ADF International


Religious freedom violations in China resurface during UN review


  • UN Human Rights Council addressed severe human rights violations
  • ADF International submitted consultation focusing on religious freedom

GENEVA (5 December 2018) – From 7-20 November, the United Nations Human Rights Council convened for its 31st session to review the state of human rights in various countries including China. In the run up to the review session, ADF International provided a submission on the country’s violations of religious freedom.

“The Chinese government’s strict regulation of religious activity poses a serious threat to the free exercise of peoples’ right to freedom of religion. Recently, we have seen the control over religious worship tighten with a new regulation for religious affairs, introduced at the start of this year. This has led to an alarming increase in acts of persecution, including arbitrary arrests and detention without trial, demolition of churches, and the deportation of missionaries. These practices represent a clear violation of China’s human rights obligations under international law,” said Giorgio Mazzoli, UN Counsel for ADF International in Geneva.

Violations of religious freedom increase

The Chinese government only recognizes religions and religious activity under the control of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA). Any religions outside of these structures are severely suppressed, often including underground Christian house churches. In February 2018, new “Regulations for Religious Affairs” came into effect. Experts see these regulations as an attack on unregistered religious activity, including higher fines and more severe punishments for “illegal” religious activity. As a result, house churches are at the whim of local governments looking to please the State.

“It is time for the UN Human Rights Council not only to recognize but also start to counter the severe violations of religious freedom, and human rights in general in China. As an international community, we have a responsibility and cannot turn a blind eye to the plight Christians and other religious minorities are facing today. China’s violations have reached such excessive levels that they can no longer be ignored,” said Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International.

Reviews and recommendations

The recent review of China’s human rights record took place during the thirty-first session of the UN’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group. This process takes place three times a year and entails the review by the Council of fourteen countries. The review results in recommendations on how to improve their human rights’ record. NGOs are allowed to participate in this exercise by submitting written reports to the Office of the UN High Commissioner’s Office for Human Rights, which can be referred to by the partaking states, as well as by attending the UPR Working Group sessions.

Find ADF International’s submissions to the Universal Periodic Review here.

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Faith-based legal advocacy organization that protects fundamental freedoms and promotes the inherent dignity of all people.