Tibet Bureau Compiles UN Recommendations for China on Human Rights in Tibet


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Friday, January 09 2009 @ 10:15 am UTC

Dharamshala: The Tibet Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama based in Geneva has compiled a document containing all the recommendations and procedures passed by the United Nations for China to improve human rights situation in Tibet.

The document titled: “UN Treaty Bodies and Special Procedures’ Interventions, Observations and Recommendations for China on Human Rights Situation in Tibet”, will be used during the UN session on universal periodic review of China's human rights record scheduled on 9 and 10 February.

The Tibet Bureau has forwarded copies of the document to about 40 foreign missions to the UN-based in Geneva.

Concerning the document, Mr Tseten Samdup, His Holiness the Dalai Lama's representative in Geneva, will meet with the Czech ambassador to the UN in Geneva on Thursday. The Czech Republic took over the European Union's rotating presidency from France on 1 January 2009.

The document details numerous recommendations issued by the UN panels on torture, elimination of discrimination against women, economic, social and cultural rights, rights of the child and elimination of racial discrimination in Tibet.

It also documents the UN rapporteurs' recommendations for the Chinese government to stop resettlement programmes and forced evictions in Tibetan areas, arbitrary detention, torture and killing of innocent Tibetans.

The full text of the document follows:

CONTENTS:

UN Treaty Bodies and Special Procedures’ Interventions, Observations and Recommendations for China on human rights situation in Tibet

1, 41st session of the Committee against Torture (CAT/C/CHN/CO/4, 21 November 2008)

2. 36th session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (7-25 August 2006)

3. 34th Session of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
(25 April-13 May 2005)

4. 40th session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child
(CRC/C/CHN/CO/2, 24 November 2005)

5. 59th session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (A/56/18, paras. 231-255, 30 July – 17 August 2001)

SPECIAL PROCEDURES MANDATE HOLDERS

6. UN Special Procedures mandate holders issued a joint statement of concern regarding the ongoing protests and reports of high numbers of arrests in the Tibet Autonomous Region and surrounding areas in China (10 April 2008)

7. The SR on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (E/CN.4/2003/24)

8. The Special Rapporteur on the right to Education (2003)(E/CN./2004/45/Add.1)

9. The Special Rapporteur on violence against women (E/CN.4/2003/75/Add.1 dated 27 February 2003)

10. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders E/CN.4/2006/95/Add.1

11. The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
(E/CN.4/2006/56 dated 27 December 2005)

12. The Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination
(E/CN.4/2003/5 dated 3 March 2003)

13. Three UN Special Rapporteurs’ communication to PRC for allegation on resettlement programmes and forced evictions in Tibetan areas (3 October 2007)

14. The Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers (E/CN.4/2004/60/Add.1)

15. Three UN Special Rapporteurs issued a joint statement on Tenzin Delek Rinpoche (14 April 2004)

16. The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution - Killing of Persons Attempting to Cross into Nepal (A/HRC/4/20/Add.1)

17. The Special Rapporteur on religious freedom, in the mission report
(E/CN.4/1995/91)

18. The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief on extended invitation

19. The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief (E/CN.4/2005/61/Add.1 dated 15 March 2005)

20. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (Mission Report on China
(E/CN.4/2005/6/Add.4)

21. The Special Rapporteur on Torture (Mission Report on China
(E/CN.4/2006/6/Add.6)

UN Treaty Bodies and Special Procedures’ Interventions, Observations and Recommendations for China on human Rights Situation in Tibet

CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS OF TREATY BODIES

1. Committee against Torture

41st session of Committee against Torture (CAT/C/CHN/CO/4, 21 November 2008):

Events in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and neighbouring Tibetan prefectures and counties: widespread reported excessive use of force and other abuses

The Committee notes with great concern the reports received on the recent crackdown in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and neighbouring Tibetan prefectures and counties in the State party which has deepened a climate of fear and further inhibits accountability. These reports follow longstanding reports of torture, beatings, shackling and other abusive treatment, in particular of Tibetan monks and nuns, at the hands of public officials, public security and state security, as well as paramilitary and even unofficial personnel at the instigation or with the acquiescence or consent of public officials. Notwithstanding the numbers provided by the State party on persons arrested and those sentenced to imprisonment in the aftermath of the March 2008 events in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and neighbouring Tibetan prefectures and counties, the Committee regrets the lack of further information on these persons. In particular, the State party reported that 1231 suspects “have redeemed themselves and been released after receiving education and administrative punishment”, but has provided no further information on these cases or their treatment. In particular, the Committee expresses its concern at:

(a) The large number of persons detained or arrested in the aftermath of the March 2008 demonstrations and related events in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and neighbouring Tibetan prefectures and counties in Gansu, Suchuan and Qinghai provinces, and the reported lack of restraint with which persons were treated, based on numerous allegations and credible reports made available to the Committee;

(b) The failure to investigate the deaths resulting from indiscriminate firing by the police into crowds of reportedly largely peaceful demonstrators in Kardze county, Ngaba county, and Lhasa;

(c) The failure to conduct independent and impartial investigations into allegations that some of the large number of persons detained or arrested have been subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment;

(d) The failure to allow independent and impartial investigators into the region;

(e) The consistent allegations that some of those arrested could not notify their relatives, did not have prompt access to an independent doctor, nor to an independent lawyer, that lawyers offering to represent them were warned and otherwise deterred from providing that legal assistance, and that the speeded up trials of 69 Tibetans led to them being reportedly sentenced in a summary manner;

(f) The large number of persons who have been arrested, but whose current whereabouts remain unknown and which the State party has been unable to clarify despite written and oral requests from the Committee (list of issues, question 2(l), CAT/C/CHN/Q/4) (arts. 2, 11 and 12).

The State party should conduct a thorough and independent inquiry into the reported excessive use of force, including against peaceful demonstrators and notably monks, in Kardze county, Ngaba county, and Lhasa.

The State party should conduct prompt, impartial and effective investigations into all allegations of torture and ill-treatment and should ensure that those responsible are prosecuted.

The State party should ensure that all persons who were detained or arrested in the aftermath of the March 2008 events in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and neighbouring Tibetan prefectures and counties have prompt access to an independent lawyer and independent medical care and the right to lodge complaints in a confidential atmosphere, free from reprisal or harassment.

The State party should adopt all necessary measures to prohibit and prevent enforced disappearances, to shed light on the fate of missing persons, including Genden Choekyi Nyima, and prosecute and punish perpetrators, as this practice constitutes, per se, a violation of the Convention.

The State party should conduct investigations or inquests into the deaths, including deaths in custody, of persons killed in the March 2008 events in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and neighbouring Tibetan prefectures and counties.

2. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

36th session of Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 7-25 August 2006:

While commending the State party for the explicit prohibition of domestic violence in the amended Marriage Law of 2001 and for other measures taken to address violence against women, the Committee remains concerned by the lack of comprehensive national legislation on violence against women that also provides access to justice and means of support for victims and punishment of perpetrators, and the lack of statistical data concerning all forms of violence against women. The Committee is also concerned about reported incidents of violence against women in detention centres, in particular in Tibet.

The Committee remains concerned about the disadvantaged position of rural women, in particular with regard to access to education, health, employment, participation in leadership and land property. It is also concerned at the situation of rural minority women, including Tibetan women, who face multiple forms of discrimination based on sex, ethnic or cultural background and socio-economic status. While noting with satisfaction the efforts to strengthen rural women’s and girls’ access to education, the Committee remains concerned that rural girls have disproportionate illiteracy and school dropout rates. It also expresses concern at the lack of health-care facilities and medical personnel in rural areas, the high maternal mortality rates and the rising costs for health care, such as user fees, which limit rural women’s access to health services. While acknowledging legal protection of the equal rights of rural women to own and use land, the Committee notes with concern that 70 per cent of the rural landless are women. While noting the decrease in the rate of female suicide, the Committee remains concerned at the persistence of the high rate of female suicide in rural areas.

3. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

34th Session of Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 25 April-13 May 2005:

The Committee regrets that the lack of comparative statistical data in the field of economic, social and cultural rights within the State party has not allowed a clear evaluation of the degree of the actual implementation of many of the rights enshrined in the Covenant.

The Committee is concerned about the reports of forced evictions and insufficient measures to provide compensation or alternative housing to those who have been removed from their homes in the context of urban development projects as well as of rural development projects such as the Three Gorges Project. The Committee is concerned about the number of forced evictions and demolitions that have occurred in anticipation of the 2008 Olympic Games to be hosted by the State party. The Committee further expresses concern about the lack of effective consultations and legal redress for persons affected by forced evictions and demolitions, including those of historic structures, buildings and homes in Lhasa, Tibet. The Committee also regrets that insufficient information was provided on the extent and causes of homelessness in the State party.

The Committee notes with concern the reports regarding the discrimination of ethnic minorities in the State party, in particular in the field of employment, adequate standard of living, health, education and culture. In this regard, the Committee regrets the insufficient information provided by the State party regarding the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights enshrined in the Covenant by populations in the ethnic minority areas. The Committee notes with concern the reports from sources other than the State party relating to the right to the free exercise of religion as a right to take part in cultural life, and the use and teaching of minority languages, history and culture and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

4. Committee on the Rights of the Child

40th Session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC/C/CHN/CO/2, 24 November 2005):

While noting efforts by the State party to address the Committee’s previous concerns related to discrimination, it remains concerned about discrimination against certain groups on the mainland, such as girls; children infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS; children with disabilities; ethnic and religious minorities, such as Tibetan, Uighur and Hui children; and internal migrant children.

The Committee recommends that on the mainland the State party strengthen efforts to eliminate discrimination against girls; children infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS; children with disabilities; Tibetan, Uighur and Hui children and children belonging to other ethnic and religious minorities; internal migrant children and other vulnerable groups by:

(a) Ensuring that these children have equal access to basic services, including health, education and other social services, and that services used by these children are allocated sufficient financial and human resources;

(b) Enhancing monitoring of programmes and services implemented by local authorities with a view to identifying and eliminating disparities.

While noting the adoption of the Regional Ethnic Autonomy Act in 2001, which guarantees freedom of religion for ethnic minorities in mainland China, the Committee is concerned about reports that children, in particular Tibetan Buddhist, Uighur and Hui children, have been restricted in studying and practising their religion, and some cases have been detained for participating in religious activities. It is also concerned at reports that children of families practising their religion, notably the Falun Gong, are subject to harassment, threats and other negative actions, including re-education through labour. The Committee notes the information provided about the Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, but remains concerned that it has not yet been possible to have this information confirmed by an independent expert.

The Committee recommends that the State party take all necessary measures to ensure the full implementation of the Regional Ethnic Autonomy Act. In particular, the Committee recommends that the State party:

(a) Enact legislation explicitly guaranteeing freedom of religion for those under 18 that is not tied to a limited number of recognized faiths, and which respects the rights and duties of parents to give guidance to their children in the exercise of their rights in this regard in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child;

(b) Repeal any ban instituted by local authorities on children of any age from participating in Tibetan religious festivals or receiving religious education;

(c) Repeal any ban instituted by local authorities on children of any age from attending mosques or receiving religious education throughout the mainland;

(d) Take all necessary measures to ensure that children may choose whether to participate in classes on religion or atheism;

(e) Allow an independent expert to visit and confirm the well-being of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima while respecting his right to privacy, and that of his parents.

5. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

59th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (A/56/18,paras.231-255, 30 July – 17 August 2001):

The Committee notes that economic development in minority regions does not, ipso facto, entail the equal enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights in accordance with article 5 (e) of the Convention. The State party is requested to provide further information on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights by all nationalities of China and regarding steps taken to ensure that the minority population benefits from the general economic growth. In this context, the State party is requested to take all appropriate measures to ensure that the local and regional cultures and traditions are also promoted and the rights of the populations fully respected.

While noting the State party's information in this regard, some members of the Committee remain concerned with regard to the actual enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion by people belonging to national minorities in the State party, particularly in the Muslim part of Xinjiang and in Tibet. The Committee recalls that a distinctive religion is integral to the identity of several minorities and urges the State party to review legislation and practices that may restrict the right of persons belonging to minorities to freedom of religion.

While recognizing efforts made, which have resulted in an increased number of schools and a decrease of illiteracy in minority regions, the Committee is concerned about continuous reports of discrimination with regard to the right to education in minority regions, with particular emphasis on Tibet, and recommends that the State party urgently ensure that children in all minority areas have the right to develop knowledge about their own language and culture as well as the Chinese, and that they are guaranteed equal opportunities, particularly with regard to access to higher education.

SPECIAL PROCEDURES MANDATE HOLDERS

6. UN human rights experts call for restraint and transparency as mass arrests are reported in the Tibet Autonomous Region and surrounding areas in China

10 April 2008

GENEVA -- United Nations Special Procedures mandate holders have today issued a joint statement of concern regarding the ongoing protests and reports of high numbers of arrests in the Tibet Autonomous Region and surrounding areas in China. They urge restraint and non-violence by all parties, greater and unfettered access to the regions concerned for journalists and independent observers, guarantees for the free flow of information, and full implementation of international standards in regard to the treatment of protestors and those detained, both in the People's Republic of China and in other countries in which protests are taking place.

The mandate holders urge the Government of China to fully conform to its commitment to freedom of expression and assembly, and to distinguish between peaceful protestors and those committing acts of violence. The mandate holders call for complete compliance with due process and fair trial rights according to international standards for those detained or charged with a crime, including provision of each person's name, the charges against them, and the name of the facility where they are detained or imprisoned, as well as ensuring access to legal defence. The Government is called upon to lift restrictions imposed on the media, including Internet websites, that limit access throughout China to information concerning the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Information received by the mandate holders describes the arrest on 28 and 29 March of over 570 Tibetan monks, including some children, following raids by security forces on monasteries in Ngaba County and in Dzoge County in the Tibet Autonomous Region. According to reports, arrests were made of those suspected of participating in protests and those suspected of communicating with the exiled Tibetan communities. The UN experts are deeply concerned by reports of security forces firing on protestors and alleged killings. Amid concerns that independent observers and foreign media have been restricted from accessing regions in which protests have taken place, the United Nations experts call for full access for independent observers and journalists to such regions and complete transparency on the part of the authorities.

The Government of China has invited several fact-finding delegations, including one consisting of journalists and another of foreign diplomats, to visit the Tibet Autonomous Region. Such visits are no substitute for granting access to those United Nations experts who have requested a visit to China. While welcoming the Government of China's previous invitations to United Nations mandate holders, it is nevertheless urged to respond equally positively to outstanding visit requests to enable mandate holders including the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to carry out the responsibilities entrusted to them by the Human Rights Council.

The mandate holders urge that protests are conducted in a peaceful, non-violent manner, and that authorities in all countries in which protests take place exercise restraint in their responses. They fully support calls for dialogue and other measures with a view to achieving long-term solutions that protect and promote the rights of all individuals and groups in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

A draft of this statement was shared with the relevant Government. The mandate holders welcome the indication received from the Government about its willingness to engage in further dialogue about these and other concerns and specific questions raised recently by the mandates. They look forward to receiving further information and clarifications from the Government and to engage constructively in efforts to facilitate full respect for human rights standards, by all parties concerned, in the handling of such protests.

This statement is issued by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Mr Philip Alston; the Special Rapporteur for the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Mr Ambeyi Ligabo; the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ms Asma Jahangir; the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders, Ms Hina Jilani; the Independent Expert on minority issues, Ms Gay McDougall; and the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture, Mr Manfred Nowak.

7. The Special Rapporteur on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance- E/CN.4/2003/24:

The Special Rapporteur referred in his report of December 2002 indicated to the Chinese authorities that Tibetans in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) suffer various forms of systematic and institutional discrimination in the fields of employment, health care, education, housing and public representation. On political representation, the Special Rapporteur said that: “Although laws guarantee Tibet self-government, Tibetans’ governing power is very restricted and is subject to strict supervision and authorization by the central authority.”

8. The Special Rapporteur on the right to Education (2003)- E/CN.4/2004/45/Add.1

In the mission report, the Special Rapporteur was dismayed at the illiteracy rate in Tibet, 39.5 per cent, and asked the Ministry of Education whether one reason might be the fact that the literacy test was in Tibetan, while Mandarin is used in political, economic and social life … Out of more than 120 languages spoken in China, 50% are endangered, reinforcing the necessity of remoulding education with a view to preserving cultural diversity. An education that would affirm minority rights necessitates full recognition by the majority of the worth of minority languages and religions in all facets of life. Otherwise, education is seen as assimilationist and, hence, not compatible with China’s human rights obligations … The Special Rapporteur recommended full integration of human and minority rights in education policy, law and practice.

9. The Special Rapporteur on violence against women (E/CN.4/2003/75/Add.1 dated 27 February 2003)

Women in Tibet continue to undergo hardship and are also subjected to gender-specific crimes, including reproductive rights violations such as forced sterilization, forced abortion, coercive birth control policies and the monitoring of menstrual cycles. There have been any reports of Tibetan women prisoners facing brutality and torture in custody.

10. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders - E/CN.4/2006/95/Add.1

In 2006, Ms. Hina Jilani, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders, notes with concern the limitations by domestic law to Chinese defenders’ rights and freedoms under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and especially their right to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association and freedom of assembly. She remains deeply concerned by reports of arbitrary arrests and detention, including incommunicado, torture and ill-treatment of defenders, and in particular those that deal with issues concerning the 1989 events of Tiananmen Square, religious minorities, ethnic minorities such as Uirghurs and Tibetans, and lawyers who take on human rights cases such as forced sterilization and abortions, forced evictions and labour issues.

11. The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (E/CN.4/2006/56 dated 27 December 2005):

Most of the cases of disappearance reported to the Working Group occurred between 1988 and 1990, and between 1995 and 1996. The majority of these cases concerned Tibetans, 19 of them monks, who were allegedly arrested in Nepal and handed over to the Chinese authorities.

At its first meeting in 2006, the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances again considered the case of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima at its meeting at the end of April. In a statement issued on 2 May on the website of the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Working Group said: "The Working Group especially deplores disappearances of children. At this meeting, it received new cases of disappeared children from Colombia and reviewed outstanding cases of children's disappearances in Honduras and Nepal. It also discussed communications received on the case of the Panchen Lama of Tibet, China. The Working Group noted that this session coincided with the 17th birthday of the Panchen Lama who disappeared when he was only 6 years old."

12. The Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination (E/CN.4/2003/5 dated 3 March 2003)

In May 2002, following a large number of appeals received from civil society groups and individuals through urgent action campaigns, the Special Rapporteur wrote to the government of China concerning the demolition of historic buildings and housing complexes in Lhasa, Tibet, and allegations of forced eviction of residents, mostly indigenous Tibetans. In October 2002, he received a reply from the Government of China that detailed government efforts to amend laws and set policies to renovate unsafe buildings while conserving their historical and cultural value.

13. On 3 October 2007, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights of indigenous peoples joined with the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living and the Special Rapporteur on the right to food to bring to the Government's attention information received regarding the alleged severe impact of resettlement programs and forced evictions that are currently being implemented in Tibetan areas of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

It was alleged that tens of thousands of Tibetans are being negatively affected by nomad settlement and resettlement, land confiscation and fencing policies, which are mainly implemented in Golok (Guoluo) and Yushu districts of Qinghai province, but also in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and other provinces that have large Tibetan populations, including Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan. It was reported that these policies have had a very adverse impact on the traditional lifestyles and living patterns in Tibetan areas, affecting directly the fabric of traditional Tibetan life and devastating the economy of these communities. The implementation of these policies contributes to the challenges that Tibetan cultural and religious identity face today.

The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of the People's Republic of China for the detailed response to the questions and concerns raised by the Special Rapporteurs. He will continue to closely monitor the situation and calls on the Government to take the necessary measures to ensure that the development projects referred to do not infringe the human rights of the people affected and that any such adverse impacts be remedied promptly.

14. Mr. Leandro Despouy, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers (E/CN.4/2004/60/Add.1), informed the 61CHR that in the case of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, he wishes to request the Government for updated information and wishes to learn whether, as suggested, the death penalty against him was eventually commuted to a prison term. The Special Rapporteur notes with special interest in this connection the Government comment that in recent years 99 per cent of all death sentences were commuted to life or fix-term imprisonment. He wishes to take this opportunity to reiterate his firm opposition to the death penalty and to urge the Chinese Government to move towards removing it from national legislation.

Observations: The Special Rapporteur welcomes the commutation of the death sentence passed against Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche to life imprisonment, while reiterating his concern that the conviction resulted from a trial that did not meet international fair trial standards.

15. On 14 April 2004, the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders, jointly issued a press statement on the status of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. The statement said: "We are deeply concerned over the situation of Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, a prominent Lama who was involved in social work in favour of the Tibetan community in the Kandze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of the Sichuan Province and who promoted the reestablishment of Tibetan Buddhism in the region."

“We are concerned that Tenzin Deleg might be executed any time until the end of the suspension of his death sentence. We are also concerned that his death sentence will be commuted in a life sentence after 2 December 2004, following a trial which apparently fell short of international norms and standards. Therefore, we urge the authorities to grant Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche a new trial in accordance with international norms and standards of due process.”

16. The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution - Killing of Persons Attempting to Cross into Nepal (A/HRC/4/20/Add.1): In this respect, and without pre-judging the accuracy of the information received, I would note the relevance in such situations of the United Nations Basic principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. These Principles note, inter alia, that law enforcement officials should “as far as possible apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms” and that “in any event, intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life”. I would also like to draw your Excellency’s attention to the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, adopted by the General Assembly resolution 34/169 (1979) which more succinctly stresses the limited role for lethal force in all enforcement operations.

While I note that on 6 October the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said that the authorities will investigate claims that the military shot Tibetans attempting to flee the country, I would like to appeal to your Excellency’s Government to ensure that the deaths that occurred on 10 October at the Nagpa pass are promptly, independently and thoroughly investigated in accordance with the United Nations Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions.

It is my responsibility under the mandate provided to me by the Commission on Human Rights and reinforced by the appropriate resolutions of the General Assembly and extended by the Human Rights Council, to seek to clarify all cases brought to my attention. Since I am expected to report on these cases to the Human Rights Council I would by grateful for your cooperation and your observations on the following matters:

1. What, in your view, were the facts of the situation described?

2. Please provide the details, and where available the results, of any investigation, medical examinations, and judicial or other inquiries carried out in relation to the above mention killing.

3. Assuming that those responsible for the shootings have been or will be identified, please provide the full details of any prosecutions which have been undertaken, and of any other penal, disciplinary or administrative sanctions imposed in this connection.

4. Please indicate whether compensation has been provided to the families of the victims.

Finally, I would like to appeal to the Government of Your Excellency to make sure that there is full public accountability for the actions of the State and of its border military patrols by ensuring that the result of your official investigation be made public.

17. November 1994: In the case of the visit of the Special Rapporteur on religious freedom, in the mission report (E/CN.4/1995/91), the Special Rapporteur "noted the extremely devout attitude perceptible in Tibet, the full scale and extent of which has not, perhaps, been sufficiently appreciated so far. This factor must be taken into account when analysing the religious situation in Tibet. Moreover, the question of Tibet would be less acute if it did not have an added dimension, in other words if it turned solely on religious aspects...The Special Rapporteur considers that deep religiousness may be the source not only of great spirituality, but also of real difficulties. The latter should be dealt with through dialogue, tolerance and education. Any repression of religion can lead to greater religiousness, or even, in some cases, a form of extremism, despite the apparently non-violent nature of Buddhism in general and Tibetan Buddhism in particular, the values of which might be severely tried by changes to the demographic data of Tibet. The Special Rapporteur recommends that the balances and compromises required by social dynamics be reached, so as to avoid the deeply religious being tempted by religious extremism."

18. The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief informed the Fourth Session of the UN Human Rights that the Special Rapporteur “would also like to thank the Government [China] for the invitation it has extended in 2004 for a follow-up visit and she hopes to receive a reply from the Government further to her last letter of September 2006 requesting dates for this visit.”:

19. The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief (E/CN.4/2005/61/Add.1 dated 15 March 2005)

The Special Rapporteur sent this communication to underline the tenth anniversary of the disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, 16 years.

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, then aged 6, disappeared together with his parents from Lhari, their home village in Tibet on 17 May 1995, three days after having been recognized as the eleventh reincarnation of the Panchen Lama by the Dalai Lama. Their whereabouts were not known.

The Special Rapporteur wished to express her concern about the grave interference with the freedom of belief of the Tibetan Buddhists who have the right to determine their clergy in accordance with their own rites and who have been deprived of their religious leader.

Communication sent on 9 May 2007 -The Special Rapporteur brought to the attention of the Government information she had received according to which Mr. Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, then aged 6, disappeared together with his parents from Lhari, their home village in Tibet on 17 May 1995, three days after having been recognized as the eleventh reincarnation of the Panchen Lama by the Dalai Lama.

In a letter dated 7 September 2005 (E/CN.4/2006/5/Add.1, paras. 96-98), the Chinese Government indicated that Mr. Gedhum Choekyi Nyima “is leading a normal, happy life and receiving a good cultural education” and that his family and he do not want their “normal routine to be disturbed”. Given the fact that Mr. Gedhum Choekyi Nyima has most recently turned 18, there have been calls that he should have the right to speak on his own behalf. The Special Rapporteur requested further information on measures envisaged by the Government to ensure that the Tibetan Buddhists may exercise the freedom to train, appoint, elect or designate by succession their religious leaders. Furthermore, she asked what measures the Government has taken to implement the concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, adopted on 30 September 2005, where the Committee recommended that your Government should “[a]llow an independent expert to visit and confirm the well-being of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima while respecting his right to privacy, and that of his parents.” (CRC/C/CHN/CO/2, para.45).

In a letter dated 11 October 2007 (A/HRC/7/10/Add.1, p.18) the Special Rapporteur thanked the Government for its detailed reply of 17 July 2007. However, as she has received further information that the State Religious Affairs Bureau has subsequently issued Order No. 5 on “Management measures for the reincarnation of living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism,” she addressed some follow-up questions on this issue to the Government:

– What is the legal status of State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5 and has it been implemented?

– Is it correct that State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5 establishes or expands Government procedural control of the principal stages of identifying and educating reincarnated Tibetan Buddhist teachers and that such control would allegedly include:

a) Determining whether or not a reincarnated teacher who passes away may be reincarnated again and whether a monastery is entitled to have a reincarnated teacher in residence; b) Conducting a search for a reincarnation; c) Recognizing a reincarnation and obtaining government approval of the recognition; d) Installing a reincarnation in a monastery and issuing of approval documents; e) Providing education and religious training for a reincarnation.

– Does State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5 provide for administrative or criminal punishment to individuals or offices that are responsible for a failure to comply with the measures or that conduct activities pertaining to reincarnation without Government authorization?

– Have there been any administrative or criminal sanctions imposed on individuals or groups according to State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5?

– Have any complaints been lodged against State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5?

So far, the Special Rapporteur has not received a response from the Government addressing the questions in her communication dated 11 October 2007.

20. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (Mission Report on China- E/CN.4/2005/6/Add.4)

When it visited that detention facility [Drapchi Prison], the Working Group expressed its wish, as on the occasion of its previous prison visit, to interview inmates of its own choosing. Similarly, it insisted in meeting those detainees whose names were on the list handed over to the Chinese authorities at the beginning of the visit. The administration of Drapchi Prison, however, referring to the internal prison regulation prohibiting any foreigner from visiting prisoners exhibiting violent behaviour and prisoners whose re-education would be in jeopardy if he/she met with foreign visitors, as well as prisoners in possession of State secrets, denied access to the detainees to be selected by the Working Group. Therefore, the Working Group stopped its visit and left Drapchi Prison.

The Working Group wishes to express its dissatisfaction with regard to this incident. It is unacceptable that a Member State should impose limitations on human rights mechanisms under the pretext that their members are “foreigners”.

Without attaching paramount importance to this incident, which was partly remedied by measures taken promptly by the authorities (e.g. to arrange a meeting with a recently released Buddhist nun and by giving detailed information concerning a number of detained prisoners who were the subject of individual communications submitted to the Working Group, some of whom were recently released from detention), the Working Group recommends to the Chinese authorities that they properly re-examine the regulations governing access of relevant United Nations mechanisms to prisoners of their own choosing.

The Working Group recalls that a significant number of organizations defending human rights, both in China and abroad, challenge the re-education through labour system and demand its abolition. Several sources assert that it is used to suppress freedom of expression. Some sources highlight that certain groups are over-represented in this system, such as followers of Falun Gong, drug addicts, sex workers and those living off their earnings. According to Tibetan activists, the Chinese authorities have been increasingly using the labour camps to punish Tibetans for political reasons. It was precisely in order to remove all possible doubts in this respect that the Working Group asked that the law clearly state that this measure is not applicable to persons exercising their fundamental freedoms protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The present mission allowed the Working Group to better analyse the legal framework for the re-education through labour system and to better evaluate the merits attributed to it and the objections made against it.

None of the recommendations that the Working Group formulated in its earlier report have been followed. No definition of the term “endangering national security” in criminal law was adopted, no legislative measures have been taken to make a clear-cut exemption from criminal responsibility of those who peacefully exercise their rights guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and no real judicial control has been created over the procedure to commit someone to re-education through labour.

Recommendation: Persons charged often invoke their freedom of opinion, expression, religion or belief, freedom of association or assembly, or the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs of the country as a legal basis for their conduct and exempting them from criminal responsibility. The Working Group recommends that the question - to which of the conflicting interests shall priority be given - shall be decided after careful consideration of all the relevant circumstances, giving proper weight to the rights of the individuals. Definitions in criminal law legislation having such vague, imprecise or sweeping elements like “disrupting social order”, “endangering national security”, “violating the unity and integrity of the State”, “subverting public order”, “affecting national security” and the like shall not be used to punish the peaceful expression of the rights and freedoms that the Declaration of Human Rights grants to everyone.

21. The Special Rapporteur on Torture (Mission Report on China- E/CN.4/2006/6/Add.6)

After the 1997 changes, political dissidents, journalists, writers, lawyers, human rights defenders, Falun Gong practitioners, and members of the Tibetan and Uighur ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities were often prosecuted as a result of having exercised their human rights to freedom of speech, assembly, association or religion. They are often sentenced to long prison terms for political crimes such as endangering national security through undermining the unity of the country, subversion or unlawfully supplying State secrets to individuals outside the country. Although many of these prisoners deny having committed any wrongful act and, therefore, do not confess during trial (often despite undergoing torture), they sometimes change their mind after having been subjected to forced re-education while serving their prison sentences.

According to information provided by detainees, such forced re-education, in particular in pretrial detention centres, goes on for most of the day. It is usually conducted on the order of one of the fellow detainees who is considered “chief” of the cell. There is very little privacy and opportunity for individual recreation, such as reading a book, etc. Even when serving long prison sentences, persons convicted of political offences usually have no right to work and very little time for recreation. They are not allowed to practise their religion (e.g. Buddhism in Tibet, Islam in Xinjiang).

The Special Rapporteur was informed, for example, that in Prison No. 4 in Urumqi, the procurators have not received a single torture complaint during the last decade. In the Tibetan Autonomous Region, he was told that no complaint had been received since 2003 and in the Beijing No. 2 Municipal Detention Centre, none were received since its establishment in June 2004. In the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, two cases of torture were established by the courts since 2000, and in the Tibet Autonomous Region one such case had been confirmed. The Deputy Procurator-General informed the Special Rapporteur that only 33 law enforcement officials had been prosecuted for torture throughout the country during the first nine months of 2005.

Recommendation: Political crimes that leave large discretion to law enforcement and prosecution authorities such as “endangering national security”, “subverting State power”, “undermining the unity of the country”, “supplying of State secrets to individuals abroad”, etc. should be abolished.

23 December 2008
Compiled by Tibet Bureau - Geneva

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