New UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Al-Hussein opening the 27th UN Human Rights Council session on Monday 8th September. The High Commissioner began his tenure on September 01 , 2014. (Reuters) As the latest session of the U.N. Human Rights Council opens today in Geneva, the International Campaign for Tibet has urged the new High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Al-Hussein, to seek to visit China and Tibet during his tenure. In a letter to the new High Commissioner, ICT also pressed for an end to the increasingly widespread use of extra-judicial detentions and torture as a means of silencing Tibetans.

ICT in its recent report “Significant Acts of Evil – The Criminalization of Tibetan Self-Immolations” documented the impact of rulings announced in December 2012, a month after Xi Jinping became head of the Chinese Communist Party. The new measures, adopted in response to self-immolations across Tibet (now totalling 131), have resulted in a spike in political imprisonments, including one instance of the death penalty, and numerous cases of Tibetans being ‘disappeared’, with family and friends unaware of whether or not they are still alive, often for weeks or months.

Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet said, “I call upon the High Commissioner and the Council to ensure that the Chinese government puts an end to these unacceptable policies that amount to collective punishment.”

The 27th Human Rights Council session will be held from September 8-26. Among others, the Council is scheduled to review the annual report of the Working Group on Involuntary or Enforced Disappearances (WGIED) on September 12. ICT will deliver a joint statement with the Helsinki Foundation at the Interactive Dialogue with this Working Group where ICT will highlight the 41 cases of enforced disappearances that it has documented between November 2012 and April 2014.

On September 01st, in a letter welcoming the new High Commissioner, Matteo Mecacci said, “ICT believes that sustained international pressure is crucial to the achievement of positive change inside Tibet. We appeal to you to take this matter into consideration and work on the situation in Tibet as one of your priorities during your tenure.”

At its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in October 2013 the only recommendation on Tibet that China accepted was that it would facilitate a visit by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Special Procedures to China, including the Tibetan and Uighur areas.

ICT urges the High Commissioner to prioritize such a visit at the earliest. The last UN High Commissioner to visit China was Louise Arbour in 2005, she was subsequently denied a visit to Tibet in 2008.