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Envoy Was Followed in China, Sources Intimidated

  • Associated Press

FILE - United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston speaks during a press conference held in Beijing, China, Aug. 23, 2016

A U.N. representative on human rights said he was followed by security officers in disguise during an official trip to China and that some activists he met with may have suffered intimidation and retaliation.

Philip Alston, the U.N. special rapporteur for extreme poverty and human rights, said the Chinese government's conduct was at odds with the need for U.N. experts to have the freedom to assess situations and preserve the confidentiality of sources.

The difficulties are contained in a final report on his mission to China in August, which was emailed to The Associated Press on Tuesday. It is to be delivered to the U.N. Human Rights Council in June.

They include warnings by the Chinese government not to make direct contact with civil society organizations to arrange meetings, government requests for full details of any private meetings and Alston's being regularly followed by security officers posing as private citizens.

Alston's report said that the government warned both him and individuals it considered "sensitive" not to meet with each other, and one meeting was prevented when a person was taken into custody for a couple of hours.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Wednesday that he couldn't comment on the report as he hadn't seen it. But he said the government had been "supportive" of Alston's requests to interview people during his visit.

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