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Item 4: General Debate

Item 4: General debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention. Statement, 27 June 2018.

As delivered by Minister Counsellor Herborg F. Alvsaaker

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President,

Members of the Human Rights Council have chosen to take responsibility for the protection and promotion of human rights. They should “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.”

Council members must ensure freedom of expression, and respect the freedom of religion and belief. Norway expects all Council members to be champions for gender equality and women’s rights. Council members should lead by example by suspending executions and abolish death penalty. 

Regrettably, during Venezuela and Burundi’s tenure in the Human rights council, we have witnessed a severe and deteriorating human rights situation in both countries. Regarding Venezuela, we call on the Maduro government to restore the powers of the National Assembly, release all political prisoners and immediately provide free access for international humanitarian aid. We reiterate the need to solve the political crisis through dialogue. Burundi has denied the International Commission of Inquiry set up in 2016 access to the country, and the government continues to restrict civic space. We encourage Burundi to re-engage with international human rights bodies and respect fundamental rights.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt are also members of the Council, but the situation for their human rights defenders, as well as the human rights situation for lawyers, writers and journalists is of continued concern. That is also the case for women in Saudi Arabia. We urge Saudi Arabia and Egypt to crate safe and enabling environments for human rights defenders and allow civil society and the media to operate freely.

All states, but particularly those members of this Council – and aspiring future members – should acknowledge the important and legitimate role of journalists and human rights defenders in the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Thank you.