Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


Human Rights Council 16th Session

Item 4 – Human Right Situations Requiring the Council's Attention

Statement by Australia
14 March 2011

Australia condemns in the strongest possible terms the ongoing violence in Libya. The Gaddafi regime is flagrantly violating Libya’s international human rights obligations and ignoring the responsibility to protect its own population. His regime continues to deploy lethal force against the Libyan people, including its air force, in an effort to cling to power. We welcome the General Assembly’s decision to suspend Libya’s membership of this Council, and we call on the Libyan regime to immediately cease its attacks on the Libyan people.

Australia remains gravely concerned about serious systematic human rights abuses in the DPRK. The use of execution, torture, beatings and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments, remains widespread. Severe limitations on citizens’ civil and political rights exist in the absence of fair judicial or administrative proceedings. We urge the DPRK to demonstrate a genuine willingness to improve its human rights record by engaging more positively and openly with the international community.

The human rights situation in Fiji continues to deteriorate under the unelected, military-led interim Government. We are gravely concerned by the recent increase in arbitrary detentions and beatings of political opponents by the military regime. Public Emergency Regulations and tight media censorship curtail freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. We urge the interim Government to repeal the Public Emergency Regulations and return Fiji promptly to democracy and the rule of law.

Australia remains gravely concerned by Myanmar’s suppression of the human rights and democratic aspirations of its people. The composition of Myanmar’s new parliaments and assemblies reflects the deep flaws in Myanmar’s election process. We continue to watch very closely what emerges from Myanmar’s political process, and urge Myanmar’s new government and parliaments to make genuine progress towards democracy and engage in meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders. Australia welcomed the unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi in November 2010. We note, however, that there remain over 2000 political prisoners in Myanmar. Australia again calls for their immediate release. We urge the Myanmar authorities to resolve ethnic conflicts peacefully.

Australia is deeply concerned about human rights in Iran, including the use of violence, intimidation and arbitrary arrest of human rights defenders and political activists, violation of political and media freedoms, use of the death penalty and the treatment of minorities, including Bahai's. We urge Iran to stay all executions, respect and guarantee the human rights of all detainees, ensure all trials are conducted fairly and transparently, and abide by its international human rights obligations.

The Australian Government remains deeply concerned by the ongoing humanitarian and security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). We were shocked by the reports of mass rapes in eastern DRC last year and further mass rapes between January and February this year. These incidents represent a serious violation of human rights and international humanitarian law. All parties to the conflict have a responsibility to prevent further attacks and prosecute the perpetrators. Australia welcomes the swift sentencing in February of military personnel responsible for sexual violence in the DRC and recognises this as an important step in bringing the perpetrators of violence to justice.

Australia remains deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Zimbabwe. All parties to the Inclusive Government must protect the human rights of Zimbabweans in accordance with obligations made in the Global Political Agreement and end the culture of violence. Perpetrators of recent politically and racially motivated violence in Harare must be brought to justice. Australia also calls for an end to the ongoing harassment, arrest and detention of civil society members, parliamentarians and other political figures including the individuals arrested on 19 February on charges of treason.