Delegation of the European Union to the

UN and other international organisations in Geneva

HRC 41 - EU Statement - Item 4: Human Rights situation that require the Council's attention

Geneva, 03/07/2019 - 14:53, UNIQUE ID: 190703_9
Statements on behalf of the EU

41st Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council Geneva, 24 June – 12 July 2019 EU Statement - Item 4: Human Rights situation that require the Council's attention

Mr. President, 

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia[1], Montenegro*, and Albania* align themselves with this statement.

The European Union welcomes this opportunity to discuss human rights situations that require the Council's attention. With regard to the situations in Belarus, Eritrea, Syria, Burundi and Myanmar we would like to refer to our statements during the respective interactive dialogues. The EU is increasingly concerned about the human rights situation in Venezuela, including the growing political repression, notably the arbitrary arrests against parliamentarians. We also remain concerned about Nicaragua and we will address these situations in other debates during this session.

The EU is deeply concerned by recent developments in Sudan, especially the unacceptable violence and disproportionate use of force by security forces against peaceful protestors. The perpetrators of such violence must be held to account and brought to justice.

During the 21st EU-China Summit, the EU and China reaffirmed that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. The EU calls on China to uphold its national and international obligations and to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including Freedom of Religion or Belief, most notably in Xinjiang and Tibet. The EU is concerned about the existence of political re-education camps, widespread surveillance and restrictions particularly targeted at Uyghurs, and we urge China to allow meaningful access for independent observers, including for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The EU continues to be gravely concerned about the detentions and trials of human rights defenders and lawyers including Wang Quangzhang, Yu Wensheng, Qin Yongmin, Gao Zhisheng, Ilham Tohti, Huang Qi, Tashi Wangchuk, Li Yuhan, and Wu Gan. The continued detention of EU national Gui Minhai is of serious concern and we call for his immediate release. The EU urges China to thoroughly investigate reported cases of mistreatment and torture of human rights defenders and their families. The EU urges China to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations in its entirety including in the case of detention and sentencing of foreign citizens.

The European Union reiterates its concerns on the human rights situation in the Philippines, including the death toll associated with the campaign against illegal drugs and calls for prompt, effective, impartial and transparent investigations of all cases of death. The EU also reiterates its call for action to address harassment and killings of human rights defenders, religious leaders, lawyers and journalists. It also calls the attention of the government to its commitments under the convention on the rights of the child, in particular article 40 and recalls the decision of the Philippines to suspend the death penalty in 2006 and expects this commitment to be honoured.

Regarding the Russian Federation, the EU reiterates its serious concerns at the overall situation of human rights in the country. Pressure and restrictions on civil society continue to grow on the basis of restrictive legislation. The EU calls on Russia to respect freedoms of expression, association, assembly, media, religion or belief, as well as the rights of persons belonging to minorities and vulnerable groups, including the Jehovah’s witnesses. We urge Russia to follow the recommendations of the OSCE Moscow mechanism to address all human rights abuses in Chechnya including by thoroughly investigating reported cases of persecution of LGBTI persons in Chechnya and ensuring accountability. The human rights situation continues to deteriorate in the illegally annexed Crimean Peninsula. We reiterate our call for the release without delay and unconditionally of all Ukrainian citizens illegally detained by Russia including Oleh Sentsov, Volodymyr Baluh, Edem Bekirov, Pavlo Hryb and the servicemen captured on 25 November.

The EU recognizes Egypt's key role for regional security and stability, managing migration and efforts to counter terrorism and recalls the need to tackle it in full respect of international human rights law. In light of the new constitutional amendments adopted in April 2019, the EU recalls Egypt’s own international and regional commitments with respect to the rule of law and an independent judiciary. The EU recalls the importance of the respect of freedom of expression, media, assembly and association and the need to stop unduly restricting space for civil society, including through arrests and long periods of pre-trial detention. The EU reiterates its call on Egypt to address alleged cases of enforced disappearance and shed light on the circumstances of the death of Giulio Regeni and Eric Lang and bring about justice. The EU reiterates its concerns on the increase in death sentences, particularly those issued for juvenile defendants, and calls on Egypt to suspend the issuance and implementation of the death penalty and address the issue of military trials of civilians.

The EU deplores the violence and loss of human lives in the occupied Palestinian territory and in Israel in recent months. Civilians in Gaza and in the communities in the south of Israel are paying a high price for continued escalations around Gaza. The EU condemns rocket fire by Hamas and other militants. The EU continues to be concerned by Israel’s use of force against demonstrators, and expects the Israeli authorities to respect the principles of necessity and proportionality while recalling Israel’s right to defend its legitimate security interest. The EU is also concerned about the arrests and violence used by Hamas security forces against protesters. The worsening situation in Gaza demands unimpeded humanitarian access and sustainable solutions allowing relief. The EU calls upon all parties to take swift steps for a fundamental change to the political, security and economic situation in Gaza, including the end of closure and an opening of the crossing points, while addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns. The EU recalls its strong opposition to Israel's continued illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, and actions taken in that context such as settlers' violence, demolitions, in particular the pending demolition of the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar, confiscations, evictions and forced transfers. The pending deportation case of the Human Rights Watch director for Israel and Palestine is also of concern. The EU recalls the importance of the unhindered work of civil society organizations, in particular human rights organizations both in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory working towards the achievement of the two-state solution.

Regarding Saudi Arabia, the EU is concerned about the negative trend in the number of death sentences and executions, including in particular the mass execution of 37 people on 23 April 2019 which included minors at the time of the alleged crimes. Arrests of activists, human rights defenders, and prominent religious scholars, prolonged detentions and allegations of mistreatment and torture in detention also constitute causes of serious concern. The EU has noted the temporary release of a number of women activists who had been detained for almost a year, and joins others in their calls upon the Saudi authorities to release the remaining detainees and all of them on a permanent basis. The recent negative developments in the human rights situation run counter to the reforms embodied by the Saudi vision 2030. As to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the EU reiterates the need to ensure a full, credible and transparent investigation as well as due process for the defendants undergoing trial.  

The EU is following closely the worrying human rights situation in Haiti. It is urgent to address challenges to democracy, Rule of Law, and civil society. This is crucial for Haiti’s stability and development. Human rights organisations have denounced a climate of growing insecurity and high number of murders and violence. Accusations of collusion between politicians and gang leaders have been reported inter alia by some organisations in the case of the La Saline massacre. It is important that the Haitian authorities not only provide safety and security for their citizens, notably human rights defenders, but also conduct proper investigations to ensure justice for victims. The EU is particularly concerned by these recent events and expects strong judicial follow up. The EU also calls for an inclusive dialogue to address the deterioration of human rights situation, as announced by the President Moise.

The EU remains concerned about the human rights situation in Turkey, including the protection of the rule of law, judicial independence, due process, human rights and fundamental freedoms and in this regard calls on Turkey to abide by its international commitments.

Regarding Libya, the EU calls on all parties to immediately implement a ceasefire, protect civilians, including migrants and refugees and facilitate a safe and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid in full respect of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Beyond that progress on human rights will require a stable, united and representative government, resulting from the UN-led political process.


[1] North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.


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