United Nations Human Rights Council 4th session
I would like to follow up on concerns raised in questions my delegation posed yesterday, on behalf of the European Union, during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on Torture and on Freedom of Expression and Association.
I have the honour to speak as Presidency of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, and Armenia, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Peru, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, United States of America align themselves with this declaration.
We are deeply concerned by disturbing recent developments in Zimbabwe, including the violent suppression of peaceful demonstrations by opposition organisations on 11 March. We are also deeply concerned about the subsequent arrest and brutal treatment of MDC members on 18 March. Such actions have no place in any society.
We stress that democracy, sustainable development, peace and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.
In this regard, we call upon the Government of Zimbabwe to commence, immediately, a sincere and constructive dialogue with opposition parties and other civil society members in order to help resolve the problems facing Zimbabwe.
We welcome regional efforts to take concrete steps to promote and support such a dialogue. We note with concern the significant impact further difficulties in Zimbabwe could have on the region, including for regional security and prosperity.
We call on the Government of Zimbabwe to refrain from doing anything which might lead to a further escalation of the situation in Zimbabwe. We urge them to ensure full respect for the rule of law and the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Zimbabweans. We also urge the Government of Zimbabwe to repeal legislation curtailing freedom of expression and association. We furthermore urge them to allow, as the UN Secretary General has requested, peaceful assembly, and to provide space for the exercise of legitimate political rights.
We welcome the commitment given on 14 March by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to monitor the Zimbabwean judicial process against Mr Tsvangarai and his colleagues. We look forward to her report on that process at the sixth Council session. Latest news reinforce our concerns: Mr Tsvangarai was arrested again.
We urge the Special Rapporteur on Torture and the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression and Opinion to visit Zimbabwe and to report back to the sixth session of the Council on the situation there. We call on the Government of Zimbabwe to expedite their response to outstanding requests for visits from UN Special Rapporteurs as soon as possible to enable the visits to take place.
*Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.