UN experts analyse China's abuse of national security to curtail human rights

Over the past four years, United Nations human rights experts have raised serious concerns about the Chinese government’s routine misuse of its national security legislation to jail human rights defenders, lawyers, and journalists. In a new bilingual infographic released today, ISHR documents the UN experts’ legal analysis in 23 letters to Beijing authorities.

Based on UN experts’ exchanges with the Chinese government over the 2018-2021 period, ISHR identified four key aspects of China’s abuse of national security:

  • The authorities systematically invoke national security to target human rights defenders, having a chilling effect on civil society as a whole;
  • Critical or dissenting opinions are characterised as threats to national security, justifying far-reaching restrictions to freedom of expression;
  • National security legislation bypasses basic due process, allowing for blanket denials of access to legal counsel, and enforced disappearance under ‘Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location’ (RSDL);
  • In doing so, China contravenes its obligations under international human rights law, as national security-motivated restrictions fail to meet the standards of legality, necessity and proportionality.

ISHR's new bilingual infographic demonstrates how China’s abuse of national security is problematic. It aims to provide advocates, and the international community more broadly, with a new tool to apprehend the government’s actions in light of its international law duties.

The infographic analyses 23 communications and press releases by Special Procedures mandate holders, and opinions of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, since 2018, as well as the Committee Against Torture’s 2016 recommendations to China. For more information about the UN Special Procedures, please click here.