Jun 22, 2018

East Turkestan: Switzerland and China Continue Human Rights Dialogue

From 11 to 12 June 2018, Switzerland and China underwent their 16th round of human rights dialogue in Beijing. Although the debate was held in confidentiality it was described as open and critical, focussing on the judicial and penal systems as well as minority rights. The priority topics were the harassment of human right defenders and their families and lawyers, as well as women and disabled people’s rights. The important topics of human rights violations in Tibet and the Uyghur people in Xinjiang were also discussed. These bilateral discussions between both countries started in 1991.

This article was published by the Swiss Federal Department of Federal Affairs:

The 16th round of human rights dialogue between Switzerland and China took place from 11 to 12 June [2018] in Beijing. The discussions, held in confidential session, allowed an open and mutually critical debate to take place on national and international human rights issues. The focus was on the judicial and penal system and minority rights.

The priority topics discussed in this year's round of dialogue were the judicial and penal system and the rights of minorities. Switzerland expressed its deep concern over the criminal prosecution of lawyers and human rights defenders and the physical and psychological harassment and mistreatment of their family members. A number of individual cases illustrating these concerns were raised during the discussions. An extensive discussion was held on the death penalty. Women's and disabled people's rights were also discussed.

The protection of minority rights in Tibet and Xinjiang were also raised critically. Switzerland specifically stressed the issue of the worsening human rights situation in Xinjiang and the serious human rights violations in 're-education camps' where hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs are detained. The dialogue also covered both countries' engagement at the multilateral level. Switzerland also recalled the mandates of the UN human rights mechanisms, in particular the UN Human Rights Council, and the importance of civil society participation in this and other international bodies.

The bilateral human rights dialogue between Switzerland and China was begun in 1991.

Photo courtesy of Chine Magazine