10 September 2012
Minister of Justice of Sudan Addresses the Council
The Human Rights Council this afternoon heard an address by the Minister of Justice of Sudan and continued the general debate on the annual report of the High Commissioner and reports of her Office and the Secretary-General, which it started this morning.
Mohamed Bushara Dousa, Minister of Justice of Sudan, said that Sudan was greatly concerned about new concepts and agendas that were not internationally agreed, like interference into domestic matters under humanitarian pretexts and under the pretext of the protection of human rights. The cooperation of the Government of Sudan with the United Nations human rights mechanisms had been continuous. There were good signs that differences between Sudan and South Sudan would be settled and it was hoped that this progress would lead to positive and stable relations between those two countries. The situation in Syria called for urgent action to stop the violence and assist civilians. Sudan strongly condemned the violence and violations suffered by the Rohingya community in Myanmar.
In the general debate, delegations reiterated their support for the High Commissioner for Human Rights and her Office. Serious concern was expressed about the continuing and worsening situation in Syria, as well as the daily violence and violation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the violation of the right to self-determination. Concern was also voiced regarding the human rights violations of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar. Numerous delegations emphasized the importance that adequate financial resources should be made available to the Office. Furthermore, delegations echoed the concern voiced by the High Commissioner for the continued use of the death penalty. Speakers reiterated the importance of combating discrimination and intolerance. They noted that migrants suffered from the worst form of discriminatory treatment, and urged more concerted effort and commitment to ensure their rights and safety.
Speaking this afternoon were India, Austria, Mexico, Angola, Jordan, Malaysia, Ecuador, Romania, Bangladesh, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria, South Africa, Germany, Turkey, Paraguay, United Kingdom, Bahrain, France, Ireland, Singapore, Japan, Iran, Republic of Korea, Greece, Azerbaijan, Australia, Brazil, Myanmar, Council of Europe, Belarus, Holy See, Honduras, Armenia, Nepal, South Sudan, and Sudan.
Syria, Azerbaijan, Sudan and Armenia spoke in a right of reply.
The Council will resume its work at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 to conclude its general debate. It will then hold an interactive dialogue with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict. This will be followed by a clustered interactive dialogue with the Working Group on mercenaries, and the Special Rapporteur on truth, justice, reparation and non-recurrence.
Statement by Minister of Justice of Sudan
MOHAMED BUSHARA DOUSA, Minister of Justice of Sudan, said that Sudan was expecting a fair and balanced international system based on the rules of international law and human rights standards and that was why it was greatly concerned about the new concepts and agendas that were not internationally agreed, like interference into domestic matters under humanitarian pretexts and under the pretext of the protection of human rights. The Human Rights Council’s resolution on Sudan adopted last year indicated the need for capacity building in this country, which, together with the recommendations addressed to Sudan during its Universal Periodic Review, was a basis for the capacity building strategy that the Government had developed. The cooperation of the Government of Sudan with the United Nations human rights mechanisms had been continuous; the Government had agreed to the extension of the mandate of the Independent Expert, extended cooperation to Special Procedures during their visits to the country and had sent an invitation to the High Commissioner to visit the country during this year. Sudan had taken to heart the recommendations it had received during the Universal Periodic Review, and had established a national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles which was now fully functional, including in the conflict areas.
As far as the situation in Darfur was concerned, progress had been made in the implementation of the Doha Conference. Sudan had fully implemented the Comprehensive Peace Agreement; it was the first State to recognize the State of South Sudan and was ready to fully cooperate with this nascent State in the spirit of brotherhood and neighbourliness. There were good signs that differences between Sudan and South Sudan would be settled and it was hoped that this progress would lead to positive and stable relations between those two countries. Concerning the situation in Kordofan and Blue Nile provinces, the Minister said that the Government had exercised its right to protect the civilians in those areas against attacks by rebels launched from outside of Sudan’s borders. In South Kordofan, the Government had adopted the policy of green land through the promotion of agriculture, water, health and education programmes, despite disturbances caused by rebels. The situation in Syria called for urgent action to stop the violence and assist civilians, said the Sudanese Minister, and strongly condemned the violence and violations suffered by the Rohingya community in Myanmar.
General Debate on the High Commissioner’s Report and Reports of her Office and the Secretary-General
India took positive note of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ focus on migration, racism and discrimination, religious intolerance, gender equality and rights of older persons. India appreciated the initiative taken by the High Commissioner on the issue of the human rights treaty body strengthening process. India called for the provision of adequate resources to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure its independence.
Austria underlined the critical role played by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in responding to human rights demands around the world, in providing victims with hope and encouragement, and in helping countries to improve their human rights situations on the ground. Austria reiterated its condemnation in the strongest terms of any form of reprisals against individuals who interacted with the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, and called for investigations to be conducted on allegations of human rights violations in Syria.
Mexico said that all regions in the world faced human rights challenges. The world’s economic context was not a valid circumstance to justify restrictions on human rights or to allow discriminatory treatment. Mexico believed that transparency of institutions could prevent future human rights violations. The rule of law could only be guaranteed when the human rights of all people were protected and when discrimination did not occur. Mexico reiterated its support for the independence and the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Angola said it hoped that the Secretariat would become more autonomous in terms of the financing of technical assistance programmes and called for a bolstering of resources for the Office of the High Commissioner. On human rights situations in the world, particularly Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the international community should spare no efforts to find them political, peaceful, negotiated solutions.
Jordan said that the situation in Syria was continuing and worsening. Jordan was prepared to give all possible and necessary assistance to persons in Jordan that had fled from Syria. Concerning the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Israel as the occupying power was violating human rights and denying the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. Despite efforts by States, incidents targeting religious minorities were still being witnessed. It was essential to address these situations through appropriate measures at the national and international levels.
Malaysia said that it was concerned about a growing interest in the Council on country-specific situations with lop-sided emphasis on civil and political rights. Malaysia expressed concern that donors may, knowingly or unknowingly, be manipulated or used as a vehicle to further the political agendas of certain quarters by masquerading as human rights defenders. The Council should not to lose sight of the issue of the human rights situation of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Ecuador thanked the High Commissioner for her transparency and openness in the management of the budget and personnel of her Office and called for the continuation of this practice and the provision of sufficient resources to ensure its functionality and independence. Ecuador called on the High Commissioner to continue her Office’s work on Guantanamo Bay and agreed with her that there should be no impunity for human rights violations committed in the fight against terrorism.
Romania continued to be concerned about the general deterioration of the human rights situation in Syria. It considered the issue of accountability essential and supported the continuation of the mandate of the International Commission of Investigation. Romania saluted the clear and growing trend towards the abolition of the death penalty and would continue to support the resolution adopted in the Human Rights Council and in the General Assembly aiming at its complete abolition.
Bangladesh said that discrimination and intolerance on the basis of race, ethnic origin, colour or creed must continue to be combated. Migrants were a predominant group that suffered from the worst form of discriminatory treatment and were the first line victim of xenophobic and anti-racist policies and practices in the wake of economic crises. Bangladesh said that there should be more concerted effort and commitment for ensuring their rights and safety.
Libya reiterated its support for the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The recent elections in Libya showed its commitment to democracy and the rule of law. Libya expressed its concern that the suffering of the people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories continued to worsen due to the excessive use of force, and said that such violations must be investigated. Libya condemned the repression in Syria as well as the violence against Muslims in Myanmar, which constituted a crime against humanity and had to be investigated.
Saudi Arabia said that cooperation and dialogue between the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should be enhanced. It shared the views of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on human rights violations suffered by people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Saudi Arabia called for a cessation of the killing in Syria. It also shared the concerns expressed by the High Commissioner about violence against the Muslim minority in Myanmar, and called on the authorities of Myanmar to grant humanitarian access there.
Costa Rica welcomed the fact that the High Commissioner raised human rights concerns in all regions of the world without selectivity. Costa Rica recognized the improvement of the human rights situations in Mauritania and Myanmar, partly due to the work of the Human Rights Council. Costa Rica expressed strong concerns at the current situation in Syria and called on all parties to the conflict to cease violence immediately. Some violations could amount to crimes against humanity, and had to be investigated. Costa Rica also called the international community to remain vigilant about the human rights situations in Bahrain, Sudan, South Sudan and Mali, and called for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.
Nigeria was deeply worried by the deteriorating human rights situation in the Sahel and regretted the apparent lack of adequate international attention. Mali had formally requested the intervention by the Economic Community of West African States to restore order but international support was needed. The tragic situation in Syria illustrated the state of international cooperation and the inability of the international community to act in unison to put an end to this human rights and humanitarian catastrophe.
Egypt congratulated the High Commissioner for her contribution to the Rio+20 Conference and hoped that the international community would continue to make progress in this area. It was also important for the right to development to be mainstreamed into concrete actions and for the agenda for development to make plan beyond 2015. Other thematic priorities also concerned the impact of austerity measures and efforts to combat discrimination, xenophobia and exclusion. Egypt noted the continuing crisis in Syria and the need to halt the violence.
Tunisia expressed gratitude towards the High Commissioner and her Office in Tunisia for the support provided during the recent political transition, including in the areas of transitional justice and human rights. Additional efforts had been made to ensure the prevention of torture and the reform of the security system in order to ensure the democratic transition and the consecration of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Government was resolute in its determination to consolidate the rule of law and the enjoyment of all rights without discrimination.
Sri Lanka pointed out several significant steps taken by Sri Lanka since the Council’s meeting in June 2012, including the reduction of the number of persons to be re-settled and the successful conduct of Provincial Council elections that had taken place two days ago. Sri Lanka looked forward to receiving a team of officials from the Office later this week, and hoped this visit would help consolidate the trust in the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, which had come to be viewed with circumspection by the people of Sri Lanka.
Iraq said international law could not force Iraq to abolish the death penalty, which was applied only after all the necessary judicial guarantees had been obtained. The country had and continued to witness waves of terrorist attacks, which it would address with some severity but with respect for human rights. The judicial system provided those accused with numerous safeguards. As such, women, pregnant women and those persons suffering from mental diseases could not be executed and the law formally forbids torture.
Morocco asked States, at the heart of the General Assembly, to provide the Office of the High Commissioner with the financial resources required in order for it to fulfill its mandate. Morocco also paid particular importance to the consultations underway in New York on the strengthening of treaty bodies. The announced participation of the High Commissioner at the upcoming High Level Meeting of the United Nations on the Rule of Law came at a crucial time.
Algeria reiterated its support to the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Algeria supported political efforts for the restoration of stability in Mali. Algeria was also concerned about the human rights situation in Syria and the occupied Palestinian Territories.
South Africa said the challenges of unemployment and poverty challenged South Africa. South Africa regretted that there continued to be an emphasis on civil and political rights in the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and called on the Human Rights Council to address all human rights and all country situations without selectivity.
Germany expressed its gratitude for the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Syrian regime had driven the country deeper and deeper into a spiral of violence, and those responsible should be held accountable. The Commission of Inquiry on Syria continued to be needed to establish facts and gather evidence. Finally, Germany called for the protection of Human Rights Defenders who cooperated with the United Nations.
Turkey said that while the world called for further enhancing human rights, the financial resources allocated continued to diminish and new solutions must be found. The crisis in Syria must continue to figure on the agenda of the Council and the number of victims ever since the so-called ceasefire was staggering. The situation had become a serious threat to international peace and stability. The settlement of the Palestinian question was more urgent than ever. Racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia continued to present a challenge.
Paraguay said it would continue to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner and recognized the advisory work carried out by the Office in Paraguay, which contributed to achieve the objectives set up by the General Assembly concerning the rule of law. Paraguay had recently created a Ministry dedicated to women and legislation creating a national secretariat for people with disabilities. Paraguay reiterated its commitment to work with the High Commissioner and her Office.
United Kingdom said that the work of the High Commissioner on the horrific situation in Syria was vital and reiterated concerns about the devastating consequences of the conflict. The United Kingdom shared concerns about the deterioration in the human rights situation in Sudan and regarding recent executions in several countries, and welcomed the importance attached to gender issues. Along with future Olympic/Paralympic hosts, Russia, Brazil and the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom was committed to promoting human rights through sport.
Bahrain expressed disappointment regarding comments made by the High Commissioner on verdicts returned recently in the Kingdom of Bahrain. These comments were based on inadequate information and did not reflect the facts. Bahrain had and continued to make considerable efforts and underlined the importance of respecting the independence of courts and their verdicts. The Government took allegations of torture very seriously and recently, 14 out of 182 cases had been identified and sent to criminal courts.
France said that everything had to be done to put an end to massacres and ensure accountability in Syria. The mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria should be renewed, with additional financial means. France took note of the High Commissioner’s comments on the evacuation of illicit Roma camps in France and noted that it paid great attention to the situation of these individuals. It was an old and difficult problem, which extended beyond France’s borders. With partners in the European Union and the Council of Europe, France was looking at joint and durable solutions.
Ireland said that a strong agenda for action was required in both the areas of the rights of migrants, and on climate change and human rights. Ireland shared the High Commissioner’s view that Member States had to meet their responsibilities in addressing the inadequacy of regular budget funding for the Office. It was clear that human rights had to be made an integral and core dimension of the post-2015 development agenda. This was an issue for wider debate on how development goals and work were linked to the norms and standards of international human rights law.
Singapore believed that Governments had the fundamental duty to ensure peace and stability for their citizens, with ready access to basic public goods such as food, healthcare and education. Singapore valued the Millennium Development Goals in providing clear and concrete targets for work in the human rights arena and believed that the post-2015 agenda was an opportunity to ensure that a result-based and development-oriented approach continued to guide the world in the efforts to promote and protect human rights beyond 2015.
Japan reiterated deep concern about the serious human rights violations occurring in Syria and called for an immediate end to all violence in that country. There were many human rights thematic priorities to be addressed, such as freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembles, and Japan hoped to contribute to those discussions during this session of the Council. Treaty body reform should aim to improve the working methods of the treaty bodies and Japan would actively participate in the discussions of the Intergovernmental Working Group.
Iran was content to see the good progress in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals but noted that the achievement had often been accompanied by widening disparities resulting from discrimination and lack of accountability. Iran noted the lack of international consensus on the elimination of the death penalty and said that, for a country neighbouring with the largest producer of opium and heroin in the world, it was natural to have proper punishments for drug criminals.
Republic of Korea said that the role of the High Commissioner in promoting human rights was more critical than ever, when human rights, security and development were increasingly interlinked. The Republic of Korea remained deeply concerned over the continued deterioration of the situation in Syria and called on all parties to cease violence against civilians. It reiterated support for the strengthening of the human rights treaty body system and reaffirmed the critical role of the Special Procedures system for proactively addressing developments on the ground.
Greece said that despite the impending economic and financial crisis, efforts had been made in Greece in the areas of asylum, combating racism and xenophobia, and migrants. Particular attention had been paid to the humanitarian aspects of asylum and migration and preventing trafficking, and measures against discrimination had been improved. Since 2008, the Criminal Code established that offences motivated by ethnic, racial or religious hatred, or sexual orientation, constituted aggravating circumstances.
Azerbaijan said it had made a voluntary contribution to the budget of the Office of the High Commissioner in 2012 and was determined to contribute further to the realisation of the development goals and objectives agreed with the United Nations. In 2012, Azerbaijan and the Office of the High Commissioner had developed intensive relations within the National Programme for Action to raise effectiveness for the protection of human rights and freedoms, and technical assistance and expertise provided by the Office would be crucial for the fulfilment of the plan.
Australia shared the concerns expressed by the High Commissioner about the continued use of the death penalty and urged all States that had not yet abolished the death penalty to implement an immediate moratorium. Australia also supported the High Commissioner’s efforts to address discrimination and advance gender equality and would commit AUD 320 million over the next 10 years to enhance women’s access to justice, particularly with regard to domestic violence in the Pacific region.
Brazil thanked the High Commissioner for the briefing on the transparency of funding which was a crucial step to enhance the credibility and independence of the Office. Brazil commended the attention given by the High Commissioner to the abolition of the death penalty, the negative impact of the economic and financial crisis on human rights, gender equality, protection of migrants and others. Brazil reiterated its condemnation of the violence committed against civilians and human rights abuses in Syria.
Myanmar said tangible progress was being achieved in the democratic transformation of the country and the Government was committed to achieving lasting peace through political means. Myanmar was a diverse country and recent clashes between Muslims and Buddhists in the Rakhine state had nothing to do with religion. The situation was now normalizing and the Government was closely working with the United Nations and the international community to ensure relief and rehabilitation to both communities.
Council of Europe was willing to participate in the efforts by the Office of the High Commissioner aimed at examining the role of public service as an essential component of good governance in the promotion and protection of human rights. In 2011, the Council had adopted guidelines on eradicating impunity for serious human rights violations which required Member States to elaborate policies and take measures to prevent and combat an institutional culture which promoted impunity.
Belarus said that the Office of the High Commissioner did not pay equal attention to the human rights situations in European countries. The Secretary-General said that partiality could harm human rights institutions and, in this regard, European Union and United States sanctions against Belarus illustrated the politicisation of human rights. The deeper problem was not the lack of funding but the lack of confidence in the Office.
Holy See stressed the situation of religious minorities and blasphemy laws, such as in the case of Rimisha Masih, an illiterate minor who had unknowingly gathered burnt fragments of the Holy Koran. The Holy See rejected violence and discrimination in the name of religion or against any religious minorities and underscored the indult recently conceded to Asia Bibi, who had been condemned to death on blasphemy charges. Educational programmes played a central role in the promotion of tolerance.
Honduras said that human rights were an essential pillar in establishing democracy and the rule of law. Honduras recognized the efforts of the High Commissioner to support States in this regard and believed that cooperation was a crucial mean to support Governments. It was vital that all who committed violations in the Syrian conflict be held accountable. Honduras shared the concern about reprisal and harassment of human rights defenders and said that the Government was currently elaborating a plan to ensure a safe environment for human rights defenders.
Armenia welcomed and supported the activities of the High Commissioner and her Office and said that human rights challenges were numerous and it was crucial to react in a timely manner. The mandate of the Office was therefore very important. Armenia shared the view regarding the primacy of law and in no case should a pardon be issued for international crimes and human rights violations. The High-level Meeting on the Rule of Law on 24 September would be an appropriate venue to discuss this issue and the actions of some Heads of State in this regard.
Nepal said that building the capacity of national human rights institutions was crucial to ensure a sustainable national capacity for the promotion and protection of human rights. Nepal reiterated its commitment to ensuring justice to the victims of conflict and said that transitional justice mechanisms would be established to address the human rights violations committed during the armed conflict. Nepal’s commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms was unflinching and it was fully aware of its obligation under various international human rights instruments.
South Sudan said that despite challenges, South Sudan had created a Human Rights Commission to monitor human rights. Its mandate included the organization of daily field visits to investigates threats, human rights violations and allegations of human rights violations, with emphasis on women, children, refugees, internally displaced persons and other vulnerable groups. South Sudan was fully engaged with neighbouring Sudan in addressing disputed issues, but the belligerent attitude of Sudan continued to hamper efforts for peace.
Sudan said that the provinces of South Kordofan and Blue Nile were affected by armed activity by the SPLA brigades that were affiliated to the State of South Sudan. The report of the High Commissioner provided a one-sided perspective and was based on unreliable sources. Sudan exercised its right to defend its civilians in these areas and continued to fulfil its responsibilities under the principles of international humanitarian law. Blue Nile province counted with significant development projects; and in South Kordofan, rather than a policy of scorched land, the Government had expanded agricultural projects and linked the area with water and sanitation networks.
Right of Reply
Syria, speaking in a right of reply, said that Qatar, Turkey and France had displayed hatred against the Government and hypocrisy when talking about the killing of civilians in Syria. Countries that were carrying out drone attacks against civilians in other parts of the world were at the same time supporting the armed groups responsible for violence in Syria through open interference. France sought to intervene militarily and was providing military aid to terrorist groups. Qatar was playing a central role in providing financial and political support to extremist terrorist groups in Syria. Syria called on the Turkish Government to stop discriminating against religious minorities in Turkey rather than to continue to provide shelter to terrorists and salafist extremists.
Azerbaijan, speaking in a right of reply, said that its Permanent Mission had provided information concerning the death of children by Armenian soldiers in a booby trap. Concerning the case of Ramil Safarov, Azerbaijan observed that the President of Azerbaijan had granted him pardon in accordance with international law and in a display of humanity. Aggression by Armenia had led to ethnic cleansing and the displacement of thousands of citizens, many of whom had lost their families and remained without shelter. The inflammatory rhetoric of the Government of Armenia hindered a peaceful settlement and Armenian terrorist organizations, inspired by the aggressive position of the Armenian Government, threatened Azerbaijan’s diplomatic missions abroad.
South Sudan, speaking in a right of reply, reiterated that South Sudan had never worked on the destabilization of Sudan. Sudan had its own problems and was using air lifts to distribute arms and ammunition to armed tribal groups to destabilize South Sudan. South Sudan was committed to peace negotiations and that was why its negotiation team was now in Addis Ababa, however, the Sudanese Minister had left on the pretext of consultations. That was what happened last spring when the war started. South Sudan was concerned about what might happen and said that the Council needed to be vigilant.
Armenia said IN FRENCH.
Azerbaijan, speaking in a second right of reply, said that a number of Armenians who were arrested in other countries for international crimes and human rights violations and who were transferred to Armenia had been pardoned by the President.
Armenia, speaking in a second right of reply, asked why the soldier Ramil Safarov had been pardoned by the President and said it was because he had killed an Armenian.
For use of the information media; not an official record