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[Oral Statement] Interactive Dialogue on the annual report of the High Commissioner

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53rd regular session of the UN Human Rights Council

Item 2: Interactive Dialogue on the annual report of the High Commissioner

Oral statement delivered by Ahmed Adam

On behalf of Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

21 June 2023


Mr. President,

We thank the High Commissioner for his annual report. We share his view on the importance of a field presence in India in addressing systemic and deep-rooted concerns.

However, prioritising a field presence should not be at the expense of the early warning and preventive function of the High Commissioner’s responsibility to speak out on issues of serious concern in the country, including the escalating of violence against religious minorities with unrestrained hate speech and incitement by Hindu nationalist leaders, shrinking of civic and political space, systematic roll-back of the rule of law and independent institutions as well as the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. His public voice is also crucial to protecting human rights defenders especially those in detention under trumped up charges such as Kashmiri defender Khurram Parvez and journalist Irfan Mehraj.

This is particularly important in the context of India’s chronic non-cooperation with and reprisals against those who cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms, and the Council’s persistent silence on India.

In Cambodia, despite the longest field engagement and a technical cooperation mandate, the government has consistently flouted its human rights obligations and failed to uphold the independence and credibility of the judiciary and democratic institutions. The Council must step up its scrutiny should the government fail meet the minimum criteria for credible elections including an open and inclusive civic and political space.

Finally, in Sri Lanka, the government’s engagement with the ground presence and facilitating visits by special procedures are no substitutes for cooperating with the Council, especially in the context of its complete disregard for its own commitments on accountability and human rights, recommendations of the High Commissioner and special procedures.

Thank you.