Trump signs Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act

A man in a torture
position said to be
used in China’s
“re-education camps.”
(Photo: ChinaAid)

(Washington, D.C.—June 18, 2020) Trump signed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act into law yesterday, safeguarding the rights of people in China’s northwestern Xinjiang.

The Act, passed by both the House and the Senate, allows the U.S. to sanction Chinese officials for targeting Uyghur people for their race and/or Islamic faith. For the past several years, China has been continuously arresting Uyghur people and placing them in “re-education camps.” Chinese authorities claimed these camps provide vocational training for Uyghur people. However, camp survivors reported being starved, tortured, forced to study pro-government propaganda, and made to do extensive labor with little to no pay.

Outside of the camps, Uyghur people have undergone constant surveillance and have been restricted from practicing elements of their Muslim faith, such as eating halal food. People who have asked whether or not food is halal have been arrested.

In addition, Chinese minders have been sent to live with Uyghur families and monitor their daily activities.

China claimed these efforts curb terrorist activity, but those targeted often have no connection to terrorist groups.

The United Nations estimated 1 million Uyghur people had been placed in the “re-education camps,” but some experts place that number as high as 3 million.

In a statement about the Act, the president acknowledged it held perpetrators of atrocities against minority people groups accountable. However, he took issue with section 6(g), which he perceived as being “inconsistent with (his) constitutional authorities” to receive foreign officials. Section 6(g) reads as follows:

(g) Termination Of Sanctions.—The President may terminate the application of sanctions under this section with respect to a person if the President determines and reports to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate, the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives, and the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives not later than 15 days before the termination takes effect that— 

(1) information exists that the person did not engage in the activity for which sanctions were imposed;

(2) the person has been prosecuted appropriately for the activity for which sanctions were imposed;

(3) the person has credibly demonstrated a significant change in behavior, has paid an appropriate consequence for the activity for which sanctions were imposed, and has credibly committed to not engage in an activity described in subsection (a)(1) in the future; or 

(4) the termination of the sanctions is in the national security interests of the United States.

In regards to this section, Trump said he wished it gave him the freedom to terminate whichever sanctions he pleased. In addition, he said his administration would view this section as non-binding.

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