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.
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.
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