Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Presents Reports on Cambodia, Georgia and Yemen
GENEVA (28 September 2017) - The Human Rights Council in its midday meeting held a general debate on technical assistance and capacity building, hearing the presentation of country reports by the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Cambodia, Georgia and Yemen.
Presenting the reports, Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that Cambodia from July 2016 to July 2017 had enjoyed rapid economic growth and achieved welcomed advances in poverty reduction. However, that same period had been marked by continued political tensions and a further narrowing of civic space, under force of measures targeting the opposition and human rights defenders.
On Georgia, Ms. Gilmore regretted that the authorities in control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia had not granted the Office access, which only heightened questions about the human rights situation of the people living these regions. Without access, the United Nations could not present a comprehensive account of the situation. Lingering restrictions on freedom of movement and impediments to the exercise of various rights, including the right to health and education, significantly affected the daily lives of citizens.
Turning to Yemen, Ms. Gilmore noted that more than 3 million people had been forced to flee their homes and since April 2017, more than 680,000 suspected cases of cholera had been identified. Public and private infrastructure had collapsed and less than half of the health facilities were functional. The catastrophe was entirely man-made. The parties to the conflict and their supporters were directly responsible for the appalling conditions. Ms. Gilmore urged the Council to mandate the establishment of an authoritative international independent investigative body to carry out comprehensive and fair investigations of the violations in Yemen.
Cambodia, speaking as a concerned country, noted that it upheld itself to the universal principles of fundamental human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and that it actively participated in and engaged with all United Nations human rights mechanisms, including the Special Procedures and the Universal Periodic Review process. However, some countries, United Nations bodies and non-governmental organizations frequently exploited human rights and democracy as a tool to vilify the Cambodian Government’s reputation, blatantly ignoring the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of sovereign countries.
David Zalkaliani, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, speaking as a concerned country, reminded that the human rights situation in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia had become more alarming in view of the absolute vacuum of international presence. It was exacerbated by continued violations based on the grounds of ethnic origin. The Russian occupation forces were attempting to completely eradicate Georgian traces from the region and rob the displaced people of their last hope to return. There were also harsh restrictions on education in the Georgian language in the Gali and Tskhinvali regions. All those developments attested to the growing discrimination against ethnic Georgians.
Mohamed Mohsen Askar, Minister for Human Rights of Yemen, speaking as a concerned country, noted that the report contained some omissions in terms of events and facts on the ground. The High Commissioner for Human Rights had erroneously called the National Commission of Inquiry incapable of carrying out independent investigations. Such statements did not promote cooperation with the Yemeni Government, which had always engaged positively with the Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Government of Yemen had expected a more impartial review of the events in the country.
In the ensuing discussion, speakers reaffirmed that States had the primary responsibility in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. All countries could benefit from technical assistance and capacity building, in particular countries which were being considered under agenda item 10. Technical cooperation should be based on the principles of the universality and indivisibility of all human rights, and technical assistance that followed the needs of beneficiary countries had a positive effect. The engagement of the concerned country was crucial in responding to challenges and maximizing cooperation. Some delegations noted that international cooperation in the area of technical assistance and capacity building could overcome politicization of the Human Rights Council and that it should not be used as a tool of interference.
Speaking were Tunisia on behalf of the African Group, Estonia on behalf of the European Union, Ukraine on behalf of a group of countries, Nicaragua on behalf of a group of countries, Iceland on behalf of a group of countries, Morocco on behalf of the International Organisation of Francophonie, Cuba on behalf of a group of countries, Germany, Venezuela, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Egypt, Bolivia, United States, China, United Kingdom, Latvia, India, Hungary, Indonesia, Paraguay, Ghana, Croatia, Belize on behalf of a group of countries, France, Poland, Pakistan, Maldives, Denmark, Sierra Leone, Finland, Thailand, Estonia, Malaysia, Bahrain, United Nations Children’s Fund, Belarus, Senegal, Honduras, Ukraine, Turkey, Romania, Sweden, Norway, Lithuania, Algeria, Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, Republic of Republic of Moldova , Samoa, Azerbaijan, Syria, Bulgaria, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , Marshall Islands, Fiji and Cambodia.
Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: National Lesbian and Gay Association, Bahá’í International Community, Save the Children International in a joint statement, Minority Rights Group, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Iraqi Development Organization, Alsalam Foundation, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain Inc., Eastern Sudan Women Development Organization, Society Studies Centre, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Conseil international pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux droits de l’homme, Verein Südwind Entwicklungspolitik, Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme, Prahar, Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle, Liberation, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA, Association pour l'Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada in a joint statement, Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, United Nations Watch, Centre for Organisation Research and Education, Organisation pour la communication en Afrique et de promotion de la coopération économique internationale Ocaproce International, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, International Buddhist Relief Organization, Al Zubair Charitable Foundation, ABC Tamil Oli, Association culturelle des Tamouls en France, Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul, Association Solidarité Internationale pour l’Afrique, Association des étudiants tamouls de France, LE PONT, Indian Council of South America, Tamil Uzhagam, Tourner La page, Association of World Citizens, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, The Next Century Foundation, Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru,” and Human Rights Now.
Russian Federation, Philippines and Bahrain spoke in right of reply.
At 3 p.m., the Council will start taking action on decisions and resolutions. The Council will conclude its thirty-sixth regular session on Friday, 29 September.
The Council has before it the Role and achievements of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in assisting the Government and people of Cambodia in the promotion and protection of human rights - Report of the Secretary-General (A/HRC/36/32).
The Council has before it the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Yemen, including violations and abuses since September 2014 (A/HRC/36/33).
The Council has before it the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on cooperation with Georgia (A/HRC/36/65).
Presentation of Reports
KATE GILMORE, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, presented three reports, one by the Secretary-General and two by the High Commissioner, on the human rights situation in Cambodia, Georgia and Yemen.
The United Nations Secretary-General’s report on Cambodia covered the period from July 2016 to July 2017. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had pursued a programme of technical cooperation in areas critical to the advance of human rights, in particular by supporting the right of Cambodians to participate in public affairs, and supporting measures to ensure the protection of all related fundamental freedoms; strengthening the rule of law; and the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights. During the period covered by the report, Cambodia had enjoyed rapid economic growth and achieved welcomed advances in poverty reduction. However, that same period had been marked by continued political tensions and a further narrowing of civic space, under force of measures targeting the opposition and human rights defenders. This targeting had intensified over the pre-election period in May and June. The Office was further concerned about amendments made to the Law on Political Parties that were enacted in February 2017, and the fact that judicial actions had been reactivated or brought against members of the opposition, including two main leaders of the main opposition party. Noting other developments that shrunk the civic space, Ms. Gilmore urged the Government to fully uphold civil and political rights for the people of Cambodia, including their rights to freedom of opinion and expression and of association.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report on Georgia had set out examples of the technical assistance provided by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Georgia in the areas of the administration of justice; combatting torture and ill-treatment; protecting the right to privacy; promoting gender equality; and combatting discrimination. Regrettably the authorities in control had not granted the Office access to either Abkhazia or South Ossetia, which only heightened questions about the human right situation of the people living in these regions. Without access, the United Nations could not present a comprehensive account of the situation. The report nonetheless did present key developments, based on information received. The human rights costs of earlier conflicts continued to weigh heavily, and a legacy of anxiety and distrust prevailed. Lingering restrictions on freedom of movement and impediments to the exercise of various rights, including the right to health and education, significantly affected the daily lives of citizens. Ms. Gilmore called upon the duty-bearers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia to take measures to guarantee all rights under international law, without discrimination, and reiterated the request for unhindered access.
Referring to the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation in Yemen, Ms. Gilmore said it provided an overview of the human rights situation since September 2014. The situation in Yemen had steadily deteriorated and the impact on the population had been devastating. Over 5,000 civilian killings and over 9,000 injuries had been documented, making Yemen the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Out of a population of 27.4 million people, 18.8 million were in need of humanitarian assistance, and 7.3 million were on the brink of famine. More than 3 million people had been forced to flee their homes and since April 2017, more than 680,000 suspected cases of cholera had been identified. Public and private infrastructure had collapsed and less than half of the health facilities were functional. The catastrophe was entirely man-made. The parties to the conflict and their supporters were directly responsible for the appalling conditions. The imposition of sieges, blockades, and restrictions on movement had severely impacted the accessibility of goods and services, including humanitarian relief. The population was increasingly impoverished, hungry, displaced, sick, injured or dying. Ms. Gilmore called upon the international community to act to alleviate these unconscionable levels of human despair to protect civilians and take the necessary steps to deliver and secure peace and stability. Impunity was both a cause and a consequence of the current conflict. While the Human Rights Council hesitated, the people continued to suffer. Ms. Gilmore urged the Council to mandate the establishment of an authoritative international independent investigative body to carry out comprehensive and fair investigations so that at least some hope for justice could be extracted from underneath the rubble to which conflict and crime had reduced this long suffering country.
Statements by the Concerned Countries
Cambodia, speaking as a concerned country, reminded that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia was the oldest field office which had been in operation for 25 years. Cambodia upheld itself to the universal principles of fundamental human rights, democracy and the rule of law. It actively participated in and engaged with all United Nations human rights mechanisms, including the Special Procedures and the Universal Periodic Review process. However, some countries, United Nations bodies and non-governmental organizations frequently exploited human rights and democracy as a tool to vilify the Cambodian Government’s reputation, blatantly ignoring the principle of non-interference in domestic affairs of sovereign countries. The assessment of human rights and democracy was at the political whim of certain regional or global hegemonic States and entities. As a result, the Cambodian Government had become the victim of relentlessly biased accusations. The Government simply prosecuted and punished those who violated the existing laws and regulations. Democracy and human rights should not be used as a shield to secretly shroud the culpability of wrongdoers.
DAVID ZALKALIANI, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, reminded that on numerous occasions Georgia had drawn the Council’s attention to the human rights situation in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia. The situation had become even more alarming in the view of the absolute vacuum of international presence, and it was being exacerbated by continued violations based on the grounds of ethnic origin. Recently, the Russian occupation forces had demolished the houses of Georgian internally displaced persons in the occupied Tskhinvali region. With that action, the Russian Federation attempted to completely eradicate Georgian traces from the region and rob the displaced people of their last hope to return. The closure of the entry and exit points across the occupation line by the regime in control in Abkhazia severely restricted the freedom of movement. There were also harsh restrictions on education in the Georgian language in the Gali and Tskhinvali regions. All those developments attested to the growing discrimination against ethnic Georgians, who were forced to change their names in Abkhazia. The absence of a political solution could not and should not be an obstacle to the protection of fundamental freedoms and rights. A firm and resolute stance of the international community was essential to ensure the basic rights of those living under the occupation and the imminent threat of annexation.
MOHAMED MOHSEN ASKAR, Minister for Human Rights of Yemen, noted that the report contained some omissions in terms of events and facts on the ground. The High Commissioner for Human Rights had erroneously called the National Commission of Inquiry incapable of carrying out independent investigations. Such statements did not promote cooperation with the Yemeni Government, which had always engaged positively with the Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Government of Yemen had expected a more impartial review of the events in the country. The report adopted a partial view of events which were the result of a coup by illegal forces. It considered the actions of the Arab coalition forces as hostile, which was a distortion. The Houthis carried out unprecedented enforced disappearances. The biggest crimes committed by the coup militias was the destruction of humanity and the spread of hatred and extremism. As a consequence of the coup, there was rampant terrorism and spread of diseases. The Government’s cooperation with the Arab coalition forces was aimed at fighting terrorism and restoring stability.
General Debate on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building
Tunisia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, reaffirmed that States had the primary responsibility in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. All countries could benefit from technical assistance and capacity building, in particular countries which were being considered under agenda item 10. Technical cooperation should be anchored in the universality and indivisibility of all human rights. The 2030 Agenda was an opportunity to strengthen universal peace to ensure respect for all human rights.
Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, reaffirmed its support to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in providing technical assistance and capacity building. The European Union was concerned about the situation in Yemen where the number of civilian deaths continued to rise. The European Union believed that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should be allowed access to Abkhazia and south Ossetia. Cambodia should ensure a stable situation in view of the upcoming elections.
Ukraine, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, reiterated that allowing full access for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for monitoring was essential in order to provide technical assistance. The restriction of access to Crimea due to the Russian occupation was concerning. Human rights violations had been reported in Crimea, notably against Tatars. This included the substitution of Ukrainian laws by Russian laws, extrajudicial killings, the transfer of Russians into Crimea and the arrest of persons for expressing their views. Technical assistance was needed to address these issues.
Nicaragua, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, supported Venezuela in its efforts to promote and protect fundamental rights and freedoms within its territory. It was up to Venezuela to ensure the country’s stability in an independent manner. The Group was opposed to illegal economic sanctions imposed by the United States which were in clear violation of international law. These sanctions had upset Venezuela’s stability, and had attacked the independence, sovereignty and the territorial independence of Venezuela, which was a clear violation of the United Nations Charter.
Iceland, speaking on behalf of a Group of States, said since the Philippines underwent its Universal Periodic Review in May, the human rights situation in the country had continued to be of serious concern. The Group of States remained particularly concerned about the thousands of killings and the climate of impunity associated with the war on drugs, and noted the Government’s recently stated commitments to observe due process in investigating these crimes. It urged the Government of the Philippines to take all necessary measures to bring these killings to an end and to cooperate with the international community to pursue appropriate investigations into these incidents.
Morocco, speaking on behalf of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, said the Organization expressed its commitment to an increased focus on agenda item 10. The international community had made a strong commitment to move ahead with human rights and peace, and a comprehensive approach to human rights, by placing equality at the heart of the human rights agenda. The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie wished to draw the attention of the Human Rights Council to the importance of multilingualism. If programmes were to be successful, there had to be dissemination and access for everyone.
Cuba, speaking on behalf of a Group of Countries, recognized the imperative to respect the sovereignty of Venezuela pursuant to the principle of non-interference established in the United Nations Charter. The sovereign will of the people of Venezula had to be respected. Countries had the electoral right to establish elections. The Group hoped that the elections would lead to a recognition of the public authorities and the democratic functioning of the State. It recognized the efforts of Venezuela to preserve peace and guarantee fundamental rights and freedoms in the country, and rejected in the firmest terms the unilateral coercive measures imposed upon Venezuela by the outside, which aimed to bring about a change of Government.
Germany welcomed the technical cooperation of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights with Georgia, and urged Abkhazia and Ossetia to cooperate with it and other international institutions. The suffering of people had increased due to the lack of access for humanitarian workers. The freedom of movement and education had had severe consequences. Germany was also gravely concerned about the continuously aggravated crisis in Yemen. This conflict had left the people of Yemen in a horrible situation. An international investigation could complement the efforts of the National Commission of Inquiry. Germany deplored all abuse by all parties.
Venezuela thanked the 57 countries that had subscribed to the joint declaration on Venezuela. The attempts to politicize the Human Rights Council had been thwarted. Venezuela reiterated the call of President Maduro for all parties to preserve peace. The attempts by the outside to damage the functioning of the central democracy had failed. The world continued to support the national elections. Mutual dialogue and political cooperation were the proper functioning of a democratic State. Coercive unilateral measures were illegal.
United Arab Emirates thanked the Deputy High Commissioner for her presentation on Yemen and reaffirmed the commitment of the United Arab Emirates to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yemen with no foreign interference. A political solution should be based on the outcome of the Yemeni dialogue. The United Nations initiatives should lead to a comprehensive peace agreement. Some areas of Yemen had seen a degrading situation impeding access for humanitarian aid. The United Arab Emirates had established a humanitarian office to provide assistance to the people of Yemen.
Japan appreciated the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report on Yemen. As the report indicated, 1,705 cases of child recruitment had been documented since March 2015. What kind of measures must be taken in order to effectively carry out human rights monitoring to prevent human rights violations against children? Japan was concerned over the denial of access to Abkhazia and South Ossetia for technical human rights missions.
Saudi Arabia recalled that the coalition operation in Yemen had been launched on the basis of the legitimate demand of the Government to fight against the upsurge of the Houthis. The operation aimed at restoring the full sovereignty of Yemen and providing an environment for peace. The practices of the Houthis and those loyal to former President Saleh were illegal and disregarded human lives. The militias had targeted the Kingdom with ballistic missiles that were also used by terrorist groups. Saudi Arabia was concerned about arms being trafficked inside Yemen.
Brazil said initiatives and deliberations under item 10 should provide space for result-oriented initiatives. Human rights situations that required the attention of the Council should not be addressed under that item. The implementation of fact-finding missions was one way of preventing violations from occurring. A constructive dialogue lay the foundation for efforts. The engagement of the concerned country was crucial to respond to challenges and maximise cooperation. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ field offices had to play a role.
Egypt said concerning the report of the High Commissioner on Yemen, Egypt decried the lack of cooperation of the High Commissioner with the Yemeni Government. The report should have taken into account the results of the investigation of the independent investigative team. The Commission had documented violations and had carried out hearings with victims and witnesses. The High Commissioner’s report attempted to mistakenly equate a legal Government that was attempting to uphold the rule of law and protect human rights with factions attempting to topple the Government that were resorting to violence and terrorism to achieve their objectives.
Bolivia said technical assistance and capacity building were important to the socio-economic reality and the needs of the people. International cooperation in that area could overcome the politicization of the Council which undermined trust in it as a body. Cooperation should not be used as a tool of interference. Bolivia supported the Government of Venezuela, and the referendum that had been held. There were countries where a return was seen to discriminatory discourse.
United States welcomed the efforts of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Yemen, but remained deeply concerned about civilian deaths caused by the conflict, as well as the use of child soldiers by all sides. It was gravely concerned about the worsening human rights situation in Cambodia, including the crackdown on opposition parties, the independent media and civil society. The United States was disappointed that Bahrain had placed unreasonable restrictions on a previously scheduled visit by the High Commissioner. It was pleased by Georgia’s close cooperation with the Office and it fully supported its territorial integrity. The United States also welcomed the Office’s continued efforts in Latin America.
China stated that Governments bore the primary responsibility to protect human rights. At the same time technical assistance and capacity building played an important role in that endeavour. The Council should refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of countries and it should respect the development path chosen by the people of the concerned country. The politicisation of technical assistance was not helpful for improving human rights.
United Kingdom welcomed the progress made in Somalia, but remained concerned about ongoing violations. It called for further efforts to protect the rule of law. In Kenya, it welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision on the presidential elections, the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers. The United Kingdom welcomed positive steps taken in Sudan, but regretted that the human rights situation in Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia had deteriorated.
Latvia underlined that the number of technical assistance requests addressed to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights confirmed the confidence that countries placed in the Office to support them tackling human rights challenges. Latvia welcomed the report of the High Commissioner on cooperation with Georgia. The report highlighted the comprehensive cooperation between Georgia and the Office. Latvia was concerned that the authorities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia had refused to grant access to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
India said that many developing and less developed countries faced particular problems concerning compliance with a wide variety of obligations under various human rights instruments. A better organized technical assistance and capacity building effort was highly justified for full implementation of their human rights. Concerted efforts in extending technical assistance and capacity building were crucial to achieve the ambitious targets of the 2030 Agenda for many developing countries.
Hungary encouraged all States to have a constructive engagement with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights when receiving technical assistance and capacity building, including allowing full access to monitoring and reporting mechanisms. Working closely with the States concerned and aligning capacity building efforts with their needs and national circumstances were indispensable for the effective and relevant technical assistance, taking into account that all human rights were universal, indivisible and interrelated.
Indonesia said agenda item 10 should provide a discussion on the needs of Member States. Discussions should be sharpened and focused. States themselves remained the best judges for their needs. Technical cooperation should be used to help States promote human rights and realise the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Maintaining the spirit of agenda item 10 was needed.
Paraguay recognized the importance of technical cooperation as a key tool that helped achieve the highest standards in the human rights sector. Cooperation could shore up membership. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had a strong commitment, and technical cooperation was a tool to be used to make the implementation of human rights recommendations more visible. The technical cooperation programme had provided technical assistance to five countries.
Ghana welcomed the High Commissioner’s report on the situation of Yemen, which constituted one of the most pressing human rights situations the world had ever seen. As Yemen crumbled, the world looked away. The High Commissioner was urged to continue with his good efforts. All actors were called on to return to the negotiating table.
Croatia underlined the importance of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in providing technical assistance and capacity building. It remained concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen where cholera was spreading and children continued to be recruited as soldiers. Croatia called for an independent investigation of the crimes committed in Yemen, noting that there would be no democracy or rule of law without the commitment to deliver justice.
Belize, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, stated that it was a challenge for least developed countries and small island developing States to participate in Council sessions in Geneva. The delegations of those countries appreciated the emphasis on technical cooperation afforded to them as it provided them with an opportunity to engage in dialogue and understand the work and good practices of other countries.
France stressed the importance of cooperation and technical assistance. It encouraged Mali, Cambodia and Somalia to continue their cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. In the Central African Republic it welcomed the renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert and called for a change in the situation there. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it was necessary to fully implement the 31 December Agreement, whereas in Sudan the situation remained worrying. France encouraged Libya to fully cooperate with all United Nations human rights mechanisms.
Poland welcomed the cooperation between the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Georgia and regretted that the Office staff members were denied access to Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region. Poland was concerned about human rights and the humanitarian situation in those regions of Georgia. According to available sources, some practices of the authorities in control of both regions were discriminatory against ethnic groups.
Pakistan said States could benefit immensely from technical assistance if it was provided earnestly upon specific request, catering to socio-economic and cultural specificities and national priorities. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights could fill in the gaps of States’ capacity by providing financial resources and technical expertise.
Maldives underlined that the inherent vulnerabilities faced by least developed countries and small island developing States were particularly acute. The 2030 agenda formalized the synergies between international peace and security, development and human rights. It put into action that no nation should be left behind and should be equally represented at institutions of global governance. Maldives reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring that the Council enjoyed universal representation of States.
Denmark welcomed the statements made by delegates from small island developing States. Those countries’ challenges and need for capacity building were an opportunity to engage with the Council and its mechanisms. Human rights were universal, they were indivisible, interrelated and interdependent.
Sierra Leone thanked the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the commendable work it was doing with regard to technical cooperation and capacity building. Much more needed to be done by way of technical cooperation and capacity building before situations deteriorated into widespread human rights abuses and conflicts.
Finland encouraged all Member States to contribute to the work of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation. International monitors should be granted full access to Abkhazia and South Ossestia in Georgia to verify the human rights situation. In Yemen, Finland underlined the need for an impartial international investigation into all alleged violations and abuses of human rights and humanitarian law. Finland was concerned about the developments in Cambodia, including the restrictions on freedom of speech, assembly and political participation.
Thailand said the international community should do better to make agenda item 10 a more dynamic platform for a constructive dialogue and sharing of experiences, including best practices and lessons learned on the ground. It could also do better to make technical assistance more demand-driven and responsive to the needs and requests of States. Technical cooperation in the field of human rights could help States harness the complementarities and mutually reinforcing linkages between human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Estonia highly appreciated the valuable work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the field of technical cooperation and capacity building. It expressed deep concern over the humanitarian and human rights situation in the occupied territories of Georgia. It stressed that while a peaceful solution to the conflict remained to be found, it was still crucial to guarantee fundamental freedoms and international human rights standards. It regretted that the de facto authorities in control in the occupied areas had failed to respect the right to life, safety, dignity, freedom of movement and privacy.
Malaysia reiterated its call for the Council to live up to agenda item 10. It was convinced that dialogue and cooperation, particularly technical cooperation and capacity building, were fundamental to making real, meaningful impact on human rights promotion and protection. Malaysia recognized that the majority of States were committed to engaging on the issue of technical cooperation and capacity building in a sincere, transparent and constructive manner. The principles governing this approach had been made abundantly clear.
Bahrain underlined that technical assistance and capacity building were important to support democratic transitions. They should support legislative frameworks in accordance with international standards. Bahrain welcomed the report on Yemen and stressed that assistance should be provided in accordance with the needs. There was no need for an investigative committee in Yemen. The coup forces should stop all negative steps taken in the country.
United Nations Children’s Fund voiced concern that the intensity of the conflict in Yemen was increasing the suffering of children there. Homes and hospitals were targets of bombings. Around 1.2 million children were currently at risk in the country and 27 children had been killed in the last three weeks. Peace was the only solution to ensure the future of children of Yemen.
Belarus reiterated that the promotion and protection of human rights primarily lay with governments themselves. However, the international community should provide technical assistance and capacity building to support States in their efforts to effectively implement these rights. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should focus more on this activity to discharge its mandate.
Senegal endorsed the action taken by the Office of the High Commissioner on the ground, and said technical assistance in the area of human rights following the needs of beneficiary countries had had a positive effect. Actions undertaken by the Office to mainstream human rights were welcomed. Senegal appealed to see an increase in financial means to carry out operational results.
Honduras said the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda was an opportunity to move forward by adopting a holistic approach in the effective realization of human rights, including the right to development. Implementing the 2030 Agenda must be consistent with States’ human rights obligations and the Council was called on to play a vital role to ensure that that was the case. Ensuring a gender approach was important in this process. Honduras was working with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on mainstreaming the Sustainable Development Goals in its monitoring system and in aligning national development plans with the Goals.
Ukraine thanked the High Commissioner for the update on the resolution on cooperation with Georgia. The technical assistance that was being provided had been beneficial in compliance with international human rights standards and in implementation of the plan of action. The concerns of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights were shared as regards Abkhazia and other regions. Ukraine called for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to receive full access to the regions in question.
Turkey welcomed the efforts of the Government of Georgia to comply with its obligations and commitments in the field of human rights, and raised concerns about the continued precarious situation of human rights in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The de facto authorities continued to put further restrictions on freedom of movement and access to basic rights, as evidenced by the closing of two crossing points along the Inguri river last March by the Abkhazian side. Turkey reiterated its strong support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia, within its internationally recognized borders.
Romania deplored the lack of access for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other international and human rights mechanisms to the regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. The allegations of human rights violations in those two regions were closely linked to the lack of accountability which was another concern for Romania. Therefore, impartial and comprehensive investigations had to be carried out where these violations took place. Romania expressed its full support for the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in those regions.
Sweden commended Georgia’s efforts so far and encouraged a continued collaboration with the Office of the high Commissioner for Human Rights, not the least in combatting gender-based violence, striving for gender equality, ensuring the rights of sexual minorities, and strengthening the independence of the judiciary. Focusing on Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the report provided a harsh reminder of how ordinary citizens suffered from lack of human rights as the effect of the aggression of a bigger neighbour and disrespect for international law.
Norway remained concerned about the situation in Georgia’s regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where the continuing illegal so-called “borderisation” activities remained a cause for concern, as they divided communities and hindered freedom of movement. Other new measures also deprived the local population of their fundamental rights, including education in the native language. Norway called for unhindered access by human rights and humanitarian agencies to those two regions.
Lithuania was gravely concerned about the continuing abuses of human rights in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, de facto controlled by the Russian Federation. The continuous so-called “borderisation”, representing a persistent violation of the rights of those in need to cross the administrative boundary lines, was particularly alarming as criminal acts of enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention and torture had been reported along the administrative boundary line.
Algeria supported the search for a political solution for peace and security in Yemen, taking into account the interests of its people, and urged all parties to the conflict to positively engage in a peace process to ensure the stability and territorial integrity of Yemen. Expressing solidarity with Venezuela, Algeria stressed the need to respect its sovereignty and avoid interference in its domestic affairs, and welcomed the commitment of the legitimate Government of Venezuela to protect its citizens and find a peaceful solution to the current crisis through an inclusive national dialogue.
Gulf Cooperation Council highlighted the pioneering humanitarian role of its Member States in providing assistance to Yemen, including through the establishment of a humanitarian coordination office in the Secretariat. Stressing the importance of technical assistance and capacity building in the field of human rights, the Gulf Cooperation Council would continue to support legitimate Yemeni institutions, especially in archiving the documentation about numerous violations of human rights identified by the national Yemeni Committee, which was the first step towards addressing impunity and ensuring justice.
Republic of Moldova welcomed the report of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and commended the active cooperation of the Georgian Government with the Office which demonstrated that positive change was possible by technical assistance and capacity building, combined with strong political will. The systematic refusal by the de facto authorities in the occupied regions raised legitimate questions about the human rights situation of the people living there.
Samoa expressed sincere appreciation for the Voluntary Trust Fund which had made it possible for the least developed and small island states to participate in this session of the Council, which served to confirm the universality of human rights. In Samoa, technical cooperation and assistance facilitated the accreditation of the national human rights institution under the Paris Principles in May 2016. Samoa stressed that human rights could only work if there was a possibility of redress for violations.
Azerbaijan highlighted the necessity of the significant efforts by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to adequately respond to the violations of the human rights of internally displaced persons and refugees, and condemn perpetrators of violations, particularly in protracted conflicts. Azerbaijan condemned all forms of violent extremism and aggressive separatism in any part of the world and reaffirmed its support to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders.
Syria was committed to upholding Venezuela’s sovereignty and urged for non-interference in its internal affairs, and its right to hold democratic elections under the Constitution and national law. Venezuela must be respected by the international community. Syria condemned the United States’ threats of military intervention, which represented an interference into the internal affairs of Venezuela. Syria called for an end to the use of unilateral coercive measures as an illegitimate way to target countries.
Bulgaria welcomed the steps taken by the Council and the Office of the High Commissioner to reply to the increasing demand for technical assistance and capacity building in many countries. Bulgaria highly valued the commitment of Georgia to enhance the national human rights protection system, and encouraged it to further advance its constitutional, judicial and administrative reforms. Bulgaria shared the concerns about deteriorating human rights and the humanitarian situation in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia regions.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea stressed that technical assistance and capacity building in the field of human rights should be realized at the request and with the consent of countries concerned based on the principle of respect for sovereignty. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea condemned the attempts by the United States to interfere in the internal affairs of Venezuela and interrupt the constitutional process under the guise of human rights, as well as the unilateral coercive measures imposed against the people of Venezuela.
Marshall Islands recognized the importance of technical cooperation, especially for countries that were underrepresented in the sessions of the Council, as they did not have permanent representation in Geneva and lacked financial resources to participate in the three regular sessions every year. The Marshall Islands thanked the Voluntary Trust Fund for its support, and welcomed training and capacity building activities to help it address human rights challenges.
Fiji noted that technical assistance and capacity building should be agreed upon and tailored to respond to the needs of receiving States and appreciated the Voluntary Trust Fund for enabling the participation of the least developed and small island States in the Human Rights Council and in the Universal Periodic Review. Fiji thanked the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the technical assistance provided and stressed that it should take a more systemic and long-term approach, with a proper follow-up.
Cambodia said the arrest of a parliamentarian had been carried out by the judicial police in the presence of a prosecutor on the charge of espionage. Cambodia said that the Cambodia Daily had closed its business of its own volition, to avoid paying tax arrears, and stressed that politics had played no role in this matter, as critics inside and outside of the country had mistakenly claimed. Cambodia had no intention to curtail the freedom of press but would strengthen the rule of law as urged by the international community.
National Lesbian and Gay Association said notable progress had been made on issues relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons in recent months, and that in many countries, it was the courts that were bringing about change. Laws were also changing as parliaments passed laws. Human rights were not realized by Governments alone, private sector companies and religious associations played a part as well, and good practices in this regard ought to be shared.
Bahá’í International Community said Yemeni Bahá’ís were suffering, and their strife appeared to be increasing daily. As a religious minority, they were experiencing additional pressure solely because of their beliefs. Information from reliable sources confirmed that Iranian authorities were behind this persecution.
Save the Children International, in a joint statement with Action contre la faim, Care International and Relief International, said Yemen was facing an unprecedented crisis, with millions of people struggling to survive. A cholera outbreak raged through the country, in which 2,100 fatalities had been registered. Over one million public sector workers were being paid erratically. Attacks on civilian infrastructure and the use of weapons in populated areas was being committed with impunity.
Minority Rights Group said the conflict in Yemen had now been going on for more than 900 days. The country’s religious and ethnic minorities found themselves especially vulnerable due to their long history of exclusion. The Council should establish a commission of inquiry to investigate violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen.
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies said that although the Council had set up several Commissions of Inquiry in different parts of the world, it had not done so for Yemen, thus putting its credibility at stake. The whole world was looking at the Human Rights Council today and whether it would set up such a commission for Yemen, after having failed to do so in 2015 and 2016.
Iraqi Development Organization reminded the Council that over the last two years, the National Commission set up to investigate human rights violations in Yemen had continued to fail with respect to impartiality, transparency and meeting international standards, leaving millions of Yemenis without a credible venue to be heard and obtain legal redress. Extending its mandate would only lead to more crimes that occurred unabated, thus the Council should establish an international commission of inquiry.
Alsalam Foundation called on Saudi Arabia to protect all civil society organizations and individuals including the Shi'a. The judiciary system remained opaque despite the training programmes for lawyers and judges delivered by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Saudi Arabia should commit to technical cooperation in the area of the judicial training.
Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain Inc. welcomed all the countries who opted to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and said that participation was necessary to promote and protect human rights in those countries. However, it should not be something Governments could hide behind. In Bahrain, the cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner was lacking, and Bahrain should undertake serious and transparent efforts to establish this relationship.
Eastern Sudan Women Development Organization requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide technical support to civil society organizations in Sudan. The improvement of the humanitarian situation in the country was noted, as was the progress made in the fight against human trafficking. Also worth noting was the 2016 revision of the Constitution which provided guarantees for freedom of peaceful assembly.
Society Studies Centre stressed the importance of the activities by civil society to address the existing problems and challenges in Sudan, often without any international support. The Sudanese people were facing the negative impacts of the debt burden and unilateral coercive measures. The Council should strengthen the capacity of Sudanese non-governmental organizations as it would have a real impact on the situation of human rights.
Amnesty International said that 1,345 civilians had been killed in Yemen since the Council had failed to establish an international inquiry into the conflict one year ago, bringing the total number of civilians killed in the airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition to over 5,000. All parties to the conflict continued to violate international humanitarian law, which must be investigated as possible war crimes. The National Commission, set up by the Government and supported by Yemen, lacked independence, impartiality and operational capacity to fulfil the mandate. The Members States of the Council should promptly establish an independent investigation.
Human Rights Watch said that, for the third consecutive year, the High Commissioner had appealed to the Council to do what it should have done long ago: create a desperately needed independent international inquiry into Yemen. It was clear that the existing national processes were not enough to stem the abuse. Yemeni civilians did not need more of the same, they needed to know that someone was in their corner and that the international community actually cared if they lived or died. States must stand with the Yemeni civilians.
Conseil international pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux droits de l’homme noted the importance of technical assistance for the mainstreaming of human rights into national policies and it drew attention to the countries of the Gulf which had turned into an arena for human rights violations, led by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Those countries led a crackdown against the Shi’a.
Verein Südwind Entwicklungspolitik noted that the suffering of the people of Yemen was increasing, and stressed the crucial role of the delivery of technical assistance in addressing the ongoing human rights violations. Iran and Saudi Arabia were waging a war in Yemen. There was no military solution to that conflict and the two main sides should declare a ceasefire and begin peace negotiations.
Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme underlined that cooperation was key to technical assistance and regretted that several States politicised technical assistance. The escalation of the crisis in Yemen was deeply concerning, as was the humanitarian catastrophe which befell the Yemeni people. Millions of people were facing starvation, with women and children being increasingly vulnerable to violations.
Prahar spoke about the role of technical assistance in improving the situation of human rights of peoples in north eastern India. Most of the human rights abuses, especially in Assam, were caused by inadequate measures and the negligent attitude of the Indian Government towards proper sealing of the border area.
Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle said that the unilateral coercive measures by certain countries against Qatar directly affected the rights of many citizens of Qatar and many citizens of those very countries, particularly families with mixed nationalities whose family life had been disrupted. Students were expelled from their universities, and all suffered because of the siege of Qatar by those countries. The Council should intervene to release a journalist detained in Egypt for more than 3,200 days simply for working for Al-Jazeera.
Liberation said that the inability of the Special Envoy in Yemen to make progress was due to the deep roots of the crisis, and the insistence of the Southerners to restore their country. The key to the settlement was for the Security Council to create a mechanism to effect the human rights mechanisms instead of the political solutions currently in place, which should examine the root causes of the crisis between the South and the North, find a settlement to the conflict and bring the perpetrators to the International Criminal Court.
Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA said that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958, a draconian law, had been imposed upon the people of north-eastern States in India without any plans to carry out capacity building of the local authorities. If the Indian Government could not allocate funds to carry out capacity building, the people were doomed to spend their lives under that Act.
Association pour l’Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi said Sri Lanka had suffered for almost three decades fighting a brutal terrorist organization with a separatist agenda, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam which had committed grave crimes against humanity. The High Commissioner had repeatedly referred to the need for special tribunals to investigate alleged war crimes, and those must extend to the Tamil Eelam leadership and to those who had financed and supported their terrorist activities in the past.
Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada, in a joint statement with Lawyers for Lawyers raised concern about some States’ lack of cooperation with the United Nations in matters of technical assistance and capacity building in the field of human rights, including in Thailand, which had criminalized legitimate work of human rights lawyers, rights defenders and journalists. Cambodia had made little progress to ensure the independence and integrity of the legal profession and had continued to criminalize the legitimate human rights advocacy of lawyers.
Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development was concerned about the situation of children in Yemen where millions were in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. Not only did they live in abject poverty, but since the 1990s, Yemeni children had suffered greatly because of societal, familial, economic, security and political disintegration. It was no longer acceptable that children died in vain. The Human Rights Council was called upon to do something about the situation.
United Nations Watch asked whether the Democratic Republic of the Congo met the criteria in the resolution 60/251 which required Council members to uphold the highest standards of human rights. The country’s record on democratic process, freedom of speech and women’s protection was poor, and sexual violence continued to be perpetrated by security forces.
Centre for Organization Research and Education noted that in the Indian states of Manipur, Tripura and Assam, hundreds of thousands of people were still waiting for justice for those who had been killed by Indian special forces. It requested technical assistance to help India expedite investigations in and prosecutions of human rights violations, and to repeal the Armed Special Forces Act of 1958 immediately.
Organisation pour la communication en Afrique et de promotion de la coopération économique internationale Ocaproce Internationalrecognised the work of the Yemeni National Commission of Inquiry, which had documented 17,123 cases of human rights violations, and regretted that the support of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Yemeni National Commission of Inquiry remained limited. The Human Rights Council should reinforce the capacities of the Commission.
International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination said that since the Houthi militias had taken over the capital of Yemen, the plight of civilians was deteriorating: at least 5,000 people had been killed, hundreds of children across the country were being recruited to serve in the war, seven million persons were on the verge of famine, and the recent cholera outbreak had affected half a million people. While humanitarian assistance was important, it was peace that could bring a definite solution.
International Buddhist Relief Organization wondered whether capacity building and technical assistance could be given forcibly, noting that in Sri Lanka, a panel of experts had been appointed without the consent of the country; it had tabled a report to which Sri Lanka never had a chance to respond. The resolution adopted based on that report, which authorised the Office of the High Commissioner to conduct an investigation, had been objected to by many countries as it was an example of hypocrisy and double standards.
Al Zubair Charitable Foundation said that technical assistance for sustainable programmes in conflict areas and in refugee camps was needed, but no such assistance had been received to address human rights violations in Sudan. Given the progress made in human rights in Sudan, and the commitment of the Sudanese Government to the improvement in human rights, the Independent Expert did not provide adequate assistance to building civil society capacity.
ABC Tamil Oil said that since July 2013, Australia had forcibly transferred 23 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and had in place a punitive policy affecting sea arrivals only. The Council should recommend the Australian Government to undertake full responsibility to resettle all the individuals on Manus Island in a safe third country, in a timely manner.
Association culturelle des Tamouls en France said technical assistance and capacity building were necessary to reconstruct societies affected by war, such as the north and east areas of Sri Lanka, the historical territory of the Tamil people. There were serious concerns about the threats and intimidation which appeared to be linked to former Sri Lankan military staff who had come to the Council as non-governmental organizations, and who had started a social media campaign against the Tamil rights activists from Sri Lanka.
Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul said in 2009, Sri Lankan military forces had conducted a genocide war against Tamils by killing more than 146,000 people in a short period of six months. The Government of Sri Lanka had failed to repeal and replace the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act. The Council should ensure that capacities were built and expertise was provided to the relevant State institutions dealing with the Prevention of Terrorism Act cases, and to engage with the Government to review and repeal the Act.
Association Solidarité Internationale pour l’Afrique noted that Sri Lanka had endured consecutive periods of violent insurgency, a 30-year long armed conflict between the Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, and a 10-year long Sri Lankan military occupation. The Human Rights Council should do its utmost to ensure the protection of Sri Lankan human rights activists.
Association des étudiants tamouls de France stated that delayed justice was not justice, emphasising that two years after the adoption of the resolution 30/1 on Sri Lanka, nothing had changed. Countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and India used the question of Sri Lanka to resolve their own regional interests and had made military agreements with the genocidal Government of Sri Lanka.
LE PONT reminded that Sri Lanka had still not come to terms with its massive problem of enforced disappearances. Since the inception of the resolution 30/1, the Government of Sri Lanka had clearly stated that it would not abide by those obligations. The Association expressed serious concern about the threats and intimidation which appeared to be linked to the Sri Lankan military who had come to the Council session.
Indian Council of South America commended the report on the situation in Yemen, which had stated that militias were responsible for the conflict. Impunity in Yemen was one of the main reasons for the conflict. The non-governmental organization called upon the Human Rights Council to urge the Government of Yemen to punish the perpetrators of human rights violations.
Tamil Uzhagam said Tamil fishermen of Tamilnadu in India had been mercilessly attacked by the Sri Lankan navy for the past four decades. So far, 578 had been shot dead, with their bodies thrown into the sea. On April 2, 2011, the Sri Lankan Navy had abducted four Tamil fishermen, and chopped up their bodies, thereafter throwing them into the sea. Due to the genocidal brutal attacks by the armed forces, more than 100,000 Eelam Tamils had come to Tamilnadu in India as refugees.
Tourner la page said that in 2009, Sri Lankan military forces had made a genocidal war against the Tamils by killing more than 146,000 people in a short period of six months. The Council should establish an international investigation into alleged violations of international humanitarian law and human rights, including crimes against humanity and genocide, by the Sri Lankan security forces during the conflict in Sri Lanka.
Association of World Citizens stated that since the end of the second cholera outbreak in Yemen, 10 per cent of the population had passed away. The teams under the auspices of the World Health Organization were undertaking praiseworthy work. However, attacks and bombings on hospitals meant that very often the population was afraid to go to hospitals to seek medical attention.
International Federation for Human Rights Leagues reminded that the Council had twice fallen short of passing relevant resolutions on Yemen where the civilian death toll continued to rise due to the attacks of the Saudi-led coalition and armed groups. Coalition attacks were the main cause of civilian deaths. An independent international investigation into human rights violations in Yemen was the only opportunity to bring justice and peace to that country.
Egyptian Organization for Human Rights drew attention to the fact that some reports had been published on forces controlled by the United Arab Emirates in southern Yemen. The organization had thus taken an initiative to send an independent fact-finding mission to investigate allegations of secret prisons there, and had found that those reports contained politicised allegations aimed at undermining the credibility of the coalition.
The Next Century Foundation viewed technical assistance and capacity building as exceptionally important and said that there was no memorandum of understanding on this matter with the internationally recognised Government of Libya, and yet this could be easily progressed. Both Libya and Syria were eager to work with the Human Rights Council and now was the time to work with those nations where human rights was most threatened.
Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru” said that the crisis in Ukraine had originated from a coup d’état against a legitimate Government organized and financed by the Western secret services and non-governmental organizations. The armed conflict between the two brotherly people, united by their history, culture and language had shown that here had been an open interference by the Western countries in an attempt to bring Ukraine to the European Union. Crimea had always been the part of Russia.
Human Rights Now expressed grave concern over the suppression of political groups, civil society, and media in Cambodia. Earlier this month, party leader Kem Sokha had been imprisoned for treason despite political immunity, while the former leader Sam Rainsy had been in exile since November 2015. Cambodia should cease its threats, harassment and arbitrary prosecution of political figures, civil society and media, and respect their rights to freedom of expression.
Right of Reply
Russia, speaking in a right of reply, called upon the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights to use the proper names of the Russian entities, i.e. Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol. Russia deplored the politicized statement by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the low quality of the report, based on unreliable sources. The General Assembly resolutions regarding those territories ran counter to international law, and were promoted by a narrow group of States. Russia called upon Ukraine to immediately change its education legislation which violated the rights of minorities, and stressed that Abkhazia and South Ossetia were independent States that were recognized by a number of States, including Russia.
Philippines, speaking in a right of reply, said that in the Philippines, there was no culture of impunity and all abuses were investigated. The Government remained determined to investigate allegations of human rights violations, in full respect of due process and the rule of law. Abusive police officers were under investigation. It was regrettable that it was the countries that themselves disrespected human rights who were the ones that criticized the Philippines. The Philippines was a robust democracy with free press and human rights defenders who could freely express their opinion.
Bahrain, speaking in a right of reply, reiterated that it respected the right of the civil society organizations to cooperate with the United Nations. Freedom of expression and opinion were protected under the national Constitution, but should be practiced in line with the national system. As for the cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Bahrain was surprised by the request of the High Commissioner regarding a visit to a very large number of convicted persons, which could lead to a false impression of legitimacy. Despite that, the Government was pleased with the programmes designed by the High Commissioner and said that it was important to implement technical assistance and capacity building for the benefit of all.
For use of the information media; not an official record