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NEW YORK (July 19, 2023) — Last week, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) submitted contributions to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) regarding the Republic of the Congo, Malaysia, and Senegal. 

“In the Republic of Congo, Malaysia, and Senegal, we keep witnessing the erosion and outright rejection of democratic principles. Conversely, we are also documenting an alarming increase in human rights violations and severe government abuse since the last UPR cycle,” HRF Chief Advocacy Officer Roberto Gonzalez said. 

“Despite their unique cultural backdrops, these nations share a common challenge: a steady decline in the protection and promotion of basic rights. The numerous dissidents and activists striving for a democratic future in these nations should serve as a powerful reminder that the flame of freedom requires constant vigilance to prevent it from extinguishing. It is our collective responsibility to shine a light on these abuses, affirming that the dignity of human beings transcends borders, cultures, and systems.”

In the individual submission for the Republic of the Congo, HRF highlighted the country’s widespread human rights abuses, particularly as they relate to arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture, and extrajudicial killings since its last country review in 2018. HRF emphasized how the Nguesso regime continues to systematically violate the rights of individuals who express any dissent and frequently resorts to arbitrarily arresting and detaining political opponents in order to silence them. 

HRF called on the UN to demand that the Congo allow special procedure mandate holders to independently assess the human rights situation in Congo and advise officials accordingly, and to ensure that individuals can operate and exist peacefully and safely, without fear of retribution in the form of censorship, harassment, arbitrary arrest, torture, enforced disappearance, or extrajudicial killings, as well as have access to effective mechanisms for redress.  

In the individual submission for Malaysia, HRF pointed out that the situation in the country has not improved since its last review in 2018. The report highlighted that Malaysia must still ratify numerous international treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights  and the Convention Against Torture. HRF also documented the extreme measures taken against LGBTQ+ people in Malaysia, such as conversion and rehabilitation programs, 20-year sentences in prison for same-sex relationships, and arbitrary arrests and detentions with mandatory caning. 

HRF called on Malaysia to prioritize human rights by promoting freedom of expression and association and to expressly prohibit acts of torture and other cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment in domestic legislation. 

Finally, in the individual submission for Senegal, HRF emphasized the regime’s ongoing curtailment of the freedom of expression, assembly, and association through extrajudicial killings, torture, and ill-treatment. Under President Macky Sall’s administration, the Senegalese regime continues to use laws that curtail the freedoms of expression and of the press in order to quell dissent and imprison critics. 

HRF called on the Senegalese regime to respect the individual rights of its citizens, to cease all forms of judicial harassment and politically motivated prosecution of opposition leaders, political activists, and journalists who criticize or express open opposition to the regime, and to bring the new press code provisions in line with international standards.

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.

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