Olympics Countdown - China's Human Rights Record
27 August 2007 at 12:36 pm
As the one year countdown begins to the 2008 Olympics in China, time is running out for the Chinese government to fulfil its promise of promoting human rights as part of the Olympics legacy, according to Amnesty International.
Amnesty’s Secretary General Irene Khan says unless the Chinese authorities take urgent measures to stop human rights violations over the coming year, they risk tarnishing the image of China and the legacy of the Beijing Olympics.
In its latest assessment of China’s progress towards its promised human rights improvements ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Amnesty International finds that several Beijing-based activists continue to face ‘house arrest’ and tight police surveillance, while activists in other parts of China are facing heightened patterns of abuse as attention is focused on Beijing in the run-up to the Olympics.
The report also highlights an ongoing crackdown on journalists, which has most recently extended to the closure of certain publications on Chinese civil society and development.
The report highlighted the continued use of detention without trial as part of Beijing’s "clean up" operations of the city ahead of the 2008 Games, despite the fact that substantial reform or abolition of methods of arbitrary detention including "Re-education through Labour" has been on China’s reform agenda for many years.
In its report, Amnesty International welcomed recent statements by Supreme Court officials expressing the need for greater transparency on the death penalty and unified criteria for imposing death sentences.
However, the organisation urged the authorities to broaden this approach by increasing access to information on individuals facing the death penalty, particularly for lawyers and members of their families, and by publishing full national statistics on death sentences and executions.
Khan says full transparency is essential to help prevent miscarriages of justice and provide the Chinese public with sufficient information to reach informed conclusions on the death penalty.
She says nothing short of publishing full national statistics on the application of the death penalty in China will suffice.
Amnesty International’s report, China: The Olympics countdown – one year left to fulfil human rights promises, focuses on four key areas of human rights relating to the Olympics: death penalty, detention without trial, human rights activists and media freedom.
Amnesty International has sent copies of its latest update to the Chinese authorities and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), noting that these issues are directly relevant to Beijing’s hosting of the Olympics and core principles in the Olympic Charter.