African Union – On 6 September, I delivered an opening statement at the Second African Business and Human Rights Forum, organized by the African Union, UNDP and UNICEF. The EU is ready to cooperate with the AU to strengthen responsible business conduct and respect for Human Rights, and to support the development of the new pan-African programme.
On 10 October I delivered an opening speech at the joint EU-AU event to mark the 21st World Day against the Death Penalty. I stressed that the EU is against the death penalty in all times and under all circumstances, and I welcomed the Ghana’s recent decision to abolish the death penalty and becoming the 124th country worldwide to officially do so.
Ukraine – On 19 October I met with Mr Miroslav Papa, Council of Europe Director for Political Affairs and External Relations. We talked about the recent political development and country situations, especially in Ukraine and Nagorno Karabakh.
I met with the Ombusdman of Ukraine (Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights), Mr Dmytro Lubinets. In the context of Russia’s ongoing war of aggression, we spoke about the situation in Ukraine, and the important human rights work the Ombudsman and his team are conducting throughout the country. We also discussed how the EU can cooperate with this national human rights institution.
Iran – Together with MD GLOBAL Ms Belén Martinez Carbonell and Head of Iran Division Mr Bruno Scholl, I welcomed to Brussels a delegation from the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Iran (FFM). Members of the delegation described the FFM mandate, the way they engage with both Iranian authorities and civil society, and the state of their investigations. We shared concerns about the shrinking of civic space in Iran.
I met also with Amnesty International researcher on Iran, Ms Raha Bahreini. The discussion primarily focused on her research on the repressive enforcement of the veil requirement and the unlawful use of firearms against protestors. The issue of accountability was also briefly touched upon.
Israel and Palestine – On 27 September, I met with the UN Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Ms Francesca Albanese. We exchanged views on the latest developments in Israel and the oPt. We addressed the shrinking civic space in Israel, and the impact of Israeli laws and policies on Palestinians – notably children – in Israel and the oPt. I briefed her on my visit in June to Israel and the oPt.
On 26 September, in a meeting with representatives of the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH) and the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC), we discussed the general political situation in Israel and the oPt as well as the situation of Palestinian women and girls. A Palestinian human rights defender from Masafar Yatta (Hebron Governorate), Ms Sameeha Huraini, joined the delegation. She shared her personal story and an overview of the living conditions in the area.
In the context of the horrific events since October 7th, I met with representatives of two Palestinian civil society organisations Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and the Palestinian Human Rights Organization (PHRO). They were accompanied with representatives of the CIDSE and EuroMed Rights. We discussed the situation in Gaza and the urgent need for humanitarian aid to reach the civilian population, including many children, of Gaza.
I also met with the Director General of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights Dr Ammar Al-Dwaik. In all of my meetings and in public comments, I have drawn attention to the HRVP’s consistent statements on the situation in Israel and Gaza.
Philippines – I opened the third meeting of the EU-Philippines Sub-Committee on Good Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights (26 October). I referred to my visit to Manila this March and expressed EU concerns over the continued pre-trial detention of ex-Senator Leila de Lima. I inquired about the government’s efforts to ensure accountability for extrajudicial killings in the “war on drugs” and about the country’s new approach to tackle illegal drugs.
I also met with ForumZFD to discuss Transitional Justice in the Philippines.
Bangladesh – Following my July country visit, I met with the Ambassador of Bangladesh in Brussels to raise concerns over the sentencing of leaders of human rights organisation Odhikar (28 September). I also met with civil society representatives to exchange on the main outcomes of my visit, including on the situation of Rohingya refugees.
Bahrain – I met with Bahrain’s Ambassador to discuss my plans for visiting the country in early 2024 (TBC) and on individual cases, including that of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. I also enquired about the situation in Jau Prison (26 October).
Myanmar – I met with Mr Aung Myo Min, the Minister of Human Rights of the National Unity Government (NUG) of Myanmar. We discussed the NUG’s policies on Rohingya Muslims, EU sanctions and the future of Myanmar as a multi-ethnic state under a democratically elected civilian government (26 September).
ASEAN – I opened the fifth edition of the EU-ASEAN Policy Dialogue on Human Rights (3 October). I underlined the need to tackle the human rights and humanitarian crisis in Myanmar and to work together in addressing human rights backsliding worldwide.
Mexico – On 20 September I met with civil society representatives from “Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas” or Frayba from Chiapas in Mexico. The discussion focused on increasing violence in the region, forced displacement, risks to human rights defenders and the role of non-state actors linked to organised crime. This discussion is valuable in preparation for the upcoming Human Rights Dialogue with Mexico.
Morocco – On 11 October I met with Ms Amina Bouayach, current Secretary of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) and President of the Moroccan National Human Rights Council, at her request. We discussed the importance of the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), as well as the state of human rights in Morocco.
75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – On 4 October, I participated in the High Level Conference to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the UDHR, organised by the Spanish Presidency and the EEAS. I moderated a panel discussion between 3 distinguished former UN High Commissioners of Human Rights, Mary Robinson, Navi Pillay and Michelle Bachelet, to look at the 75 year trajectory advancing human rights and democracy across the world and delivered closing remarks.
Business and Human Rights – on 5 October, I spoke at the OECD Webinar on “Recoding our understanding of Responsible Business Conduct in science, tech and innovation”. The interface between business, science, technology, innovation and human rights is both fascinating and challenging. But the one principle that anchors us in our approach to this whole area is that the same rights apply online as well as offline.
Freedom of Religion or Belief (FORB) – I meet regularly with Frans van Daele, Special Envoy for the protection and promotion of religious freedom outside the EU.
On 20 September, we met with Archbishop of the Chaldean Church in Egypt, Paulus Sati. The main reason for his visit to Brussels was to raise awareness about the case of Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako, the leader of the Chaldean Catholic Church based in Iraq.
Colombia – on 19 October, I participated in a panel discussion organised by the European Institute of Peace as part of the EU Community of Practice on Peace and Mediation. The discussion focused on regional implications from Colombian peace negotiations: lessons learned, challenges and opportunities.
Cuba – on 25 October, I met with Carolina Barrero, a Cuban human rights activist, noted for participating in the 2021 protests in Cuba, now living in exile. The discussion focussed on the current human rights situation on the island, in advance of the upcoming Human Rights Dialogue between EU and Cuba.
IDLO – On 16 October, I met with the Director of the Hague office of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), Mr Fabricio Guariglia. The discussion focused on IDLO’s work in Ukraine and Colombia, particularly on accountability and transitional justice. We talked about IDLO’s aspirations to increase its work in Colombia, and strengthen cooperation with the EU.
On 28 September, I was privileged to be the key note speaker at the Meeting of the External Relations section (REX) of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). We talked about the state of human rights and democracy in the word, the Implementation of the EU Action Plan on Human rights and democracy, the role of the civil society.
I participated virtually in a seminar organised by Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU #EU2023ES together with @ProtectHRD_EU on visas for human rights defenders: protection and mobility mechanisms and avenues for improvement.
On 26 October, I delivered a lecture to the European Diplomatic Academy on the EU’s attachment to human rights in its external action.
On 23 October, I was honoured to meet with the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, Tirana Hassan, during her visit to Brussels.
EU Special Representative for Human Rights
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