UN committee urges China to free Xinjiang detainees, recommends reparations

A 2019 photo shows a watchtower at a high-security facility near what is believed to be a re-education camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained, on the outskirts of Hotan, in China's northwestern Xinjiang region. PHOTO: AFP

GENEVA - A United Nations committee urged China on Thursday to release people held in detention facilities in its Xinjiang region and recommended that it provide victims with “remedies and reparation”.

The committee’s statement adds to pressure on China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to enact reforms following a report from the global body’s human rights chief in August which said its treatment of Uighurs and other Muslims may constitute crimes against humanity.

Rights groups accuse Beijing of abuses against Uighurs, a mainly Muslim ethnic minority that numbers around 10 million in Xinjiang, including the mass use of forced labour in internment camps.

China denies any rights abuses.

Its spokesman at the diplomatic mission in Geneva, Mr Liu Yuyin, said Beijing firmly opposes the UN committee’s move, saying it “smears and slanders China’s human rights situation based on disinformation fabricated by Western countries and anti-China separatist forces”.

The 18-member committee regularly monitors countries’ compliance with a 1965 international convention on racial discrimination which China and some 180 other countries are party to.

The committee said the “lack of improvement in the human rights situation in Xinjiang” spurred it to adopt the recommendations, known as a decision.

The document also called for China to “undertake a full review of its legal framework governing national security, counter terrorism and minority rights in (Xinjiang)“ to ensure compliance with the convention. REUTERS

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