UN Watch speaks out for human rights in Kiribati

Kiribati UPR Outcome

Agenda Item 6, Human Rights Council, 45th Session

United Nations Watch

Video speech delivered by Ms. Daphne Klajman

28 September 2020

Thank you, Madam President.

United Nations Watch welcomes this debate concerning the human rights record of Kiribati. We wish to share several concerns.

First, we note that Kiribati lacks any protective laws for the safety of LGBTQI+ persons in the country. This community is faced with the criminalization of consensual sexual activity between males resulting in up to fourteen years of imprisonment. There are no policies to safeguard them from discrimination, hate speech or targeted violence, and no urgency from the government to do so.

We recall that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, without distinction of any kind.

Moreover, this Council, in resolution 32/2, strongly deplored “acts of violence and discrimination committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” It is time for Kiribati to uphold its international obligations.

Second, we are concerned over Kiribati’s growing relationship with a government that has been denounced by the Special Procedures of this Council for its systematic repression.

In 2019, President Maamau declared that Kiribati would no longer recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation, after seventeen years of alliance. Chinese President Xi Jinping declared that by siding with the One China Policy, Kiribati moved to the, and I quote, “right side of history.”

Just last month, a photograph went viral on the Internet. It showed the Chinese ambassador, Tang Songgen, walking over the backs of 30 people on a remote island in Kiribati, soon after he had landed on a grassy airstrip.

We appreciate local customs, but many around the world have asked: Does this photo symbolize a new danger for the people of Kiribati?

I thank you, Madam President.

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