Reprisals: ISHR's submission on trends and recent cases in China

Following an earlier version of this submission of the same title in May 2022, this new ISHR report continues to document trends of reprisals in China in 2022-2023 with an analysis of extant cases, and further summarises the way in which it has portrayed civil society’s cooperation with the UN as a ‘criminal act’.

In the thirteen years since the adoption of Human Rights Council resolution 12/2, we have seen an increase in the belligerence of Chinese authorities in UN spaces. This involves targeting NGOs in particular, and engaging in both policy and practice to undermine advances that would protect human rights defenders and other stakeholders from safely and effectively engaging in the UN system. 

A rich body of information about reprisal cases has documented key trends in the Chinese state’s “pattern” of reprisals, including:

  • Justification of reprisals in the interest of national security or regular legal proceedings
  • A shift from targeting high profile individuals to a more pervasive criminalisation of ill-defined activities
  • An appetite for impunity

This report highlights the new cases over the reporting period, including the Chilling engagement related to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Intimidation and harassment for engagement with the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) during the fourth periodic review of China by the CESCR in Geneva.

There has been a clear increase in cases covered by reports starting in 2019, and more than half of extant cases have remained in the report for four or more years. The 2022 report also recognises the important impact of reprisals and intimidation – in this case, through the entry into force of the National Security Law (NSL), on civic space in Hong Kong.

The report also makes recommendations to the Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary General, UN bodies, with a view to ensure that everyone can access and communicate with the UN safely and effectively, without the fear of reprisals. 

Download the report in English or Chinese (simplified) to learn more.