UN human rights experts have expressed serious concerns about allegations of detention and forced labor of members of the Uighur ethnic minority in China. In a joint statement, 16 human rights experts requested unrestricted access to the Asian country to carry out a fact-finding mission.
The information, received by the Human Rights Council, points out that at least 150 Chinese and international companies could be included in the allegations of human rights abuses.
For the rapporteurs, it will be necessary to strengthen the dialogue with the government of China. They believe that an official trip to the country would be an ideal opportunity to assess the situation closely. Reports received by experts indicate that ethnic Uighur workers are being subjected to mistreatment, forced labor and arbitrary arrests
The group's president, Dante Pesce, says that employees work hard in low-skilled and labor-intensive industries, such as agribusiness, textiles and clothing, automotive and technology sectors.
The rapporteurs called on the Chinese government to immediately suspend any measure that does not comply with international norms and laws including minority law. They sent letters to China and private companies outside the country, in addition to the governments of 13 countries that house the multinationals.
In the document, the group recalls the obligations of countries of origin under the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The clauses ensure that companies respect all human rights in their operations.
Working Group Vice President Surya Deva said companies cannot turn a blind eye. The first indication is the carrying out of appropriate human rights measures in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles.
These processes will serve to identify, prevent, mitigate and respond to human rights abuses, contributed to or directly linked to its operations, products or services in Xinjiang province and other Chinese regions.
At the same time, the Chinese government must act to ensure that all companies operating in the country conduct their work based on international human rights standards.