Header image for news printout

Human Rights Council holds general debate on human rights situations that require the Council's attention

Human Rights Council 
MIDDAY/AFTERNOON

15 March 2016

Hears Presentation of Report by Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Oral Update on Eritrea

The Human Rights Council today held a general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention, during which speakers raised allegations of human rights violations in countries and regions around the world and reiterated the Council’s responsibility to address all situations of concern. 

Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, presented activities of the field-based structure of the Office of the High Commissioner, which was established in Seoul in June 2015 to monitor and document the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  She noted that freedom of movement remained considerably curbed throughout the country, and that individuals repatriated to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were at risk of unlawful detention and ill-treatment or torture.  Restrictions on the rights to freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly also remained stringent.  The situation in detention facilities and prisons remained of grave concern, and at least four large political prisons remained operational.  Reports of executions, including arbitrary executions, continued. 

Turning to Eritrea, Ms. Gilmore said that the Office’s assessment of the situation in the country was still preliminary.  The Office had noted the Government’s intention to implement recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, as well as efforts to increase access to water over the years and to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.  The functioning of the justice system at all levels and its capacity to respect and ensure respect for human rights required further examination, including with respect to the police and prisons.  The High Commissioner remained concerned about continued reports and allegations of serious human rights violations and urged the Government to address them, in full cooperation with the international community.  The Office urged immediate implementation of the Government’s intention to revert back to the 18-month period for the national service.

Eritrea spoke as a concerned country.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea did not take the floor as a concerned country.

During the general debate, delegations raised concerns relating to specific country situations. They voiced concerns over restrictions on freedom of expression in a number of countries, and condemned attacks against civilians in conflict situations.  Several speakers reiterated their concerns over the politicization of this agenda item of the Council, and expressed support for a non-selective and dialogue-based approach instead.

Speaking during the general debate were Netherlands on behalf of the European Union, Myanmar on behalf of the Like-Minded Group of States, Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Canada on behalf of a group of countries, Germany, Ghana, Switzerland, Republic of Korea, Ecuador, Cuba, United Kingdom, Slovenia, Venezuela, Russian Federation, Georgia, Belgium, India, France, China, United States, Norway, Ireland, Czech Republic, Australia, Japan, Sudan, Spain, Canada, Denmark, Israel, Iceland, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Belarus, Montenegro, Solomon Islands, Ukraine, Eritrea, Azerbaijan, and Iran. 

The following civil society organizations also spoke: Helios Life Association, Bahá’í International Community, International Service for Human Rights, International Commission of Jurists, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Centre for Global Nonkilling, in a joint statement with Conscience and Peace Tax International, International Lesbian and Gay Association, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Human Rights Watch, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, African Development Association, Victorious Youths Movement, Amnesty International, CIVICUS, British Humanist Association, Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims, Society of Iranian Women Advocating Sustainable Development of Environment, Islamic Women’s Institute of Iran, Child Foundation, Family Health Association of Iran, Minority Rights Group, Chant du Guépart dans le Désert, International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, Alliance Defending Freedom, International Association for Democracy in Africa, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, France Libertes – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, Canners International Permanent Committee, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, Indian Council of Education, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Association Dunenyo, United Nations Watch, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, American Association of Jurists, Alsalam Foundation, Women’s Human Rights International Association, Iraqi Development Organization, United Schools International, Federación de Asociaciones de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, Union of Arab Jurists, Centre for Environment and Management Studies, Centre Europe – Tiers Monde, European Union of Public Relations, World Jewish Congress, World Environment and Resources Council, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, Pan-African Union for Science and Technology, Touro Law Centre, World Barua Organization, International Educational Development, Liberation, World Muslim Congress, International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations, Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs, International Muslim Women’s Union, Arab Commission for Human Rights, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Agence international pour le développement, Il Cenacolo, Rencontre africaine pour Latin America defense des droits de l’homme, Indian Council of South America, Africa Culture Internationale, OCAPROCE International, Coordinating Board of Jewish Organization, Society for Development and Community Empowerment, International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, Association Solidarité Internationale pour l’Afrique, Integrated Youth Empowerment – Common Initiative Group, Al-Hakim Foundation, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, Commission africaine des promoteurs de la santé et des droits de l’homme, Presse Embleme Campagne, African Regional Agricultural Credit Association, Prahar, Imam Ali’s Popular Students Relief Society, Peivande Gole Narges Organization, Freedom House, Institute for Women’s Studies and Research, and Iranian Elite Research Centre.

Speaking in right of reply were Uzbekistan, Sudan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Turkey, Pakistan, Venezuela, Bahrain, Burundi, Thailand, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Indonesia, Nigeria, Egypt, and the Republic of Korea.

The Council will next meet at 7 p.m. to hold an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on minority issues and hear presentations of the reports of the Forum on Minority Issues and of the Special Procedures Coordinating Committee. 

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on its role and achievements in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (A/HRC/31/38).

Presentation of Report on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Oral Update on Eritrea

KATE GILMORE, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that in 2015, as requested by the Council resolution 25/25, the Office of the High Commissioner had established a field-based structure to promote and protect human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The office, which opened in Seoul in June 2015, was focused on monitoring and documenting the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, engaging with and building the human rights capacity of the Governments of the States concerned, and giving visibility to the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Freedom of movement remained considerably curbed throughout the country, as both domestic and international travel required permission from the authorities.  Individuals repatriated to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were at risk of unlawful detention and ill-treatment or torture.  Restrictions on the rights to freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly also remained stringent.  The situation in detention facilities and prisons remained of grave concern, and at least four large political prisons remained operational.  Reports of executions, including arbitrary executions, continued.  Tens of thousands of persons in the two Koreas had been separated from their relatives on the other side of the border.  The vast majority of those people had not been able to meet, or even receive basic information, about the fate of their loved ones.  The issue of up to 100,000 civilians abducted in the southern part of the Korean peninsula and taken to the north during the Korean War had not yet been resolved.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was urged to take urgent steps to address that issue.  The High Commissioner remained convinced that a referral of the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the International Criminal Court was an essential step.  The High Commissioner urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to put human rights first, to de-escalate tensions and to escalate constructive engagement. 

Ms. Gilmore informed that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had undertaken a working level technical assessment mission to Eritrea from 1 to 5 February 2016.  The assessment aimed to determine areas where the Office could provide support.  Ms. Gilmore thanked the Government of Eritrea for facilitating the mission and noted that the mission had engaged in good discussions with the Government and other stakeholders.  It had been stressed that a holistic approach to human rights had to underpin any form of assistance and engagement of the Office in recognition of the universal, interdependent and interrelated nature of human rights.  The Office’s assessment of the situation in the country was still preliminary and the subject of an ongoing process.  The Office had noted the Government’s intention to implement recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.  Efforts were also noted to increase access to water over the years and to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.  The Office had been able to observe the activities of four associations for persons with disabilities, on whose rights certain efforts had also been made.  The functioning of the justice system at all levels and its capacity to respect and ensure respect for human rights required further examination, including with respect to the police and prisons.  The High Commissioner remained concerned about continued reports and allegations of serious human rights violations and urged the Government to address them, in full cooperation with the international community.  The Office urged immediate implementation of the Government’s intention to revert back to the 18-month period for the national service.  No specific information had been provided to the Office on the number of detainees considered as political dissidents.  The right to fair trial ought to be ensured at all times, and arbitrarily detained persons had to be immediately released.   The Office counted on Eritrea’s commitment and genuine engagement to address long-standing challenges and ensure the protection and enjoyment of human rights by all Eritreans.

Statements by Concerned Countries

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea did not take floor as a concerned country.

Eritrea, speaking as a concerned country, expressed serious concerns about the oral report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  It reminded that during the two years of its engagement on technical assistance, a working visit and two technical assessment missions had been conducted by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  The Office teams had engaged with Government officials, national civil society organizations, community leaders and various community institutions.  During the latest visit in February 2016, the team was also able to visit the Sembel Correctional Centre to assess the conditions there and observe the activities of inmates and engage with them and officials of the centre.  Eritrea noted that the cooperation was predicated on the national ownership and priorities set and agreed, namely the judiciary, water and sanitation, and persons with disabilities.  Those should play a vital role in complementing the concrete development programmes that had direct bearing on human rights.  Eritrea called on the Council to abandon the use of confrontational approach through special mechanisms.

General Debate on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention

Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union, voiced concern over the atrocious human rights violations in South Sudan and the human rights situation in Egypt, where terrorism had to be tackled with full respect for the rule of law.  It was also concerned over the situation in Yemen, where it called on all parties to fully respect international humanitarian law.  It expressed concern about the recent increase in the number of executions in Saudi Arabia, and about increased attacks on human rights defenders, and lawyers in China, as well as the crackdown on civil society in the Russian Federation.  It welcomed Uzbekistan’s progress to eradicate child labour, but regretted its attacks on human rights defenders.

Myanmar, speaking on behalf of a Like-Minded Group of States, reminded that human rights should be defended in a fair and equal manner, keeping in mind the different economic, social, cultural and religious background of each country.  The Human Rights Council should be guided by the principle of cooperation in its work.  Better outcomes could be achieved when that principle became a true foundation of its work.  It called for impartiality, objectivity and avoidance of double standards in the work of the Council.  Country specific mandates were counterproductive, giving rise to confrontation, disagreement, distrust and misunderstanding.

Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that the international community should support the strengthening of democracy, development and respect for all human rights in the entire world, without distinction between developed and developing countries.  All human rights, in particular the right to development, were universal, inalienable, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, and they had to be addressed within the global context through a constructive, non-confrontational, non-politicized and non-selective dialogue-based approach.

Canada, speaking on behalf of a group of more than 40 States, acknowledged a number of recent positive steps taken by the Government of Burundi and asked the Government to immediately follow up on its remaining commitments.  The humanitarian situation in the country had deteriorated in recent months, while grave concern remained over attacks against civilians, sexual violence and arbitrary arrests.  Impartial and independent investigations ought to be conducted in order to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Germany was seriously concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Egypt, where the referral of civilians to military courts, mass trials and death sentences were of grave concern.  Germany remained deeply concerned by Eritrea’s refusal to cooperate with the international mechanisms, and expressed worry about the continued pressure on civil society in the Russian Federation.  Germany appealed to the Russian authorities to create a climate of tolerance and freedom of opinion. 

Ghana remained concerned about alleged reports of violations of the human rights of Eritreans, particularly arbitrary arrests, forced evictions and mass demolitions of houses.  Ghana reiterated that no country had a clean human rights record, which was why it did not see human rights reports as seeking to name or shame any State.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Eritrea were encouraged to cooperate fully with international human rights mechanisms  

Switzerland expressed concern over grave violations of freedom of expression and in particular of freedom of media.  It raised concern over the intimidation and use of arbitrary detention in Venezuela and repression against civil society in Egypt, as well as severe restrictions on freedom of expression in Rwanda.  It condemned the closure of independent media in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and restrictions on freedom of expression in Bangladesh, restrictions on the work of journalists in Kazakhstan, adding that the Governments of Kenya and Ecuador continued to lead restrictive politics against free media. 

Republic of Korea welcomed the opening of the field-based structure of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Seoul in 2015, which was a manifestation of the combined will and effort of the international community to improve the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The Republic of Korea believed that the office in Seoul would contribute to ensuring accountability for human rights violations and  abuses in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. 

Ecuador noted that human rights transgressions were committed by some economically and politically influential countries, but those violations were not discussed by the Council.  It drew attention to the case of Julian Assange, whose arbitrary detention had lasted for five years, with the involvement of the United Kingdom and Sweden.  The Human Rights Council should also pay attention to racial crimes committed in the United States against the African American and Latin American population.

Cuba said that politicization and double standards characterized this agenda item, with countries of the West targeting countries of the South with accusations.  Those countries should undertake self-analysis, Cuba said, recalling the principles of impartiality, universality, non-politicization, international cooperation and sovereignty.  Cuba was concerned about the treatment of migrants, it recalled that countries of the West were historically responsible for poverty in developing countries, and called on them to respect international law when tackling the refugee crisis and to address xenophobia.

United Kingdom called for those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court.  It called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to engage substantively with the international community on human rights.  The United Kingdom expressed concerns about the human rights situation in annexed Crimea, including discrimination against minorities, and called on the Russian Federation to accept international monitors there. 

Slovenia said that crimes against humanity in Syria required a referral to the International Criminal Court, and called upon all actors to ensure humanitarian access and to respect the cessation of hostilities.  Slovenia regretted that the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remained unchanged, and that impunity persisted.  With regard to South Sudan, Slovenia was of the view that the Council should establish a Special Rapporteur on this country. 

Venezuela stated that resolution 28/22 on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea did not promote genuine dialogue or cooperation.  The oral update on Eritrea was the product of a resolution of the same type, which went against the principles of sovereignty and non-intervention in internal affairs.  Venezuela doubted that such efforts would lead to any meaningful progress of peace in the region.  The Universal Periodic Review, as a dialogue among equals, was a good mechanism for promoting international cooperation. 

Russian Federation said that in the United States, principles of the rule of law continued to be violated, including in the Guantanamo prison.  Some Russian nationals had been illegally kidnapped by American forces and kept in inadequate conditions.  Russian Federation noted the rising racism, xenophobia and neo-Nazism in the countries of the European Union.  Discrimination of national minorities in Latvia and Estonia  was also in contradiction with those countries’ commitments. 

Georgia hoped that the resumed Syria peace talks in Geneva would generate a solid background for a political solution to the conflict.  Georgia shared the concern regarding the document findings on serious human rights violations committed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The Government of Myanmar was encouraged to keep the pace on its path in order to consolidate the progress.  The fundamental rights of those living in the Russian-occupied regions of Georgia continued to be violated daily.

Belgium expressed grave concern over the human rights situation in South Sudan.  It also reiterated its call to all parties to the conflict in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Ukraine to respect international humanitarian law and to allow humanitarian agencies to carry out their work.  Belgium called attention to the human rights situations in Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tajikistan.  It called on China to guarantee freedom of expression, media and association. 

India noted that the effective way to promote universal respect for the protection of all human rights on a sustained basis was through genuine international cooperation and constructive dialogue.  It drew attention to the continuation and proliferation of country-specific mandates focusing only on developing countries.  The proclivity for quick, one-sided fixes and selective country listing not only breached the principles of universality, objectivity and non-selectivity, but also undermined the confidence of States in the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms.

France condemned the barbarity of the acts perpetrated by Da’esh, noting that those who had committed grave human rights violations had to be brought to justice.  It drew attention to the worsening situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories, and called for a definitive solution for that situation.  France expressed concern about human rights violations in Burundi, Eritrea and South Sudan.  Attention should not be limited only to countries affected by conflict, but also to those considered as democracies

China said that sovereign equality, respect for territorial integrity and independence, and non-interference were principles recognized by the United Nations Charter.  The Council should be guided by these principles and by international cooperation.  The root causes of human rights issues and terrorism in developing countries were Western countries’ interference in their affairs.  China was concerned that refugees in Europe had to face intolerance, Islamophobia and brutality. 

United States remained deeply concerned regarding the situation in Syria, Iran, Burundi, South Sudan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, China and Myanmar.  It called on Cuba to end the practice of arbitrary short-term detention, respect freedom of expression and assembly and release all political prisoners.  The Venezuelan Government was using detentions to suppress and punish political opposition, civil society and independent media.  In Egypt, the United States was deeply concerned about abuses by the security services. 

Norway called on all relevant countries, including Belarus, Russian Federation and Azerbaijan, to lift restrictions and ensure that civil society and human rights defenders were able to operate in a safe and enabling environment.  Several bloggers and activists had been killed in Bangladesh within a few months.  In Uganda, the pre-election campaign was marked by a polarized discourse, intimidating atmosphere and arbitrary arrests.

Ireland remained deeply concerned about human rights violations in South Sudan, and urged all States to end acts of violence committed in the name of religion.  Ireland was worried about the shrinking of democratic space in a number of countries, including in Azerbaijan.  It was hoped that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights would keep its presence in Moscow.  Ireland deplored the continuous use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as seizures of Palestinian land.

Czech Republic noted that in the Russian Federation, the growing number of restrictive laws had a chilling effect on the civil sector.  Saudi Arabia continued to repress peaceful human rights activists, including a string of severe punishments against individuals, while Venezuela’s political prisoners continued to suffer in jail.  All sides in the Yemen conflict had to be strongly urged to fully adhere to international humanitarian law.

Australia remained deeply concerned about the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Australia was disturbed by recent reports of the scale of civilian casualties and the widespread use of sexual violence in South Sudan, especially against women and children.  All parties in Syria were called on to engage seriously in the current peace talks, and to put the interests of the Syrian people first. 

Japan said that the systematic and long-term human rights violations being carried out by “North Korea” were unparalleled in their gravity.  Japan, together with the European Union, would submit a draft resolution on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, incorporating the decision to establish a group of experts on accountability. 

Sudan affirmed that all human rights were interdependent, interrelated and universal, including the right to development.  Human rights should, however, not be used as a political tool to pressure other countries.  The Universal Periodic Review was the appropriate mechanism to raise human rights issues equally, without politicization or double standards. 

Spain said that the humanitarian crisis in Yemen continued to deteriorate as a result of indiscriminate attacks and the use of banned weapons under international humanitarian law.  Spain was concerned about violations of international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and about the continuation of Israeli settlements.  Spain raised concerns about human rights abuses in Libya, and called for the creation of an accountability mechanism there. 

Canada was extremely concerned about the continued deterioration of the human rights situation in South Sudan.  Further capacity building and technical assistance support had to be contingent on the Government making concrete changes to end violence against civilians.  Canada was also deeply concerned about the mass arrests and ongoing detention of civil society activists, lawyers and human rights defenders in China. 

Denmark strongly condemned the appalling human rights violations committed by the Syrian regime as well as the human rights abuses committed by ISIL and other extremist groups in both Syria and Iraq.  Israeli settlement activity remained deeply concerning.  Denmark encouraged Egypt to take further steps to ensure the respect for fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution, including the right to fair trial. 

Israel stated that people of the Middle East, torn between ISIS and Iran, were suffering violence, extremism and terrorism.  The previous week, an American tourist had been murdered and 14 Israelis injured in a deadly stabbing spree, in acts welcomed by Hamas.  It was reported that Iranian missiles tested recently had the inscription “Israel must be wiped off the face of the Earth”.  The Council was demanded to do something about it.

Iceland was deeply concerned by the misuse of counter-terrorism laws in Saudi Arabia – a member of the Council – to target human rights defenders, peaceful protestors and minors.  Iceland also highlighted severe discrimination faced by women and girls in Saudi Arabia, and strongly urged the Government to accelerate reform and modernization efforts.  The occupation continued to violate the most basic rights of Palestinians, Iceland said, calling on Israel to immediately stop the demolition of Palestinian homes.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea referred to human rights violations in Western countries, particularly the United States, including torture and xenophobia.  The United States had perpetrated crimes against humanity, including in the Korean Peninsula.  Japan was urged to implement recommendations by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, particularly regarding comfort women. 

Belarus said that the fact that no State fully complied with international human rights was why the Universal Periodic Review mechanism was created.  The Council continued its politicization of human rights issues.  Belarus was committed to protect human rights.  Condemning country-specific resolutions, Belarus called for a non-politicized and non-selective approach to human rights, based on dialogue and cooperation. 

Montenegro expressed concern about the fact that in Iran, individuals were targeted for cooperating with United Nations human rights mechanisms, and members of minority groups continued to face prosecution.  Credible international instances had expressed concern about the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and States facing transitional challenges were encouraged to deal with religious communities.  Hopes were expressed for dialogue in Burundi.

Solomon Islands encouraged the Government of Indonesia to establish a peaceful dialogue with the representative of West Papua, expressing concern about reports of cases of arbitrary arrests, torture, ill-treatment and limitation of freedom of expression, assembly and association, mainly committed by Indonesian security forces.  Indonesia was urged to facilitate access to West Papua for United Nations Special Procedures. 

Ukraine spoke about the situation of people, including Nadiya Savchenko and four other persons who were political prisoners illegally detained in Russia.  The law enabling the Russian Constitutional court to overthrow decisions of the European Court of Human Rights was alarming, and Russia was urged to comply with its legal obligations and political commitments immediately, unconditionally release all Ukrainian citizens, and ensure respect for international law.

Eritrea opposed the use of politicized, country-specific mechanisms targeting countries under the pretext of human rights.  This compromised the integrity of the Council.  Each State had the responsibility of its citizens, and human rights approaches needed to be based on this context.  Hence, only the Universal Periodic Review should be used as a means of engagement and cooperation on human rights. 

Azerbaijan referred to human rights violations and displacement of Azerbaijanis as a result of Armenia’s occupation.  Armenia exploited tourism as a tool for annexation policies.  Azerbaijan was concerned about discrimination, hate speech and racism in Norway and Ireland, and urged these countries to implement recommendations formulated by United Nations human rights mechanisms and Special Procedures. 

Iran strongly condemned human rights violations by the Israeli regime and its continued occupation of Palestine.  It deplored human rights violations against migrants in the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, France, Ireland and the Czech Republic.  Human rights violations by the United States, both inside and outside its borders, remained matters of concern. 

Helios Life Association called for human rights mechanisms to guide people on the social, economic, and human benefits of a human rights based development.   The present mechanism had proved ineffective.  Enforcing human rights in a way that brought conflict with religious beliefs and strong traditions was a cause of divisions and tensions in societies. 

Bahá’í International Community said that in Iran, the Government was systematically persecuting an entire people for their Bahá’í faith.  The Bahá’í in Iran had been deprived of their most fundamental rights for 30 years.  It was hoped that the international community would put pressure on Iran to put an end to that unjust discrimination. 

International Service for Human Rights said that human rights defenders and civil society globally were facing worsening restrictions and attacks, including in but not limited to Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Burundi, Egypt, Russia, Sudan, Uzbekistan, and Venezuela.  Lawyers and human rights defenders in China were facing nearly insurmountable challenges.

International Commission of Jurists drew the Council’s attention to the deteriorating human rights situation in Thailand since the 2014 coup d’état.  Space for civil society to discuss human rights issues had been diminished.  The Council should call on Thailand to replace the interim Constitution with one that fully recognized and protected human rights. 

International Federationfor HumanRights Leagues said that within a year, China had detained five peaceful women’s rights activists, and had arrested, disappeared, or held incommunicado 317 rights defence lawyers and activists.  The deterioration of human rights had extended to Hong Kong, where five residents associated with a private publishing house were forcibly disappeared in late 2015. 

Centre for Global Nonkilling, in a joint statement with Conscience and Peace Tax International, regretted that a high level political conference to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Korean question had still not happened, 63 years after the Armistice Agreement had been signed.  

International Lesbian and Gay Association drew attention to the catalogue of human rights violations against lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and intersex persons all over the world, notably in Indonesia where the Parliament was currently legislating a ban on public information with lesbian and gay content.  In Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama and Costa Rica, there was systemic extreme violence and discrimination of such persons. 

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development expressed concern over the human rights situations in several Asian countries, including in Thailand where democracy activists and protesters had been arrested and detained.  In Maldives political dissent was criminalised.  In Malaysia democratic space continued to be limited.  

International Humanist and Ethical Union drew attention to the case of Palestinian poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh, who had been sentenced to death for offending the “divine self,” and to the case of student Sherif Gaber in Egypt, who had been sentenced to a year of hard labour for having declared his atheism on Facebook.

Human Rights Watch said that a human rights crisis was taking place in Ethiopia, and the Council was urged to raise concerns over the serious abuses taking place in Oromia.  The Council should call on the Ethiopian Government to cease using excessive force against protesters and release everyone arbitrarily detained.

International Association of Democratic Lawyers , in a joint statement with, Centre Europe - Tiers Monde - Europe-Third World Centre, called the  attention of the Human Rights Council to the human rights situation in Turkey, where journalists had been detained on false chargers of terrorism, peaceful protests were dispersed with tear gas, and wounded people were prevented from receiving medical treatment.

African Development Association said that “so-called Azad Kashmir” was a land of strict curbs on freedom of expression and numerous other human rights.  The exploitation of natural resources there and in Gilgit Baltistan had deprived the natives of the region of their own natural wealth.  The Council was urged to put pressure on Pakistan to stop the victimisation of nationalist leaders of Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.

African Development Association drew the Council’s attention to the human rights situation in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where business activities had a negative impact on the population, and underlined Pakistan’s responsibility for these human rights violations. 

Victorious Youths Movement was concerned about the human rights situation in the Tindouf camp, where refugees suffered and risked trafficking, and faced restrictions to their right to assembly as well as ill-treatment. 

Amnesty International said that since becoming a Council Member in 2014, Saudi Arabia had carried out gross and systematic human rights violations and breached international humanitarian law in the conflict in Yemen.  The Council should hold Saudi Arabia accountable for its failure to live up to the basic requirements of membership of the Council.  

CIVICUS expressed hope that the Syria peace talks would finally get off the ground and lead to results.  It repeated its call to the Syrian authorities to immediately release all unlawfully detained civilians.  CIVICUS expressed concern over the severe escalation of civic space restrictions in Egypt, and over the arrest of human rights defenders in Bahrain. 

British Humanist Association drew attention to around 4.8 million people who had fled Syria.  Those who survived the dangerous journey to Europe were met with attacks from far right activists.  There were around 26,000 unaccompanied children in Europe alone, who were vulnerable to trafficking, prostitution and child labour. 

Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims noted that women bore a disproportionate burden of wars and armed conflict.  Along with children, they constituted 80 per cent of the world’s refugees and displaced persons.  Sexual violence against women and girls was the most common form of violence and the most wide spread form of criminality.  Women had to be represented adequately at all levels of decision-making, in particular in peace building.

Society for Iranian Women Advocating Sustainable Development of the Environment said there was a need for public awareness on the biosafety of genetically modified products.  Genetically modified organism products were destroying traditional and organic agriculture, and their purpose was exclusively the sale of seeds and chemical pesticides.

Islamic Women’s Institute of Iran said that the consequences of the situation in Syria could be seen.  Member States were called on to make a political international alliance against terrorism and respond to it in a faster and more effective way, to control and restrict the weapons trade, and to remove the root causes of terrorism.

Child Foundation said that armed conflict had the worst impact on children.  Poverty and under development were breeding grounds for extremism.   Child Foundation emphasized the importance of education, adding that combatting poverty and inequality had dividends far beyond economic gains.

Family Health Association of Iran said that people in Iran were suffering from the negative effects of international sanctions, which impacted their right to health and access to medical equipment.  Due to the sanctions, Iranian non-governmental organizations could not engage with international partners to improve access to health and to food. 

Minority Rights Group called the Council’s attention to the situation of minorities in Yemen, where the Muhamasheen suffered from caste-based discrimination, an absolute lack of protection, and dire access to humanitarian assistance.  The Group drew the Council’s attention to the deteriorating situation of the Ogiek indigenous people in Kenya, where they were subjected to the destruction of their homes and violence. 

Chant du Guépard dans le Désert said that the rain of bombs on different areas of the world, such as Syria, Yemen, Ukraine and Iraq, killed millions of civilians as well as the earth itself.  The worst example of how war affected the environment was Hiroshima.  The international community could not forget the environmental consequences of wars. 

International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, in a joint statement with, Shimin Gaikou Centre (Citizens' Diplomatic Centre for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) expressed concern about the situation in Okinawa, Japan, which hosted the vast majority of all United States military facilities in the country.  Toxic substances, noise pollution, and oppression of critical media were concerns in Okinawa.  Japan should refrain from undermining environmental rights, freedom of expression, and the right to peaceful assembly.

Alliance Defending Freedom  expressed concern about the fate of Christians, Arameans, Yazidis and other ethnic and religious groups persecuted by the Islamic State.  The United States House of Representatives had voted recently to approve a declaration declaring the atrocities committed by the Islamic State against Christians and others a genocide. 

International Association for Democracy in Africa drew attention to the danger posed by cross-border terrorism from terrorists trained in Pakistan.  They posed great danger not only to the national security but also cross-border security.  Extremists in Pakistan enjoyed protection and were housed in seven specially built terrorist training camps. 

International Fellowship of Reconciliation voiced concern over the human rights situation in Western Sahara, namely the Saharawi political prisoners detained in Moroccan prisons.  The health conditions of those prisoners was worrying as they received no or inappropriate medical attention.  

France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand shared concern about the human rights situation in Western Sahara and Saharawi political prisoners who needed to be tried in front of civilian rather than military courts.  The development of an international judicial mechanism should be an obligation of States in order to prevent human rights abuses like those in Western Sahara.

Canners International Permanent Committee said that Pakistan’s support to terrorism posed a regional security threat to South Asia.  Pakistan was also supporting cross border state-terrorism, in accordance with India’s claims.  Afghanistan was another country that was affected by cross border terrorism from Pakistan.

Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy referred to the crisis of the Indian judiciary, which faced a large backlog of cases.  As a result, the perpetrators of the 1984 Sikh genocide remained unpunished, and Sikhs continued to be denied justice. 

Indian Council of Education said that, in Eritrea, the individual existed in the context of the family rather than the western value of individualism.  Eritrea had attained remarkable progress in its economy through socio-economic reforms, and had expanded health, education and transport services to remote areas. 

International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination said that in Syria, many people’s rights were brutally violated through shelling and bombardment.  Iraq was not under the review of the Council but there were daily violations of the human rights of civilians there.  The dispatch of an international investigation committee to Iraq was urged as was the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iraq.

Association Dunenyo spoke about the case of Mr. Sidi Mulud, a Sahraoui political refugee, who was said to be under the protection of the Human Rights Council in Nouakchott in Mauritania.  Details were given of attempts made to resettle him in Finland, followed by efforts to settle him in Belgium, as well as his attempts to communicate with the Human Rights Council.

United Nations Watch pointed out that Members of the Council included China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Algeria, Burundi, Congo, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam, as well as Zimbabwe where the Mugabe regime was engaged in brutality.  The Council was urged to recall its own founding documents and principles.

Organization for Defending Victims of Violence warned of children and teens joining ISIS under the influence of the organization’s propaganda machine.  It urged the Council to support awareness raising projects to eliminate all forms of radicalism, regardless of its religious identity, in order to stop the vicious cycle of extremism.

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain raised the issue of executions in Saudi Arabia, including of minors.  It requested the Human Rights Council to investigate those violations of human rights.  Most of the detainees were subjected to torture and some were accused of espionage against Iran. 

American Association of Jurists called attention to widespread human rights violations in Honduras, which culminated with the murder of Berta Càceres last week.  It demanded an independent investigation of that political assassination, reminding that Ms. Càceres organized the Lenca people, the largest indigenous group in Honduras, which fought against a hydroelectric project whose construction endangered the survival of the Lenca people. 

Alsalam Foundation, in a joint statement, called the Council’s attention to the high number of political prisoners in Bahrain, and referred particularly to the cases of Abduljalil al-Singace, Fadhel Abbas, Hassan Mushaima, Sheikh Ali Salman, Abdul Wahab Husain, Mohammed Habib al-Muqdad and Zeinab al-Khawaja, who had all been arbitrarily arrested. 

Women’s Human Rights International Association said that women and girls still faced discrimination and harmful practices in Iran, including child and early marriage.  They lacked access to education.  Further, Iran still imposed corporal punishment, in violation of international law.  The Council should renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran. 

Iraqi Development Organization said that the situation in Yemen should be referred to the International Criminal Court by the Security Council to prosecute attacks against civilians and horrific crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide by all parties to the conflict, including by the Saudi Arabian-led coalition. 

United Schools International said that Pakistan had become a breeding ground for terrorist networks and that posed a threat to Afghan peace efforts.  Their whole purpose in Afghanistan was to terrorize the population.  International organizations needed to ensure that the massive funds being poured into Pakistan pushed the country to adopt a concrete anti-terrorism strategy. 

Federation de Associaciones de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos expressed hope that there would be importance attached to decolonisation of the last colony in Africa, adding that the situation in Western Sahara had been forgotten, but there were serious violations of human rights by Moroccan forces there as their systematic policy was genocide of the Sahrawi people.

Union of Arab Jurists said that when it was a question of politicising human rights, a selective approach was seen, for example the inquiry position in Syria, which was defending its people.  The Commission blamed the Government for crimes carried out by terrorists and did not mention the responsibility of certain States in the region, and thus legitimacy was given to foreign interference.

Centre for Environment and Management Studies said that since June 2013 Pahstuns had been displaced due to the operations of the Pakistani forces.  Neither local nor international media were allowed to enter into the region to report on the crimes committed there.  The Pakistani army was supporting the Taliban in order to fight against the Pashtuns, and those tensions favoured the spread of terrorism.

Centre Europe – Tiers Monde expressed alarm over the situation of the population of south Madagascar, notably in the region of Ankazoabo and Midongy.  Since 2012, under the pretext of fighting herd thieves, the security forces had conducted massacres in that region of Madagascar, resulting in more than 1,100 victims. 

European Union of Public Relations drew attention to the situation of human rights of religious minorities in Pakistan.  The socio-economic situation of the Baluchis in Pakistan was abysmal, with more than 50 per cent living below the poverty line.  The Pakistani army was engaged in a massive operation of forced disappearances across Balochistan.

World Jewish Congress referred to human rights abuses against political activists, human rights defenders, students, women, and religious and sexual minorities by Iran.  It was unacceptable that Iran continued to regularly threaten the existence of Israel, and had organized cartoon competitions for mocking the Holocaust.   

World Environment and Resources Council was concerned at the level of illiteracy in Gilgit Baltistan.  While the Pakistani Constitution failed to address the issue of basic rights of the people of Gilgit Baltistan, the Indian Constitution guaranteed such rights.  Locals of Gilgit Baltistan had no access to educational facilities in India. 

Commission to Study the Organization of Peace said that Pakistan had become an intolerant place, which justified the killing of Hindus, Christians, and Sunni, Shia and Ahmadi populations.  People were feeling terrorised, and this ideology had destroyed the civil fabric of the Pakistani society. 

Pan African Union for Science and Technology said that Shias in Pakistan had borne the brunt of racist violence, and that Islamic State militants were trying to eradicate Iraqi minority groups from large parts of the country.  A majority of ISIS victims included Sunni Muslims who did not conform to ISIS’ government.

Touro Law Centre, The Institute on Human Rights and The Holocaust said that Iran had fired ballistic missiles with the words “Israel must be wiped off the Earth” and offered to pay “Palestinian terrorists” for stabbing more Israelis.  Muslims were harming Muslims in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen.  The international community’s response could not be double standards and discrimination.

World Barua Organization said India systematically failed to uphold its legal obligations to ensure the fundamental human rights of so-called “untouchables” despite laws and policies against caste discrimination.  The Council was requested to call on the Government of India to provide basic human rights to oppressed minorities. 
International Educational Development addressed the situation of the ethnic nationalities in Myanmar.  Failure arose because the ethnic Burmans controlled the country and because the Burmese political parties had not shown serious concern over the ethnic nationalities.  It also called attention to the situation of the ethnic Hmong people in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, who faced annihilation.  

Liberation called attention to the gradual deterioration of indigenous societies in Tripura, north-east of India which had been forcibly annexed by India in 1949.  As a result of the forcible merger, thousands of Tripura had become jobless.  The Government of India had encouraged the infiltration and settlement of illegal migrants in Tripura, who had received land, employment possibilities and political power.

World Muslim Congress urged the Human Rights Council to focus its attention on the realization of the right to development.  It raised concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.  Year 2015 was yet another year of repression, killings, and restrictions. 

International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations raised the Council’s attention to the deteriorating human rights situation in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, including extrajudicial executions by the armed forces misusing the reward system for their self-promotion.  The United Nations should call on the Indian State to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Action Internationale pour la Paix et le Développement dans la Région des Grands Lacs referred to human rights abuses by the Polisario forces, which amounted to genocide and were comparable to crimes committed by the Nazis. 

International Muslim Women’s Union said that the conflict in Kashmir had had a dire impact on women’s rights there.  In 2012, a young medical student had been raped, triggering protests in the region. 

Arab Commission for Human Rights said that neighbouring States and Germany had helped Syrian refugees, but other than that the international community had shown indifference.  The situation of Rohingya in Myanmar was also a cause for concern.  The European Union continued to ignore violations of the rights of the Palestinian people under occupation.

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies reiterated its concern over rising restrictions for journalists, freedom of expression advocates, and freedom of association in Morocco.  Moroccan authorities were called on to drop all charges against seven activists, halt undue restrictions on civil society, among several other suggested measures.

Agence Internationale pour le Développement drew attention to Mauritanian citizens who had been victims of kidnapping by the Polisario Front.  Hundreds of Mauritanians had been kidnapped and sent to prison; no proof of guilt was provided and there was no respect for justice or legality.  The Algerian Government was incriminated in those human rights violations.

Il Cenacolo conveyed gratitude for the attention given to the issue of violence against children, regretting that the children in the Tindouf camp in southern Algeria had never been accessed by a Special Rapporteur.  The children there were subjected to deportation as of the age if five, while others were enrolled into the Polisario militia, and girls were forced into early marriage.

Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, in a joint statement with, Solidarité Suisse-Guinée ; Women's Federation for World Peace International; and Espace Afrique International drew attention to the situation of human rights in Burundi, noting that all the efforts deployed by the international community had been stillborn.  Governments who turned guns against their own people had no place at the Human Rights Council.  It demanded the adoption of a resolution on Burundi in order to protect the credibility and standing of the Council.

Indian Council of South America reminded of the unresolved disputes that indigenous peoples had with certain States.  Their legitimate right to territory had to be safeguarded.  The real situation in Canada, the United States and Guatemala would never be resolved unless the Human Rights Council addressed those gross human rights violations.

Africa Culture Internationale said that the systematic elimination of the Baluch people was increasing day by day, and drew attention to the increased number of Baloch women and girls disappeared and held incommunicado. 

OCAPROCE International was deeply concerned about human rights violations by the occupation army in Kashmir, as well as arrests during peaceful protests.  Occupied Kashmir was one of the worst place on earth for children. 

Coordinating Board of Jewish Organization, in a joint statement with, B’nai B’rith International referred to the Holocaust, and regretted that hatred continued, with resurgent anti-Semitism and fanatic hatred of Israel.  In France, for instance, there had been an increase in the number of attacks against Jews. 

Society for Development and Community Empowerment said that war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed against Tamils in Sri Lanka and that a structural genocide was continuing under the Sri Lankan army.  Local mechanisms under the Sri Lankan Government would not be effective in ensuring accountability because of lack of political will.

International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies spoke about economic development in Myanmar, noting that international companies had opened in-country production facilities through joint ventures with local partners during the year.  Myanmar’s economy was now expanding at a record rate, which was seen as a positive indicator.

Association Solidarité Internationale pour l’Afrique spoke about the situation of Tamils in the north-east of Sri Lanka, noting that today, Tamil people were facing ongoing genocide in their homeland.  The Council was asked to follow the recommendations of the High Commissioner’s report from September 2015 on what were termed Sri Lankan security forces’ crimes against humanity.

Integrated Youth Empowerment – Common Initiative Group reminded that the Eelam Tamils of Sri Lanka had faced genocide.  Apart from thousands of people who had been killed, there were 146,679 persons who had not been accounted for.  The Sri Lanka Government had never provided any answers on what had happened to those missing.

Al-Hakim Foundation raised concern over worrisome forms of oppression targeting women.  Iraq’s 1966 Penal Code Article 409  considered honour killing as a murder or attempted murder motivated by honour.  However, it had many loopholes as it provided for milder sentences for perpetrators under certain conditions.

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik called attention to the widespread use of torture and corporal punishment in Iran.  It also reminded of the frequency and gravity of abuses and torture in Iran, such as amputations, flogging, arbitrary arrest and detention, unfair trials, targeting media professionals, unionists, human rights defenders, teachers, lawyers, and religious and ethnic minorities.

International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations called on the High Commissioner to follow up on the recent visit to Western Sahara and the Tindouf camp by the Secretary-General and to stand up for people advocating their legitimate right to self-determination.  It called for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur for Western Sahara.

African Commission on Health and Human Rights Promoters stated that the survivors of atrocities in Kashmir had been demanding an independent probe, but the Government of India had paid little heed to those requests.  The situation there required the special attention of the Council.

Press Emblem Campaign was very worried about the deterioration of the freedom of the press in Turkey. Turkey was called upon to reverse its decision to seize the Zaman daily.  A full and swift investigation was needed into the murder of Rohat Aktas, the editor and journalist of a Kurdish-language daily.

African Regional Agriculture Credit Association said that enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and torture of Baloch political workers, human rights and social activists continued with impunity in Baluchistan.  The Council was urged to take serious measures to stop Pakistani atrocities against the Baloch people.

Prahar spoke about the human rights of the peoples of Assam, asking why Assam was bearing the load of illegal migrants for 20 “extra” years alone, and why Constitutional laws were not the same for Assam as for other States of India.  Appeals were made to the Council to act on the protection of human rights of the people of Assam.

Imam Ali’s Popular Students Relief Society spoke about capital punishment in Iran, noting that the organization’s endeavours had resulted in 10 cases of the death penalty being postponed and 15 people being rescued by the forgiveness of victims’ families. 

Peivande Gole Narges Organization said terrorist groups had committed numerous cases of extremist violence in Syria and Iraq.  There was an urgent need for the international community to work toward consensus against acts of violence by terrorist groups.  The Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism was requested to condemn ISIS terrorist acts.

Freedom House drew attention to the human rights situation in Cuba, noting that the Cuban people had not had the right to elect their representatives for 57 years.  It called on the Human Rights Council to hold the Government of Cuba accountable for its attempt to prevent democratic processes in the country.

Institute for Women’s Studies and Research pointed to the systematic violence against women and children in every armed conflict.  At present they were caught in the crossfire in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.  It was vital to increase international efforts for women’s empowerment through equal access and adequate educational and vocational opportunities.

Iranian Elite Research Centre said that in 2014 the Nigerian army had brutally killed defenceless civilians, including women and children, during a religious rite.  More than 1,000 people had been killed or went missing, and there was evidence of a mass grave.  What the Nigerian army had done could amount to a crime of genocide.

 

Right of Reply

Uzbekistan, speaking in a right of reply, referred to statements delivered by European Union Member States, and explained that Uzbekistan had undertaken efforts to protect human rights.  It had abolished the death penalty, adopted an action plan for the implementation of international human rights recommendations, and created a national monitoring body to prevent torture.  People were not prosecuted for any political motive whatsoever.  Those countries should address their own human rights problems, including racism and violations against migrants. 

Sudan, speaking in a right of reply, said that statements by the United Kingdom and France on the situation in Darfur were politicized and did not take into account the reality on the ground.  The situation was improving, and fundamental freedom were protected in the Constitution.  The Government of Sudan had repeatedly called for a ceasefire, but this had unfortunately not been approved by rebel groups.  It was regrettable that France was hosting some members of these rebel groups. 

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, categorically rejected all politically motivated allegations made by the Seoul office on the abductions.  These allegations were the product of political and military objectives and a conspiracy of hostile forces seeking regime change in the country.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea referred to United States’ concentration camps, crimes against humanity by Japan, and xenophobia and the refugee crisis in Europe.  United States, “South Korea”, Japan and other countries should address their own human rights violations as a matter of priority. 

Turkey, speaking in a right of reply, stressed that human rights, democracy and the rule of law were fundamental principles of its society.  All ongoing investigations were being carried out with respect to the independence of the judiciary, in line with European standards.  Turkey’s anti-terrorism efforts were being conducted with respect to the country’ legal obligations.

Pakistan, speaking in a right of reply, said that the terrorist attack on a school had led to the lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty in Pakistan.  That was in line with the international standards, which allowed for the death penalty for the most serious crimes.  The rights of the innocent victims and the rights of communities to live normal lives were of paramount importance.

Venezuela, speaking in a right of reply, stated that it was not acceptable that the most interventionist empire in the history of the world, the United States, was criticizing the legitimate democratic government of President Maduro.  Venezuela denounced the attempted coups, which had always enjoyed the support of the Government of the United States.  The United States could not be considered the universal judge of human rights.

Bahrain, speaking in a right of reply in response to Denmark, asserted that Bahrain stood in solidarity with human rights defenders provided that they respected the law.  Membership of foreign terrorist groups could not be tolerated, and persons who committed  crimes could not be considered merely opponents of the regime.  Denmark was called on to find a solution to hate speech and Islamophobia.

Burundi, speaking in a right of reply in response to the joint statement delivered by Canada as well as statements by the United States, Slovenia, Belgium, Ireland, Czech Republic and Montenegro, and a number of non-governmental organizations, said that to say that things were only getting worse in Burundi was expressing ignorance about the current crisis in country, as the situation had improved.

Thailand, speaking in a right of reply in response to non-governmental organizations, said that Thailand was progressing along a roadmap, with a new draft constitution being disseminated nationwide to seek comments from the public.  In the draft, human rights and the role of institutions would be strengthened.  If the constitution was adopted, general elections would be held by mid-2017.

China, speaking in a right of reply, regretted that some countries had made groundless allegations regarding human rights in China.  China was a country that enjoyed the rule of law, and those acting against the law were prosecuted.  Referring to the case of the British citizen in Hong Kong, China said that this person’s nationality did not mean that he should have impunity.  China raised attention on human rights violations by the United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Germany and Canada, and called on these countries to stop politicizing human rights issues. 

Japan, speaking in a right of reply, said that the claims by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea regarding crimes of the past were based on false figures.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should take action to improve its human rights record, and should address the heinous crime of abduction.    

Saudi Arabia, speaking in a right of reply in response to statements by Ireland, Iceland and Germany, said that Saudi Arabia applied Islamic Sharia, which guaranteed the rights of all without discrimination, hence the economic growth in the country.  Any punishment against citizens was the result of a law violation, and was decided after a fair trial.  The capital punishment was applied for heinous crimes, in accordance with the Constitution.  Saudi Arabia rejected politicization and allegations against the fairness of its legal system. 

Cuba, speaking in a right of reply, said that the United States had alleged baseless violations by Cuba.  Cuba, unlike the United States, was not a place of the death penalty or racial discrimination.  The occupied Guantanamo naval base ought to be returned to Cuba.  The United States Government should also end the genocidal embargo against Cuba.  Freedom House was a machine of subversion, whose funds came from the Central Intelligence Agency.  Cuba would not renounce its ideals and national sovereignty.

Indonesia, speaking in a right of reply, rejected the statement made by the Solomon Islands, which reflected a misrepresentation of the facts.  Indonesia’s laws provided for solid respect of human rights of all persons.  The evolving national mechanisms were capable of addressing human rights challenges as they arose.  Indonesia was in a constant dialogue with all stakeholders, including the provincial authorities of Papua and West Papua, which enjoyed wide-ranging autonomy.

Nigeria, speaking in a right of reply, said that there was no truth in the earlier statement by the Iranian Elite Research Centre.  What had happened in Zaria was a sign of impunity in the process of law.  Nigeria said that the Shia sect had barricaded streets, thinking that the authorities would tolerate that, and then shot at the army convoy, which in turn defended itself.  The Zaria crisis was an example of violent extremism, which had to be stopped.  A committee of inquiry on the matter had been set up, and no one was above the law. 

Egypt, speaking in a right of reply, categorically rejected the statements by the European Union, United States, Switzerland, Germany and France and rejected attempts by some countries to use the Council as a tool for their re-election campaigns.  Egypt fully realized that the independence of the judiciary was fundamental.  Germany and those who referred to mass trials were invited to look into the figures and not press cuttings.

Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply in response to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said that it was regrettable that they denied the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights office in Seoul.  The Republic of Korea urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to cooperate with United Nations human rights mechanisms and comply with all obligations as a responsible member of the international community.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in a second right of reply, rejected allegations of “South Korea” and Japan who were the real violators of human rights.  Japan was desperately pursuing a political agenda on the abduction case and seeking impunity for its crimes against humanity. 

Republic of Korea, speaking in a second right of reply in response to the statement of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said that the international community had been adopting resolutions on the human rights situation in that country since 2003.  It was time for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to respond to those resolutions and honour its responsibility.

Japan, speaking in a second right of reply, reiterated its previous position on the historical issue with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  As for the abduction issue, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had promised to carry out a comprehensive investigation of abductees, including of Japanese citizens.  However, it had not honoured that promise.  Japan urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to respond to those concerns in a constructive manner.

 __________

For use of the information media; not an official record

Follow UNIS Geneva on: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube |Flickr