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Press briefing notes on Israel / occupied Palestinian territory, China, Libya and Venezuela

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location:     Geneva
Date: 27 June 2014
Subject:      1) Israel / occupied Palestinian territory
                    2) China
                    3) Libya
                    4) Venezuela

1) Israel / occupied Palestinian territory

We are following with increasing concern the human rights situation in the context of the ongoing operations by Israeli security forces after three Israeli teenagers went missing close to the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank over two weeks ago, on 12 June.

The Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Flavia Pansieri, met this week in Geneva with the mothers of the three missing Israelis and expressed her sincere sympathy with them. As a mother herself, she expressed her understanding of their deep anxiety about the fate of their sons. We are concerned that the three teenagers have still not been located, after being missing for 15 days. We hope for their immediate safe return.

Our heartfelt sympathy also goes out to the mothers and loved ones of the six Palestinians, including two teenagers, who have been killed by Israeli forces, in addition to the many others who have been injured, during these past two weeks.

We are alarmed about the loss of life, and the sharp increase in tension in the occupied West Bank, especially in and around Hebron, as a result of the Israeli operations. We call for prompt and thorough investigations, and prosecution of the perpetrators in cases where there has been excessive use of force. Since 12 June, around 500 Palestinians have been detained, hundreds of homes searched; media offices, universities and welfare organizations have been raided; at least 13 Palestinian structures have been demolished and several water cisterns have reportedly been drained or damaged. We are also concerned about reports of damage to property and theft during these operations, especially house-to-house searches, and their traumatic effect on children and families.

We reiterate our call for strict adherence to international law by all relevant actors and join others in their call for restraint.

2) China

We welcome news that the Supreme People’s Court in China has recently overturned the death sentence imposed on Li Yan, who, after suffering many months of abuse, killed her husband, Tan Yong, in 2010. We understand that the case has been sent back to the Sichuan High People’s Court for a retrial.

This important ruling by the Supreme People’s Court was made possible due to the reforms introduced in China in 2007, which allowed for a stricter review of death sentences by the higher echelons of the judiciary.

We welcome these developments, as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights opposes the use of the death penalty in all cases.

We also hope that China will expedite the adoption of a draft law on domestic violence, which is currently pending in the National People’s Congress, as recommended by the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice during its visit to China from 12-19 December 2013.

We also encourage China to ensure that all cases of violence against women, including domestic violence, are promptly, impartially and effectively investigated, and that perpetrators are prosecuted.
 
3) Libya

We are deeply concerned about the emerging pattern of direct targeting of human rights defenders, humanitarian workers, and media professionals in Libya in relation to their work.

We condemn the murder last Wednesday (25 June) of Salwa Bugaighis, a human rights defender and Vice-President of the Preparatory Committee for National Dialogue in Benghazi. Ms. Bugaighis was a prominent lawyer who had tirelessly campaigned for the advancement of human rights in Libya following the revolution, and was also a former member of the National Transitional Council.

Unknown assailants entered her home late Wednesday night and killed her.

Her husband, who was in the house at the time, has not been seen since, and there are major concerns for his well-being. Whilst cognizant of the serious security challenges faced by the authorities, particularly in Benghazi, we further reiterate our call upon the authorities to combat impunity by launching prompt, impartial and independent investigations following each incident, and to ensure that those found responsible are held accountable.

4) Venezuela

We remain concerned about the continuing human rights violations reportedly taking place in Venezuela in the context of recent demonstrations. Recently, a number of reports by national and international human rights organizations have been published into these violations.

We note with particular concern reports on violations of due process and the situation of young people in detention, published last week by reputable human rights organizations in Caracas. These include beatings, and a lack of information about the whereabouts of those detained as well as lack of access to them by lawyers and families.

National human rights organizations estimate that more than 3,120 people were detained between February and May 2014. While most were detained for only short periods, the Attorney-General has confirmed that 174 individuals remain in detention, including 17 university students.

Since mid-February, national organisations have also counted at least 51 attacks on university premises, by security forces and by groups of armed civilians.

The High Commissioner has on several occasions urged the authorities to respect the rights to peaceful demonstration and assembly. She has also unequivocally condemned all violence by all sides, including the excessive use of force by security officials.

Given the seriousness of these latest reports, we urge the Venezuelan authorities to undertake prompt investigations into these allegations and to ensure that those found responsible are brought to justice.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights remains available to support efforts to this end. We also urge the Government of Venezuela to accept all pending visit requests by Special Procedures mandate-holders.

ENDS

For more information or media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org ) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 /rshamdasani@ohchr.org)

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