GENEVA: United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged authorities in Hong Kong on Monday to “consult broadly” before passing or amending an extradition bill that triggered weeks of protests, or any other legislation.
Widespread demonstrations against the bill have plunged the Chinese-ruled city into crisis, posing the greatest popular challenge to President Xi Jinping since he took power in 2012.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam suspended the bill, which would allow criminal suspects in the former British colony to be extradited to mainland China for trial, but some activists are calling on her to axe it all together.
Bachelet commended the authorities’ decision to delay passage of the bill in response to what she called a ‘massive display of civic activism by a large proportion of the population’.
“I encourage the authorities to consult broadly before passing or amending this, or any other, legislation,” Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council which opened a three-week session in Geneva.
Bachelet also said that she continues to raise issues related to Xinjiang and other matters with China and that discussions include “unfettered access” to the western region.
UN experts and activists say some one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in detention centres in Xinjiang. China has been condemned internationally for setting up the detention complexes, which it describes as “education training centres” helping to stamp out extremism and give people new skills.
China, a member of the 47-member forum, is keen to head off criticism of its record at the session, diplomats and activists say. Erkin Tuniyaz, vice-governor of Xinjiang and an ethnic Uighur, is expected to address the Council this week, they add.