Special Weekly FORB Newsletter (06-11.07.2020)

11.07.20 – Afraid to seek medical care, believer on the run dies

For runaway Church of Almighty God members, seeking medical care means being found by the state. Many are arrested in hospitals; others die of untreated illnesses.

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11.07.20 – Uyghur traditional houses destroyed by the CCP: Another tool of cultural genocide

A fascinating study by Timothy Grose shows how the “Three News” brutal campaign in Xinjiang is transforming domestic spaces to eradicate Uyghur identity.

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10.07.20 – Ancestral halls destroyed or turned into propaganda centers

Under the CCP rule, any form of religion is banned: even worship of ancestors or ancient sages is banned.

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09.07.20 – The EU will have another special envoy for religious liberty in the world

The office was restored, after the European Commission dismantled it and many protested. While his or her name is still unknown, the work of the next Envoy must start from China.

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09.07.20 – House churches suppressed, believers arrested in Chongqing

Since the coronavirus restrictions started to be lifted in March, the CCP intensified attacks on Protestant venues that are not part of the state-run church.

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08.07.20 – The CCP before the International Criminal Court for the Uyghur genocide

Although China did not sign the treaty establishing the court in The Hague, London attorney Rodney Dixon believe jurisdiction against Beijing can be asserted there.

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08.07.20 – Church of Almighty God members tortured for their faith

In China, dissidents and members of banned religious groups are often subjected to torture while in detention. Two believers share their stories.

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06.07.20 – Pope Francis and China: A Vatican mystery and a proposal

Allegedly, on July 5 a paragraph of a pre-written speech by the Pope where he supported freedom in Hong Kong was not read by Francis. To avoid further wild speculations, the Vatican may publish the text of the 2018 China deal.

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06.07.20 – China’s outdoor Buddhist statues continue to tumble

As temples were shut to prevent the spread of COVID-19, CCP intensified its campaign to eliminate all Buddhist statues in Sichuan, Fujian, and Shandong provinces.

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CHINA: Special Weekly FORB Newsletter (28.06-06.07.2020)

04.07.20 – Must raise national flag and sing anthem to reopen church

Some state-run churches were allowed to reopen in China after a 5-month lockdown. But only after proving their loyalty to the Communist Party.

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03.07.20 – Numerous mosques ‘sinicized’ amid the pandemic

Threatening and intimidating Muslims, the CCP implemented forced rectifications of mosques in Hui-populated areas in Henan, Hebei, and Ningxia.

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02.07.20 – Hundreds of policemen sent to demolish Buddhist temples

The Chinese government continues stepping up efforts to suppress religions by demolishing places of worship.

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01.07.20 – Religious venues ordered to subscribe to CCP’s periodicals 

The government wants to ensure that all people of faith in China accept its ideological leadership. Those who disobey are punished. 

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01.07.20 – Two State-run protestant churches demolished in Henan

As other venues started reopening after the coronavirus lockdown, places of worship remained closed in China. Some never opened—they were destroyed instead.

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01.07.20 – Protestants, catholics stifled to curb ‘foreign infiltration’ 

Amid escalating tensions with Western democracies, China’s regime incites nationalist sentiment among residents, cracks down on religions as “foreign agents.”

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30.06.20 – Three-Self church venues demolished or repurposed 

Officials suppressed state-approved Protestant venues in Jiangxi Province using a variety of pretexts—for being “dilapidated” or “too eye-catching.”

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30.06.20 – 100+ Church of Almighty God members arrested

Most of the detained have been monitored for days, and some elderly people were tortured to make them disclose information about fellow believers.

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29.06.20 – Uyghurs subject to mass sterilization: A new CCP crime against humanity 

A new study by Adrian Zenz proves that Muslim women in Xinjiang are massively subjected to forced abortion, sterilized, and fitted with IUDs.

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29.06.20 – Makers of religious statues suppressed

The Chinese government is expanding the scope of crackdowns on religions by stifling businesses that produce religious items.

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29.06.20 – Poverty alleviation—Yet another tool to control Xinjiang

In the name of fighting poverty, the CCP moves impoverished households from across China to Xinjiang, while sends Uyghurs to other provinces for forced labor

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28.06.20 – Islamic Symbols Removed from 300+ Hui-Run Businesses in Yunnan

Star-and-crescent and other symbols, also writings in Arabic, are purged from shops and restaurants, as the CCP enforces its plan to “sinicize” China’s Muslims.

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The Axis of Shame, July 2020: The countries that supported China on Hong Kong

– The Representative of Cuba introducing the 53-country pro-CCP resolution at the Human Rights Council in Geneva

 

Bitter Winter (05.07.2020) – https://bit.ly/2AvoUDX – On July 1, 53 countries (including China) signed a resolution introduced by Cuba at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council in Geneva praising China for the passing of the Hong Kong National Security Law. The list of those that became part to this new Axis of Shame (a label Bitter Winter originally created for those supporting Chinese persecutions of Muslims in Xinjiang) has now been published by Axios.com:

 

China, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Belarus, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo-Brazzaville, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominica, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, UAE, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

 

Russia did not sign, but its Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva issued on June 30 a separate statementdenouncing the “external interference into the domestic affairs of China.” Chinese media announced that other countries also issued pro-China separate statements, including Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Capo Verde, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Maldives, Nigeria, Serbia, Tanzania, Chad, Vietnam. It seems however that these separate statements did not necessarily “praise” the new Hong Kong National Security Law, while they criticized those “politicizing human rights” and “interfering in the internal affairs of China.”

 

The following countries signed a statement introduced at the same Human Rights Council by the United Kingdom strongly criticizing China for violations of human rights and international law in Hong Kong and Xinjiang:

 

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Germany, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K.

 

The United States did not sign because of their problems with the Human Rights Council, but have also strongly condemned China’s wrongdoings in both Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

In the middle are those countries that did not sign either statement, including European Union countries such as Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal.




Fled China to escape the CCP’s persecution, now seeking asylum in Europe

– HRWF calls upon the relevant Spanish authorities to grant asylum to Wang Dongdong and other members of The Church of Almighty God whose case is similar.

 

HRWF (30.06.2020) – Wang Dongdong is from Jiaozuo City in Henan Province, China. In 2001, his family all joined The Church of Almighty God and so he has been a member since childhood. He once had a happy family, but it was torn apart by the CCP’s arrests and persecution. In May 2015, he managed to escape China and reach Spain to seek asylum.

 

The following is Wang Dongdong’s personal experiences under the CCP’s persecution that he shared with Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF).

 

Arrested at the age of 12, forced to drop out of school

 

“One day during the spring of 2002, someone reported that my parents were preaching the gospel to the police. About eight police officers arrested my father and three other church members on charges of ‘illegal preaching’ and took away all of their faith-related books. My father was released one day later. After that, the police would regularly come and raid our home, intimidating and threatening us by saying that they were going to take my father away to be re-educated through labour. In order to avoid another arrest, my father had to run away from home and go into hiding.

 

The harassment by the police and the CCP’s persecution had a long-lasting impact on my mental and emotional wellbeing. Even today, I am overwhelmingly fearful when I see police on the streets in Spain, and I panic. My entire body shakes uncontrollably.

 

In 2003, when I was 12 years old, I was arrested while preaching on the streets. The police informed my school and my teachers began discriminating against me. For example, I was disqualified from exams. Later, I had to drop out of school because of this.”

 

Mother died due to being in hiding and unable to see a doctor

 

“In November 2011, the CCP carried out a massive repression campaign in Henan Province. They frantically arrested and persecuted Christians everywhere: 29 leaders of our Church as well as many members were arrested in our area. My parents had to leave the region to escape capture.

 

Afterwards, the police learned that my parents were custodians of church funds. They went to our home and turned it upside-down during their search for them. My home was a total mess after that, as if it had been cleaned out by looters. Fortunately, my parents had transferred the church’s money when they had fled home. The police didn’t find the funds, so they arrested my older brother and waited at our home until the evening, hoping to capture all four members of my family.

 

In order to avoid being caught by the CCP, my parents hid in a cave for a long time. Due to the lack of clothing and food, they suffered from extreme cold and hunger. They lived in fear the entire time. My mother soon fell ill. My parents didn’t dare go to the hospital because they were afraid of exposing their whereabouts after showing their ID cards. Unable to receive treatment, my mother passed away.

 

When I heard about my mother’s death, I was absolutely devastated and am heartbroken to this day. I wish I could have seen her one last time before she died but that was made impossible. It was the CCP’s persecution that separated us and broke my family.

 

Unexpectedly, I met my father one day. When I saw him, I was shocked. He had become so thin, aged and haggard. Almost all of his hair had turned white. His eyes were swollen, and he looked defeated. I held my father tightly in my arms and we cried. The passing of my mother is an anguish that will never end for us.”

 

Arrested again in 2013

 

“In 2012, I faced great difficulties in my attempts to reach Sichuan Province to spread the gospel. On the morning of 29 March 2013, I was meeting two church members at the Guangyuan City Wetland Park when, within five minutes, we were surrounded by twenty to thirty heavily armed special force officers, all of them pointing their guns at us. An older member tried to run, but several police rushed up to her and violently kicked her onto the ground. They forced us in police cars and drove us to the police station.

 

The police took away my two cell phones, my watch, and RMB 1,500 (approximately 212 USD) in cash. After they had searched me, they yelled at me and violently kicked me onto the floor. They kept kicking if I made even the slightest movement. Later, they took me to the interrogation room and cuffed me to a tiger stool, without allowing me to relieve myself, and while denying me any food or water.

 

That evening, the Cangxi County National Security Brigade Police escorted me to the Cangxi County Detention Center.”

 

Torture and forced labour

 

“On the morning of 30 March 2013, the police cuffed me to an iron chair and interrogated me with the aim of extorting information about myself and the church. When I told them nothing, they threw burning cigarette butts on my face. For more than half a month, I was threatened and interrogated every day. They showed me many photos of church members and pressed me to identify them. They told me details about phone conversations I had with other church members. It was then that I realised that they had already been tracking us for at least half a year using video cameras, wiretapping our phones, and recording our conversations.

 

While I was incarcerated at the detention center, I was forced to make tin foil for up to ten hours every day. This tin is poisonous, and if you continually breathe it in, you will eventually get cancer. After working for a long period of time, every inmate there developed numerous red blotches on their skin which were insufferably itchy, and our mouths were also festering.

 

One time, a flu was spreading amongst the inmates, but the guards refused to give us medicine and forced us to continue working. According to one inmate, the work of just our cell alone would net them over one million yuan in one year. We ate moldy rice and rotten vegetables boiled in water, without any salt or oil. We never had enough to eat. Apart from that, two video cameras were installed in every cell to monitor us 24 hours a day.

 

I was detained under these horrendous and dangerous conditions for three months and eleven days.”

 

Fleeing China and arriving in Spain

 

“On 28 May 2014, the CCP accused members of our Church of a horrifying homicide at a McDonald’s in Zhaoyuan, Shandong. This tragic incident was used by the CCP to justify a large-scale mobilisation of armed police and military troops to arrest leaders and members of our Church. Fellow followers of the Church of Almighty God were captured one by one and so I had to relocate many times. In 2017, Dr Massimo Introvigne investigated this criminal case and uncovered the CCP’s deliberate deception in an article published in The Journal of Cesnur.

 

In 2015, as there was a high risk of being re-arrested, I somehow managed to obtain a passport. After many challenges, I finally escaped China and have now reached Europe where I am applying for asylum.”

 

HRWF calls upon the relevant Spanish authorities to grant asylum to Wang Dongdong and other members of The Church of Almighty God whose case is similar.




From China to Italy after being on the run for three years

– HRWF calls upon the relevant Italian authorities to grant asylum to members of The Church of Almighty God who have fled China because of the persecution.

 

HRWF (30.06.2020) – After being persecuted and living in hiding for three years in China, Cheng Lu, a pseudonym used to protect her family who still live in China (*), arrived in Italy and asked for the protection of the Italian government.

 

Cheng Lu is from Henan Province, China, and used to work as a designer at a shoe company. In 2012, she was arrested by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) because of her membership in The Church of Almighty God. Consequently, she lost her well-paid job.

 

In 2013, she narrowly escaped from the CCP’s mass arrest campaign targeting believers of all faiths. After that, she lived on the run. In 2015, she escaped China and sought asylum in a democratic country overseas.

 

She shared her experiences of persecution in China during an interview with Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF).

 

Arrest in 2012

 

“It was 12 December 2012. Two church sisters and I were sharing the gospel with other people when four police officers caught us. They put us in a police car without showing any official identification. One of them shouted at me: ‘You break the law by believing in God in China. Instead, you should believe in the Communist Party. If all people become followers of God, then who will follow the Party?’

 

At the police station, the officers ordered us to take out all of our religious materials and personal belongings and to put them on our legs. They photographed us and then separated us for interrogation. An officer questioned me about how I got the religious material. As the three of us refused to say anything, they locked us in a very small room and deprived us of food and water.

 

That night, my then company manager bailed me out. When I left, an officer warned me that if I was found to be continuing to believe in God and spreading the gospel, I would be sentenced to between eight and ten years in prison. My manager became afraid for his business and gave me an impossible choice: to leave The Church of Almighty God and continue working there or to leave. I chose to quit my job.

 

Since I now had this arrest on my record, I was unable to find a job or rent an apartment, and I was afraid to show my ID card to others. I had no other choice than to flee to another city and live in hiding.”

 

A narrow escape in 2013

 

“In late June 2013, the CCP launched a mass arrest campaign in Zhejiang Province, which led to the arrests of over 100 members of our church, including leaders and general members. Among them was Sister Liu, who managed the church in the town I lived in. She had been secretly tracked by the police for six months. Since I had frequent contact with her, I was in grave danger. I decided to escape immediately to another province. Later I learned that five leaders and church staff were arrested there after I left.

 

Sometime in August 2014, the CCP ordered the police to re-arrest believers of The Church of Almighty God who had arrest records and to re-sentence them. The CCP police conducted a blanket search for church members by going from door to door under the guise of a census or checking either the water or electricity.

 

To escape another CCP arrest, I moved from place to place and had to constantly hide. Wherever I was, I dared not go out and only spoke in whispers, living in stifling fear every day. Once, when residential committee staff visited our place for a check, I had to hide in a small cupboard, curling myself into a ball in total darkness. I could only see a gleam of light from the crack in the cupboard door, and in that moment, I felt miserable. It occurred to me that believers in God had nowhere to live in China where they would be free from persecution. This realisation led to a great deal of pain. I longed for freedom.

 

In the 14 months I spent in hiding, I did not dare to call my parents because I knew their phone was under surveillance.”

 

Forced to flee China

 

“In 2014, the CCP falsely accused members of our Church of a homicide at a McDonald’s in Zhaoyuan, Shandong. The CCP used all of the media outlets under its control to attack, defame, and slander our Church. In 2017, Dr Massimo Introvigne investigated the criminal case and uncovered the CCP’s deliberate deception in an article published in The Journal of Cesnur.

 

Afterwards, the CCP mobilised armed police and military forces to carry out a nationwide ‘Hundred Day Battle’ with the sole purpose of arresting members and leaders of our Church. Throughout the campaign, almost 1,900 members of The Church of Almighty God were arrested and at least six of them were tortured to death. From time to time I heard news about the arrests of members and leaders that I knew or had worked with. My situation became even more dangerous and I ran out of places to hide.

 

In 2015, I managed to get a passport and escape China to seek asylum in a democratic country. I have filed my application for asylum in Italy and I am waiting for a decision that will change my whole life. During my hearing in March 2018, I talked about how I joined The Church of Almighty God, my participation in the church activities, and my persecution by the CCP. The Church of Almighty God overseas confirmed my membership after rigorous review and issued a certificate.

 

However, in July 2018, Italy’s Ministry of the Interior rejected my asylum claim. They didn’t recognise my affiliation to The Church of Almighty God and my persecution in China because I managed to obtain a valid passport. This demonstrates ignorance of the loopholes within the Chinese system and the widespread corruption that allowed me to purchase this passport. I have appealed this decision.”

 

HRWF calls upon the relevant Italian authorities to grant asylum to members of The Church of Almighty God who have fled China because of the persecution.

 

(*) The real name of this asylum-seeker is known to HRWF.




U.N. experts call call for decisive measures to protect fundamental freedoms in China

– U.N. (26.06.2020) – UN independent experts have repeatedly communicated with the Government of the People’s Republic of China their alarm regarding the repression of fundamental freedoms in China. They have denounced the repression of protest and democracy advocacy in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), impunity for excessive use of force by police, the alleged use of chemical agents against protesters, the alleged sexual harassment and assault of women protesters in police stations and the alleged harassment of health care workers.

 

They have also raised their concerns regarding a range of issues of grave concern, from the collective repression of the population, especially religious and ethnic minorities, in Xinjiang and Tibet, to the detention of lawyers and prosecution and disappearances of human rights defenders across the country, allegations of forced labour in various sectors of the formal and the informal economy, as well as arbitrary interferences with the right to privacy, to cybersecurity laws that authorise censorship and the broadly worrying anti-terrorism and sedition laws applicable in Hong Kong. They have expressed concerns that journalists, medical workers and those exercising their right to free speech online in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak and pandemic have allegedly faced retaliation from the authorities, including many being charged with ‘spreading misinformation’ or ‘disrupting public order’.

 

Most recently, the National People’s Congress took a decision to draft a national security law for the Hong Kong SAR – without any meaningful consultation with the people of Hong Kong – which would, if adopted, violate China’s international legal obligations and impose severe restrictions on civil and political rights in the autonomous region. The national security law would introduce poorly defined crimes that would easily be subject to abuse and repression, including at the hands of China’s national security organs, which for the first time would be enabled to establish ‘agencies’ in Hong Kong ‘when needed’.

 

The draft law would deprive the people of Hong Kong, who constitute a minority with their own distinctive history, cultural and linguistic and even legal traditions, the autonomy and fundamental rights guaranteed them under the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration and the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ governance framework. It would undermine the right to a fair trial and presage a sharp rise in arbitrary detention and prosecution of peaceful human rights defenders at the behest of Chinese authorities. The national security law would also undermine the ability of businesses operating in Hong Kong to discharge their responsibility to respect human rights in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

 

The independent experts urge the Government of China to abide by its international legal obligations, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and withdraw the draft national security law for Hong Kong.

 

The UN independent experts believe it is time for renewed attention on the human rights situation in the country, particularly in light of the moves against the people of the Hong Kong SAR, minorities of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, the Tibet Autonomous Region, and human rights defenders across the country.

 

The independent experts acknowledge that the Government of China has responded to the communications of UN independent experts, if almost always to reject criticism.

However, unlike over 120 States, the Government of China has not issued a standing invitation to UN independent experts to conduct official visits. In the last decade, despite many requests by Special Procedures, the Government has permitted only five visits by independent experts (pertaining to rights involving food, discrimination against women and girls, foreign debt, extreme poverty and older persons).

 

Keeping in mind China’s obligations under international human rights law, and the obligation to adhere to the ICCPR with respect to the Hong Kong SAR, and in view of the UN Human Rights Council’s prevention mandate to act on the root causes of crises which may lead to human rights emergencies or undermine peace and security, the UN experts call on the international community to act collectively and decisively to ensure China respects human rights and abides by its international obligations.

 

The independent experts urge the Government of China to invite mandate-holders, including those with a mandate to monitor civil and political rights, to conduct independent missions and to permit those visits to take place in an environment of confidentiality, respect for human rights defenders, and full avoidance of reprisals against those with whom mandate-holders may meet.

 

They further urge the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) to act with a sense of urgency to take all appropriate measures to monitor Chinese human rights practices. Measures available to the Council and Member States include but need not be limited to the possibility of:

 

  • A special session to evaluate the range of violations indicated in this statement and generally;
  • The establishment of an impartial and independent United Nations mechanism – such as a United Nations Special Rapporteur, a Panel of Experts appointed by the HRC, or a Secretary General Special Envoy – to closely monitor, analyse and report annually on the human rights situation in China, particularly, in view of the urgency of the situations in the Hong Kong SAR, the Xinjiang Autonomous Region and the Tibet Autonomous Region; and
  • All Member States and UN agencies in their dialogues and exchanges with China specifically demanding that China fulfills its human rights obligations, including with respect to the issues identified in this statement.”

 

 

* The experts: Ms. Agnès Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression; Ms. Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Ms. Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; Mr. Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues; Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule,Special Rapporteur on the rights of peaceful assembly and association; Surya Deva, Elżbieta Karska, Githu Muigai (Chair), Dante Pesce, Anita Ramasastry (Vice-chair), Working Group on Business and Human Rights; Ms. E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism; Mr. Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context; Ms. Leigh Toomey (Chair-Rapporteur), Ms. Elina Steinerte (Vice-Chair), Mr. José Guevara Bermúdez, Mr. Seong-Phil Hong, Mr. Sètondji Adjovi, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mr. Diego García-Sayán, Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers; Mr. Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967; Mr. Michael Fakhri, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Mr. Tomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences; Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Mr. Baskut Tuncak, Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes;Mr. Léo Heller, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to water and sanitation; Mr. Livingstone Sewanyana, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Ms. Karima Bennoune, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; Ms. Kombou Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on the right to education; Ms. Claudia Mahler, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons; Ms. Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons especially women and children; Mr. Dainius Pūras, Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health; Members of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances: Mr. Luciano Hazan (Chair), Mr. Tae-Ung Baik (Vice Chair), Mr. Bernard Duhaime, Ms. Houria Es-Slami, and Mr. Henrikas Mickevičius; Ms. Mama Fatima Singhateh, Special Rapporteur on sale and sexual exploitation of children; The Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination: Mr. Chris Kwaja (Chair), Ms. Jelena Aparac, Ms. Lilian Bobea, Ms. Sorcha MacLeod and Mr. Saeed Mokbil; Mr. Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; The Working Group on discrimination against women and girls: Ms. Elizabeth Broderick (Chair),Ms. Alda Facio, Ms. Meskerem Geset Techane, Ms. Ivana Radačić, andMs. Melissa Upreti (Vice Chair); Mr. Joe Cannataci, Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy.

The Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.