China misses key opportunity on human rights

16/05/2007
Press release
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The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) have today condemned China’s decision to walk out of an EU-China experts’ seminar on human rights, which had been scheduled to take place on 10-11 May in Berlin.

China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Deputy Director-General for International Organisations, Dr. Shen Yongxiang, last Thursday ordered his entire delegation to leave the conference hall where the meeting was about to start, in protest at the EU’s German Presidency’s refusal to exclude two independent civil society organisations invited to take part as experts in the Seminar. The meeting was to issue recommendations on the right to a fair trial and on labour rights, ahead of the official EU-China Human Rights Dialogue, scheduled to open next Tuesday, 15 May, in the German capital.

The Experts’ Seminar, which was to bring together officials, scholars and independent human rights’ experts from China, the EU and its Member States, failed to take place as a result of China’s decision. The FIDH and ITUC, also invited to Berlin, express their strong appreciation of and support for the firm position defended by the EU Presidency, Council and Commission. In maintaining its initial invitation to the two human and labour rights NGOs, the EU demonstrated here, that freedom of expression of human rights’ defenders is not negotiable and that caving in to China’s pressure is not an acceptable option. China’s attitude runs counter to a key principle of the EU’s human rights dialogues, which is the demonstration by the concerned country of its commitment to engage positively in the dialogue and improve its human rights situation.

The ITUC and FIDH now consider that China’s decision to walk out of last week’s Seminar calls for a thorough assessment by the EU and its Member States on the usefulness of maintaining the Human Rights Dialogue with China.

For further information, please call Antoine Madelin, FIDH: +32.485.22.22.87 or Janek Kuczkiewicz, ITUC: +32.477.580.486

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