Uyghur Tribunal: London

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:43 pm on 14th June 2021.

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Photo of Iain Duncan Smith Iain Duncan Smith Conservative, Chingford and Woodford Green 3:43 pm, 14th June 2021

The Uyghur tribunal is an independent investigation of alleged genocide and crimes against humanity in the Uyghur region, led by Sir Geoffrey Nice. It started its hearings between 4 and 7 June in London and will reconvene later in the year. It was set up because the Chinese Government have reservations on the genocide convention and a veto at the UN Security Council, which prevents investigation by the International Court of Justice, and China is not party to the International Criminal Court.

It is a disgrace that, on Wednesday 9 June, the Government of the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region held a press conference featuring relatives of Uyghur exiles abroad, who were coerced to give statements that claimed to falsify the testimony of those who had given evidence to the Uyghur tribunal. We know already that the Chinese Government monitor, intimidate and harass Uyghurs living abroad, including UK citizens. We have also seen attempts to intimidate Members of this House. An Amnesty International report collated evidence from more than 400 Uyghurs in 22 countries, including the UK, who live in daily fear of the Chinese authorities. The harassment included aggressive messages and threats.

The first question is whether the Government will give evidence to the tribunal. If not, perhaps the Minister could explain why.

Rodney Dixon, QC, has alleged that Uyghurs are deported from third countries to China, where they go on to face genocidal atrocities. What assessment have the Government made of the credibility of the harrowing evidence provided by the Uyghur tribunal, and how will they act on its findings?

Do the Government support the involvement in the UK economy of firms that are complicit in the surveillance and monitoring of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, including surveillance firms such as Hikvision and telecommunications firms such as Huawei? Why have the Government rejected the recommendation of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee to require companies operating in Beijing to provide convincing evidence that their supply chains are not tainted by forced labour? Where are the provisions in the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to give force to those concerns?

As I said, China exerts pressure on foreign states to deport Uyghurs who have fled the country back to China—states including Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Will the Government immediately commit to complaining formally and publicly to those countries, and tell them to stop that process at all costs?