President Donald Trump has signed a new law enabling the US to bring sanctions against any Chinese officials who are involved in the detention of Uyghur Muslims.
Experts believe that China may be holding around 1 million Uyghurs in purpose-built detention 're-education camps', where they are indoctrinated with communist ideals, encouraged to devote themselves to the Chinese state and systematically stripped of their religious identity. Many witnesses have reported that inmates are often subject to torture and mistreatment. The Chinese authorities, however, insist that they are combatting terrorism and providing vital vocational training to the Uyghur people for the purpose of integrating them into society.
Trump signed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 on Wednesday after it was passed by the US House of Representatives on 27 May by a vote of 413-1. The Trump administration will be tasked with identifying and sanctioning any individuals deemed responsible for persecuting Uyghurs by blocking assets and declaring them ineligible for visas or admission to the US. In a statement, Trump did, however, note that the new law “purports to limit” his discretion to terminate sanctions and therefore that his administration will treat that provision as “non-binding.”
“In some circumstances, this limitation could be inconsistent with my constitutional authorities to receive as diplomatic representatives certain foreign officials under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution.
“My Administration will make appropriate efforts to comply with section 6(g) of the Act by notifying the relevant congressional committees before terminating sanctions with respect to a person under the Act, but it will not treat the provision's requirement for advance notice as binding to the extent that it interferes with the President's conduct of diplomacy.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “CSW welcomes the signing into law of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, which has the potential to facilitate greater scrutiny of the ongoing human rights crisis in the XUAR. The situation in the region is an horrific example of China’s extensive and flagrant violation of human rights. The US must take this opportunity to hold to account those responsible for egregious human rights violations in the XUAR. We urge other members of the international community to also take steps to apply pressure on China and stand up for Uyghurs and other victims of violations of human rights in the country.”