MEPs ask Commission to punish China for violating human rights

MEPs ask Commission to punish China for violating human rights
Credit: Wikimedia

Two Members of the European Parliament have called for China to be punished for violating the human rights of its Uighur population and Hong Kong citizens on Friday, in a letter addressed to the Vice President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell Fontelles.

The letter was signed by Hilde Vautmans and Katalin Cseh, both members of the Renew Europe-party in the European Parliament.

Borrell Fontelles, who is also the EU’s high representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, is asked to create “an EU Magnitsky Act”, referring to an American bill from 2012 that enables the US to sanction those who violate human rights.

The MEPs suggest that, following the example of the Magnitsky Act, the EU should “ban human rights violators from travelling to Europe and freeze their assets”.

The letter was tweeted by Vautmans on Friday, adding that China is violating human rights by continuing “its crackdown on Hong Kong”, which saw many protests against the Chinese government in 2020, and using Uighur forced labour in the production of face masks.

China has been detaining and ‘re-educating’ its Uighur community, which is a Muslim minority, since approximately 2018.

Vautmans published the letter today in reaction to an investigation by the New York Times, which shows evidence of Uighur people being used for forced labour in the production of Chinese face masks.

The letter refers to a “new global sanctions regime”, which the Commission’s VP has been working on since last year. In December 2019, Borrell Fontelles laid the groundwork for a ‘European Magnitsky Act’, which he considered to be “a tangible step reaffirming the EU’s global lead on human rights”.

The MEPs feel that now is the right time to finalise the legislation and apply it to the Uighur and Hong Kong-situation in China.

Amée Zoutberg
The Brussels Times

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