Human Rights Council
28 June 2012
Concludes Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Situation of Human Rights in Belarus
The Human Rights Council this morning started its general debate on its agenda item on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention. It also concluded its interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Belarus.
In the general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention, speakers raised violations of human rights in a number of countries and regions. Speaking in the general debate were Denmark on behalf of the European Union, Norway, Spain, Czech Republic, Libya, Hungary, Indonesia, United States, China, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Ecuador, Cuba, Kuwait, France, Netherland, Ireland, Australia, Japan, United Kingdom, Iran , Slovenia, Slovakia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Canada, Sweden, Brazil, Bahrain, and Belarus.
Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: France Liberté, Development Innovation and Networks, International Association of Schools of Social Work, American Association of Jurists, Human Rights Watch, Baha’i International Community, Human Rights House Foundation, and International Movement Against all Forms of Discrimination.
In the interactive dialogue on Belarus, many delegations said they were concerned about reports of ill-treatment and torture and about harassment and persecution of journalists and activists in Belarus. They were also alarmed by amendments to laws that resulted in restrictions on civil and political rights, including freedom of opinion, expression and of peaceful assembly. Speakers called for comprehensive and transparent investigations to be conducted on cases of ill-treatment and torture. Many called for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur. Other delegations said there was no need for a Special Rapporteur on Belarus, adding that the report did not reflect the efforts taken by Belarus in its attempts to fulfill its international obligations and promote human rights, including implementing measures of the Universal Periodic Review. Speakers said the report was based primarily on secondary resources, due to restricted access to the country. Countries urged Belarus to allow access to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Speaking in the interactive dialogue on Belarus were Syria, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, France, Belgium, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Tajikistan, Uruguay, Myanmar, Turkmenistan, Mexico and Botswana.
Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights, Human Rights House Foundation, Amnesty International, and Civicus.
Belarus, in concluding remarks, said that there was no doubt that the European Union was trying to impose on the High Commissioner and the Council its own views on Belarus. Belarus indicated that document HRC/20/G.5 described the full-scale cooperation between Belarus and United Nations human rights’ bodies and thus there was no need for the creation of a Special Rapporteur on Belarus. The Government had cooperated with the Council, human rights mechanisms and the Universal Periodic Review.
Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in closing remarks, said that information provided by the Belarusian Government had been explicitly referred to in the report or used along with information from other sources. Concerning the lack of references to the issue of restrictions on freedom of movement, Ms. Pillay indicated that at the period of completion only sporadic cases of limitations to the freedom of movement had been noted. Nevertheless, an increasing number of cases had been revealed as a repeated pattern or trend and this had been indicated orally during the presentation of the report. Ms. Pillay welcomed the release of some individuals; nevertheless, these releases had been followed by the imprisonment of journalists and other individuals.
The Human Rights Council will meet this afternoon at 3 p.m. to conclude its general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention and to start its general debate human rights bodies and mechanisms.
Interactive Dialogue with High Commissioner for Human Rights on Situation of Human Rights in Belarus
Syria said it had become evident that the report on Belarus was prepared amidst a biased political situation and political agendas in opposition of the Belarusian interests. The report presented the point of view of the European Union and other institutions, and disregarded the need to consider the specific situation of each country concerning national implementation of international commitments. In this regard, Syria said that the report was misleading, prejudged the question and thus missed a valuable opportunity to focus on real human rights issues.
Democratic People's Republic of Korea welcomed the comments by Belarus concerning the presidential election that was conducted in compliance with national legislation and international laws. Human rights issues or disputes must be resolved through genuine dialogue and constructive cooperation, free from unilateral coercive, confrontational and selective condemnation. Measures should be taken to put an end to anachronistic adoption of country-specific resolutions and mandates.
France said that the situation in Belarus continued to deteriorate and France regretted that the Government continued to refuse to host a mission from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Persons in prisons suffered threats and ill-treatment and there remained many prisoners of conscience who suffered from harassment. Civil society was harshly repressed and deprived of fundamental rights. France called on the Council to adopt the resolution creating a Special Rapporteur on Belarus.
Belgium said that Belarus’ refusal to fully cooperate with the United Nations Office had not allowed for the necessary information to be obtained. Belgium called upon Belarus to authorize visits of Special Procedure mandate holders. Belgium was deeply concerned with regards to pressure on the media and about journalists persecuted for their professional activities. Belarus was the only country in Europe that still applied the death penalty. A moratorium should be established with the view of abolishing the death penalty.
Lao People’s Democratic Republic said that the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review mechanism were the only appropriate forums to discuss or review a situation of human rights in a country on an equal basis. Lao People’s Democratic Republic took note of the great efforts of the Government of Belarus in trying to solve the tragic events in the country and encouraged the Government to continue its cooperation and constructive dialogue with the international community to achieve its international obligations and duties. It also encouraged the international community to engage in a positive dialogue with Belarus.
Tajikistan said that the report did not appear to include all the documents and information on Belarusian efforts to implement measures of the Universal Periodic Review. Unfortunately, the report was based on secondary resources, allegedly due to restriction of access to the country. Tajikistan had been successfully collaborating on a bilateral and multilateral basis with Belarus. Belarus was committed to fulfilling its international obligations and cooperating with international human rights mechanisms.
Uruguay expressed its concern for the increasing deterioration of the situation of human rights in Belarus and asked the delegation of Belarus to explain how it was going to implement the necessary measures that would facilitate the visit of the High Commissioner, whether Belarus had authorized a technical team to prepare the visit, and whether Belarus intended to invite the thematic Rapporteurs.
Myanmar said that Myanmar was pleased to observe much activity in the area of human rights in Belarus and that Belarus had submitted its seventh periodic report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in 2009. Myanmar was glad that Belarus had implemented over 70 per cent of the accepted recommendations in the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review.
Turkmenistan expressed appreciation for the active cooperation of Belarus with bodies created under the human rights treaties and for the fact that Belarus had accepted 75 recommendations of the 93 that were made by United Nations Member States during the Universal Periodic Review. Turkmenistan expressed satisfaction with the recent achievements of the Belarusian Government concerning the tackling of trafficking of persons, particularly women and children.
Mexico noted the deterioration of democratic space and the worrying limits placed on the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Belarus. Restrictions on activities of civil society and journalists were unacceptable. Mexico was particularly concerned by the conclusion relating to the pattern of serious violations of human rights since the last elections. In light of up-coming elections, there was no doubt that it was incumbent on the Government to ensure that its legal framework did not repress peaceful demonstration nor crack down on free dissemination of ideas.
Botswana said it was regrettable that while Belarus had interacted with human rights treaty bodies on a regular basis over the years, the report portrayed a worsening human rights situation. Botswana was particularly concerned by reported amendments to laws, which resulted in restrictions on civil and political rights. Also of concern was the reported systematic pattern of insecurity. Botswana encouraged Belarus to cooperate with all United Nations Human rights mechanisms and to allow access to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ technical team.
Human Rights Watch said Belarusian authorities had arrested dozens of activists and members of civil society on charges of hooliganism in order to intimidate them and prevent them from attending protests. Non-governmental organizations that were critical of the Government worked under the constant threat of arbitrary arrests and confiscations. Recently, Belarusian authorities had also attempted to restrict freedom of movement and limits on the flow of information about ongoing repression. Human Rights Watch called on the Council to establish a country-specific mandate on Belarus.
International Federation for Human Rights said that the situation in Belarus continued to deteriorate and prisoners of conscience remained in detention or were increasingly subjected to degrading treatment. Independent associations faced difficulties to register and operate in the country and had limited access to foreign grants and donations. The Council should take firm and decisive action and the Federation called on the Council to establish a Special Rapporteur on Belarus.
Human Rights House Foundation called on the Council to act and establish a Special Rapporteur on Belarus. The Belarusian authorities dismissed Special Procedures and refused to recognise recommendations, for example, concerning torture. Belarusian unwillingness to cooperate with the Council had had dramatic consequences: between 2010 and 2013 five people had been executed although their appeals were pending at the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
Amnesty International was concerned about the retention of the death penalty by Belarus. It expressed concern about the executions carried out in March 2012 and about the fairness of the detention and the trial of the two persons executed. Amnesty International urged Belarus to establish a moratorium on all executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.
Civicus said that the situation in Belarus had deteriorated since 2004 and urged Belarus to release immediately all political prisoners. Civicus was concerned to hear about cases of torture and abuse in overcrowded prisons in Belarus. It was also very concerned about the violation of the rights of human rights activists in Belarus and that executions had been held secretly. Civicus called on Belarus to take measures to help build a stronger civil society in the country and further the country’s development.
Belarus, in concluding remarks, took note of the opinions expressed during the discussion. There was no doubt that the European Union was trying to impose on the High Commissioner and the Council its own views on Belarus. Without a common understanding on the adequate implementation of international principles and standards, the European Union would continue to accuse Members States of failing to uphold democratic standards according to its interests. Certain Member States of the European Union themselves did not cooperate with the Special Procedures. Belarus indicated that document HRC/20/G.5 described the full-scale cooperation between Belarus and United Nations human rights’ bodies and thus there was no need for the creation of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus. The Government had cooperated with the Council, human rights mechanisms and the Universal Periodic Review. The report did not provide a full picture of the human rights situation in Belarus, which had been provided during its last Universal Periodic Review in 2010. Belarus was thankful to the countries which had participated and had contributed to a genuine dialogue. Belarus was a country of 10 million citizens and they would never allow their country to be destabilised.
NAVI PILLAY, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, followed up on questions posed by delegations during the debate. Some had insisted that the report did not adequately take into account information provided by the Belarusian Government. In this regard, Ms. Pillay indicated that, for example, concerning the description of events in December 2010, the Government’s information had been explicitly referred to or used along with information from other sources; the number of arrests noted by the Government and verified by the Office of the High Commissioner had also been included; the annex also included documents and factual information provided by the Government. Concerning the lack of references to the issue of restrictions on freedom of movement, Ms. Pillay indicated that at the period of completion only sporadic cases of limitations to the freedom of movement had been noted. Nevertheless, an increasing number of cases had been revealed as a repeated pattern or trend and this had been indicated orally during the presentation of the report.
Concerning Belarus’ cooperation with United Nations treaty bodies, Ms. Pillay noted the existence of important gaps, in particular with the Human Rights Committee. Belarus had failed to comply with the Committee’s decisions and two individuals had been executed despite pending consideration of their cases by the Committee. While Ms. Pillay had identified some Special Procedure mandate holders who had been invited to Belarus, the report also noted that Belarus had not responded positively to a number of mandate holders. Concerning the Universal Periodic Review and follow up activities, Ms. Pillay welcomed the participation of Belarus in these procedures and the information session, although, Belarus’ interest had been limited to the issue of trafficking.
Ms. Pillay welcomed the release of some individuals. This should be followed by the unconditional release of all remaining prisoners of conscience and opponents; nevertheless, these releases had been followed by the imprisonment of journalists and other individuals. Concerning reprisals against human rights activists for their engagement with United Nations human rights mechanisms, this had been noted with concern. Given the lack of an independent judiciary there were also concerns about the excessive pressure on lawyers defending individuals accused in relation to the events of 19 December 2010. Ms. Pillay welcomed the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s recommendations pertaining to elections to ensure that Belarus’ upcoming elections were in line with the relevant international standards concerning elections.
General Debate on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention
Denmark, speaking on behalf of the European Union, strongly condemned the brutal violence against civilians in Syria and reports of children being used as human shields. The European Union called for an immediate end of killing of civilians and a withdrawal of the army from besieged towns and cities. Perpetrators of violations must be held accountable. The European Union was concerned by the Belarusian refusal to cooperate with international human rights mechanisms and suggested the appointment of a Special Rapporteur for Belarus. It was concerned by the human rights situation in China, including the use of arbitrary detention, prolonged use of solitary confinement and widespread use of the death penalty. Concern was also expressed with regards to the situation in Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan.
Norway was alarmed by the situation in Syria and reiterated that the violence had to stop immediately and that those responsible had to be brought to justice. The human rights situation in Iran was also of concern, particularly in relation to the situation for human rights defenders, and the widespread use of the death penalty. Norway commended the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry and welcomed the commitment of the Government to implement all its recommendations. Norway was disturbed by reports of numerous war crimes committed by armed groups in Northern Mali. It also expressed deep concern with regards to events in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Swaziland, and the human rights situation across Eurasia.
Spain said that the Syrian regime had lost its legitimacy and had to start a process of transition as soon as possible. Spain was concerned about recent violent events in Bahrain and hoped that Bahraini authorities would accept recommendations of the May Universal Periodic Review. During this session the European Union intended to submit a resolution on the situation of human rights in Belarus, which it would support. In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Spain would like to see greater involvement with the United Nations system. It was particularly concerned by the high number of executions, including the death penalty on minors or for adultery, in Iran. On instability in Mali, though Spain understood the difficulties faced, it was necessary to monitor situation. The delegation also referred to the situation in Guinea Bissau, Sudan and South Sudan.
Czech Republic expressed grave concern about the escalation of violence in Syria. The Czech Republic was deeply concerned over the continuing violation of human rights and the systematic use of torture in Eritrea. It noted that in South Sudan impunity was endemic and it condemned the restrictions on freedom of expression. The Czech Republic called on the Chinese authorities to allow access to all Tibetan-inhabited areas for independent monitoring. It urged Iran to end the ongoing prosecution and imprisonment of human rights defenders.
Libya noted that the situation of human rights in Syria was deteriorating and expressed concern over the repression of fundamental freedoms and the crackdown there. Libya noted with concern that Syria was moving away from dialogue. Libya subscribed entirely to the position of those States which wanted to ensure that human rights and humanitarian law were respected in Syria, and called on the international community to make sure that the Kofi Annan plan for Syria was implemented so that Syrian people could enjoy their rights and freedoms.
Hungary expressed grave concern over the unwillingness of Belarus to cooperate with the United Nations human rights system. Hungary was deeply concerned about the escalation of violence in Syria and its devastating effects on the human rights situation in the country. Hungary noted that the human rights situation in Iran remained a cause of concern and called on that country to respect its international human rights obligations. While Hungary welcomed the steps recently taken by Bolivia to address accountability for past human rights abuses, it noted certain problems in the judicial procedures followed in that respect. Hungary called on Sri Lanka to implement the resolutions of the Human Rights Council promoting a true national reconciliation.
Indonesia said that in order to deal with county-specific human rights issues the Council should ensure a holistic approach and a long-term view. Common endeavours to promote and protect human rights should be based on the principles of cooperation and genuine dialogue. Any initiative to establish country-specific mandates should be based on merit and necessity, and should avoid unnecessary proliferation of mandates. Without the engagement and consent of the countries such mandates would only shy away from meaningful dialogue which in turn would preclude any significant impact on the ground.
United States said the brutal and persistent attacks by the Syrian Government against its people were disgusting and unacceptable, and perpetrators should be held accountable. The United States noted with concern the human rights situations in Belarus, Eritrea, Cuba, Venezuela and Turkmenistan. Iran must uphold its obligations to protect the right to religious freedom and expression. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea should dismantle prison camps. Sudan continued to target citizens and commit extrajudicial killings. China silenced dissent through arrests, extralegal detentions, prosecuted human rights lawyers, and limited religious freedom.
China believed the Council should avoid politicisation of human rights and naming and shaming. Diverse modalities for the development of human rights should be respected and the imposition of views could only undermine democracy in international relations. China was concerned about the United States’ response to the Occupy Wall Street campaigns, restrictions on freedom of speech, the use of anti-terrorism legislation to carry out arbitrary arrests, and the violation of privacy on the Internet. The deaths of innocent civilians in United States attacks carried out in Afghanistan and Pakistan should be investigated. China also expressed concern about the human rights situation in the European Union, in particular concerning vulnerable groups such as Roma people and migrants.
Switzerland, in a joint statement on behalf of a group of States, said that the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry were valuable and that it was of utmost importance that these were implemented as soon as possible. Accountability had to be ensured. The group of States was concerned by the consequences for those that protested for democratic change in a peaceful manner and called upon the Government of Bahrain to fully respect their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and to especially ensure the protection of human rights defenders. The group of States highlighted the need for Bahrain to agree with the Office of the High Commissioner on a comprehensive cooperation plan and a permanent present of the Office in Bahrain.
Austria said that the most acute human crisis faced was currently in Syria. Austria underlined that impunity could not prevail and the International Criminal Court should be tasked to start investigations. With regards to the situation in Belarus, Austria supported the appointment of a Special Rapporteur. Increased acts of intolerance and violent attacks against persons belonging to religious minorities and their places of work, as well was legal restrictions on religious freedom, including Government restriction or social hostilities based on religion, had been witnessed. In this respect, Austria was especially concerned by the situations in Iran, Nigeria, Myanmar, and in the Middle East and North Africa.
Belgium deplored the situation of repression against human rights defenders and lawyers and the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities in Iran. Belgium appealed to the Government to release those detained on shaky grounds. Belgium congratulated Egyptian people on the holding of elections, thought the latest institutional developments showed that the road to democracy and respect of human rights was still long. A rapid transfer of power had to take place and authorities were encouraged to respond to the aspirations of the Egyptian people. Belgium was concerned by the total lack of freedom of expression for the media in Eritrea. Mention was also made of the situations in Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Ecuador called on the Human Rights Council to demand greater transparency from the United States in relation to the arbitrary use of certain procedures in countries with which they were not in a state of war, thereby violating international law. It was ironic that the United States asked other countries to be transparent when they themselves did not abide by their own proposals and failed to investigate in a transparent manner cases of human rights violations. Ecuador called for an end to impunity and stressed that no State had the right to use torture. It also condemned the existence of detention centres such as Guantanamo which did not conform to international humanitarian law and asked for the closure of Guantanamo once and for all.
Cuba said that the Human Rights Council was being turned into an inquisitional tribunal against the countries of the South and said that certain countries should not have the right to judge others when in their own statements there was no self-assessment of problems afflicting their countries such as unemployment, racism and illiteracy. Cuba also noted that no reference had been made to the treatment that those countries handed out to minorities and ethnic groups. It condemned the insincere rhetoric employed by those countries and asked for the immediate closure of the torture centre in Guantanamo.
Kuwait expressed concern over the ongoing violence in Syria and strongly condemned the violation of human rights committed there. Kuwait stressed the need to find effective means of resolving those problems peacefully and in conformity with international law. Kuwait supported the initiative of Kofi Annan and called upon the regime in Syria to take all necessary measures to ensure the implementation of Mr. Annan’s plan. It also called upon the international community to bear its responsibility to find a peaceful solution in accordance with international law and human rights law. What was happening in Syria was a real tragedy.
France expressed concern about the deterioration of the situation of human rights in Syria and the repression used by the Syrian Government. The Council should keep the situation under review and condemn these crimes. In Iran repression continued and political prisoners remained in detention. The situation of human rights defenders and attempts against fundamental rights and freedoms in Belarus were also of alarm. France was concerned about serious human rights violations in China, in particular against human rights defendants, and about desperate acts of immolation by Tibetans. France called for respect for the rule of law, fundamental freedoms and freedom of expression.
Netherlands referred to the situation in Sudan and South Sudan. The Council should not politicise but it should insert human rights values and norms into politics and highlight specific situations where implementation ran behind. The Netherlands supported the High Commissioner’s call for an independent investigation of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states in Sudan. South Sudan as a young nation faced many challenges to build up an effective and transparent government and priority should be given to reducing arbitrary detentions and improving imprisonment conditions.
Ireland stressed the need for full accountability in Syria and urged the Security Council to consider referring the situation to the International Criminal Court. Ireland welcomed the decision to overturn the convictions of medical practitioners in Bahrain and positive developments in “Burma”. However, Ireland urged the “Burmese” Government to continue to implement reforms. Ireland remained seriously concerned by the human rights situation and humanitarian crises in Somalia, the ongoing conflict between Sudan and South Sudan, as well as the continued detentions and violence against human rights defenders in Belarus.
Australia welcomed the recent steps taken by the Fiji interim Government toward holding elections in 2014. It remained concerned that human rights, including freedom of speech and assembly, continued to be restricted and called for all those restrictions to immediately be lifted. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was urged to improve the human rights of its people, including by taking first steps in improving the human rights of women, children and persons with disabilities. In relation to Sudan and South Sudan, Australia encouraged both sides to continue to work with the African Union to urgently resolve outstanding disputes through dialogue and to consider the safety and welfare of civilians in border regions as their first priority.
Japan said it was vital for the Myanmar people to recognize that reform would improve their livelihoods and the international community should jointly support such reform. Japan encouraged Sri Lanka to continue to engage in dialogue with the international community, including United Nations mechanisms. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was urged to address the human rights situation and abduction issues in cooperation with the international community. Japan noted with concern the food crisis in the Sahel region and the outpouring of refugees and internally displaced persons.
United Kingdom was concerned about the human rights situation in Syria and Belarus. The United Kingdom called on Iran to facilitate full and open access for a visit by the Special Rapporteur on Iran. Concern was shared that political polarization was a key contributor to ongoing human rights violations in Zimbabwe. In Myanmar, the President had taken positive steps including the release of a significant number of political prisoners and the conduct of by-elections. However a number of political prisoners remained and there was concern about ongoing ethnic conflict. The Government was strongly urged to continue its efforts to promote national reconciliation, good governance, democracy and the rule of law.
Iran wanted to draw the Human Rights Council’s attention to cases of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia in a number of European countries and noted the rising level of hostility against Muslims in European countries and the United States. Iran expressed concern over the grave violations of international law under the pretext of counter-terrorism by the United States and the United Kingdom. It called for a transparent, credible, independent and international investigation by the Human Rights Council on these violations. Iran condemned the violation of rights of indigenous peoples in Canada and called for Canada to protect the rights for indigenous peoples and other minority groups in the country.
Slovenia believed that the Council should always try to address situations which gave rise to concern, such as the one in Syria. Slovenia called on the Syrian authorities to ensure the protection of the population. It noted the lack of cooperation of the Belarusian authorities with human rights mechanisms. Slovenia expressed concern about the ongoing violation of human rights in Eritrea and asked for the full respect of human rights of the people in its territory. It also expressed concern that the situation in Sudan was not improving. Slovenia drew attention to the reports of human rights violation in Mali where war crimes may have also been committed.
Slovakia condemned the disproportionate use of force against demonstrators in Bahrain and noted the alarming number of political prisoners in Eritrea. There were no signs of a potential positive shift in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea after its leadership transition and Slovakia noted the unjustifiable suffering of those subjected to forced labour in political prison camps. Slovakia called on the Government of Sri Lanka to go on the path of national reconciliation.
Democratic People's Republic of Korea said that the United States and Western countries were waging wars under the pretext of terrorism and this was resulting in the loss of human lives. They often named and shamed as if they were human rights judges. Racial discrimination, inequality, rape, violent crimes and torture took place in the United States. In many European Union countries racism, xenophobia, discrimination and maltreatment of immigrants and minorities also took place. Japan had also inflicted immeasurable pain and misfortune on the Korean people during its military occupation.
Canada said reports of monstrous attacks against civilians and children in Syria demonstrated the regime’s disregard for human life. Canada called for the implementation of the plan of the Joint Special Envoy. Canada remained concerned by the deplorable situation in “North Korea”, including reports of arbitrary detentions, public executions, torture and forced abortion. Canada also expressed concern about the situation in Belarus and remained concerned about issues related to freedom of religion around the world, including the attacks against churches in Nigeria and Christians in the Middle East, Muslim Rohinhgyas facing discrimination and the prosecution of Ahmadiyvas and Baha’ism in Iran, and Chinese policies in Tibetan areas.
Sweden expressed concern about the growing number of executions in Iran and the situation in Sudan and South Sudan. Sweden called on Eritrea to unconditionally release all persons detained for expressing their views and noted setbacks in areas of rule of law, freedom of expression and harassment of human rights defenders in China. The situation in Cuba remained worrying, including the lack of respect for freedom of expression and information. Severe and pervasive violations continued in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, including the use of forced labour camps, collective punishment against families of offenders, and the absence of freedom.
Brazil said that the Human Rights Council’s work had to be guided by the principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity. Brazil recognized the various challenges of acting under item 4 of the agenda on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention and in that context had been continuously involved in discussions on methods of work which could improve cooperation and results on the ground. Brazil commended the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Bahrain. Ensuring rights of expression and association was crucial. Brazil encouraged Belarus to seek further cooperation with the United Nations multilateral system.
Bahrain was gravely concerned that ethnic and religious minorities in Europe continued to face discrimination and marginalization on a daily basis in all areas of life. This had taken on new dimensions affecting human rights. It could not be denied that the situation had improved thanks to certain laws such as the law to combat racism. Challenges and difficulties remained, especially for Muslims under European legislation, in particular in relation to the right of Muslims to build mosques and minarets.
Belarus said mass protests had taken place in a number of European countries where tear gas was used. Racial discrimination was also significantly increasing in Europe. In Canada, publicity had been given to secret State directives on torture. In the United States, there were frequent mass protests, which resulted in mass arrests. Such human rights violations occurring in the West were rarely heard of in the Human Rights Council and those that did speak of them were subject to ostracism and coercion.
France Libertés said that the situation of the Mapuche was getting worse and that conflicts were deteriorating because of the lack of political will in Chile. France Libertés condemned the Chilean Government for the ongoing violations of the human rights of indigenous peoples and minorities.
Development Innovations and Networks in a joint statement said that the international community should put an end to the repression of persons in Achraf camp and called for the establishment of a democratic regime in Iran.
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in a joint statement said that the Tibetan people continued to suffer from massive violations of human rights and their survival as a distinct people was under threat. The Foundation urged the Human Rights Council to consider that the eviction of Tibetan nomads from their ancestral land was eliminating a unique Tibetan lifestyle which had played a crucial role on the Tibetan Plateau.
International Association of Schools of Social Work, in a joint statement, protested the violation of the right of self-determination of Alaska and Hawaii by the United States, which resulted in grave human rights violations, and called on the Council to urge the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to transmit under its procedures the petition of Alaska and Hawaii to relevant United Nations bodies.
American Association of Jurists, in a joint statement, expressed concern about the refusal by the United Kingdom to seek a negotiated solution to the colonial problem and the militarization of the Malvinas. The American Association of Jurists expressed concern about the scheduled referendum to take place and called on the Council to urge the United Kingdom to negotiate and stop adopting unilateral measures.
Human Rights Watch said that despite the election of Mohamed Morsy as President in Egypt, serious concerns remained about the extent to which the military would continue to interfere with civilian authority in the country. Human Rights Watch urged President-elect Morsy to commit to protecting freedom of expression, including the right to criticise public officials and the rights of women and children as defined by international treaties, and to protect civil society by allowing Egyptian and international non-governmental organizations to register and operate freely.
Baha’i International Community regretted that at each session gross violations perpetrated against the Baha’i of Iran were raised but Iran continued to ignore recommendations put forward by other States and Special Procedures. Iran was determined to suffocate the Baha’i community and continued to violate its rights.
Human Rights House Foundation said that the alarming situation of freedom of expression in Azerbaijan should be addressed. Human Rights House Foundation expressed concern about the restriction of civil society activities in Russia and noted that on the International Day Against Homophobia human rights defenders in Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine had faced violence when manifesting in favour of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.
International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism highlighted the regrettable fact that the Sinhala and Tamil version of the report had not been provided by the Sri Lankan Government. In Sri Lanka, impunity was prevalent and no accountability mechanisms were available. The Movement drew attention to the acts of discrimination against indigenous peoples in Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan.
Amnesty International noted that a number of failures continued to undermine the United States’ human rights record. Amnesty International urged friends of the United States to encourage the country’s Government to disavow its doctrine of global war on terrorism.
Society Studies Centre said that the situation in South Sudan was deteriorating and expressed concern over the conflict in Sudan and its impact on women and children. Society Studies Centre appealed to South Sudan to fulfill its commitments in order to realize capacity building.
Organization for Defending Victims of Violence said it was concerned about the series of attacks on human rights in Bahrain and called on Bahrain to hold accountable those responsible for the torture of human rights defenders and ensure the freedom of the media.
For use of the information media; not an official record