We refer to our statements on the situations in Myanmar, Iran, Eritrea, DPRK, Burundi, Syria and South Sudan in separately scheduled inter-active dialogues.
Last spring, we welcomed the releases of several imprisoned activists in Azerbaijan. It is regrettable that new arrests of opposition figures have since taken place.
We strongly regret the repression of dissent, critical opinion and political opposition in Tajikistan and recently also in Kazakhstan.
In Uzbekistan, some recent releases of prisoners created hope of positive change. We urge the country’s new leadership to demonstrate in practice its commitment to fundamental rights and liberties and ease restrictions on the press, civil society and religious groups.
We are concerned about the human rights situation in Turkey. While welcoming visits – at the invitation of the Turkish authorities - by the special rapporteurs on freedom of expression and against torture, respectively, we note with concern their reports. Turkey is faced with serious security challenges. As democracy, the rule-of-law and freedom of expression increasingly come under pressure, journalists and parliamentarians should not be imprisoned. Rather, they play a crucial role in society and must be allowed to speak and operate freely in a safe and enabling environment.
We remain concerned about the situation of human right defenders world-wide. National security and counter-terrorism legislation and other measures, such as laws regulating civil society organizations, should not be misused to target human rights defenders. Such hindrance of their work and endangering of their safety violates international law. Moreover, it serves to undermine the fight against terrorism.
We are deeply concerned about developments and political discourse that fails to recognize the positive role of human rights defenders in society, including in the Middle East and North Africa region. We urge all States to acknowledge by public statements, policies or laws the important and legitimate role of human rights defenders in the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.