China and the violation of UN Genocide Convention : Daily Current Affairs

China and the violation of UN Genocide Convention

According to a new report by more than 50 experts in international law, The Chinese government’s actions against Uyghurs in Xinjiang have breached every provision of the UN Genocide Convention. The report estimates between 1-2 million people have been detained in some 1,400 extrajudicial internment facilities created in Xinjiang since 2014. It also details allegations of sexual assault, forcible sterilisation, psychological torture, brainwashing and an unknown number of deaths in these camps. According to the report , Uyghur detainees within the detention sites are systematically tortured, subjected to sexual violence, including rape, and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment, deprived of their basic human needs, and severely humiliated.

About UN Genocide Convention :

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention) is an instrument of international law that codified for the first time the crime of genocide.

The Genocide Convention was the first human rights treaty adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 9 December 1948 and signified the international community’s commitment to ‘never again’ after the atrocities committed during the Second World War.

The Genocide Convention has been ratified or acceded to by 152 States (as of July 2019). Other 42 United Nations Member States have yet to do so. Mauritius became the newest party of the Convention in July , 2019.

Its adoption marked a crucial step towards the development of international human rights and international criminal law.

What is Genocide :

According to the Genocide Convention, genocide is a crime that can take place both in time of war as well as in time of peace. The definition of the crime of genocide, as set out in the Convention, has been widely adopted at both national and international levels, including in the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Article 2 of this convention defines genocide as acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. These acts include killing members of the group, causing bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group “conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”, imposing measures to prevent births within the group, and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Importantly, the Convention establishes on State Parties the obligation to take measures to prevent and to punish the crime of genocide, including by enacting relevant legislation and punishing perpetrators, “whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals” (Article IV). That obligation, in addition to the prohibition not to commit genocide, have been considered as norms of international customary law and therefore, binding on all States, whether or not they have ratified the Genocide Convention.

States' obligations under the UN Genocide Convention :

  • Obligation not to commit genocide
  • Obligation to prevent genocide Obligation to punish genocide
  • Obligation to enact the necessary legislation to give effect to the provisions of the Convention (Article V);
  • Obligation to ensure that effective penalties are provided for persons found guilty of criminal conduct according to the Convention (Article V);
  • Obligation to try persons charged with genocide in a competent tribunal of the State in the territory of which the act was committed, or by an international penal tribunal with accepted jurisdiction (Article VI);
  • Obligation to grant extradition when genocide charges are involved, in accordance with laws and treaties in force (Article VII), particularly related to protection granted by international human rights law prohibiting refoulment where there is a real risk of flagrant human rights violations in the receiving State.