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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*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein as well as the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this statement.
The EU thanks the High Commissioner for his update to the Human Rights Council and reiterates its strong support for the valuable work of the High Commissioner and the 2018-2021 Management Plan of his Office, whose effective functioning, independence and integrity the EU will continue to defend. The EU particularly appreciates the High Commissioner’s active and vocal advocacy to address human rights violations and abuses around the world including challenges faced by civil society and human rights defenders in their efforts to promote human rights and his tireless engagement toward upholding and defending the universality of human rights throughout his mandate. We call on all States, including members of the Council, to fully collaborate with the OHCHR, as well with the Council’s Special Procedures, including by ensuring that mandate holders have unhindered access to individuals and civil society.
The EU attaches great value to the important role of civil society actors, whose contributions are vital to the work of this Council. We will work to ensure that their voices continue to be heard by promoting a safe and enabling environment for all those who work for the defence of human rights. We firmly condemn all reprisals and ask the President and the Bureau to take all necessary measures to prevent them and to ensure full accountability for such actions.
The European Union is highly committed to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of human rights worldwide and welcomes this opportunity to discuss human rights situations in various parts of the world.
The human rights situation in Sudan constitutes a continuing worry for the European Union. The absence of independent media, intensified restrictions on civil society, harassment and arbitrary detention of human rights defenders, political activists and journalists as well as the lack of accountability for perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses remain commonplace in Sudan. The EU urges the authorities to respect the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, association and peaceful assembly, in compliance with international human rights law. The EU also calls on the Sudanese Government to take the necessary steps to ratify and implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT). The EU remains in favour of independent monitoring and reporting on the human rights situation in Sudan, including by extending the mandate of the Independent Expert.
The legislative elections in Gabon, now postponed for the third time, should contribute to the reconciliation of the Gabonese people, following the contested presidential elections of August 2016 and the post-electoral violence which has never been the object of an investigation by the authorities. The elections are essential in a context where human rights and fundamental freedoms remain under pressure, with limited freedom of movement for Gabonese citizens and deteriorating pre-trial detention conditions, exceeding legal deadlines and contradicting the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review.
The escalation of violence in the North West and South West provinces of Cameroon over the past months has forced over 160,000 Cameroonians to leave their homes according to UN estimates. While strongly condemning the violent attacks by all parties targeting State representatives, security forces and civilians the EU calls upon President Biya and the authorities not to spare any effort to de-escalate the conflict and engage in dialogue with a view to finding a lasting solution to the crisis, as well as to ensure the protection of civilians. The EU also stresses the importance of conducting an impartial and thorough investigation into alleged human rights violations and abuses. The EU appeals to the Government to grant unimpeded access for the United Nations Human Rights Council as well as other human rights and humanitarian actors, including access to the 47 Anglophone detainees.
The EU remains deeply concerned by the threats to democracy and fundamental freedoms in the Maldives, calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners and urges the Government of the Maldives to engage with the leaders of the opposition in a genuine dialogue that paves the way for credible, transparent and inclusive presidential elections.
The EU is concerned about the problems encountered in the exercise of civil and political rights in Vietnam, in particular related to freedom of opinion, expression, association, assembly, religion or belief and access to information, and reiterates its call for all Vietnamese citizens detained for peacefully expressing their opinions to be released. The EU highlights the crucial role of civil society organisations in mobilising support for those in vulnerable situations, in fostering innovation and prosperity, and in enhancing public service delivery and sustainable governance.
The EU is concerned about the continuing deterioration of the human rights situation and the shrinking of political space in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The EU calls upon the authorities to respect freedom of opinion and expression, including for human rights defenders, as well as the freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to a fair trial. The upcoming 2018 parliamentary elections will be an important milestone and the adoption on 11 June 2018 of an amendment to the law regulating the exercise of political rights, which narrows further the political space in in the country, is not a step in the right direction.
The EU has been following closely the situation of several human rights defenders, including a group of prominent women activists, arrested in Saudi Arabia in recent weeks. The EU expresses its concerns regarding these detentions and the specific accusations brought against the detainees. Most of the arrested human rights defenders have been promoting women's full enjoyment of human rights and empowerment in the country for many years. These developments do not appear to be consistent with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and recent commitments by the Saudi leadership to women's empowerment.
The EU remains deeply concerned about the disturbing human rights situation and the humanitarian consequences of the ongoing conflict in Yemen. To avert further deaths and suffering we reiterate our call on the parties to agree on the modalities for a durable Cessation of Hostilities. It is vital that all parties support without preconditions the efforts of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General, Mr. Martin Griffiths, to achieve a political settlement. There can be no military solution to the conflict. The EU calls on all parties to grant full humanitarian access and to ensure the delivery of life-saving assistance to all populations in need and to comply with international humanitarian law. The EU continues to support the mandate of the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts to carry out its investigation of all alleged violations and abuses of human rights and other appropriate and applicable fields of international law committed by all parties to the conflict. Accountability is important for any post-conflict reconciliation in Yemen.
On a different note, the EU welcomes the overall progress in advancing respect for human rights in Sri Lanka but there is now limited time to fulfil the commitments made in resolution 30/1 by the deadline of March 2019. It is vital for the Government to use this opportunity to put in place a lasting and durable foundation for national reconciliation.
In conclusion, we would like to once again thank the High Commissioner and the dedicated staff of his Office for the support provided to the Human Rights Council. We remain fully committed to supporting their valuable work and stand ready to work closely with the Council in addressing the challenges that lie ahead.
Thank you, Mr. President.
 The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.