Thursday, July 25, 2024

Michelle Bachelet: UN human rights coordinator will not seek second term after backlash over China trip

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Bachelet, 70, has been criticized by rights groups and some Western governments, Including the United Stateswho said that the conditions imposed by the Chinese authorities on the visit did not enable a full and independent assessment of the rights environment.

“With my term as High Commissioner coming to an end, this landmark fiftieth session of this Council will be the last I see,” she said in a surprise announcement at the end of a wide-ranging address to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Later, she said the decision is not about the trip, adding that she intends to return to Chile and spend time with her family.

“Two months ago, even before I went to China, I made a decision and told my boss the Secretary-General (Antonio Guterres). So it has nothing to do with it,” she told reporters.

Some diplomats said they expected Bachelet, the former president of Chile, to remain in office after her four-year term expired later in August. There was a buzz in the Geneva council chamber when I made this announcement.

In her speech, she said that her office is working on an updated assessment of the human rights situation in western China Xinjiangwhere is there widespread allegations Most Muslim Uyghurs have been subjected to unlawful detention, ill-treatment and forced labor.

China denies all allegations of abuse there.

“The government will be informed of factual comments before it is published,” she said of her report, which was due to be published months ago. Asked about the timing, Bachelet said he will be released before her term expires.

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Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, called her trip to China an “undiluted catastrophe” and criticized Bachelet for using the term China “VETCs” for vocational education and training centers, to describe mass detention facilities in Xinjiang.

She repeated the term in her speech on Monday.

And on the human rights situation in Russia, she said that the arbitrary detention of a large number of protesters there opposing the invasion of Ukraine is “worrying.”

Bachelet also raised concerns about abortion restrictions, pointing to the United States where the Supreme Court is expected to overturn a landmark ruling on abortion rights across the country.

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