Item 2: General Debate
Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Delivered by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe
Human Rights Council 24th Session
September 9, 2013
Thank you, Mr. President.
The United States commends the High Commissioner for Human Rights and her office for their important work to safeguard human rights around the world, and we thank the High Commissioner for her statements on recent developments in Egypt. As President Obama has stated, the United States supports a core set of principles in Egypt, as elsewhere: nonviolence, respect for universal human rights, and political and economic reforms that meet the legitimate aspirations of the people.
In keeping with those principles, we have condemned excessive force used by Egyptian security forces against civilian protesters. The United States calls for an independent, impartial and transparent investigation into the recent violence, including the events of July 8 and August 14 as local and international human rights organizations have requested. Accountability must be ensured to prevent these types of incidents from repeating themselves, regardless of who is in power.
We also condemn the many violent attacks launched by extremists against government officials, including the September 5 attack against Egypt’s Minister of Interior. Together, this violence threatens to derail the already-difficult task of reconciling opposing views and building a more stable foundation in Egypt.
We deplore the heinous attacks on churches and other Christian institutions, and call on the Government of Egypt to protect religious freedom and hold those responsible for such acts accountable.
We strongly urge the Government of Egypt to call for an end to arbitrary arrests, the lifting of the State of Emergency, and a stop to trials of civilians in military courts. We expect the government to respect the Egyptian people’s longstanding demand that due process be respected, a standard which is not currently the case in military and state security courts. Given the disturbing trend of harassment and violence against journalists and the banning of some media outlets, the government should also reaffirm and uphold its commitment to freedom of expression, including by journalists.
We strongly urge this government not to repeat the mistakes of the past and to focus its attention on addressing these human rights concerns in a genuinely accountable and transparent way – one that offers Egyptians of all political stripes a seat at the table.
In order for Egypt’s government and parliament to have the legitimacy necessary to carry out reforms and live up to the demands of all Egyptian people, they must implement political reforms, including the adoption of a new constitution and inclusive and transparent elections.
We urge the Egyptian Government to respect and protect the universal freedoms of peaceful assembly and of association and to work with civic groups as they respond to the Egyptian people’s aspirations for a democratic future.
Finally, we were encouraged to hear that Egyptian Minister of Transitional Justice and National Reconciliation met with the High Commissioner, and agreed to host an OHCHR regional office in Cairo. We hope the Egyptian government continues to cooperate with the High Commissioner’s Office in the near future.
Last, we welcome the High Commissioner’s visit to Sri Lanka, where she examined outstanding human rights, justice, and democratic governance concerns. We urge the Government to make use of the UN’s offer of technical assistance in the coming months.
To conclude, the United States is proud to stand with other governments to highlight the continued need to protect the fundamental freedoms of peaceful assembly and of association. This is a critical moment for the governments represented in this chamber and the United States to redouble our efforts to stand with civil society in the pursuit of democratic progress.