An International human rights group is pressuring the Trudeau government to punish individuals responsible for broadcasting forced confessions in mainland China.
The confessions are made available for viewing in Canada and are broadcast by Chinese state-run media.
A complaint was made by a human rights organization called Safeguard Defenders who are based in both Europe and Hong Kong. The organization is asking for the people involved in broadcasting the confessions to be punished. The complaint was filed with Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission.
Safeguard Defenders executive director, Peter Dahlin told The Toronto Star, “We believe that the violations are severe enough that their licence should be pulled.”
Dahlin had a forced confession of his own broadcast in 2016 on Chinese television. His confession came after he was detained in China for over three weeks.
The complaint is aimed at China Global Television Network. They are a Chinese government-owned international television station. Canada has access to the network through digital service.
According to Dahlin there has been close to 100 forced confessions broadcast by the Chinese media. Close to half of these confessions were broadcast in Canada. Dahlin believes that this violates Canadian broadcast standards.
He also wants the prior China Central Television president Nie Chenxi to be sanctioned along with Dong Qian, a Chinese television journalist. Dahlin wants them sanctioned for their involvement with the confessions. China Central Television oversees the China Global Television Network.
The sanctions fall under Magnitsky law, or the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials act. Dahlin believes that they could possibly be deprived of their broadcast licence with force from Canadian regulators.
Dahlin noted, “This is not about censoring Chinese media,” he added in his comments to the Star, “We do believe China should be held to the same standards as everyone else.”
He also said that coercion or torture are among the ways confessions are acquired.
According to Dahlin, his organization is convinced that the detained Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig’s confessions would also have been broadcast if it was not for a previous investigation by the United Kingdom.
“It is almost certain both Michaels would have been on TV attacking the Canadian government and being used as a foreign policy tool,” he said. “That’s how powerful these kind of administrative regulatory bodies can be.”
Dahlin said that when he was detained he was kept in a padded room. He was guarded by two men. He also added that he could hear fellow prisoners being beaten while he was there.
It was only after he agreed to a broadcast confession that Dahlin was allowed to be released.