I have the honour to speak on behalf of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden, member states of the European Union.
We welcome this opportunity to discuss human rights situations that require the Council's attention.
We remains committed to peace and stability in Afghanistan and to supporting its people. We strongly condemn the recent use of violence and intimidation against demonstrators, journalists, media workers, human rights defenders, persons belonging to minorities and others by the Taliban. Accountability for human rights violations and abuses and violations of international law must be ensured. The actions of the Taliban directed against women and girls and the violation of their rights are highly worrying. We expect meaningful political, social and economic leadership and participation of women in the afghan society. We call on the Taliban appointed caretaker cabinet to respect the international legal framework and norms on human rights, including on women’s and girls’ rights.
More than a year following fraudulent presidential elections, the human rights situation in Belarus continues to deteriorate. We strongly condemn the ongoing repression and intimidation campaign against civil society and human rights defenders launched by the Lukashenko regime. Combined with the systematic destruction of non-governmental organisations and independent media, this campaign has the ultimate aim of silencing all remaining independent voices and suppressing civic space in Belarus. Arbitrary and unfounded detentions, including of people belonging to national minorities, unjust persecutions, including denial of the right to a fair trial, and hundreds of documented cases of torture, continue to take place in an environment of impunity. In this context, we will continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all those arbitrarily detained, journalists and those who are behind bars for exercising their rights, including Ms Kaliesnikava and Mr Znak. We will continue to support international initiatives to hold all perpetrators to account, including through the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Accountability Platform for Belarus. We also strongly condemn the regime’s instrumentalisation of migrants in vulnerable situations for political purposes and urge the authorities to stop this practice. This results in an increasing number of migrants in Belarus, including women and children, whose human rights and fundamental freedoms are being violated. This is unacceptable and has to cease. We reiterate our call on the Belarusian authorities to fully cooperate with the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, including by allowing her access to the country.
We remain extremely concerned with the deteriorating situation in Tigray region of Ethiopia and other neighbouring regions in the north of the country. We call for rapid, full and unfettered humanitarian access and full respect of international humanitarian law, international human rights law and international refugee law. We reiterate our call for all parties to the conflict to immediately end the violence, agree to and observe a cease-fire, to protect civilians and humanitarian aid workers, and to cease the numerous grave human rights violations and abuses, including sexual and gender-based violence and ethnically targeted violence and hate speech. We call on all parties to enter a process of political dialogue. All allegations of human rights violations and abuses, as well as violations of humanitarian law, must be thoroughly investigated, perpetrators held accountable and brought to justice, and the rule of law restored. International scrutiny remains necessary. We thank the High Commissioner for her update and look forward to receiving on 1 November the findings of the joint investigation your office is conducting with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.
We are deeply concerned about the further deteriorating human rights situation in Russia. We will continue to call upon the Russian authorities to uphold their domestic and international obligations to respect and ensure human rights and equality before the law. The “foreign agents” and “undesirable organisations” legislation have seriously limited the ability of civil society organisations to operate in Russia. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the assassination attempt through poisoning on the Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny. We call on Russia to urgently conduct an investigation in full transparency and without further delay, and to fully cooperate with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to ensure an impartial international investigation. We condemn the Russian authorities’ decision to sentence Navalny and reiterate the call for his immediate and unconditional release. In this regard, we expect Russia to comply with the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights. Those responsible must be brought to justice. The reinforced restrictive legislations have curbed freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association in Russia and confirm the continuous negative pattern of shrinking space for independent civil society, human rights defenders and independent political voices, as well as the restrictions on human rights and fundamental freedoms. We continue to call on Russia to protect the rights of persons belonging to minorities, including religious minorities and persons in vulnerable situations. We call on Russia to thoroughly investigate the persistent reports of grave human rights violations and abuses and the persecution of LGBTI persons, including in Chechnya. We reiterate our call to Russia that OHCHR and other international and regional human rights observers and monitoring mechanisms must be granted unrestricted access to the illegally annexed Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol by Russia and to areas of Eastern Ukraine currently not under the control of the Ukrainian government. We remain gravely concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in all these areas and the continuing unacceptable persecution of persons belonging to religious and ethnic minorities, in particular the Crimean Tatars.
We remain deeply concerned about the repeated cycles of violence and loss of human lives in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel. The Palestinian population continues to face repeated human rights violations and abuses. The worsening humanitarian and human rights situation in the Gaza Strip remains of grave concern and we call for an end to the closure, full opening of the crossing points, and unimpeded access for humanitarian actors. We condemn the indiscriminate rocket attacks, incendiary balloons and other attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups on Israeli territory and any other form of violence, while recognising Israel’s right to defend itself, and underlines that this right must be exercised in a proportionate manner and in full respect of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. We draw particular attention to restrictions on human rights and call on the Palestinian Authority to uphold human rights in the areas where it is able to exercise control and thoroughly investigate alleged violations. We also recall the responsibilities of the de facto authorities in Gaza in this regard. We recall the importance of unhindered work of civil society organisations, including human rights defenders, both in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territory. Settlements are illegal under international law. We strongly oppose to Israeli settlement policy and activities, including demolitions and confiscation - including of EU funded projects - evictions, forced transfers including of Bedouins, illegal outposts, settler violence and restrictions of movement and access that will only escalate an already tense environment. It is of utmost importance to restore a political horizon towards a two-state solution, develop confidence-building measures, improve living conditions for the people and open the path towards the potential relaunching of the peace process. We are ready to fully support Israelis and Palestinians in these efforts.
On the human rights situation in China, which remains of serious concern, we reiterate our call on China to comply with its obligations under national and international law to respect and protect human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, especially in Xinjiang and Tibet and in Inner Mongolia. We continue to be gravely concerned about the existence of a large network of political re-education camps, widespread surveillance, systemic restrictions on freedom of religion or belief against Uighurs and other persons belonging to minorities, as well as by evidence-based reports about forced labour, forced sterilisation, forced birth control and sexual and gender based violence. We encourage the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to address the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), including through an independent, objective, impartial and transparent assessment of the situation. Furthermore, we call upon UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies, in particular the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, to review the application of the core human rights treaties, including in XUAR. We also call on China to ratify without delay the ICCPR, and ILO Conventions No 29 (including its 2014 protocol) and 105 on Forced Labour. We are increasingly concerned about growing restrictions on the exercise of freedom of expression and media freedom, access to information, intimidation and surveillance of journalists and media workers, as well as about unlawful detention, sentencing and enforced disappearance of independent reporters. We urge China to ensure full respect for the rule of law, to establish fair trial and due process guarantees and to investigate thoroughly reported cases of arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, and harassment of human rights defenders and their families, as well as to discontinue the practice of the Residential Surveillance in a Designed Location (RSDL). We are gravely concerned about detentions, trials and sentencing of human rights defenders, lawyers, and intellectuals, including Yu Wensheng, Qin Yongmin, Gao Zhisheng, Sakharov Prize laureate Ilham Tohti, Huang Qi, Tiyip Tashpolat, Li Yuhan, Wu Gan, Liu Feiyue, Pastor Wang Yi, Cheng Yuan, Liu Dazhi, Wuge Jianxiong, Ding Jiaxi, Xu Zhiyong, Zhang Zhan, Fang Bin, Guo Quan, Chen Jianfang, Chang Weiping, Wang Zang, Li Qiaochu and Qin Yongpei. We call for their immediate release, as well as for the immediate release of EU citizen Gui Minhai. His rights, including inter alia to consular access and due process, have not been respected.
In relation to Hong Kong, we remain gravely concerned about changes to the electoral system and the repressive National Security Law and in particular its lack of safeguards and its extraterritorial provisions. Since the imposition of this legislation, the exercise of fundamental freedoms that were supposed to remain protected until 2047, respect for human rights, democratic principles, and the political pluralism that are central to Hong Kong’s identity and prosperity, have been substantially eroded, especially the freedom of the press and the independence of the judiciary. We urge the authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong government to respect the Hong Kong’s rule of law, human rights, democratic principles, independent judiciary and high degree of autonomy under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle, as enshrined in the Hong Kong Basic Law and in line with domestic and international obligations. This is especially important in the context of the upcoming council elections.
We remain deeply concerned about the widespread violations of human rights in Myanmar/Burma since the military coup. We condemn in the strongest terms the violence against peaceful protesters and civilians, arbitrary detentions and violations of international law and we reiterate our calls for the immediate end of all acts of violence, the immediate and unconditional release of those detained, the restoration of democratic institutions and Government and for accountability for violations of international law, including human rights violations and abuses.. We also call for the swift and faithful implementation of the ASEAN “5 Point Consensus” and for an inclusive dialogue of all relevant stakeholders directed at the restoration of democracy and the rule of law, and we fully support the work of the ASEAN Special Envoy FM Erywan in this regard. We continue supporting the efforts made by the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General towards an inclusive dialogue. Our group also stresses that the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation must be addressed without delay, and unfettered humanitarian access to vulnerable and displaced populations granted. We remain concerned about the situation of all ethnic groups, including the Rohingyas, whose human rights must be respected.
We recognize Egypt's key role for regional security, stability and migration and recalls the need to counter terrorism in full respect of international human rights law. We reiterate our call on Egypt to release all detained human rights defenders, including Mohammed El-Baqer, Amr Imam, Patrick George Zaki, Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy, Ibrahim Ezz El-Din as well as Ahmed Samir Santawy. In the current COVID-19 pandemic, we call for particular attention for all those with health conditions. We recall the importance of the respect of online and offline freedom of expression, media freedom, peaceful assembly and association and the need to stop restricting space for civil society, academics, human rights defenders and dissenting voices, including through assets freezes, travel bans and long periods of pre-trial detention, as well as any acts of intimidation or reprisals. The prosecution against young women active on social media is a cause for concern. It is also crucial that the positive step of adopting the 2019 NGO law and its bylaws is urgently implemented in a way that guarantees civil society to work freely and ensures full respect for rights and freedoms stipulated in Egypt's constitution and under international law. We welcome recent positive developments regarding the case no 173 and we expect the case to be fully closed, enabling all defendants to continue their civil society engagements without constrains. We welcome the publication of the first Egyptian national strategy on human rights as an expression of Egypt's strong determination to uphold its international commitments in the field of human rights. We will closely monitor the implementation of the strategy and emphasises that Egyptian civil society should actively participate in a meaningful way. We reiterate our call on Egypt to address all alleged cases of enforced disappearance and to shed light on the circumstances of the death of Giulio Regeni and Eric Lang and bring about justice. We note with concern the increase in executions since 2020 and reiterates its calls on Egypt to immediately suspend the issuance and implementation of the death penalty. We call on Egypt to also address the issue of military trials of civilians, as well as the issue of mass trials and allow access to court proceedings for trial observation.
Regarding the Philippines, we reiterate our concern about the enforced disappearances and death toll associated with the campaign against illegal drugs in the country and call for effective, impartial and transparent investigations of all cases. We welcome the preliminary findings of the interagency panel review on deaths under investigation and expect these findings to be made available to the relevant stakeholders, including the commission for human rights as well as to take further actions to bring justice for deaths in anti-drug operations. We also urge the authorities to investigate reports of ongoing harassment, red-tagging and killings of human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, indigenous peoples, trade unionist and religious leaders, practices which continued despite the consensus HRC resolution 45/33. We call upon the Philippines to ensure accountability and address impunity at national and international level, including through cooperation with the International Criminal Court. We welcome the Government’s firm commitment to cooperate with the United Nations on the protection of human rights in the Philippines through the joint programme signed on 22 July 2021 and we look forward to seeing tangible results, including with regard to the recommendations of the High Commissioner’s report and the areas outlined in resolution 45/33.
In Venezuela, the we remain very concerned about the continued erosion of democratic principles and institutions, as well as the persistent violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms. We welcome the beginning of Venezuelan-led comprehensive negotiations in Mexico City. We hope this process will lead to the restoration of the country’s democratic institutions and allow for all Venezuelans to express themselves through credible, inclusive and transparent presidential, parliamentary and regional elections. We condemn all harassment, intimidation and arrest of members of the opposition and civil society actors, including journalists, media professionals and local humanitarian workers. We deplore arbitrary detentions, torture, and extrajudicial killing by the security forces, as well as lack of independence of the judiciary and the serious abuse and exploitation of children and indigenous peoples by criminal groups in the mining areas, as reported by the OHCHR. The violations of economic, social and cultural rights, including severe limitations regarding access to food, water, health and education are also of great concern.
We remains concerned about the continued deterioration of respect for the rule of law and human rights, and the independence of the judiciary in Turkey. As an EU candidate country and long-standing member of the Council of Europe, Turkey is expected to apply the highest human rights and democratic standards and practices. We reiterate the call on Turkey to protect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, including property rights of persons belonging to minorities and minorities’ legal entities, as well as universal access to cultural life in accordance with Turkey's international commitments. In this context, we urge Turkey to implement all judgements of the European Court of Human Rights, which are legally binding and to immediately release all arbitrarily detained persons. The targeting of political parties, people participating in trade union activities, independent media, human rights defenders, lawyers and judges, academics, LGBTI persons, members of parliament and democratically elected mayors represent major setbacks for human rights and run counter to Turkey’s obligations to respect democracy, the rule of law and women’s rights. We call on Turkey to fully uphold women’s rights. Human rights are non-negotiable and they continue to be an integral part of EU-Turkey relations.
* This statement was delivered by France. A French version is available at: https://onu-geneve.delegfrance.org/Declaration-Commune-de-26-Etats-Membr...