UN rights chief airs worry about lawyers detained in China

AP News
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Posted: Sep 14, 2015 4:59 AM

GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed concern about the detention and interrogation of more than 100 lawyers in China.

Speaking at Monday's start of the 47-nation Human Rights Council in Geneva, Zeid Raad al-Hussein delivered a broad-ranging speech on concerns about human rights worldwide like discrimination against African-Americans in the U.S., recent killings and arrests in Burundi, and the "deepening nightmare that is Syria."

Overall, Zeid said he feels "exhausted and angry" about growing "human misery" around the world, and the seeming inability to change it.

The three-week council meeting is expected among other things to examine Sri Lanka's long civil war and the human rights situation in North Korea. Zeid also urged member states to investigate sexual abuses by peacekeepers in Central African Republic.

Several countries, he said, appear to be "engaged in a war on information, in which legitimate critics and journalists are targeted for violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, and even murder — particularly those who investigate human rights violations, corruption and malfeasance by officials."

"I am, for example, concerned about the detention and interrogation in recent months of more than 100 lawyers in China, in connection with their professional activities, and by the adoption of new laws with far-reaching implications for (non-governmental organizations,)" he said.

Of those targeted, about two dozen rights lawyers and civil activists have been held since early July on vague accusations of being part of a criminal conspiracy to sabotage China's legal system. The crackdown is seen as part of a wider campaign against NGOs and civil society waged by President and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping.

Zeid also decried "shameless political grandstanding" in the U.S. on the subject of immigration, and said he was concerned about "persistent discrimination against African-Americans," calling on the U.S. to fight racial discrimination in the legal system, housing, employment and elsewhere.