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Prevention of Genocide and Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders
March 4, 2016

Clustered ID: SASG on Prevention of Genocide and Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders

31st Session of the Human Rights Council

As delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper
U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council

March 3, 2016
Geneva, Switzerland

Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

The United States welcomes the discussions from both Special Advisor Dieng and Special Rapporteur Forst.  The United States reiterates our support for the work of Special Advisor Dieng and Special Advisor Welsh’s offices and, in particular, for the development of the Secretary-General’s Human Rights Up Front Action Plan.  This is an important step to enhance the UN’s capacity to address atrocity crimes, including responding early and effectively to warning signs of serious violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law.  The United States is gravely concerned about the atrocities occurring in Burundi and South Sudan, and would like to ask Mr. Dieng to elaborate on his assessment and work in both situations.

The United States is also concerned about the ongoing crackdown against human rights defenders in China, which has resulted in the detention of at least 317 lawyers and activists since July 2015 – 19 of whom were charged with “subversion” or “inciting subversion” in January 2016.  These actions run counter to the standards of a rule of law society.  We urge Chinese authorities to drop the charges against these lawyers and activists without condition and to release those who remain in its custody.

We would also like to ask Special Rapporteur Forst to discuss his collaboration with Special Advisor Dieng to address early warning signs of potential atrocities.

(end statement)