Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has urged United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to address the country’s dire state of press freedom during her upcoming mission to China in May.
In a letter sent on April 27, RSF called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Michelle Bachelet, to address China’s dire state of press freedom during her upcoming mission to the country in May.
This visit will be the first of its kind to China since 2005, and the authoritarian regime promised “unfettered access to a broad range of actors, including civil society”.
“In recent years, President Xi Jinping has imposed a social model in China based on control of information, and the surveillance of its citizens, while promoting a “new world media order” in which journalists are nothing more than state propaganda pawns”, says RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire, who insists that “freedom of information is a cornerstone to the enforcement of other human rights and should be treated as a priority during this long-awaited mission”.
The five requests of RSF: The release of all 124 journalists and press freedom defenders currently detained and the immediate enforcement of Article 35 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, which guarantees “freedom of speech [and] of the press”.
The media watchdog also demands the end of harassment of journalists and the end of censorship and surveillance of the media.
Also, the release without further delay of the UN High Commissioner office’s long-awaited report on human rights abuses across the Xinjiang Autonomous Region by the Chinese regime.
Since 2016, in the name of the “fight against terrorism”, the Beijing regime has been conducting a violent campaign of repression in Xinjiang and has arrested more than 70 Uyghur journalists and media professionals including Ilham Tohti, laureate of the Council of Europe’s Vaclav Havel Prize and the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize, who is serving a life sentence for “separatism”.
RSF has recently published an unprecedented investigative report entitled ‘The Great Leap Backwards of Journalism in China’, which reveals the previously unheard-of campaign of repression led by Beijing against journalism and the right to information worldwide.
China ranks 177th out of 180 in the 2021 RSF World Press Freedom Index.