By Peter Kenny
GENEVA (AA) – UN human rights experts called on Morocco’s government Thursday to halt a decision to extradite a Uyghur activist to China, where they said he risks facing severe human rights violations.
The experts said human rights defender Yidiresi Aishan, a Chinese Muslim and member of China’s Uyghur minority, faces risks such as arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
"This extradition process is happening without any form of individual examination and assessment of risks, which blatantly violates the absolute prohibition of refoulement under international human rights and refugee law," they said in a statement.
Chinese authorities accused Aishan of joining a terrorist group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), and carrying out or actively participating in activities within terrorist organizations under Article 120 of the Chinese Criminal Code.
The experts include Nils Melzer, the special rapporteur on torture and other inhuman treatment, Fionnuala Ni Aolain, the special rapporteur on protecting human rights while countering terrorism, and Mary Lawler, the special rapporteur on human rights defenders.
- Arrest in Casablanca
Aishan was arrested in Casablanca, based on a Red Notice issued by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) on March 13, 2017. The warrant was suspended in August 2021.
No state has the right to expel, return or otherwise remove any individual from its territory whenever there are "substantial grounds" for believing that the person would be in danger of being subjected to torture in the state of destination, said the experts.
As an asylum seeker in Morocco, Aishan should be protected from any form of extradition or forced return to China until his refugee status is decided, they said.
The experts emphasized that the existence of a bilateral agreement on extradition, or diplomatic assurances, do not release states from their obligations under international human rights and refugee law, in particular the principle of nonrefoulment.
Under international human rights law, the principle of nonrefoulment ensures that no one should be returned to a country where they would face torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or other irreparable harm.
The UN experts had previously expressed their concerns to the Moroccan government in August and said they would continue the dialogue with the authorities to comply with international human rights and refugee law.
According to UN data, at least 1 million Uyghurs are kept against their will in places Beijing calls "vocational training centers," which the international community defines as "re-education camps."
China does not provide information on how many camps there are in its Xinjiang region, how many people there are, and how many of them have returned to social life.
While the UN and other international organizations have reiterated calls for the camps to be opened for inspection, China has allowed a few of its designated centers to be partially viewed by a small number of foreign diplomats and journalists.
Several countries have accused China of ethnic cleansing of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
Beijing has denied any wrongdoing, dismissing the allegations as "lies and [a] political virus."