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UN rights chief hints report on Xinjiang may miss deadline

GENEVA: The outgoing UN human rights chief suggested Thursday that her office may not make good on her promise to release its long-awaited report on China’s Xinjiang region by the end of her term next week.
Speaking to reporters, Michelle Bachelet said her office is “trying” to meet the deadline that she herself set in June, shortly after announcing that she would not seek a new four-year term after the current one ends on Aug 31. The office of UN Security-General Antonio Guterres has not indicated who her successor might be.
The final months of Bachelet’s term have been overshadowed by extended delays in releasing the report about Xinjiang, which many Geneva diplomats believed to be nearly completed a year ago.
Bachelet said her office – as is common practice when the UN rights office reports on countries – has informed China about its “findings” and officials have come back with a “substantial” number of comments. She said her office was focusing only on possible factual errors now.
Independent human rights groups have denounced what Beijing has called vocational centres for ethnic Uyghurs and other minority groups as detention centres, while some countries including the United States have accused Beijing of committing genocide in Xinjiang.
Bachelet insisted she had raised concerns with Chinese authorities, which included a virtual meeting with President Xi Jinping, about the detention conditions and “ill-treatment” of the people inside, when she visited to China and Xinjiang in May – a visit long in the making.
She said her office had received “huge numbers” of letters, starting as early as year ago, requesting the publication of the report on Xinjiang – and in recent months she received a letter from about 40 countries including China “asking for non-publication” of the report.
“We are always under pressure…from all sides,” Bachelet said.
She has said she is not seeking a new term for personal reasons and a desire to return home to Chile, where she served two terms as president.

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