Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
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Human Rights Council – 17th Session

Item 4 – Human Right Situations that Require the Council's Attention

Statement by Australia


15 June 2011

Australia unreservedly condemns the grave human rights violations and abuses in Syria, including widescale use of violence and arbitrary arrest of peaceful protesters, and thanks the High Commissioner for her preliminary report. Reported torture of children is particularly disturbing and should be urgently investigated. Such violations and abuses may amount to crimes against humanity. We urge UN Security Council members to refer such matters to the International Criminal Court. Australia also calls on Syria to grant immediate and unfettered access to the mission of the Office of the High Commissioner to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law.

Australia condemns absolutely the ongoing violence in Libya. The Qaddafi regime continues to perpetrate egregious human rights violations and abuses against its people, including the reported use of cluster munitions, mass rape and sea mines against civilians. We call on the Libyan regime to immediately cease all such violations and abuses. We support the International Criminal Court’s work in prosecuting those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Australia remains deeply concerned by the human rights situation in Iran, including the use of the death penalty, the intimidation and arbitrary arrest of human rights defenders and political activists, violation of political and media freedoms, and the treatment of minorities, including Bahai’s. We urge Iran to stay all executions, respect the human rights of all detainees and ensure all trials are conducted fairly.

Australia is deeply concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Fiji. The constitution remains abrogated, the judiciary compromised, and the economy underperforms due to serious mismanagement and corruption. Public Emergency Regulations, arbitrary decrees, restrictions on trade union activities, and media censorship curtail freedom of assembly and expression. A former regime insider, Lt Col Tevita Mara, has recently given accounts of torture and arbitrary arrest of political opponents and civil society leaders at the direction of Commodore Bainimarama. We continue to call on the regime to take credible steps towards free and fair elections that will return Fiji to democracy, the rule of law, and its rightful place in the international community.

Australia remains deeply concerned by Myanmar’s suppression of human rights. We continue to follow Myanmar’s political process closely and urge the authorities and new institutions to make genuine progress towards democracy, including by engaging in meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders. We note the commuting of death sentences and call for the immediate release of the more than 2,000 remaining political prisoners. We urge the authorities to resolve ethnic conflicts peacefully.

Australia remains deeply concerned about reports of serious and systematic human rights abuses in the DPRK. The use of execution, torture, beatings and other cruel, inhumane and degrading punishments remains widespread. Severe limitations on citizens’ civil and political rights exist in the absence of fair judicial or administrative proceedings. We urge the DPRK to demonstrate a genuine willingness to improve its human rights record and to engage more positively and openly with the international community.

Australia is deeply concerned by the ongoing humanitarian and security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). All parties to the conflict have a responsibility to prevent violations of human rights, including sexual violence against women and children. We commend the Government for conducting open investigations, and sentencing perpetrators of violence, including military personnel. We recognise this as an important step forward and encourage the DRC Government to implement the recommendations of the Third Joint Report of Seven UN Experts on the Situation in the DRC.

Australia remains deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Zimbabwe and calls on all parties to the Inclusive Government to protect the human rights of Zimbabweans and end the harassment and detention of parliamentarians and civil society members. Australia commends the efforts of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Zimbabwe and underlines the importance of its efforts to facilitate a roadmap to elections.