13 June 2014
Hears Address by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Seychelles, Concludes Discussion on Extrajudicial Executions and Internally Displaced Persons
The Human Rights Council this morning held a clustered interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity and with the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons. The Council heard a statement from Jean-Paul Adam, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Seychelles. It also concluded a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and on internally displaced persons.
Jean-Paul Adam, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Seychelles, reiterated the firm commitment of Seychelles to the promotion and protection of human rights. Safeguarding human rights was not just a radical change of concept; it had to be a part and parcel of daily life. The Government did not intend to be the only one to provide for human rights in Seychelles. Citizens were demanded to be aware of their rights, to observe them, and to respect their duties. As a small island State and developing nation, Seychelles faced resource constraints and other challenges, such as climate change and piracy, but these had never been an obstacle to the determination to ensure that each citizen could enjoy their rights.
Virginia Dandan, Independent Expert on international solidarity, presenting her report, said that the main body of the report outlined the process leading to the proposed draft declaration on the right of people and individuals to international solidarity. The draft declaration affirmed among other things that international solidarity was not limited to international assistance and cooperation, aid, charity or humanitarian assistance. It was a broader concept and principle that included sustainability in international relations, especially international economic relations, the peaceful coexistence of all members of the international community, equal partnerships, and the equitable sharing of benefits and burdens.
Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, highlighted, among other challenges, the need for a more cohesive interpretation of what constituted trafficking in persons, strengthening accountability of State and non-State actors, including civil society, in anti-trafficking efforts, improving compliance mechanisms, and closing the gap between the obligations and implementation in practice. Ms. Ezeilo also outlined emerging areas of concern, such as illicit recruitment practices, trafficking in men for forced and exploitative labour, trafficking for forced begging and criminal activities, trafficking for forced or servile marriage, and safe return and the risk of re-trafficking, and said that further research into those areas was needed.
Bahamas, Italy, Morocco, Morocco’s National Human Rights Institution, and Seychelles, spoke as concerned countries.
Concerning, the draft declaration on the right to international solidarity presented by the Independent Expert, some speakers expressed doubts whether the principles of international solidarity could be formalized as a human right and concern; trying to do so would be a rhetorical move without any legal content and the result would be meaningless for the people on the ground. Other delegations regretted that the regional consultation had not taken place given budgetary difficulties and the lack of reflection on the draft declaration; and said that more consultations on the draft declaration were needed in order to take into account as many views as possible. In the context of a globalised world ridden with economic and financial crises, international solidarity played a crucial role for the promotion of growth, progress, social inclusion and the sustainable development of States.
Speakers reiterated the importance of closer and more sustained linkages between the activities of all Special Procedures in the area of human trafficking. Trafficking in persons remained one of major crimes of our time and the Special Rapporteur was asked to elaborate on initiatives that aimed to analyse the root causes of trafficking. There was a need to balance between national criminal justice mechanisms and the international human rights legal framework for the provision of justice and effective remedy to trafficked persons. Speakers asked the Special Rapporteur how the mandate, as well as enhanced cooperation among international, regional, and national mechanisms, could contribute to addressing substantial improvements on the ground.
Speaking in the interactive dialogue were: Belarus (on behalf of the Geneva Group of Friends United against Trafficking), European Union, Pakistan (on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), Costa Rica (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Egypt (on behalf of the Arab Group), Ethiopia (on behalf of the African Group), Belgium, Austria, Morocco, Qatar, Venezuela, Cuba, Slovenia, Moldova, United Arab Emirates, Ecuador, Armenia, United States, Maldives, Australia, Malaysia, El Salvador, Israel, Uruguay, Japan, Philippines, India, Bolivia, Indonesia, Germany, Algeria, Switzerland, Iran, China, Iceland, Bahrain, Holy See, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Burkina Faso, Brazil, Viet Nam, Botswana, Spain, Thailand, Ethiopia, and Sierra Leone
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (UK) and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission delivered a joint video statement. The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Associazione Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII (joint statement), World Barua Organization, Liberation, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (joint statement), International Educational Development Inc, Union de l’accion feminine, Indian Council of South America, and the International Catholic Child Bureau.
At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded its clustered interactive debate with the Independent Cristof Heyns, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and Chaloka Beyani, the Special Rapporteur on internally displaced persons. The Special Rapporteurs presented their reports on Thursday, 12 June in the afternoon, and a summary of their presentations, as well as the first part of the interactive dialogue with them, can be seen here.
During the dialogue, concerning extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, speakers stressed the importance of an appropriate legal framework on the use of force by the police. Delegations condemned the use of armed drones and called on States to strengthen the international legal framework for their use. However, others suggested that discussions concerning the use and regulation of weapons should be dealt with as an arms control issue rather than by the Council.
On the issue of internally displaced persons, speakers noted that some States had been affected by internal displacement due to conflict and natural disasters for a long time and provided examples of measures taken to support their return. Attacks on the basis of religion had become one of the major causes of displacement and attention ought to be given to the right to religious freedom or belief. The approach to internally displaced persons might be improved by including an effective framework to address gender-based violence and developing polices to support those outside of camp settings.
Speaking in concluding remarks, Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, emphasized that a human rights framework and State security were not opposite and that human rights approaches were useful in dealing with security challenges, including terrorism. Regarding the use of armed drones, the Special Rapporteur stressed that human rights frameworks and human rights implications of the use of any kind of weapons system were of concern to this Council.
Chaloka Bayani, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, also in concluding remarks, thanked speakers for the expressions of support for the mandate and reaffirmed the independence and integrity of the mandate, which left no room for compromise. He addressed a number of issues raised during the discussion, such as peace and reconciliation, the situation in Syria, and climate-related displacement.
Ecuador, Sudan, Iraq, Malta, and Australia took the floor during the dialogue.
The Defensoría del Pueblo de Colombia (Ombudsman’s Office) delivered a video statement. The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, World Organization Against Torture, Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, Centre for International Education and Development, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, International Commission of Jurists, American Civil Liberties Union, Women Human Rights International Association, Lawyers for Lawyers, World Barua Organization, and Defence for Children International.
The Council is holding a full day of meetings today. At 3 p.m., the Council will hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers and the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.
Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Seychelles
JEAN-PAUL ADAM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Seychelles, reiterated the firm commitment of Seychelles to the promotion and protection of human rights. The full enjoyment of human rights had always been a fundamental principle of Seychelles and was enshrined in its Constitution. Safeguarding human rights was not just a radical change of concept; it had to be a part and parcel of daily life, visible in every activity in daily life. The participation of each individual was needed. The Government did not intend to be the only one to provide for human rights in Seychelles. Citizens were demanded to be aware of the rights, to observe them, and to respect their duties. As a small island State and developing nation, Seychelles faced resource constraints and other challenges, such as climate change and piracy, but these had never been an obstacle to the determination to ensure that each citizen could enjoy their rights.
In order to ensure that treaty obligations were implemented effectively, the Committee on Human Rights was established in 2012, primarily tasked with the preparation and dissemination of treaty body reports. It was also charged with overseeing the development of a five-year national action plan. Seychelles had opened its doors to the Special Rapporteurs on education and on trafficking in persons and there had been enactment of legislation prohibiting trafficking in persons. Seychelles remained steadfast in its endeavour to eliminate gender-based violence in all its forms and promote empowerment of women in all walks of life. The Government continued to have an inclusive and holistic approach to human rights. As a small island developing State, Seychelles was concerned about the challenges that the threat of climate change brought about in ensuring the rights and dignity of its citizens. Advances remained to be made and challenges overcome with regards to its human rights landscape. Dedication to progress and improvement was the reason for Seychelles’ engagement in the mid-term Universal Periodic Review exercise.
Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on Extrajudicial and Arbitrary Executions and on Internally Displaced Persons
Ecuador stressed the importance of an appropriate legal framework on the use of force by the police and said it trained its law and order officers on the use of less lethal force in order to ensure better respect for the right to life. Ecuador condemned the use of armed drones and called on States to strengthen the international legal framework for their use. Sudan said the phenomenon of internal displacement due to conflict and natural disasters had been affecting it for a long time. National plans and policies to support the return of internally displaced persons to their villages, as specified in the Doha accord, were being obstructed by rebel movements and Sudan called on the Council to investigate this situation. Iraq condemned and rejected executions outside of the legal framework and any attempts on the lives of its citizens, particularly by terrorists. Terrorism raging in Iraq had dimensions of genocide and was causing the internal displacement of thousands of Iraqi citizens.
Sovereign Military Order of Malta said that attacks on the basis of religion had become one of the major causes of displacement in the world today and suggested that enhanced attention be given to the right to religious freedom or belief. Australia urged all States to ensure that the use of weapons was regulated by national and international laws and stressed that the discussion on the use of weapons should be held in fora other than the Human Rights Council. Australia noted a number of areas for improvement in the approach to internally displaced persons, including building an effective framework to address gender-based violence and developing polices to support internally displaced persons outside of camp settings. Defensoría del Pueblo de Colombia (Ombudsman’s Office) said that displacement was a major problem affecting Colombia mainly due to internal conflict and stressed that nine out of ten victims of armed conflict were displaced persons.
BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights reaffirmed the importance of supporting the rights of internally displaced persons. Israel had committed great breaches of international human rights law by forcefully displacing and transferring Palestinian people through the destruction of their homes and other policies. World Organization Against Torture remained concerned about the persistent lack of implementation to ensure accountability for violations of the right to life. Instead of facilitating the enjoyment of the right to freedom of assembly, many governments repressed public manifestations, including by the use of force. Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, in a joint statement, recalled the anniversary of the killings of Curuguaty in Paraguay, noting that there had been no investigations into the deaths of the agricultural workers who had been protesting land grievances; the Centre urged the Special Rapporteur to ensure that Paraguay fulfilled its international obligations.
Centre for International Education and Development, in a joint statement, highlighted the excessive use of force and executions in Iran, particularly against ethnic minorities, who suffered high incidence of arbitrary detentions and executions. The vast majority of the people executed in Iran since the President took office were members of ethnic minorities. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, in a joint statement, said that the prohibition of autonomous weapons should be achieved through an international instrument. The League was concerned that these weapons would undermine international human rights and humanitarian law, and noted the risks that these weapons were used outside conflicts. International Commission of Jurists welcomed the emphasis on bringing States’ norms in line with international standards. While commending Pakistan for submitting domestic legislation for the study, the Commission was concerned about legislation (PPO and PPB) which gave law enforcement agencies overbroad powers to use fire arms without external accountability and contained provisions incompatible with international law and standards on the right to life.
American Civil Liberties Union, in a joint statement, said that they supported the call for States to establish systems of investigation and reporting on the excessive use of force. There was still a gap with regards to the lack of regulation on less lethal weapons and concrete legal measures were needed. Lawyers for Lawyers shared concerns about the need for domestic law reform towards being in line with international standards. There was concern about Colombia’s response to the high number of attacks on and killings of lawyers. The majority of the cases had not been adequately investigated. Defence for Children International said that Israeli forces had killed two Palestinian teens during clashes on May 15, 2014, outside of Ramallah. The boys had been participating in a demonstration near Ofer military prison to mark the Nakba and express solidarity with hunger striking Palestinian prisoners currently held in administrative detention by Israel. The continued use of excessive force and reckless firing of live ammunition by Israeli forces was of grave concern.
Women Human Rights International Association said that on 1 September 2013, a group of 101 asylum seekers were attacked in camp Ashraf, while the camp was surrounded by Iraqi Government security forces. Those dead were subjected to extrajudicial executions. A group of United Nations experts had expressed serious concern about the lack of information from the Iraqi authorities about any investigation on the attack. World Barua Organization thanked the Special Rapporteur for the recommendation to the Government of India to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which prevented the prosecution of criminal acts committed by personnel of the armed forces. This included rapes and murders. An appeal was made to the Council to join the Special Rapporteur in the call to repeal the Act.
Concluding Remarks by the Special Rapporteurs on Extrajudicial and Arbitrary Executions and on Internally Displaced Persons
CHRISTOF HEYNS, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, in his closing remarks agreed that States must respond to security challenges, but emphasized that a human rights framework and state security were not opposite and that human rights approaches were useful in dealing with security challenges, including terrorism. Answering questions by the delegations on what States could do to control the use of force, Mr. Heyns said that the less lethal weapons issue was worth considering, but he also expressed a concern related to their misuse under the pretext that they were not lethal and said that there should be an international set of standards governing their use. There were different approaches to deal with illegal but peaceful protests, but previous experience had shown that establishing communication between protestors and the police and authorities could de-escalate tensions. In addition, other measures not involving the use of force that could be used to de-escalate conflicts were being identified. Turning to the use of armed drones, the Special Rapporteur stressed that a human rights framework and human rights implications of the use of any kind of weapons system were of concern to this Council. The level of the death penalty in Iran was indeed an issue of serious concern for him.
CHALOKA BEYANI, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, thanked speakers for the expressions of support for the mandate and noted with satisfaction the comments on the report made by Georgia, South Sudan and Sri Lanka. Concerning the mandate, Mr. Beyani made references to some of the Guiding Principles about displaced families’ requirements to know about the whereabouts of their families, and called on the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances to contribute to this area. Mr. Beyani affirmed the independence and integrity of the mandate, which left no room for compromise. Responding to remarks concerning development-based approaches and the inclusion of the situation of internally displaced persons in the post-2015 development agenda, Mr. Beyani noted that this had been the subject of his report to the General Assembly, and called on the Council to support the inclusion of the paragraph that mentioned the situation of internally displaced persons throughout the process. Concerning the situation in the Central African Republic, evacuation was limited and should be distinguished with plan relocation and he hoped that recent developments would have a positive impact on these two areas. Georgia had a remarkable project undertaken with the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations Development Programme, which focused on durable solutions. Concerning peace and reconciliation, the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa served like a model and Mr. Beyani endorsed Switzerland’s remarks concerning the fact that it could serve as a point of reference for other regions. Concerning the situation of Syria, Mr. Beyani indicated that he was currently in contact with the Government of Syria regarding a possible visit. Concerning climate change, Mr. Beyani’s report to the General Assembly made references to climate-related displacement discussed by the Cancun agreement and the African Union convention.
The Council has before it the report of the Independent Expert on international solidarity, Ms. Virginia Dandan (A/HRC/26/34).
The Council has before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Ms. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo (A/HRC/26/37), as well as on her missions to the Bahamas(A/HRC/26/37/Add.5), Belize (A/HRC/26/37/Add.6), Italy (A/HRC/26/37/Add.4), Morocco (A/HRC/26/37/Add.3) and the Seychelles (A/HRC/26/37/Add.7)
Presentation of Reports by the Independent Expert on International Solidarity and the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons
VIRGINIA B. DANDAN, Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity, presenting the report, said it contained a summary of the activities undertaken since the previous annual report, and included a brief description of the first ever initial report to the General Assembly by the mandate holder on human rights and international solidarity. That occasion was significant and auspicious because even if it was not accompanied by applause and cheers, doors of opportunity were opened for the right of peoples and individuals to international solidarity to make a quiet entry into the awareness of many who had not even heard of such a right before. The main body of the report outlined the process leading to the proposed draft declaration on the right of people and individuals to international solidarity. Numerous issues were considered in configuring the right to international solidarity, including bridging global asymmetries in levels of development among countries, and promoting an international economic order based on equal and meaningful participation in decision-making processes, among others.
The draft declaration affirmed among other things that international solidarity was not limited to international assistance and cooperation, aid, charity or humanitarian assistance. It was a broader concept and principle that included sustainability in international relations, especially international economic relations, the peaceful coexistence of all members of the international community, equal partnerships, and the equitable sharing of benefits and burdens. The concept of international solidarity and its normative content, as well as the rights-holders, were defined. The draft declaration was a significant step in the evolution of the concept of international solidarity into a concrete right. It brought the international community closer to the formal recognition of the human right of peoples and individuals to international solidarity as a potent tool in addressing the structural causes of poverty, inequality and other global challenges that had a direct bearing on the effective exercise and full enjoyment of all human rights. Recognition of the right would contribute to the implementation of international human rights instruments because of its inherent interface with their provisions. This was a proposed draft declaration that still awaited input from States themselves because it was these States that had collectively mandated, through the Council, its preparation by the mandate-holder.
JOY NGOZI EZEILO, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, said in the presentation of her reports that the challenges that would be of particular concern to the international community were the need to provide a more cohesive interpretation of what constituted trafficking in persons, strengthening accountability of State and non-State actors, involving civil society organizations in all aspects of anti-trafficking efforts, improving compliance mechanisms, and closing the worrying gap between the obligation of States and their implementation in practice. The report offered recommendations to the Council as it looked forward, including changing of the title of the mandate by removing the specific reference to women and children as it was deflecting the attention from the reality that trafficking was a problem affecting men as well as women and children. Ms. Ezeilo also outlined emerging areas of concern, such as illicit recruitment practices, trafficking in men for forced and exploitative labour, trafficking for forced begging and criminal activities, trafficking for forced or servile marriage and safe return and the risk of re-trafficking, and said that further research into those areas was needed. The mandate should continue to give attention to trafficking in persons for the removal of organs and to promote the implementation of the Palermo Protocol and other relevant regional instruments and standards.
Turning to her country visits, the Special Rapporteur said in 2013 and 2014 she had visited Morocco, Italy, the Bahamas, Belize and Seychelles and noted the gaps in institutional and legal mechanisms to address trafficking in persons, over focus on one form of trafficking, usually sexual exploitation, capacity of the front-line officers to identify victims of trafficking in persons, and others. She commended Morocco and the Seychelles for enacting new anti-trafficking legislation following her visits, and thanked Italy for allowing the United Nations television to film the visit. The need for swift redress and non-criminalization of victims was extremely important and was an issue of concern in Italy, Belize and Seychelles. Italy faced the particular challenge of dealing with huge migrant flows and needed resources to address it properly. Addressing root causes of trafficking, including the demand, was crucial and the Special Rapporteur encouraged all countries visited to institute a special officer on trafficking in persons to monitor the situation.
Statements by Concerned Countries
Bahamas, speaking as a concerned country, expressed appreciation to the Office of the High Commissioner and the Council for the visit of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, and the work of the Council in promoting the rights of all individuals. The visit of the mandate holder had provided an opportunity to engage with Government officials and civil society representatives, as well as the examination of weaknesses and ways of strengthening the combat against human trafficking. Bahamas noted that some of the elements contained in the report were too broad in generalising, especially in the context of the country’s particular vulnerabilities. A multi-sectoral and systems approach was needed to combat this complex challenge and the Bahamas strategy was based on the United Nations global plan of action against trafficking. The Government’s victims' assistance plan provided a victim-focused approach with an emphasis on protection regardless of nationality. Legal and administrative reforms had also been put in place to dismantle the networks of traffickers, such as amendments to justice protection, evidence, prevention of bribery, and sexual offenses acts.
Italy, speaking as a concerned country, expressed appreciation for the way the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons had conducted her mission to Italy. Trafficking in persons was among the worst scourges and implied the commodification of human beings, as well as the violation of their dignity and fundamental rights. Strong and stable international cooperation was crucial to combat such a heinous crime and, for this reason, Italy remained fully committed to implementing all relevant international instruments. Italian penal law had been progressively amended to fulfil international obligations and to keep up pace with the latest developments. A national helpline to inform victims on legislation and supporting tools was operational 24 hours a day and special programmes for long-term social assistance and inclusion ensured victims’ protection. Italy had translated into national legislation the European Directive 2011/36/EU on trafficking of human beings, and its Department of Equal Opportunities of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers was developing a national action plan against trafficking in human beings.
Morocco said that the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, during the recent visit, had witnessed that Morocco guaranteed conditions for a frank dialogue with all stakeholders, and been able to note the willingness of Morocco to open up to an independent assessment. Special attention had been paid to recommendations in the report. Continuing efforts in the field of combating human trafficking, the King had launched a new migration policy, which was global, integrated and humanist, based on Morocco’s international obligations and partnerships, and had taken into account the recommendations of the Human Rights Council. An action plan had been adopted that aimed to provide for a coherent and global implementation of recommendations.
National Human Rights Institution of Morocco said that several measures had been taken since the elaboration of the report, including a draft law to combat trafficking, developed with a humanist perspective. The Institution was reviewing this bill and would shortly submit its comments to the Government based on a human rights perspective in line with international standards in the field. The Institution had also provided an opinion on a draft law of domestic workers. Different challenges were being faced and more reforms would be adopted. The Government was called upon to positively interact with the Special Rapporteur and her recommendations.
Seychelles, speaking as a concerned country, recognized trafficking in persons for the abhorrent crime and major violation of human rights that it was and said that this modern form of slavery debased millions of people across the globe. Seychelles appreciated the understanding by the Special Rapporteur of the capacity of Seychelles as a small island state to deal with this problem. Seychelles was pleased to inform the Council that the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons law had been enacted in April 2014; it penalized the trafficking in persons and provided assistance for victims. Further, the Government had facilitated various capacity building activities for law enforcement officers and taken measures to strengthen data collection. Seychelles was determined to act decisively and to better itself to combat trafficking in persons in accordance with its means.
Clustered Interactive Dialogue with Independent Expert on International Solidarity and Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons
Belarus, speaking on behalf of the Geneva Group of Friends United against Trafficking, expressed support for the Special Rapporteur’s consistent thematic approach aimed at the identification of cross-cutting concerns and aspects and manifestations of trafficking relevant to all States. The Group welcomed the adoption of Resolution 68/192 on improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons by the General Assembly and reiterated the importance of closer and more sustained linkages between the activities of all Special Procedures in the area of human trafficking. The European Union reiterated conceptual doubts about whether the principles of international solidarity could be formalized as a human right and expressed concern that trying to do so would be a rhetorical move without any legal content and the result would be meaningless for the people on the ground. The European Union agreed that trafficking in persons remained one of major crimes of our time and asked the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on initiatives that aimed to analyse the root causes of trafficking.
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that there was a need to balance between national criminal justice mechanisms and international human rights legal frameworks for the provision of justice and effective remedy to trafficked persons. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation expressed its appreciation for the preparation of the draft declaration on the right to international solidarity and suggested that the Independent Expert initiate regional consultations with stakeholders and revise the draft declaration for the consideration of the Council. Costa Rica, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that more consultations were needed on the proposed draft declaration on the right to international solidarity in order to take into account as many views as possible. In the context of a globalised world ridden with economic and financial crises, international solidarity played a crucial role in the promotion of growth, progress, social inclusion and sustainable development of States.
Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, recalled that the Arab League had held a Second Doha Forum for Combating Human Trafficking and mechanisms for the provision of victim assistance had been put in place. The Arab Group highlighted the importance of regional and international consultations on the draft declaration on international solidarity, in accordance with previous Council resolutions. Ethiopia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, thanked the Independent Expert on international solidarity for the draft declaration and shared the recommendations concerning the regional consultations to discuss the declaration. The prevention of trafficking should build on an understanding of the root causes and the African Union Commission had initiated an anti-trafficking campaign in this context, and its ten-year strategic plan to combat trafficking illustrated the African commitment to combat this phenomenon. Belgium thanked Ms. Ezeilo for her efforts against trafficking and welcomed the suggestions for future mandate holders, in particular the emerging areas of concern. Belgium expressed support for the renewal of the mandate and asked the Special Rapporteur how the mandate, as well as enhanced cooperation among international, regional, and national mechanisms, could contribute to addressing substantial improvements on the ground.
Austria shared the assessment of the Special Rapporteur that a human rights-based approach must be at the centre of discussion and policy measures to combat trafficking in persons. Could Ms. Ezeilo elaborate on the consequences of a human rights-based approach and share best practices concerning assistance and identification of trafficked men and boys? Austria also inquired about the mandate holder’s plans to strengthen partnerships with national anti-trafficking mechanisms and other Special Procedures. Morocco reiterated support for the work of the Independent Expert on international solidarity and was convinced that solidarity among States was required for the full realisation of the objectives and principles of the United Nations Charter. Morocco regretted that the regional consultation had not taken places given budgetary difficulties and the lack of reflection on the draft declaration. Morocco underlined the need to hold inclusive consultations on this draft as early as possible in order to bring about a consensual platform.
Qatar said that over the past years, it had promptly reacted to international calls to respond to national disasters and crisies caused by armed conflicts, and development assistance had become part and parcel of its foreign policy. Qatar had undertaken a number of legislative measures to address trafficking in persons and had criminalized all activities of trafficking as defined in the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. Venezuela said international solidarity must be grounded in principles of justice and human dignity and respect the principles of sovereignty of States. The world must continue to further the frank dialogue on international solidarity on the basis of friendship. It was clear that the international understanding of the nature and scope of trafficking in persons had grown over the past decade and Venezuela stressed that human rights must be at the basis of any efforts to combat the phenomenon.
Cuba attached particular importance to the role of international solidarity in the promotion and protection of human rights and supported the intention of the Independent Expert to undertake further consultations on the draft declaration. The phenomenon of trafficking in persons was one of the most profitable activities, particularly in developing countries, and Cuba had in place a zero tolerance policy for this crime. Slovenia had paid attention to the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons and commended her for her efforts to mainstream human rights into the anti-trafficking discourse and for drawing attention to emerging and less known forms of trafficking. Republic of Moldova stressed that the rights of victims of traffic king to assistance, protection and support must be protected and respected in practice and concurred with the Special Rapporteur that a strong response from the criminal justice system was an integral part of effectively dealing with trafficking.
United Arab Emirates said that it had made progress in addressing trafficking in persons, the challenges of which were only increasing. Severe penalties, including life in prison, were in place for such crimes, while protection for victims had been strengthened, and a support fund for the victims had been established. The United Arab Emirates placed emphasis on the strengthening of international cooperation in that field. Ecuador had a national plan in place to prevent and punish traffickers, as well as to support victims of trafficking. Ecuador placed great emphasis on developing South-South cooperation, promoting new ideas regarding relationships between transnational corporations and sovereign States, for which regional bodies should be created. Armenia declared a fight against trafficking in persons as a priority in 2002, and in 2007 a state council to combat trafficking had been established, headed by the Deputy Prime Minister. The emphasis was on prevention, prosecution and protection. The National Referral Mechanism regulated the system of providing free legal and medical assistance to the victims.
United States believed that international solidarity was not an issue that the Council should address and did not support moving forward with the draft declaration. The United States agreed with Ms. Ezeilo that a strong criminal justice system was an integral part of combating human trafficking, provided it was not at the expense of the victims’ rights. Maldives recognized the importance of international solidarity in realizing the fundamental freedoms and rights of all in the current globalized environment. Sustainable, inclusive and economic development should be encouraged and adopted by all States without discrimination. The Maldives believed that interstate cooperation was indispensable for addressing the issues of transnational crimes such as human trafficking.
Australia agreed that regional frameworks and initiatives had an important role to play in supporting the right to an effective remedy. Australia was interested in the Special Rapporteur’s view on how to balance the specific needs of victims, with the need to ensure the investigation and prosecution of those who took advantage of the most vulnerable in our communities. Malaysia noted the ongoing international discourse and debates in clarifying the parameters of the international legal definition of trafficking and underlined that in reality, the definition of human trafficking could differ at the national level. It may vary from country to country. The fact of the matter was that there was no one-size-fits-all definition of trafficking.
Uruguay said that it had submitted information on the implementation of the 11 recommendations received. In 2013, Uruguay had set up a special service for victims of trafficking. The profile of trafficking as a crime and its causes and consequences had improved substantially in the country. Uruguay had carried out public events to present the problem to the public and show them the tools to tackle this scourge. Israel appreciated the conclusions and recommendations on how the mandate could further contribute to the combat against trafficking in persons, which was a priority for Israel. To facilitate international cooperation, Israel had appointed a trafficking coordinator, responsible for coordinating the combat against trafficking, and who worked with various national and international bodies.
El Salvador viewed the right to international solidarity as a right for all people and supported the work of the Special Rapporteur. It welcomed the proposed draft declaration as an important basis for further discussion in this forum. The Special Rapporteur was urged to continue work and regional consultations. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was called upon to fully support this work through financing and human resources.
Japan stated that human trafficking, which was a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights, required the united efforts of the international community. Japan had introduced various measures and necessary reforms, under its National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons, and remained firmly committed to this cause. It would use the non-binding draft to review its domestic policies on trafficking. Philippines believed that there was a need for longer term strategies to deal with the problem of trafficking, which should have a human rights based approach. The Philippines supported continued cooperation between the mandate and international, regional and national mechanisms to combat trafficking. The Philippines also supported regional consultations on the draft declaration on international solidarity. India said that the spirit of international solidarity had been ingrained into Indian philosophy for a long time. Every people had the right to international solidarity, which should come without any conditionality and should be on the basis of mutual respect. India believe that combating trafficking needed a holistic approach and it had adopted a comprehensive approach in that regard.
Bolivia said that it was necessary to continue raising awareness on international solidarity among the broad public. Solidarity had to mean respecting economic, social, judicial, political and cultural plurality, and access to health, labour and housing for all. Bolivia believed in the strengthening of international solidarity as one of the fundamental values of international relations in the twenty-first century, and it should be included in the post-2015 agenda. Indonesia encouraged Ms. Dandan to continue her consultations with States and other stakeholders through, inter alia, holding regional consultations. What was the Special Rapporteur’s strategy to ensure that the proposed draft was succinct and implementable? The issue of trafficking in persons should be dealt with in a comprehensive manner, which meant dealing with the root causes, including socio-economic and cultural conditions.
Algeria said that international solidarity was a precondition for the preservation of human dignity. The draft declaration rightly presented international solidarity as a general principle. Algeria supported the recommendation to hold regional consultations on this draft. Algeria would like the declaration to enjoy convergence of different points of view.
China said that it had always been committed to promoting world peace and common development, with determination. All countries should protect world peace and equality and promote the construction of a harmonious world with peace and prosperity. A broader focus was needed to study trafficking of persons, including human rights protection and remedies for victims. Germany said that when it took the initiative to establish the mandate on trafficking in persons in 2004, it was born out of its conviction that trafficking in persons could not only be addressed by criminal law. What should be done to more effectively guarantee the implementation of victims’ rights? On media treatment of the issue being often inadequate, could this be elaborated on? Were there also positive examples?
Iran said that trafficking of persons was an affront to human dignity. Despite efforts, trafficking of human beings was on a vast scale in many countries across the world. Iran’s Parliament had adopted legislation to combat and criminalise all forms of human trafficking. Member States and organizations were encouraged to share information, experience and good practices on trafficking of persons. Switzerland underscored the significant contribution that the Special Rapporteur had made to improving norms and standards in the fight against trafficking in persons, including the commitment to improving an understanding of the definition of trafficking in persons in the Palermo Protocol. The Special Rapporteur was thanked for generating a new momentum by strengthening partnerships at the regional and national level, underscoring the need to adopt a multidisciplinary approach.
Iceland said that remedies and support for victims of trafficking, irrespective of citizenship or nationality status, was one of the main pillars of Iceland’s current approach. Iceland believed that women and children were the most vulnerable and, even if the mandate name changed, they should remain in the focus of the Special Rapporteur’s efforts. Bahrain was committed to combatting trafficking in persons and providing protection to victims, for whom a national plan had been put in place. A committee had been set up to build capacities and evaluate the needs of victims, and a number of field studies had taken place with the view of identifying the magnitude of the problem. Holy See stated that among diverse causes of human suffering, one had to consider the role of personal greed, which led to the literal enslavement of millions of people. The Holy See proposed the principle and practice of solidarity as the only effective means to exit from the vicious cycle of poverty, of profiting at the expense of others, and of conflicts in the world. Solidarity could prevent or help mitigate the impact of the global challenges.
Mongolia shared Ms. Ezeilo’s concern that human trafficking remained endemic in all regions of the world. The power of the media should be used to raise community awareness in that regard. Human rights ought to be mainstreamed into anti-trafficking efforts, which had the full support of Mongolia. A number of pertinent laws had been adopted and were being actively implemented in Mongolia. Sri Lanka had adopted a zero-tolerance policy against any form of human trafficking, defining that crime in a very broad sense. With the assistance of the International Organization for Migration, Sri Lanka was working to increase identification, referral and protection of victims. The draft declaration on international solidarity should focus on creating an enabling environment in which all human rights, including the right to development, could be progressively realized for all peoples and individuals.
Iraq said that international efforts had been stepped up in recent decades to combat the various forms of trafficking. Several states had adopted laws that aimed at combatting trafficking in persons. Iraq had promulgated a law against the spread of the crime of trafficking and to prosecute its perpetrators. The Government had formed a Central National Committee responsible for closely monitoring the implementation of legal provisions on the prohibition of trafficking. Egypt agreed with the call for the establishment of national rapporteurs or equivalent mechanisms in countries that did not yet have such a post, and encouraged States to consider additional paths, including the development of national plans of action against trafficking and the establishment of national broad-based consultative groups to advise and support implementation.
Saudi Arabia said that trafficking constituted one of the most flagrant violations of human dignity and Saudi Arabia was committed to combatting it. The Government had decided to establish a committee to combat trafficking within the human rights department, with the participation of several ministries. National legislation included the specification and the criminalisation of the crime. Bangladesh commended the Independent Expert for the draft declaration on international solidarity and noted that its premise was based on the understanding that cooperation was not charity but a right. Holding regional consultations on the issue, as agreed by the Council, would be of outmost importance. Bangladesh regretted that these consultations had not taken place due to limited funding. Myanmar appreciated that the Special Rapporteur had identified key areas of work in the area of human trafficking and had introduced mechanisms and awareness raising campaigns to combat trafficking. Myanmar had concluded a number of bilateral agreements to protect its workers, inter-ministerial coordination had been enhanced and labour attachés had been deployed to countries where Myanmar subjects were working. Myanmar emphasized the importance of tackling demand from a regional perspective.
Burkina Faso said that children required further protection and noted that traffickers used minors for criminal activities, such as prostitution and pornography, which were on the rise. Activities for the protection of children had been stepped up, such as ratifying ILO’s Convention 182 and the Plan of Action against Forced Labour; bilateral agreements had also been enacted; additional measures included addressing root causes and poverty reduction. Brazil said that the human rights and dignity of trafficked persons should be at the heart of efforts to combat trafficking. Brazil recognised the challenges ahead and stressed the importance of strengthening non-state actors’ accountability and civil society engagement. International solidarity should not be limited to assistance and cooperation, but should include a view to eradicating poverty, reducing inequalities, and preventing human rights violations. Brazil also encouraged Ms. Dandan to engage in the promotion of international solidarity in the post-2015 development agenda. Viet Nam spared no effort in preventing human trafficking and supporting victims through domestic legislation, international instruments and bilateral agreements; and asked the Rapporteur about best practices on how past victims could be helped to protect other members from their communities and how the authorities could facilitate and support community-based prevention efforts.
Botswana said that a comprehensive anti-trafficking bill should be discussed in Parliament before the end of 2014. Victim identification, which was fundamental to the realization of victim rights, remained a challenge. Capacity building and acquisition of expertise was essential. It was also important to harmonise national, regional and international measures to fight trafficking in persons. Spain had undertaken a firm commitment to combating trafficking, which had led it to build several mechanisms in that regard. Given that the needs of child victims of trafficking were different from those of adults, it was very important to provide such children with particular care. What did the Special Rapporteur see as main challenges in States responding to her call to adopt a child-based approach? Thailand shared Ms. Ezeilo’s view that victims of trafficking should be provided with remedies to prevent them from being re-trafficked. As a country of origin, destination and transit, Thailand attached particular importance to the issue, and was using a victim-centred approach in the prevention and suppression of trafficking. Thailand was also concerned about trafficking in persons for the purpose of removing organs.
Ethiopia was gravely concerned about the seemingly ever expanding nature of trafficking in persons. States were required to provide immediate assistance to victims of trafficking and protect them from further harm, and to adopt human-rights based approach to trafficking. Ethiopia had developed structures for awareness-raising and had a number of shelters in border areas for victims of trafficking. Sierra Leone noted that the work on developing guidelines, standards, norms and principles on international solidarity had been very significant and should not be understated. Sierra Leone was struck by the extensive list of challenges identified by the Special Rapporteur on human trafficking. It was vitally important that the international community send a strong signal to all those engaged in trafficking that such actions would not be tolerated and would result in a strong international response.
Equality and Human Rights Commission and Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, in a video statement, welcomed the recent efforts to improve the legislative framework in the United Kingdom and said that improvements should be made to the draft legislation to ensure it met international standards; they would encourage the United Kingdom, Scottish and Northern Ireland Governments to develop and implement victim-centred strategies. Associazione Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII, in a joint statement, said that the recognition of international solidarity as a human right was not only an ideal goal to be achieved for ethical reasons but because it was essential for the survival of the world today. It was time to create an enabling environment where all human rights, including the right to development, could be progressively realized for all. World Barua Organization said that the issue of human trafficking was becoming increasingly open in the North East of India where more women and children were being taken to other parts of India under the pretext of education and providing jobs.
Liberation said that in India, 44,000 children went missing every year, and that every day, 200 girls and women were forced into prostitution by flesh trade mafia. Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy suggested that the Human Rights Council established a Commission to address the current problem of human trafficking and the by-products of the trafficking. International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, in a joint statement, said that there was an unprecedented increase of trafficking in persons in Nigeria, mainly inside the country and within the region, and the situation was further aggravated by early and child marriages, particularly in the north of the country.
International Educational Development welcomed the draft principles on international solidarity and the inclusion of the right to self-determination in the draft. Regrettably most States dismissed claims of people claiming the right to self-determination with no evaluation of the elements of the right. Union de l’accion féminine referred to the fight against trafficking in Morocco, noting that it was a country of origin, transit and destination. Amendments for the better protection of human rights had been made to the criminal, labour and penal procedure codes, however the effective implementation was still embryonic.
Indian Council of South America thanked the Independent Expert for supporting the right to self-determination as one of the underlying principles in the document. The right to self-determination should be placed on the agenda of the Council in order to truly be able to talk about international solidarity with indigenous principles, including the recognition of their sovereignty over natural resources. International Catholic Child Bureau, in a joint statement, said that in Ukraine trafficking in persons, especially women and children, remained quite acute. The Bureau called on Ukraine to sustain the rehabilitation process of victims; to provide training to authorities, social services, and law enforcement officials to work with victims and integrate a gender perspective; and to strengthen regional cooperation, especially with destination countries.
Concluding Remarks by the Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity and the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons
In her closing remarks, VIRGINIA DANDAN, Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity, stated that she believed that the draft declaration spoke for itself. The rights of peoples and individuals were clearly expressed in the draft declaration, but feedback from States would be welcome. She strongly recommended that regional consultations were organized, as the draft declaration was simply a working paper on which States would need to provide their inputs. The principle of international solidarity was very important, and the draft declaration focused on the right to it. It was time to look into the practice of international solidarity and focus on its promotion and protection from the human rights perspective. The sustainable development goals had to be based on global partnership, so that they would not negatively affect the people whom they were supposed to help.
JOY NGOZI EZEILO, Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, in her concluding remarks, said that in her report to the General Assembly, she had focused on mechanisms which worked and did not work. Addressing the root causes of trafficking, including demand, and initiatives aimed at education were essential. While the media was crucial in raising public awareness, it needed to respect the privacy of trafficking victims and their mental well-being. The Special Rapporteur had reached out to various regional organizations, which had proved useful in avoiding duplication. Regarding the title of the mandate, its change would not mean that there would be any less focus on women and children. Ms. Ezeilo expressed her gratitude to a wide range of stakeholders, including Member States, United Nations bodies, civil sector organizations and everyone who had provided support throughout her mandate.
For use of the information media; not an official record