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Ambassador Harper: OHCHR Plays Essential Role in Monitoring Human Rights Globally
June 13, 2016

Agenda Item 2, Interactive Dialogue with OHCHR High Commissioner ZeidAmbassador Keith Harper

32nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council

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

June 13, 2016


 Thank you, Mr. Vice President.  The United States welcomes this opportunity to hear from the High Commissioner.  We thank him for his unwavering advocacy to promote the protection of human rights throughout the world.

In Russia, there is a growing crackdown on civil society and a deepening intolerance for dissent. The government has impeded the work of domestic and foreign NGOs through restrictive laws.  The government has increasingly prosecuted dissenters and has imposed stiffer penalties, including prison sentences, for political protesters.

We remain deeply concerned by the gross and systematic human rights violations committed by the DPRK.  In particular, the government continues to detain an estimated 80,000 individuals, including children, in a network of political prison camps, where conditions are harsh and life-threatening and prisoners are subjected to torture, gender-based violence, and forced labor.

Mr. High Commissioner, we share your serious concerns regarding the deteriorating human rights situation in The Gambia, particularly the government’s severe response to recent protests and the death of an opposition leader in police custody.  We share your alarm on the reported statement of The Gambian President vilifying and calling for violence against the Mandinka ethnic group.  We call upon the government to conduct a transparent investigation into the death of Solo Sandeng and immediately release those arrested in connection with protests.

In Thailand, we remain concerned by continued restrictions on freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly, the arrest and harassment of activists and their family members, and the trying of civilians in military courts that lack fair trial guarantees.

This weekend’s horrific shooting in Florida reminds us all of a disturbing trend of intolerant discourse by those that advocate violence.  All hate crimes, discrimination, and intolerance threaten the security of individuals and societal cohesion and are unacceptable.  Our thoughts go out to all victims and their families, including those in Orlando’s LGBTI community.

In addition to the High Commissioner’s critical advocacy, his office plays an essential role in monitoring human rights conditions globally.