36th Session of the Human Rights Council - EU Statement
Item 4 : Human Rights Situations that require the Council’s attention
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The European Union is highly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide and welcomes this opportunity to discuss human rights situations that require the Council’s attention, emphasizing the role of the HRC as an important early warning tool. With regard to the situation in Syria, South-Sudan, Myanmar/BURMA and Burundi, we would like to refer to our interventions in the respective interactive dialogues.
The EU calls on the Government of the DPRK to immediately halt the systematic and grave human rights violations, some of which may amount to crimes against humanity, according to the COI. In line with the resolutions adopted by the HRC and UNGA, we urge the Government to fully implement the recommendations of these resolutions, fully comply with its international obligations and engage without delay with the UN human rights system and the international community.
The EU is fully aware of the serious challenges posed by the terrorist threat to Egypt’s stability and security and recognizes the efforts and commitment to combat terrorism. It recalls the need to tackle terrorism in full respect of international human rights standards and fundamental freedoms, as also enshrined in the Egyptian constitution. The EU also recalls the importance of assuring economic, social and cultural rights that are essential in order to achieve sustainable stability, prosperity and human security. The EU encourages Egypt to improve the situation with respect to civil and political rights, including freedom of association, assembly and expression both on and offline, thereby ensuring space for civil society and human rights defenders. The EU is therefore concerned about the subsequent consequences of the new NGO law. The EU stands ready to assist Egypt in tackling these challenges, taking also into account Egypt’s pivotal role in contributing to regional peace and security. The EU calls on the Egyptian authorities to continue their efforts to shed light on the circumstances of the deaths of Italian citizen Giulio Regeni and French citizen Eric Lang and bring about justice.
The EU reiterates its concern over the human rights situation in the Russian Federation. The strong pressure and restrictions on civil society organisations continue on the basis of restrictive legislation, including the ’foreign agents’ and ’undesirable organisations’ laws. In Chechnya, reported abductions, torture and killings of LGBTI persons earlier this year are still to be thoroughly investigated, as well as many other human rights violations. We take positive note of the intention expressed by the authorities to conduct an investigation and encourage them to ensure accountability and to unequivocally condemn hate speech from Chechnya’s regional leadership. Jehovah’s Witnesses were recently banned on grounds of "extremism", thus significantly limiting freedom of religion or belief. Freedoms of assembly, association and expression are routinely breached, as exemplified by the mass arrests after the 26 March and 12 June demonstrations and the ensuing crackdown on the opposition. Following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, the degradation of the human rights situation continues, while access for international monitoring mechanisms is still denied.
While acknowledging the progress made on a number of areas of social and economic rights, including in poverty reduction, the EU calls for China to abide by its international law obligations, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to respect the rights of all citizens as recognised by China’s Constitution. The EU regrets the death of nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo while still in custody and calls on China to lift all restrictions on family members. The EU is concerned about the lack of transparency and respect for due process in the cases of detained human rights lawyers and calls China to ensure a fair trial for individuals detained for their human rights activities. The EU closely follows the cases of Jiang Tianyong, Wang Quanzhang, Tashi Wangchuk and Wu Gan in this respect. The EU urges China to implement its law on the management of foreign NGO activities in ways that do not hamper the development of independent civil society. The EU also calls upon China to respect cultural diversity and freedom of religion, not least in Tibet and Xinjiang.
The EU acknowledges that the fight against drug crime, including against the drug syndicates, in the Philippines is an important priority for the Government. The EU emphasizes the importance of carrying out the fight against illegal drugs in full compliance with due process, national law and international human rights law. The EU remains deeply concerned about the high number of killings. It is important that all cases of death should be promptly and effectively investigated in an impartial and transparent manner, which ensures appropriate prosecution of those responsible. We further call on the Philippines to respect its obligations under international law and not to adopt a bill reintroducing the death penalty.
The EU welcomes steps taken by Pakistan, including the launch of a national action plan for human rights in February 2016 and the passing of legislation such as the anti honour killing bill in October 2016 and stresses the importance of comprehensive implementation of such steps. Moreover, the EU remains particularly concerned about the use of the death penalty and strongly urges Pakistan to re-instate the moratorium on its use as a first step towards abolition. The EU also has concerns regarding the issue of fair trial of civilians by military courts ; the juvenile justice system, the situation of persons belonging to minorities ; gender based violence, the misuse of blasphemy laws ; freedom of religion and belief and freedom of speech, in particular the recent restrictions on journalists and the disappearances of activists. The EU calls on Pakistan to fully and effectively implement the international conventions on human rights.
On Venezuela, the political, economic and social situation has reached critical levels affecting the human rights of the Venezuelan people. By assuming the legislative powers of the national assembly, the "Constituent Assembly" is undermining Venezuela’s democratic order, constitutional rights and rule of law. The right to food and the right to health have been dramatically reduced. Fundamental rights and freedoms must be respected. Violations, such as arbitrary arrest and trial of civilians by military courts, are unacceptable. The ongoing crisis can only be resolved in a non-violent and democratic way. Full restoration of the separation of powers and the return of the powers to the national assembly is essential.
Regarding the occupied Palestinian territory, the EU remains gravely concerned at the continuous acts of violence and loss of human life, the extensive use of administrative detention, the continued illegal settlement expansion as well as increasingly numerous cases of demolitions and confiscations and their human rights implications. The EU firmly condemns all terrorist attacks, any other form of violence and incitement. The EU is also concerned about restrictions of the freedom of expression by the Palestinian Authority. The worsening humanitarian and human rights situation in the Gaza strip, including the use of the death penalty, remains of grave concern. All parties must guarantee unimpeded humanitarian access to Gaza for humanitarian organisations as well as EU bodies and Member States and fully cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms. Compliance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including accountability, is a corner stone for peace and security.