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Human Rights Council holds dialogue on Extrajudicial and Summary Executions and on Internally Displaced Persons

Human Rights Council
MORNING

30 May 2013

Concludes Dialogue on the Effects of Foreign Debt and on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

The Human Rights Council this morning held a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons. It also concluded its clustered interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and with the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.

Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, presenting his report, said that the possible use of lethal autonomous robotics raised far-reaching concerns about the protection of life during war and peace. Developing the right approach to this issue required an international debate in which the voices of the disarmament as well as human rights structures of the United Nations should be heard, to ensure that not only life itself but also the value of life was protected in the long run. Mr. Heyns also spoke on his country visits to India, Turkey, Albania and Ecuador.

Chaloka Beyani, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, said his thematic report was dedicated to the situation of internally displaced women. Perhaps the single most important challenge at this junction was overcoming the implementation gap of the many frameworks that had been developed to protect, assist and support the leadership role of internally displaced women. Mr. Beyani said he would continue to promote the mainstreaming of the gender dimensions of internal displacement, including those specific to women and girls. He spoke about his country visits to Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan and Afghanistan.

Speaking as concerned countries were India, Turkey, Côte d’Ivoire, and Sudan.

During the interactive dialogue, delegations expressed concern about the ethical, moral and legal implications of the possible use of lethal autonomous robotics, and several delegations recommended that such new weapons be banned before it became too difficult to restrict their use. Other delegations SAID THE Human Rights Council should not be dealing with this issue, which belonged to disarmament fora. Serious concern was expressed about the vulnerable situation of internally displaced women, and speakers urged States to take adequate measures in order to protect all internally displaced persons, including women.

Speaking in the interactive dialogue were Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Montenegro, European Union, Morocco, Austria, Estonia, Pakistan, Mexico, Argentina on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries, Germany, Ecuador, United States, Brazil, Colombia, Russian Federation, Indonesia, Switzerland, Sierra Leone, Cuba, Sweden, Iraq, Serbia, China, United Kingdom, Iran, Georgia, Sri Lanka, Algeria, Armenia, Nigeria, France, Norway, Egypt, Uganda, and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs.

Representatives from Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Asian Legal Resource Centre, International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, Habitat International Coalition, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Amnesty International, Union of Arab Jurists, Colombian Commission of Jurists, and the World Muslim Congress also took the floor.

At the start of this morning’s meeting the Council concluded its clustered interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and with the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.

In concluding remarks, Cephas Lumina, Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, said that a global financial mechanism should focus on the basic needs of people and should ensure accountability in a restructured global financial system. Reforms should underscore the primacy of human rights in the activities and programmes of international financial institutions, which should be made more transparent and accountable.

Gabriela Knaul, Special Rapporteur for the independence of judges and lawyers, in concluding remarks, said that she had found that conflicts had arisen in Pakistan between Islamic law and Constitutional law with regard to fundamental human rights. The effectiveness of the judicial system was under stress in many countries as a result of budgetary constraints. Political attacks against judges had to be prevented and States should ensure that legal aid schemes were autonomous and sufficiently funded.

Speaking in the interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and with the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers were the following non-governmental organizations: International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, International Commission of Jurists, International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Human Rights House Foundation, World Muslim Congress, and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada.

The first part of the interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and with the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers can be seen in HRC/13/57 and HRC/13/60.

The Council is holding a full day of meetings today. At 2 p.m. the Council will start a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and with the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations. At 3 p.m. the Council will hold a panel discussion on the role of the United Nations system in advancing the business and human rights agenda.

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (A/HRC/23/47); an addendum to the report concerning the Special Rapporteur’s mission to India (A/HRC/23/47/Add.1); a corrigendum to the first addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur concerning the Special Rapporteur’s mission to India (A/HRC/23/47/Add.1/Corr.1); an addendum to the report concerning the Special Rapporteur’s mission to Turkey (A/HRC/23/47/Add.2); an addendum to the report concerning the follow-up to country recommendations of Ecuador (A/HRC/23/47/Add.3); an addendum to the report concerning the follow-up to country recommendations of Albania (A/HRC/23/47/Add.4); an addendum to the report concerning observations on communications (A/HRC/23/47/Add.5); an addendum to the report concerning the comments by Turkey on the report of the Special Rapporteur (A/HRC/23/47/Add.6); and an addendum to the report concerning the comments by India on the report of the Special Rapporteur (A/HRC/23/47/Add.7).

The Council has before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (A/HRC/23/44); an addendum to the report concerning the Special Rapporteur’s mission to Côte d'Ivoire (A/HRC/23/44/Add.1); an addendum to the report concerning the Special Rapporteur’s mission to the Sudan (A/HRC/23/44/Add.2); and a second addendum to the report concerning the Special Rapporteur’s mission to the Sudan (A/HRC/23/44/Add.3).

Presentation of Reports by Special Rapporteurs on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions and on Internally Displaced Persons
 
CHRISTOF HEYNS, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, presenting his report, said that lethal autonomous robotics were weapons systems which, once activated, could select and engage targets without further human intervention.  The possible introduction of lethal autonomous robotics raised far-reaching concerns about the protection of life during war and peace.  For example, lethal autonomous robotics could be used by repressive Governments to suppress internal domestic opponents in a law enforcement context where human rights law applied exclusively.  On the other hand, in certain circumstances lethal autonomous robotics might also save lives, not only on the side of those who employed them but also on the opposing side, for instance by being more precise and discerning in their targeting.  So should lethal autonomous robotics be allowed to take human life under any circumstances?  Developing the right approach to that issue required an international debate in which the voices of the disarmament as well as human rights structures of the United Nations should be heard, to ensure that not only life itself but also the value of life was protected in the long run.

During his visit to India, Mr. Heyns witnessed that the human rights situation in that country had many positive elements but India also faced important challenges, including extrajudicial executions which still raised serious concern.  More specifically, impunity in cases of extrajudicial executions was a crucial challenge which needed to be addressed. 

Concerning his visit to Turkey, Mr. Heyns said that unlawful killings had decreased dramatically thanks to a series of reforms but there were still several areas of persisting concern relating to the right to life, such as lethal consequences of excessive use of force by security forces and killings of vulnerable persons.  Impunity was another issue which Turkey needed to address urgently. 

Regarding his follow-up report on Albania, Mr. Heyns said that Albania had taken significant steps to fight killings related to domestic violence but should intensify efforts to implement anti-corruption measures and measures strengthening the independence of the judiciary. 

Concerning Ecuador, significant improvements had been made to address allegations of abuse by the armed forces and the police, but the Government should implement the recommendations contained in the visit report and should put an end to impunity.

CHALOKA BEYANI, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, said that although much had been achieved in the two decades of the mandate, problems remained, such as ensuring a better transition for humanitarian to development activities, the latter often being indispensable to ensuring a durable solution to displacement.  Mr. Beyani would continue to encourage Member States of the African Union to ratify the 2009 Kampala Convention, and would also continue to support those that had already ratified it to enact domestic frameworks, including national legislation and policies, so as to make the Convention a reality.  This thematic report was dedicated to the situation of internally displaced women.  Since the late 1990s, significant progress had been made in the form of development of a range of resolutions, policies and guidelines, as well as mainstreaming efforts and programmes that focused on the rights and needs of women and girls in emergency and post-conflict situations.  However, they predominantly focused on women and security rather than their participation in peacebuilding and development activities, were largely related to refugee populations rather than internally displaced persons, and tended to frame efforts in relation to displaced women as assistance to a monolithic vulnerable group thus failing to sufficiently recognise the specific vulnerabilities of different groups of women.  Perhaps the single most important challenge at this junction was overcoming the implementation gap of the many frameworks that had been developed to protect, assist and support the leadership role of internally displaced women.  Mr. Beyani would continue to promote the mainstreaming of the gender dimensions of internal displacement, including those specific to women and girls.  Together with their increased participation, this was the most effective approach to ensuring that assistance and protection efforts responded to their actual needs and reinforced their human rights.

Concerning a country visit to Côte d’Ivoire, it was found that many internally displaced persons and host communities continued to experience dire living conditions in areas of return and local integration, including lack of housing, basic services and livelihood opportunities.  There was also a need to step up efforts and build confidence in the security sector and to address the special needs of vulnerable internally displaced persons. 

On a country visit to Sudan, the Special Rapporteur urged that all efforts be made towards the effective and inclusive implementation of the 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, which included provisions on durable solutions for internally displaced persons.  All parties were urged to provide safe access to humanitarian assistance in all areas and to redouble efforts to peacefully address outstanding issues that were fuelling the crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. 

From 12 to 16 July 2012, in Afghanistan, the Special Rapporteur had participated in a national consultative workshop on the development of a national policy on internal displacement.  The Government of Afghanistan was congratulated and encouraged on this important initiative. 

Statements by Concerned Countries

India, speaking as a concerned country, addressed the report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and noted with appreciation its acknowledgement of the decrease in unlawful killings in India.  However, it was surprised by the sweeping generalizations and anecdotal evidence that the Special Rapporteur used as the basis of his report and this was not acceptable in considering a State as diverse and large as India.  The Special Rapporteur had identified impunity as a problem, but India had an active press and healthy judiciary and India took strong exception to his assertions, particularly with respect to Supreme Court judgements.  The Special Rapporteur recommended a body of inquiry for extrajudicial killings but India rejected this as impractical and unnecessary.  It felt that the report was biased and the Special Rapporteur had failed to be objective, damaging the credibility of his mandate and the Human Rights Council. 

Turkey, speaking as a concerned country in response to the report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said that protecting the right to life was enshrined in Turkish law and it had achieved progress in its application of international human rights acts and noted that this had taken place in the context of fighting terrorism.  Turkish law enforcement officers were regularly trained in proportionality and efforts were made to ensure that disproportionate responses were restrained.  A reformed penal code placed higher sanctions on those convicted of “honour killings”.  The same code enshrined crimes against humanity as part of Turkish law.  The Turkish Human Rights Institution was independent, both politically and in its funding structure.  The Turkish penal code, while not including hate crimes as a separate category, was able to take such crimes into account and deal with them.

Côte d’Ivoire said that it remained committed to the rule of law and to the fight against impunity, and was investigating the recent worrying incidents which had been mentioned in the report of the Special Rapporteur on internally displaced persons.  The Kampala Convention was going to be ratified within 2013.  Moreover, a security sector reform was underway, and new momentum had been given to the country’s disarmament programme.  In August 2012 a new programme had been introduced for the re-integration of internally displaced persons.  Under that programme new homes would be built and jobs would be created for vulnerable groups, including women.  Action was also being taken to prevent statelessness in the western part of the country.  

Sudan said that the harsh natural conditions in the country, economic conditions, and the ongoing fighting had exacerbated the problem of internally displaced persons.  Sudan clarified that the rebellion in South Sudan had started in 1955, before the British colonizers left, not in 1956.  Armed rebel groups relied on the forced displacement of persons in order to attract the attention of the international community and used such situations in order to obtain their means of subsistence through humanitarian aid, while they also looted relief items from camps of internally displaced persons.  In addition, many children were forcefully recruited as soldiers and were forced to perform acts of terrorism.  

Interactive Dialogue

Azerbaijan said that about 300,000 out of 600,000 internally displaced persons in Azerbaijan were women.  Internally displaced persons in Azerbaijan, including women, found it physically and psychologically difficult to adjust to urban situations.  The report of the Special Rapporteur fell short of addressing the impact of conflict or foreign occupation on internally displaced women.  From its experience, among other factors, Azerbaijan had found that memories of foreign invading forces had left an enormous psychological effect on women. 

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, agreed that the development and deployment of lethal autonomous robotics weapons systems was an extremely important issue, which would have a wide range of implications, including in the field of international human rights and international humanitarian law.  On internally displaced persons, the Organization reiterated that the primary responsibility to protect lay with the State.  Any international assistance had to be done on the request and full consent of the concerned State. 

Montenegro said that it continued to align its internally displaced persons policy framework, law and practice with the guidance of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance of the Council of Europe.  However, it shared some of the challenges included in the Special Rapporteur’s report.  What steps should States take to ensure the meaningful participation of internally displaced women and girls in the development and implementation of laws and policies that affected them?

European Union said the Special Rapporteur’s report on lethal autonomous robotics was forward-looking, adding that the issue was complicated both technically and legally.  The European Union felt that the topic was best debated in other fora such as United Nations arms control fora.  Turning to internally displaced persons, the European Union welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s focus on gender-based issues and endorsed advocacy of a participatory approach.  The European Union remained concerned about internally displaced persons in Côte d’Ivoire and Sudan, and called for the continued ratification of the Kampala Convention.

Morocco said it was concerned about the implications of the development of lethal autonomous robotics, adding that the moral and legal context had to be examined closely with regard to human rights.  Turning to internally displaced persons, Morocco noted the difficulty of gender-mainstreaming in this context and recalled that in Africa in particular resources were constrained.  However, internally displaced women had to have an impact on their own situation in the long term.

Austria said that the matter of lethal autonomous robotics was timely, and, referring to the statement of the European Union, agreed that the Human Rights Council was not an adequate mechanism to address the multi-sectoral problems that the development of lethal autonomous robotics posed.  With regard to internally displaced persons, Austria welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s focus on internally displaced women.  What concrete measures should Governments take to combat the problem of sexual and gender-based violence with respect to internally displaced persons?  How could information gathering be improved?  How could the Human Rights Council advance participatory approaches?

Estonia said that it was the right time to turn attention to internally displaced women, taking into account the diverse issues facing them, particularly in relation to their protection.  Estonia stressed that it was important to promote a gender-sensitive approach in humanitarian assistance and development, including when dealing with internally displaced persons.  In 2011 Estonia contributed 50,000 euros to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ humanitarian aid project in South Sudan.

Pakistan said that lethal autonomous robotics raised a number of concerns concerning legal issues, the right to life and humanitarian law, and raised complex moral, ethical and legal dilemmas.  There was also a risk that they might increase the use of force internationally and encourage wars worldwide.  Pakistan recommended that lethal autonomous robotics be prohibited by the international community because once such weapons had been developed it would be impossible to restrict their use.

Mexico said that it was important to look at the evolution of technology in the context of protecting the right to life, and expressed concern at the prospect that lethal autonomous robotics might have the power to decide arbitrarily on the life or death of human beings.  States had an obligation to protect and defend the fundamental right to life.  Concerning internally displaced persons, Mexico said that women who had become internally displaced should still enjoy all the rights to which they were entitled before their displacement.

Argentina, speaking on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries, underscored the importance of adopting measures for early recovery and ensuring that internally displaced women could have appropriate access to justice and accountability mechanisms.  What could be done on an ongoing basis to improve the procedures to issue personal identification to displaced women?  The Group was concerned by a potential arms race that could arise because of lethal autonomous robotics, which may create a divide between States and harm international law.

Germany agreed with the recommendation that States should be as transparent as possible regarding the evaluation of new weapon technology, and strongly supported the idea to include unmanned systems in national reports to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.  Further steps to achieve this should be considered.  Respective parties were called upon to participate in an international debate and to share best practices with other States. 

Ecuador said that the protection of human rights was a progressive path to be trodden.  Ecuador was working hard on achieving promising and positive results, and it had embarked on a reform of the justice system.  Ecuador was working on eradicating gender-based violence; in order to combat impunity in this area it was planning a legal reform to make femicide a crime.  Ecuador was also looking at defining the legal reforms necessary to dispense justice in the country and had decided to strengthen indigenous justice. 

United States welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s report concerning lethal autonomous robotics and agreed that lethal autonomous robotics posed important legal, policy and ethical issues, but noted the issue was not new as certain missiles that could be used in autonomous mode had been in use for decades.  The United States felt that the issues raised by lethal autonomous robotics went beyond the Human Rights Council’s core expertise.  With respect to internally displaced persons, the United States welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s focus on women and efforts to raise the issue within the United Nations system. 

Brazil said in respect of the report on lethal autonomous robotics that it was time that the Human Rights Council considered the rights implications of such new technology.  The report echoed Brazil’s concern about the use of drones and said that all such technology had to be developed with international humanitarian law in mind; it supported the formation of a high-level panel of the Human Rights Council to look into the matter.

Colombia said that it had a legal framework to deal with internally displaced persons in its borders which already took into account the specific problems of internally displaced women.  With respect to the Special Rapporteur’s report on extrajudicial killings and military justice, Colombia noted that it made much progress in this area.

Russian Federation drew attention to the conclusion of the Special Rapporteur that the use of lethal autonomous robotics could undermine the ability of the international legal system to maintain a minimal legal order.  The standards of international humanitarian and human rights law should be taken seriously into consideration in that respect.  The Russian Federation asked what prospects of the use of lethal autonomous robotics existed with regard to non-combat processes.

Indonesia said that it was necessary to approach the issue of the possible use of lethal autonomous robotics in a more comprehensive and democratic manner.  How could the principle of democracy, especially the democratic control of armed forces, contribute to potential problems posed by the use of lethal autonomous robotics?  Indonesia also wondered how the international community could ensure that the engagement of men in empowerment programmes for internally displaced women did not become counter-productive.

Switzerland said that it remained concerned about the use of lethal autonomous robotics and recalled that under no circumstances should States relegate their responsibility in terms of the use of lethal force.  Switzerland proposed that a high-level group examine the issue and hold a dialogue to ensure that use of new technologies was fully in keeping with international law.  What form could the international debate take and what could States do to ensure full compliance with international law?   

Sierra Leone said that robots were machines and, as the world had seen, they could indiscriminately kill innocent victims.  The use of robots raised questions about accountability.  Sierra Leone suggested that the Council take up the matter of differential attention to refugees and internally displaced persons with a view of ensuring that the human rights of all internally displacement persons were not ignored merely because these persons had not crossed a border. 

Cuba said that it was interesting that the development and potential use of lethal autonomous robotics had been focused on and agreed that the question had to be looked at urgently and seriously.  Cuba was also concerned about the negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights and the right to life due to forms of selective killings pursuant to the executive decisions of some countries.  Future assessments should look at the use of drones in situations of conflict or in the context of the war on terror. 

Sweden said that the practice of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions was abhorrent and represented a flagrant violation of the inherent right to life.  Sweden had traditionally had the special responsibility to present draft resolutions on this issue, and was looking forward to doing so next year.  The report mentioned that the Special Rapporteur would present a report on unmanned combat aerial vehicles to the General Assembly in 2013.  Would it be possible, at this stage, to say something about the focus of the report and when it would be available?

Iraq said that a citation in the report of the Special Rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions about executions in Iraq could be construed as having referred to extrajudicial killings since they had been included in his report.  However, Iraq expedited the death penalty in its legal system in accordance with all international humanitarian laws and objected to the implication that executions that it carried out were not legal.

Serbia said it had the largest number internally displaced persons in Europe.  For the period 2011-2014, the Government was committed to an action plan to improve material conditions for its internally displaced persons.  The international community had decreased its assistance to the largest groups of internally displaced persons and the Government would request such assistance.

China said the emerging issue of lethal autonomous robotics was complex and it should be further studied.  With regard to internally displaced persons, China welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s focus on internally displaced women, which were often the worst affected group within internally displaced persons.

United Kingdom said that the issue raised by Mr. Heyns was one which should not be dealt with by the Council.  There were other fora with mandates more appropriate to the consideration of issues of new weaponry.  Furthermore, there was a clear distinction between lethal autonomous robotics and drones.  The existing provisions of international law were sufficient to regulate the use of such systems and, therefore, the United Kingdom would not support an international ban on lethal autonomous robotics.

Iran said that the nature of lethal autonomous robotics technology made it a legal responsibility for States to ensure that such systems were not used in violation of human rights.  Iran pointed out that similar systems and weapons, for example drones, were currently being used by countries such as the United States.  Iran wondered what should be the immediate reaction by the international community to the use of such weapons.  Iran would continue its cooperation with the Special Rapporteur on that matter.

Georgia said that it had suffered a lot from policies of ethnic cleansing and violations of human rights due to Russian military aggression and the Russian occupation of Georgian territory.  Georgia’s action plan aimed to provide State aid to, and facilitate the integration of, internally displaced persons.  The situation of such persons was particularly difficult because of the absence of monitoring forces on the ground.  The ongoing illegal activities of the Russian Federation in the region had created a new wave of internal displacement.  

Sri Lanka agreed that gender-sensitive responses to internal displacement required the full and equal participation of women.  In Sri Lanka the last batch of internally displaced persons had resettled in September 2012 and now all 295,873 displaced persons resulting from the end of the conflict in 2009 had been resettled.  Sri Lanka had adopted a gender-sensitive approach to resettlement and gender disaggregated data had been collected, which enabled the accurate enumeration of families, women and children.  The Government continued to address issues pertaining to land and access to justice, as well as the particular vulnerabilities faced by women and children. 

Algeria said that the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions had focused his report on the issue of lethal autonomous robotics.  Algeria shared the concerns of the Special Rapporteur regarding the need to adopt appropriate measures to ensure that the use of this technology respected human rights.  Furthermore, Algeria asked for the advice of the Special Rapporteur concerning potential regulatory measures.

Armenia shared the Special Rapporteur’s concern about internally displaced women in his report, including key protection issues and challenges to the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence.  Armenia commended the Special Rapporteur’s view that internally displaced women were often one of the most vulnerable groups within the displaced populations and lacked access to important rights and service, and were also subjected to violence and discrimination.  The majority of Armenia’s internally displaced persons were women and its policy contemplated their full integration into society.

Nigeria commended the Special Rapporteur for internally displaced persons for his efforts to mainstream the matter of internally displaced persons in the United Nations system, particularly with regard to his report’s focus on women and the promotion, ratification and implementation of the Kampala Convention.  Forty per cent of internally displaced persons world wide were in Africa and Nigeria endorsed the recommendations made in the report.

France said the use of lethal autonomous robots raised many complex questions and France did not have or intend to have such weapons in its arsenal.  United Nations arms control mechanisms were better placed to deal with all questions arising from the development of lethal autonomous robotics than the Human Rights Council.

Norway said that the challenges linked to the protection, human rights and needs of internally displaced women were of great importance and Norway endorsed the focus and recommendations of the Special Rapporteur’s report.  Norway would like to see a more detailed description of the follow-up to the Kampala Convention and the inclusion of development actors in finding durable solutions for internally displaced persons.  Had the Special Rapporteur been in contact with United Nations Resident Coordinators, whose job was to implement the United Nations Secretary-General’s framework for ending displacement in the aftermath of conflict?

Egypt said that discussions on the protection of and durable solutions to challenges faced by internally displaced women did not actively engage women sufficiently and did not enable adequate responses to their concerns.  Egypt asked the Special Rapporteur what were the socio-economic barriers which affected the situation of internally displaced women and what practical steps could be taken to make meaningful participation opportunities more accessible to internally displaced women.

Uganda said that the barbaric acts performed in the northern part of the country since 2006 had created 1.8 million internally displaced persons, many of whom had now started returning home.  Uganda agreed with all the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur in his report and had put in place a specific plan and relief programme to maintain the sustainability of returnees and to facilitate their reintegration in society.  Uganda was the first country to ratify the Kampala Convention in 2010.

United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs said that humans lived in a world where the means of warfare were constantly evolving and new technologies had brought about great changes in the concepts of security.  The emergence of autonomous weapons called into question the adequacy of measures to implement the rules of armed conflict which applied to the use of all weapon systems.  It was imperative to protect civilians from unacceptable harm. 

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network said that the report on extrajudicial executions highlighted escalating violations against human rights defenders, including against journalists, women and children.  Some of these instances were believed to have been committed because of the victims’ sexual orientation or gender identity, and the report sensitively drew attention to the general context of these occurrences, such as the hostile climate faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

Asian Legal Resource Centre, in a joint statement, said that the Constitution of India guaranteed the right to life and fair trial of all citizens, yet the speaker said she had lost her husband to State agencies and stood along thousands of widows of victims of extrajudicial executions.  The Centre asked the Special Rapporteur why the report had not touched upon the fact that the investigation of criminal cases in India was defective and what follow-up to the report was envisioned.

International Human Rights Association of American Minorities regretted that, as highlighted by the Special Rapporteur, in India practices such as ‘fake encounters’ entailed that suspected criminals or persons alleged to be insurgents were fatally shot by the Indian Army and the paramilitary forces in Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir.  The vast number of the Indian Army and its paramilitary forces who operated in the Jammu and Kashmir region were responsible for gross human rights violations.

Habitat International Coalition said it endorsed the part of the Special Rapporteur’s report that evidenced extrajudicial killings in India, and strongly supported its recommendations to the Government of India.

International Association of Democratic Lawyers addressed the emergence of lethal autonomous robotics and welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s focus on them, echoing as it did the non-governmental organization’s current concerns about the legality of drones.

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights said that China was among governments present that did not adhere to the spirit of the Special Rapporteur’s report on extrajudicial killings and was engaged in them, namely of Tibetans.  What intervention had the Special Rapporteur undertaken with China?

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, speaking on behalf of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, said that human control over the use of violent force was essential for ensuring the protection of civilians.  The Campaign called for a comprehensive ban on fully autonomous weapons that would be able to select and attack targets without meaningful human interventions.  The central question to ask was whether or not it was inherently wrong to let autonomous machines decide who and when to kill.

Amnesty International was disappointed by the hostile elements of the Indian remarks this morning.  Professor Heyns had observed that most unlawful killings in India occurred as a result of the excessive use of force by the security forces, attacks by various groups and killings of vulnerable persons.  Amnesty International encouraged India to engage constructively with the Special Rapporteur and asked whether any follow-up arrangements with the Government had been put in place to assess progress in the implementation of recommendations.

Union of Arab Jurists, speaking in a joint statement, said that executions in Iraq were taking place at a frightening rate and, as of today, the number for 2013 stood at 53.  In Iraq people were often sentenced to death without undergoing a fair trial or due process.  Cases abounded of detainees being subjected to threats, physical abuse, and torture by police and security officials during interrogations, for the purpose of extracting confessions.  The Government of Iraq could no longer be allowed to arbitrarily execute people at will and with impunity. 

Colombian Commission of Jurists said Colombia had the largest number of internally displaced persons in the world; its Constitutional Court last week ordered the investigation of a number of cases concerning women. It was reported that extrajudicial killings were being carried out by State actors in Colombia and legal means had to be sought to remedy this.

World Muslim Congress said the Special Rapporteur’s depiction of justice and lethal force in India was factual, and cases of “disappearances” were rising.  The World Muslim Congress strongly supported the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations to the Indian Government.


Concluding Remarks by the Special Rapporteurs on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions and on Internally Displaced Persons

CRISTOF HEYNS, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, in concluding remarks, hoped that this would be an ongoing process of interaction, and reiterated his willingness to engage in further discussions.  Focusing on the country reports, Mr. Heyns thanked India for facilitating the visit and the openness shown during the meetings, as well as for the support provided by the Indian Mission in Geneva, and looked forward to continuing to engage with India.  In the presentation today, a reference had been made to the use of unattributed sources.  It was worth noting that his work as Special Rapporteur including meeting with individuals, victims and non-governmental organizations, and reporting on these impressions as part of the visit.  In the report, such reported facts were mentioned, in this case, for example, that sometimes cases reported to the police were processed slowly.  It was the role of the Special Rapporteur to emphasize issues of priority.  Mr. Heyns, in this regard, warned about seeing questions of impunity as amounting to States’ complicity.  Impunity was problem which was not particular to any specific country; it was more productive to focus on the substance of issues concerning impunity and the need for accountability.  Concerning his disagreement concerning the Special Powers Act, Mr. Heyns noted that many of the other relevant United Nations agencies had also expressed concern at the wide discretion it granted to the police which could not be challenged.  Mr. Heyns offered these observations in the hope of identifying priority issues to be addressed and thanked Turkey and Mexico for the early preparations and the facilitation of his visit.  Concerning the issue of robotic weapons, there was shared concern about the issue and wide acceptance that further work should be carried out.  It was a multisectoral issue and should be dealt with both by the disarmament and human rights community, and part of the proposal was that this process should take place.  Concerning the follow-up of country missions, it was a practice of the mandate to produce follow-up reports two years after a visit.  Mr. Heyns hoped to take the issue of the resumption of the death penalty and relevant legal standards in the future. 

CHALOKA BEYANI, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, said in concluding remarks that he firstly commended the Government of Côte d’Ivoire for the measures it had put in place since his visit.  He had made the correction mentioned by Sudan in the report, and he stood ready to work with the Government in the future.  In respect of the point raised by Azerbaijan, the Special Rapporteur said he focussed on internally displaced women without regard to the cause of their displacement.  As regard to practical measures, internally displaced persons policy had to include women from the outset and comprehensively; their needs had to be heard.  Collaboration between development actors with internally displaced women at the centre of solutions was key.  Combating sexual violence had been gaining attention among the international community and this was to be welcomed.  As to strengthening support for internally displaced women, an analogy could be made with the progress made with refugee women.  The implementation of the Kampala Convention, meanwhile, was progressing.  In response to Norway’s question, the Special Rapporteur said that relevant meetings were planned.

Interactive Dialogue with Independent Expert on the Effects of Foreign Debt and the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination said that it supported the importance of effective legal aid and drew attention to the Iraqi judicial system, which was disastrous.  The culture of injustice was such that in 2013 millions of people took to the streets.  The Special Rapporteur was urged to re-include this in her reports.  The need to take action could not be more urgent.

International Commission of Jurists emphasized that legal aid was often ineffective without proper protection of the legal profession and thus drew attention to certain challenges faced by human rights lawyers in Viet Nam, and urged the Government of Viet Nam to extend an invitation to the Special Rapporteur.

International Human Rights Association of American Minorities said that India had failed to meet its international obligations in Kashmir concerning judicial and human rights guarantees.  The Special Rapporteur and the Council had to add their voices to the European Parliament’s call for the independence of judges and lawyers in India.  

CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation said that it was concerned by the trend of wrongful arrest and detention of human rights defenders, who faced arbitrary detention and prolonged imprisonment and were often denied their right to visits and access to legal assistance.  States should ensure the protection of human rights defenders.

Human Rights House Foundation said that, regarding legal aid, the system in the Russian Federation did not guarantee an effective protection for victims of human rights violations.  The Russian system should fully recognize the importance of legal aid provided by non-governmental organizations and facilitate fully human rights law education for lawyers.

World Muslim Congress said that it wished to draw attention to the situation in Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir, where the law stipulated that if a State had reason to believe that any person might pose a threat to the security of the State, that person could be imprisoned for two years, thereby depriving individuals of their right to a fair trial.  

Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada said that unfortunately, access to a lawyer was no longer a reality in several Canadian provinces, due to budgetary cuts.  This situation was particularly harmful to safeguarding the human rights of the most vulnerable persons.  Equality for all before the law had to be ensured. 

Concluding Remarks by the Independent Expert on the Effects of Foreign Debt and the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

CEPAHS LUMINA, Special Rapporteur on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, said that the findings outlined in the report were based on information obtained during and after the visit to Latvia and that he had addressed to the best extent possible the comments and observations made, though for some, sources had not been provided.  A global financial mechanism should focus on the basic needs of people and could contribute to ensure accountability in the global financial system, which should be restructured to ensure coherence between the different policy areas.  Reforms should underscore the primacy of human rights in the activities and programmes of international financial institutions, which should be made more transparent and accountable.  The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund should recognise that they were subject to international law.  The principle of shared responsibility was not inconsistent with the principle of sovereignty, rather its manifestation, in Mr. Lumina’s view.  

GABRIELA KNAUL Special Rapporteur for the independence of judges and lawyers, said that she had found that conflicts had indeed arisen in Pakistan between Islamic law and Constitutional law with regard to fundamental human rights.  In responding to Argentina, she said there had been legislative moves in April that had alerted her to the unconstitutionality of certain legal provisions and had felt compelled to speak out and act.  The effectiveness of the judicial system was under stress in many countries as a result of budgetary constraints in the context of the economic crisis.  Political attacks against judges had to be prevented.  With respect to barriers to legal aid, the main obstacle was resource constraints.  Legal aid schemes had to be autonomous and sufficiently funded.  States had to take all measures to establish and provide legal aid schemes.  In Central America, she said that her recommendations had been formed on the basis of views of experts and should be taken up to further the human rights agenda in the region.

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For use of the information media; not an official record