Congress Passes Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020

Published by Matt Fishman on

Congress has passed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020

The bill passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 417-1 and passed the Senate with unanimous consent. It now heads to President Trump for signature, however, last year Congress passed the similar “Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019”, which President Trump did not sign into law.

This bill’s purpose is to “condemn gross human rights violations of ethnic Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang, and calling for an end to arbitrary detention, torture, and harassment of these communities inside and outside China”.

“[G]ross human rights violations” refer to allegations of the “systematic detention of Muslim Uighurs” in the Xinjiang region of China. Among these allegations are accusations that the Chinese government is detaining Uighurs in Xinjiang and holding them in so-called “training centers”. Detainees are “educated and trained in the training center for at least one year”. During this time, Chinese officials “manage and control student activities to prevent escapes” including monitoring of “eating periods”, “toilet breaks”, and “bath time”. Purportedly, the purpose of detainment is for China to “resolve ideological contradictions, and guide away students from bad emotions” as well as force “the repentance and confession of the students for them to understand deeply the illegal, criminal and dangerous nature of their past behavior”.

As part of this bill, the President is directed to condemn China’s abuses against Uyghurs; call on China to close these internment camps; ensure the Chinese government’s respect for human rights; and allow for the detained to reestablish contact with their loved ones. Additionally, the bill calls on the Secretary of State to “consider strategically employing sanctions” and “visa restrictions”.