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 - 15th Regular Session

Item 4
Australian statement on human right situations requiring the Council's attention
by H.E. Peter Woolcott
Permanent Representative
17 September

Australia remains gravely concerned by Myanmar’s suppression of the human rights and democratic aspirations of its people. We regret the restrictive political conditions ahead of the 7 November 2010 elections. We urge the Myanmar authorities to conduct the elections in a free and fair manner, allowing freedom of speech, assembly and association. We note there remains over 2,000 political prisoners in Myanmar, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Australia again calls for their release. We urge the authorities to solve Myanmar’s ethnic conflicts non-militarily.

The recent mass rape of around 500 women, children and men in eastern DRC is of deep concern to Australia. Sexual violence is being used as a weapon of war. All parties to the conflict have a responsibility to prevent such attacks. We look to the Government of the DRC to investigate and ensure all preventative and curative steps are taken. We look to UN peacekeepers to fulfil their responsibilities to protect. Australia also remains concerned that the risk of genocidal violence in the DRC is real. Human rights abuses continue unabated. We await the official release of UN OHCHR’s DRC Human Rights Mapping Report on 1 October 2010.

Australia remains deeply concerned about human rights in Iran, including use of violence, intimidation and arbitrary arrest of human rights defenders and political activists, and violation of political and media freedoms. Australia is concerned about use of the death penalty, particularly stoning as a method of execution and capital punishment for juveniles, and calls for the stay of all executions, including for Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. We are concerned about the treatment of minorities, including Baha’is, particularly seven Baha’i leaders sentenced to 20 years’ jail. We urge Iran to respect and guarantee the human rights of all detainees, including foreign citizens; to ensure all trials are conducted fairly and transparently; and to abide by its international human rights obligations.

The human rights situation in Zimbabwe continues to be of deep concern, including the harassment of civil society and human rights defenders, and restrictions on freedom of assembly and speech. Ongoing delays in constitutional and electoral reform threaten to undermine Zimbabwe’s political and economic recovery. We call on all parties to promote good governance and protect the human rights of ordinary Zimbabweans, in accordance with Global Political Agreement obligations.

The human rights situation in Fiji continues to deteriorate under the unelected, military-led interim Government. Rule by decree has eroded the protection of human rights. Public Emergency Regulations (PERs) and tight media censorship curtails freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. We urge the interim Government to repeal the PERs and return Fiji promptly to democracy and the rule of law.