GENEVA, Switzerland, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- There seems to be a pattern in China of the government taking direct action to silence human rights defenders, a U.N. rights committee said Wednesday.
Independent U.N. experts assessing the human rights situation in China expressed concern ahead of the country's review next week by the U.N. Human Rights Council. They said they were frustrated by reports Chinese rights activists were arrested for taking part in public protests or banned from leaving the country ahead of the Oct. 22 review in Geneva.
"Intimidating civil society members who seek to contribute to such an important international dialogue is completely unacceptable," the experts said in a joint statement Wednesday. "Ensuring the free participation of civil society actors, including human rights defenders, and other national stakeholders, in this process is crucial."
The U.N. experts said rights defender Chen Jianfang was barred from foreign travel for the rest of her life. Fellow activist Cao Shunli was arrested in September.
"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," the experts said.