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HRC 29th Session: Item 4 General Debate
June 24, 2015

Item 4:  General Debate on Human Rights Situations Requiring Council Attention
Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Human Rights Council 29th Session
Geneva, June 24, 2015

As prepared for delivery
Mr. President,

The United States is appalled by the Asad regime’s brutality in Syria, including using barrel bombs, chlorine, and detention. ISIL and Al Nusra Front continue to commit widespread abuses.  We are also deeply concerned about Iran, DPRK, South Sudan and the following deplorable situations:

In Sudan, security forces restrict media freedom and arrest opposition members.  The government bombed civilians in Darfur and the Two Areas, attacked humanitarian targets, and committed unlawful killings.

In China, we remain concerned about increased arrests, detentions, and forced disappearances, including in Tibetan and Uighur areas.  Draft laws could have a chilling effect on civil society. We call for the release of Ilham Tohti, Pu Zhiqiang, Yang Maodong , Gao Yu and Liu Xiaobo and urge the government to drop charges against five women’s rights activists.

We call on Venezuela to allow due process and to respect fundamental freedoms.

We urge Cuba to improve respect for fundamental freedoms, release arbitrarily detained activists, open space for independent civil society, fulfill its commitments to receive visits by special rapporteurs, and provide greater internet access.

We urge Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to stop restricting fundamental freedoms and allow international access to prisoners of conscience.  We call on Uzbekistan to release Mr. Muhammad Bekjanov imprisoned since 1999.

We also call the Council’s urgent attention to recent negative developments in Burundi.

We are troubled about Ecuador’s increasing use of fines and lawsuits against independent media, restrictions on social media, and ongoing attacks on journalists.  Lack of judicial independence leaves journalists and media outlets with no recourse.

Egypt violates freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association, and we are deeply concerned by the lack of international due process standards and other fair trial safeguards.  New investigations of human rights organizations, including the Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies, under Egypt’s restrictive NGO law raise serious concern.

Russia continues to suppress dissent, restrict independent media, and threaten civil society, including by listing 39 NGOs as “foreign agents.”  Russia’s occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea has led to persecution of its opponents, independent media, and members of minority groups including Crimean Tatars.  In eastern Ukraine, Russian-backed “separatists” have committed numerous gross abuses.

In Burma, we are deeply concerned about conditions facing Rohingya individuals.  We urge Burma to grant unimpeded access to humanitarian workers; facilitate the voluntary return of internally displaced Rohingya; and create a dignified path to citizenship for stateless persons.  Despite significant progress since 2011, human rights problems persist, including politically motivated arrests, lack of rule of law, corruption, and restrictions on media freedom.

In the Gambia, reports indicate government involvement in forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and torture, and calls for the persecution of LGBTI individuals.  We are disappointed that the government failed to investigate the disappearance of two U.S. citizens.

Thank you.