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Press briefing notes on Kyrgyzstan, Libya and Mexico

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Date: 24 October 2014
Location: Geneva
Subjects: (1) Kyrgyzstan (2) Libya and (3) Mexico

(1) Kyrgyzstan

We call on the Kyrgyz Parliament and authorities to refrain from passing draft legislation that would embed in law discrimination against people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). The proposed law would also violate fundamental human rights, including the rights to liberty, security and physical integrity and to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. These rights are protected by human rights treaties ratified by Kyrgyzstan.

UN human rights mechanisms have previously expressed concerns about discrimination and violence against LGBT people in Kyrgyzstan and the lack of a response from the Kyrgyz authorities. The draft law adds to those concerns and may lead to further violations. The adoption of this law would also go against the commitments made by Kyrgyzstan during its Universal Periodic Review in the UN Human Rights Council in 2010, when it accepted recommendations to review compliance of its national legislation with provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on non-discrimination, in particular with regard to women, minorities, and on the basis of ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

The UN has documented that similar laws elsewhere have had negative impacts on human rights, including increased attacks and discrimination against LGBT individuals, notably children and youth. The law would also likely have a negative impact on national public health responses, in particular among people who live with HIV and those most at risk of contracting HIV, as well as on access to information about reproductive rights of women. 

Everyone is entitled to equality before the law, without any discrimination, and it is the State’s responsibility to protect all individuals from discrimination. We thus urge the authorities not to pass this law.

We are also concerned about another bill currently going through Kyrgyzstan’s parliament, which risks creating a difficult environment for the operation of civil society groups. We are closely following developments on this draft law and call on the authorities to take measures to ensure that Kyrgyz national legislation fully complies with international human rights standards.

(2) Libya

We are deeply concerned by reports of threats and intimidation directed against the national human rights institution of Libya, the National Council for Civil Liberties and Human Rights (NCCLHR), based in Tripoli.

According to the reports, a number of worrying incidents occurred on 13 and 14 October. A staff member received a threatening phone call from someone claiming to represent brigades affiliated with Operation Libya Dawn. The staff member left Tripoli immediately. Others associated with the Council have also been threatened by people claiming to be affiliated with Operation Libya Dawn. A group of armed men visited the premises of the Council requesting the hand-over of keys and official stamps. Council staff refused the request. In a separate visit, armed men sought to question a number of senior staff members of the NCCLHR who were not there at the time.

We call upon all parties to immediately desist from such intimidation and threats, and to allow the Council to carry out its activities in an independent manner free of harassment or other hostile action.  Independent National Human Rights Institutions are instrumental for the protection and promotion of human rights at the national level, and are the cornerstone of the national protection system.

We also reiterate our call for those found responsible for human rights violations and abuses to be held to account under international and Libyan law.   

*NOTE: On 14 October the High Commissioner issued a press release condemning the attacks against human rights defenders in Libya. The press release can be found here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15168&LangID=E

(3) Mexico

We are concerned about the continued enforced disappearance of 43 students in the town of Iguala (State of Guerrero). The students were last seen on 26 September being taken by the municipal police, which was reportedly acting in collusion with a local criminal gang. During the operations, six people were killed, including a 15-year-old child and three students, and at least 17 people were injured.

We note that the President of Mexico has deplored this grave human rights violation and welcome that Mexican authorities have activated mechanisms to search for the disappeared students. Fifty-two people have been arrested in connection with the students' disappearance, including at least 36 local police officers, and security forces, investigators and technical resources have been deployed to Iguala and the region. The Ministry of Interior and the Attorney General have established a direct dialogue with families, students and NGOs. We commend the establishment by the Federal Congress of a Special Commission to follow up on the investigation.

We regret that these mechanisms have not yet been successful in finding the missing students and we urge the authorities to step up their efforts to find them.

Also, we are concerned that several mass graves - nine according to official figures - have been discovered on the outskirts of Iguala. We urge the Mexican authorities to conduct effective, prompt and impartial investigations so as to identify those who were buried in the mass graves and bring those responsible to justice.

We would like to express our deepest solidarity with all the victims and their families and loved ones.

We also urge the Government to recognize the competence of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances to receive communications from victims, according to article 31 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance

The UN Human Rights Office in Mexico is following closely these cases and is ready to provide any assistance that may be required.


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

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