European Union External Action

HRC 38 - EU Statement - Item 4: Human Rights situation that require the Council's attention

Geneva, 27/06/2018 - 14:02, UNIQUE ID: 180627_9
Statements on behalf of the EU

United Nations Human Rights Council Geneva, 18 June - 6 July 2018 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 Country the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia[1], Montenegro* and Albania*, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.

The European Union welcomes this opportunity to discuss human rights situations that require the Council's attention. The EU reiterates its strong commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, including accountability for violations, and urges all countries to fully cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms. With regard to the situations in Belarus, Myanmar/Burma, Eritrea, Syria, and Burundi we would like to refer to our statements during the respective interactive dialogues. 

The EU continues to call on the government of the DPRK to end immediately human rights violations, some of them amounting to crimes against humanity. The EU hopes that the current dynamic on the Korean Peninsula will foster the conditions to achieve important progress on human rights.

While acknowledging the progress made on a number of areas of social and economic rights, the EU reiterates its call for China to abide by its international obligations and respect freedom of religion or belief and expression and the rights of persons belonging to ethnic minorities. The EU is concerned about detentions and trials of human rights defenders and lawyers Wang Quanzhang, Tashi Wangchuk, Wu Gan, Huang Qi, Yu Wensheng, Gao Zhisheng and Li Yuhan and EU national Gui Minhai. The EU urges China to release Gui Minhai and all detained human rights defenders and to thoroughly investigate reported cases of mistreatment and torture while in detention. The EU is concerned about the expansion of political re-education camps in Xinjiang.

We urge Cambodia to immediately release opposition leader Kem Sokha, to take all necessary measures to reinstate the main opposition party (CNRP) and to ensure a political environment in which opposition parties, civil society and media can operate freely.  An electoral process from which the main opposition party has been arbitrarily excluded is not legitimate. 

The European Union reiterates the concerns on the human rights situation in the Philippines, including the death toll associated with the campaign against illegal drugs.  The EU expects the Government to fulfil its obligations under national and international law and regrets the country's decision to initiate its withdrawal from the Rome Statute. The European Union expresses its concern over due process in the recent removal of Chief Justice Sereno and urges the government to protect the independence of the judiciary in the Philippines

Regarding the occupied Palestinian territory, as expressed at the 28th special session of the HRC, the EU reiterates its serious concern over the escalation of violence and the use of excessive force including the use of live fire during the protests at the Gaza fence. We expect Israel to respect the fundamental right to peaceful protest and the principle of proportionality in the use of force while acknowledging Israel’s right to defend its legitimate security interest. An independent and transparent investigation on all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by all parties is needed to understand what happened and why. The Human Rights Council’s commission of inquiry could contribute to this end and we strongly encourage all parties to cooperate with it. The rocket attacks from Gaza towards Israel are also unacceptable. The EU continues to be concerned about the use of administrative detention, including on minors, the continued illegal settlement expansion, demolitions, confiscations and evictions and their human rights implications. The EU highlights the importance of unhindered work of civil society both in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory and follows recent developments in this regard with concern.  

The EU recognizes Egypt's important role for regional security and efforts to combat terrorism and recalls the need to tackle it in full respect of international human rights standards and fundamental freedoms. The EU continues to call on Egypt to respect rights to freedom of opinion and expression offline and online, including for human rights defenders, journalists and bloggers, and of freedom of assembly and association and to stop applying disproportionate legislation limiting them and unduly restricting space for civil society organisations, including through arrests. While taking note of Egypt's positive engagement with UN special procedures, the EU encourages Egypt to shed light on any alleged case of enforced disappearances and 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 and calls on Egypt to suspend the issuance and implementation of the death penalty and address the issue of military trials of civilians.

The increasingly restrictive environment for human rights and civil society organisations in the Russian Federation – as manifested inter alia by the detention of Oyub Titiev - remains deeply concerning. Restrictions continue on the freedoms of association, assembly and expression, media freedoms, freedom of religion or belief and the rights of persons belonging to minorities as well as LGBTI persons (including LGBTI persecution in Chechnya last year which remains inconclusively investigated). The recent presidential elections took place in a restrictive environment, saw limited space for political engagement and resulted in a lack of genuine competition. The human rights situation continues to deteriorate in the illegally annexed Crimean Peninsula, where access for international monitoring mechanisms that respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity is denied. The EU calls on Russia to release without delay all illegally detained Ukrainian citizens in Russia and the Crimean peninsula including Oleh Sentsov.

The EU reiterates its concerns, especially under the ongoing state of emergency, about the human rights situation in Turkey, including freedom of expression, arrests of and charges against human rights activists, journalists and members of parliament and calls on Turkey to protect the rule of law, judicial independence and due process, including with regard to the two Greek soldiers in detention, and protect human rights in accordance with international standards.  

On Venezuela, the EU is concerned about the weakening of the democratic order as recent presidential elections were not free, fair nor credible. The EU deplores the human rights violations as outlined by the independent panel of experts who presented to the OAS on 29 May. The EU calls on the Venezuelan government to take immediate action to address all human rights violations, to alleviate the pressing humanitarian needs of the population and to fully respect democratic principles and rule of law.

On Pakistan, the EU draws attention to the shrinking space for civil society and for freedom of expression with restrictions put on media and continued threats and attacks against journalists, bloggers and activists, and the continuing excessive use of blasphemy laws  as worrying developments in the country's democratisation process. The EU encourages continued efforts towards decreasing the use of death penalty and progress on its planned review.

[1] The former Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.