Chinese activists face arrests, travel bans before U.N. forum: experts

GENEVA Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:25am EDT

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GENEVA (Reuters) - Chinese activists have faced detentions and travel bans ahead of a U.N. forum due to scrutinize Beijing's human rights record, United Nations rights investigators said on Wednesday.

Two of the activists, Cao Shunli and Chen Jianfang, were barred from boarding flights to Geneva to participate in the October 22 session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, the independent experts said, citing reports.

"Activists have been reportedly threatened, arrested or banned from taking part in demonstrations or stopped from leaving China in the run-up (to the review)," they said in a statement.

"These cases seem part of a pattern of increased harassment by China of those calling for greater accountability of public officials, transparency and political and legal reforms," they said, urging an impartial probe of the activists' treatment.

A friend of Cao said in Beijing on September 30 that authorities had detained her. Cao helped stage a sit-in this year outside the Foreign Ministry to press for the public to be allowed to contribute to a national human rights report.

Cao was detained by security authorities on September 14 and her family appears not to have received any formal notification of her detention, the U.N. statement said.

Chen Jianfang has been told she is barred from travelling abroad for life, it added.

The Human Rights Council examines the record of each U.N. member state every four years.

Activists and governments are expected to press Beijing on the detention of dissidents and activists through the use of sweeping security laws and party-run courts to punish critics, as well as imposition of the death penalty.

At its last review in 2009, China accepted recommendations to strengthen its engagement with civil society so as to protect human rights, the U.N. investigators said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Gareth Jones)

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