September 17, 2004

Tibet: U.N. Human Rights Investigators to visit China

UN Human Rights Investigators will travel to China, including Tibet, next week to interview Inmates in Prisons, psychiatric Hospitals and labour Camps
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U.N. human rights investigators will travel to China, including Tibet, next week to interview inmates in prisons, psychiatric hospitals and labour camps, the United Nations said on Thursday.

During the Sept. 19-30 visit, the U.N. working group on arbitrary detention will also meet officials in the justice, public security and foreign affairs ministries, as well as judges, prosecutors and lawyers.

"The delegation will speak to persons deprived of their liberty, former detainees and family members of persons in detention," the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement.

Spokesman Jose Luis Diaz said that the trip was being undertaken at the invitation of the government.

Human rights groups have expressed concern that China is using the global war on terrorism as an excuse to crack down on Tibet and the Muslim region of Xinjiang in the west.

Amnesty International said in a July report that authorities had detained thousands of Muslims without due process and sentenced them to labour camps in the past three years in the name of the war on terror.

Leila Zerrougui, an Algerian jurist who chairs the five-member U.N. working group on arbitrary detention, will lead the team, which will go to Beijing, Chengdu in Sichuan province and Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region.

The group, which previously visited China in 1996 and 1997, will report its findings to the next annual meeting of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, set for March-April 2005.

The U.N. special rapporteur (investigator) on torture, Dutch law professor Theo van Boven, said in June that China had postponed his long-awaited visit until "sometime later this year". His predecessor, Sir Nigel Rodley, had tried unsuccessfully since 1996 to visit China.

Source: Reuters

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