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Opening Statement by the Estonian Permanent Representative to UN Headquarters in Geneva Jüri Seilenthal in the Human Rights Council 24th Session

9. September 2013 - 17:07

9 September, 2013

Mr. President,

Estonia would like to thank H.E. Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, for the opening statement of HRC24 and her activities. We are very thankful for a comprehensive update to the HRC and reiterate our unwavering support to your Office.

Estonia aligns itself fully with the statement delivered by the European Union and wishes to make some additional comments.

Please let me begin with the situation in Syria, where the horrific events of 21 August need a strong condemnation by the international community. It is a sad reality that at the beginning of every new session of the Human Rights Council we meet increasing number of casualties, refugees and people in need, but also the growing culture of impunity that allows these incidents to take place. The use of chemical weapons is a war crime, a crime against humanity and needs our reaction in order to avoid future violations. I will take this opportunity to emphasize the importance of the International Criminal Court, where this situation should be referred to – crimes of most serious concern to the international community should be sanctioned.

Estonia also expresses concern about the human rights situation in Egypt. Egypt is going through a difficult process of transformation. It is important for the government to keep its promises to steer the country towards a democratic society, based on rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms. We join the EU and many others in condemning all acts of violence. Law enforcement authorities should avoid using excessive and disproportionate force against protesters. Estonia encourages all parties to commit themselves to the peaceful solution and restoring the democratic process as quickly as possible.

We call on the authorities, despite the temporary state of emergency, to avoid unnecessary restrictions against fundamental rights of all citizens, regardless of their religious or political belonging, including the right for peaceful demonstrations and fair trial. In this context, Estonia would also like to draw attention to the importance of freedom of expression and media. Freedom to express opinions should be guaranteed even if they do not correspond to the opinions of the government. In Egypt, several media outlets have already been closed down. However, all restrictions to freedom of expression, based on the need to protect national security or public safety, should be carefully considered.
To conclude, we express our continued appreciation for your work and that of the High Commissioner. 


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