UN Human Rights Council Under Scrutiny after Whistleblower Sounds Alarm

In the fall of 2019, UN whistleblower Emma Reilly drew attention to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) when she wrote a letter to members of the United States Congress alleging that the office had aided the Chinese government in monitoring dissidents and their families by disclosing their personal information.

According to the whistleblower and other sources, some family members of the dissidents whose names were revealed have faced persecution and in some cases, died while in detention.

A spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Council stated “I hope to put…this distortion, I would say, to rest. Under no circumstances the Office of the High Commissioner divulged names of human rights defenders coming to the council.”

Ms. Reilly has suffered retaliation over a period of seven years for exposing how the UNHRC, an international body dedicated to human rights, was implicated in violating the human rights of dissidents who came to the Council for help.

Between 2012 and 2018, Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) conducted an international petition calling upon the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to help end the forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China. During the 6-year petition campaign, more than 3 million people from over 50 countries and regions around the world signed the petition. On three different occasions, delegations from DAFOH met with representatives of the OHCHR to hand-deliver signed petitions. Despite our persistent efforts in presenting a petition larger than any other ever previously received, the UNHRC has yet to officially respond.

Our own experience, the experience of Ms. Reilly, and those of prior UN whistleblowers indicate there appears to be a China-protective attitude within the UNHRC. By choosing to align with and safeguard China’s interests over its own chartered purpose of protecting human rights, the UNHRC appears negligent in its duty to all the citizens of UN member states.

The UNHRC’s lack of action was challenged on 24th September, 2019, when China Tribunal counsel Mr. Hamid Sabi addressed the Council with a summary of the tribunal’s judgment stating that “forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience including the religious and ethnic minorities of Falun Gong and Uyghurs has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale, and that it continues today. This involves hundreds of thousands of victims.”

It is DAOFH’s hope that those UNHRC council members who have learned the truth about forced organ harvesting by the Chinese regime will uphold their responsibilities to preserve and protect human rights and religious freedom in China and around the world.