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HRW Says China's Draft Anti-Terror Law Allows State Abuse of Human Rights

© AP Photo / Andy WongSWAT members of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau stand in formation after conducting a joint anti-terrorism at a training ground on the outskirts of Beijing
SWAT members of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau stand in formation after conducting a joint anti-terrorism at a training ground on the outskirts of Beijing - Sputnik International
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According to the rights group, the current version of the law includes a broad definition of terrorism, which would enable the government to qualify any criticism of its actions as terrorism.

MOSCOW, January 20 (Sputnik) — China needs to review its draft counterterrorism law, which allows authorities to legally abuse human rights, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement Tuesday.

“China has seen appalling attacks on people, and the government has a duty to respond and protect the population. But in its present form this law is little more than a license to commit human rights abuses. The draft needs to be completely overhauled and brought in line with international legal standards,” China director at HRW Sophie Richardson said in a statement.

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The draft law was made public in November 2014 and is planned to come into effect in 2015.

According to HRW, the current version of the law includes a broad definition of terrorism, which would enable Beijing to qualify any criticism of the government’s actions as terrorism and to “set up a total digital surveillance architecture subject to no legal or legislative control.”

The Chinese government has also been using the terrorist threat as a justification for the violation of the rights of Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic minority in northwest China, HRW said. The list of abuses attributed to Beijing by the rights group include “torture and enforced disappearances, extensive censorship, and pervasive socio-economic discrimination.” The situation is almost impossible to monitor as China restricts independent access to the region, HRW added.

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Beijing stated that the current draft is consistent with UN resolutions on counterterrorism. However, the country has failed to ensure “that any measure taken to combat terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law… in particular international human rights, refugee, and humanitarian law,” according to HRW.

In its comprehensive World Report 2014 paper HRW noted the relaxation of some restrictions on human rights in China. However, the organization pointed out that the country still remains a one-party state and routinely violates the freedoms of expression, association, assembly and religion of its citizens.

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