HRC54 – Item 10 General Debate – Statement by Estonia – delivered by H.E. Ambassador Riia Salsa-Audiffren – 11 October 2023

Mr President,

Estonia fully aligns with the statement delivered by the European Union. We thank the High Commissioner and Directors for the updates.

Estonia remains deeply concerned that in parallel with the Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine and the illegal annexation of the occupied territories, the human rights situation in the regions of Georgia, in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, occupied by Russia 15 years ago, continues to deteriorate in several areas.

We observe with concern that, despite solid legal framework for granting freedom of expression and media, media environment has significantly worsened and the practice of obstructing journalistic activity has become systemic.

The use of discriminatory policies or practices that specifically target or disadvantage ethnic Georgians in the conflict-affected regions continued. Education in the Georgian language is still banned not only at schools but also at kindergartens in the Georgian region of Abkhazia. The human rights violations in the occupied regions of Georgia must come to an end, bringing all the perpetrators to justice.

We reiterate our call to the Russian Federation and the other de facto authorities to grant immediate and unimpeded access to international and regional human rights organizations and mechanisms to Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

I thank you.