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Human rights deteriorating in China

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The human rights situation in China is becoming increasingly worse according to new research released by Maplecroft, a UK firm that analyses global risks for business. 

The report released for the International Human Rights Day on December 10th, measures 24 categories of human rights violations across human security, labour standards, civil and political rights and access to remedy.

The indices and maps cover 196 countries and feature the Human Rights Risk Index (HRRI), which provides an overall global ranking of the worst offending countries.

While Afghanistan (1), Somalia (2), DR Congo (3), Pakistan (4), Iraq (5) and Colombia (9) are amongst the worst ten in the HRRI risk ranking, the key emerging economies of China (12), India (16), Nigeria (17) and Russia (18) all rated as extreme risk.

The human rights situation in China has deteriorated since last year with the country falling five places in the HRRI ranking.

It is now rated as extreme risk in 19 out of the 24 violation categories and is bottom of the ranking for 12 of them, including: arbitrary arrest and detention; freedom of speech and the press; freedom of conscience, expression and religion; judicial effectiveness; judicial independence; and minority rights.

However, for businesses with supply chains and manufacturing operations in China, the labour rights categories are of most concern.

China is ranked bottom of 196 countries in the Labour Rights and Protection Risk Index and in the categories of child labour; forced or involuntary labour; human trafficking; and freedom of association and collective bargaining.

According to the report, there is no improvement in the worst performing countries for child and forced labour. Aside from China, India, which has 20-65 million people in forced labour and Pakistan, with two million in forced labour are particularly exposed to these risks in their agricultural sectors.

“The economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China are predicted to drive the world’s economy over the coming years,” says Alyson Warhurst, Executive Chair of Maplecroft and a professor at Warwick Business School.

“But, the results of this research suggest that economic growth is not translating into progress on human rights. Organisations working in those countries have a number of risks to navigate.”

Pakistan features heavily in this section, ranking bottom out of 196 for disappearances and kidnapping and rating extreme risk for torture (10/196), extra-judicial or unlawful killings (8/196), internal displacement and refugees (12/196) and violations by security forces (14/196).

Trends indicate that Pakistan will further deteriorate in 2010.
Human security is also a concern in Russia, which rates extreme risk for disappearances; kidnapping; torture; extra-judicial or unlawful killings; and internal displacement and refugees.

Sources for the report include US Department of State, United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Labour Organisation and the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, amongst many other recognised reports.

The reporting of violations in some countries is poor, therefore Maplecroft includes a reporting environment category to enhance accuracy.

For selected extreme risk countries, the atlas includes interactive sub-national maps illustrating risks to specific industry sectors.

The Human Rights Risk Atlas 2010 has been developed by Maplecroft for international organisations to identify and mitigate the risks of complicity with human rights violations in their operations, supply chains and distribution networks.
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