RSF award winner Huang Qi received a closed trial on January 14, 2019, but no verdict was reached. In a statement on published on December 20 by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), following a petition by RSF, four UN human rights experts called for his release. The document noted that the jailed Chinese journalist is in dire health and that his condition would “continue to deteriorate to a fatal point” if he stays in detention, where he is the victim of ill treatment and lacks appropriate medical treatment.
Huang, 2004 RSF award-winner, is the founder of the human rights website 64 Tianwang, which received the RSF Press Freedom Prize in 2016. The journalist has been arbitrarily detained at the Mianyang Detention Center in Sichuan province for “leaking state secrets abroad” since November 2016.
“UN human rights experts’ recognition of the seriousness of Huang Qi’s case, and the pressure it has placed on Beijing, marks a significant step forward”, said Cédric Alviani, head of RSF’s East Asia office. “We call on the international community to continue its pressure on China so that Huang Qi is released before it is too late."
The four experts are Seong-Phil Hong, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Dainius Puras, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.
Earlier in April, the UN Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recognized Huang Qi’s imprisonment as a case of arbitrary detention in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
China is one of the world’s worst places for press freedom. It holds the highest number of journalists in prison, with at least 60 currently behind bars. China ranked 176 out of 180 in the 2018 RSF World Press Freedom Index.