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Item 2: Interactive Dialogue with OHCHR High Commissioner Zeid
March 10, 2016

Agenda Item 2, Interactive Dialogue with OHCHR High Commissioner Zeid

Delivered by U.S. Ambassador to the HRC Keith Harper

31st Session of the UN Human Rights Council
March 10, 2016

The United States welcomes this opportunity to hear from the High Commissioner.  We thank him for his comments as well as his unwavering advocacy to promote the protection of human rights throughout the world.

In his remarks, the High Commissioner called on the Government of Malaysia to release Anwar Ibrahim.  We echo this call.  The Malaysian Government selectively uses laws to go after its critics and opponents, including Anwar Ibrahim.  The legal process resulting in Anwar’s imprisonment was flawed, and the Malaysian government should release him without delay.

We are concerned about the overall negative trend for human rights in China and focus attention on recent detentions of lawyers and recent reports of abductions of Chinese and foreign citizens, as these actions cross a serious line and call into question China’s commitment to its “one country, two systems” policy towards Hong Kong. Taken together these actions call into serious question China’s avowed commitment to the rule of law and the overall direction that China is taking.

We share your serious concerns regarding the deteriorating human rights situation in Burundi, including about reports of extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, and the existence of mass graves.  These allegations must be investigated immediately, and we strongly support ongoing efforts to address the crisis at the Council and ensure that the government implements its commitments to release political prisoners and permit independent human rights monitors.

We share the High Commissioner’s deep concern about the appalling acts of violence that are occurring in Syria, including what the COI characterizes as the Asad regime’s systematic targeting of civilians, restriction of humanitarian assistance, torture, and the detention and disappearance of civilians.

In addition to the High Commissioner’s critical advocacy, his office plays an essential role in monitoring human rights conditions globally.  Its support for the special procedures mechanisms and other mandates of this Council is a critical part of that effort.

(end statement)