An official website of the United States government

The U.S. Remains Deeply Concerned about Deplorable Global Human Rights Situation
March 12, 2013

Human Rights Council 22nd Session
Item 4:  General Debate on Human Rights Situations
Requiring Council Attention

Statement Delivered by
Ambassador Eileen C. Donahoe
United States Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council

March 12, 2013

Mr. President,

The United States remains deeply concerned about deplorable human rights situations around the world.  Iran continues to fail to protect the rights to religious freedom and expression. We condemn the brutal, persistent attacks of the Syrian regime against its own people. The DPRK continues to engage in grave, widespread and systematic human rights abuses, including the use of torture and forced labor.

In Darfur, Sudan arms proxy militias and sustains a climate of impunity for abuses.  In Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, the government’s systematic bombardment of civilians, and denial of humanitarian access has created a severe crisis.Attacks on civil society, journalists, and political opposition flout the spirit of cooperation sought by this council.  We join the call on the government by UN Independent Expert Professor Mashood Adebayo Baderin to create an environment of free and open discourse in the constitutional process.

Belarus restricts freedoms of expression, assembly, and movement, and suppresses civil society and democratic political participation, a problem further reinforced by the flawed September 2012 elections.  The government should immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners, restore their political rights, and grant access to the special rapporteur.

China silences dissent through arrests, convictions, forced disappearances, extralegal detentions and other forms of intimidation; has tightened controls on the Internet; persecutes human rights lawyers; intimidates activists’ families; impedes civil society; harasses domestic and international journalists; and limits religious freedom.  A large number of activists are serving long prison sentences, including Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo.  His wife, Liu Xia, has been under house arrest since 2011. Government policies undermine the linguistic, religious, and cultural traditions of its ethnic and religious minorities, heightening tensions in Xinjiang and Tibetan areas of China.  The recent decision to use criminal proceedings against the families and associates of Tibetans who have self-immolated has further increased tensions.

Eritrea still has not accounted for those who have disappeared after arrest.  The government’s severe repression of fundamental freedoms has contributed to large numbers of people fleeing the country.  The government should grant access to the new special rapporteur.

We continue to call on Cuba to immediately release imprisoned American Alan Gross.  Cuba’s security-forces intimidate, beat and imprison Cuban citizens for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of speech and assembly.  Authorities incarcerated Cuban journalists who published reports critical of government corruption, including Calixto Martinez and Jose Antonio Torres.

Venezuela limits freedom of expression, criminalizes dissent, sanctions or pursues legal actions against independent media outlets, and uses court cases to harass media owners’ political opposition members, arbitrarily detains human rights activists, and allows anti-Semitic references in government-affiliated media.

Uzbekistan restricts religious freedom, harasses religious minority group members and imprisons believers of all faiths.  Torture and abuse of detainees by security forces, denial of due process and fair trial, and government-organized forced and child labor in cotton harvesting continues.

Tajikistan’s respect for fundamental freedoms of expression and religious belief continue to deteriorate, as the government has imposed legal restrictions on religious expression, participation, and places of worship.

Thank you, Mister President.