Speech/statement | Date: 22/09/2009
Norway's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Bente Angell-Hansen, criticized the human rights' situation in Iran, Burma, Afghanistan, Kenya, Sudan and the DR Congo in her statement at the UN Human Rights Council.
Thank you Mr President,
The promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms is a priority objective of the UN and a legitimate concern of the international community. Norway views agenda item 4 as an important part of the mandate of the Human Rights Council and appreciates this opportunity to address the situation of human rights on the ground.
Norway is deeply concerned regarding the continued detention and imprisonment of peaceful demonstrators, opposition politicians and journalists in Iran. We urge the Iranian authorities to release these persons from prison.
We are furthermore concerned about the continued closure of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders, and encourage Iranian authorities to allow human rights defenders to work freely.
We note that the authorities have established two commissions to investigate the reports of torture and deaths in prison. In this context we strongly encourage Iran to stand by its commitment and to facilitate the requested visits of the special procedures mandate holders of the Human Rights Council. A constructive cooperation between UN member states and the Human Rights Council is in our view key to effective promotion and protection of Human Rights.
Norway condemns the gross and systematic violations of human rights in Myanmar. We were dismayed by the recent verdict against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and strongly encourage the government to start an inclusive dialogue with all political forces. The 2010 elections must be fair and free. This requires the immediate and unconditional release of detained human rights defenders, democracy activists and other political prisoners.
The human rights situation in Kenya remains a concern. Numerous reports have documented a pattern of human rights violations where state security agencies are the perpetrators. This includes the Government’s own Waki-commission report. We appreciate that Kenya has expressed its commitment to reform the security sector and institutionally deal with the culture of impunity and we recognize some first positive steps. Further action is needed. Kenya’s Joint Task Force on Police Reform needs to complete its work. And the Government should follow up and act upon the Waki-report and the Alston-report. A comprehensive reform in the security sector would prove to the world that Kenya addresses the culture of impunity.
It was an important step for the Afghan democracy that the elections actually took place as scheduled. Yet, the current post-election phase is demanding and illustrates that democracy is a long and cumbersome process. Norway is deeply worried about the massive allegations of fraud during the election process. It is vital that the Independent Election Commission and the Election Complaints Commission fulfil their tasks in accordance with Afghan law, so that the final outcome gains legitimacy.
§ 131 of the Afghan Constitution contains several articles that discriminate against women. We have urged the Afghanistan government to change the articles that violate the Afghan Constitution and several UN resolutions that Afghanistan has adopted. My government will continue to follow closely the development on this matter.
We welcome the improvements in the security situation in Darfur. Still, the protection of IDPs and civilians remains an important challenge. Gender-based violence does still occur undeterred and remain a crucial challenge for The Government of Sudan and the international community. We urge Sudan to fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court. We believe that no sustainable peace can be built on a foundation of continued impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole.
The respect for fundamental human and political rights of all the Sudanese people is one of the key principles in Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Consistent and intensified efforts are needed in order to ensure that these principles are fully respected towards the end of the interim period. The success of the planned national elections in April 2010 and the 2011 referendum on South Sudan’s right to self-determination is conditional on a stable and secure environment, a free press and freedom of speech and association. In this regard, we welcome the recent adoption of the Criminal Procedures Act and the Press and Printed Material Act. We hope to see other pending legislation, including the National Security Act, being adopted when parliament returns in October.
The Human Rights situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo is a cause of grave concern. The situation is characterized by a climate of impunity, enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment and torture of civilians. Sexual violence remains widespread.
The atrocities committed against women in DRC must be firmly condemned and stopped. The main responsibility lies with the conflicting parties themselves. The world community also have a moral obligation to act. Obligations follow from UNSCR 1325 on women, peace and security, and UNSCR 1820 condemning sexual violence against women and children as a war crime.
The Government of DRC must take necessary action and the international community must assist. Rapists and perpetrators of sexual violence against women and girls must be held accountable and punished. Military commanders must be held accountable for the behaviour of their troops. Sexual violence, harassment and abuse must be countered with unambiguous standards of zero tolerance.