HRC 34 – EU Intervention: Item 2 – Interactive Dialogue with High Commissioner for Human Rights

Geneva, 09/03/2017 – 17:42 – UNIQUE ID: 170309_11
Statements on behalf of the EU
34th Session of the Human Rights Council
Geneva, 27 February – 24 March 2017
EU Intervention: Item 2 – Interactive Dialogue with High Commissioner for Human Rights
Dear High Commissioner,

The European Union would like to thank you for your annual report to the Human Rights Council. We reiterate our full support to the OHCHR, pay tribute to the work to it carries out, and appreciate your speaking out on human rights situations everywhere in the world.

We continue to support and defend the independence and integrity of the mandate of the High Commissioner, advancing the realisation of human rights for all. We remain gravely concerned about critical human rights situations, appreciate the work of the OHCHR in the field, and reiterate our call on all States to engage positively with your Office, including by proactively seeking assistance to address human rights challenges, and by granting your Office unconditional access to their territory when a relevant request is made.

The EU remains firmly committed to the respect and protection of the human rights of migrants in all countries of origin, transit or destination. We stand firmly behind the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants and, acknowledging the multiple aspects of migration that it covers, we will work actively to ensure that human rights are at the centre of the follow-up of the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants in addressing large and/or mixed movements of migrants. We look forward to participating in the first preparatory thematic session to be held in Geneva in May.

We thank you for your attention on Ukraine, including the reporting about the ongoing human rights violations in the illegally annexed Crimean peninsula, and fully support the work of and call for the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission’s unrestricted access to Crimea. We call for the full implementation of the UNGA resolution on the human rights situation in the autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.

We reiterate our deep concern at the devastating human rights situation and the humanitarian consequences of the crisis in Yemen, and underscore the need to resolve the conflict rapidly to avert further deaths and suffering. In this context, the EU believes that granting humanitarian access to populations in need is of paramount importance. The EU recognises the challenges that Bahrain faces as well as the progress made with the establishment of a number of institutions designed to enhance the protection of human rights in the country. The EU encourages the Government of Bahrain to aim for stability through further reforms and inclusive reconciliation in an environment where peaceful political grievances can be expressed freely, and where violence has no place. The human rights situation has deteriorated on many fronts over the past year, in particular cases of revocation of nationality, increased restrictions on civil society and the dissolution of Al Wefaq. The EU calls upon all parties to engage in an inclusive dialogue and condemns the use of violence as a political instrument. We greatly regret the authorities’ recent decision to resume executions, urging Bahrain once again to establish an official moratorium on the death penalty.

We welcome your report on Sri Lanka on which we will comment in detail later this session. The EU remains committed to the full and timely implementation of UNHRC resolution 30/1 to promote human rights, reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka. We also welcome the renewal of the MoU for the OHCHR field office in Cambodia, where we remain concerned about developments including recent amendments to the Law on Political Parties, and the extended pre-trial detention of members of an NGO. Turning to the Maldives, the EU very is concerned at moves to restrict freedom of expression and association, as well as to end the moratorium on the death penalty. The use of the judicial system to target political opponents is a serious threat to the prospect of credible and inclusive elections in 2018. It is essential that the current restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly are lifted in Thailand to allow for an open, inclusive and accountable political process towards genuine democratic transition. We remain concerned about extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and the continued use of the death penalty in Bangladesh. We welcome the progress made by the country under the Sustainability Compact on elements of work safety, but it is vital that further advances are made on freedom of association, that restrictions on freedom of expression are lifted, and that more space is created for civil society.

Allegations of serious human rights violations in Gabon following last year’s Presidential elections, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and arbitrary arrests raise serious concerns. No serious inquiry has been carried out to establish the truth and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice, despite calls by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the preliminary examination at the ICC. The EU supports the foreseen OHCHR evaluation mission on these allegations. Accountability is indeed essential to reconcile the Gabonese people and to contribute to a National Dialogue process. The EU deplores the emergence of outbreaks of violence in all three Kasai provinces and in Kongo Central, which illustrates the potential for further deterioration of the situation which the Democratic Republic of Congo is facing. The EU is concerned at recent reports of serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law committed by local militias in the Kasai region, including the recruitment and unlawful use of child soldiers and the killing of civilians by members of the DRC security forces, which could constitute war crimes under international law. The EU supports the UN Security Council’s call, issued on 25 February 2017, for the government of the DRC to immediately launch a credible and impartial investigation into these events in order to bring those responsible to justice, and would also like an independent international investigative team to be invited to support the process.

High Commissioner,

In conclusion, let me thank you again for your leadership and valuable contribution to the protection and promotion of human rights.

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