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Leitner Advocacy Highlights Vulnerable Populations in Advance of China’s Universal Periodic Review

June 5, 2018 – In advance of a critical opportunity to focus global attention on China’s human rights record, the Leitner Center released an advocacy report highlighting continuing violations against three vulnerable populations—sex workers, people living with HIV, and people who use drugs. As part of China’s participation in the Universal Periodic Review (“UPR”), which features a comprehensive review of the human rights records of all UN Member States under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, the Leitner Center highlighted how pervasive stigma and discrimination against vulnerable populations pose substantial barriers to full realization of their human rights. Importantly, the Leitner Center’s advocacy was developed in close coordination with in-country partners working to empower vulnerable populations in China, drawing on their expertise and documentation as the basis for 12 key recommendations. Building on past human rights commitments voluntarily undertaken by the Chinese government, the Leitner Center’s recommendations seek to ensure that implementation of those commitments extend fully to vulnerable populations in three critical areas:

  • Freedom from discrimination, including equal access to health services and employment opportunities;
  • Freedom from arbitrary detention and torture, including through “Custody and Education” and “Compulsory Isolated Treatment” detention methods bearing striking resemblance to the supposedly abolished “Re-education Through Labour” system; and
  • Comprehensive human rights training for government employees interacting with vulnerable populations, including law enforcement officials and public servants providing health services.

China’s formal review, based in part on stakeholder submissions and related advocacy from civil society organizations, will take place in Geneva in November 2018.

Caitlin Hickey (J.D. ’19), Michael Mazzullo (J.D. ’19), and Reece Pelley (J.D. ’19), members of the Leitner Center’s 2017-2018 Crowley Scholars team, contributed invaluable research and analysis that formed a critical foundation for the submission. Working under the supervision of Asia Law and Justice Program Director Joey Lee and Leitner Center Executive Director Elisabeth Wickeri, the students examined international and domestic human rights landscapes confronting the highlighted vulnerable populations, including in-depth examination of analysis and recommendations from a wide range of UN mechanisms, as well as a comprehensive review of China’s human rights obligations and commitments in connection with barriers faced by vulnerable populations.

The Leitner Center’s stakeholder submission in advance of China’s 2018 UPR review can be accessed here.

Photo credit: Falcon Photography/Creative Commons

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Leitner Center for International Law and Justice
Fordham University School of Law
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Tracy Higgins
Professor of Law
Co-Director, Leitner Center for International Law and Justice
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