39th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
Agenda Item 4: General Debate
Organisation: Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Speaker: Claire Denman
Thank you Mr President.
CSW wishes to emphasise that all States have an obligation under international law to protect and promote the right to freedom of religion or belief.
CSW is deeply concerned by Article 73 of China’s Criminal Procedure Law, which states that an individual can be held in a police-designated location for up to six months under a measure known as ‘residential surveillance at a designated location’.
The measure is essentially a form of enforced disappearance in which individuals have no access to legal counsel or contact with family members. Those detained under this measure report that torture and ill-treatment are rife.
CSW is also concerned by reports of human rights violations against multiple religious minorities in Vietnam, including Protestants, Catholics, Muslims, Hoa Hao Buddhists, Cao Daists and Khmer Krom. Violations include harassment, intimidation, forced eviction, intrusive surveillance, disruption of religious services, and confiscation of religious materials, arrest, imprisonment, torture and extra-judicial killing.
The case of Protestant pastor and human rights defender, Nguyen Trung Ton, is of particular concern. Pastor Ton was kidnapped in February 2017 and violently beaten by state agents. He was later tried and sentenced to 12 years in prison on 5 April 2018.
Finally, CSW would like to draw the Council’s attention to sectarian tensions in Upper Egypt, where Christian communities face hostility, abuse and even violence when constructing churches or changing building licenses.
While we welcome the government’s calls for moderation and tolerance, more must be done to protect and compensate targeted communities.