HRC53 – Item 2 – ID on HC annual report – Statement by Estonia – 20 June 2023

Distinguished High Commissioner,
Mr President,

Estonia fully aligns with the statement delivered by the European Union.

For the second year on, Russian war of aggression against Ukraine continues to bring terror to Ukrainians. The recent destruction of Nova Kahovka dam left more than 100 000 people in need of food, water and shelter. Furthermore, at least 16 000 children from Ukrainian territory are forcefully transferred or deported to Russia, Russian occupied territory and allegedly to Belarus by Russian authorities. We must stop this brutal war and bring perpetrators to justice. Estonia commends all ongoing investigations of human rights violations and war crimes committed by Russia and reiterates the need for the establishment of a special tribunal for the crime of aggression by the UN.

Inside Russia, widespread human rights violations, arbitrary detentions and crackdown on everyone who opposes the war continue. Human rights organisations are proclaimed illegal and thousands of people have been imprisoned on absurd pretexts just because they were questioning the actions of the authorities. Russia is turning into a totalitarian regime – this is the reality of the country that wages a nonsense war with its neighbour.

In Belarus too, innocent people are harassed, silenced and sentenced to prison, even Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. We strongly condemn the politically motivated prison sentences of human rights defenders, political opponents and representatives of the Belarusian democratic opposition in exile.

Mr High Commissioner,
The human rights situation has been deteriorating in many parts of the world. In Afghanistan, introducing discriminatory practices, bans and draconian restrictions against women and girls deprives half of the population from enjoying their human rights and may amount to gender persecution which is considered a crime against humanity. In Uganda, identifying as an LGBTQ+ person might result in a lifetime prison sentence or even death penalty which violates international human rights law and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

Mr High Commissioner

What more can the international community do to support the fight against impunity and ensure accountability?

Thank you!