20 September 2010
Concludes General Debate on Human Rights Situations Requiring the Council's Attention, Hears from Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Human Rights Council this afternoon heard the presentation of reports by James Anaya, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples. It also concluded its general debate on human rights situations requiring the Council's attention.
Mr. Anaya, presenting his reports, said the first part of his written report to the Council presented a summary of his activities, and in the second he presented views on the responsibilities of business enterprises in relation to the human rights of indigenous peoples. Since his last report, he had continued his efforts to work in cooperation with the other United Nations agencies and mechanisms that dealt with issues confronting indigenous peoples. In conjunction with this work, he had continued to carry out work in four principal areas to fulfil his mandate. These were promoting good practices; communications relating to alleged human rights violations; country reports; and thematic studies. Efforts to promote good practices had involved advocating for endorsement of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by those States that did not do so in the General Assembly two years ago.
Speaking as concerned countries were Australia, Botswana, Colombia, Russian Federation and Ecuador.
At the beginning of the meeting, Luxolo Bambi Lessa, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the Democratic Republic of Congo, said that the adoption by the Council on 18 March of the final document arising from the Universal Periodic Review of the Democratic Republic of the Democratic Republic of the Congo demonstrated clearly the recognition by the international community and the Council of the considerable and yet difficult improvement of the state of human rights in the country, and its efforts to cooperate. There was a need to intensify the reforms of the judicial sector in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in order to strengthen national jurisdiction. The Government had also repeated its invitation to the Special Rapporteur on the effects of external debt on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. This visit was devoutly wished by the Government, in order to bolster its efforts. The Special Rapporteur on sexual violence had also visited the country. The Government was determined to invest in the implementation of the recommendations made in the context of the Universal Periodic Review, and was unequivocally determined to do so - this could already be seen in progress that had been made.
In the context of the general debate on human rights situations requiring the Council's attention, a series of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) said, among other things, that while States embarked on the mission to economic development, it was often the case that developmental projects were secured in denial of human rights. The Human Rights Council had instituted a system of undertaking a Universal Periodic Review of the human rights situation in Member States, and this would make States more accountable to their people while strengthening global solidarity and the democratic process. The NGOs raised cases of violations relating to the use of military tribunals to deal with civilians; violent suppression of protests; impunity; sexual violence; and the persecution of human rights activists and ethnic and religious minorities, among others, in a number of countries.
Taking the floor were the following NGOs: Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peuples, France Libertés: Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, Human Rights Watch, Baha'i International Community, Liberation, Asian Legal Resource Centre, Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Freedom House, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, Amnesty International, Comité International pour le Respect et l'Application de la Charte Africaine des Droits de l'Homme et des Peuples, Action internationale pour la paix et le développment dans la région des Grands Lacs, Charitable Institute for Defending Victims of Violence, Centrist Democratic International, Indian Council of South America, Association for World Education, International Club for Peace Research, European Union for Public Relations, International Institute for Peace, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, CIVICUS- World Alliance for Citizen Participation, International Education Development, Afro-Asian Peoples' Solidarity Organization, International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, International Humanist and Ethical Union, North-South XXI, World Union for Progressive Judaism, United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation, Rencontre africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme, World Federation of Democratic Youth, International Society for Human Rights, Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations, and International Federation of Human Rights Leagues.
Speaking in right of reply were Cambodia, Libya, and China.
The next meeting of the Council will be on Tuesday, 21 September at 9 a.m., when it will hold an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, following which it will hear an introduction of reports of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and of the Expert Mechanism on indigenous peoples, after which it will hold a general debate. At 11 a.m., the Council will begin its consideration of the Universal Periodic Review outcomes on Kyrgyzstan and Guinea.
Statement by Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Democratic Republic of the Congo
LUZOLO BAMBI LESSA, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said with regard to developments in the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the adoption by the Council on 18 March of the final document arising from the Universal Periodic Review of the Democratic Republic of the Congo demonstrated clearly the recognition by the international community and the Council of the considerable and yet difficult improvement of the state of human rights in the country, and its efforts to cooperate. There had been much speculation concerning the draft Mapping Report on human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from March 1993 to June 2003. The Government had refrained from making any comment on the report until such time as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights integrated within it the Governmental observations that the Government had transmitted to the Office. Only after this would a fully argued analysis be possible.
There was a need to intensify the reforms of the judicial sector in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in order to strengthen national jurisdiction. The objective was to reach a minimum of one judge for 17,500 inhabitants, and to reach within ten years one judge for 10,000 inhabitants. There were now 400 female magistrates. The Government had also repeated its invitation to the visit of the Special Rapporteur on the effects of external debt on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. This visit was devoutly wished by the Government, in order to bolster its efforts. The Special Rapporteur on sexual violence had also visited the country. The Government was determined to invest in the implementation of the recommendations made in the context of the Universal Periodic Review, and was unequivocally determined to do so - this could already be seen in progress that had been made. The Senate had adopted a draft law on the penalisation of torture, and this law would be considered a matter of priority at the General Assembly. A draft revised Family Code was also being considered by the Government to harmonise its provisions with the Constitution and specific international and regional instruments on the rights of women and children. With respect to the unfortunate events occurring in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the military court had been instructed that the 151 rapes and cases of sexual violence would be followed up on and judged by the competent authorities. The Government was committed to finalising the various reforms already under way, and looked forward to help from the international community, multilaterally as well as bilaterally, with regard to requests for technical assistance, as mentioned in the national report examined under the Universal Periodic Review.
General Debate on Human Rights Questions that Require the Council’s Attention
GIANFRANCO FATTORINI, of Movement against Racism and for Friendship among Peoples, in a joint with Society for Threatened Peoples, International Educational Development, France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, and Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network, said that while States embarked on the mission to economic development, it was often the case that developmental projects were secured in denial of human rights. Today, ruthless mining activities by the Chinese authorities in the name of “economic development” had not only led Tibetans to sacrifice their basic rights but had also led to loss of life in some cases where they were shot at by armed police for petitioning. In closing, the Movement called upon the Chinese authorities to conduct an effective, independent and transparent investigation into the extrajudicial killings of Tibetans in Pelyul so that those responsible for these unlawful acts were made accountable and to ensure that the affected Tibetan families were fully compensated.
CHRISTIAN VIRET, of France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, in a joint statement with International Educational Development, American Association of Jurists, and Movement against Racism and for Friendship among Peoples, said that any person detained had the right to a speedy and fair trial. Military tribunals should only be used in specific cases and not to try civilians. In Morocco, a group of persons from Tindouf were detained without their family members being informed. The case was sent to a military tribunal, within which appeals were not possible. Under Moroccan legislation, temporary detention was limited to two months but this could be renewed for up to a year. This situation was unacceptable and France Liberté called upon the Moroccan Government for their immediate release.
JULIE DE RIVERO, of Human Rights Watch, expressed concern about the situation of the Tibetan minority in China as they continued to be the target of systematic governmental repression. In a new report issued in July 2010, Human Rights Watch had documented the widespread abuses committed by Chinese security forces in suppressing the spring 2008 wave of Tibetan protests. The report found that the Chinese used excessive force and acted with deliberate brutality. China must release all detainees that had not been charged, release the information about those killed and injured by security forces and hold accountable those responsible for using excessive force against unarmed protesters, Human Rights Watch said.
DIANE ALA'I, of Baha’i International Community, said that the seven people who used to tend to the religious needs of the Baha’i community in Iran had been unjustly imprisoned for nearly two and a half years. Baha’i International Community had already come before this Council to denounce all the ways in which the handling of their case had violated international human rights law and Iran’s Penal Code. None of Iran’s regulations governing temporary detention were observed in this case and there had never been any legal basis to refuse release on bail, awaiting trial. The case illustrated the persecution that targeted all members of the Baha’i religion in Iran and others who thought different from those in authority.
ANEZKA PALKOVA, of Liberation, said there was a country that in every respect required the immediate attention of the Council on account of human rights violations - the international community was witnessing human rights violations of all kinds in India today including structural and systematic discrimination against Dalits, targeted discrimination against religious communities, exploitation of local communities in the name of development, the failure to provide basic needs to its people, poor governance, abduction of human rights activists, and many others. Despite the persistent pattern of human rights violations in India, the international community had failed to remind India of its obligations under international law. This pattern of systematic violations of human rights continued and was taking new shapes to accommodate the interests of the few. The situation demanded the immediate attention of the Human Rights Council, and it should urge the Government to respect its obligations and commitments under international law.
NORMAN VOSS, of Asian Legal Resource Centre, said the Asian Legal Resource Centre was extremely concerned by the giant steps down the path to dictatorship being taken by the Government in Sri Lanka, and the inevitable serious repercussions that this would have on human rights there. Under the mantra of cooperation, the Council had so far only appeased the perpetrators of gross violations. It was expected that corruption would now flourish, key freedoms would be greatly restricted, and grave human rights violations would increase further, with even less prospect of justice to be served, or impunity prevented. The Council should take the opportunity of the upcoming Universal Periodic Review to find innovative ways to engender tangible improvements on the ground and abandon its current appeasement of even the worst violators.
GOTZON ONANDIA-ZARRABE, of Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, addressing the housing rights situation in France and Colombia, said in Colombia, over 3.4 million people were registered as internally displaced. While the nation’s Constitutional Court had recognized the right to housing, land and property restitution for the displaced, the Government had yet to adopt public policies that systematically safeguarded the housing and land rights of the displaced. With regard to France, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions was gravely concerned about the forced eviction of Roma from camps and the deportation of Roma European Union citizens. France had legal obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the right to adequate housing under international and European human rights law, and to do so without discrimination. Finally, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions added that carrying out forced evictions only exacerbated the problem and added to the violations of international human rights law.
JANIE WHITLOCK, of Women’s International League for Peace and freedom, said that it was concerned about the engendered suffering of internally displaced Darfuri women, in particular through acts of sexual violence. Although the international community had been successful in deploying the UNAMID force in Sudan, the force was far from achieving its objective of protecting civilians in Darfur. Moreover, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom was extremely concerned by the omission of article 13 from the 2009 Child Act and the decriminalisation of female genital mutilation in Sudan. Female genital mutilation was one of the most hazardous practices that endangered the bodily integrity, physical and psychological health of women and girls and Sudan.
MOHAMED ELJAHMI, of Freedom House, said that this Council was created with the promise to elect countries that promoted and protected human rights and asked if the election of Libya lived up to that promise. This question was not academic for the speaker, whose brother, a dissident in Libya, was imprisoned, subjected to five years of intense torture and isolation, leading to his death in 2009. Freedom House asked when would this Council establish an international investigation in his brother’s imprisonment, torture and death and stand with the Libyan people to defend their human rights.
HASSEM NAYEB HASHEM, of Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, said it was deeply concerned about persecution of human rights student activists, journalists, and ethnic and religious minorities in Iran. The individuals who had protested the last year’s unfair and fixed presidential election had been particularly targeted. The demolition of tents and shelters of French Romas and their deportation to Bulgaria and Romania had damaged the European Union’s reputation in respect to human rights. All European countries should make their best effort to avoid any further discrimination against this ethnic minority, as well as immigrant labourers and their families. Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik was concerned about millions of Pakistani people who were suffering from recent floods and hoped that the international community would assist in their recovery.
PETER SPLINTER, of Amnesty International, said the violence that broke out in June in southern Kyrgyzstan resulted in the deaths of hundreds; thousands more were wounded, and hundreds of thousands, mostly ethnic Uzbek, were displaced. The Kyrgyzstani authorities should facilitate the establishment of an international commission of inquiry so that both armed individuals and security forces were held accountable for human rights abuses and violations. An international, independent and impartial investigation into the June violence and its aftermath was essential to restoring sustainable peace and the rule of law, and the Council should express its support for this. Amnesty International continued to be concerned for the deteriorating human rights situation in Swaziland, as well as by the stigmatisation of the Roma and Travellers communities by authorities in France, including at the highest level, and believed that this situation required the further attention of the Council.
EL-BACHIR EDDAHY, of International Committee for the Respect and Application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, said freedom of expression was a basic and sacred right that should be protected under all situations, and raised the situation of an individual member of the Polisario. This person was now barred from accessing the Tinduf camps, having freely expressed his thought and opinion, which was simply different from that of the Polisario and Algeria. Algeria was Polisario's master, and was responsible for the safety of this man, and the Council should take steps to ensure his safety and that he would be able to express his points of view freely in the Tinduf camps.
HAMDI CHERIFI, of Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs (AIPD), addressed the Council on the situation of the Polisario camps in Algeria. The population in the Polisario camps were unlawfully taken hostage and completely denied the right to a decent life and freedom of speech. Moreover, the number of refugees was consistently manipulated in order to increase international aid from donor agencies. Action Internationale called for a census of the camp to track the actual number of people living there and asked the Human Rights Council to put pressure on the Government of Algeria to release all of these detainees, who would no doubt return to their natural homeland in Morocco.
MARYAM SAFARI, of Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims, in a joint statement with Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, said that there continued to be systematic violations of basic human rights, including the right to food and shelter. The current economic crises had exacerbated this problem. The shutting down of Roma camps in France was racist and represented a very clear violation of their human rights. In the nearby United Kingdom, research had showed that the physical search of visible minorities by police forces of the United Kingdom had increased by 70 per cent in the last five years. The Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims hoped that the Governments of these countries would urgently address these serious human rights situations.
Ms. A. RAHAL, of Centrist Democratic International, expressed concern about the alarming situation in the Tinduf camp and the continuing denial of human rights for its population. Access to the Tinduf airstrip was restricted to 20 Moroccans, who were proceeding in the context of the strictly humanitarian intervention organised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. A member of the separatist group Polisario was currently blocked in Mauritania, and the only fault was that he peacefully expressed a political view different from the Polisario leadership. What he said was what most Sahrawis wanted and the international community was supporting. Centrist Democratic International called on Algeria to allow Mr. Selma to enter the territory of the camp.
POOJA PATEL, of Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia), said that in the election process in Myanmar, some voters had not been able to register and the National Electoral Commission had announced that it would cancel the results of 300 polling stations. The Asian Forum also expressed its concern about an amendment of a law in Sri Lanka which risked limiting independent activities of non-governmental organizations.
SHAGUFTA ASHRAF, of World Muslim Congress, said the situation in Jammu and Kashmir was one of State terrorism, and the people had no right to decide their future. The peaceful movement of the Kashmiri people towards the realization of this right had been crushed through brute force. India hid behind its carefully crafted position. Peaceful protests were met with brute force. Many cases of human rights violations stemmed from repressive laws and police brutality against the Kashmiri people, who were denied freedom of speech, assembly, and of the press. The international community needed to recognize and address this situation. The Human Rights Council should investigate and condemn the human rights violations that had occurred in Jammu and Kashmir.
ALTEF HUSSAIN WANI, of International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations, said the human rights situation in occupied Jammu and Kashmir had worsened in recent months, leading to an increased climate of violence and impunity within the region. Protest marches organised to peacefully protest killings had been met with indiscriminate weapons fire by the security forces. Civil society groups of Indian-occupied Kashmir appealed to the Government of India to put an end to the indiscriminate attacks and ensure they respected the rules of proportionality. Legal and punitive action should be pursued against those guilty of killing civilians. United Nations Special Rapporteurs and other mechanisms should investigate the situation in the region and determine possible mechanisms to respond to the prevailing impunity. The Human Rights Council should prevail upon India to respond to these demands.
REYNALDO MARIQUEO, of Indian Council of South America, said that the Mapuche people, living in the South of Chile and Argentina, were subjected to frequent human rights violations by both States. The Mapuche had launched waves of constant protest in response to having had their land forcibly stolen during the colonialist era. The Chilean Government continued to apply anti-terrorist laws to the Mapuche people who were simply fighting for their self-determination. Torture conducted against detainees was widely reported by both national and international non-governmental organizations. Finally, a number of detainees had gone on hunger strike and despite the constant calls of Mapuche leaders, the Chilean President refused to establish a dialogue with this marginalized ethnic group.
DAVID LITTMAN, of Association for World Education, said that the Darfur genocide was disappearing but not because ethnically-targeted killing had been halted. Indeed, as recently as September 2, a particularly brutal attack on Fur villages in Tabarat in North Darfur left 58 civilians dead and 86 wounded. Despite an historic peace agreement between northern and southern Sudan in 2005, the threat of renewed civil war loomed closer. Any resumption of hostilities would be disastrous for a country that had suffered from so many years of bloodshed and destruction and, as such, vital steps were needed to avert a new war. With regard to the upcoming referendum in January 2011, the Association for World Education called for the Human Rights Council to authorize the High Commissioner’s Office to have staff present during the preparation for the referendum, in order to ensure that basic human rights were respected by all concerned parties.
Ms. S. JOHNSON, of International Club for Peace Research, expressed serious concern about the situation in South Asia, where the number of Islamic groups had grown in recent years. The International Club for Peace Research urged the Council to, while undertaking the Universal Periodic Review, examine the nature of a country’s polity and whether the country had been diverting democratic processes.
SUKHNEEL KAUR, of European Union for Public Relations, said the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was described as a Bill of Rights for women. While killing in the name of honour involved both men and women, victims were largely women, who were killed on a mere suspicion of having extramarital relations. This required the immediate attention of international community to stop this most heinous of crimes and violations against women.
EMMANUELLE DANGE, of International Institute for Peace, said when the international coalition threw out the Taliban, deliverance was given, but they had come back into madrassahs and were making themselves part of Pakistan's political life. The Taliban today was resurgent - evidence of this was evident not only from their own websites, but from the recent incidents indicating their regressive interpretation of Islam. The international community should ensure that the future of Afghanistan was left to be determined by its own people, regardless of gender and religious faith, and not by intruders.
GAJJALA PRAVEEN, of Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, said mercenaries represented a non-accountable force used by States to achieve their ends. Afghanistan was evidence of the devastation that mercenaries could produce. The disclosure that even today, when Pakistan claimed to be an ally of the West in the war against terrorism, elements within its army continued to support the Taliban, was an example. It was imperative for the international community, in order to stop the use of mercenaries by Pakistan and other bodies to jeopardise the growth of peace in Afghanistan, and to send the unmistakeable message that this would no longer be tolerated.
DINO DEAN GRACIOUS DYMPEP, of Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association, drew the attention of the Council to human rights violations being committed in north-eastern India, especially on indigenous youth. Although Indian national laws protected juvenile rights, many youth continued to have their rights infringed in the name of national security. Furthermore, despite the enactment of security legislation in India, many adolescents had been tried in adult courts and under adult laws. The Indian authorities continued to mistreat many of these youths and, in spite of the growing number of young people that were arrested and detained, there were no rehabilitation facilities to help reintegrate them into society.
Mr. SEKHON, of Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, said that the Naxalite insurgency was a real security threat in India. While the Naxalites had launched their insurgency in order to safeguard their rights, India had suppressed their movement and showed little respect for the claims of these marginalized people. In response, the Naxalites had started targeting civilians and recruiting school children to join their resistance movement. Though the Naxalites had chosen the wrong path to achieve their goals, often involving violence, it did not justify or excuse the heavy-handed response from India, which was using disproportionate force to deter and discourage the Naxalites. The Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy concluded by calling on the Human Rights Council to put pressure on the Indian Government to respect its international human rights obligations.
RENATE BLOEM, of CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, told the Council about the most appalling human rights violations in Turkmenistan and asked the Council to remember the connection between the cost of economic ties with Turkmenistan and the value of human rights, human life and the dignity of its citizens. There was no pluralism in the country and no freedom of speech. The practice of collective punishment was widespread and its penal system was among the worst in the world. While the World Alliance for Citizen Participation understood the concerns of Western governments regarding energy security for Europe, it did not understand why the standards for evaluating human rights conditions in the country had been severely diluted.
KAREN PARKER, of International Education Development Inc., said it remained concerned about the situation of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka who were still not afforded their human rights and urged the Council to urgently schedule a follow-up session. International Education Development also sought assistance in ensuring that the grievances of the Tamil people, which had been the root cause of the conflict, were effectively addressed. The situation in India-occupied Kashmir was another example of what occurred when international community failed to implement its own resolutions and ignored for many years the serious human rights abuses of certain governments. The Council also needed to respond to the situation of the Iranian resistance and their families in Camp Ashraf in Iraq.
MINI SHAMA, of Afro-Asian Peoples' Solidarity Organization, said the Human Rights Council had instituted a system of undertaking a Universal Periodic Review of the human rights situation in Member States, and this would make States more accountable to their people while strengthening global solidarity and the democratic process. The activities of non-State players indulging in violence were growing, but even they were aware that lip service had to be paid to democracy, and it was not rare to find they had set up various organizations that were committed not only to human rights and democratic processes but were in fact designed to sustain violent acts. This situation did not manifest itself in countries where democracy was well-established and democratic rights covered the whole population with the right of franchise.
MIR TAHIR MASSOD, of International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, said the situation of human rights in Indian-occupied Kashmir was grave, as the armed forces were given blanket powers, and the situation had seriously deteriorated in recent months. Each peaceful demonstration had been brutalised by the security forces without provocation and with the sanction of the authorities. From June 11 2010 to today, at least 106 innocent Kashmiris were killed by the security forces, and the entire Kashmiri valley was under military rule and curfew, with supplies and stocks suffering. Kashmiris found buying essential supplies such as baby milk impossible. There was serious concern on the deteriorating situation, and the Council should take cognisance of the situation.
ZAID ABDEL TAWAB, of Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, said that his statement was supposed to be made by two activists from Bahrain, one of whom had received death threats and the other who was detained on her flight out to Geneva. The situation of human rights in Bahrain was indeed very troubling and there continued to be acts of torture and arbitrary detention. In Syria, prisons were filled with prisoners of conscience, whose only crime was to speak out against the State. The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies asked how many victims needed to be killed or tortured before the Human Rights Council would take action to protect their rights.
RACHEEL RAZA, of International Humanist and Ethical Union, said that the question of stoning or honour killings should not be whether or not it was admitted under domestic law but whether or not it was accepted under international law. It was almost always women who were victims of stoning. The International Humanist and Ethical Union recognized that honour killings were not exclusive to Muslims but she noted that the Islamic law of retribution allowed males to be pardoned in ways that women could not be. Religion could not and should not be used to trump human rights, in particular the right to life. The Human Rights Council had a moral obligation to condemn stoning and honour killings and it was high time that the Council adopt a resolution on this topic.
ALEXANDRA RIVERA, of North-South XXI, said North-South XXI was concerned about the dire situation of human rights in the Sudan and the humanitarian situation in Darfur. This situation required continued follow up by the Human Rights Council. The Independent Expert on the human rights situation in the Sudan had outlined a number of legal reforms that must be done in the Sudan to remove the carte blanche that armed groups had in Darfur. The humanitarian situation there had deteriorated, with expulsion of, deliberate attacks against and killings or abduction of humanitarian workers. The Government of the Sudan was slow in implementing various recommendations and that was why North-South XXI supported the extension of the mandate of the Independent Expert on the human rights situation in the Sudan.
DAVID LITTMAN, of World Union for Progressive Judaism, in a joint statement with Association for World Education, said about 35,000 South Sudan slaves still remained in bondage in the north of the Sudan. They were Christians, captured during the North-South war. Most of those who were liberated reported severe beating, female genital mutilation, rape, and death threats. Despite the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Sudan had failed to eradicate slavery. The Council, instead of acting as the monitor of the international campaign, had allowed this recognized crime against humanity to lapse into oblivion.
MEHRAN BALUCH, of United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation, said with regard to the situation of human rights in Baluchistan, there was a dirty war there, under the very nose of the High Judiciary, and the law of the jungle was holding sway. Minors were being enrolled by religious zealots, promised bungalows and limousines in heaven, with the aim of destroying peace and security in the region. The decadent mindset of the military headquarters was that Christians, Jews and Hindus were enemies, and the Baluch who did not share this view were killed. In recent weeks, Baluch had been killed and their bodies thrown out like trash.
RAMDAN ARIFI, of Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, deplored the violence ongoing in Guinea, which had led to the loss of lives. There should be a return of democracy and the re-establishment of constitutional order in Guinea. There was trafficking, contraband, and a rise of kidnapping in the Sahara in recent months, contributing to destabilisation in the region, and a rise of inter-community and religious violence. South Africa was confronted with a rise in violence against Zimbabwean immigrants. The Human Rights Council should take steps to put an end to these activities and others.
MALAININ LAKHAL, of World Federation of Democratic Youth, said that the purpose of the United Nations Charter was to develop friendly relations with States whilst respecting human dignity. The people of the Western Sahara continued to be victims of gross and systematic human rights violations. The Human Rights Council needed to address this issue and could no longer turn a blind eye to the plight of these innocent victims. The world’s weakest populations deserved a chance to dream of a better tomorrow and the Council needed to regain its credibility by openly condemning and acting against gross human rights abuses.
ALFRED DE ZAYAS, of International Society for Human Rights, said that China had signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Society for Human Rights called on China to fully respect its obligations under the Covenant. The persecution of the Falun Gong, Tibetan groups and others showed that China had not stopped suppressing opposition. The Uygurs and Tibetans were slandered as violent resistance movements and portrayed as fighting for their independence. In fact, both groups wanted a peaceful solution and the majority were fighting not for independence but for greater autonomy and for having their human rights and cultures respected. The International Society for Human Rights asked for the Human Rights Council to address the human rights situation in China and to combat the spread of disinformation as a result of Government propaganda.
KLAUS NETTER, of Coordinating Board of Jewish Organisations, said that the Council could not ignore the grave human rights situation in Iran. Iran held the world’s record for the death penalty for juveniles, it still condoned stoning for adultery and human rights activists who had not fled the country were being arrested. The persecution of ethnic and religious minorities continued. The Council should call for the abolishment of stoning sentences and the death penalty for juveniles, and should ask Iran to grant access by the Red Cross to all prisoners. The Council should also establish a mandate for investigation of human rights abuses in Iran.
JULIE GROMELLON, of International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, said that the violence in Kyrgyzstan demonstrated the inability of the provisional government to deal with the prevailing instability. The International Federation for Human Rights Leagues called on the international community to establish an independent and impartial commission to investigate the crimes committed and to provide support to Kyrgyz police to ensure the protection of the population. The International Federation deplored the measures by the Algerian Government to silence families of victims of forced disappearance and called on Algerian authorities to provide justice and truth to their legitimate demands. The International Federation had published a report which outlined the extent to which civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights were violated in the context of economic liberalisation.
Right of Reply
LONG SOKHAN (Cambodia), speaking in a right of reply, said with regard to the statement made by Israel during the general debate, it was surprising that this unconstructive statement had been made that undermined the good spirit and efforts made by Cambodia in the area of the protection and promotion of human rights, including the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. Cambodia was disappointed and regretted that the delegation of Israel ignored the longstanding record of Cambodia's achievements and commitments to human rights. Cambodia had engaged itself with the Human Rights Council on advisory services and capacity building. Israel should look at their own country situation first with regard to human rights before addressing the issue of Cambodia; this would improve their modesty. The statement of Israel was unacceptable to Cambodia in view of the fact that it addressed Cambodia with ill intent, and was out of context of the agenda item.
IBRAHIM ALDREDI (Libya), speaking in a right of reply, responded to certain irresponsible non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for their groundless and contentious allegations. Libya asked that certain NGO interventions be deleted from the permanent records, as they were unfounded. The Council should not be a Forum for the perpetuation of unfounded and slanderous views. President Gadhaffi was proud to be involved in the Human Rights Council and Libya would continue to work actively within the Council to highlight and address fact-based human rights situations.
QIAN BO (China), speaking in a right of reply, categorically rejected accusations expressed by some speakers, and said those were either politically motivated or were not grounded in the truth. China expressed its serious concerns about serious human rights violations by the United States both domestically and around the world. The United States must not point fingers at other countries and their human rights record. China had already spoken on numerous occasions about the March incident in Tibet and repeated that it had not been a peaceful demonstration, but it was looting and disruption of public order. The authorities had followed the rule of law in dealing with that incident and the rights of ethnic minorities were fully respected. The Human Rights Watch comments about Tibet were completely groundless. The Government had taken measures to develop this region and to improve human rights and its achievements in this regard were indisputable.
IBRAHIM ALDREDI (Libya), speaking in a second right to reply, said Libya was not against the participation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the Council, but was against irresponsible participation by irresponsible NGOs.
The Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, James Anaya, (A/HRC/15/37), presents a summary of the activities carried out during the second year of the Rapporteur’s mandate, including cooperation with other international and regional mechanisms in the field of indigenous rights, and the activities carried out in his four principal areas of work: promoting good practices; thematic studies; country reports; and communications relating to alleged human rights violations. The second half of the report is devoted to an analysis of corporate responsibility with respect to indigenous rights, in the framework of the international community’s expectations in that regard.
Communications to and from Governments, (A/HRC/15/37/Add.1), includes the contents of the communications sent to Governments by the Special Rapporteur, either on his own or jointly with other Special Procedures mandate holders, along with summaries of the replies received from Governments and the observations by the Special Rapporteur. The communications reported are those sent by the Special Rapporteur between 1 July 2009 and 31 May 2010, and those received from Governments between 27 August 2009 and 31 July 2010.
The Situation of Indigenous People in Botswana, (A/HRC/15/37/Add.2), presents observations and recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of indigenous peoples in Botswana, focusing on those groups that have been historically marginalized and that remain non-dominant parts of society. The report arises out of an exchange of information with the Government, indigenous peoples and other interested parties and follows the Special Rapporteur’s visit to Botswana (19–27 March 2009).
The Human Rights Situation of indigenous peoples in Colombia: follow-up to the recommendations of the former Special Rapporteur, (A/HRC/15/37/Add.3), presents the findings of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, Mr. James Anaya, on the situation of indigenous peoples in Colombia, as part of the follow-up to the recommendations made in 2004 by the previous Special Rapporteur, Mr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen. These findings are the result of an exchange of information with the Government of Colombia and other interested parties and of the mission carried out by Mr. Anaya between 22 and 27 July 2009.
The Situation of Indigenous People in Australia, (A/HRC/15/37/Add.4), contains the observations of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. The report is based on exchanges of information with the Government, indigenous peoples and other interested parties, including during the Special Rapporteur’s visit to Australia from 17 to 28 August 2009.
The Situation of Indigenous People in the Russian Federation, (A/HRC/15/37/Add.5), examines the situation of indigenous people in the Russian Federation in light of relevant international human rights standards. The report is focused on those groups whose members number less than 50,000 and are recognized by the Russian Federation as “small numbered indigenous peoples” entitled to special protections, although the report notes that other groups with similar, historically-rooted characteristics of economic and social disadvantage, and whose cultures and ways of life are also threatened, are likewise in need of attention in accordance with international standards.
The Preliminary Note on the Human Rights Situation of the Sami People in the Nordic Countries, (A/HRC/15/37/Add.6), contains general information and some initial impressions on a meeting held between 14 to 16 April 2010 between the Special Rapporteur with representatives of the Sami parliaments and Governments of Norway, Sweden and Finland at a conference in Rovaniemi, Finland, to discuss cross-border and other issues affecting the Sami people in the Sami region of the Nordic countries. A full report on the situation of the Sami people in the Nordic countries, with conclusions and recommendations, will be presented by the Special Rapporteur to the Human Rights Council and made public at a later date.
The Report on the Implementation of Constitutional Guarantees for indigenous peoples in Ecuador, (A/HRC/15/37/Add.7) is currently unavailable in English. 9/20/10 (available only in Spanish)
The Preliminary Note on the Mission to Guatemala, (A/HRC/15/37/Add.8), reflects the Special Rapporteur’s preliminary observations on his visit to Guatemala from 14 to 18 June 2010, which were communicated to the government and the general public at the end of his visit. These preliminary observations will be developed in the Special Rapporteur’s final report to the Human Rights Council, which will include a series of recommendations to the State of Guatemala and other stakeholders.
The Preliminary Note on the Mission to New Zealand, (A/HRC/15/37/Add.9), details the visit of the Special Rapporteur to New Zealand between 18 and 24 July 2010 during which he met with Government authorities, representatives of Maori communities and organizations, and others, in places in and around Auckland, Wellington, Waitangi, Hamilton and Whanganui. The Special Rapporteur visited a number of Maori communities in both rural and urban areas, and collected information from various sources. At the invitation of the Government, and with the encouragement of Maori leaders, the Special Rapporteur visited New Zealand to follow up on the work of Rodolfo Stavenhagen, the previous Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, who visited the country in 2005.
The Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the rights of indigenous peoples, (A/HRC/15/34), contains information on relevant developments of human rights bodies and mechanisms and outlines the activities undertaken by the Office of the High Commissioner at headquarters and in the field that contribute to the promotion and the full application of the provisions of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and follow-up the effectiveness of the Declaration. The report covers the period between January 2009 and May 2010.
Statement by Special Rapporteur on Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples
JAMES ANAYA, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples, said the first part of his written report to the Council presented a summary of his activities, and in the second he presented views on the responsibilities of business enterprises in relation to the human rights of indigenous peoples. Since his last report, he had continued his efforts to work in cooperation with the other United Nations agencies and mechanisms that dealt with issues confronting indigenous peoples. In conjunction with this work, he had continued to carry out work in four principal areas to fulfil his mandate. These were promoting good practices; communications relating to alleged human rights violations; country reports; and thematic studies. Efforts to promote good practices had involved advocating for endorsement of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by those States that did not do so in the General Assembly two years ago. There was ever-greater support among States for the human rights principles enshrined in the Declaration.
The Council had directed the Special Rapporteur to receive and exchange information on cases of alleged violations of the human rights of indigenous peoples, and the number and nature of cases attested to the widespread and systemic human rights problems indigenous peoples continued to face around the globe, and the ongoing need for systemic and coordinated action to address these problems. This year the Special Rapporteur had completed country reports on Botswana, Australia, and the Russian Federation, and completed a report on Colombia to follow-up on the recommendations of his predecessor, and a report on the status of the implementation of constitutional norms in Ecuador. He had issued preliminary notes but was still in the process of completing his reports following visits to New Zealand and to the Sami region of Finland, Norway, and Sweden. In Botswana, several ethnically distinct indigenous peoples were marginalised due to the legacy of colonialism, and policies and laws established post-independence that had privileged dominant groups. In relation to Australia, he commended the Government for various programmes aimed at reducing the disadvantaged conditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples, but considered these should be better devised to advance the cultural integrity and self-determination of these peoples. With respect to the Russian Federation, further efforts were needed to ensure that existing laws were fully and consistently implemented for all indigenous peoples, and to ensure that their rights were fully respected.
With regard to Colombia, that State had paid particular and significant attention to indigenous issues, and had made efforts to implement the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur's predecessor; however, indigenous peoples continued to face serious problems that had not been addressed with due urgency. On Ecuador, although there had been progress, continuous challenges in the implementation of the rights of the indigenous peoples were of concern, and the exploitation of natural resources in indigenous lands and the situation of isolated indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples ought to be consulted in the formation of any new legislation relevant to them. On thematic studies, he had continued his efforts to contribute to a better understanding of cross-cutting issues of particular concern for indigenous peoples around the world. The thematic study this year was designed to expatiate on the content of responsibility for corporations with respect to indigenous peoples, as there was a lack of clarity in this regard for companies, in particular transnationals, leading to many abuses around the world.
Statements by Concerned Countries
PETER WOOLCOTT (Australia), speaking as a concerned country, said that much common ground had been found during the visit of the Special Rapporteur. For instance, Australia was equally concerned in improving the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians and closing the economic gap between these two communities. Australia had taken measures to close the gap in life expectancy, mortality rates, employment outcomes, education opportunities, and to ensure that all indigenous four-year olds had access to early childhood education materials and schooling. The Special Rapporteur had also expressed some concerns with the Northern Territory Emergency Response. Consultations for the Emergency Response were held with over 500 communities in the State and constituted Australia’s largest exchange in history with their indigenous population. Australia said that it would continue to work towards a relationship with its indigenous populations based on mutual respect and trust. The Special Rapporteur was also interested in the establishment of a new indigenous representative body and this was set up in November of 2009, known as the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. In conclusion, Australia thanked the Special Rapporteur for his visit and the Human Rights Council for addressing some of the issues raised by Professor Anaya.
AUGUSTINE MAKGONATSOTLHE (Botswana), speaking as a concerned country, said that the visit to Botswana by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people presented an invaluable opportunity for him and the international community to learn more about Botswana’s policies and programmes. Botswana was pleased to note that the report of the Special Rapporteur acknowledged the positive aspects of the efforts by the Government to uplift the lives of all its peoples. Some of the recommendations contained in the report were already implemented, while some observations in the report revealed a possible lack of understanding or factual inaccuracies. Assertion by the Special Rapporteur that marginalized communities were not adequately consulted was an incorrect reflection of Botswana’s practice. The Government practiced development planning that involved its citizenry at all levels and development plans were underpinned by extensive consultation based on inclusion across all levels.
Contrary to the assertion that the Basarwa were not allowed to engage in subsistence hunting and gathering in accordance with traditional practices, Botswana said the Basarwa were encouraged to use their traditional hunting weapons which allowed species to multiply. Regarding the assertion that the Basarwa were prohibited from practicing traditional healing practices, traditional healing practices were acknowledged in the national health policy and the Ministry of Health was engaged in consultation with traditional healers to develop legislation on traditional medicine. Botswana concluded by saying that the Government had prepared a detailed response to the Special Rapporteur’s report and trusted that its explanations would provide another perspective to the report on the country visit.
ALICIA VICTORIA ARANGO OLMOS (Colombia), speaking as a concerned country, said the Special Rapporteur was thanked for his introduction of the report on his visit to the country. He had met with the President of the Republic, various members of civil society and representatives of indigenous communities. He had recognized the efforts made by Colombia to protect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples, and the various challenges faced in this regard. Colombia fully recognized the rights of the indigenous peoples, but hard work remained to be done to ensure their implementation at all levels. The current President had met with the representatives of various indigenous peoples, and had been given a staff of Office and necklace representing the land. Colombia currently had 3.4 per cent of the population registered as indigenous. To deal with the needs of the indigenous peoples and promote the effective enjoyment of their rights, public policy was being drawn up to ensure their participation in line with the legal framework, respecting their own particular spiritual and other processes. There had been some developments since the visit took place. Colombia appreciated the express rejection by the Special Rapporteur in his report of the killing and recruitment of the young, and the use of landmines by the FARC. A bureau for coordination for specific indigenous peoples had been set up to help deal with such issues as displacement and drug-trafficking. Efforts had been made to ensure differential and specific security for indigenous peoples. Anti-personnel mines were a great threat to indigenous communities, and specific action had been taken in this regard, and a memorandum of understanding had been signed with indigenous organizations to decide on the programme of action for integrated action against these mines and other unexploded ordinance.
MARINA KORUNOVA (Russian Federation), speaking as a concerned country, thanked the Special Rapporteur for his report on the results of his visit to Russia in 2009. His visit was a timely one as it coincided with new domestic legislation on the rights of indigenous peoples. However, Russia believed that the stereotypical views of colonialism did not apply in the same way with its country as it did with others. Also, the clearly negative perspective of the treatment of indigenous peoples during the Soviet period was not totally accurate.
Russia was working towards supporting indigenous populations in Siberia and its northern areas by protecting their cultural activities as well as their traditional forms of economy, such as reindeer and horse herding. There was a State sponsored Working Group focused on the issue of reindeer herding in the north and the Government was amending its hunting and fishing laws to ease the restrictions on indigenous populations. Active work was also underway to regularize relations between industrial companies and indigenous groups and to compensate indigenous communities that had unduly suffered because of the activities of industrial development. The openness of the Special Rapporteur was well appreciated by the Russian Government and Russia concluded by saying that it was prepared to continue working with him on the promotion of indigenous human rights.
JUAN HOLGUIN (Ecuador), speaking as a concerned country, said Ecuador was grateful for the visit and the report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples. The Constitution of 2008 with regard to indigenous matters included guarantees which made it possible for indigenous people to exercise their rights. This was recognised in the report. The visit had created valuable opportunities for an internal dialogue. A draft law concerned establishing a mechanism for indigenous justice which respected the world vision of indigenous peoples. With the promotion of the consultation process for this draft law, the Government had undertaken training to improve the understanding of indigenous people and indigenous prosecution offices had been set in the 12 provinces with the biggest concentration of indigenous people. The right to consultation and participation of indigenous people was a constitutional right to which the Government attached the greatest importance. It had therefore elaborated a protocol with clear procedure on consultation with indigenous people, in collaboration with experts on indigenous people. The Government had undertaken a number of measures for the protection of isolated indigenous people by limiting exploitation of oil in territories of isolated indigenous people and by undertaking other measures to limit environmental damage, Ecuador concluded.
For use of the information media; not an official record