Brussels, New York, December 8th 2008
We are writing to you in order to share with you our assessment of the EU/China human rights dialogue, as well as the EU/China legal experts seminar. This exercise has been going on for ten years, and is in a sense at a critical point. While there has been some progress on the ground in China, overall, the human rights situation remains serious as underscored by the recent concluding findings of the UN CAT review of China’s record on torture.
The human rights dialogue itself has been profoundly tarnished by the recent execution of Mr. Wo Weihan, after repeated calls by the European Union and several of its Member States for this execution to be deferred and for the death sentence to be commuted. This execution came “just after the conclusion in Beijing of the EU-China human rights dialogue, in the course of which the EU reiterated its strong opposition to the death penalty and once again raised the case of Mr Wo Weihan and requested that he be pardoned”, as noted by the Council of the EU.
As stressed by the EU on several occasions, “the dialogue is an acceptable option only if enough progress is achieved and reflected on the ground” . This progress should be assessed within the framework of the announced benchmarks fixed by the EU and supported by concrete data and indicators of progress as outlined by an earlier joint assessment by FIDH and HRIC (2004).
Starting from the next session, the organization of the legal experts seminar will also revert to a network of academic institutions, as was the practice at the beginning of this process. This is therefore a timely opportunity to propose recommendations for enhancing the relevance and impact of the seminars and contributing to a more result oriented process for the whole exercise.
We understand that the EU shares our concerns for advancing concrete meaningful progress on the ground and have appreciated the opportunities for participating in and contributing to the exercise in the past. We trust that the present submission will be duly taken into account in the framework of the EU ongoing efforts to improve its human rights dialogue process with China.
Souhayr Belhassen, President, FIDH
17, passage de la Main d’or
75011, Paris, FRANCE
Tel. +33 1 435-525-18, f. +33 1 425-518-80
Sharon Hom, Executive Director, HRIC
350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 3311
New York, NY 10118, USA
Tel. +1 212-329-4495, Fax. +1 212-239-2561