Bahrain, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)
, Middle East & North Africa
HRC38 | States should lead Council action on Bahrain, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela
At the 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council, ISHR delivered a statement urging States to demonstrate political leadership and to initiate action by the Council on situations of gross and systematic human rights violations.
These objective criteria were developed to overcome challenges of piecemeal and selective action by the Council. However, despite States’ endorsement of these criteria, they are yet to be applied in a systematic and sustained manner to all situations that fit them.
ISHR considers that the situation in Human Rights Council membership candidate Bahrain, together with current Member States China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Venezuela, meet several of the objective criteria. Special Procedures and the High Commissioner have called for action, while the States concerned have obstructed and criminalised the work of human rights defenders and media.
Human rights defenders are particularly targeted by those authorities, including through arbitrary detention, judicial harassment, enforced disappearance, torture, travel bans, and restrictions on freedoms of expression, assembly and association.
‘The Council’s inaction has emboldened these governments to continue to commit gross and systematic violations as they see no consequences for their actions by the international community,’ said Salma El Hosseiny, ISHR’s Human Rights Council Advocate.
In their individual statements during the General Debate under Item 4 on 27 June 2018, the European Union, Belgium, Germany, UK, Switzerland, Spain, Australia, France, Czech Republic, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Ireland all raised their concerns over the human rights situations in the above-mentioned countries.
While individual State leadership on country situations is important, principled collective action is needed to fully achieve the Council’s mandate.
ISHR calls on States to demonstrate political leadership and lead joint Council action on the above-mentioned situations.
‘Principled and collective action by States is needed to send strong signal to these governments that being a Member State at the Council is a privilege that entails more scrutiny of their human rights records, rather than being a shield from scrutiny,’ added El Hosseiny.
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