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High Commissioner presents update on her Office's activities at opening of twenty-third regular session of Human Rights Council

Human Rights Council
MORNING

27 May 2013

Council Postpones Decision on Holding an Urgent Debate on the Deteriorating Human Rights Situation in Syria

The Human Rights Council this morning opened its regular twenty-third session, hearing an address from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in which she updated the Council on her Office’s activities  

Remigiusz A. Henczel, President of the Human Rights Council, said that on Friday, 24 May, a request was received to hold an urgent debate on the deteriorating situation of human rights in Syria and the recent killings in Al Qusayr from Turkey, Qatar and the United States.  At the request of a number of countries, he postponed the discussion on holding this debate until 3 p.m. this afternoon to allow delegations to consult with their capitals.  The Council then adopted its programme of work for the session with the understanding that it may be changed to include an urgent debate on the human rights situation in Syria.

Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that she hoped that the Council would be able to take tangible action to stop the escalation of violence in Syria, which had become an intolerable affront to the human conscience.   She expressed concern about systematic human rights violations against Muslim communities in Myanmar, the upsurge of violence in Iraq and the crisis in the Central African Republic.  It was regrettable that serious violations of the rights of Palestinians continued and that Israel was still expanding its settlements in blatant violation of international law.  She also expressed concern about the United States’ failure to shut down the Guantanamo detention centre; the continuing failure of many European States to undertake public and independent investigations of past involvement in the United States rendition programme; and the continuing use of armed drones in the context of counter-terrorism and military operations. 

In the general debate that followed, speakers expressed grave concerns about the human rights situation in Syria, calling for a halt to the violence and for a referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court.  Concern was also expressed about the expansion of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and about allegations of brutal mistreatment of Palestinian detainees by Israel, as well as about the human rights violations faced by the Rohingya minority in Myanmar.  The negative impact of the global economic and financial crises on economic, social and cultural rights was also noted by speakers.  Speakers were also disturbed about the continued use of armed drones within the context of counter-terrorism and military operations.

Speaking in the general debate this morning were Ireland on behalf of the European Union, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, Gabon on behalf of the African Group, Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Algeria on behalf of the Arab Group, Qatar, Germany, Indonesia, United States, Montenegro, Czech Republic, Pakistan, Angola, Japan, Argentina, Republic of Korea, Ecuador, India, Chile, Malaysia, Austria, Switzerland, Ethiopia, Kuwait, Maldives, Botswana, Spain, Philippines, Costa Rica, Brazil, Republic of Moldova, Libya, Thailand, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Egypt.

Speaking on the holding of an urgent debate on Syria were Qatar, Turkey, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and Pakistan.

The Human Rights Council will resume its work at 3 p.m. this afternoon to continue the general debate on the High Commissioner’s update.  It will then start a clustered interactive dialogue with Anand Grover, the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and Francois Crepeau, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.

Statements on Urgent Debate on Syria

REMIGIUSZ A. HENCZEL, President of the Human Rights Council, said that the programme of this session would include interactive dialogues with 21 mandate holders of Special Procedures, as well as five panels and other general debates.  On Friday, 24 May, a request was received to hold an urgent debate on the deteriorating situation of human rights in Syria and the recent killings in Al Qusayr, from Turkey, Qatar and the United States.  The Bureau of the Council met this morning to discuss this request. 

QATAR said that the situation in Syria was worsening catastrophically.  The Syrian regime was massacring the Syrian people.  This new Human Rights Council session was starting at a time when civilians were suffering from an unfair blockade of Al Qusayr, which nobody had put a stop to.  The High Commissioner in a statement had declared that many armed groups were stationed around the city of Al Qusayr and expressed the fear that barbaric acts against civilians could be perpetrated.  The situation for children was terrible.  There was a need for necessary measures to protect these citizens and for a resolution urging the Syrian regime to put an end to all military operations and to withdraw from the city, lifting the blockade, and allowing humanitarian assistance.  It was hoped that a special session on the deteriorating situation in Syria would be agreed upon by the Council

TURKEY said that in Al Qusayr, civilians were suffering from indiscriminate shelling.  Turkey had no doubts that this was an urgent issue and a case of unprecedented scale and nature, an urgent issue involving the flagrant disregard for an innumerable amount of human rights violations.  Turkey called on all members of the Council to heed the call of humanity, the plea of the Syrian people, and allow a discussion on the situation in Al Qusayr.

Syria, speaking as the concerned country, said that it objected to such a debate being held, mainly because it went against the rules of the Council and because a number of delegations were not satisfied to see that the Council would be wasting its time on that matter at the expense of other more pressing issues.  Moreover, Syria pointed out that the two countries which had asked for the debate to take place, Turkey and Qatar, were encouraging persons to fight on Syrian soil and Turkey was training terrorists acting in Syria.

Venezuela said that the decision on whether or not to hold an urgent debate should be postponed because the request had only been received last Friday and, as a result, countries had not had time to consult with their capitals.  Venezuela was open to discussing the matter but a response from the capital was necessary before deciding on whether or not to hold the debate.

REMIGIUSZ A. HENCZEL, President of the Human Rights Council, announced that a decision on the proposal to hold an urgent debate on Syria would be taken at 3 p.m. today.  He would do his utmost to ensure that the Council proceeded with its work with dignity and respect, and reminded that all acts of intimidation or reprisals against individuals or organizations that had cooperated with the United Nations system were strongly condemned.  The work agenda for the session was then adopted.     

Cuba said that it objected to the President’s proposal due to its late submission on Friday and said that delegations had less than 24 working hours in which to consider it and thus there was no time in which to refer to capitals.  Cuba said the proposal was mentioned two weeks ago in a preparatory session and objected to this new time scale in which the proposal for an urgent debate was published only on Friday.  There was no need to rush the issue.  The regional coordinators were asked to come to a more considered decision about the proposal and Cuba added that consultations should be held.
Venezuela supported Cuba’s statement about the necessity to conduct prior consultations and said that the request on Friday meant that the Human Rights Council had not given Venezuela time to consider the proposal.  It noted that persons in Latin America were still sleeping at this time.

REMIGIUSZ A. HENCZEL President of the Human Rights Council said that he noted the prior speakers’ comments and said that a final decision about the urgent debate would be postponed until 3 p.m.

Cuba said that this was an issue that should and had to be broadly consulted by all delegations and a decision could not be adopted in the Council simply through a message received on Friday.  Cuba was willing to consider the proposal, but needed adequate time to discuss the various elements of the proposal.

Venezuela said that 3 p.m. was early afternoon and it still would not have been able to obtain a response from its capital, given the time difference.  Venezuela suggested that the decision be postponed until at least tomorrow.

Pakistan said that it was reasonable to give other colleagues more time to get instructions.  Delay would not cause great harm to the issues that were to be discussed.

REMIGIUSZ A. HENCZEL, President of the Human Rights Council, said he took note of the statements and that he had already decided to postpone discussion on this issue until 3 p.m. this afternoon.  He then gave the floor to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide an update on the activities of her Office. 

Opening Statement by the High Commissioner for Human Rights

NAVI PILLAY, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that she hoped that the Council would be able to take tangible action to stop the escalation of violence in Syria, which had become an intolerable affront to the human conscience.  In March 2013 a team had been sent to Syria’s neighbouring countries to monitor the situation in Syria.  The team had received information suggesting that the Syrian Government continued to use indiscriminate and disproportionate force in residential areas, and that the Syrian armed forces had directly targeted schools and hospitals.  Current reports that hundreds of civilians had been killed and thousands remained trapped by indiscriminate shelling and aerial attacks were a major concern.  Wanton human rights violations were also being committed by anti-Government groups.  Accounts gathered by the monitoring team suggested that armed groups had apparently used civilians as human shields, and that abductions were increasing.  There were also allegations that certain opposition groups had forced minor girls to marry combatants, and that serious crimes such as torture had been committed by anti-Government groups.  The Council, Ms. Pillay stressed, had a duty to protect other human beings.  She emphasized that war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria could not be allowed to go unpunished, and urged the Council once again to refer the Syrian crisis to the International Criminal Court.

Ms. Pillay also expressed concern about ongoing violence in other regions of the world.  More specifically, systematic human rights violations against Muslim communities in Myanmar should be investigated.  Action should be taken to put an end to the upsurge of violence in Iraq, where executions continued to take place.  She would be presenting reports on the human rights situation in Mali and in South Sudan.  The crisis in the Central African Republic was on the verge of anarchy, and a fact-finding team would be dispatched there next month.  The transition to democracy in Egypt, Libya and Yemen was still uncertain, but progress had been made in Tunisia.  It was regrettable that serious violations of the rights of Palestinians continued and that Israel was still expanding its settlements in blatant violation of international law.  The United States’ failure to shut down the Guantanamo detention centre was an example of the struggle against terrorism failing to uphold human rights.  The High Commissioner said she was dismayed by the continuing failure of many European States to undertake public and independent investigations of past involvement in the United States renditions programme, under which terrorist suspects were captured and delivered to interrogation centres without regard for due process.  The continuing use of armed drones in the context of counter-terrorism and military operations was deeply disturbing. 

In addition, the global financial crisis, which had not been borne by those who were primarily responsible for it, had increased inequalities and undermined the fabric of society.  Economic policy must be designed to advance the realization of economic and social rights.  The current economic context was an opportune moment for States to ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  Regarding the work of non-governmental organizations, Ms. Pillay said that it was depressing to observe policy debates and legislative measures which severely undermined non-governmental organizations in many countries around the world.  Civil society remained vital to advancing the human rights agenda both at the national level and internationally.

General Debate on the High Commissioner’s Update

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, thanked the High Commissioner for her report and the work of her Office.  Twenty years after the Vienna Declaration, the European Union commended the work of the Office and supported its ongoing mandate.  Turning to Syria, the European Union urged all parties to respect international human rights law and expressed support for the High Commissioner’s efforts in this urgent matter.  The European Union shared her concerns about the Central African Republic and welcomed her engagement in Sudan and Mali.  The European Union was pleased with the functioning of her Office in Tunisia, but noted that it had not seen progress in opening a country office in Egypt.

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, thanked the High Commissioner for her update and said it shared her concern over Syria; the cycle of violence there must be ended.  The Organization of Islamic Conference had made repeated attempts to bring the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar to the Human Rights Council’s attention.  The Organization thanked the High Commissioner for her remarks about Palestinian prisoners and also Guantanamo and drones.  It looked forward to the report of the Special Rapporteurs on human rights and counterterrorism and on extrajudical killings on these and related issues.  The Organization of Islamic Cooperation was deeply concerned about the rise of right wing forces in some western countries and violence there against Muslims.

Gabon, speaking on behalf the African Group, said the African Group shared the preoccupation and consternation with violations of human rights throughout the world and welcomed the Office of the High Commissioner’s efforts in this regard.  The initiative to send a fact-finding team to the Central African Republic was welcomed.  Reports on Mali and South Sudan were also anticipated by the African Group.  Economic pressures and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals remained at the core of the High Commissioner’s activity and the African Group recognized this.

Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Non-Aligned Movement was profoundly disturbed by the human rights situation in Syria and condemned violations perpetrated by all actors.  It called on Israel to provide information on its investigations of credible allegations of brutal mistreatment of Palestinian detainees.  The international financial and economic crisis severely affected the economies of developing countries and negatively impacted on the right to development.  Member States were called upon to participate in a dialogue for a new global economic system and architecture. 

Algeria, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the Arab Group was concerned by continued gross violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  There had to be a halt to the expansion of settlements and a lifting of the Gaza blockade.  The Arab Group expressed concern about the situation in Syria where it was hoped that peace could be restored bearing in mind its territorial integrity.  The Government of Myanmar had to take determined steps to protect the Rohingya minority.  Incitement to violence against migrants and minorities in some developed countries to make political gains was of much concern and had to be addressed. 

Qatar said that the Syrian regime was responsible for appalling crimes.  Qatar feared that further massacres would be perpetrated.  The international community was not protecting the people of Syria and was not succeeding in putting an end to the atrocities taking place.  The High Commissioner was paying a lot of attention to the Occupied Palestinian Territories but the international community had to be firmer.  The international community should also not remain silent in the face of the violations of human rights of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar.

Germany said that early alert was crucial to preventing human rights violations and that the Council should act as a whistleblower whenever such violations were reported.  The situation in Syria had not been stopped nor had tangible action been taken so far.  It was important to gather the necessary evidence in order to support an accountability case in the future.  A clear message should be sent to the Syrian Government and opposition that action would be taken against all those responsible for human rights violations.  Germany asked whether progress had been made in the negotiations with Myanmar.  

Indonesia said that it agreed with the urgent calls to put an end to the bloodshed in Syria and stressed the imperative need for inclusive political dialogue in the country.  Israel’s persistent non-cooperation with Council mechanisms had aggravated the situation, which deserved the Council’s full attention and consideration.  Council members should confirm their commitment to efforts made to promote and protect human rights and should strengthen their close cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner in order to enhance human rights globally.

United States said that President Obama remained committed to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and would also lift the presidential moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen.  The United States expressed concern about a Russian law which compelled civil society groups to register as foreign agents if they received funding from abroad and engaged in “political activity”, because the law was used to harass and prosecute thousands of non-governmental organizations and religious groups.  The United States also condemned the intervention of Iran and its proxies in Syria.

Montenegro fully shared the High Commissioner’s concerns and the priority focus given to the escalating crisis taking place in Syria.  It also shared the High Commissioner’s concerns regarding attacks on Muslim communities in Myanmar and welcomed her decision to send a fact-finding mission to the Central African Republic.  Montenegro believed that one of the biggest security threats facing the international community today was the economic crisis and agreed that the effects of the recession had impacted extremist and xenophobic attitudes; it encouraged her to pursue this topic further within the context of Europe.

Czech Republic said that the independence of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had contributed to the effective, principled and transparent response to various human rights challenges in the past 20 years, and welcomed its efforts to establish a country office in Myanmar/Burma.  The Czech Republic shared the comments of the High Commissioner about the crucial and vital role which different civil society actors, including human rights defenders, played, and said that it was concerned about the use by some Governments of brutal treatment against human rights defenders and harassment of their relatives.

Pakistan said Pakistan agreed that the fight against terrorism, with exclusive reliance on the indiscriminate use of force, only perpetuated the cycle of violence and exacerbated the problem.  Pakistan had been making this argument for many years in the context of the use of drones, use of torture like water boarding, renditions and illegal detention centres like Guantanamo and Bagram.  States also had a special responsibility to avoid casualties of non-combatants.  Pakistan had been a victim of attacks by drones, which were counter-productive and entailed loss of innocent civilian lives. 

Angola thanked the High Commissioner for her recent visit to Angola, where she was able to see Angola’s commitment to human rights.  Angola expressed concern about growing religious and ethnically motivated violence and the increase of political instability that had been taking place around the world.  The draconian austerity measures as a result of the global and economic crises had resulted in the undermining of social and economic rights. 

Japan said that the Human Rights Council had to exert its maximum efforts to address the situations addressed in the High Commissioner’s report and other thematic issues had to be taken into consideration as well.  Ways had to be found to regulate the ever-expanding budget of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  It was essential that difference of opinion be overcome in this session of the Council on how to address human rights situations of concern. 

Argentina welcomed the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  Argentina believed that the participation of civil society was unavoidable in pushing forward the human rights agenda.  Argentina was concerned by the situation in Syria, which had led to an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.  It was essential to call for a halt to the violence.  Argentina renewed its call to States that provided arms and other materials in the conflict to halt this. 

Republic of Korea said that it commended the concrete measures which the High Commissioner had taken in order to save lives in the context of human rights crises around the world.  The Republic of Korea shared the High Commissioner’s serious concerns about the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in Syria, and said that it remained committed to international humanitarian efforts made in order to address the crisis.  Women’s rights deserved the Council’s close attention, and violence against women was a matter of grave concern.   

Ecuador said that the efforts made by the High Commissioner effectively improved the human rights situation in the world.  Ecuador expressed concern at the escalation of violence in Syria by all actors involved in the conflict.  The indiscriminate provision of weapons to certain groups in Syria by other States aggravated the problem.  The only way out was through inclusive, political dialogue.  The human rights violations committed against the Palestinian people was another major concern, as were the use of armed drones and the continuing use of the Guantanamo detention centre. 

India said that the violence in Syria had now assumed a serious sectarian character and the only way to stop human rights violations was through political dialogue.  Focusing on conflict-ridden as well as peaceful societies should be part of combating human rights violations.  The impact of the global financial crisis had disproportionately affected those least able to cope with it, and the number of persons in extreme poverty was increasing.  India stressed the need for the international community to reaffirm its commitment to sustainable development.  

Chile said that it had five central points about the Human Rights Council’s work.  First, the Council had the moral responsibility to urge an end to the cycle of violence in Syria.  Second, economic crisis historically led to the weakening of human rights and this must be kept in mind for the post-2015 development agenda.  Third, Chile was concerned about the apparent rise in xenophobia in times of economic downturn.  Fourth, Chile echoed the High Commissioner’s concern about the threat to non-governmental organizations posed in some countries.  Fifth, the annual panel on the rights of women would be held in June and priority activities would be developed for consideration by the Human Rights Council at this event.

Malaysia said that cooperation without double-standards was paramount and Malaysia believed that sovereign States had the primary responsibility to uphold the rights of their citizens.  Malaysia welcomed Syria’s forthcoming participation in peace talks.  It called for action with a single voice on the Palestinian prisoners issue and welcomed the actions of the High Commissioner in Myanmar.  Malaysia seconded the High Commissioner’s comments on drone strikes and Guantanamo and expressed regret that some European countries had not come clean about their part in rendition programmes in the past.

Austria paid tribute to the critical role of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and called for the strengthening of its work in light of the 20 year anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and welcomed the High Commissioner’s forthcoming visit to Vienna.  On Syria, Austria backed the High Commissioner’s call for involvement of the International Criminal Court and said that two years of bloodshed was enough.  Impunity was not acceptable.  Austria supported the High Commissioner’s comments that the suppression of human rights defenders and non-governmental organizations in some countries was an unwelcome trend.

Switzerland said that the violence in Syria was an affront to the conscience of humanity.  A political solution to the situation should continue to be sought.  The situation in Syria should be referred to the International Criminal Court.  Switzerland remained fundamentally concerned by the situation of the Rohingya in Myanmar and called on the authorities to take all the necessary measures to end the violence.  States were required to ensure that non-governmental organizations could function freely and without pointless red-tape.

Ethiopia said that the celebration of Africa Day was particular this year, as it was in 1963 that the Organization of African Unity’s Charter was adopted.  Ethiopia underlined the importance of the need for increased efforts to lay the foundations for the social and economic development of Africa, with the mobilisation of all sectors of African society.  Ethiopia also informed the Council that on 17 December 2012, the Council of Ministers of Ethiopia had endorsed the National Human Rights Action Plan. 

Kuwait condemned the actions of Israel against the Palestinians, as noted by the High Commissioner.  Such flagrant violations went against international humanitarian law and this was true of the expansion of illegal settlements and the detention of Palestinians who had not been charged and who were treated inhumanly.  Kuwait supported the High Commissioner’s call for Israel to investigate the maltreatment of Palestinian detainees.  Kuwait deplored the situation in Syria and the conditions faced by Syrian refugees.  It called on the Government of Myanmar to take measures to protect its Muslim minority. 

Maldives said that the situation in Syria showed a failure to deal with the gross violations of human rights committed by both parties to the conflict and expressed concern about the risk that the deteriorating conflict might escalate to a regional conflict.  The casualties in Syria were not only soldiers but also innocent civilians.  The international community had a responsibility to protect citizens and to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.  The Maldives also expressed concern at the attacks against Muslim groups in Myanmar, which could reverse the progress made by that country so far.

Botswana said that it was commendable that results were still produced despite the limited funds of the High Commissioner’s Office.  The situation in Syria should be closely monitored, particularly in the area bordering Lebanon.  Recent reports of killings in Syria were distressing and the situation needed to be urgently dealt with before it escalated to a human rights catastrophe.  The presence of extremism and xenophobia in developed countries was another major concern.  Botswana stressed the important role played by civil society for the protection and promotion of human rights worldwide. 

Spain said that its priorities included drawing attention to Geneva as the world’s human right’s capital, and fighting against all forms of discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, race or religion.  Spain denounced xenophobia and racial hatred and reaffirmed its commitment to combating discrimination.  The tragic accident which had recently occurred in Bangladesh was a sad incident, and Spain extended its condolences to Bangladesh.  The ongoing human rights violations in Syria were cause for concern, as was the refusal of Belarus and Israel to cooperate with the Council.  

Philippines said that it supported the High Commissioner’s idea that national dialogue involving key elements of society was critical for the improvement of human rights, and the establishment of stable and independent institutions in war-torn or strife-ridden regions.  The deeply-entrenched economic crisis was expected to continue to impact the human rights of women, children, the elderly and migrants and the international community had to continue to do all it could to address this.

Costa Rica welcomed the appointment of the Deputy High Commissioner.  The systematic abuse of human rights in Syria demanded a commensurate response from the international community.  The Security Council and the International Criminal Court had to become involved.  Costa Rica said that austerity measures around the world were having an adverse effect on human rights, making the Vienna Declaration as relevant now as it ever was.  The strengthening of the work of non-governmental organizations and civil society was also considered a priority and Costa Rica shared the High Commissioner’s concern about this.

Brazil said that the Human Rights Council had a pivotal role in protecting civilians in a non-selective way and supported the High Commissioner’s urgent concern in this regard toward Syria.  Brazil warned against further militarization of the Syrian conflict.  It called for the establishment of a viable independent Palestinian State as the only effective measure to counter perceived human rights violations in the region.  Brazil expressed concern about the human rights impact of drones, lethal autonomous robots and other forms of targeted killing.  The realization of economic rights must top the agenda at a time of economic downturn.

Republic of Moldova reiterated its support for efforts to address the deteriorating human rights situation in Syria and also supported the proposal to hold an urgent debate on the situation in Syria at this session of the Human Rights Council, as well as its referral to the International Criminal Court.  The Republic of Moldova echoed the call for an end to the attacks on Muslim communities in parts of Myanmar.  The Republic of Moldova was committed to further addressing human rights challenges, especially the issues related to discrimination, violence against women and human trafficking. 

Libya firmly condemned violations of human rights perpetrated by the occupying force in Palestine and was particularly concerned by the situation of Palestinians detained by the occupation force, including women and children.  Libya called upon the Human Rights Council to live up to what was expected of it in this regard.  It supported the Syrian people in their quest to enjoy their rights.  Libya also condemned the violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar.  The Government discriminated against its Muslim population by allowing each family only two children. 

Thailand agreed that the global financial crisis could threaten a broad range of basic human rights and hoped that the rights of those most vulnerable and marginalised would continue to be protected and promoted, in particular the right to health.  Thailand continued to be deeply concerned by the situation in Syria and strongly condemned all forms of violence by all parties, urging all countries to give priority to guaranteeing humanitarian assistance to the Syrian population.  Myanmar should be given more time and space to implement the recommendations of the Special Commission on the Rakhine State.

Sierra Leone commended the High Commissioner on her concise and transparent update and agreed that all the human rights issues raised in her statement required the Council’s urgent attention.  The ongoing crisis in Syria could escalate into a regional conflict and therefore needed immediate and close attention.  The Council should take the case to the International Criminal Court, to ensure that perpetrators of gross human rights abuses were brought to justice.  Sierra Leone called on all States to desist from reprisals against human rights defenders.  

Uganda said that it shared the High Commissioner’s concerns about the human rights situation in the Central African region and commended her on her commitment to send a fact-fighting team to the area.  Uganda welcomed the High Commissioner’s focus on economic, social and cultural rights and the fact that she had highlighted the dangers of rising xenophobia and racial discrimination. 

Egypt said that it was determined to complete the transitional period successfully and was aware that further efforts were needed in order to consolidate democracy in the country.  It was important to raise awareness about the need to promote and protect human rights.  Egypt agreed that the situation in Syria was extremely serious, and stressed that it was important to put an end to the violence through effective dialogue which would take into account the aspirations of the Syrian people.  Violence against Muslims in Myanmar should cease immediately.  

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