Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


Human Rights Council - 24th Regular Session

Item 10
General Debate

26 September 2013


Australia has delivered statements during the dialogues’ on Cambodia, the Central African Republic, Somalia and Sudan. We will focus this statement on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sri Lanka.

In the DRC, Australia welcomes the promulgation of legislation (March 2013) to establish a National Human Rights Commission. We encourage state authorities to take all efforts to ensure the Commission adheres to the Paris Principles and is quickly and fully operational.

We remain deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in the East and strongly condemn M23 and other armed groups who have caused numerous civilian casualties and mass displacements. Australia remains alarmed by the scale of sexual and gender based violence committed by armed groups, defence and security forces, and civilians with continued impunity.

We underline that the Government of the DRC has the primary responsibility to protect civilians from human rights abuses. Australia encourages the DRC to establish and implement the domestic reforms to consolidate peace and reconciliation as agreed in the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework.

We welcome OHCHR’s close engagement with Sri Lanka on human rights and reconciliation.

The holding the Northern Provincial Council elections on 21 September was a welcome first step towards devolution of power within a unified Sri Lanka.

Australia would also like to see Sri Lanka take early and meaningful steps to:

  •  give substance to the work of the Commission of Inquiry on Disappearances;
  •  take forward demilitarisation of the Northern and Eastern provinces;
  •  ensure greater freedom for media and civil society; and
  •  reduce rising inter-religious tensions.

It is our strong view that engagement, not isolation, is the most effective way to promote human rights Sri Lanka.