Canada – UK announces new measures to address human rights abuses in Xinjiang, China

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Uyghur people protest outside the UN headquarters in Genevea in November 2018. Salvatore Di Nolfi/EPA

By Caribbean News Global fav

CANADA/UK –  François-Philippe Champagne, minister of foreign affairs, and Mary Ng, minister of small business, export promotion, and international trade; and UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab today announced measures related to the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region.

Canada introduces new measures

Canada is gravely concerned with evidence and reports of human rights violations in the People’s Republic of China involving members of the Uyghur ethnic minority and other minorities within the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region (Xinjiang), including repressive surveillance, mass arbitrary detention, torture and mistreatment, forced labour and mass transfers of forced labourers from Xinjiang to provinces across China. These activities strongly run counter to China’s international human rights obligations.

Canada is adopting a comprehensive approach to defending the rights of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, including by advancing measures to address the risk of forced labour from any country from entering Canadian and global supply chains and to protect Canadian businesses from becoming unknowingly complicit.

Canada’s approach includes the following seven measures:

  • The Prohibition of imports of goods produced wholly or in part by forced labour;
  • A Xinjiang Integrity Declaration for Canadian companies;
  • A Business Advisory on Xinjiang-related entities;
  • Enhanced advice to Canadian businesses;
  • Export controls;
  • Increasing awareness for Responsible Business Conduct linked to Xinjiang; and
  • A Study on forced labour and supply chain risks.

Canadian companies requiring assistance or advice should contact the Trade Commissioner Service in Ottawa, Regional Offices in Canada or Embassies, High Commissions or Consulates abroad.

“Nobody should face mistreatment on the basis of their religion or ethnicity,” said, François-Philippe Champagne, minister of foreign affairs.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to increasing supply chain transparency, promoting responsible business conduct, and ensuring that Canadian companies are upholding Canadian values, wherever they may operate,” said, Mary Ng, minister of small business, export promotion and international trade.

United Kingdom business measures

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced a package of measures to help ensure that British organisations, whether public or private sector, are not complicit in, nor profiting from, the human rights violations in Xinjiang.

Evidence of gross human rights violations including extra-judicial detention and forced labour has been growing, including proof from the Chinese authorities’ own government documents. The UK government has repeatedly called on China to end these practices, and uphold its national laws and international obligations.

The measures are designed to send a clear signal to China that these violations are unacceptable.

The UK government is announcing a review into which UK products can be exported to Xinjiang and the introduction of financial penalties for businesses that do not comply with the Modern Slavery Act. Further measures include increasing support for UK public bodies to exclude businesses complicit in human rights violations from their supply chains. Together these measures will help UK organisations ensure that they are not contributing to the abuse of the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.

Specifically, the measures include:

  • A review of export controls as they apply to Xinjiang to ensure the government is doing all it can to prevent the exports of goods that may contribute to human rights abuses in the region. This review will determine which additional specific products will be subject to export controls in future.
  • The introduction of financial penalties for organisations who fail to meet their statutory obligations to publish annual modern slavery statements, under the Modern Slavery Act.
  • New, robust and detailed guidance to UK business setting out the specific risks faced by companies with links to Xinjiang and underlining the challenges of effective due diligence there.
  • The government will provide guidance and support for all UK public bodies to use public procurement rules to exclude suppliers where there is sufficient evidence of human rights violations in supply chains. Compliance will be mandatory for central government, non-departmental bodies and executive agencies
  • A minister led campaign of business engagement to reinforce the need for UK businesses to take action to address the risk.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, said: “This package will help make sure that no British organisations, government or private sector, deliberately or inadvertently, profit from or contribute to the human rights violations against the Uyghurs or other minorities in Xinjiang.”

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