UN human rights chief has expressed concern about the sentencing of two human rights defenders in China.
“I am very concerned that two prominent human rights defenders in China – Ding Jiaxi and Xu Zhiyong – have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms, at variance with international human rights law standards,” Volker Turk said in a statement late Monday.
Human rights law requires that people not be prosecuted or otherwise punished for voicing their criticism of government policies, he said.
Additionally, it called for respect for the rights to a fair trial and due process as well as thorough inquiries into any claims of mistreatment.
“I will follow up on these cases with the authorities,” he said. “It is important that steps are taken to ensure that other human rights defenders are not targeted for exercising their human rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.”
According to Ding Jiaxi’s wife Luo Shengchun, Jiaxi was given a 12-year prison sentence, while Xu was given 14 years for “subversion of state power.”
She announced it on Monday on Twitter — several months after being tried separately by a court behind closed doors in June 2022.
As part of an extensive crackdown on legal activists, they were jailed individually in 2019 and 2020.