The Bar Human Rights Committee is the independent, international human rights arm of the Bar of England and Wales. It is dedicated to promoting justice and respect for human rights through the rule of law.
BHRC works around the world to uphold international human rights law, as well as internationally recognised human rights norms and standards. We provide expert guidance and advice to local partner NGOs, legal professionals and State institutions.
We support and protect lawyers, judges, human rights defenders and journalists who are oppressed in their work or face retaliations through harassment, persecution, violence or arbitrary arrest, detention and death.
BHRC challenges human rights violations around the world, pursuing accountability and remedies for victims through formal statements and letters of concern, in-depth reports, legal interventions such as through Amicus Curiae briefs, and with diplomacy through mediation.
BHRC improves understanding and implementation of international human rights protections through public and targeted education, awareness-raising, and bespoke international human rights law training for lawyers, judges, magistrates, police, social workers, and civil society around the world.
The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) has today published a new high-level Briefing Paper on the responsibility of governments under international law in relation to the widely reported severe ill-treatment, repression and abuse of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims by China.
The report, “Responsibility of States under international law to Uyghurs and other turkic muslims in Xinjiang, China”, has been endorsed by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC and Lord Alton of Liverpool and has been written by leading human rights barristers in England and Wales who are members of BHRC.
The report provides practical next steps which governments, and in particular the UK Government, should urgently consider. These include:
- Creating and applying Magnitsky-style sanctions on individuals, whether state or non-state actors, where there are reasonable grounds to suspect the person is involved in serious human rights violations in Xinjiang;
- Actively supporting the establishment of an impartial and independent United Nations mechanism – such as a United Nations Special Rapporteur, a Panel of Experts appointed by the HRC, or a Secretary General Special Envoy – to closely monitor, analyse and report annually on the human rights situation in China.
- Using and enforcing domestic avenues of accountability, including corporate accountability relating to supply chains.
- Using those international mechanisms which may be available, as outlined in the Briefing Paper.
The Bar Human Rights Committee regularly produces in-depth reports on global human rights issues. We provide expert analysis of ongoing or historic human rights abuses and situations of concern, connecting detailed in-country research to our expertise on matters of international law.
BHRC’s Trial Observation Unit regularly identifies legal proceedings where defendants’ fair trial rights or the rule of law are under threat. We send international law experts around the world to monitor these proceedings and report back on violations of the prosecuting country’s international human rights obligations.
BHRC publishes widely-shared Statements on a broad range of human rights issues and alleged abuses, often in collaboration with international partners. We harness international opinion, legal expertise and media reach to highlight under-reported human rights violations, bringing them to wider attention, building consensus and evidence, and pushing forward the argument for meaningful remedies.
BHRC issues formal letters of concern in relation to human rights concerns, addressed to those in positions of authority. In doing so, we aim to demonstrate to state authorities that international attention is focused on thei actions, enable dialogue to take place between BHRC and relevant officials (or other individuals), and build pressure for cases to be reviewed and any violations curtailed.
BHRC intervenes in cases around the world, providing expertise on international human rights law to prevent individual injustices and strengthen broader protections in cases where legal precedents could be set.
JOIN THE BAR HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE
The Bar Human Rights Committee relies on membership subscriptions and individual donations to fund our ongoing work around the world. As a member, you will also receive up to date news about BHRC’s work, opportunities to get involved in projects and invitations to BHRC events.
BHRC Membership is open to every practising or non-practising member of the Bar of England and Wales, and all law students (including trainees and pupils) in England and Wales.
Your support enables us to produce statements, letters of concern and amicus curiae briefs in support of people facing unfair trials and imprisonment; send our Trial Observation Unit to witness and monitor unjust or unfair trials wherever they occur; provide international training, support and leadership to lawyers, human rights defenders and civil society groups under threat, and much more.