HRC 41: States must act on free expression violators


ARTICLE 19 delivered this statement at the 41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council, in response to the update of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, highlighting the need for UN Member States to act to implement their human rights obligations, and commitments, and hold all States to account for human rights violations and abuses against journalists, human rights defenders, and dissenting voices.

Mr President,

Addressing the new threats and old challenges facing human rights, as identified in the High Commissioner’s update, requires concerted action from States in this room.

Action is needed in response to the UN investigation to the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, including to determine the potential criminal responsibility of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. We share the High Commissioner’s disappointment that some States appear more outraged by this investigation, than the horrific crime itself and the real prospect of impunity for it.

Action is required by the Mexican Government to ensure the safety of journalists. Six murders in 2019 to date show that efforts to prevent and protect against attacks are failing just as much as efforts to prosecute those responsible. Ensuring the right to truth in relation to enforced disappearances in Mexico is also a priority– and plans to increase technical assistance from the Office are welcome.

Yesterday, as the High Commissioner called for action to protect the right to protest, 16 civil society actors connected to the 2013 “Gezi Park” demonstrations faced trial in Turkey – the authorities seeking to retrospectively connect their activism to the attempted 2016 coup, without evidence. It is essential that all States at this Council speak out to end this miscarriage of justice.

Lastly, action to tackle hate, while urgently needed, cannot be misused by States to target dissenting opinion, including online, as the proposed National Cybersecurity Law in Honduras threatens. We encourage States to tackle root causes of hate by opening space for civil society, and in this regard we welcome the Secretary General’s Plan of Action on Hate Speech, as well as the Netherlands’ announcement that it will host the next Istanbul Process meeting.

Thank you.