The EU has called for China to immediately release human rights defenders, pressing the country to respect “the rule of law” and accusing the Chinese regime of deliberately “systematically violating” civil and political rights.
Citing names of Chinese human rights attorneys who allegedly have been detained or forcibly disappeared, the EU Delegation to China called for their immediate and unconditional release, urging the Chinese regime to “investigate thoroughly” and allow the attorneys to have a fair trial.
“Those detained should be guaranteed access to lawyers of their own choice, medical assistance, and their family members,” the delegation stated in its International Human Rights Day statement on Dec. 10.
Chinese human rights attorneys and activists have claimed that police prevented them from leaving their houses in advance of U.N. Human Rights Day events, which came after U.S. President Joe Biden announced a two-day virtual summit on democracy without inviting China and Russia.
“They told us directly that there were two reasons: One was the U.S. democracy summit, and they were also worried we would take part in World Human Rights Day,” human rights attorney Wang Quanzhang told AFP.
Wang was arrested in July 2015 as part of a nationwide clampdown on hundreds of activists and attorneys. In January 2019, he was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison for subversion of state power—a catch-all charge Beijing often uses against dissidents.
Wang was released on April 5, 2020, after completing his sentence, including the time he spent in pretrial detention. He was taken to his hometown of Jinan, Shandong Province, China, for quarantine for 14 days before being reunited with his family in Beijing on Apr. 28, 2020.
China’s estimated number of death sentences and executions vastly outnumbers that of all other countries combined, which also includes nonviolent cases, prompting the EU to call for China to reduce the number of criminal offenses that are punishable by death in the country.
The delegation described capital punishment as “inhuman” and unnecessary, urging China to implement a moratorium on executions and to ultimately abolish the death penalty.
“China should stop the practice of residential surveillance at a designated location, which has been condemned by the U.N. Special Procedures, as well as discontinue the use of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detained persons to extract forced and public confessions,” the delegation stated.
The EU also called out China for “deliberately systematically violating” civil and political rights, noting reports of organ harvesting in China, which often involved minorities or vulnerable groups.
“Forced organ harvesting is a criminal, inhumane and unethical practice, and must be stopped,” the delegation stated.
The mass detentions of minorities in Xinjiang and “evidence-based reports” of forced labor against Uyghurs pose a grave concern, the delegation stated, suggesting the implementation of an independent assessment of the human rights situation in the region.
“The EU and its Member States stand ready to engage with China to promote respect for the rule of law and human rights, in accordance with international human rights obligations,” EU Ambassador to China Nicolas Chapuis wrote on Twitter.
Frank Fang contributed to this report.