34th session of the Human Rights Council 

Since the creation of the Council CIVICUS has appealed to States present here today to collectively address violations of the civic freedoms which they have all committed to uphold and protect.

Mr. President, while acknowledging the important normative standards and mechanisms developed by the Council to safeguard civic space, we are greatly concerned by the growing number of States’ who willfully disregard and deliberately flout long standing human rights principles established to protect people’s rights to organize, participate and speak out. We urge the Council to exercise its fundamental responsibility and collectively condemn the growing intolerance of independent dissent across the world. We have mentioned already Burundi, Eritrea and South Sudan in ID, but the following examples are indicative of the scores of countries which the Council has failed to adequately address: 

In Cameroon, the government has imposed gross restriction on the rights to free speech and assembly. Beginning on January 17th ,  the Government blocked all access to the internet in the sections of  North and South West regions in a blatant attempt to suppress widespread protests against government policies marginalizing the English-speaking population. 

In Ethiopia, over 800 protesters, including scores of children, have been massacred with impunity by security forces since November 2015 for publically air grievances about inequality and access to land.  

In Turkmenistan, in the months leading up to recent February national elections, the state has stepped up measures targeting those who intent on revealing the reality of life in the country. 

In Bahrain, the Government has continued to target the families of human rights defenders. As recently as last week, Bahraini authorities arrested and detained the Mother and Brother-in-Law of Sayed al-Wadaei, a United Kingdom-based Bahraini human rights activist. 

Mr President, we are greatly concerned that these examples are becoming the norm rather than the exception. We urge the Council to come together and marshal all available resources to develop a joint strategy and approach to help reclaim civic space across the globe. 

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