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Item 4 General Debate

Item 4 General Debate

Statement of Ireland

15 March 2017

Ireland aligns with the statement of the European Union and adds the following. The full text of this statement is available on the extranet.

Mr President

Ireland already has or will under this and other items of the Council’s agenda address our concerns in relation to human rights in [Burundi, DPRK, DRC, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, the occupied Palestinian territories, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Syria and Ukraine].

In raising the following situations, Ireland has had regard to a range of independent, objective considerations including but not limited to the factors set out in the Joint Statement of HRC32 on preventing, addressing and responding to human rights violations, such as statements of concern by the UN Secretary General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights; expressions of concern or recommendations of Special Procedures; the willingness of the State concerned to recognise that it faces human rights challenges and its response in that regard; its cooperation with the HRC Special Procedures and OHCHR; and access and the environment for human rights defenders, humanitarian actors and the media.

We encourage all States to regard OHCHR, the Council and its mechanisms, including the Special Procedures as a supportive partner in ongoing processes of reform necessary in all societies.

The health of civil society in any given State – and its treatment of human rights defenders – is a key metric to assess the overall human rights environment in any State. Ireland expresses our continuing concern regarding human rights in Azerbaijan. We call on the authorities to release all human rights defenders in detention, drop criminal charges against NGO leaders and employees, rescind travel bans and unblock their bank accounts, in line with its international obligations. We are deeply troubled by the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including unjustified restrictions on the rights to freedom of assembly and association, opinion and expression not in accordance with international human rights law; as well as concern at arrest and detention of large numbers of protesters in Ethiopia. In Bahrain, we are deeply concerned at restrictions on human rights defenders, including imprisonment, and allegations of excessive force against protesters. We further deeply regret the restrictions placed on the exercise of internationally protected rights by civil society actors in Turkey.

We remain concerned at the worsening situation in the Occupied Palestinian territory, in particular recent actions by the occupation authorities to reduce the legal protections available to the occupied population and their property, and to hinder the work of human rights defenders.

In all these cases, we urge respect for the rights to freedom of assembly, association, opinion and expression so as to create and maintain a safe and enabling environment for civil society and human rights defenders; as well as immediate and appropriate investigation of alleged violations, to ensure accountability.

Ireland is firmly opposed to the use of the death penalty, in all circumstances. We particularly abhor its imposition on persons under the age of 18 at the time of their alleged crime or in circumstances where due process is not fully respected.  In that regard Ireland is particularly concerned at the continued and regular use of the death penalty in China, Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as the notable increase in the use of the death penalty across the Middle East region, including in Bahrain, Kuwait and Jordan.  We urge all States to adopt a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, as a first step towards its abolition.

We also express our concern at the alarming increase in extrajudicial executions in the Philippines and urge the authorities to take immediate action to protect the right to life and ensure prompt, appropriate and thorough investigation of all killings.

Finally, Ireland notes that situations of conflict do not give combatants licence to abrogate the rights and protections owing to civilian populations. Further, this Council has a particular responsibility in relation to patterns of violations or gross human rights violations. We are alarmed at the alleged violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan. We remind the authorities and perpetrators concerned that while accountability processes may at times be frustratingly slow, the pursuit of justice and accountability for such crimes is not something on which we or the international community will give up.


Thank you