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UN Rights Body should take urgent action to address Israeli abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, China, and EU deadly migration policies

HRW Statement - Item 2 General Debate - HRC52

Delegates attend the opening day of the 50th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, in Geneva, June 13, 2022. © 2022 Keystone/Valentin Flauraud

Mr. President.

We thank the High Commissioner for his update, and look forward to working with his Office on many of our shared priorities.

We appreciate the efforts of the Office to address border policies that put migrants at heightened risk of human rights violations and abuses and the “lethal disregard” demonstrated by many governments around the world.

Last week, we were again tragically reminded of the human cost of such policies. At least 70 people – many thought to be from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan – lost their lives as the latest victims of the European Union’s deliberate policy undermining life-saving search-and-rescue activities in the Mediterranean, which has led to the deaths of thousands of people in recent years. Among them: young twins and a newborn baby. While we again heard empty words of regret, we ask yet again - how many children’s bodies have to wash up on EU shores before the EU addresses its deadly border policies?

We are alarmed by the recent massive uptick in killings in the Occupied West Bank, and by the Israeli government’s expansion of West Bank settlements, which are war crimes under international law. The expedited demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank  for lacking  permits that are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain, is another serious violation of international law. We urge all states to publicly condemn these abuses and recognize the reality of Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians. We call on the High Commissioner to update the database of businesses operating in Israeli settlements, in accordance with the mandate given by [as requested by] this Council.

Finally, Mr. President,

We share the Office’s assessment that the Chinese government’s widespread and systematic abuses against the Uyghur and other Turkic Muslim populations in Xinjiang appear to amount to crimes against humanity.

While we are disappointed by the shameful failure of many Council members to support the initiative last October to convene a debate on the Xinjiang situation, we are encouraged by the clear demonstration of growing international concern and cross-regional support for the initiative.

We urge UN member states to work together to challenge the Chinese authorities’ expectation of total impunity for such severe abuses. We reiterate our call on this Council to follow up on the report, and to launch an investigation into sweeping abuses in Xinjiang and elsewhere in China. This call has been made by hundreds of other NGOs from all regions and an unprecedented number of Special Procedures.

We encourage the High Commissioner to continue to monitor and report on the situation, and to brief this Council on developments and follow up on implementation of the Office’s recommendations.

Thank you.

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