GENEVA (26 December 2019) - UN human rights experts* have expressed alarm at the situation of Mr. Tashpolat Tiyip, a Chinese academic of Uyghur origin and former president of Xinjiang University, who is in detention at an unknown location in China.
Mr. Tiyip's whereabouts have been unknown since he was detained in 2017 while travelling to a conference in Germany. He has been reported to have been sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve after being convicted in camera on charges of separatism.
"The Chinese authorities have indicated to us that Mr. Tiyip is being tried on corruption charges, that a lawyer has been hired by his relatives, and that he has not been sentenced to death," said the experts.
"Information that Mr. Tiyip is not sentenced to death, if it is confirmed, is welcome news."
The experts reiterate their recommendation that information about his current place of detention be made public and that his family should be allowed to visit him.
"The uncertainty regarding the charges against Mr. Tiyip, the conditions of his trial, and his sentencing are matters of particular concern especially if the information that he was sentenced to death is correct. Any death sentence imposed under conditions that do not meet the most stringent guarantees of fair trial will violate international human rights law and be arbitrary. Mr. Tiyip's trial should be independently reviewed, taking into account his right to fair trial and due process of law.
"Incommunicado detention, enforced disappearances and secret trials have no place in a country governed by the rule of law. The rule by law is not the rule of law. Such practices go against the spirit of the ICCPR, which China has signed in 1998," the experts said.
These and other UN experts have repeatedly expressed concerns about the situation of other detainees, who appear to be mainly members of the Uyghur community, and are held without or on unknown charges in a number of facilities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
The experts have been in contact with the Government of China to clarify the fate and whereabouts of Mr. Tiyip and will continue to seek formal and official clarification on his situation and that of other detainees whose human rights may be violated.
(*)The UN experts:
Ms Agnes Callamard,
Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions;
Members of the
Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances -
Mr. Luciano Hazan
Mr. Tae-Ung Baik (vice-chair),
Mr. Bernard Duhaime,
Ms Houria Es-Slami
Mr. Henrikas Mickevičius;
Mr. Fernand de Varennes,
Special Rapporteur on minority issues;
Mr. Ahmed Shaheed,
Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief;
and Members of the
UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention -
Mr. José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez (chair),
Ms. Leigh Toomey (vice-chair on Communications),
Ms. Elina Steinerte (vice-chair on follow-up),
Mr. Seong-Phil Hong
and Mr. Sètondji Adjovi
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the
Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.
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