United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet will begin her China visit from Monday amid reports of human rights abuses in the northwest region that has invited criticism from right organizations from around the world.
The four days visit to China, which will include a visit to Xinjiang, should highlight the need for justice for victims of violations and accountability for those responsible, according to Human Rights Watch.
A group of global parliamentarians has warned that the Chinese government is likely to use its restrictive COVID-19 measures to prevent the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from making a meaningful investigation into the alleged human rights abuses against Uyghurs during her visit to the Xinjiang next week.
This concern was raised by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), an international cross-party group of legislators, pushing for democratic countries to take a tougher stance on China.
In a statement signed by over 40 legislators across 18 countries, the parliamentarians accused the Chinese government of organizing a 'Potemkin-style tour', risking lasting damage to the credibility of Michelle Bachelet's office.
The legislators highlight that the UN terms of reference for such visits specify that the Commissioner should be given freedom of movement, conversations with civil society actors and confidential and unsupervised access to witnesses - all of which could be undermined by both the Chinese government's crackdown in the region and restrictive COVID-19 measures.
"The Chinese government is committing human rights violations on a scope and scale unimaginable since the last time a high commissioner visited in 2005, partly because there is no fear of accountability," said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. "The high commissioner needs to work to end, not enable, that perception."
In recent years, Chinese authorities have also sought to systematically eradicate Tibetans' cultural, linguistic, and religious freedoms, and to erase Hong Kong peoples' human rights and free society.
Several rights groups have said the planned visit to China by the UN high commissioner for human rights should meet minimum standards to be considered credible.