HRC39: Oral statement on countries’ violations to human rights

Mr. Vice President,

ARTICLE 19 continues to be alarmed that the gap between the commitments States make to protect freedom of expression in this room, and the reality for human rights on the ground, has become a chasm.

Dissent should not be a crime.

Yet in Egypt ten days ago, 75 protesters who escaped being among the hundreds murdered by the authorities during assemblies in 2013, were sentenced to death in a mass trial for the exercise of their rights. 47 others were given life sentences. This Council must condemn these sentences, and call for their reversal.

In, Turkey, more journalists are in jail than in any other country in the world, as the government has moved to entrench extraordinary emergency powers into ordinary law. We draw this Council’s attention to the case of Kurdish journalist Nedim Türfent, detained as a terrorist for reporting on terrorism. He and all other detained journalists must be released.

In Russia, we continue to call for the immediate release of Caucasian Knot journalist Zhalaudi Geriev, detained in Chechnya since 2016. The 2016 Yarovaya Law, underpinning an explosion in online censorship and surveillance, must be repealed. Attempts to block Telegram, the threat of website blocking and fines for media, as well as the arrests of individuals’ for their likes and posts on social media continue to undermine digital rights, and must end.

We are also concerned at increasing restrictions on freedom of expression online in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan.

In Thailand, the 30-month prison sentence given to Jatupat Boonpattararaska (also known as Pai), for sharing online a BBC profile of the new king, is emblematic of the renewed vigour with which the authorities are pursuing lèse-majesté prosecutions under Article 112 of the Penal Code. Pai must be released, and Article 112 repealed.

In Iran, the arbitrary arrest and detention of lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh in June this year, for her work defending political activists, and her husband Reza Khandan, is part of a worrying crackdown in the country. We urge their release.  

Speaking truth to power, protesting, criticising the government, journalism – these acts should not result in prison or the death penalty.

This Council must speak out on these country situations.

Thank you.