Chang Weiping (常玮平), https://www.nchrd.org/2021/12/chang-weiping/
 Civil Society Report Submitted to The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for its Review of China – June 7, 2022, https://www.nchrd.org/2022/06/june-7-2022-civil-society-report-submission-to-crpd-for-loi-on-china/ ; Joint CHRD and RDN Civil Society Report Submitted to CESCR, February 8, 2023, https://www.nchrd.org/2023/02/chrd-rdn-civil-society-report-submission/ ; CHRD, CHRD Civil Society Report Submitted to CEDAW, April 8, 2023, https://www.nchrd.org/2023/04/chrd-civil-society-report-submitted-to-cedaw/
 CHRD, “China: Immediately release detained journalists on World Press Freedom Day”, May 1, 2023, https://www.nchrd.org/2023/05/china-immediately-release-detained-journalists-on-world-press-freedom-day/
 CHRD, “Chinese Authorities Must Release “Blank Paper” Protesters and Allow Free Expression on COVID-19 Pandemic,” March 8, 2023. https://www.nchrd.org/2023/03/chinese-authorities-must-release-blank-paper-protesters-and-allow-free-expression-on-covid-19-pandemic/
 Joint CHRD and RDN Civil Society Report Submitted to CESCR, February 2023, paragraphs 16-17. https://www.nchrd.org/2023/02/chrd-rdn-civil-society-report-submission/
 Joint CHRD and RDN Civil Society Report Submitted to CESCR, February 2023, paragraphs 34-35. https://www.nchrd.org/2023/02/chrd-rdn-civil-society-report-submission/
 Aaron Halegua, “Workplace Gender-Based Violence and Harassment in China: Harmonizing Domestic Law and Practice With International Standards,” Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF) and U.S.-Asia Law Institute (USALI), 2021, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/55d21ffee4b0d22e803fdca1/t/60d0edd0f10e7a0a8e77ea8d/1624305105382/Halegua%2C+Workplace+GBVH+in+China+-+FINAL+%282021.06.21%29.pdf
 Weibo is muzzling users for discussing a landmark #MeToo case,” Protocol, September 16, 2021, https://www.protocol.com/china/china-weibo-metoo-account-suspension.
 CHRD, “Closure of LGBT NGO Signals Disappearing Civic Space in China”, May 22, 2023, https://www.nchrd.org/2023/05/closure-of-lgbt-ngo-signals-disappearing-civic-space-in-china/
 Joint CHRD and RDN Civil Society Report Submitted to CESCR, February 2023, paragraphs 31-33. https://www.nchrd.org/2023/02/chrd-rdn-civil-society-report-submission/
 “Red Vs are after China’s queer community: WeChat’s closure of student-run LGBTQ+ accounts has triggered nationalist frenzy and an antitrust report,” Protocol, July 2021. https://www.protocol.com/china/china-wechat-delete-lgbt-accounts
 China Labour Bulletin, Migrant workers and their children, May 22, 2022, https://clb.org.hk/en/content/migrant-workers-and-their-children#:~:text=According%20to%20estimates%20by%20the,40%25%20of%20children%20in%20China.
 CHRD, Civil Society Report Submitted to The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for its Review of China, July 2022. https://www.nchrd.org/2022/06/june-7-2022-civil-society-report-submission-to-crpd-for-loi-on-china/