Item 4: General Debate on Human Rights Situations
Requiring Council Attention
Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Delivered by Ambassador Eileen Donahoe
Human Rights Council 16th Session
Geneva, March 14, 2011
Thank you, Mr. President. This session of the Human Rights Council comes as citizens across the Middle East have taken to the streets to demand change. We urge all governments to respect the rights of individuals to peacefully assemble and express their views.
The United States calls attention to the following country situations:
In Libya, the government launched airstrikes on civilians, fired indiscriminately, violently repressed demonstrations, and targeted perceived opponents, resulting in hundreds of deaths. It has tortured prisoners and restricted freedoms of speech, assembly, and association.
Iran uses arbitrary detention, torture, intimidation, and violence to restrict the universal rights of its citizens at home while hypocritically applauding the exercise of those same rights abroad. We call on the Council to create a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran this session.
The DPRK controls almost all aspects of citizens’ lives, denying freedoms of expression, assembly, association, religion, movement, and worker rights. We call on the Council to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for the DPRK.
Syria tortures, arbitrarily detains, and unlawfully kills its citizens, represses political opposition, and severely limits freedoms of association and expression.
In Cote d’Ivoire, we deplore the forced disappearances, targeted killings, arbitrary detentions, intimidation of peaceful protesters who support President Ouattara, including the recent killing of at least seven women in Abobo, and restrictions on the movement of UNOCI. Former President Gbagbo’s actions have pushed Côte D’Ivoire to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe.
Eritrea severely restricts freedoms of expression, association, and religion. Authorities summarily execute individuals attempting to flee military service or leave the country without an exit visa.
Burma holds more than 2,100 political prisoners, strictly controls media and civil society, and discriminates against members of minority groups. We call for renewal of the Special Rapporteur on Burma.
Cuba restricts freedom of expression and association, and uses detention and government-orchestrated mob violence to suppress dissent. Cuba should immediately release all political prisoners and allow peaceful dissent.
In Venezuela, restrictions on civil society are severe and the erosion of democratic institutions continues, with new decree powers given to the executive.
Zimbabwe uses arbitrary arrest, detention, and torture to target political and civil society activists. We urge security forces and political elements to heed recent calls to renounce violence.
China restricts religious freedom, and freedom of expression, including on the Internet. Human rights defenders, including lawyers, face imprisonment. Tight controls on Uyghur and Tibetan language, religion, and culture continue.
Belarus should immediately drop charges and release all persons jailed for efforts to promote human rights and democratic governance. We call on this Council to continue monitoring the situation in Belarus and take appropriate action.
In Sudan, Southerners overwhelmingly voted for independence. The parties must now reach agreement on critical issues including Abyei and citizenship. In Darfur, attacks on civilians, including aerial bombardments, must cease immediately. Violations of civil liberties throughout the North, such as the arrest of peaceful demonstrators on International Women’s Day, must end.