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CFSP Statements


Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the detention of Mr Hu Jia and other Chinese Human Rights Defenders

Following recent representations made to the Chinese authorities regarding the case of acknowledged human rights activist Mr Hu Jia, the European Union remains deeply concerned about his continuing detention.  The EU understands that Hu Jia is accused of 'inciting subversion of state power' on the basis that he has written articles, and given interviews, in which he expresses opinions critical of the Chinese Government.

The EU believes that respect for the right to freedom of expression, together with other human rights such as that of freedom from arbitrary detention, is essential for long-term economic prosperity and social stability, as well as being justified in its own right. The EU supports the recommendation of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (expressed in its 2004 report on China) that laws on state security should not be used to undermine these rights.  The EU considers charges of 'subversion' resulting from the peaceful expression of opinions to undermine the right to freedom of expression enshrined in both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Constitution of the People's Republic of China.

Hence, having regard to the EU-China Dialogue on Human Rights, the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, as well as all the national and international commitments of China to human rights and the rule of law, the EU calls on the Chinese authorities to release Hu Jia together with all other writers, journalists and others detained for reporting on or demonstrating against human rights abuses, and to refrain from further such detentions.

In relation to this, the EU welcomes the early release of journalists Yu Huafeng and Ching Cheong. Yu Huafeng, the former head of Guangzhou-based newspaper Nanfang Dushi Bao, was released on 8 February 2008 after serving four years of a twelve-year prison sentence.  Ching Cheong, the Hong Kong-based chief China correspondent for The Straits Times was released on 5 February 2008 after serving three years of a five-year prison sentence.  In both cases a great number of Chinese journalists lobbied for the release of their imprisoned colleagues, giving witness to the responsiveness of China's civil society.

While appreciating these early releases, the EU reiterates its appeal to the Chinese authorities to restore the political rights of Yu Huafeng so as to enable him once again to contribute to the further development of Chinese society.

The EU wishes to emphasise that further such releases would demonstrate China's commitment to the rule of law, and its attachment to internationally recognised human rights principles as set out inter alia in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Candidate Countries Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, and the EFTA countries Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this declaration.

* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process


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Date: 27.03.2008