tirsdag 22. juni 2021

UN warns of worst ‘cascade of human rights setbacks in our lifetimes’

The UN rights chief has called for concerted action to recover from the worst global deterioration of rights she had seen, highlighting the situation in China, Russia and Ethiopia among others. “To recover from the most wide-reaching and severe cascade of human rights setbacks in our lifetimes, we need a life-changing vision, and concerted action,” Michelle Bachelet told the opening of the UN Human Rights Council’s 47th session.

The session, which lasts until 13 July and is being held virtually, is set to feature an eagerly anticipated report by Bachelet about systemic racism, and draft resolutions on Myanmar, Belarus and Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region. The UN rights chief also pointed to the “chilling impact” of a sweeping national security law introduced in Hong Kong. The law, which took effect on the eve of 1 July, 2020, is seen as the spear tip of a sweeping crackdown on Beijing’s critics in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong following 2019’s huge democracy protests.

It has criminalised much dissent, given China jurisdiction over some cases and awarded authorities powerful new investigative powers. Bachelet warned that “107 people have been arrested under the National Security Law and 57 have been formally charged”. She also pointed to “reports of serious human rights violations” in China’s Xinjiang region, and said she hoped Beijing would grant her a long-discussed visit there, including “meaningful access” this year. The UN rights chief has been facing diplomatic pressure to speak out about China’s policies in the north-western region, where the US has accused Beijing of genocide and crimes against humanity against the Uyghurs.