Item 4: Human Rights Situations Requiring Council Attention

Item 4:  General Debate on Human Rights Situations
Requiring Council Attention
Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Human Rights Council 34th Session

As Delivered by William J. Mozdzierz
Head of the U.S. Delegation

Geneva, March 14, 2017

Mr. Vice President,

The United States remains deeply concerned about the human rights situations in Syria, Iran, the DPRK, South Sudan, Myanmar, and the DRC which we will address in more detail elsewhere during this session.

In Egypt, government actions have substantially diminished opportunities for civic participation.  Civil society, including human rights organizations, struggles in the face of restrictive measures on their operations.  Reports of arbitrary arrests, unlawfully prolonged detentions, and disappearances continue.

We remain concerned about reports of China’s arbitrary detention and torture of lawyers and activists as well as its general ongoing efforts to silence criticism, unduly constrain civil society and religious practices, and deny rights to Tibetans and Uighurs.

We urge Cuba to cease the harassment of independent civil society groups, who are exercising their freedoms of speech and association.

The Venezuelan government should respect the rule of law, separation of powers, and human rights and fundamental freedoms for all; it should free all political prisoners and comply with its constitution and international obligations by holding genuinely free, fair, and timely regional and municipal elections.

In Russia and the Russian-occupied Crimea, authorities increasingly suppress dissent, restrict the media, subject civil society and opposition members to politically-motivated prosecution, and harass members of religious minorities and the LGBTI community.  The new “Yarovaya” amendments to anti-terrorism laws further threaten the exercise of freedoms of expression and religion.

Belarus restricts the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly, and suppresses NGOs, independent trade unions, and political parties.  The government should grant immediate access to the special rapporteur and respect and guarantee fully the human rights of former political prisoners.

We condemn Sudan’s crackdown on political opposition members, human rights defenders, civil society groups, and the media, including through arbitrary detention and the excessive use of force.  We urge the government to release all those arbitrarily detained and to honor its international obligations and constitutional guarantees of freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

We are concerned by harsh restrictions on the exercise of freedoms of religion, expression and other human rights and continued pressure on independent civil society, and media in Uzbekistan and continued pressure on the independent media in Turkmenistan.  We also remain concerned about tightened restrictions on civil society, political expression and media in Tajikistan under the guise of combatting violent extremism.