HRC 50 – EU Statement – Item 2: Interactive Dialogue on High Commissioner’s annual report

(Source: EEAS)

Mister President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The European Union condemns Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine in the strongest possible terms. We urge Russia to immediately cease its military actions and immediately and unconditionally withdraw all its troops and equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. We deplore the loss of life and suffering resulting from this aggression. We call on Russia to grant without delay full and unhindered access to humanitarian actors. The EU continues to support all measures to ensure accountability for human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law in Ukraine, including acts that may amount to war crimes, and stresses the importance of collecting, preserving and analysing the evidence relating to atrocity crimes. The EU therefore fully supports the endeavours of the International Criminal Court and the Commission of Inquiry established by the Council, and encourages coordination between all accountability efforts in line with the principle of ‘do no harm’.

It is Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, one of the major breadbaskets of the world, especially for the Global South, which has disrupted global food chains and blocked the export of food from Ukraine towards the rest of the world. Food Security, with a specific focus on the most vulnerable countries, many of which are located in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, remains a top priority for the European Union and its Member States. We are determined to continue advancing concrete responses aimed at full enjoyment of human rights, including right to food, at all levels, including the multilateral level.

The violations of international law related to Russia’s external aggression against Ukraine are mirrored in Russia’s internal repression, where the crackdown on human rights and fundamental freedoms continues to escalate on an unprecedented scale. The EU strongly condemns the systematic repression of civil society organisations, activists and human rights defenders, as well as the unabated crackdown on independent media, individual journalists, political opposition members, anti-corruption activists and other critical voices. We will continue to call on Russian authorities to uphold their international obligations and domestic commitments on human rights and fundamental freedoms. Russia must immediately release all those detained for participation in peaceful protests, as well as those imprisoned on politically motivated charges, including the opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

The EU deeply regrets the continuing deterioration of the human rights situation in Belarus. The scale of the internal repressions is worse than ever before. Human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and civil society members are persecuted and silenced.  The EU calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those arbitrarily detained and for dropping the charges against them. The recent amendment to the Criminal Code, introducing the death penalty for “attempted acts of terrorism”, is very worrying as it may enable further serious abuse. The EU will continues to urge Belarus to abolish the death penalty and, as a first step, to introduce a moratorium.

As to the human rights situation in China, the EU reiterates its persistent and serious concerns, in line with the Item 4 Statement delivered in the 49th session of the Human Rights Council. The EU continues to urge China to abide by its obligations under national and international law to respect, protect and fulfil human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, including Uighurs and persons belonging to ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities across China, especially in Xinjiang, Tibet and in Inner Mongolia. While the EU appreciates the High Commissioner’s determination to visit China, despite the difficult circumstances, we regret that the authorities limited her engagement with independent civil society organisations and human rights defenders as well as access to, inter alia, detention centres and so called political re-education camps in Xinjiang. We would appreciate to receive further information about the terms and outcomes of the visit. The EU calls upon the Office of the High Commissioner to swiftly release the announced report on the human rights situation in Xinjiang as a matter of priority.

In relation to Hong Kong, the EU remains gravely concerned about the repressive National Security Law and the sweeping changes in the electoral system, that constitute a serious violation of democratic principles and political pluralism, and are contrary to China’s domestic and international obligations.

The EU remains committed to peace and stability in Afghanistan and to supporting its people. The EU is deeply concerned about the alarming and systematic erosion of human rights, especially of women and girls, and condemns further severe restrictions to their freedom of movement, education, personal freedom and in other areas of their private and public life. The EU calls on the Taliban de facto authorities to uphold Afghan women’s and girls’ full and equal enjoyment of human rights, and ensure women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation in the political process and all aspects of public life. The EU is also gravely concerned about violence and intimidation against journalists, human rights defenders, civil society, LGBTI persons, and increasing targeted attacks against persons belonging to religious and ethnic minorities. The EU underlines that accountability for human rights violations and abuses and violations of international law must be ensured.

On Venezuela, the EU highly commends the work of the High Commissioner and her Office in Caracas in monitoring and promoting the human rights in the country. The EU remains seriously concerned about continued violations of human rights in Venezuela and calls for human rights of all political and civil actors, including the media to be fully upheld. We support the important work of the FFM in this regard. It is crucial that all parties return to the negotiating table in Mexico with a view to finding a peaceful and democratic solution to the multidimensional crisis, including agreeing on a roadmap towards free and fair legislative and presidential elections in accordance with the recommendations of the Electoral Observation Mission of the EU.

The EU deeply regrets recent developments in Turkey, which increase concerns about the continued deterioration of respect for the rule of law and human rights, including fundamental freedoms and the independence of the judiciary. The targeting of political parties, human rights defenders, civil society, people participating in trade union activities, women’s associations, independent media, 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, human rights and the rule of law. As an EU candidate country and long-standing member of the Council of Europe, Turkey is expected to apply the highest democratic standards and practices. In this context, we urge Turkey to implement all judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

As regards Egypt, the EU encourages the prompt and effective implementation of the National Human Rights Strategy, together with civil society, to promote the respect and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The EU remains concerned about restrictions to civil society space and pressure against human rights defenders in Egypt and recalls the importance of upholding online and offline freedom of expression, media freedom, and rights to peaceful assembly and association. The EU notes positively a number of releases and the reactivation of the Presidential Pardon Committee. We reiterate our call to shed light on the circumstances of the death of Giulio Regeni and Eric Lang and bring about justice.

The EU commends Libya for its cooperation with the Fact Finding Mission and strongly supports the renewal of this important mandate.

The European Union remains deeply concerned about the repeated cycles of violence and loss of human lives in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel. The EU strongly condemned the killing of Palestinian-American journalist of Al-Jazeera, Shireen Abu Akleh, and reiterates its call for a thorough and independent investigation that clarifies all the circumstances and brings those responsible for her killing to justice.

Thank you,

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