Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
Address: Chemin des Fins 2, Case Postale 102, 1211 Geneva 19 - Telephone: 022 799 9100 - Fax: 022 799 9178

Human Rights Council – 18th Session

Panel discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights

in the context of peaceful protests

Statement on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand

13 September 2011

I have the honour to make the following statement on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The delegations of Canada, Australia and New Zealand are pleased to participate in this panel discussion and firmly support the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests. We thank the distinguished panellists for their insightful presentations today. We strongly support the universal right of each individual to peaceful assembly and unreservedly condemn the use of violence and arbitrary killing and arrest of peaceful protesters.

Recent developments in the Middle East and North Africa support the view that the desire for political, economic and social freedom is universal. These events have also highlighted a common desire to express aspirations and grievances through public and peaceful protests without fear of being injured, detained, tortured or killed.

Canada, Australia and New Zealand note the importance of training law enforcement officials and security forces in handling peaceful protests consistent with the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Law enforcement officials and security forces must respect and uphold the human rights of demonstrators.

The human rights in question – including the right to life, the right to freedom of speech and assembly, the right to freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment – are protected in international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture.

CANZ supports the invaluable contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights made by National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs).

NHRIs empower individuals to understand and exercise their human rights, thereby playing a vital role in the development of a democratic society, in which everyone has the opportunity to participate in the political development of their country, including by means of peaceful protest.

We thank the panellists for sharing some of the experiences in their country or region, and we would be interested to learn more from the panellists about best practice activities at the regional or domestic level that improve the protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests in line with international law.