Measures Related to the Human Rights Situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

Government social media post in April 2017 shows detainees in a political education camp in Lop County, Hotan Prefecture, Xinjiang.  © Xinjiang Bureau of Justice WeChat Account

Jan 12, 2021

Backgrounder

Canada is gravely concerned with evidence and reports of human rights violations in the People’s Republic of China against members of the Uyghur ethnic minority and other minorities. These violations include repressive surveillance, mass arbitrary detention, torture and mistreatment, forced labour within the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang), and mass transfers of forced labourers from Xinjiang to provinces across China.

In coordination with international partners, Canada is adopting a comprehensive approach to defending the rights of Uyghurs and advancing measures to address the risk that goods produced using forced labour from any country from entering Canadian and global supply chains. This approach includes the following measures:

Prohibition of imports of goods produced wholly or in part by forced labour

Effective July 1st, 2020, the Customs Tariff Act and the Schedule to the Customs Tariff were amended to include a prohibition on the importation of goods from any country that are produced wholly or in part by forced labour. This legislation provides a basis for enforcement against goods produced by forced labour originating in or transferred from Xinjiang. This amendment enshrines in legislation the labour obligations that Canada signed on to as part of CUSMA, which apply to imports from all countries.

Xinjiang Integrity Declaration for clients 

Canadian companies that are 1) sourcing directly or indirectly from Xinjiang or from entities relying on Uyghur labour, 2) established in Xinjiang, or 3) seeking to engage in the market, will be required to sign a declaration when engaging with the Trade Commissioner Service, beyond receiving a briefing about the risks of doing business in this market. The declaration  acknowledges that the company: is aware of the human rights situation in Xinjiang; abides by all relevant Canadian and International laws, respects human rights, and seeks to meet or exceed OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.

Companies are required to affirm that they are not knowingly sourcing products or services from a supplier implicated in forced labour or other human rights violations and committing to conduct due diligence on their suppliers in China to ensure there are no such linkages.

Not collaborating in good faith could result in the withdrawal of trade advocacy support and future Export Development Canada financial support.

Business Advisory on doing business with Xinjiang-related entities

Global Affairs Canada issued a business advisory to caution Canadian businesses about the risks of supply chain exposure to entities that engage in human rights abuses, including forced labour in Xinjiang and involving Uyghur ethnic minorities, with a view to helping Canadian firms  to understand the legal and reputational risks posed to companies whose supply chains rely on doing business with entities possibly implicated in forced labour. While these risks are not limited to Xinjiang or China, the Canadian Government considers that are considered higher in Xinjiang Given conclusive evidence of human rights violations.

Enhanced advice to Canadian businesses

The Trade Commissioner Service is working with partners and private sector stakeholders to assist clients by providing enhanced advice on due diligence and risk mitigation related to supply chains and forced labour. Since July 2020 new guidelines have been shared across the Trade Commissioner Service network regarding the specific risks that Canadian firms operating in and doing business with China should carefully consider.

Export controls

In accordance with the Export and Import Permits Act, Canada will deny export permits if determined that there is a substantial risk that the export would result in a serious violation of human rights or international human rights law, including serious acts of gender-based violence. Particular scrutiny will apply to exports of advanced Canadian technology and services that could be misused or diverted towards government surveillance, repression, arbitrary detention or forced labour, in light of the evolving situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region.

Increase Responsible Business Conduct awareness linked to Xinjiang

Global Affairs Canada will convene discussions with businesses and nongovernmental organizations to raise awareness about the risks of doing business in Xinjiang, with a specific focus on ensuring the integrity of their supply-chain so they operate in accordance to relevant laws and ethical standards.

Study on forced labour and supply chain risks

Global Affairs Canada is seeking a comprehensive third-party analysis of areas of exposure to forced labour involving Uyghurs. This analysis is intended to contribute to the body of knowledge on these issues, with a view to providing Canadian companies with further advice on the risks of doing business in the region, supporting deliberations and decision-making and helping Canadian organizations to act against human rights violations.

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