Speech on the 22nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council during February plenary

Marietje
Mr President, the need to protect and promote human rights in today’s world is becoming an ever more challenging task. It is essential that the UN plays an effective and credible role, especially regarding human rights, and a lot of work needs to be done. After the cowardly assassination of Chokri Belaid today we are reminded that challenges remain in North Africa and the Middle East, especially in those countries which witnessed uprisings as the people sought new hope, freedom and opportunity after decades of repression and human rights violations. Syria is our highest priority. The violence has to end, full stop. All sides of the conflict must take their responsibility and allow the access of humanitarian aid efforts. We should also work on establishing a UN Security Council resolution to guarantee that the aid reaches people safely. Iran is facing a crucial year with elections and a new round of negotiations on the nuclear file. It is the new role of the UN Human Rights Council and the EU to ensure that human rights are not forgotten or violated to a greater extent than they are today. The special rapporteur for human rights in Iran needs to be able to continue his work, and we jointly need to condemn the arrest of journalists and the violence and executions. On Bahrain the European Parliament has been among the most vocal in condemning the ongoing human rights violations, and I also support the calls by this House to adopt a resolution on the human rights situation in Bahrain during the 22nd session. This would also have to include mechanisms to monitor the implementation of the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI). Finally, in Egypt we risk seeing increased violence as a result of abuse of power, both politically and by police forces, and this is very problematic. We should continue to let the people of Egypt know that we support the rule of law, democracy and human rights, that we will hold their new leaders accountable, and that we jointly condemn the death penalty and call for a moratorium on the death penalty, including in the context of the most recent convictions of 21 suspects in the Port Said massacre.