Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific

HRC 40 - EU Statement - Item 2: Interactive Dialogue with High Commissioner for Human Rights

Geneva, 08/03/2019 - 09:07, UNIQUE ID: 190311_22
Statements on behalf of the EU

40th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council Geneva, 25 February – 22 March 2019 EU Statement - Item 2: Interactive Dialogue with High Commissioner for Human Rights

Madam High Commissioner,

The European Union thanks you for your Annual Report. We reiterate our firm support for the mandate and independece of your Office and stand ready to support you in your efforts to promote implementation of human rights norms, standards and principles across the globe, as well as to mainstream human rights across the UN system. We commend your tireless efforts to speak out for the voiceless and agree with you that the human rights agenda is THE prevention agenda. With the latter in mind, the EU wishes to draw attention to the following country situations:

The EU remains concerned about the human rights situation in Turkey, including freedom of expression, arrests of and charges against human rights activists, journalists, academics and members of parliament, and calls on Turkey to protect the rule of law, judicial independence, due process, human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international standards.

As concerns Yemen, the EU reiterates its full support to the UN Special Envoy's efforts in implementing the Stockholm Agreement and calls on the parties to the conflict to fully and rapidly implement these commitments. We stress the importance of upholding international humanitarian and human rights law at all times. The EU reaffirmed its commitment to the protection of civilians and to promoting accountability for human rights violations and abuses when it supported the mandate renewal of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen and technical assistance and capacity-building in the field of human rights as laid out in resolution 39/21.  The EU calls on the parties to the conflict to ensure that access is granted to the Group of Experts to properly perform its duties.

The EU continues to closely follow the human rights situation and the shrinking political space in the Kingdom of Bahrain. We note the conclusion of the 2018 parliamentary elections with an increased turnout, the doubling in the number of women MPs and the appointment of a woman Speaker in the House of Representatives. However, we to the underrepresentation of an important segment of the Bahraini society. The EU continues to urge the authorities to respect the right to a fair trial, the freedom of expression, freedom of association  and peaceful assembly, in line with their international obligations and to insist on the need to refrain from using the country's judiciary for political purposes. The EU reiterates that it is crucial, for the long term stability of the country, to allow adequate space for political dialogue and guarantee inclusiveness of the political process.  

The EU remains concerned about shrinking civic space in Vietnam, in particular limitations to freedom of expression, association, assembly, religion or belief and access to information. Peaceful expression of views is guaranteed by the Vietnamese Constitution and should not constitute a criminal offence. The EU reiterates the important role of civil society organisations as vital partners to provide effective support to vulnerable groups and to promote equitable development.

The EU continues to urge the Cambodian government to take all necessary measures to restore democratic space and re-establish a political environment in which all opposition parties, civil society and media can operate freely.  We would like to see substantial steps for the restoration of democracy and promotion of human rights and the rule of law. The EU reiterates its previous calls to the government to drop all charges against and release opposition leader Kem Sokha, to enable the lifting of the ban on political activity imposed on 118 senior opposition members withouth imposing an artificial deadline and to restore democracy at local/commune level.

Persisting violence and human rights violations and abuses in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon remains a serious concern. The EU calls on the authorities to protect the population, and to grant unimpeded access to human rights and humanitarian actors. It is important that there is impartial and thorough investigation into alleged human rights violations and abuses. Arrests of political opposition leaders and members, and a rise in ethnically-based incitement to hatred is another cause for concern. The EU stands ready to support all efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict and preserve the stability and the territorial integrity  of Cameroon.

The EU is concerned about the persisting use of arbitrary detentions two years on from the violence and repression that followed the 2016 presidential elections in Gabon. We are equally troubled by the lack of independent and impartial investigations on these alleged human rights violations. Democractic space keeps narrowing with limitations on the fundamental freedoms of movement, assembly and expression. We urge the Government to promote national dialogue and reconciliation, based on the respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law and we emphasize the importance of free media and pluralism as indispensable preconditions.

In the context of the upcoming elections in Comoros, the EU is concerned over repeated reports of arbitrary arrests of opposition members and of restrictions on the freedoms of  assembly and association, as well as questions on the independence of the judiciary. Many of the potential candidates in the race for the presidency have been exiled or imprisoned, or have had their candidacies rejected by the Supreme Court. The EU calls on the government to review immediately the cases of all those claiming to be detained for political reasons and to take all necessary measures to enhance the credibility, inclusiveness and transparency of the elections, in order to avoid another period of instability in the country.

Despite the stated commitment of the Government to reform and respect the Rule of Law, our assessment is that the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Zimbabwe remains extremely precarious. Following the increase of fuel prices, triggering violent protests, the repression by security forces against demonstrators, trade unions, civil society, opposition supporters and reports of gender based violence has raised considerable international concern. The EU underlines the urgent need for the government to address the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry set up by President Mnangagwa in response to last August's post-election violence and to ensure that those responsible for the violence in August and the beginning of this year are held accountable. The EU calls on the government to addres the recommendations from the EU Election Observation mission. We reiterate our ambition to support Zimbabwe in implementing concrete political and economic reforms, but for these reforms to stand the test of time they require an environment ensuring an inclusive national dialogue, through which citizens can exercise their freedoms of assembly, association and expression.

Madam High Commissioner,

We call on all States to fully cooperate with you and your Office, and the special procedures, and thank you once again for your dedicated work. 

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