By Nicole Hoerold
Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, Asia

BEIJING, China – Human Rights Watch (HRW) released their annual rights report on January 12, 2017. The report outlines HRW’s concerns for human rights violations in Southeast Asia, voicing particular concern over Thailand, the Philippines, and Cambodia. The report discusses a continuation of limits on free speech, with increasing signs of state suppression and censorship in various countries. The report’s summary on China speaks of similar concerns.

The wife of a human rights lawyer stood outside the Tianjin court in protest of her husband's trial (2016). Photo courtesy of: AP Photo
The wife of a human rights lawyer stands outside the Tianjin court in protest of her husband’s trial (2016). Photo courtesy of: AP Photo

Human rights organizations have paid particular attention to China in light of the state’s nationwide sweep of rights lawyers and advocates in the summer of 2015. Xie Yang, a Chinese lawyer who was interrogated by the Chinese government, recently spoke out about his abuse while detained. Mr. Yang is one of about 250 individuals detained by the government on charges of subverting the one-party state. Though most individuals were released, the government’s use of torture against them shows that international and domestic mechanisms for preventing torture have not worked.

In early 2017, the Chinese government also began to regulate the operation of Non-Governmental Organizations within its borders.  In order to continue their work within China, foreign NGO’s must find government sponsors, register with the local police, and meet other requirements like submitting annual finance reports.  Chinese president Xi Jinping claims such foreign entities are undermining China’s domestic interests.

Critics of the new legislation are concerned that the “Law on Management of Domestic Activities of Overseas Non-governmental Organizations” will hinder the efforts of nonprofits in fields such as human rights. Whether those concerns actually materialize remains to be seen.

For more information, please see:

Human Rights Watch – Deteriorating Outlook for Human Rights in SE Asia – 13 January, 2017

Human Rights Watch – World Report 2017 – 12 January, 2017

New York Times – Punches, Kicks, and the ‘Dangling Chair’: Detainee Tells of Torture in China – 20 January 2017

Quartz – NGOs are under threat in China’s latest crackdown against “foreign forces” – 4 January, 2017

Hong Kong Free Press – Torture accusations as EU ambassador raises case of Chinese lawyer Xie Yang – 25 January, 2017 


Author: Nicole Hoerold