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Rights group accuses China of trying to weaken UN mechanisms

Human Rights Watch Tuesday accused China of trying to weaken human rights mechanisms as advocated by the UN. In a 96-page report, the non-profit also accused China of denying human rights activists access to the UN human rights council.

“China engages with the UN on human rights but often with the goal of aggressively silencing criticism and eroding access for activists who work on China,” Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of HRW said at a press conference on Tuesday.

As an example, Roth cited the case of Cao Shunli, who was detained in 2013 after she urged Beijing to consult the Chinese civil society for a human rights review report to the UN, Efe news reported.

Cao, who was also stopped from travelling to Geneva to participate in human rights training sessions, fell ill in custody and died, and her death, according to Roth, was a warning to Chinese activists against participating in UN programs.

Roth said only four special rapporteurs of the UN have been able to visit China, all in connection with cases where China doesn’t find itself too vulnerable.

He added 12 rapporteurs have been blocked in the last 15 years and that Beijing hasn’t invited a single UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to the country in more than a decade.

China, the HRW report says, also used the UN Economic and Social Council to block UN accreditation for critical non-governmental organisations.

Meanwhile, China denied the accusations and stressed its commitment to “protecting and promoting human rights”.

“China has been playing an active part in the work of the UN Human Rights agencies,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a press conference on Tuesday.

“We hope that the relevant organisation can remove their tainted lenses, view China’s human rights development and its contribution to the international human rights cause in an unbiased and objective way and stop its groundless accusations,” Geng said.

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