Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
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UN Human Rights Council – 20th Session

Item 4: human rights situations that require the Council’s attention

Statement by Australia

28 June 2012

Australia raised its concerns at the human rights situation in Syria during the individual interactive dialogues yesterday. I will focus this statement on other countries of concern.

In the Pacific, Australia welcomes the recent steps taken by the Fiji interim government towards holding elections in 2014. Australia has offered $2.65 million to provide financial and technical support to the constitutional and electoral processes in Fiji. We remain concerned that human rights — particularly freedom of speech, assembly and the media — continue to be restricted and call for all those restrictions to be lifted immediately.

In our region, Australia is deeply concerned about serious and systemic human rights abuses in the DPRK. We are concerned with reports of the use of torture and execution, and the prevalence of arbitrary detention without access to fair judicial process. We underline the importance of the DPRK admitting the Special Rapporteur and following his recommendations. We urge the DPRK Government to improve the human rights of its people, including by taking first steps such as improving the human rights of women, children and the disabled, rectifying judicial processes and addressing food insecurity and malnutrition amongst its people.

Australia continues to follow developments in Sudan and South Sudan closely. We were seriously concerned to see hostilities escalate earlier in 2012, which reportedly resulted in numerous human rights abuses. We encourage both sides to continue to work with the African Union to urgently resolve outstanding disputes through dialogue and to consider the safety and welfare of civilians in border regions as their first priority.

We are also concerned by fighting in the Sudanese states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, which is taking a heavy toll on civilians. We call on all parties to cease hostilities and allow humanitarian access to those in need.

Australia remains deeply concerned by the human rights situation in Iran, including 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 ethnic and religious minorities, including Arab Iranians and Baha’is, as well as religious converts. We urge Iran to stay all executions, respect the human rights of all detainees and ensure all trials are conducted fairly.