I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Republic of North Macedonia[*], Montenegro*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, as well as the Republic of Moldova and Georgia align themselves with this statement.
The EU welcomes the oral update by the High Commissioner and reaffirms its strong support for the mandate and independence of the OHCHR.
The EU calls on those in positions of power and authority for the immediate restoration of security and civil order, a return to constitutional rule and the protection and respect for civilian life, dignity and property and upholding of human rights throughout Afghanistan. We strongly condemn the attacks at Kabul airport against persons longing for safety, and especially the terrorist attack by the group ISIS-K on the 26th of August. The EU stands in solidarity with people in Afghanistan. We are deeply concerned over reports of serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations and abuses in areas across Afghanistan. These include arbitrary and extrajudicial killings of civilians and peaceful protesters, violence against civilians, including sexual slavery, force marriage, sexual and gender-based violence, public lashing of women. We are also concerned by the destruction of critical infrastructure. Furthermore, we recall that cultural heritage must be protected. Civil society leaders, human rights defenders, journalists and other media workers, health care personnel, judicial employees and other civilians, in particular women and persons belonging to religious minorities, are increasingly targeted. Accountability for serious human rights violations and abuses and international humanitarian law violations must be ensured and future violations must be prevented. We recall that Afghanistan is a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. We are particularly concerned about Afghan women and girls, their rights to education, work, freedom of movement and protection from all forms of violence. Like all Afghans, they are entitled to enjoy all human rights and deserve to live in safety, security and dignity, have the freedom of movement, and their voices must be heard. The EU will continue to seize the attention of the HRC on Afghanistan. We will continue to strongly support the work of the High Commissioner and her Office as well as other UN agencies on Afghanistan and we encourage the High Commissioner to keep the Council updated intersessionally, as deemed necessary.
In Lebanon, the EU reiterates its calls on the authorities to deliver on their commitment to an impartial, credible, transparent and independent investigation, without further delay, into the cause of the explosion in Beirut on 4 August 2020 in order to bring about the accountability demanded by the Lebanese people. The EU likewise calls for a quick, transparent, and thorough investigation of the brutal assassination of independent activist Lokman Slim and for perpetrators to be brought swiftly to justice. The EU urges political leaders to unite in firm resolve and action against any actors who would use violence and intimidation to inhibit civil discourse or political participation. The formation of a government capable of implementing the necessary measures and reforms to address the economic, financial and social crises is an urgent priority. The EU continues to follow all developments, and reiterates that all human rights, including freedoms of peaceful assembly, opinion and expression, must be upheld. The EU underlines the importance of Lebanon organizing elections in 2022 as required by the Lebanese constitution. They must be transparent and credible.
On Mali, the EU welcomes the lifting of the restrictions imposed on former President Bah N’Daw and former Prime Minister Moctar Ouane. At the same time, the EU calls for the full respect of the Charte de la Transition, entailing the organisation of transparent and credible elections by 27/02/22, which should lead to the reestablishment of the constitutional order. The EU calls for the respect of rule of law and demonstrating through action the commitment to fight against impunity, especially on the serious human rights violations and abuses perpetrated by terrorists and other armed groups and by the Malian Defense and Security Forces (MDSF).
The EU remains concerned about the grave human rights violations and abuses committed by both state and non-state actors in Cameroon, especially in the North-West, South-West and the Far North regions, and calls for accountability for those actions. Civil and political rights continue to be subject to limitations. The EU urges the Cameroonian government and the representatives of non-state armed groups in North-West/South-West to end violence and civilian suffering and engage in an inclusive political dialogue. The deployment of an OHCHR team in 2019 and the enhancement of cooperation between OHCHR and the Government of Cameroon were positive steps. We regret that the report and follow up have still not been made public and call for its prompt release.
We are very concerned about violations of human rights in Cuba, including the repression of the protests of 11 July. This has led to the arrest of several protesters and journalists, some of whom have been sentenced to jail terms in summary trials since then. We unequivocally support the right of all Cuban citizens to express their views peacefully, to make demands for change, as well as to assemble and give voice to their opinions, including on the internet. We call on the Cuban government to immediately and unconditionally release all those arbitrarily detained for the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, to listen to the voices of its citizens, and to engage in an inclusive dialogue on their grievances. We join the international calls on Cuban authorities to grant access to the country to the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, in order to evaluate the human rights situation on the ground. We also call on Cuban authorities to finalize the ratification process of both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The EU has consistently called on the Nicaraguan government to abide by its own commitments, by Nicaragua’s Constitution and by international human rights law and standards. The restoration of an inclusive dialogue and democracy is the only way out of the political, economic and social crisis in Nicaragua. The magnitude of the repression by the regime in the run-up to the November elections is staggering: all dissenting voices have been silenced, potential presidential candidates opposition politicians and journalists have been detained or forced into exile, and many civil-society organisations have been outlawed. The Nicaraguan authorities must put an end to the crackdown on political opponents, independent media, civil society and human rights defenders, and guarantee the respect of human rights and civil and political rights in the country. The actions taken by the Nicaraguan government and the adoption of a repressive legal framework seriously call into question the ongoing electoral process and its results. International human rights bodies must be authorised to return to Nicaragua, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Above all, the EU calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, as well as the full respect of human rights, including civil and political rights, of all Nicaraguan citizens.
On Sri Lanka, the EU stresses the need for continued efforts for reconciliation, accountability and human rights pursuant Council resolution 46/1. The EU regrets the decision of the Government to no longer support the UN framework to address the legacy of the past conflict, to ensure acknowledgements for victims, and to foster accountability, reconciliation and human rights. The EU notes the declared intent of the Government of Sri Lanka to maintain a sustainable reconciliation process, including by ensuring the effective work of the Office for Missing Persons and the Office for Reparations, and calls on the government to implement its commitments in that regard and to guarantee the independence of these institutions. The EU continues to stress the importance of amending the Prevention of Terrorism Act, bringing it in line with international norms and human rights standards. The EU reiterates that a fully empowered, resilient and inclusive civil society, as well as independent media, are crucial for democracy. The EU encourages the government of Sri Lanka to remain engaged with the UN in relation to resolution 46/1, as well as with international partners, and will continue to support Sri Lanka’s efforts in this regard as well as with a view to further strengthen the dialogue on governance, rule of law, devolution and human rights.
[*] The Republic of North Macedonia and Montenegro continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.