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29 Mar 2021

UN human rights experts

China: UN experts call for unhindered access to conduct fact-finding missions and urge companies to closely scrutinize their supply chains

"China: UN experts deeply concerned by alleged detention, forced labour of Uyghurs", 29 March 2021

UN human rights experts today raised serious concerns about the alleged detention and forced labour of Muslim Uyghurs in China, calling for unhindered access to the country to conduct fact-finding missions and urging global and domestic companies to closely scrutinize their supply chains.

Several experts appointed by the Human Rights Council said they had received information that connected over 150 domestic Chinese and foreign domiciled companies to serious allegations of human rights abuses against Uyghur workers.

“We are deeply concerned by these allegations which, if proven, would constitute grave human rights abuses,” stated the Working Group on Business and Human Rights, one of eight UN independent human rights mandates to raise their concerns over treatment of members of the Uyghur minority. [...]

Many businesses and factories implicated in the abusive practices are reportedly operating as part of supply chains of numerous well-known global brands, the experts added.

The UN experts have written to the Government of China as well as private businesses, both inside and outside of China that may be implicated in the alleged abuses. They have also written to governments of 13 countries where the businesses are domiciled or headquartered, recalling the obligations of home States under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to ensure that businesses under their territory and/or jurisdiction respect all human rights throughout their operations.

“Many businesses are also implicated in these allegations, either directly or through their supply chains. Businesses must not turn a blind eye to this and must conduct meaningful human rights due diligence in line with the UN Guiding Principles to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for human rights abuses caused, contributed to or directly linked to their operations, products or services in Xinjiang and in other Chinese provinces,” said Surya Deva, Vice Chairperson of the Working Group.

“At the same time, the Chinese Government must create an environment conducive for all businesses operating in China to conduct human rights due diligence in line with international standards,” noted Deva. [...]

Part of the following timelines

China: 83 major brands implicated in report on forced labour of ethnic minorities from Xinjiang assigned to factories across provinces; Includes company responses

China: Mounting concerns over forced labour in Xinjiang

Brands face boycott in China over decision not to source Xinjiang cotton due to allegations of forced labour