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Human Rights Council holds interactive dialogue with the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen

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29 September 2020

29 September 2020

Concludes General Debate on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

The Human Rights Council this afternoon held an interactive dialogue with the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen. It also concluded its general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms.

Speaking in the interactive dialogue with the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen were the European Union, Norway on behalf of a group of countries, Ireland on behalf of a group of countries, UN Women, Qatar, Germany, Japan, China, Australia, Switzerland, Croatia, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Iran and France.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations : Baha'i International Community, Defence for Children International, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Reporters Sans Frontiers International, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada, and Association Ma'onah for Human Rights and Immigration.

The Council then concluded its general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms.

Speaking on the general debate were Indonesia, Mexico, Venezuela, Nepal, Uruguay on behalf of a group of countries, Israel, Cuba, Iraq, Morocco, South Africa, China, Iran, Algeria, Russian Federation, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Lebanon, Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, and Switzerland.

Also speaking were the following non-governmental organizations : Amnesty International, Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII, Universal Rights Group, Alsalam Foundation, Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture, Réseau International des Droits Humains, The International Organisation for LDCs, World Muslim Congress, International Council Supporting Fair Trial and Human Rights, Al Baraem Association for Charitable Work, Global Welfare Association, Partners For Transparency, Mother of Hope Cameroon Common Initiative Group, World Barua Organization, Liberation, Association pour l'intégration et le développement durable au Burundi, Iraqi Development Organization, International Commission of Jurists, Iuventum e.V., Maat for Peace, Development and HR Association, Maat for Peace, Development and HR Association, Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights Association, CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Health and Environment Program, Centre for Gender Justice and Women Empowerment, Association Thendral, Association Thendral, ABC Tamil Oli, Tamil Uzhagam, Commission Africaine des promoteurs de la santé et des droits de l'Homme, Center for Organisation Research and Education, Prahar, African Green Foundation International, Association Culturelle des Tamouls en France, International Buddhist Relief Organisation, Association for the Protection of Women and Children's Rights, Jeunesse étudiante tamoule, and Association Solidarité Internationale pour l'Afrique.

Iran spoke in point of order.

Iran and Iraq spoke in right of reply.

The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council's forty-fifth regular session can be found here.

The Council will meet at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 30 September, to hold a general debate on the Universal Periodic Review, followed by a general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.

Interactive Dialogue with the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen

Presentation of Report

KAMEL JENDOUBI, Chairperson of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen, noted that COVID-19 and the explosion that had impacted the Group's Beirut-based Secretariat had created extraordinary circumstances for the Group's work. The Group had identified, where possible, potential perpetrators of crimes that may have been committed, whose names had been submitted to the High Commissioner for Human Rights on a strictly confidential basis to assist with future accountability efforts. Despite not being able to access Yemen and other Coalition countries, the Group had conducted more than 400 interviews with witnesses, victims and other sources. The Group's report was titled "A Pandemic of Impunity in a Tortured Land" to highlight the palpable failure of the parties to hold accountable those responsible for the violations and to take action to realise victims' rights. The Group had found that all parties, in particular the Houthis, were impeding humanitarian relief supplies and operations. Away from the frontlines, serious violations continued to occur at the hands of all parties to the conflict. Those perceived as dissenting from or opposing the party in control of territory – such as human rights defenders and journalists – were particularly at risk.

Statement by Concerned Country

Yemen, speaking as a concerned country, said the Group of Experts had continued to use the same methodology as in previous reports based on misleading information and allegations mostly derived from the reports of biased non-governmental organizations as well as media publications. Yemen was opposed to the renewal of the mandate of the Group of Experts. The discussion of the human rights situation in Yemen should remain under item 10 because Yemen needed technical assistance, capacity-building and humanitarian support, rather than the politicization of human rights. There was an Independent Yemeni National Commission of Inquiry that was conducting its work professionally and impartially in the field and which had prepared its reports in accordance with international standards. In order to achieve accountability and justice, the Government was now moving to set up special courts for human rights violations.

Discussion

Underlining that all parties to the conflict in Yemen continued to commit sexual violence, speakers noted that the report described the ongoing gender-based persecution of women human rights defenders, including graphic details of six women detained and raped because of their political views and participation in demonstrations. The civilian population in Yemen was bearing the brunt of human rights violations, and their situation was further aggravated by the insufficient supply of humanitarian aid and the spread of COVID-19. Expressing concerns about alleged attacks on hospitals, speakers urged the concerned parties to take every possible measure to minimize civilian casualties. The obstruction of humanitarian operations and the population's access to food and health care by all parties to the conflict was particularly worrisome. With the conflict in its sixth year, and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and floods destroying homes and livelihoods, millions of Yemenis were without adequate food, water, shelter or health care. Baha'is were targeted more than any other group – they were a litmus test for human rights in the country.

Concluding Remarks

MELISSA PARKE, Member of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen, said the Group stood by the findings of its report. This year's report made it very clear that all parties were committing violations, with complete disregard for international law and human dignity. There were no good guys and no clean hands in this conflict.

ARDI IMSEIS, Member of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen, recalled that in early reports, the Group had foreshadowed the need for further international initiatives to, inter alia, ensure accountability. This year's report outlined options, such as expanding the list of persons subject to sanctions under Security Council resolution 2140 and establishing an international investigative mechanism.

KAMEL JENDOUBI, Chairperson of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen, said all parties to the conflict and the international community should shoulder their responsibility. A clear message should be sent to the effect that perpetrators would be held to account.

General Debate on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

The general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms started this morning and a summary can be found here.

Speakers encouraged human rights treaty bodies to avoid duplication between their mandates and urged further collaboration between New York and Geneva to optimize the outcomes of the 2020 review of the treaty body system. The Council should ensure that its mechanisms cooperated with States, in particular that they take into account information provided by States as well as their particularities. Speakers regretted that the code of conduct for the Special Procedures of the Council was not always respected. Some speakers said that it was not acceptable that Special Procedure mandate holders issued press releases that led people to believe they spoke on behalf of the United Nations. Other speakers noted with great concern the renewed attacks against the Special Procedures of the Council and pointed out that the allegations presented against the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, in particular, seemed little more than objecting to her being especially effective in doing exactly what this Council had tasked her to do. Speakers urged Member States to not only refrain from acts of intimidation and reprisals, but to address them, as it was time to impose a real political cost for the deliberate weakening of human rights mechanisms.

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For use of the information media; not an official record


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