UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL - 51st SESSION

Item 4 - General Debate 

Statement delivered by H.E. Lars Tummers, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

The Kingdom of the Netherlands aligns itself with the EU statement.

All members of the Human Rights Council should strive to make progress in the promotion, protection and realization of all human rights. We recall and underline the responsibilities and duties that come with the membership of this Council.

Again, the Netherlands condemns in the strongest terms the unacceptable Russian war of aggression against Ukraine as well as the war crimes committed against civilians and urges Russia to immediately withdraw all its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine.

Furthermore, the Netherlands reiterates deep concerns over the continuous decline of civic freedoms in Russia. The Russian government has intensified internal repression against civil society actors, human rights defenders, independent media and any opposition members. The legislation on “foreign agents” and “undesirable organizations” is severely limiting independent actors. Therefore, the Netherlands believes it is time this Council establishes a Special Rapporteur mandate on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation and we call on all Member States to support this mandate.

The Netherlands has grave concerns about the human rights situation in China, especially in Xinjiang. The OHCHR’s assessment adds to the vast body of evidence on the human rights situation in Xinjiang, reporting on arbitrary detention, forced labour, sexual violence and torture. According to the report, some of the serious human rights abuses occurring in Xinjiang may constitute crimes against humanity. The Netherlands calls on China to immediately end these severe breaches of human rights and calls on the Acting High Commissioner to brief the Council on the report’s findings and recommendations.

The Netherlands also has deep concerns about the rising number of political prisoners in Belarus. Recently tens of people have been sentenced to long jail sentences for trivial ‘misdemeanors’, such as dancing on the street. Furthermore, the Belarusian authorities are threatening to revoke the citizenship of people in exile, claiming they are ‘extremist’. The Netherlands calls on the authorities to faithfully fulfill domestic and international obligations to respect human rights.

The Netherlands is gravely concerned about the deterioration of the Human Rights situation in Iran, especially when it comes to the rights of freedom of expression, non-discrimination of sexual orientation and gender identity and freedom of religion and belief. The Netherlands calls for independent investigations into the undue use of (deadly) violence by authorities in such cases, including into the recent death of Ms Mahsa Amini. Furthermore, the Netherlands strongly opposes the use of the death penalty and urges Iran to issue a moratorium on all executions, especially regarding juvenile offenders.

Also in this Council, we would like to express our deep concerns about the human rights situation in Nicaragua. Authorities continue to restrict civic space and subject critical and dissenting voices to imprisonment and inhumane treatment. The Netherlands calls upon Nicaraguan authorities to comply with their national and international commitments on human rights, including the freedom of assembly, association and expression.

Thank you.