UK Government Human Rights Report 2002: Serious Concerns about China

This week saw the publication of the UK government’s annual human rights report for 2002.

The report states, “We continue to have serious concerns about the human rights situation in China. The last year has seen continuing harassment of dissidents, some religious practitioners and Falun Gong adherents.

“…there are credible reports of many thousands of Falun Gong adherents detained without trial for “re-education”. There is evidence of the misuse of psychiatric institutions to detain and “treat” Falun Gong adherents and other dissidents.”

The Report also stated that, "The Chinese Constitution enshrines freedom of religious belief. However, Chinese people face great difficulties in freely exercising this right"

"In China, torture and ill-treatment remain a serious problem and have been reported in police stations, detention centres, prisons and drug rehabilitation centres. …Although torture and ill-treatment are illegal, in practice many perpetrators acting in an official capacity are excluded from prosecution. …"

In addition, it is pointed out that, “There are continuing restrictions on freedom of expression and association.”

Regarding the UK-China human rights dialogue, the Report states “The Dialogue does not stop us speaking out about abuses in China and pressing for improvements. We do so publicly and in private through the Dialogue and through Ministerial contacts. In his speech to the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva in April 2002, the Foreign Secretary said: ‘We have serious concerns over China’s treatment of dissidents and religious minorities, …’”

Regarding Hong Kong, the Report used a significant part of the relevant text to highlight the politically motivated trial of 16 Falun Gong practitioners and the deportation of about 100 Falun Gong practitioners during the 5th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover, which was attended by the Chinese dictator. The report said, “We believe that key principles of the Joint Declaration, including freedom of speech, of assembly, of association and of travel, must not be compromised…” The report stated that the UK government will “follow events in Hong Kong closely”.

In the foreword of the Report, the UK foreign secretary said “The tragic lesson we learned from the attacks on the Twin Towers was that no matter how distant such evil seems we ignore it at our peril. …

“The promotion of human rights is not just right in itself but an integral part of our long-term security. The most sustainable path to stability and prosperity is through respect for freedom and justice."

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