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UN Rights Council should address DR Congo, Turkey, and Ethiopia; Greece should not block EU attention to human rights in China

Item 4 General Debate

As called for by 262 Congolese and 9 international NGOs ahead of this session, it is critical that the Council immediately launch a Commission of Inquiry into violations committed in Congo’s Kasai region, providing it with the independence, resources and expertise needed to document abuses, identify those responsible, and ensure justice for victims.

The Council should also address the serious human rights situations in Turkey and Ethiopia:

Turkey’s new political system has centralized enormous power in the president without the checks and balances fundamental to rule of law in a democracy. The referendum introducing it took place in a repressive climate under a state of emergency in place since the failed July 2016 coup. Emergency decrees resulted in the summary dismissal of more than 100,000 civil servants, of whom 50,000 are jailed pending trial. Today, Turkey is the world leader in jailing journalists – over 150 since last July – and charging them with terrorist offenses. They have also jailed leaders and members of parliament from the pro-Kurdish parliamentary opposition – and only yesterday a parliamentarian from the main opposition party – and repeatedly threatened to reintroduce the death penalty.

In Ethiopia, a state of emergency has been in place since October, following a year of protests where around 1000 were killed by security forces, tens of thousands detained, and key opposition figures charged under the antiterrorism law. Restrictions have resulted in a cessation of protests for now, providing a window of opportunity for the government, but there is little sign that they are moving to implement human rights reforms. Ethiopia has ignored repeated calls for international investigations, saying it can investigate itself, but recent investigations by the Human Rights Commission have not met even the most basic standards of impartiality, underlining the need for an international investigation.

Finally, we are deeply disappointed that, in our understanding, Greece was not willing to support an appropriately strong expression of concern at the deteriorating human rights situation in China, a situation that warrants serious attention by this Council, denying the EU the opportunity to address country concerns under item 4 with one voice, for the first time since the institution-building text was adopted ten years ago.

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