CIVICUS Speaks at the 17th session of the UN Human Rights Council

17th session of the Human Rights Council
Item 4 Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention15 June 2011

Delivered by Renate Bloem

Thank you Mr. President,

CIVICUS repeatedly raised its concern about the situation in Belarus. Our partners from the ground spoke even last week here about the still deteriorating conditions for peaceful protesters and civil society activists and human rights defenders. We therefore wish to support any strong monitoring action by the Council, including adopting the draft resolution which should help to end the ongoing crackdown, the systemic violations and commit the Government to an urgently needed human rights reform which in particular should lift all unjustified restrictions placed on NGOs and civil society and guarantee in practice freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.

We also ask the Council to end the deafening silence so far on Yemen and Bahrain. Peaceful demonstrations requesting democratic reforms have been met by massive crackdown, including arbitrary detentions and extrajudicial killings. People in these two countries feel abandoned by the Human Rights Council. On 18 March 52 people were killed in Yemen by snipers. The Council was in session and Yemen did not even come to the forefront of discussion. We therefore support the Netherlands for their joint statement.

In Bahrain’s protests started out as non -sectarian, however due to the Government targeting Sunni’s,  they have turned it into a sectarian conflict which risks spreading to Saudi Arabia, Quatar and other countries and destabilize the region. The Council should not wait to act in order to prevent a full fledged military clash.

Finally, the Council should open its blind eyes on Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In light of the stream of information on torture and the ongoing crackdown on civil society in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, CIVICUS calls upon the international community, in particular European governments, to reconsider their policy in regards to Central Asian regimes and to adopt effective measures ensuring that international human rights norms are honored.

Further, following the recent Committee on Torture’s review on Turkmenistan and its concluding observations in which it asks Turkmenistan to permit visits by the Special Rapporteur on torture and the Working Group on arbitrary detention, in conformity with the Terms of Reference for fact-finding missions, as soon as possible, CIVICUS urges the Human Rights Council to appeal to the governments of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to provide standing invitations to all Special Rapporteurs with ongoing access to the country-- first and foremost to its prisons.

I thank you for your attention


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