The UN human rights chief has voiced concern about five Hong Kong booksellers who are believed to be under detention in China.
Beijing must ensure a “fair and transparent procedure” in dealing with the cases and allow family and lawyer visits for the detainees, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said, according to Reuters.
Chinese police have confirmed that three of the five missing Hong Kong booksellers were being investigated for “illegal activities” in the mainland.
Zeid, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement Tuesday that there is a “worrying pattern” in China in relation to the government’s approach toward civil society.
He called on Beijing to release all lawyers detained in the country since July, including 15 arrested last month, saying it is wrong to prosecute or sanction them for their work.
“We are seeing a very worrying pattern in China that has serious implications for civil society and the important work they do across the country,” Zeid said in the statement.
“Lawyers should never have to suffer prosecution or any other kind of sanctions or intimidation for discharging their professional duties,” Zeid said. “I urge the Government of China to release all of them immediately and without conditions.”
Chinese police are said to have detained about 250 human rights lawyers, legal assistants, and activists across the country since a nationwide crackdown began last July, though many have since been released.
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