PRESS RELEASE: WUC Submits to Ban Ki-Moon, Chair of IOC Ethics Commission for Breach of Procedural Rules
On February 26, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) has formally written to Mr Ban Ki Moon in his role as Chair of the International Olympic Committee’s Ethics Commission. Raising its grievance in relation to the failure of the Ethics Office to follow the Rules of Procedure Governing Cases of Possible Breach of Ethical Principles, it calls on Mr Ban Ki Moon to either examine the Complaint himself or to appoint a new Ethics and Compliance Officer to do so properly.
In August 2020, London-based international human rights barrister and head of Lawyers for Uyghur Rights, Michael Polak, was instructed by the WUC to draft a formal written complaint to the International Olympic Committee’s Ethics Commission through its Ethics and Compliance Office as provided by the Rule of Procedure.
In the complaint, which was backed by evidence, and submitted on 13 August 2020, it was alleged that the International Olympic Committee (IOC), its Executive Board, and IOC President Thomas Bach have acted in breach of the Olympic Charter by failing to reconsider whether to hold the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, following verifiable evidence of genocide and crimes against humanity taking place against the Uyghur and other Turkic people in East Turkistan.
In September 2020, the WUC received a reply from the Olympic Games Executive Director, Mr Christophe Dubi, in response to a separate letter sent to the IOC by WUC President, Dolkun Isa making no reference to the Ethics Committee complaint.
Following the submission to the Ethics Commission made on 13 August 2020, a response was received on 16 September 2020 which simply referred to Christophe Dubi’s letter, stated above.
The WUC, through barrister Michael Polak, responded on 19 September 2020 asking why the reply had come from the Executive Director of the Olympic Committee, given that the IOC Executive was one of the subjects of the complaint, and this complaint was directed to the Ethics and Compliance Office for transmission to the Ethics Commission.
The submission to Mr Ban Ki Moon explains that there are clear rules of procedure in regards to the treatment of ethical complaints which have been flouted in this case.
All cases of possible breach of ethical principles must, according to the very specific “Rules of Procedure Governing Cases of Possible Breach of Ethical Principles” first be ‘analysed by the IOC Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, with a view to a possible submission of the situation to the IOC Ethics Commission’. After this analysis takes place, the Ethics and Compliance Officer should have then either submitted ‘the complaint to the Chair of the IOC Ethics Commission’ for an adjudication. Alternatively, if the Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer believed there had not been a breach of the IOC’s Code of Ethics, they should have informed the person who has made the complaint, who could then have asked the Chair of the IOC Ethics Commission to re-examine the complaint.
In the grievance submitted to Mr Ban Ki Moon, it was submitted that in this case, the ‘’Rules of Procedure Governing Cases of Possible Breach of Ethical Principles’’ have not been followed by its Ethics and Compliance Officer, Ms Pâquerette Girard-Zappelli. The officer allowed the IOC Executive, to determine the complaint, thus seriously jeopardising the purported independence of the ethics complaints process by making the IOC Executive a judge in its own cause.
The grievance requests that Mr Ban Ki Moon either examine the Complaint himself or appoint a new Ethics and Compliance Officer to do so properly.
Barrister Michael Polak stated:
‘It is vital that ethical issues are handled with transparency, independence, and fairness. I was shocked at the scant response to our original lengthy and evidence-based complaint, which was to simply refer us back to the IOC Executive Committee, the very subject of our ethical complaint.
The principle that no-one should be a judge in their own cause is one of the cardinal rules of natural justice and an obvious requirement for the fairness and independence of any complaints body. We respectfully submit that Mr Ban Ki Moon, as Chair of the Ethics Committee, should act immediately or risk the integrity of the Olympic’s ethics procedures.’
World Uyghur Congress President, Dolkun Isa stated:
‘The IOC can no longer hide behind ‘’political neutrality’’ to justify its decision to host the Games in a country that is currently committing genocide and crimes against humanity. Real people are suffering from these crimes every day and the Olympics and the sponsors risk being forever tainted with the intense suffering of my people.
The very least we expected when submitting our ethical complaint was a fair hearing. Allowing the IOC Executive Committee to control the process, makes a farce of claims that the Olympic’s ethics system is independent of its executive. I call on Mr Ban Ki Moon to step in immediately.’
Notes to Editors
Michael Polak is an international barrister based in London. He practises in international, criminal, and human rights law at Church Court Chambers. Michael is also a Director at Justice Abroad which helps people who need assistance dealing with legal proceedings overseas and works on human rights advocacy. He is chair of the group Lawyers for Uyghur Rights.
Dolkun Isa is the President of the World Uyghur Congress and Vice President of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO). After enduring persecution from the Chinese government, Isa fled China in 1994 and sought asylum in Europe, and became a citizen of Germany in 2006. He has since been presenting Uyghur human rights issues to the UN Human Rights Council, European Parliament, European governments and international human rights organizations. He has worked to mobilize the Uyghur diaspora community to collectively advocate for their rights.
The World Uyghur Congress
The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) is an international organisation that represents the collective interest of the Uyghur people both in East Turkistan and abroad.