Human Rights Council
16 September 2008
Council Concludes General Debate on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development
The Human Rights Council this morning heard the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan present her report and then held an interactive dialogue with the mandate-holder. The Council also concluded its general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.
Sima Samar, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan, said that the human rights situation in Sudan remained fraught with challenges and that major incidents had occurred since her last report. Violations of civil and political rights continued, while social and economic rights suffered from both insecurity and insufficient efforts by the Government. The Government's response after the attack of 10 May 2008 on Khartoum entailed serious violations of civil and political rights, including arbitrary arrests and detention. Violence and sexual abuse of women and children by state, non-state and private actors continued throughout Darfur.
Sudan, speaking as a concerned country, said that Sudan regretted that the Secretariat had not attached the comments by the Government to the report, although they had sent them in time. Sudan underlined that the report had to rely on original reliable information, this was obviously not the case. Sudan also regretted that the Special Rapporteur had not condemned the attacks of the rebel groups, nor called them to put an end to terrorist attacks. Sudan was continuing its efforts and they were currently establishing an elections' monitoring body in order to conduct free and fair elections.
In the interactive dialogue on the human rights situation in Sudan, some countries commended the Government of Sudan for the efforts and the progress made since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement had been signed in 2005 and also noted other areas that needed the Government's attention, notably impunity and the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur. Some countries were concerned about the grave situation, despite some legislative and institutional measures carried out by the Government of Sudan. Human rights violations were still ongoing by all parties. Impunity was still prevailing. The deployment of the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Force in Darfur was welcomed by speakers and there were calls for sufficient resources to be provided to enable it to function efficiently. On the question of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, the positions of speakers varied from full support for the continuation of the mandate to considerations of termination of the mandate. A speaker said it believed the time had come to end the proliferation of human rights mechanisms in Sudan as they had come to represent a burden on the national efforts and often led to duplication and lack of coherence among various activities.
Speaking in the interactive dialogue were Egypt on behalf of the African Group, Morocco on behalf of the Arab Group, France on behalf of the European Union, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Cuba, Algeria, Germany, Chile, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Ireland, Japan, Costa Rica, China, Norway, New Zealand, Burkina Faso, Canada, Zambia, Sweden, Bangladesh and Syria.
At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded its general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.
Speakers expressed their views on different topics and issues, including violence against women, the right to development, the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, conscientious objection to military service and the protection of children. Several speakers made reference to the impact of sanctions on the right to development. The issue of the right to self determination was also addressed by several speakers, mainly noting it was a vitally important aspect in realizing the right to development, and its exclusion would result in overlooking serious violations when implementing the right to development.
Speaking in the general debate were representatives of the following non governmental organizations: International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, International Institute for Peace, General Arab Women Federation, International Educational Development, Friends World Committee for Consultation (Quakers), Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Interfaith International, Indian Council of South America, International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations, World Muslim Congress, Organisation for Defending Victims of Violence, Commission to Study the Organization Of Peace, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Federacion De Asociaciones de Defensa Y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Liberation, Union de l'action feminine, Society for Threatened Peoples, Society Studies Centre, World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Asian Legal Resource Centre.
Speaking in right of reply were India, Italy, Iraq, Pakistan, Algeria and Ecuador.
When the Council resumes its work at 3 p.m. this afternoon, it is scheduled to conclude the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan before starting its general debate on human rights situations that require the Council's attention.
Documents on Human Rights Situation in Sudan
The Council has before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Sima Samar (A/HRC/9/13 and Add.1), which covers the period from January to July 2008 and reflects the findings of the Special Rapporteur's two visits to Sudan during that time. The report begins with an overview of the general situation, including the international legal framework, the national framework, institutions and reforms. The report then briefly highlights the most significant events that have occurred during the review period, region by region. In conclusions, the report finds that, despite some steps by the Government of Sudan principally in the area of law reform, the human rights situation on the ground remains grim, with many interlocutors even reporting an overall deterioration in the country. Human rights violations and breaches of humanitarian law continue to be committed by all parties. In numerous incidents including land and air attacks by Government forces on civilians in Darfur; the 10 May Justice and Equality Movement attack on Omdurman; several serious incidents in Darfur, including the 12 May Central Reserve Police attack on Tawilla; the fighting in Abyei in May between the Sudan Armed Forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Army – all entailed reports of serious violations being committed by all the parties to the conflict. It is essential that impartial, transparent and comprehensive inquiries be held to investigate allegations, identify perpetrators and hold them accountable. The Special Rapporteur reiterates her request that the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan make the reports of investigative committees public in order to combat impunity and promote the rule of law. A final section includes recommendations addressed to all actors.
An addendum contains the report prepared by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sudan on the status of implementation of the recommendations compiled by the Group of Experts mandated by the Human Rights Council in resolution 4/8 to the Government of the Sudan for the implementation of Human Rights Council resolution 4/8 pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 6/34, which concludes that certain recommendations have been implemented; first steps towards implementation of certain other recommendations have been taken; and still other recommendations remain, for the present time, without implementation. The Special Rapporteur regrets that certain short-term recommendations were not addressed by the Government at all or, in other cases, that the information provided was unrelated to them. The Special Rapporteur encourages the Government to take all necessary measures to implement the recommendations by the Group of Experts without further delay in a more constructive engagement with the Council, the United Nations and the international community, as well as that the Council continue the process of review until such time as there is full implementation of all recommendations. In recognition of the fact that the time frame for implementation of the short and medium-term recommendations elapsed on 20 June 2008, the Council may also wish to consider what further action is required to concretely protect and promote the human rights of people in the Darfur region of the Sudan.
Presentation by the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Sudan
SIMA SAMAR, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Sudan, presenting her report, said that the human rights situation in Sudan remained fraught with challenges and major incidents had occurred since her last report. Violations of civil and political rights continued. Social and economic rights suffered from both insecurity and the lack of sufficient efforts by the Government. During her visit, the Special Rapporteur said she had met with several child soldiers as young as 11 years old who were used in the attacks of the Justice and Equality Movement. The Government's response after the attack of 10 May 2008 on Khartoum had entailed serious violations of civil and political rights. A significant number of civilians were arbitrarily arrested and detained by the Government following the attack. The vast majority of those detained appeared to be of Darfurian origin and there was credible evidence that many of them were arrested on grounds of their ethnicity. She had heard allegations that the detainees were subjected to torture, mistreatment and inhumane detention conditions. As Sudan approached elections scheduled for 2009, it was imperative that the conditions necessary for free and fair elections were put in place.
After a major incident that occurred between SAF and SPLA in Abyei in May, the Rapporteur said she had travelled to Abyei and called on the Government of National Unity to take immediate action to promote reconciliation between the local communities and to bring the perpetrators of human rights violations to justice. On a later visit to Darfur, she noted that despite some steps taken by the Government, the human rights situation remained grim. She welcomed the Government's actions such as the public launch of the "Swiss Project" in El Fasher, the increased number of police and the increased activities of the State Committees against sexual and gender-based violence. The Government and the rebel groups continued to fail in their responsibility to provide protection to civilians in areas under their control. Violence and sexual abuse of women and children by state, non-state and private actors continued through Darfur.
The Special Rapporteur recommended that the Human Rights Council continued the process of reviewing the implementation of recommendations until there was full implementation. She remained concerned about impunity for violations committed in a number of serious incidents in Southern Sudan. Also, she had visited a number of detention centers in Southern Sudan where the conditions fell far short of international standards. The Special Rapporteur called upon the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan to ensure impartial, transparent and comprehensive investigations into all alleged violations of human rights.
Finally, Ms. Samar said that during her visit in Darfur and transitional areas she had heard strong concerns regarding the United Nations' inability to protect the civilian population from attack. Compounded by a lack of public awareness, expectations might be unrealistically high. United Nations personnel on the ground simply did not have the resources and support to intervene forcefully as they might otherwise. However, it was essential that the United Nations provided clear guidance on how exactly the protection of civilians mandate should be interpreted and implemented on the ground. This must go together with extensive training. These efforts must be supported by more active awareness raising activities for communities regarding exactly what the United Nations could and could not do.
Statement by Concerned Country
ABDEL DAIEM ZUMRAWI (Sudan), speaking as a concerned country, said that Sudan regretted that the Secretariat had not attached the comments by the Government to the report, although they had sent them in time. What was the reason for this? Sudan underlined that the report had to rely on original reliable information, this was obviously not the case. The report was free of any clear condemnation of the terrorist attacks. Sudan also regretted that the Special Rapporteur had not condemned the attacks of the rebel groups, nor called on them to put an end to these attacks. Sudan was continuing its efforts and they were currently establishing an elections' monitoring body in order to conduct free and fair elections. Programmes and training, funded by the Swiss Government, to prevent violence against women in Darfur were also taking place. There were around 180 human rights monitors placed in different parts of the Sudan, and they were issuing periodic reports about the situation on the ground. The regional Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was also issuing regular reports.
By not renewing the mandate, the Council would give a further impetus to end the conflict; this would make Sudan fully ready to cooperate with the Human Rights Council. Sudan had been for many years a victim of politicisation, but they had always answered through collaboration. It was time for the Council to commend the collaboration of Sudan
Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Sudan
HISHAM BADR (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the African Group, welcomed the references to the increased cooperation between the Government of Sudan and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan and the positive developments witnessed in Sudan in the implementation of the human rights related aspects of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
The African Group called on all members of the international community and the United Nations system to continue and strengthen their support to Sudan through the provision of technical and financial assistance for the improvement of the human rights situation. The African Group welcomed the deployment of the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Force in Darfur and called on all countries to contribute the necessary human and logistical support to enable it to accomplish its mission. It further condemned the attacks on the peacekeepers in Darfur. The African Group called on the international community to put pressure on the non-signatories of the Darfur Peace Agreement to join the peace process. The African Group condemned the attacks on Khartoum and expressed its concern over the use of child soldiers by the rebel groups in contravention to international humanitarian law. It was high time for the international community to present a unified stance in front of those rebel movements who were failing to join the peace process and were causing setbacks to the efforts to regain normalcy in Sudan.
The African Group said it believed the time had come to end the proliferation of human rights mechanisms in Sudan as they had come to represent a burden on the national efforts and often led to duplication and lack of coherence among various activities. The Human Rights Council should foster the rationalization and streamlining of the various existing human rights mechanisms, bearing in mind that Sudan, like all other countries, would remain subject to the Universal Periodic Review and that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had a large presence in the various parts of Sudan. The African Group maintained a principled position in opposition to country specific mandates and believed that the concerned country had the sovereign right to decide for itself on the manner in which it wanted the international community to assist in implementing its national human rights strategies. It was in this spirit that the African Group was seriously considering the termination of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation on human rights in Sudan, but would work towards achieving a consensual outcome.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, welcomed Sudan's cooperation with the international community which resulted in the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Force in Darfur entering Sudan at the beginning of the year. This would strengthen peace efforts and improve the protection of civilians. The forces now had the necessary aircrafts which were lacking earlier. Peace and stability were the backbone of development and therefore, the Arab Group called on the countries which had been supporting the rebels to put pressure on these groups to proceed on with peace talks. The Arab Group supported efforts made by the Sudanese Government with regard to protecting human rights.
JEAN-BAPTISTE MATTEI (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the European Union noted with concern the conclusions of the Special Rapporteur that despite some legislative and institutional measures carried out by the Government of Sudan, the situation of human rights in the country remained very worrying and the violations continued and were committed by all the parties in a climate of impunity. The European Union was also concerned that the Government of Sudan had still not implemented the recommendations of the Group of Experts. Why had the Government been unable to implement these recommendations? Many serious violations of human rights had not been investigated and many persons who had carried out these crimes had not been tried, so by what means would it be possible to remedy this situation. Was the decision taken by the Government of Sudan to appoint a special prosecutor for the crimes committed in Darfur an effective measure? What were the necessary short-term measures to ensure the protection of vulnerable civilians and to pursue those guilty of violence? With regard to the lack of implementation of the recommendations of the Group of Experts on Darfur, what additional steps were necessary to implement them, and why had the Government of Sudan not implemented the recommendations? What was the best way to strengthen the effectiveness of the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Force in Darfur to protect the civilian population and to ensure playing a preventative role?
MARGHOOB SALEEM BUTT (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, noted the efforts made by Sudan to improve the human rights situation, and the progress made on the legal reform. While acknowledging the challenges, the Organization of the Islamic Conference encouraged Sudan in its efforts to remove obstacles for the implementation of national and international agreements. The Organization of the Islamic Conference noted the deployment of the hybrid force in Darfur and the improvement of the security and humanitarian situation. It expressed the hope the National Unity Government would take concrete measures to resolve all outstanding disputes and enable the elections to take place next year.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference considered the integration of human rights monitors into the United Nations and African missions in Sudan important. The Organization of the Islamic Conference had a known position against the country mandate and supported the efforts of the African Group to reach consensus on the issue.
RESFEL PINO ALVAREZ (Cuba) said that the situation in Sudan was complex and the roots lay in the colonial past and structural poverty among others. Cuba noted that 80 human rights observers of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights were now present in Sudan, as well as the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Force in Darfur. This had improved human security conditions. It was also to be noted that Sudan had appeared before the Universal Periodic Review. This showed that measures by the Council would only be effective if the approach was based on good faith dialogue. Cuba would support any initiative by the African Group aimed at improving the situation.
LARBI DJACTA (Algeria) thanked Sudan for its cooperation with the international community to address the humanitarian situation in the country. The Government was encouraged to continue its efforts with a view of ensuring the security of Darfur. The international community should respect its commitment and provide the peace forces with the necessary equipment. It was necessary to bring the parties to a peaceful solution. They were opposed to country mandates, and an end had to be put to the mandate, as Sudan was demanding it.
GUNTER NOOKE (Germany) expressed its concern over the human rights situation in Sudan and the general conclusion from the Special Rapporteur's Report that it "remained grim" and was even worsening. Germany asked what could be done to prevent enforced disappearances and cases of arbitrary detention. Also, how could the mandate contribute to the establishment of the national institutional framework. Germany wanted to know whether the request of a warrant for the arrest of the President of Sudan, Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir, on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes had had an impact on the work of the Special Rapporteur.
EDUARDO CHIHUAILAF (Chile) said that the Special Rapporteur's report showed that much had to be done. The civilian population - women and children - were the main victims. Such violations extended to the whole country. Chile called on the Sudanese Government to halt the violence. As Chile knew from its own experience, the victims of human rights had to have access to justice, and Chile supported the recommendations to confront impunity and the investigation of human rights violations. Chile endorsed the recommendation to continue to review the recommendation made by the Group of Experts and the Special Rapporteur.
SERGEY KONDRATIEV (Russian Federation) said that it was difficult not to agree with the conclusions expressed by the Special Rapporteur in her report. What could be done in order to normalize the situation in the country? What specific programmes were being presently conducted on the ground by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights?
PETER GOODERHAM (United Kingdom) thanked the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan for her efforts to raise the Human Rights Council's awareness of the human rights situation in the country. The United Kingdom was disappointed that the Special Rapporteur had not been granted access to all the areas during her visit. The United Kingdom remained deeply concerned about continuing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law on all sides in Darfur and throughout Sudan. The pervading culture of impunity and the lack of justice and accountability were particularly worrying. The United Kingdom noted very little improvement overall and that the majority of recommendations in the report still had to be implemented. The United Kingdom was particularly disappointed at the lack of progress in implementing the recommendations of the Darfur Group of Experts.
The United Kingdom was alarmed by reports of serious violations of civil and political rights following the Justice and Equality Movement attack in May, including arbitrary arrests and detentions. It supported the Special Rapporteur's call to the Government to follow due judicial process. But access to justice had to be accompanied by accountability: the culture of impunity throughout Sudan must end, including through cooperation with the International Criminal Court.
NYNKE WIJMENGA (Netherlands) said that the situation in Darfur was extremely worrying. Women and girls were still vulnerable to sexual violence, the Government security apparatus continued to commit human rights violations including arbitrary arrests and torture of detainees, no legal actions were taken against the perpetrators including those with command responsibility. The Netherlands asked whether Sudanese stakeholders such as parliament, civil society and the media could play a role in promoting the implementation of the recommendations of the Darfur Expert Group.
DAITHI O CEALLAIGH (Ireland) said that Ireland welcomed the cooperation of the Sudanese authorities with the work of the Special Rapporteur and urged that the Government facilitate as far as possible her activities to allow her to carry out her work. Ireland welcomed the progress reported in relation to the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement and preparations for elections in 2009. Ireland condemned the use of child soldiers. It also deplored the continued air attacks on villages by the Government of Sudan Forces and attacks on humanitarian workers. On the problem of sexual and gender based violence, what was the view of the Special Rapporteur, did real impediments exist to investigating, prosecuting and punishing those responsible, or was it a question of a lack of will on the part of the police?
AKIO ISOMATA (Japan) noted the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation on human rights in Sudan and the progress made in the promotion and protection of human rights. Japan encouraged Sudan to tackle other important issues, such as impunity and to continue working on the improvement of the human rights situation, especially in Darfur and in cooperation with the Special Rapporteur. Japan appreciated the efforts of Sudan in the peace process and hoped to see further efforts in that regard. In particular, the general elections next year were important, not only for the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, but also for the democratisation of Sudan as a whole. In the run up to the elections, civil and political rights of people had to be protected.
Japan expressed its concern over the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur, particularly in the camps for internally displaced persons, and hoped the deployment of the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Force in Darfur would be completed as soon as possible.
LAURA THOMPSON CHACON (Costa Rica) said that the Special Rapporteur's report gave a comprehensive picture of the situation in Sudan. There had been some progress made in implementing the peace agreement. Costa Rica regretted that the Special Rapporteur did not have access to all the areas she had wanted to visit. Costa Rica urgently appealed to the parties in Sudan to fulfill their obligations under international law. The matter of impunity had to be addressed urgently. Costa Rica supported the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.
KE YOUSHENG (China) said that China welcomed the dialogue and contacts that the Special Rapporteur maintained with Sudan. They were pleased to note that up to July this year, the situation in Sudan had improved. One should not forget that Sudan was a least developed country. The Darfur issue was a long standing one and included many factors, but the root cause was poverty. Currently, the peacekeeping forces had made progress, but the political process remained stalled as the rebel groups were not open to negotiations. Sudan's human rights situation could not be changed for the better overnight. One had to focus more on the positive improvements. The concerned parties should take concrete actions and develop a step by step comprehensive solution. Sudan had to be helped in its reconstruction. The positive efforts by the Sudanese Government were appreciated.
VEBJORN HEINES (Norway) noted that progress in the human rights situation in Sudan had been seen since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement had been signed in 2005. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement had clear provisions for the improvement of human rights in the whole of Sudan and the Government in Khartoum and the parliament had adopted several laws and provisions in this respect. The international community had witnessed a gradual opening of the press and media, a larger room for political activity and preparations for general elections. The Special Rapporteur had a key role to play in intensifying of those efforts.
The war in Darfur continued to have grave bearings on the human rights and humanitarian situation for the population in Western Sudan. Norway was deeply concerned about the worsening security situation in all three states of Darfur and its impact on the human rights situation. The increase in violence must stop, civilians must be protected and the humanitarian agencies respected. Ensuring free and unimpeded humanitarian access was an obligation under international humanitarian law. Norway called upon the Government of Sudan to assume its responsibility to protect the lives of its citizens, and on all parties to ensure unimpeded humanitarian access to all those in need in Darfur. Norway also urged the Government to hold perpetrators of past and ongoing serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law accountable and to fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court.
Norway strongly supported the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation on human rights in Sudan with the main focus on monitoring the human rights situation. Norway hoped that, in implementing the mandate, the Special Rapporteur could build upon and strengthen the good and constructive cooperation between the Government of Sudan and the Human Rights Council and its instruments.
WENDY HINTON (New Zealand) said that impunity was one of the major obstacles for progress in Sudan. More needed to be done to protect civilians. Particularly the integration of women officers needed to be supported since it was vital to protect against sexual and gender based violence. New Zealand supported the full deployment of the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Forces in Darfur because it was vital for stability. New Zealand called on all warring parties to protect civilians. New Zealand also would like to know from the Special Rapporteur what the best way was to address the culture of impunity.
PROSPER VOKOUMA (Burkina Faso) welcomed the constructive spirit of all parties that the Special Rapporteur had witnessed during her visits to the country. It showed Sudan's will to collaborate with the Human Rights Council. The general improvement of the human rights situation in Sudan had been suspended until the final return of peace and stability. Efforts must continue at every level to seek a lasting peaceful solution. The efforts of the Sudanese Government to fulfil its international obligations in the area of human rights were welcomed. The Special Rapporteur had made very good recommendations for all involved parties. In Burkina Faso's view, these recommendations should not remain a dead letter.
TERRY CORMIER (Canada) noted that regardless of some progress, violence and violations of human rights in Sudan continued. Overall human rights trends in Sudan were of a serious concern. In her report, the Special Rapporteur had referred to the human rights situation as "grim". Canada condemned violence against women and girls and a wave of arbitrary arrests after the attack on Khartoum in May. The most important challenge to the protection and promotion of human rights in Sudan was the culture of impunity. The resolution of conflicts in Sudan needed to better address this issue, but meanwhile the Government of Sudan, the United Nations and the international community needed to do more to stop abuses and improve the human rights situation.
Canada wanted to know what assistance was provided to the child soldiers arrested after the attack in May and how could the Government of Sudan and the international community better assist the victims of sexual and gender-based violence.
GERTRUDE M. K. IMBWAE (Zambia) was concerned that significant portions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement were not being implemented and that this had rendered the legal and institutional framework for human rights protection weak. Zambia was also concerned that the Special Rapporteur was not granted access to detainees that were incarcerated following the attack of the Obdurman District of Khartoum on 10 May 2008. Zambia was concerned that the United Nations did not have the exact number of people that were detained and that the report suggested that many of the detainees were incarcerated on grounds of their ethnicity. Zambia was also worried that the Government of Sudan failed to end the impunity that existed as regards perpetrators of human rights violations.
Zambia urged the Government of Sudan to expedite the implementation of the recommendations of the Group of Experts on the Situation of Human Rights in Darfur and the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur. The recommendations of the Special Rapporteur were not only addressed to the Governments of Sudan, but to the United Nations and the international community at large. Therefore, all parties referred to should implement their respective portions of the recommendations.
LARS NORDLANDER (Sweden) said that Sweden noted certain progress in the national and legal framework. However, the general human rights situation in Sudan, and particularly in Darfur, remained very troubling. Impunity remained an overriding problem and an obstacle to peace. Sweden fully supported the Special Rapporteur's recommendation to address impunity by establishing an independent and transparent fact-finding mechanism. Sweden also agreed with the Special Rapporteur that it would be important to guarantee freedom of expression ahead of the general elections next year. Further, how could the international community contribute to the improvement of the situation of children in the country?
MUSTAFIZUR RAHMAN (Bangladesh) thanked the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan and the Ambassador of Sudan. The report of the Special Rapporteur indicated that the human rights situation in Sudan had further deteriorated. The briefing of the Ambassador of Sudan outlined the many positive developments. Bangladesh noted the considerable credibility gap, which required deeper thought by all. The Government of Sudan had continued its cooperation with the international community and was committed to relieving the plight of its people. Bangladesh was happy to note the Government of Sudan's efforts for the implementation of the recommendations of the Darfur Group of Experts and said that it was slow but the obstacles and challenges had to be taken into account. Bangladesh said it hoped that Sudan would continue its cooperation with the international community and stressed that the international community had the obligation to encourage and support its members.
RANIA AL RIFAIY (Syria) said Sudan must be encouraged to ensure peace and development in the country. The difficult situation that Sudan was in had to be taken into account while stability and territorial integrity was being ensured.
Continuation of General Debate on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development
KATHARINA ROSE, of International Coordinating Committee of NHRIS, said that the ninth international conference of national human rights institutions would be devoted to the theme "National Human Rights Institutions and the Administration of Justice". The way in which justice was administrated was key to the protection of human rights and the rule of law. National institutions were well placed to ensure that the judiciary, law enforcement and the correctional systems operated in conformity with international human rights standards. The objective of the conference was to further define the scope of this role. The expected outcome was the adoption of a final declaration.
SACHDEV SINGH SEYAN, of International Institute for Peace, in a joint statement with Commission to Study the Organization of Peace; European Union of Public Relations; and World Peace Council, drew the attention of the Council to two issues – violence against women and the right to development. It was important that violence against women be stopped and that women should have access to remedial justice. As for the right to development, he noted that peace and security were essential to the enjoyment of that right. A group could exercise their right to development only when free from fear. They gave the example of a community in India, the so-called "bread basket of the country", whose prosperity and development were negatively impacted by the growing tensions, violence and fear.
The international community had to listen to the silent majority of people, who were afraid of speaking up. It must sustain development and create an atmosphere of peace, cooperation and security, free from fear and violence.
JULIETTE SAYEGH, of General Arab Women Federation, in a joint statement with several NGOs1, said that the rights of children were increasingly being neglected, especially in Iraq. Iraqi children were the first victims of the economic sanctions imposed in 1991 when half a million children died from diseases and starvation. Later on, hundreds of children died in the bombardments. The mortality rate of children had increased tremendously since 2005. New phenomena had emerged since, for example the trade in children. Many children had been detained and were raped or starving. The Federation called on the Council to undertake a thorough study of the situation of children in Iraq. It should reinstate the Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iraq. Since the occupation was the main cause of the suffering the Council should call on States to end it.
KAREN PARKER, of International Educational Development, said that the Human Rights Council had been repeatedly apprised of situations that would not be resolved without the realization of self determination by the affected people. Some States might accept the right to self determination of one people, yet deny it to others. States picked and chose to align with some groups and abandoned others completely. On the issue of toxic waste, the Council was informed that the United States had dumped containers containing nuclear waste off the coast of Somalia. The Tsunami had washed these containers to the shore where they had broken up, scattering radioactive waste. There was now a huge epidemic of diseases relating to nuclear exposure.
RACHEL BRETT, of Friends World Committee for Consultation (Quakers), welcomed the positive trends reflected in the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on conscientious objection to military service at the national, regional and international levels. In particular, the decision of the Human Rights Committee was welcome regarding clarification of their consistent position reflected in their General Comment No. 22 on Article 18, that conscientious objection to military service was protected under Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Human Rights Committee had made it clear that States' failure to accommodate such conscientious refusal was a violation of the Covenant and Friends World Committee for Consultation called on all States, not only the Republic of Korea, to implement their obligations in that respect.
GIYOUN KIM, of the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, reported that 10 years after the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders not much had changed for the situation of human rights defenders in Asia. Many Asian States had increasingly enacted or tightened legislation aimed at silencing dissent, stifling criticism and preventing human rights defenders from accessing information vital to their work of promoting and protecting human rights. The Forum urged all Asian Governments and the Human Rights Council to make this year significant for human rights defenders by taking substantial steps to implement the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and ensure that the right to freedom of opinion and expression of all human rights defenders was promoted, respected and protected.
SHAUKAT ALI KASHMIRI, of Interfaith International, said that political rights in Pakistan and areas controlled by Pakistan had been severely curtailed because of the lack of democracy. Even during civilian rule, the military and its agencies had continued to wield extra-constitutional powers. In Pakistani-administered Kashmir, those parties not agreeing to accession to Pakistan were not permitted to contest elections. In Federally Administered Tribal Areas, political parties were not allowed to function. During elections, Pakistani intelligence agencies were known to be actively involved in the manipulation of results. The Government of Pakistan was asked to fulfil its historical obligations for the development, health, education and employment in these regions. Political activists should also be released unconditionally.
RONALD BARNES, of the Indian Council of South America, in a joint statement, reminded the Council that in its Charter and other resolutions and international instruments, the United Nations recognized the "equal rights and self determination of the peoples". The General Assembly Resolution 2189 had declared that denial of the right to self determination based upon principles of racial discrimination was a crime against humanity. In the case of Alaska, annexed via a 1958 referendum and through General Assembly Resolution 1469, all of the above provisions had been crassly disregarded and any representative of the state of Alaska could only be a colonial representative at most, and represented only those who colonized Alaska and not the Indigenous Peoples of Alaska. The right to self determination was a vitally important aspect in realizing the right to development, and its exclusion would result in overlooking serious violations when implementing the right to development.
ALTAF HUSSAIN WANI, of the International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, drew attention to the people of Jammu and Kashmir who had been victims of India's aggression for the last 60 years. India had denied them their right to self determination and had resorted to mass killings, torture, illegal detention, rape, economic blockade and other cruel and degrading treatment and punishment. The Association underlined that the right of self determination had been granted to Kashmiri people by the United Nations Charter, international human rights law and UN Security Council resolutions. Instead of attempting to consolidate its occupation through death and destruction, India must negotiate arrangements to enable the Kashmiri people to exercise their right to self determination. The Council should direct the Indian Government to allow unhindered access to all Special Rapporteurs and other monitoring arrangements to Kashmir.
SHAMIM SHAWL, of the International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations, noted that the Declaration on the Right of Development said that development was an inalienable right. All peoples had the right to enjoy economic, social and cultural development. The norms and standards applying to it were those contained in international treaties. Civil and political rights could thus be ensured through the rule of law and States had to be held accountable. Despite this, people in many parts of the world were denied their basic rights, including their right to development, such as in Indian-occupied Kashmir. The principle of equality and participation in the Government was denied to the people of Kashmir.
SHAGUFTA ASHRAF, of the World Muslim Congress, noted that the fundamental purpose for the establishment of the United Nations was to develop friendly relations on the basis of self determination of peoples, the fundamental right without which it was not possible to enjoy any civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. This fundamental right continued to be denied to the people of Jammu Kashmir and had led to further violations and outright abuse. In the last 25 years, 80,000 Kashmiris had been murdered by the Indian occupation forces, civilians subjected to torture and rape and a whole generation had been raised in constant fear of military attacks, searches, fire and other abuse.
The right to self determination had been given to the Kashmiri people by the Security Council and promised by India's founding fathers. Despite India's brutal tactics in Kashmir, it was still allowed to sit in the Human Rights Council and speak of the same rights it had denied or obstructed. People of Kashmir had pinned their hopes to the peace process between India and Pakistan, which had not yet led to any roadmap for the realization of their right to self-determination. The World Muslim Congress hoped the Human Rights Council would take notice of India's atrocities on peaceful protesters in Kashmir last month.
MARYAM SAFARI, of the Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, asked why international laws and conventions were still not effective in the protection of children. Children suffered from a number of difficulties and were used as for example by the Iraqi insurgents to kill and maim. The humanitarian access to children was often denied. The organization called for all non governmental organizations to protect the rights of children and also to work towards an effective implementation of the International Convention of the Rights of the Child. In addition, a stronger monitoring system had to be established.
TATIANA SHANNIAN, of the Commission to Study the Organization Of Peace, said that the issue of human rights of women was intractably linked to the issue of development. Freedom from violence was a fundamental human right. Although the international conventions accorded women the same human rights as men it was blatantly evident that women did in fact not enjoy even the most basic human rights. The range of violence against women included psychological as well as physical violence. It was the consequence of women's subordinate status in virtually all societies. The international community failed to intervene on the behalf of women as it was seen as an issue of national sovereignty. It seemed that women who were violated in the name of culture and religion had no redress. The origin of violence against women was the same everywhere: inequality. There was an immediate need for mainstreaming women's rights, in all societies in general and developing societies in particular.
MICHEL MONOD, of International Fellowship of Reconciliation, protested against the detention of conscientious objectors, noting the case of imprisonment of two of them in the Republic of Korea. International Fellowship of Reconciliation noted that a number of States continued with this practice. The United Nations Working Group considered any such detention a violation of relevant human rights standards and instruments. Further noted were cases in Israel and Turkey. International Fellowship of Reconciliation called on all States to respect the right to refuse to take part in armed violence.
DAVID FERNANDEZ, of Federacion de Asociaciones de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos, said the right to peace was a collective right with an individual dimension. The Federation called on the Council to promote social justice and equality, gender equality, cultural diversity, solidarity and peace for indigenous peoples. Further, States had to acknowledge the negative impact that assimilation could have in education systems. The Federation recommended that indigenous boys and girls could enjoy their own cultural lives, practice their own religion and use their own languages. The Federation called on all States to take an active role in the workshop organized by the High Commissioner regarding the right of people to peace.
FELIX KIRCHMETER, of Friedrich Ebert Foundation, welcomed the report of the Working Group on the Right to Development. They were committed to the ideas and basic values of social democracy and they conducted programmes of international cooperation through their representation in almost 100 countries worldwide. Against this background, they considered the mandate of the Working Group on the Right to Development as an important procedure, linking human rights and development in a comprehensive way. The durable consensus in the Working Group was welcomed. States were encouraged to continue and to strengthen their engagement to implement the right to development.
MUKUL HAZARIKA, of Liberation, noted there were a number of unresolved conflicts in the region that India called her North East, where the State used various oppressive measures to suppress people, which was not conducive to peace and harmony. Noting the case of a Boro nationalist organization of Assam, which had been threatened by force failing to accept the ultimatum, Liberation said that that situation was not unique. Such threats hanged over all the organizations pursuing a nationalist goal based on their history, geography, cultural identities and collective rights. India's refusal to consider any of the efforts of the Assam's People's Consultative Group to facilitate a just solution for Assam and the refusal of a democratic solution to the sovereignty of Assam meant its failure in carrying the ideals of justice and human rights. Liberation urged the Council to take proactive measures and encourage a meaningful dialogue process under its auspices to resolve the self determination issues prevailing in the region.
SAADANI MAOLAININE, of Union de l'action féminine, said that human rights were violated in the camps of Tinduf. There was arbitrary detention and selective killings. Children and women suffered from malnutrition. Humanitarian aid was diverted to the leaders. The Union called on the Council to protect the human rights of the people living in the camps in the Western Sahara. All families should be brought together on Moroccan territory.
REINALDO MARIQUEO, of the Society for Threatened Peoples, thanked the Special Rapporteur on indigenous people for the report. Fifty years after their independence, Chile and Argentina had launched a violent military campaign against the Mapuche nation. Since then, the Mapuche were fighting to take their rights back. The Mapuche were deliberately excluded from participation in the decision-taking directly affecting them.
MASHAIR AHMED AL-AMIN, of the Society Studies Centre, said that the right to development had often been forgotten by human rights defenders who were busy defending other rights. Some countries pursued sanctions against other countries, which contradicted the right to development. Such was the case of Sudan. Sanctions did much harm to the poor and made it difficult for a country to know and apply new technologies, which was the basis of development. Sanctions often further fuelled the crisis in a country. All nations had the right to economic, social, political and cultural development, but all of these rights were undermined by sanctions. In their fight against poverty, countries needed to undertake large-scale development projects, such as constructing dams, which were essential to pulling the countries further on their development paths.
RENATE BLOEM, of the World Alliance for Citizen Participation, said that the sustained attack in all regions of the world on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly was confirmed by the Alliance's findings. It was untenable that some Governments continued to incarcerate prisoners of conscience and trample upon civil society freedoms. Accession to international covenants was meaningless if in practice Governments continued to deny their peoples the rights protected by these treaties. The Council should acknowledge these negative trends and step forward in a constructive dialogue to help reverse them in a systemic manner.
MICHAEL ANTHONY, of the Asian Legal Resource Centre, said that human rights were not fully protected in Asia. Of deep concern were frequent attacks against the freedom of expression in the Republic of Korea, where organisers of peaceful demonstration had been arrested. The actions by the Government were unconstitutional. The use of conscripting young men into the anti-riot police was also condemned.
Right of Reply
MUNU MAHAWAR (India), speaking in a right of reply, said India was speaking in the context of the reference to Jammu and Kashmir, a part of India, in the statement by Pakistan. The people of Jammu Kashmir had always participated in free and democratic elections at all levels, while the same right had been denied by Pakistan to those in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The allegations made by Pakistan were factually wrong and bore no relationship to reality. Pakistan promised in 2004 that it would not let its territory to be used to support terrorism against India in any manner. However, over the period of the last few weeks, India had seen Pakistan's territory being used by several internationally banned terrorist groups. Such statements and acts of commission and omission by Pakistan did not contribute to creating the atmosphere necessary for the dialogue process between India and Pakistan to move forward. Pakistan should focus on taking effective steps to curb use of its territory or the territory controlled by it for launching terrorist activities against India.
ROBERTO VELLANO (Italy), in a right of reply in relation to the statement delivered yesterday by Ecuador, said that the legislative and administrative acts recently adopted by Italy aimed at strengthening the fight against criminal offenders. They were in compliance with human rights principles and affected individuals, not groups or communities. Those measures had no relation of any kind with xenophobic attitudes. The aim was to address the phenomenon of illegal immigration as well as its connection with both ordinary and organized crime. No decision on the treatment of the illegal entry in the country as a criminal offence had been taken yet. This measure was currently under consideration by both chambers of the national parliament.
OMER BERZINJI (Iraq), speaking in a right of reply responding to the statement made by a non governmental organization on Iraq, said one had to look into the real causes of these problems so as to deal correctly with them. The main cause of all the tragedies in Iraq was the old dictator regime which had led to the current situation. There lay the reason why many children were fatherless. That regime had also used chemical weapons against Iraqis and had used repression in the south, killing thousands. The current situation was the result of the old regime. The situation had now gone back by 80 per cent to normality and the Government was ready to make every necessary effort to improve the situation.
MARGHOOB SALEEM BUTT (Pakistan), speaking in a right of reply, said that India made three points, that Kashmir was an integral part of India, the use of Kashmir for the exercise of the right to self determination and the reference to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Pakistan hoped the delegate of India did not intend to negate the pledges of India's founding fathers to Kashmiri people to decide their destiny through a plebiscite and that pledge indicated that Kashmir had never been a part of India. With the reference to participation of Kashmiri people in Indian elections, Pakistan said that India had in fact staged the drama of elections in order to legitimise its occupation of Kashmir. This drama had been rejected both by the United Nations and the people of Kashmir, who just last month gathered to protest against the Indian occupation. Pakistan had contributed to the War on Terror and had also suffered and been a victim of terrorism coming from foreign soils. India used the reference to terrorism to justify its occupation of Kashmir. Pakistan remained committed to the on-going dialogue between the two countries and noted it was time for India to move from conflict management to conflict resolution mode.
LARBI DJACTA (Algeria), in a right of reply, said Algeria would like to reply to the statement made of the representative of African feminine union regarding the Saharan refugee camp of Tinduf. The comments of the representative constituted defamation and were unworthy of the representative. Algeria asked for the publication of the report of the High Commissioner on her visit to the camp in 2006.
JUAN HOLGUIN (Ecuador), speaking in a right of reply referring to the statement made by Italy, said that Ecuador had not engaged into value judgments of what had been said by the former High Commissioner. Ecuador had simply wanted to call the attention of the Human Rights Council to policies that were seeking to criminalize illegal migration. Ecuador appreciated the explanation made by Italy. Ecuador had a close relationship with Italy and they were looking forward for the dialogue on this subject which was to take place at the joint European Union and Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries summit.
1Joint statement on behalf of: General Arab Women Federation; United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation; Union of Arab Jurists; International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination; International Association of Democratic Lawyers; International Educational Development; and Arab Lawyers Union.
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