U.S. Delegation's Statement to the 61st Session of the UNCHR Cites China's Lack of Commitment to Human Rights (Excerpt)

Former Senator Rudy Boschwitz, head of the U.S. delegation to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), expressed the Bush administration's concern with human rights abuse throughout the world in a March 24 statement to that body's 61st session.

Boschwitz said that reinforcing positive developments in human rights is integral to the committee and added, "though some of you would prefer to dispense with Item 9, it is not sufficient for this body to condemn the abuses but shy away from naming the abusers."

The commission consists of 53 member states and meets for six weeks in March and April each year in Geneva to review observance and violations of human rights worldwide, to consider new ways to promote and protect human rights, and to encourage countries to respect the basic rights and freedoms outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. One of the commission's most noted achievements was the preparation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948.

The 61st session of the commission is meeting in Geneva from March 14 through April 22. Over 3,000 delegates representing observer nations and nongovernmental organisation, in addition to the 53 members of the commission, are participating in the session.

Discussion of agenda Item 9, the question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world, began on March 23 and was scheduled to continue throughout March 24.

Regarding the human rights situation in China, Boschwitz said in his prepared statement that the United States remains "concerned about the Chinese government's lack of commitment to improve its poor human rights record, despite the willingness of my and other countries to help."

He stated, "We have engaged with the Chinese in a broad discussion about political and religious freedoms, and our discussions on these issues will continue."

Boschwitz continued, "While they have recently taken a few steps in the right direction, the overall situation of human rights in China remains poor. The past year witnessed the Government launch a campaign against writers, religious activists, and dissidents, many of whom were harassed, detained, or imprisoned, including those who sought to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.

The Government continued and intensified efforts to control the press and to monitor the use of the Internet and wireless technology. Repression of Tibetan Buddhists, Muslim Uighurs, underground Protestants, Catholics loyal to the Vatican, and the Falun Gong, continues. Meanwhile, the Government denied the UN High Commission for Refugees permission to operate along its border with North Korea, and deported several thousand North Koreans, many of whom faced persecution and possible execution upon their return home. Women still suffer the ultimate limitation on reproductive choice in parts of China - coerced abortion and sterilisation -- in the name of population policy. We must not forget that China is home to one-fifth of the world's population. The international community must continue to urge, as will we, that China address systemic shortcomings that give rise to the country's myriad human rights abuses."

The text of the senator's statement as prepared for delivery can be found at: http://www.usembassy.org.uk/humrts162.html

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