18 September 2018
The Human Rights Council today held a general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention.
In the general debate, speakers reiterated serious concern about the rising intolerance against migrants and minorities, fed by racism and populism that were practiced by mainstream political parties. The abuse of the social media, which fuelled tensions and violence in several countries, underlined the need to explore the ways to stem misperceptions and misunderstandings while not compromising the freedom of expression. Several delegations raised concern about the increasing repression, through arrests and detention, against human rights defenders and journalists; crimes against ethnic and religious minorities; and atrocities against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals. Some speakers insisted on the respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries, and the need for assessing the situation of human rights based on the individual context of each country. They rejected the imposition of punitive actions that sought to change regimes and called for the end of interference in the internal affairs of countries. They regretted that dialogue and cooperation were side-lined in the Council, whereas confrontation took over. Allegations of violations of various human rights in most regions of the world were raised.
Speaking in the general debate were Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Austria on behalf of European Union, Venezuela on behalf of a group of countries, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, Republic of Korea, Japan, Pakistan, Spain, Cuba, Hungary, Ukraine, Australia, Venezuela, Georgia, Belgium, United Kingdom, Iceland, Peru, China, Canada, France, Israel, Maldives, Finland, Denmark, Russia, Netherlands, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Czechia, Iran, Eritrea, Ireland, Norway, Nicaragua, and Belarus.
Also taking the floor in the discussion were Procuraduría para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos de Nicaragua, World Jewish Congress, United Nations Watch, Minority Rights Group International, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Conectas Direitos Humanos, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Réseau International des Droits Humains (RIDH), Human Rights Law Centre, Baha'i International Community, International Lesbian and Gay Association, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, World Evangelical Alliance, Association for Progressive Communications, (in a joint statement with Access Now), Pan African Union for Science and Technology, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peuples, Amnesty International, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM), United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation, Agir Ensemble pour les droits de l'homme, iuventum e.V., Comité international pour le respect et l'application de la charte africaine des droits de l'homme et des peuples, Guinea Medical Mutual Association , Africa Culture International, Center for Inquiry, Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”, International Career Support Association, Asociacion HazteOir.org, Franciscans International, Europe-Third World Centre, (in a joint statement with Friends of the Earth International, Institute for Policy Studies and International Association of Democratic Lawyers), Iraqi Development Organization, International Commission of Jurists, International Service for Human Rights , Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia, Alsalam Foundation, Human Rights Watch, American Association of Jurists, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Inc, Union of Arab Jurists, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme, European Union of Public Relations, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Association of World Citizens, Liberation, Association pour l'Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi, Global Welfare Association, Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee, Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs , Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA, "Coup de Pousse" Chaîne de l’Espoir Nord-Sud ( C.D.P-C.E.N.S), African Development Association, Human Rights Now, The Palestinian Return Centre Ltd, Life Foundation - Green Ecological Group , New Human Rigths Cameroon, Peace Brigades International Switzerland, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, Right Livelihood Award Foundation, International Movement against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), International Association for Democracy in Africa, Article 19 - The International Centre against Censorship, Women's Human Rights International Association, Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture, African Regional Agricultural Credit Association, World Environment and Resources Council, Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims, Society of Iranian Women Advocating Sustainable Development of Environment, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, Asian Legal Resource Centre, Prahar, World Muslim Congress, United Schools International, African Green Foundation International, International-Lawyers.Org, Canners International Permanent Committee, Indian Council of South America (CISA), Iranian Life Quality Improvement Association, Asociacion Cubana de las Naciones Unidas, Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle (COJEP), World Barua Organization, International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD) , International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation, International Muslim Women's Union, Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Cooperation Economique Internationale - OCAPROCE Internationale, France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, Society for Development and Community Empowerment, Tourner la page, Association Thendral, Le Pont, Tamil Uzhagam, ABC Tamil Oli, Association culturelle des Tamouls en France, Association for the Victims of the world, International Solidarity for Africa, Action of Human Movement (AHM), International Humanist and Ethical Union, Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, United Villages , International Educational Development, Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, European Centre for Law and Justice, Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, Organisation internationale pour les pays les moins avancés (OIPMA), International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, Ius Primi Viri International Association, Health and Environment Program (HEP), L'Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie, CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Association des étudiants tamouls de France, Press Emblem Campaign, Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR), Zero Poor in Africa, Jeunesse Etudiante Tamoule, Jssor Youth Organization, Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, (in a joint statement with Al-Haq), Law in the Service of Man, Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILF) and Physicians for Human Rights.
Philippines, Cambodia, Iran, Japan, Russian Federation, Egypt, India, Bahrain, China, Saudi Arabia, Republic of Korea, Turkey, Ecuador, Brazil, Nepal, Cameroon, Iraq, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Georgia, and Lao People’s Democratic Republic spoke in a right of reply.
The Council will resume its work on Wednesday, 20 September, at 9 a.m. when it will hold the annual panel discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples. It will then hold an interactive discussion with its Advisory Committee, which will present the reports on regional and sub-regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights, and on their twentieth and twenty-first sessions held in February and August 2018. Later during the day, the Council is scheduled to hold an interactive dialogue on the Secretary-General’s report on reprisals, and a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
General Debate on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, reiterated serious concern about the rising intolerance against migrants and minorities, fed by racism and populism that was practiced by mainstream political parties. Those included ridiculing religions and religious symbols in the name of free speech, attacks on women wearing the hijab, and murder of Muslims by religious extremists, such as cow vigilantes. Revocation of citizenship was one of the most dangerous manifestations of that hate, and it lay at the root of the tragedy confronted by the Rohingya and other minorities in Myanmar.
Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, stated that human rights and fundamental freedoms were interdependent and had to be tackled in a global context. The international community had to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries in that endeavour, as well as the individual context of each country. The Non-Aligned Movement emphasized that the Universal Periodic Review was the appropriate mechanism to consider the human rights situation in each country, through dialogue and constructive cooperation. They urged the end of politicization and double standards in the Council.
Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, voiced concern about the expansion of political re-education camps in Xinjiang in China, about the arbitrary exclusion of the main opposition party from the electoral process in Cambodia, and about the death toll associated with the campaign against illegal drugs in the Philippines. It continued to be concerned about Israel’s illegal settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territory, and called on Egypt and Russia to respect freedom of assembly, association and expression. It was further worried about the situation of human rights in South Sudan, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Pakistan.
Venezuela, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, reiterated their condemnation of grave human rights violations by any State. They expressed profound concern about the selective practice of country mandates in the Human Rights Council, which undermined the principles of objectivity and impartiality. It was a practice, they said, of naming and shaming certain countries. The Universal Periodic Review was the fundamental mechanism to tackle the situation in Member States.
Germany remained deeply concerned about the deteriorating human rights situations in Burundi, Syria, Myanmar, China, the Philippines, Russian Federation, Egypt, Turkey, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Germany noted the increasing repression through arrests, detentions of human rights defenders and journalists, crimes against ethnic and religious minorities, as well as atrocities against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities.
Switzerland was concerned about the thousands of arbitrary detentions and forced disappearances in Syria. Switzerland was also preoccupied by the increasing fighting in Idlib province. Arbitrary arrests in Nicaragua showed an excessive use of force. Human rights should always be protected and respected. Switzerland also mentioned the wave of arrests of journalists in Belarus and the suppression of the freedom of expression in Viet Nam.
Slovenia expressed concern about the increased hostilities in the Syrian province of Idlib and its devastating impact on the civilian population. In Ukraine, there must be free and unhindered access to the entire territory, especially to the illegally annexed Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, and the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements. Slovenia also mentioned its concerns about the grave human rights violations and abuses in South Sudan, and the renewal of violence in Darfur in Sudan, which was causing new displacements.
Republic of Korea said that the attack on a food truck in Yemen last month would aggravate the hunger in the country, and urged all armed groups to stop targeting humanitarian aid and operations. The abuse of the social media, the Republic of Korea stressed, increased ethnic tensions in Sri Lanka and in Myanmar, and so underlined the need to explore ways to stem the tensions and violence arising from misperceptions and misunderstandings without compromising freedom of expression.
Japan said that as an Asian-Pacific country, it was concerned about the continued prevalence in the region of the repression of people’s fundamental freedoms and democracy, including those of human rights defenders and ethnic minorities. It was significant, Japan continued, that the issue of abduction had been taken up during the summit meeting between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and considered that the joint statement arising from the summit was the first step toward a comprehensive solution.
Pakistan expressed concern about the rising chauvinistic nationalism, xenophobia, racial discrimination and anti-Muslim sentiments promoted by extremist political parties. The populist racist narrative was fast shaping the political order of India. Those who had masterminded anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat, Maharashrta and elsewhere in India had sponsored a similar frenzy against Pakistan. That was a potential threat to peace and security in the region and beyond. The repression in Jammu and Kashmir was the most reprehensible manifestation of unleashing of violence against innocent civilians.
Spain reiterated concerns about the humanitarian and human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and called for access to that territory by all human rights mechanisms. It welcomed the Revitalized Peace Agreement in South Sudan, adding that national reconciliation was essential to address the troubling humanitarian situation in the country. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Spain called for a judicial reform that would allow perpetrators to be brought to account. Spain called on Venezuela to establish constructive cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and it urged Nicaragua to reconsider its decision to expel the High Commissioner’s Office.
Cuba regretted that the developed countries of the West continued to exploit the debates in the Council to criticize countries of the South, without considering their own human rights problems, such as the rights of migrants. There were many racist manifestations in Western countries, such as the resurgence of neo-Nazism. Sadly, dialogue and cooperation were side lined in the Council, whereas confrontation took over. Cuba rejected the imposition of punitive actions that sought to change regimes, and it called for the end of interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela.
Hungary drew the Council’s attention to Hungary’s unique initiative that placed the protection of persecuted minorities as one of its policy goals. Their efforts included protecting the human rights and religious freedom of Christian communities in the Middle East and Africa by providing humanitarian aid in crisis regions and raising awareness in the public and diplomatic domains through the coordination of a deputy state secretariat.
Ukraine spoke about Russia’s practice of persecuting Ukrainian and Crimean Tatars as a tool to deter and eliminate any opposition to its illegal occupation. The Kremlin had illegally detained over 70 Ukrainian citizens under politically motivated criminal charges. Russia was also trying to suppress the Crimean Tatars community in the occupied Crimea. The Russian Federation should stop the political persecution of Ukrainian citizens in both occupied Crimea and Russia.
Australia condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea needed to halt human rights violations. Continued repression in Venezuela would exacerbate an already precarious situation. Widespread attacks and sexual violence in South Sudan as well as the need for humanitarian aid in Yemen were also concerns. And in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, perpetrators of violence needed to be held accountable.
Venezuela condemned selective practices of some Member States of the Council against the peoples of the South and rejected the disinformation campaign which sought to demonize the legitimate Government of Venezuela and justify an illegal military intervention. Venezuela was showing its vibrant democracy to the world, reaffirmed through several elections in which millions of Venezuelans had had an opportunity to practice their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote, in full confidentiality and transparency.
Georgia condemned indiscriminate attacks against civilians in Syria and stressed the need to prevent any further deterioration in Venezuela, emphasizing the need for the rule of law and respect of democratic principles in this country. Nicaragua should immediately restore its cooperation with the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, while the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe should be guaranteed full access to occupied areas in Ukraine, where the Minsk Agreements should be fully implemented.
Belgium was concerned about the worsening conditions in Syria and in particular the situation in Idlib, where all parties must respect international humanitarian law. Belgium reiterated the need for accountability in Myanmar and would continue to support the work of the Commission on Inquiry, as well as the establishment of an independent accountability mechanism for Myanmar. In Yemen, Belgium continued to support initiatives aiming to establish accountability of all those who committed violations of international humanitarian law.
United Kingdom called on Russia to investigate the persecution of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. The United Kingdom had grave concerns about the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Human rights violations and abuses in Nicaragua as well as continuing restrictions on the freedom of expression in Egypt were also of concern. The human rights situations in China and South Sudan were mentioned as well.
Iceland was very concerned about the situation in Nicaragua, where 400 had been killed in a police campaign. With reports that more than two million people had fled the country, the situation in Venezuela was also of great concern. Reports on crackdowns on human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia were troubling as was the continued use of the death penalty by Saudi authorities as well as in Iran, where the death penalty was used for juvenile offenders.
Peru said that universal accession to human rights instruments was evidence of the will of States to grant human rights to all their citizens. Peru reiterated its commitment to the protection of human rights and emphasized that no country had a clean record in that respect. There needed to be solidarity with human rights victims and cooperation with the human rights mechanisms was necessary.
China said that China’s approach to human rights was a people-centred approach. It was a country of the rule of law, where all were equal before the law. Any political position that undermined political stability was punishable by that law. The European Union, Germany and the United Kingdom had made unwarranted accusations against China. Those attacks were typical of the double standards and politicisation inherent in the Council.
Canada underscored the respect for diversity which enriched any society with new ideas. Mass detentions in China, especially of Uyghurs, which were often prolonged without due process of the law, were of concern as they were contrary to international law. Canada was concerned about increased attacks and repression against human rights defenders in Nicaragua, which should ensure full respect for freedom of expression, association, and assembly.
France remained particularly concerned about gross human rights violations in several countries, including Syria, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Yemen, where the entrenched conflict and dreadful humanitarian situation must speed up the search for political solutions. In Myanmar, the perpetrators of crimes against the Rohingya must be brought to book and evidence of crimes must be preserved until the International Criminal Court was ready to take over.
Israel raised concern about the regional aggression by Iran that was exercised in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, and its dismal internal human rights record, with continued executions of minors and journalists, arbitrary detention of human rights activists, and concerning situations of minorities, including the Baha’i. The existence of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah threatened the sovereignty of Lebanon.
Maldives said that humanity’s most helpless and powerless should not be held hostage by war and violence and emphasized the obligation of the Council to act in such situations. Acknowledging the good work of the Council and its human rights mechanisms in addressing the plight of many, Maldives urged stronger action by the international community.
Finland emphasized the need of an accountability mechanism to bring justice to victims in Myanmar and Syria. Finland called on Venezuela to liberate all political prisoners. Finland was concerned about the targeting of journalists and human rights defenders in Egypt and women rights activists in Saudi Arabia. It sought to continue dialogue with China on human rights violations and said the human suffering in eastern Ukraine could be ended only through the implementation of the Minsk Agreements.
Denmark deplored the Syrian regime’s sustained bombardment of civilians. Denmark reiterated its call for the release of arbitrarily detained persons in Bahrain. They were also concerned about human rights violations in Iran. Continued settlement advancements in the West Bank were illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace in the occupied Palestinian territory. Denmark also mentioned the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, South Sudan, eastern Ukraine and Crimea, and Myanmar.
Russian Federation was concerned about the geographical imbalance in the Council. Countries with matured democracies also had acute problems. The Russian Federation hoped that shortcomings would be remedied and equality would be achieved. Country mandates were ineffective. Why was the complex migratory situation such an issue for Myanmar but not for the European Union? They called on the Council to end double standards.
Netherlands remained concerned about widespread impunity in Burundi. The Netherlands called for the end of human rights violations in Nicaragua. Violations by all parties in Yemen needed to be addressed. Myanmar was urged to implement all recommendations of the Annan Advisory Commission. Accountability was necessary concerning the gross human rights violations committed by the Syrian regime against its own people.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea deplored the situation of human rights in the European Union, including maltreatment and forced return of refugees, as well as immoral and inhumane crimes committed by Japan during the military occupation of Korea. Appropriate steps must be taken to ensure the return of 12 citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea kidnapped by the Republic of Korea.
Czech Republic called on Russia to release all political prisoners held in the aftermath of the illegal annexation of Crimea, and also called on Cambodia to ensure the full and free participation of the political opposition in the national dialogue. Venezuela should change its policies that had led to a massive exodus of the people and ensure the return to democratic order, while the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should end human rights violations
Iran said that the United States continued to be the leading human rights violator worldwide by providing weapons, including internationally prohibited ones, to different parties, and by imposing unilateral coercive measures, which had an immediate negative impact on many peoples. Canada and the United Kingdom continued to contribute to human rights violations by supplying arms to parties engaged in blood wars in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.
Ireland was concerned about civilian casualties and violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen, and stressed the need to ensure accountability for the human rights violations committed in Myanmar. The expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories and the forcible transfer of inhabitants were contrary to international law and diminished the possibility of a two-State solution.
Norway said that the situation for civil society and human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Bahrain was of continued concern, and countries were urged to provide an enabling environment. Norway opposed capital punishment in all circumstances. Turkey was urged to provide an enabling environment for civil society and the media. The continued exodus from Venezuela illustrated the seriousness of the crisis and the situation in Nicaragua was a matter of concern
Nicaragua said that the non-violent protests in Nicaragua had been taken over by a minority with a clear desire to instrumentalize the protests and impose its political agenda. Social peace was based on dialogue and understanding. Certain countries within the Council failed to understand the situation.
Belarus said there were no perfect countries when it came to the protection of human rights. However, some countries were very selective when criticizing other countries and Belarus had to react. Australian legislation on refugees and asylum seekers was non-compliant with international standards. Moreover, there were violations of the right to privacy and freedom of expression, as well as racial discrimination against Aboriginals.
Procuraduría para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos de Nicaragua drew the Council’s attention to recent protests in Nicaragua where extremist groups had taken over protests to provoke a change of Government, violating human rights and blocking roads. People had been burned alive, and women had been tortured and kidnapped. During the crisis, the media and civil society had incited hate and spread disinformation. The organization had visited the main detention centres and no cases of torture had been found.
World Jewish Congress said that humanity had not learned from its past mistakes. The reports presented to the Council were a grim reminder of that unfortunate reality. There were numerous reports of chemical attacks targeting men, women and children only 70 years after their Jewish ancestors were gassed in Auschwitz. There was a collective responsibility to ensure that victims of mass atrocities were never forgotten.
United Nations Watch recounted the death of Ari Fuld, a man who was stabbed by a Palestinian terrorist. They asked the United Nations why no official had condemned his murder. Why were they silent while the killing was praised by terrorist groups? Why did they refuse to condemn the system called pay to slay, where rewards financially incentivised the murder of Jews?
Minority Rights Group International was alarmed by the current situation of English-speaking minorities living in the northwest and southwest regions of Cameroon. The situation had worsened, with extrajudicial killings by security forces, the burning down of houses, and arbitrary detention and torture. The organization called on Cameroon to investigate reports of human rights violations committed by those forces.
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights urged the Council’s members to voice concerns about the Chinese Government’s failure to uphold the rights and freedoms of Tibetans. Relentless assaults of the Government on the rights, culture, identity and lifestyle of Tibetan people had intensified. Communist Party official, Wang Yang, had stressed the importance of tight control over Tibet’s Buddhist institutions, in total contravention of the right to freedom of religion.
Connectas Direitos Humanos drew attention to human rights violations in the context of the federal interventions in Rio de Janeiro’s public security, noting that in seven months, violent crimes had not been reduced and confrontations between criminal organizations and the police had increased. Over 916 people had been killed by security forces, a 46 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.
East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project welcomed the proposed reforms by Ethiopia in favour of the greater respect for fundamental freedoms and rights, including accountability for past and ongoing human rights violations and abuses, security sector reform, and inclusive political dialogue and reconciliation. Initial steps such as the release of political prisoners, the closing of detention centres and the lifting of the state of emergency had sent a powerful signal that human rights mattered.
Réseau International des Droits Humains (RIDH) drew attention to human rights violations against people peacefully protesting in Nicaragua, including torture and sexual violence against detainees. Five hundred individuals had been detained and many more were leaving the country. The Human Rights Council must act on the SOS from Nicaragua.
Human Rights Law Centre drew attention to the 102 asylum seeking children detained in Nauru, who had been detained for over five years. The children had stopped eating and playing, and a 10-year-old boy had tried to commit suicide. And yet, the Australian Government continued to fight their release in courts, while it could easily grant their release and asylum to their families. Australia must be held accountable by this Council for its cruelty.
Baha’i International Community said that Baha’is in Iran were denied higher education, as part of the systematic policy of Iran to eradicate the community as a viable entity. For nearly 40 years, Baha’is were forbidden to work in the public sector and were severely restricted in their access to the private sector. Additionally, there were raids on their homes by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence and Baha’is were arbitrarily detained.
International Lesbian and Gay Association said that Malaysia had conducted a public caning of two women who were found guilty for attempting sexual intercourse. In Austria, authorities rejected the asylum application of an Iraqi person because he was “too feminine”; a week after an Afghan man was denied refugee status because he was not “gay enough”. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex defenders in Nicaragua were arbitrarily detained.
International Association of Democratic Lawyers said that the earthquake in the Indonesian island of Lombok had caused the loss of lives and widespread destruction. The absence of disaster reduction strategies aggravated natural catastrophes. Peasants and people living in rural areas were disproportionately affected. It was urgent to address the needs of the most vulnerable. The Government of Indonesia was urged to comply with its international responsibilities.
World Evangelical Alliance said that in Nepal, a new Criminal Code restricted freedom of religion and attempts to convert one’s religion. In India, anti-conversion laws restricted freedom of religion, although it was guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. The Sri Lankan Supreme Court had stated that the right to propagate one’s religion was not protected by the Constitution. Governments were urged to repeal their restrictive legislation and guarantee freedom of religion.
Association for Progressive Communications, in a joint statement with Access Now, said that the Cyber Crime Law in Egypt gave the Government full control to close public spaces. They had the right to keep user data for 180 days. This mass surveillance, the Association said, was in direct contradiction to Egyptian and international laws. It controlled online speech and was a law that needed to be immediately repealed.
Pan African Union for Science and Technology said Pakistan was a violent society for Christians. They were abducted to marry Muslims and even though they made up less than two per cent of the population, they were made to do the dirty jobs of the country. School children were taught to hate Christians and the community faced relentless and horrible terrorist attacks.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide emphasized that all States had the obligation to protect the freedom of religion. The situation in Viet Nam was of great concern with arrests, torture and detentions abounding for those who practiced their religious beliefs, including Christians and Muslims. Also mentioned was article 73 of China’s Criminal Procedure Law which allowed authorities to detain individuals for up to six months where they were subject to torture and ill-treatment.
Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples drew attention to the occupation of the Western Sahara by Morocco. The military occupation of that territory entailed serious human rights violations. After 40 years of occupation, the Human Rights Council had yet to adopt any resolution condemning the occupation. The organization reminded everyone of the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination.
Amnesty International reminded of the case of Amal Fathy who was on trial in Egypt because she had complained in a video on Facebook that a policeman had sexually harassed her. The organization was concerned about reports of intrusive surveillance, arbitrary detention and forced indoctrination targeting the Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities in China, and also noted the deteriorating human rights situation in Nicaragua and Venezuela.
International Federation for Human Rights Leagues called attention to the deteriorating human rights situation in Bangladesh, namely concerning the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of civil society activists. The organization called on the United Nations to supervise the upcoming parliamentary elections in Bangladesh. It also drew attention to the impunity for human rights violations in Yemen and Syria.
International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM)
noted that the people of Jammu and Kashmir had yet to achieve the full enjoyment of their human rights. Jammu and Kashmir was a recognized dispute by the United Nations. The people of Jammu and Kashmir had the right to self-determination.
United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation said that militias were manipulating the laws in Libya and using them to cover up their crimes. The people of Libya were paying the price. Transitional justice in Libya was under threat. The United Nations was asked to intervene and exert pressure on militias that had been undermining Libyan society.
Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme was very concerned about the brutal repression in Viet Nam against civil society. Severe police repression was committed against human rights defenders, even foreign defenders. At the World Economic Forum of the Association of South-East Asian Nations in Hanoi, a representative had been prevented from entering Viet Nam. The Buddhist youth camp was also repressed.
Iuventum e.V said that the introduction of new technical expertise and grass root ideas could help solve problems and promote the involvement of youth. As concrete examples, chemical and biological analysis of the drinking water could describe the human rights condition, while the same age children’s human rights awareness survey could show the current issues and the future risks of human rights education without prejudices.
Comité international pour le respect et l'application de la charte africaine des droits de l'homme et des peuples said that Pakistan’s dam construction in disputed areas had deprived the people in Muzaffarabad from their water lifeline. Independent judges and lawyers were also under threat. A judge of the Islamabad High Court had expressed his concern over the interference of secret agencies in judicial affairs and that Inter-Services Intelligence interfered and decided to form benches of the courts.
Guinea Medical Mutual Association gave a brief history of the Tamil presence in Sri Lanka. Throughout their history, the Tamils had been given preference by the English, Dutch and Portugese during their occupation of the country. The Tamil leaders hoped to be the leaders of the country under the auspices of the English; their separatist movement sprang up due to the fact that they could not become the leaders of the entire country. A study in history showed there was no ethnic problem in Sri Lanka.
Africa Culture Internationale drew the attention of the Council to the situation in Yemen. Tens of thousands of enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions of journalists were of great concern. Houthi groups manipulated legislation and worked to free terrorists by manipulating judges, while children were tortured and harassed. The organization called on the Council to put pressure on all parties to end the conflict.
Centre for Inquiry urged the Council to remember that those who rejected religion had a right to live and speak freely. There was an effort promoted by Pakistan to adopt new international strictures on blasphemy, which would be devastating to the freedom of conscience. Blasphemy laws were used as tools of repression against non-believers and gave vigilantes an excuse to commit violent acts.
Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru” called attention to the Syrian tragedy and condemned the intervention in Venezuela. Terrorist groups wreaked havoc and committed crimes in complete impunity in Syria, which was not mentioned by relevant reports. The Western powers abused the Human Rights Council and the responsibility to protect doctrine in order to promote and encourage subversion in both Syria and Venezuela.
International Career Support Association noted that even though Japan had ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and even though it had modified its Civil Code in 2012 to prohibit parental abduction of children, abductions of children continued. The organization urged the Human Rights Council to request Japan to respect the human rights of children in line with the conventions and its national law.
Association HazteOir.org stressed that there was a lack of knowledge about the reasons for which Venezuelans were leaving their country. It called on international organizations, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other United Nations agencies to remedy the extreme situation that Venezuela and its citizens were going through, namely the lack of medicines and food. It was not the time to point fingers, but the time to support the population of Venezuela.
Franciscans International, in a joint statement, expressed concern about the systematic abuse of human rights in the Philippines due to the war on drugs. Many victims had been killed by the death squads waging the war on drugs. Critical voices were silenced, despite the overwhelming criticism from abroad. The organization urged the Human Rights Council to establish an international monitoring mechanism to address those human rights abuses.
Europe-Third World Centre, in a joint statement with Friends of the Earth International, Institute for Policy Studies and International Association of Democratic Lawyers, said Chevron company had been accused
of dumping in Ecuador 1,500 million gallons of toxic liquids in the nature, poisoning it and in particular the water tables used by the indigenous populations. The company had retroactively brought arbitration tribunals to claim compensation from the Government of Ecuador on the basis of a treaty concluded between the United States and Ecuador. This situation showed the need repeal these arbitral mechanisms and move towards a legally binding international instrument regulating the human rights activities of businesses.
Iraqi Development Organization stressed the rising political repression surrounding Bahrain’s upcoming elections in November 2018. There was a systematic campaign to erase organized political opposition. The leadership of the largest opposition group, Al-Wefaq, had been jailed. Political opposition figures, human rights activists and journalists had also been jailed. The Government had also dissolved the Wa’ad, a secular leftist party.
International Commission of Jurists noted serious threats to the rule of law in Hungary, Poland and Turkey. In Poland, legislation was adopted to arbitrarily force into involuntary retirement one third of its Supreme Court Justices. In Hungary, legal reforms had weakened judicial independence. In Turkey, the consolidation of emergency measures, regressive constitutional reforms and mass dismissals of judges had destroyed the judiciary.
International Service for Human Rights said that the Chinese Government was in an all-out assault on the human rights of minorities, in particular Muslim minority Uyghurs and Kazakhs. Last week, the Chinese delegation had reprimanded the new High Commissioner for referencing concerns in this regard. The Service highlighted that the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination had spoken of one million Turkic Muslims being held in internment camps without legal basis in China.
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia was concerned about the lack of justice and accountability for thousands of deaths in the Philippine’s “war on drugs.” The Forum called on the Maldivian authorities to ensure free and fair presidential elections. The Forum welcomed pledges by Malaysia’s new Government to address longstanding human rights concerns. Arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders in India were also concerning.
Alsalam Foundation said that Bahrain’s Jau Prison was a source of violence against prisoners, while wider conditions violated international minimum detention standards. The living conditions were inhumane. The facilities were not hygienic and were conducive to disease. During the extreme heat of the summer, authorities arbitrarily cut water to the prison, with prisoners only accessing water for one hour a day.
Human Rights Watch noted the reports concerning the Uyghur and re-education camps in Xinjiang. China’s repression and arbitrary detention of the region’s Muslim minority was alarming as was the unlawful use of political education camps. The camps were designed to teach this minority Chinese law and eradicate radical ideals. What the Chinese authorities wanted was for this people to assimilate completely so as to no longer exist.
American Association of Jurists recalled that the former President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, had been subjected to politically motivated trials, and had been sentenced on corruption charges in an unidentified case. As a candidate in the 2018 presidential elections, Lula had the right to exercise his freedom of speech. The organization urged the Government of Brazil to comply with the decision of the United Nations Human Rights Committee. Otherwise, democracy in Brazil would seriously suffer.
Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain drew attention to Saudi Arabia’s policy of hostage taking, including of children, to influence the political opposition in the country. Women were persecuted in an unprecedented fashion, while dissenters were accused of terrorism. The authorities also used the threat of execution. The United States and the United Kingdom only bolstered the Saudi dictatorship, which was a disgrace for the Human Rights Council.
Union of Arab Jurists stated that the Fact-Finding Mission’s report on Syria lacked credibility and ran counter to the facts on the ground. In addition to double standards, the report sought to point out a finger at the Syrian armed forces which defended the sovereignty of their country. It was silent about Turkey’s invasion and Israel’s actions, and the illegal coalition led by the United States which had destroyed the city of Raqqa.
Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik underlined that in Iran civil society members and their families had been victims of false accusations, unfair trials, and convictions. During their imprisonment, they were denied medical treatment, safe drinking water, sanitation, and the right to visits.
Conseil International de Soutien à des Procès Equitables et aux Droits de l'Homme drew the Council’s attention to the situation in Saudi Arabia. Since 2017, there had been an ongoing campaign that had turned the country into a police state par excellence. No activists could ever flag up the situation in front of the Council as they had all been tortured and jailed. Others faced capital punishment for expressing their opinion. There were hundreds of political prisoners.
European Union of Public Relations said that blasphemy laws in Pakistan represented a threat to all communities. The blasphemy law served as a basis to undermine human rights in all provinces. It constituted a threat for people who would otherwise philosophise the religion.
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative pointed out the deterioration of the human rights situation in Commonwealth countries. In Bangladesh, political opponents were subjected to enforced disappearances and attacks on journalists had increased. In Cameroon, the Government was ordering mass arrests of protestors and civil society was under threat. Australia’s off-shore processing of asylum seekers was of concern.
Association of World Citizens stressed that there was not just one genocidal act, rather there were many genocidal acts. There was dishonesty in which all found themselves because of impunity. The issue of impunity had to be faced. How could it be that they could not fight this problem and move forward? This was urgent, as it was an illness. Like with HIV/AIDS, the world needed to work together on this.
Liberation said that Tripura was the oldest State in the world, ruled by 184 indigenous Borok Kings, living in peace, harmony and prosperity. It had joined the allied forces during the Second World War and signed an Instrument of Accession with British India, but after being abandoned after the war, it had been obliged to integrate in the Indian Union in 1949. India had failed to protect the indigenous citizens of Tripura. They were exploited and their women and girls were raped and murdered by Bangladeshi Hindu immigrants. Liberation called for justice.
Association pour l’Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi spoke of the multiplied attacks in recent years against minority populations in India, threatening their human rights. Government corruption was rampant and the caste system was harmful to the country’s tribes. India must stop supporting religious fundamentalism.
Global Welfare Association said that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam terrorist group had used child soldiers and the Tamil people as a shield, killing thousands. Today, the Council was supporting the separatist group and adopting resolutions against Sri Lanka. Was this fair?
Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee said fundamentalists in India were feeling so empowered that they had burned a copy of India’s constitution in the presence of police officials. The organization noted the harassment and racial discrimination exhibited by upper white caste men, and asked the Council to review administrative laws in India as per international standards, free activists, and prepare an awareness programme about human rights.
Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs drew attention to the deteriorating situation of human rights in Pakistan, namely in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. People living in those areas had been deprived of access to electronic media, as well as to books on the history of Jammu and Kashmir. The judiciary lacked independence and did not deal with arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, mob attacks, and harassment of journalists and lawyers.
Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA emphasized that violations of human and minority rights were perpetrated in India to secure political mileage in the elections, thus making a mockery of democracy and human values. The draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act in India facilitated enforced disappearances, as well as violence against and rape of children.
"Coup de Pousse" Chaîne de l’Espoir Nord-Sud ( C.D.P-C.E.N.S) drew attention to the human rights situation of refugees in the Tindouf camps. Many had been kidnapped from Western Sahara and subjected to enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killings, trafficking in persons, and slavery. Those violations were obstacles to peace and stability in the region, and they undermined the ability of the international community to address the situation of refugees. The organization requested that the United Nations be allowed to visit the camps.
African Development Association stressed that the situation of Tindouf camp refugees was unacceptable. Algeria was primarily responsible for their undignified situation. The refugees continued to be detained in an arid desert. The Human Rights Council should urge Algeria to allow the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to start implementing a mechanism of dialogue and to conduct a census in the camps.
Human Rights Now regretted the ongoing harassment of lawyers and human rights activists in China, affecting more than 300 human rights lawyers and activists. The Government had revoked at least 16 licenses of human rights lawyers. This situation violated their freedom of expression as well as United Nations provisions and the Chinese Constitution. China was urged to stop its crackdown on human rights lawyers.
Palestinian Return Centre Ltd. brought the Council’s attention to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Although they had been living there for 70 years, the Lebanese Government had not provided a legal definition for them and failed to offer adequate housing, making them live in an overcrowded camp. The size of the camp had not changed since 1950. Lebanon had to pass a law that defined refugees and guaranteed civil and socio-economic rights to Palestinian refugees.
Life Foundation - Green Ecological Group stressed that Hungary was not complying with its international and moral obligations, specifically on the matter of migration but also on the real practice of freedom of religion or belief. The Hungarian Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief asked for the National Parliament to be the one voting for recognition of religions, violating many international legal standards.
New Human Rigths Cameroon spoke about enforced disappearances in Pakistan. Although a universal problem, the speaker’s own brother had disappeared after going to Balochistan to visit family members. His whereabouts remained unknown. Despite assurances of Pakistani authorities in 2010 that he would be released soon, his destiny was still unknown. This problem existed on a large scale in Balochistan.
Peace Brigades International Switzerland called on the international community to fight impunity in Guatemala. There was an increasing military presence in the capital and other regions. The police and army soldiers had been more present in recent days. There was an attempt to limit free speech. The organization was concerned that legislation was regressing and democratic space closing, with attacks on civil rights and its defenders increasing.
Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy said that in Cameroon, the Government had brutally reacted to a protest of teachers and lawyers in two Anglophone regions, resulting in arbitrary arrests and detention under life-threatening conditions. In reaction, some civilians had taken up arms and this had led to killings on both sides. The situation was another Rwandan genocide and the international community should not watch it unfold.
Right Livelihood Award Foundation said that in Egypt, under a foreign funding case, organizations had been shut down and human rights defenders had been prosecuted. Mozn Hassan was the first defendant to be summoned in that case. Her personal assets had been frozen, she had been banned from travelling outside of the country, and she faced the possibility of life in prison. The organization urged the Egyptian Government to drop the charges against Ms. Mozn and close the case.
International Movement against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) called for the full implementation of the recommendations of the Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar by all stakeholders. The organization expressed concern about the arrests of human rights defenders working on the rights of Dalits in India. Through such acts, the Government of India was undermining the freedom of expression and it was spreading a chilling effect among civil society, human rights defenders, and minorities
International Association for Democracy in Africa drew attention to the discrimination and violence against the Ahmadis in Pakistan perpetrated by religious extremists. They were often killed and attacked on the slightest grounds. They were treated as third-rate citizens and were hated for their beliefs. They were forced to hide their identity in order to escape persecution.
Article 19 - The International Centre against Censorship continued to be alarmed about the gap between the commitments States made to protect freedom of expression in the Council, and the reality for human rights on the ground. The organization drew attention to Egypt’s prosecution of protesters; the imprisonment of journalists in Turkey, Russia and Thailand; and increased restrictions on freedom of expression in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.
Women’s Human Rights International Association called attention to the families of victims of executions and enforced disappearances in Iran. They had to suffer from terrible pressure from the security forces. The relatives of the victims of the 1989 massacre of political opponents continued to endure not knowing where the remains of their loved ones had been buried.
Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture said that the human rights situation in Kuwait was deteriorating, with a total of 41 prisoners of opinion and many other persons imprisoned because of Twitter. Globally, Kuwait ranked as number 101. Statelessness was also a problem in Kuwait.
African Regional Agricultural Credit Association said that Islamic radicalism was making it difficult for women to enjoy their rights. Countries governed by Islamic laws were different from modern States and were undermining women’s right to development. Women had to maintain strict surveillance around their own conduct. There were trials of misconduct under blasphemy laws.
World Environment and Resources Council spoke about rampant violations of human rights perpetrated by Pakistani State agencies against Sindhi people. Enforced disappearances continued unabated. Since June 2018, 25 Sindhi persons had been abducted. Additionally, the State was pursuing the construction of projects and dams on river Indus without consideration of the rights of indigenous Sindhi people.
Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims reminded that women continued to face discrimination in law and practice in the United Arab Emirates. The legal framework discriminated against women in matters of marriage, divorce, citizenship, child custody, inheritance, and freedom of movement. Women were also inadequately protected against sexual violence and violence within the family. Migrant domestic workers enjoyed no safeguards in cases of gender-based violence.
Society of Iranian Women Advocating Sustainable Development of the Environment called attention to the extra-territorial problems on the border between Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria and Turkey, related to the project to construct a dam on the Tigris River. The organization called on Turkey to respect the decision of the International Court of Justice regarding environmental consequences of that project.
Commission to Study the Organization of Peace pointed out to the failure to implement the protection of minority rights in Pakistan. The authorities had failed and done little to ensure equal rights for its minority communities. Faith-based attacks and discrimination perpetrated by Muslim extremists had been condoned. The organization urged Pakistan to ensure the protection of its minorities.
Asian Legal Resource Centre observed that the Human Rights Council had rarely focused on how the Government of Bangladesh had been unleashing gross violations of human rights against its own citizens. Its Chief Justice had been forced to leave his office and find asylum in the United States. Peaceful protests by students had been brutally suppressed using police and the ruling party’s armed activists.
Prahar stressed that Assam in India had been facing tremendous conflicts, violence and movements after the coalition with India in 1947. Millions of indigenous people had lost their lives and identity in their own birthplace. According to the latest census report, the greater Assamese community was about to vanish. The Indian Government had processed the updated National Register of Citizens on the base of year 1971 instead of 1951.
World Muslim Congress said that in Kashmir, Indian soldiers had been killing innocent civilians, using excessive force, as detailed in the report of the High Commissioner during this session. The report established the rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir and asked for the establishment of a commission of inquiry. A responsible democracy would react to that, but India had only intensified its military operations.
United Schools International spoke about the first ever report on Jammu and Kashmir by the Office of the High Commissioner. The report did not start with Pakistan’s violent invasion of Jammu and Kashmir in 1947, which had caused the subsequent illegal occupation. The blatant export of terrorism emanating from Pakistan that continued even today had shattered the peace and ruptured the social fabric of Kashmir.
African Green Foundation International said that the Council had to change its view on Sri Lanka and its transitional justice process, following resolution 30/1 of the Council. A Hybrid Court was needed in order to achieve reconciliation. The Council was urged to assess this matter further.
International-Lawyers.org drew attention to the fact that some grave human rights violations in Iraq, including the atrocities committed by ISIS, had been discussed only briefly. The silence of the Council had exacerbated the situation and contributed to the current total failure of the State to provide basic services to its citizens. Many States sitting in the Council were directly responsible for the slow deaths of thousands of Iraqis because the country’s wealth was illegally transferred to several countries sitting in the Council.
Canners International Permanent Committee pointed out to the blasphemy laws in Pakistan, and the fact that its laws were governed by the Sharia law, without taking into account any ethnic and religious differences in the country. The blasphemy laws were used to avenge some personal issues.
Indian Council of South America (CISA) called on the Human Rights Council to implement the conclusions and recommendations of many human rights bodies regarding the right to self-determination of indigenous peoples. The organization had lodged a complaint against the United States and the United Nations for their refusal to grant self-determination in Alaska, Hawaii, Bolivia and Canada where land titles had been denied.
Iranian Life Quality Improvement Association expressed concern about the continuation of crimes against children in Yemen, namely against their right to life, health and education. The distressing situation of children in Yemen had been verified by credible United Nations’ sources. The blockade of Yemen was taking the lives of many civilians, as were air strikes against school buses. The organization drew the attention of the Council to the recent report of the Group of Eminent Experts in that respect.
Cuban United Nations Association expressed their condemnation of attacks suffered by the sovereign country of Syria. The Association had sent medical supplies and medical personnel to Syria. They denounced the war that foreign powers had dragged upon the Syrians, and the use of weapons of mass destruction against the population. The Syrian people deserved to live in peace.
Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle (COJEP) said that the United Nations risked becoming an obsolete power. Five members of United Nations Security Council had the right to veto. With just those five, the world was blocked, preventing conflict resolution. Imagine if that right to veto was expanded. They urged the Council to be brave, be fair and to act on behalf of the world. They called for the elimination of the right to veto.
World Barua Organization said India was persecuting Muslims, Christians and Sikhs. It was a crime in India to be a Christian or a Buddhist. Lynching was routine. India failed to protect those minority religious populations, claiming instead that their killings were part of the purification of India. The Christians and Muslims had the right to live. Hindu vigilantes needed to be punished.
International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD), speaking on Iraq, said that in Basra, where demonstrators protested the lack and pollution of drinkable water, the Government had responded violently and with intimidation techniques. The wide use of the death penalty by the Government was also concerning; those who were sentenced were mostly opponents of the Government.
International Fellowship of Reconciliation stated that the legal status of the non-autonomous region of Western Sahara continued to be a problem. Morocco was altering the internationally recognized borders and was keeping the people of Western Sahara prisoners. It wanted to present Western Sahara as a part of the Moroccan territory.
Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation said that the rule of law could not be established without justice and reparation. It called attention to gross human rights violations, including displacement and murder of tens of thousands of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Little action had been taken by the Government of Sri Lanka to establish responsibility for those crimes. Recently, a mass grave had been discovered in the Tamil part of the country.
International Muslim Women’s Union noted that Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir was a lawless land with the world’s largest military presence. Human rights defenders were held in detention on cooked-up charges. The organization urged the Human Rights Council to set up a fact-finding mission on Jammu and Kashmir.
Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Cooperation Economique Internationale - OCAPROCE Internationale pointed to the lack of compliance with the freedom of expression, opinion and information by the Polisario Front in Western Sahara. Many individuals had been detained and tortured just because they had dared to exercise their freedom of expression. The organization called on the Human Rights Council to put an end to the impunity of the leaders of the Polisario Front.
France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand urged Morocco to stop the invasion and annexation of Western Sahara. There had been a change in the registration of all those under occupation; they had been forced to change their names. The assimilation of the Saharawi people had left half of the population with names different from the names of those living on the other side of the occupation line.
Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme was concerned about the lack of the rule of law in Libya. In Yemen the gravity of crimes against civilians, particularly children, was alarming. In South Sudan and Mali, impunity was a common denominator. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the proliferation of violence needed to end and citizens had to be protected. The rise of xenophobia in Hungary was contrary to European democratic values.
Society for Development and Community Empowerment spoke of the massive disappearance of Tamils at the end of May 2009. This fact was alarming as was the show of impunity displayed by Sri Lanka. Tamils had been buried in mass graves following a mass genocide. Tamils had been forced into disappearance and had been subjected to structural genocide achieved through land grabs and oppression. The Society asked the Council to refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court.
Tourner la page underlined the crumbling of the independence of Ecuador’s governmental system. Political opposition was repeatedly hushed. They called upon the Council to protect the rights enshrined in the Covenant and to call for an end to the political persecution of Ecuadorians. They called for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers to verify the situation and provide recommendations.
Association Thendral said that seven prisoners had been in jail for the past 27 years on charges of killing the former Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi. Indian laws set life imprisonment at 14 years. There had never been a fair or transparent trial in that case. The Jain Commission had wanted a full investigation into the foreign hand in the killing Mr. Gandhi, however it was never implemented. The Association asked for the release of those prisoners.
Le Pont drew attention to the crimes committed against Kurdish political activists in Iran. It called on the Human Rights Council to look into those serious human rights violations, and urged Council Member States to protect the Kurdish people from crimes against humanity.
Tamil Uzhagam reminded that Australia’s fast-track assessment of asylum applications had resulted in many Sri Lankan and Tamil refugees failing to have their asylum status recognized. Tamil women were particularly vulnerable to that procedure. The organization urged the Council to intervene and remind Australia of its international obligations regarding the principle of non-refoulement.
ABC Tamil Oli stated that over the past decades there had been no meaningful development in the north-east of Sri Lanka. Tamil women continued to face sexual violence, which was often underreported. Thousands of acres of fertile land remained under the control of Sri Lanka’s armed forces. In order to realize the enjoyment of sustainable development in that region, the United Nations needed to set up monitoring offices in north-east Sri Lanka.
Association Culturelle des Tamouls en France stated that there had been no discussion about the crimes committed by the Government of Sri Lanka against the Tamils, such as torture and repression. The organization firmly condemned the harassment of Tamil civil society after having participated in the sessions of the Human Rights Council.
Association for the Victims of the world drew attention to the harassment and arrests of journalists and human rights activists in India for having questioned the Government’s support for right-wing extremists. It was high time that people were allowed to fully enjoy their freedom of expression and speech.
International Solidarity for Africa said after the genocide against Tamils by Sri Lanka had ended in 2009, the endless waiting for the families of victims to find justice had started. The Tamils in Sri Lanka had been denied their rights. Most important was the denial of their right to self-determination. They said that all Tamils living in their homeland needed to have their rights protected. The Association called on the Special Procedures to make every effort to protect the Tamils from genocidal projects.
Action of Human Movement (AHM) said that several mothers who were looking for their loved ones were in the Council asking for justice. The mass disappearance of those who surrendered at the end of the war in Sri Lanka in May 2009 was an indication of the institutionalisation of the practice of enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka and the impunity enjoyed by the State forces. The International Criminal Court was the only solution to render justice to the Tamils.
International Humanist and Ethical Union said that Pakistan used religion to silence human rights defenders. Blasphemy was used as a political tool. The accused could be embroiled in lengthy trials and were subject to other human rights violations. Killings were also used as a criticism of religion. The organization urged Pakistan’s Prime Minister to repeal blasphemy rules and promote tolerance through positive speech.
Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development said that at least 900,000 Rohingya had taken refuge in Bangladesh, as confirmed by the Secretary-General. They continued to live in a difficult situation after being expelled from Myanmar. Arbitrary detention was continuously carried out against the Rohingya population.
Organization for Defending Victims of Violence said that three years after the launch of the Saudi-led coalition attacks on Yemen, the world was faced with a human catastrophe in that country. Chronic poverty, hunger, famine and destruction of infrastructure were the direct results of the conflict. The attacks of the coalition forces continued unabated and had taken a new form in the blockade of Port Hodiedah, breaching Yemeni people’s right to peace.
United Villages said that the deteriorating situation of people living in the state of Jammu and Kashmir deserved the attention of the Council. The right to remedy of victims faced with human rights violations was not being addressed. It was necessary to deliver justice to the people of Jammu and Kashmir after seven decades of occupation. Any resolution to the conflict had to include ending the cycle of violence and accountability for past and current human rights violations.
International Educational Development was concerned about the situation of Hmong people in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. They were extremely prosecuted. The authorities had killed Hmong members and the situation would continue unless the Council addressed the issue. There was a need for the United Nations to ensure safe haven for the Hmong people who were facing extermination.
Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba reaffirmed its willingness to ensure that its region was an area of peace. It denounced the United States’ continued policy of harassment against the Governments of Venezuela and Nicaragua, and it rejected the unilateral coercive measures against Venezuela, which undermined that country’s right to development.
European Centre for Law and Justice underlined that the genocidal crimes of Da’esh in Syria had caused thousands of Christians to flee their homes, noting that the Human Rights Council should take immediate measures to end those crimes. Da’esh had to be held accountable and the Council had to officially recognize their crimes against Christians as a crime of genocide.
Lawyers Rights Watch Canada urged all States to accept the recommendations of the Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar for the investigation and prosecution of senior Myanmar military officials for genocide in Rakhine state, and for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states. The organization reminded that the International Criminal Court had confirmed the duty of all States to prevent genocide wherever it occurred.
Organisation internationale pour les pays les moins avancés (OIPMA) discussed the human rights situation in Myanmar. Credible reports of escalating violence showed that extrajudicial killings, torture and sexual violence were rampant and showed that the Rohingya had no rights. Rohingya children needed psycho-social assistance because of what they had experienced, including rape.
International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations said the right to self-determination was the foundation upon which all other human rights stood. In that vein, the continued occupation of Western Sahara was concerning. The European Union’s Court of Justice and the Supreme Court of South Africa had reaffirmed the right of the Saharawi people to access their natural resources.
IUS PRIMI VIRI International Association said armed groups were prolific and human rights violations persisted in Syria, Libya and Yemen. Those groups took control of Arab militias. The international community’s indifference to those acts had led to the widespread violations of crimes against humanity. The Association urged the international community to take a firm stand against those crimes and fulfil its responsibilities.
Health and Environment Programme (HEP) highlighted the lack of respect for human rights in the world and the impact of conflicts on civilians. Special Rapporteurs on numerous occasions had often drew attention to the situation faced by vulnerable groups. Members of the Council were urged to take into account the impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights.
L’Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie said that in Sri Lanka the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism had stated that over one hundred un-convicted prisoners remained in detention, some of whom had been held there for over a decade. In India, a human rights activist from Tamil Nadu was arrested after he attended the last Council’s session.
CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation expressed grave concern about the heavy-handed response of Zimbabwean authorities to protests in Harare, following the presidential elections. In Bahrain, cases of arbitrary arrest, detention and torture had been documented. In Bangladesh, authorities had used a range of repressive laws to target and harass journalists and human rights defenders.
Association des étudiants tamouls de France said that the conviction rate for crimes against members of scheduled castes in Karnataka, India was the lowest in the country at 2.8 per cent last year. The state’s conviction rate was abysmal, given that the national average was 25.7 per cent. Atrocities took various forms, including assault, preventing them from using rivers, roads and wells and banning their entry into temples.
Presse Emblem Campagne expressed concern about the deteriorating situation of the safety of journalists in Myanmar, Afghanistan, Mexico, Brazil, and the Central African Republic. The organization called on those countries and the United Nations to carry out a thorough investigation to bring the perpetrators of those crimes to justice.
Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR) reminded that the Indian Armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir had acted in impunity under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, killing innocent civilians and indiscriminately using pellet guns. The injured had been denied access to hospitals, and human rights defenders had been facing reprisals.
Zero Poor in Africa regretted that the Human Rights Council had adopted a resolution on Sri Lanka without a debate and without a vote. The new Government of Sri Lanka had failed to establish charges against military and intelligence officers. The Council had thus been negligent of its duties and obligations set out under General Assembly resolution 60/251 and under the United Nations Charter.
Jeunesse Etudiante Tamoule reminded that the families of the disappeared Tamils in Sri Lanka had been searching for their loved ones who had surrendered to Sri Lanka’s armed forces in May 2009. The creation of the Office of the Missing Persons was not acceptable to the families of the disappeared because they had no confidence in local mechanisms for justice.
Jssor Youth Organisation said torture in Libya had become a systematic practice. Young people were kidnapped and subject to extrajudicial killings. They told of the case of one youth who was boiled in hot water until he died. They called on the Council and Member States to monitor the situation in Libya and ensure the involvement of the International Criminal Court.
Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, in a joint statement with Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man, said that Israel had denied Palestinians the right to self-determination for 70 years. Israel continued to exert its control over Jerusalem while fragmenting Palestinians. Israel carried out systematic crackdowns in occupied East Jerusalem, impeding Palestinian development. Their attacks included restrictive policies, visa restrictions and smear campaigns against human rights defenders.
Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters said the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir was critical; the Council could not ignore it anymore. A lack of justice, suppression of the freedom of peaceful assembly and sexual harassment of women had become routine. The regime’s goal was to kill and arrest common people. No serious discussion had taken place after the United Nations’ Kashmir report to remedy the situation.
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILF) condemned Nicaragua’s continued oppression against its population. In particular, it was asked that they stop the intimidation and criminalisation of protests and protect the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. The policía voluntaria needed to be disarmed and the Government needed to make an effort to find a national dialogue as well as organize national elections.
Physicians for Human Rights had scientific and medical documentation experts visit Bangladesh four times in the past year to document the scope, scale and patterns of attacks carried out against Myanmar’s Rohingya population. The wounds suffered by people ranged from gunshots to stab wounds as well as trauma from beatings; 85 per cent of the survivors identified the Myanmar military as perpetrators of those acts.
Right of Reply
Philippines, speaking in a right of reply in response to the statement of the European Union concerning the anti-drugs campaign, said the Philippines was true to its obligations under international law. The campaign against illegal drugs was fully in line with human rights. It was not an instrument to limit anyone’s human rights. The number of destroyed labs used to produce drugs had increased. Any deaths resulting from the campaign were thoroughly investigated and over 600 policies officers had been charged with human rights violations. The authorities were taking both a public health and a law enforcement approach in dealing with the drugs problem and there were reintegration programmes in place.
Cambodia, speaking in a right of reply in response to the statement of the European Union, said that the European Union was breaking all procedures. The situation in Cambodia was listed under agenda item 10, not under item four, so the delegation had broken the customary rules. Human rights were not a destination but a process that needed time and resources. For that reason, Cambodia continued to engage with all Council’s mechanisms, and it allowed the Office of the High Commissioner to operate in the country. In July 2019, elections would be held and they would be free, fair and transparent. However, the European Union had decided that they would not be legitimate, based on the absence of one party.
Iran, speaking in a right of reply, rejected the absurd and politically motivated statements made by Denmark and France. Baseless allegations were also made by Israel who was the main sponsor of terrorism and the greatest danger to peace in the world. The abuse of human rights for advancing politically motivated intentions continued in the Council. It had nothing to do with the real human rights situation. The United Nations human rights machinery, including the Council, had been established to achieve the objective improvement of human rights.
Japan, speaking in a right of reply in response to the statement made by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said the claims of figures made by that country in the context of the past were groundless and based on an erroneous understanding of the facts. Having humbly accepted the facts of history, over the past 70 years, Japan had consistently respected democracy and human rights and had contributed to peace and prosperity in the region and the international society. It was important to overcome the scepticism between Japan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and deepen coordination and realization of true peace in north-east Asia. Japan called on all stakeholders to share that approach and to share a bright future together.
Russian Federation, speaking in a right of reply in response to statements by Ukraine and Georgia, underscored that Crimea and Sebastopol were integral parts of the Russian Federation. The Russian Federation upheld human rights in all of its territories and Ukraine’s allegations were unfounded. The situation in Ukraine, on the other hand, continued to deteriorate. There were attacks on freedom of expression, and persecution of civil society and the media. There was corruption, racism, xenophobia, and vandalism; those were the norm in Ukraine. On Georgia, the Russian Federation stated that it had never exerted control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia; Georgia was responsible for those territories.
Egypt, speaking in a right of reply in response to the European Union, France, and the United Kingdom, deplored that some countries continued to attempt to politicize the Council, to give lessons and to bring pressure on other countries to the detriment of dialogue and cooperation. Egypt noted that their allegations were devoid of credibility and that they undermined the positive situation of human rights in Egypt and turned away the attention from the human right problems in their own countries, such as the violation of the rights of migrants. Non-governmental organizations in Egypt operated in line with the law; no country allowed the flow of people and money without control. The death penalty was applied in Egypt only in the case of the most serious crimes.
India, speaking in a right of reply, rejected Pakistan’s continued reference to the fallacious and motivated report. India deplored Pakistan’s malicious propaganda, which was used to distract the world from its gross violations of human rights, especially in territories under its control. The Council may have noted concerns raised on the absence of consitutional and civil rights for the people in Gilgit-Baltistan and their suffering due to deliberate economic policies. The real problem in Jammu and Kashmir was cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan. Pakistan had an obsession with puritanism, which led to the unleashing of the systematic persecution of its own Muslim minorities. They also had the distinction of having more cases of persecution under blasphemy laws than the rest of the world combined. India asked that Pakistan focus on its own dismal human rights record and stop its continued violence against the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Bahrain, speaking in a right of reply in response to remarks by several European countries, reiterated Bahrain’s full respect for the important contributions of civil society and the work of its members. Those activists were not harassed or subjected to detention or arbitrary arrest; their rights were guaranteed under the constitution and in line with international laws. However, those rights had to be exercised within the scope of Bahrain’s domestic laws and regulations. It was when civil society went against those laws that their actions became criminal offenses. Bahrain was committed to transparency and acted in conjunction with international and regional human rights bodies.
China, speaking in a right of reply, said that several groundless accusations had been made by some countries on the situation in Xinjiang. This represented an interference in the internal affairs of China. In Canada, indigenous people were discriminated against. Racial discrimination and violations of refugee rights existed in France and other countries. China was focusing on a human rights-based approach. China was suffering from terrorism and the Government was fighting extremism and separatism. Its policies were supported by the people of China. Some separatist forces had been spreading ideas about re-education camps in Xinjiang. Their idea was to undermine the stability of China and hope was expressed that the international community would not believe in such lies.
Saudi Arabia, speaking in a right of reply, said that people were arrested in Saudi Arabia for having committed offences related to security, not because of exercising their freedom of expression. As for the capital punishment, it was only applied for most serious crimes and in the tightest of limits. It was strange that Saudi Arabia was criticized for capital punishment as this was the practice of many countries. Every country had the right to choose its legal and judicial framework. Saudi Arabia was going forward with its development agenda and had numerous reforms in many fields, including the human rights field. Women had been given right to drive. States were called on to respect the sovereignty of other States.
Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, said that the 12 citizens from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had entered the Republic of Korea on their own free will and were now enjoying a life of freedom as any other citizens. The Government regretted that freedom of movement was not applied throughout the peninsula and would make every effort to address the humanitarian situation caused by this division.
Turkey, speaking in a right of reply, explained that it always aimed at its full compliance with its international obligations and at enhancing its democracy. The state of emergency that had been declared right after the terrorist coup d’état in 2016 had been terminated on 19 July 2018. In the period ahead, Turkey would continue to strive to attain momentum of the extensive reform process conducted since the beginning of the 2000s. The Government had decided to give a new impetus to its efforts in the areas of the judiciary and fundamental human rights, which also comprised space for civil society and human rights defenders. Although Turkey was facing unprecedented challenges to its democracy due to terrorist threats, democracy and the rule of law constituted the pillars of Turkey’s policies.
Ecuador, speaking in a right of reply, stated that it remained committed to protect and promote human rights, and it had made a series of steps to promote inclusive dialogue and to strengthen the judiciary, ensure the independence of the branches of Government, promote freedom of expression, fight against corruption, and to guarantee the rule of law. It was not possible to achieve well-being without taking into account the diversity of ideas, necessities and realities that formed the country’s history, present and future. It was on that premise that the Government’s priority was to create a society based on transparency, participation, honesty and solidarity, and to create a country close to its citizens in which dialogue and spaces for reaching consensus would always be the principal goals.
Brazil, speaking in a right of reply, said the fight against crime and the promotion of public security were key priorities for the Brazilian Government. The decision to authorize federal intervention in the area of public security in the state of Rio de Janeiro had been taken with the consent of the State Government and the approval of the Brazilian Congress. It was an exceptional measure provided for by the Brazilian constitution to address serious situations of public disturbance. It had a specific mandate and limited duration. While challenges remained, the initiative had had a positive impact on combatting crime. The federal intervention also included strengthening the capacity of public security forces. However, it had not restricted the enjoyment of human rights or fundamental freedoms in Rio de Janeiro. The Ministry of Human Rights monitored the full respect for human rights by the security forces. The federal intervention may not have been appreciated by civil society organizations, but it was popular among Rio’s population. Turning to the release of the identities of perpetrators of human rights violations, Brazil said they identified those perpetrators but kept their profiles secret, and released them to victims’ families once the police inquiry had been concluded to avoid unnecessary harm. Regarding Mr. Lula da Silva’s ineligibility process, the Government was willing to provide pertinent information regarding the due process of law to anyone interested.
Nepal, speaking in a right of reply, noted the comments made by a non-governmental organization that concerned the freedom of religion in Nepal and wished to clarify the perceived misunderstanding of the provisions relating to religious freedoms in Nepal’s new Criminal Code, effective since August 2018. Nepal upheld the rights related to freedom of thought, conscience and religious beliefs. Secularism was one of the important achievements of Nepal’s historic political transformation to a federal democratic republic in 2008. The Constitution underscored the meaning of secular to include to be religious, cultural freedoms, including protection of religion. Every person who had faith in a religion could freely profess and practise their religion. The new Criminal Code aimed at maintaining peace among various cultural communities. There were provisions included in the Code aimed at protecting religious sites and their sanctity. Those provisions were also in place to protect religious, social and cultural tolerance. Any interpretation otherwise did not grasp the religious tolerance found in the country, nor the constitutional spirit of Nepal.
Cameroon, speaking in a right of reply, addressed alleged human rights violations committed by the Government forces in two English speaking areas. Cameroon strongly condemned those allegations, as they were void of credibility. Contrary to allegations made, security forces had been working to protect civilians from secessionist armed groups. These armed groups had committed many atrocities, including killing of civilians, and burning of private homes and government edifices. Faced with such a situation, the Government had been working to instil dialogue. The Prime Minister himself led some delegations. In 2017, the Head of State had established the national commission for the promotion of bilingualism and multiculturalism. The commission had already held several consultation meetings.
Iraq, speaking in a right of reply in response to the statement of a non-governmental organization, said that Iraq was used to lies and false statements coming from unprofessional organizations. The work of civil society was highly appreciated in Iraq and the Government supported the right to speak out, but any attempt of this nature was rejected. The international community knew very well what was happening and false statements would not achieve any goals. The Government did not create any obstacles or shoot against demonstrators using live ammunition. The Government protected demonstrators.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, rejected groundless accusations made by several countries, as they were politically motivated. Those countries should mind their own human rights situations. It was sad that the Republic of Korea was sticking to false claims concerning the abduction of citizens, which had been confirmed through interviews with the victims. Regarding the Japanese abduction issue, everything possible was being done to reach a solution in accordance with the Pyongyang declaration. Japan was only doing this to distract from its own crimes, including sexual slavery, known as comfort women. Japan refused to recognize its crimes against humanity committed not only in Korea but across Asia. Japan had to offer reparations and apologize; until then the stigma would remain.
Pakistan, speaking in a right of reply in response to India, noted that today’s India was a new apartheid State along the lines of caste and religion, masquerading as a democracy, with deliberate, systematic construction of a fascist Hindu political order in the country. Those who espoused such a vision of the country glorified crimes of the past which included not just anti-Muslim riots but also the tragic assassination of the father of the nation, Gandhi. The public lynching of Muslim and Christian minorities at the hands of cow vigilantes was a regular occurrence. More than 12 states of India were witnessing movements against the central Government and a great number of human rights abuses by the Indian military and security forces were being reported. Two Special Rapporteurs had recently expressed their grave concern about the extrajudicial killing of more than 1,500 people in the state of Manipur. India’s malicious rhetoric against Pakistan could not deter Pakistan’s delegation from raising the voice of the Kashmiri people. India should objectively look at why it had failed to win over the Kashmiri people after seven decades of illegal occupation.
Georgia, speaking in a right of reply, reminded that the Russian Federation had committed a military aggression against Georgia and that it continued to occupy parts of its territory. The Russian Federation had broken the cease-fire agreement brokered by France and all United Nations Security Council’s resolutions on Georgia. The Russian Federation had never pulled back from the sovereign territory of Georgia. The human rights situation in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali was worrisome as people were deprived of their basic human rights, such as access to education and healthcare. The illegal presence of the Russian Federation in Georgia’s territories made it an occupying power.
Lao People’s Democratic Republic, speaking in a right of reply, said that the statement by a non-governmental organization was misleading to the Council. There was no genocide in the country. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s continued growth was thanks to the contribution of the 49 cultural groups present in the country. They promoted solidarity among all ethnic groups, all of whom were equal under the law. In recent history, the Hmong group had fought alongside the Lao People’s Democratic Republic in its struggle for independence and continued to participate in the country’s growth today. Numerous high-level officials were from cultural minority groups. The concerned non-governmental organization should stop misleading the Council with false information from unreliable sources.
Japan, speaking in a second right of reply in response to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said that their statement was unacceptable. Under the Stockholm agreement, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had agreed to carry out investigations into the abduction of all Japanese people. Japan reiterated that over the past 70 years, it had sincerely addressed human rights issues and actively contributed to international security. Japan called on all stakeholders to seek a bright future together.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in a second right of reply, was compelled to respond to the remarks of Japan. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea reiterated its rejection of groundless claims. Japan had no more moral qualifications to talk about the human rights of others until it offered compensation for its past crimes. There was a recent video in the United Nations showing footage of Korean sexual slaves who were massacred by the Japanese military. Japan had committed crimes against humanity and continued its evasive policy.
For use of the information media; not an official record
Follow UNIS Geneva on: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube |Flickr