In a public communication to the Chinese government, United Nations human rights experts have raised serious concerns regarding China’s “counter-terrorism law” and called for a review of the legislation that came into force in 2016 in order to bring it in line with international human rights standards.

The most pressing concern relates to the use of a broad and vague definition of terrorism that allows for the conflation of terrorism with public protest, dissent, religious activities and human rights activism.

The UN experts state: “The application of the Counter-Terrorism Law and related practices raises serious concerns regarding increasing practices of arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, absence of judicial oversight and procedural safeguards and restrictions of the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, the right to education and the right to freedom of movement within an increasingly securitized environment, particularly for designated minorities, notably Uyghurs and Tibetans.”

The 23-page communication was supported by 10 UN special rapporteurs and two UN working groups.

In August 2018, the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged the Chinese government to review policies and laws that discriminate against Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongols, noting that China’s “broad definition of terrorism and vague references to extremism…could have the potential to criminalize peaceful civic and religious expression.”

The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) has repeatedly raised its concerns about the “counter-terrorism law” as early as the first draft of the law became known in 2015.

ICT welcomes the new, strong communication by the UN human rights experts.

Read the UN experts’ public communication.


Kai Mueller, ICT’s UN advocacy coordinator:
“The fact that 12 different human rights experts and bodies endorsed the communication indicates the gravity of the human rights issues in the People’s Republic of China, and Tibetans and Uyghurs are suffering the most. The international community should support these concerns and double their efforts to press the Chinese government for change.”