[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Committee [official website] urged China on Thursday to ensure universal suffrage in Hong Kong, including both the right to vote and the right to stand for election without unreasonable restrictions. Currently, the Chinese government plans to allow only Beijing loyalists to stand in 2017 elections, which has led to thousands of people protesting in the streets of Hong Kong. All talks between protesters and government officials have failed to result in a compromise. The committee, composed of 18 independence experts, has monitored China’s compliance with the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [text] and has grown concerned over China’s method of vetting candidates before they may stand for election. The committee is seeking measures that would allow for anyone to stand for election, regardless of whether they are Beijing loyalists. The candidates selected through the filtration process, says the committee, is not properly representative of the Hong Kong population.
This is not the first time China has been under scrutiny for its human rights record. China went before the UN in October 2013 to defend its human rights record [JURIST report], insisting it was abiding by its obligations and cooperating with inquiries. In the same month, a group of independent UN rights experts issued a report [JURIST report] expressing concern over harassment of activists for their attempts to participate in a UN human rights assessment of China. In August Chinese writer, lawyer and human rights advocate Yang Maodong, commonly known by his pen-name Guo Feixiong [HRIC profile], became the second leader of the New Citizens movement to be arrested [JURIST report] on suspicion of disrupting the peace. In June a Chinese court in Huairou on sentenced [JURIST report] Liu Hui, brother-in-law of the Nobel Peace Prize winner and democracy activist Liu Xiaobo [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], to 11 years in prison on charges of fraud. In May China’s Nanjing Intermediate People’s Court issued a life sentence to Huang Sheng, the former provincial deputy governor of Shandong Province, for accepting almost $2 million in bribes from 21 organizations and numerous individuals between 1998 and 2011.