Brexit: EU trade rules ‘too complicated’ says expert
A potential House of Lords amendment could be passed with the support of Tory rebels who want to ban trade deals with countries that the High Court deems are committing genocide. Under those parameters, Britain would be unable to reach an agreement with China over its activities in the Xinjiang region where it has been reported Uighur Muslims are subject to inhumane treatment.
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith has hit out at other ministers, describing them as “desperate” to avoid confrontation with China.
Sir Bob Neill, chairman of the Commons Justice Select Committee, has presented an initiative that would put the scrutiny in the hands of MPs rather than judges.
Sir Iain rebutted the proposal while Conservative MPs expect that the result is likely to be “tight”.
The former party leader told the PA news agency: “The Government has constantly stated that only a court can decide on genocide and call it genocide and yet they are blocking any access to the UK courts.
“The Foreign Office particularly doesn’t want to do this because they are worried it will upset the Chinese.”
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The Prime Minister’s official spokesman expressed understanding for the MPs concerns but argued such policy could interfere with trade procedures by “undermining the separation of powers”.
He said: “The government shares the grave concerns about human rights abuses in Xinjiang behind Lord Alton’s amendment and understands the strength of feeling on this issue.
“However, that amendment could embroil the courts in the formulation of trade policy and conduct of international relations and risks undermining the separation of powers.
“The amendment put forward by the chair of the select committee, which the Government will be supporting, addresses the concerns raised by the parliamentarians to take a stand on credible reports of genocide by a prospective trade partner while ensuring a specific duty on government to act.”
The news comes after a group of UK lawyers concluded there is a “very credible case” that China’s purported actions against Uighur muslims could class as genocide.
The opinion body analysed evidence of a number of state-ordered moves against the ethnic minorities, such as birth prevention among Uighurs.
One piece of evidence cited by the group in a letter claimed that Chinese President Xi Jinping “controls the overall direction of State policy, and has made a range of speeches exhorting the punitive treatment of Uyghurs.”
Other top Chinese officials mentioned in the paper were Chen Quanguo, Party Secretary of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and Zhu Hailun, Party Secretary of the Xinjiang Political and Legal Committee from 2016 to 2019.
The letter read: “The evidence reviewed above suggests the close involvement of Xi Jinping, Chen Quanguo and Zhu Hailun in initiating and implementing a range of measures which, taken together, target Uyghurs with a severity and to the extent that one could infer an intent to destroy the group as such.”
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