HRC54 – Item 4 – General Debate – Statement by Estonia, delivered by H.E Ambassador Riia Salsa-Audiffren – 26 September 2023

Mr. President,

Estonia fully aligns with the EU statement.

Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine has caused extensive and needless suffering and terror, thousands of civilian casualties and growing reports of human rights violations. Russia has been weaponizing food and hunger throughout this senseless war. We strongly condemn Russia’s decision to withdraw from the Black Sea Grain Initiative its attacks on Ukrainian ports storing grain intended for export. Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s food export by sea directly threatens global food security, undermining right to food of the vulnerable people around the world.

Inside Russia, massive and widespread human rights violations continue. War censorship and foreign agents’ laws are suffocating any kind of free speech and expression and blocking independent sources of information. Increasing repression has created a climate of fear and intimidation, which is sustained by the instrumentalization of the court system.

In Belarus too, innocent people are prosecuted, harassed, silenced and sentenced to prison. Journalists and media workers, lawyers, human rights defenders and persons who dare to criticize the leadership of Lukashenko or Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine face serious legal consequences and prison sentences. Over 1500 political prisoners are held in unbearable conditions.

In Afghanistan, women and girls have been erased from public life through draconian restrictions, this is gender persecution which may amount to a crime against humanity. In Myanmar, many forms of violence prevail and the Rohingya are trapped in stateless purgatory and denied the most basic rights.

To conclude, we express our concerns over the human rights situations in Ethiopia, Burundi and Syria and refer to previous Nordic-Baltic statements in respective Interactive Dialogues.

I thank you!