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Human Rights Council 35: UK statement on Item 2

This statement was delivered by the UK at the 35th session of the Human Rights Council during the Item 2 discussions on 7 June 2017.

The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva
The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

The UK is concerned by continued reports of human rights violations in Bangladesh, and urges the government to protect the rights of all citizens including the rights to life, to freedom of religion or belief, and to freedom of expression. Allegations of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances are deeply concerning. The government’s ‘zero tolerance’ approach towards terrorism and extremism must respect the rule of law and international human rights standards.

We are also concerned by ongoing restrictions on freedom of association and expression in Vietnam. We encourage the Vietnamese government to create space for civil society, bloggers and commentators to contribute on matters of public interest without fear of arrest or harassment, and to release those imprisoned for peacefully expressing their opinions.

Turning to Sri Lanka, we urge the government to develop a comprehensive, time-bound implementation plan for Resolution 34/1, including the steps necessary to devolve political authority through constitutional reform and to make the Office of Missing Persons operational.

We welcome the smooth conduct of recent elections in Cambodia and the largely incident-free campaign. However, our broader concerns persist with respect to freedom of expression and the increased use of a politicised judiciary to imprison and intimidate political opponents.

Finally, we remain deeply concerned by the high death toll associated with the “war on drugs” in the Philippines. We urge the Government to investigate all violent deaths promptly, thoroughly and impartially; to assert the primacy of human rights, including in areas under Martial Law; and not to reinstate capital punishment. We further call on the Government to strongly and unequivocally condemn all use of sexual violence in conflict.

Published 7 June 2017