I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The candidate Countries of Croatia, Turkey, and the FYROM, the Stabilisation and Association Process Countries of Albania and Montenegro and the EFTA Countries of Lischenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area also align themselves with this statement.
The draft resolution sets out particular issues of concern to the international community, including to the European Union, in the human rights situation in Belarus. Unfortunately, and as the reports from the OSCE and the former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Belarus demonstrate, the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly continue to be systematically violated. Widespread and serious violations of human rights continue to persist in Belarus and the Government of Belarus has been systematically refusing to cooperate with the UN HR mechanisms, namely the Human Rights Council and the former Commisssion on Human Rights.
Human Rights Defenders and political opponents are harassed and intimidated and the criminal justice system is used to silence them. Independent media, NGOs, studentss organizations, independent trade unions, religious organizations and other civil society organization face persecution. Both the presidential elections in 2006 and the municipal elections in 2007 failed to meet internationally acceptable criteria in terms of fairness and freedom. Those who speak out against the regime risk losing their jobs and their freedom. Cases of enforced disappearances and/or summary executions have been reported. The impunity of officials implicated in human rights violations continues to prevail.
The EU firmly believes that the Third Committee of the General Assembly must adress the situation of human rights in Belarus, based on the gravity of the situation on the ground. The text before us reaffirms that all States have the obligation to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms and to fulfil their international obligations. It also notes the commitments made by the Government of Belarus under a number of international human rights instruments, calling on the Goverment to honour those commitments.
Through the adoption of the draft resolution on the Human Rights situation, the international community demonstrates its firm stance against the systematic violation of human rights in Belarus and shows its support to the people of Belarus.
The position of the international community is of fundamental importance to persuade the Government of Belarus of the need to improve the human rights situation of its people, to end the impunity of the perpetrators of human rights violations, and to start a process of democratization.
For these reasons, the European Union will be voting in favor of draft resolution L.51 on the situation of human rights in Belarus.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.