Human Rights Council: 28th Session
Item 4: General Debate
Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention
East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP)
Delivered by Mr. John Foley
Throughout these last two weeks, and the preceding three sessions of the Human Rights Council, this organisation, our partners, and human rights defenders from among our network have delivered numerous statements in this chamber, alerting you to the gravity of the human rights situation in South Sudan. Some have done so at considerable risk. On each occasion, the human rights situation in South Sudan has worsened, and on each occasion, the Human Rights Council has failed to respond appropriately.
Now, after the failure by IGAD to reach a peace agreement at the regional level, the establishment of a sanctions regime by the UN Security Council, and the failure of the AU Peace and Security Council to release the report of its own Commission of Inquiry, the Human Rights Council must act decisively. In September 2014, numerous delegations called on the Council to consider the creation of a special procedure mandate, in the form of a Special Rapporteur, to monitor and publicly report to the Human Rights Council. This is needed now more than ever. The Council must also publicly call for the AU to release the report of its Commission of Inquiry, and unequivocally condemn all acts of reprisal against human rights defenders from South Sudan seeking to raise these issues before you.
Mr. President, human rights defenders working in the context of elections face profound risks on the African continent, as they do elsewhere. We are particularly concerned by the increasing assault on human rights defenders that we have documented in Burundi and Sudan, in the run up to imminent elections.
In February, the African Commission on Human & Peoples’ Rights passed a Resolution calling on African states to guarantee the rights of civil society organizations, including those of human rights defenders and journalists to enable them to conduct election-related activities in a conducive and reprisal-free environment. We call on this Council, its member states, and OHCHR to send a similar message, including a commitment to ensure effective and meaningful follow -up to Resolution 27/24, which recognised the central role of human rights defenders in political and public affairs.
I thank you.