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Item 5 General Debate – Human Rights Defenders | HRC 49
March 24, 2022

Item 5 General Debate

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America

Delivered by Daniel Kronenfeld

Human Rights Council – 49th Session

March 24, 2022

Thank you, Mr. President.

In 2021, more than 350 human rights defenders – from 35 countries – were murdered. Others increasingly face harassment, intimidation, and unjust detention for their vital work.

This tragic trend is playing out on the front pages of our newspapers following Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked war against Ukraine. To prevent the people of Russia from learning the truth about the Kremlin’s brutal invasion, authorities have stepped up attacks, harassment, and unjust detention of human rights defenders and peaceful anti-war activists in Russia.

We have also warned that Russian forces are creating lists of Ukrainians to be killed or sent to camps following a military occupation.

Sadly, the conditions for human right defenders around the world are dire. In Nicaragua, presidential candidates Félix Maradiaga and Cristiana Chamorro and five others were convicted for their activism and criticism of the regime. In Maradiaga’s case, his remarks before the UN Security Council were used against him, and he was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

In Cuba, the regime unleashed repression and imposed harsh prison sentences, including on minors, for peacefully participating in nationwide protests on July 11, 2021.

We also condemn reprisals against human rights defenders in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Cambodia, Egypt, the People’s Republic of China, and Tajikistan.

Against this stark backdrop, as the threats facing those speaking out against oppression mount, it is all the more essential for the world to invest in the rule of law and access to justice. We welcome the report from the Forum on Human Rights, Democracy, and Rule of Law, in particular its focus on making justice accessible to all, which is an essential component to ensuring peace. Finally, we would like to express our support for the essential work of the independent UN Special Procedures Mandate Holders, who continue to shine a light on human rights abuses and violations, wherever they occur in the world, without fear of censure or reproach.

Thank you.