US asks China to allow UN rights chief ‘unhindered’ access to Xinjiang

US asks China to allow UN rights chief 'unhindered' access to Xinjiang

GENEVA: The United States has asked China to provide “unhindered and unsupervised” access to all areas of Xinjiang to United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, during her visit in May this year.

Bachelet announced this week that she is set to visit China in May, including a trip to Xinjiang, after reaching an agreement with Beijing.
“The United States is aware of High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s announcement of her intent to visit Xinjiang. We call upon the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to ensure that her visit is accorded unhindered and unsupervised access to all areas of Xinjiang and to private meetings with a diverse range of Uyghur individuals and civil society groups,” said Sheba Crocker, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

In a statement, Crocker said that any credible visit should include access to the locations where atrocities and human rights violations and abuses, including forced labor, and should be followed by a timely, candid, and complete report on the visit’s findings.

“Any access limitations imposed on the High Commissioner or her Office, or interference with their activities or reporting, would severely undermine the credibility of her visit and support the propaganda that denies the abuses occurring in Xinjiang,” she added.

On Tuesday, some 200 rights groups demanded that Bachelet’s office release its long-postponed report on the rights situation in China’s Xinjiang province. “The release of the report without further delay is essential – to send a message to victims and perpetrators alike that no state, no matter how powerful, is above international law or the robust independent scrutiny of your office,” the 192 groups, including Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty, wrote in an open letter.

HRW executive director Kenneth Roth said that rights groups have become increasingly concerned that the UN human rights office has still not published its long-awaited report on Xinjiang.

“It defies credibility to believe that China will allow meaningful unfettered access that will enable human rights defenders, or victims and their families, to speak to the High Commissioner safely, unsupervised and without fear of reprisal. Today’s announcement of a planned visit by the High Commissioner should not provide an excuse for her to avoid publishing her report on Xinjiang abuses without further delay, as she has repeatedly promised,” he said.

Meanwhile, China has welcomed the UN rights chief’s visit without commenting on the modalities of the visit. (ANI) 

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