I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania* , and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.
We thank the High Commissioner for the reports presented to the Council on technical assistance to specific countries. The EU is a strong supporter of the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in providing advisory services, technical assistance and capacity building at country level aimed at strengthening the capacity of States to promote and protect human rights. Technical cooperation is a critical component of supporting States in their efforts, and it has been indispensable in promoting the respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights around the world.
The EU appreciates the responsive approach of the OHCHR to increasing requests for technical assistance despite of financial obstacles and challenges. Therefore, we commend the OHCHR’s active cooperation and dialogue with States, regional organizations and other stakeholders.
We invite States to respond positively to technical assistance and capacity building needs and to cooperate with the OHCHR, when receiving assistance, including allowing the OHCHR full access to monitor and report on the human rights situation on the ground. Against this background we regret the decision by the Government of Ethiopia to declare seven senior UN officials including one staff member of OHCHR persona non grata.
The EU welcomes the cooperation of Georgia with the OHCHR, and the technical assistance provided by the Office. We also welcome the HC’s recommendations and urge for their continued implementation. While we note some progress has been made, for example the adoption of the Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, first legal recognition for a transgender person in 2021 and other, we urge the Georgian authorities to address remaining shortfalls as the report also shows there are still persistent situations that require the attention. We condemn the continued discrimination and attacks against LGBTI persons and urge effective implementation of anti-discrimination legislation and policies. Significant shortcomings are also visible in the administration of justice. It is key to increase the independence, accountability and quality of the justice system through a broad, inclusive and cross-party reform process, including through a substantive reform of the High Council of Justice.
During the reporting period, there was no progress in granting OHCHR access to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened concerns about the human rights and humanitarian situations. Allegations of human rights violations persist, resulting from discrimination based on ethnic grounds, including restrictions on freedom of movement, access to personal documentation and the rights to education and property. We therefore urge those exercising effective control to grant unimpeded access for the OHCHR and other international human rights mechanisms to these regions of Georgia.
On Cambodia, the EU welcomes the technical assistance provided by the OHCHR. We call on Cambodia to fully cooperate with the OHCHR, including on matters pertaining to civil and political rights, and to ensure the safety of anyone cooperating with the Office. We regret that the Special Rapporteur has not been able to visit the country and encourage the Government to grant unhindered access and fully cooperate with the Special Rapporteur as well as all other Special Procedure mandate holders who have requested to visit the country as soon as possible. The EU is concerned about the growing restrictions on civil society and the shrinking of democratic space in the country, including for human rights defenders. We call on Cambodia to ensure political rights, including for opposition members, promote political reconciliation and expand the space for civil society and trade unions, and to desist from applying laws, policies and practices that are in breach of international human rights law and standards and to ensure their prompt revision. We also call for the release of all detained opposition members, supporters and human rights defenders. The EU appreciates the efforts of the Government of Cambodia to fight the Covid-19 pandemic but reminds Cambodia that the global struggle against the pandemic must fully respect human rights.
The EU welcomes the Philippines’ commitment to engage in technical cooperation under the UN Joint Programme signed in July. However, despite this positive engagement with the UN Human Rights Council, widespread human rights violations persist. The war on illegal drugs continues resulting in numerous killings. We call on the Philippines to ensure effective, impartial and transparent investigations and, in addition to national efforts, to cooperate with the International Criminal Court. While the country had made progress on social and economic rights in recent years, the preferred ‘security approach’ to address the COVID-19 pandemic has further deteriorated the overall human rights situation. We hope that the engagement with the UN under the Joint Programme will effectively contribute to improve the situation.
Notwithstanding the encouraging efforts of Haiti’s Prime Minister to broaden the political consensus, the insecurity in the country has been worryingly on the rise, due notably to armed gangs’ violence and criminal activities in the most populated neighbourhoods of the capital. The growing number of kidnappings and killings, and high rates of sexual and gender-based violence, along with inter-gang violence have crippled economic activity in vulnerable areas and caused the displacement of thousands of Haitians. Against this backdrop, the EU remains highly concerned about the degradation of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the country. We call on all stakeholders from the government, opposition parties and civil society – to further engage in a constructive dialogue, which is necessary to de-escalate a complex multi-layered crisis and to prepare the ground for free and credible elections.
The EU also follows closely the human rights developments in Yemen, which we have commented on in detail during the interactive dialogues.
I thank you, Madame President.
* the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.