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48th Session of the Human Rights Council

Australian Statement for Item 2 - General debate, 13 September 2021

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the promotion and protection of human rights globally.  Australia is deeply concerned that States have used the shield of the pandemic to target human rights defenders, civil society, health workers, and journalists.

We condemn States that have or continue to abuse emergency measures or use arbitrary detention to silence individuals for exercising their fundamental freedoms.  Access to justice and consular assistance to detained foreign and dual nationals should not be restricted including under the guise of COVID-19.

Australia calls for the immediate cessation of violence against ethnic minorities, human rights defenders, journalists and members of the former government and women and girls in Afghanistan.

We are gravely concerned by reports of ongoing violence by parties to the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.  We will welcome progress on the joint investigation between OHCHR and Ethiopia, towards accountability for egregious human rights abuses and violations, including sexual and gender-based violence. 

Australia remains deeply concerned by China's continuing dilution of Hong Kong's rights and freedoms, in contravention of binding treaty level commitments it made to the international community.

Australia is concerned by the Nicaraguan government's systematic dismantling of all opposition political parties and join OHCHR and OAS in expressing concern for free and fair elections in November.

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