IPAC MPs warn of ‘sham’ Xinjiang Investigation Ahead of UN Visit

May 20, 2022

Legislators belonging to the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) have warned that the Chinese government is likely to use its restrictive COVID-19 measures to prevent the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet from making a meaningful investigation into the alleged human rights abuses against Uyghurs during her visit to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region next week.

In a statement signed by over 40 legislators across 18 countries, the parliamentarians accused the Chinese government of organising a ‘Potemkin-style tour’, risking lasting damage to the credibility of Michelle Bachelet’s office. The legislators highlight that the UN Terms of Reference for such visits specify that the Commissioner should be given freedom of movement, conversations with civil society actors and confidential and unsupervised access to witnesses – all of which could be undermined by both the Chinese government’s crackdown in the region and restrictive COVID-19 measures.

Signatories to the statement include German Green MEP and chair of the European Parliament’s China delegation Reinhard Buetikofer, US Congressman Mike Gallagher, former leader of the UK Conservative Party Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP and former Japanese government minister Ken Saito.  


  • A copy of the statement and list of signatories is included below.
  • Michelle Bachelet will be the first UN human rights chief to visit China since 2005. The visit will include a visit to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where alleged human rights abuses include forced labour, forced sterilisation and the arbitrary detention of at least one million Uyghur Muslims.
  • Last year the independent Uyghur Tribunal concluded that the Chinese government is carrying out Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity against the Uyghurs, with the US State Department and parliaments of the UK, Netherlands, Canada and elsewhere supporting this decision.
  • The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China is an international cross party group of legislators pushing for democratic countries to take a tougher stance on China. A full list of IPAC members and other information is available at  www.ipac.global.


We, the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), note with profound concern recent developments surrounding the upcoming visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), Michele Bachelet, to the Uyghur Region of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

As the Revised Terms of Reference for Country Visits by Special Procedures Mandate Holders of the UN Human Rights Council make very clear, the UNHCHR should expect the PRC to facilitate: freedom of movement and inquiry, contact with all branches of government, private contact with civil society and media, confidential and unsupervised access to witnesses and other persons of interest, access to detention facilities, and access to all relevant documentary materials, among other guarantees.

The PRC’s restrictive COVID-19 regulations will make these Terms impossible. This fact, together with strong indications that a Potemkin-style tour has been prepared for the UNHCHR by the PRC, make it hard to envisage a scenario where a meaningful visit could possibly be achieved.

The scale and severity of the persecution of Uyghurs and other minorities is exceptionally well documented. Indeed, the High Commissioner herself has prepared a report into the situation which remains unpublished, despite assurances in December 2021 that it would be released “within a few weeks”.

The stakes are therefore very high. Should the High Commissioner fail to obtain the necessary access for a meaningful investigation, the credibility of the office could suffer lasting damage, and the ability for the UNHCHR to secure meaningful future investigations may well be compromised. COVID restrictions must not be deployed as a reason to excuse the PRC for failing to allow a meaningful investigation. IPAC stands ready to act swiftly in case the visit will be turned into a sham by PRC authorities.


Reinhard Buetikofer MEP, Germany

Miriam Lexmann MEP, Slovakia

Michael Brand MdB, Germany

Fabian Molina MP, Switzerland

Fatimir Mediu MP, Albania

Representative Samuel Cogolati, Belgium

Senator Barry Ward, Ireland

Senator Malcom Byrne, Ireland

Žygimantas Pavilionis MP, Lithuania

Senator Pavel Fischer, Czechia

Catalin Tenita MP, Romania

Simon O’Connor MP, New Zealand

Tom van der Lee MP, Netherlands

Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, United Kingdom

Uffe Elbaek MP, Denmark

Senator Andre Gattolin, France

Guri Melby MP, Norway

Hon. Irwin Cotler, Canada

Baroness Helena Kennedy, United Kingdom

Boris Mijatovic MdB, Germany

Sjoerd Sjoerdsma MP, Netherlands

Rosie Cooper MP, United Kingdom

Senator Erin McGreehan, Ireland

Yasmin Qureshi MP, United Kingdom

Tim Loughton MP, United Kingdom

Siobhain McDonagh MP, United Kingdom

Nicolas Walder MP, Switzerland

David Lega MEP, Sweden

Bardhyl Kollcaku MP, Albania

Lars Adaktusson MP, Sweden

Layla Moran MP, United Kingdom

Nus Ghani MP, United Kingdom

Gyde Jensen MdB, Germany

Senator David Norris, Ireland

Engin Eroglu MEP, Germany

Ingrid Leary MP, New Zealand

Cllr. Ken Saito, Japan

Representative Mike Gallagher, United States

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