WASHINGTON — The United States criticized China’s human rights record on Wednesday, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling the treatment of Muslim minorities in western China the “stain of the century.”
In the 2019 human rights report, the State Department also alluded to concerns raised by legal experts over Japan’s judicial system in connection with the case of former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn, who was placed under prolonged detention in Tokyo after his initial arrest in November 2018.
Ghosn has been arrested by Tokyo prosecutors four times over alleged financial misconduct, which resulted in his being held in a detention facility for a total of over 100 days. He was released on bail twice before fleeing to Lebanon at the end of last year.
“Following the fourth arrest, legal experts expressed concern that the detention was being used to force a confession,” the report said, adding that such experts have also criticized the conditions of bail, which included forbidding the defendant to have any contact with his wife, as “rare” and possibly “punitive.”
Meanwhile, the report also said there were concerns that “some laws and practices, if misused, could infringe on freedom of the press” in Japan, referring to a law that allows the government to prosecute those who publish or share government information that is a specially designated secret.
The annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices covered about 200 countries and territories, excluding the United States. During the press conference, Pompeo indicated his concerns particularly over the human rights situations in China, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba.
The Chinese government “continued its campaign of mass detention of members of Muslim minority groups” in the Xinjiang autonomous region, the document said, adding that 1 million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslim minorities were reported to have been arbitrarily detained in “internment camps designed to erase religious and ethnic identities.”
Chinese authorities, calling the camps vocational training centers, have claimed that the practice is necessary to combat terrorism and religious extremism.
But Pompeo said that the Chinese Communist Party is imprisoning religious minorities as part of its “historic antipathy to religious believers” and is trying to hide what it is doing by “intimidating journalists.”
He also criticized the Chinese party for using high-tech surveillance systems to monitor potential dissidents.
Significant human right issues were also seen in North Korea, the report said, touching on arbitrary and unlawful killings by its government as well as forced disappearances of foreign nationals.
No progress was seen in the investigation into the whereabouts of 12 Japanese citizens believed to have been abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s, the report said.
Japan officially lists 17 victims, five of whom were repatriated in 2002, and suspects the North’s involvement in many other disappearances.