HRC38: Oral statement to item 2 general debate


ARTICLE 19 delivered the following oral statement in response to the oral update of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on 19 June, raising our concerns on freedom of expression in Turkey, Iran, Malaysia and Russia.

Mr Vice President,

ARTICLE 19 urges States to internalise the High Commissioner’s call to “speak louder on violations of human rights”, and that “only fearlessness is adequate to our task”. Too often, this Council sets human rights standards on freedom of expression that its members and observers disregard. This must be addressed.

We deplore the continued onslaught on free expression in Turkey in the run up to Presidential and parliamentary elections on the 24 June 2018. Free and fair elections depend on an informed public: the authorities must urgently guarantee fair media access for all candidates and parties, end the prosecution and detention of journalists and permit the reopening of independent media outlets.

In Malaysia, we welcome the recent decision to lift the travel ban of the cartoonist, Zunar, and encourage the government to ratify the ICCPR, and other core human rights treaties without delay, and lift onerous restrictions of the right to freedom of expression online and offline found, inter alia, in the Sedition Act, the Anti-Fake News Act and Communications and Multi-Media Act.

In Iran, we urge the government to engage constructively with the Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, including by allowing their access to the country.

In Russia, proposed amendments to Article 284.2 of the Criminal Code will target media reporting on matters in the public interest, and violate free expression standards. They must be abandoned.

We agree with the High Commissioner that “only by speaking out can we begin to combat the growing menace of chauvinistic nationalism that stalks our future.” We recall the action plan set out in HRC resolution 16/18, and urge States to revive the Istanbul Process to ensure its implementation.

Lastly, we thank the High Commissioner for his service.

Thank you.