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I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia[*], Montenegro* and Albania*, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.
As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, the European Union reiterates its strong commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, emphasizing the role of the HRC as an important early warning tool, and welcomes this opportunity to discuss human rights situations that require the Council's attention. With regard to the situation in DPRK, Iran, Myanmar/Burma, Eritrea, Syria, Burundi and South Sudan we would like to refer to our statements during the respective interactive dialogues.
The EU remains deeply concerned about the continuing deterioration of the political and human rights situation in Cambodia and the escalating repression of the opposition, civil society and the media. The EU reiterates its call for the immediate release of opposition leader Kem Sokha. The enforced dissolution of the main opposition party (CNRP) is a significant step away from the path of pluralism and democracy enshrined in Cambodia’s constitution. The EU reiterates that an electoral process from which the main opposition party has been arbitrarily excluded is not legitimate. The EU reiterates its call for the swift reversal of the dissolution of the CNRP and for the reinstatement of all CNRP members of parliament and CNRP local counsellors. The EU also expects the government to allow civil society organisations to fulfil their legitimate role.
While acknowledging the progress made on a number of areas of social and economic rights in China, the EU is concerned about detentions and trials of human rights defenders and lawyers Wang Quanzhang, Li Yuhan, Huang Qi, Yu Wensheng, Wu Gan and Tashi Wangchuk. The EU urges China to release all detained human rights defenders and to thoroughly investigate reported cases of mistreatment and torture while in detention. The EU is also concerned about the continued detention of the Swedish citizen Gui Minhai. The EU demands that he be allowed to meet Swedish diplomatic and medical staff and that he be released. The EU calls upon China to respect the rights of freedom of expression offline and online, and of religion, as well as cultural diversity, not least in Tibet and Xinjiang.
The EU remains deeply concerned about the high number of killings associated with the campaign against illegal drugs in the Philippines. The EU emphasizes the importance of carrying out the campaign with a focus on public health and in full compliance with due process, national law and international human rights law. It is imperative to conduct prompt, effective, impartial and transparent investigations of all cases of death leading to prosecution in all cases of unlawful killing.
On Venezuela, the EU is seriously concerned about the continued weakening of and non-respect for democratic institutions, the repression of political opponents and the obstacles to the opposition's equal participation in elections. The adoption by the constituent assembly (not recognized by the EU and other international partners) of the "Law against Hatred" risks further restricting the freedom of expression and opinion. The EU is also concerned about persistent arbitrary detentions, reports of extrajudicial killings and widespread violations of the rights to food and to healthcare. The EU calls on the Venezuelan government to uphold people's fundamental rights and freedoms, to facilitate external assistance to meet the pressing needs of the population, to release political prisoners, to respect democratic institutions and to ensure that elections are constitutional, transparent, credible and inclusive.
The EU recognizes Egypt's efforts to combat terrorism and recalls the need to tackle it in full respect of international human rights standards and fundamental freedoms. The EU continues to call on Egypt to respect rights to freedom of opinion and expression offline and online, including for journalists and bloggers, and of freedom of assembly and association and to stop applying disproportionate legislation limiting them and unduly restricting space for civil society organisations. The EU calls on Egypt to continue their efforts to shed light on the circumstances of the death of the Italian citizen Giulio Regeni and the French citizen Eric Lang and bring about justice. The EU is concerned about the recent increase in death sentences and executions in Egypt and calls on Egypt to suspend the issuance and implementation of the death penalty.
The EU, in light of the most recent development, reiterates its call to Bahrain to maintain its commitments as to the respect of freedom of speech and human rights defenders.
The EU reiterates its concern over the human rights situation in the Russian federation. The strong pressure and restrictions on civil society continue on the basis of restrictive legislation, including the 'foreign agents' and 'undesirable organisations laws. The EU calls on Russia to guarantee the freedoms of expression, association, assembly and religion or belief, which are routinely breached. In Chechnya, reported abductions, torture and killings of LGBTI persons last year are still to be thoroughly investigated. Following Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea, the degradation of the human rights situation continues, while access for international monitoring mechanisms is still denied.
The EU is seriously concerned about the human rights situation in Turkey, especially under the ongoing state of emergency, including arrests of and charges against human rights activists, journalists and members of parliament. The EU calls on Turkey to protect the rule of law, freedom of expression, the independence of judiciary and the right to fair trial.
On Pakistan, the EU remains seriously concerned regarding the use of the death penalty, strongly urging the government to re-instate the moratorium as a first step towards abolition.
Regarding the occupied Palestinian territory, the EU remains concerned at the continuous acts of violence and loss of human life, including the four Palestinian minors that died in separate incidents with Israeli forces in January 2018. It is important that all acts of violence and their compliance with international law are investigated thoroughly. The EU firmly condemns all terrorist attacks, any other form of violence and incitement. The EU continues to be concerned about the arbitrary arrests, extensive use of administrative detention, including on minors, the continued illegal settlement expansion as well as demolitions, confiscations and evictions and their human rights implications. The worsening humanitarian and human rights situation in the Gaza strip remains of grave concern. All parties must guarantee unimpeded humanitarian access to Gaza for humanitarian organisations as well as EU bodies and member states and fully cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms.
[*] The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.