Delegates sit at the opening of the 41th session of the Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, June 24, 2019. © 2019 Magali Girardin/Keystone via AP

Thank you Madam President, High Commissioner,

Today’s joint statement by Denmark on behalf of 29 countries highlights that Saudi Arabia should heed your call, High Commissioner, for the release of women’s rights defenders. We urge the council to keep Saudi Arabia on its agenda – including by creating a monitoring mechanism - until we see an end to the targeting of defenders and dissidents, the release of women’s rights activists and others arbitrarily detained, accountability for past abuses, including the brutal killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and implementation of meaningful reforms.

High Commissioner, your update yesterday confirmed that the horrors identified in your June report on the Philippines continue apace: that there are ongoing reports of extrajudicial killings in the context of the “war on drugs” that have a widespread and systematic character; that human rights defenders, activists, journalists and other critics of the government face increasing harassment and violence; that impunity for the security forces is persistent and obstacles to justice almost insurmountable; and that there is a need for the Council to remain active on the Philippines and pursue accountability. We strongly support your recommendation for the Council to continue the monitoring and reporting mandate of your Office, as the bare minimum credible step that can be taken. Anything less would be a complete abandonment by the Council of the thousands of victims of rights violations in the Philippines and their families. 

We share your concerns, High Commissioner, about China’s widespread rights violations in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. Dozens of states, 50 UN Special Procedures and several hundred civil society organisations from all regions of the world have called for international monitoring and reporting of China’s sweeping abuses. We encourage you, High Commissioner, to exercise your mandate to independently monitor the situation, and report your findings to the Council, preferably – given the urgency of the situation - by the end of this year.

What these three states have in common is that they are all either Council members or candidates. The Human Rights Council should not be a place where violators come to seek shelter, but one where they are appropriately subject to heightened scrutiny of their rights records.