Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


UN Human Rights Council – 21st Session

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

Statement by Australia, 17 September 2012

Australia has raised its concerns at the human rights situation in Syria earlier today, and will address the situation in Cambodia, Sudan and Somalia later in this Council session. I will focus this statement on other countries that require the Council’s attention.

Australia remains deeply concerned by the human rights situation in Iran. We condemn use of the death penalty, intimidation and arbitrary arrest of human rights defenders and political activists, violation of political and media freedoms, and unfair trials. We condemn discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, including Arab Iranians, Baha’is and religious converts, as well as women and girls. We support the work of the Special Rapporteur, and urge Iran to engage in a transparent manner with UN human rights mechanisms.

Within our region, Australia is deeply concerned about the continuing serious and systematic human rights abuses in the DPRK. We are concerned by reports of the use of torture and arbitrary detention, including in political prison camps. DPRK must engage constructively with the Special Rapporteur and permit him to visit. We urge the DPRK to strengthen the rights of women and people with disability and address the endemic malnutrition affecting its people, particularly children.

Australia is encouraged by the Sri Lankan government's release of a National Action Plan to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. We welcome in particular the clear deadlines set out in the Plan. We will remain closely interested in the practical steps to be taken relating to national reconstruction, reconciliation and accountability.

Australia welcomes the steps taken by the Fiji interim government towards holding elections in 2014. Australia has provided $2.65 million to provide financial and technical support to the constitutional and electoral processes in Fiji. It is important that remaining human rights restrictions, including on freedom of speech, media and assembly, be lifted.

Lastly, Madame President

Australia has repeatedly expressed concerns at the continued use of the death penalty, and in some cases its expansion in scope or use, and share the concerns, including in individual countries, raised by the High Commissioner at the opening the Council’s session.