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Human Rights Council concludes its general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention

Human Rights Council

13 March 2019

The Human Rights Council this morning concluded its general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention. 

The first part of the debate was held on Tuesday, 12 March, and can be read here.

In the discussion, speakers expressed concern about the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities in many countries.  Anti-conversion and anti-blasphemy legislation had to be repealed.  There was flagrant violation of freedom of expression and an alarming situation concerning freedom of the press, as well as a dangerous campaign waged against civil society and human rights defenders in some countries.  The situation in that respect was alarming because there were no practical measures to protect human rights defenders, which was why speakers proposed that a resolution on the recognition of the rights of human rights defenders be drafted.  Some speakers also highlighted the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures, which were depriving the general population and children of food and medicine.  They drew attention to the recruitment of children as soldiers and terrorists, and called upon States to find solutions.  Another issue that was raised was the exploitation of natural resources belonging to indigenous peoples without their consent. 

The following non-governmental organizations took the floor: Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, World Evangelical Alliance, Article 19 - International Centre against Censorship, The, Press Emblem Campaign, International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), International Association for Democracy in Africa, VIVAT International, European Coordination of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience, Advocates for Human Rights, World Environment and Resources Council (WERC), African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters, Pan African Union for Science and Technology, African Regional Agricultural Credit Association, Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, Iraqi Development Organization, National Union of Jurists of Cuba, Alsalam Foundation, Amnesty International, American Association of Jurists (in a joint statement with International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL)), National Association of Cuban Economists, Japanese Workers’ Committee for Human Rights, Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peuples, Prahar, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Ertegha Keyfiat Zendegi Iranian Charitable Institute, Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Coopération Économique Internationale - OCAPROCE Internationale, Le Pont, International Institute for Rights and Development Geneva, Reporters without Borders - International, iuventum e.V., Ingénieurs du Monde, "Coup de Pousse" Chaîne de l’Espoir Nord-Sud (C.D.P-C.E.N.S), Network of Women's Non-governmental Organizsations in the Islamic Republic of Iran, African Development Association, International Career Support Association, Centre for Gender Justice and Women Empowerment, People for Successful Corean Reunification, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, Il Cenacolo, Prevention Association of Social Harms (PASH), Peace Brigades International Switzerland, The Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims, International Educational Development, Inc., Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Inc, European Union of Public Relations, International Association for Equality of women, World Muslim Congress, British Humanist Association, Society for Threatened Peoples, CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, International Muslim Women's Union, Imam Ali’s Popular Students Relief Society, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”, Godwin Osung International Foundation, Inc. (The African Project), L'observatoire mauritanien des droits de l'homme et de la démocratie, Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, Indigenist Missionary Council, Right Livelihood Award Foundation, Women's Human Rights International Association, World Jewish Congress, Union of Arab Jurists, International-Lawyers.Org, Asociacion Cubana de las Naciones Unidas (Cuban United Nations Association), Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association, United Nations Watch, Association pour l'Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi, Child Foundation, The European Centre for Law and Justice, International Humanist and Ethical Union, France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, China Society for Human Rights Studies (CSHRS), Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR), International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM), Réseau International des Droits Humains (RIDH), United Villages , Geneva for Human Rights – Global Training, Liberation, World Barua Organization (WBO), Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee, Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul, African Agency for Integrated Development (AAID), Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism, GAHT-US Corporation, Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations, Center for Africa Development and Progress, Conectas Direitos Humanos (in a joint statement with Réseau International des Droits Humains (RIDH), CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and World Organisation Against Torture), and the Mexican Commission of Defense and Promotion of the Human Rights.

Speaking in a right of reply were China, Indonesia, Brazil, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Spain.

The Council will next hold an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on minority issues.  It will then hear the presentation of reports of the Forum on Minority Issues, the Forum on Democracy and the Rule of Law, and the Social Forum, before starting its general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms.

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

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights said that as they commemorated the Tibet uprising 60 years ago, they noted that hundreds of thousands of Tibetans had been killed and tortured since then.  The Chinese Government controlled access to the territory and Tibet remained closed to tourists and outside observers in sensitive times.  This isolation allowed China to continue violations with impunity and not face accountability for its historical acts. 

World Evangelical Alliance informed the Council that religious minorities continued to be subjected to human rights violations in India, where 325 incidents against Christians were reported in 2018.  In Pakistan, anti-blasphemy legislation could be sanctioned with the death penalty.  Both India and Pakistan should repeal anti-conversion and anti-blasphemy legislation respectively to hold accountable their law enforcement officials when they failed to protect religious minorities.

The Article 19 - International Centre against Censorship was disturbed by the flagrant violation of the right to freedom of expression in Turkey, where 140 journalists had been detained, showing worrying signs of a crackdown on freedom of the press.  The harsh sentencing of Nasrine Sotoudeh was indicative of the deteriorating situation of human rights defenders in Iran.  In Myanmar, ongoing restrictive legislation to silence dissidents was the cause for concern.

Press Emblem Campaign regretted that despite the Council adopting a resolution on the safety of journalists at its last session, the past year had seen the killing of 117 journalists, an increase of 17 per cent since the previous year.  Since the beginning of 2019, 13 more journalists had been killed, with Mexico and Afghanistan being the most dangerous countries to operate in as a journalist.  They urged the Human Rights Council to fight more firmly the impunity of such crimes.

International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) regretted the ongoing persecution by the United States of WikiLeaks.  They expressed grave concern over the imprisonment of Chelsea Manning, who had been sent to prison again this week for refusing to abide by a subpoena to testify before a grand jury.  The United States should lift the secrecy around its investigation into WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, and immediately release Chelsea Manning from prison.

International Association for Democracy in Africa stated that there was an enormous reserve of water in Baluchistan.  This was also a cause of great tensions.  A dam had been built and was causing many people to leave their homelands.  Anti-terrorist actions by authorities were mostly targeting progressive and nationalist persons who demanded their rights.

VIVAT International was deeply concerned about the human rights situation in West Papua.  Three Papuan human rights defenders had been arrested while organizing a traditional feast and prayer event.  In December, 19 construction workers had been killed in Papua.  Security forces were threatening journalists.  The Council should urge the Indonesian Government to end the joint military and police operation and facilitate the return of thousands of internally displaced persons to their homes.

European Coordination of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience said that 270 members of the Church of Almighty God, a new Chinese Christian religious movement, had escaped China and applied for asylum in Japan.  None of those requests had been granted.  The fact that those people were cruelly prosecuted in China was an established fact.  Japan was urged to lend its help to refugees of the Church of Almighty God.

Advocates for Human Rights noted with concern the situation of the death penalty in Iran and drew special attention to juvenile executions.  In 2017, at least five juvenile offenders were executed and for 2018 this figure had risen to at least six.  The Council was urged to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran and pay special attention to juvenile executions.

World Environment and Resources Council (WERC) drew the Council’s attention to the ongoing violations of human rights perpetrated by Pakistani State agencies against Sindhi people.  In 2019, more than 25 Sindhi persons had been abducted.   Pakistan was using enforced disappearances to silence the voice and struggle of the Sindhi people.  The perpetrators continued with impunity and should be brought to justice by the Council.

African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters said the people of Jammu and Kashmir were suffering ongoing human rights violations, including abductions, torture, killings and the excessive use of force by Indian forces.  Eight months had passed since the emergence of the report, yet no action had been taken on the recommendations.  They called for a commission of inquiry and fact-finding mission to be sent to Jammu and Kashmir.

Pan African Union for Science and Technology said that 30 million Pashtun people were living in misery in Pakistan with no sovereignty over their land, culture or language.   Radical Islam was imposed on the region to destroy the culture in the Pashtun territories.  There was a media blackout on all Pashtun voices raised against the situation. 

African Regional Agricultural Credit Association drew attention to the human rights violations perpetrated by Pakistani State authorities against Baloch people.  They had been carrying out a systematic annihilation of the Baloch people to counter their national struggle for the right to self-determination.  Enforced disappearances had been perpetrated since 2000.  The Council’s intervention was requested to prevent further suppression of the Baloch.

Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development highlighted the plight of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar and was deeply puzzled by the silence of the parties concerned.  A military-led crackdown had driven over 700,000 Rohingyas as a result of the large-scale genocide, which the United Nations had called a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.  The humanitarian crisis was causing suffering on a catastrophic scale.

Commission to Study the Organization of Peace said that Pakistan was providing State haven for terrorists.  Pakistani authorities had been repeatedly denying this, however, it was in Pakistan that Osama bin Laden had been found.  The policy of harbouring terrorists had a disastrous impact on Pakistan’s citizens, and children were recruited in madrasas.

Iraqi Development Organization raised concerns about cases of unjustly imprisoned political figures in Bahrain.  Bahrain had roughly 4,000 political prisoners, an extraordinary figure given the country’s small population, and in the past few years, the Government had dissolved all major opposition political groups.  Bahrain, a member of the Council, was called upon to adhere to the Council’s principles and release all prisoners.

National Union of Jurists of Cuba said that countries like China had promoted the right to development, which was good, but very few countries had been able to make such large-scale improvements.  Countries should not pour scorn on such developments.  They congratulated China for its work.  The punitive findings against Syria, Venezuela and Nicaragua should be rejected because they undermined development in those countries, especially affecting the children and women.

Alsalam Foundation stated that Bahraini human rights defenders had been serving lengthy prisons sentences as a result of their activism.  They suffered violence and harassment at the hands of the authorities.  Numerous examples of harassment of human rights defenders by the Bahrain Government were given.  They called on members of the Council to address this situation.

Amnesty International was concerned about the human rights violations in Xinjiang province of China, which had seen up to one million Uyghurs imprisoned.  In Syria, women had been excluded at national, regional and international levels from positions in decision making and negotiations, and Amnesty urged for women to be given a meaningful voice.  Amnesty urged the Council to address the widespread disappearance of political dissidents in Iran in 1988, and regretted that many of those involved in this crime remained in positions of power in Iran.

American Association of Jurists, in a joint statement with International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), spoke about the serious attack on the rule of law in Brazil, where former President Lula was being kept in prison without due process.  He was barred from running in the 2018 election despite the order of this Council that Brazil should ensure his enjoyment of political rights.  Nothing had been done by the Brazilian Government to implement the interim measures.  This set a worrying precedent for the rule of law throughout the country and for its citizens.

National Association of Cuban Economists applauded the efforts made by China, Syria and Venezuela in implementing measures to improve the human rights situation in their countries.  It rejected any attempt by the Council to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign nations.  It called on the Council to recognize the efforts made, rather than impose further obstacles.

Japanese Workers’ Committee for Human Rights said it was the eighth anniversary of the earthquake and ensuing Fukushima disaster, which was said to have been equal to the Chernobyl disaster.  The forced evacuees were still unable to return home due to radioactive material, however, the Government of Japan continued to reject calls to provide assistance to internally displaced people.

Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peuples drew the Council’s attention to 37 Sahrawi people wrongfully imprisoned in Morocco.  It denounced the systematic use of force to extract confessions and give harsh sentences.  Mr. Barak Daoudi had been imprisoned simply for expressing his opinion, and his arrest and detention were arbitrary and illegal.  It urged the Moroccan Government not to delay his release.

Prahar said that the situation in the northeast region of India demanded the urgent attention of the Council.  Indigenous communities were suffering severely at the hands of the central government because the ruling party was affected by the racist ideology of converting India into a racially homogenous State with one culture and religion.  The Indian Army held unlimited powers under the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

International Fellowship of Reconciliation said that Western Sahara was a non-autonomous partially colonized territory that was occupied by Morocco.  Instead of respecting the status of the territory, Morocco had assimilated it into its own national territory, in a frontal attack on international legality.  In Western Sahara, all human rights were violated without exception, since no inhabitant of the territory was recognized as a Sahrawi.

Ertegha Keyfiat Zendegi Iranian Charitable Institute said that the ground experience of organizations in Iran showed that children were deprived of food and medicine due to sanctions, affecting their right to life and right to health.  This could be considered as a crime against humanity.  The silence of the international community was deeply concerning as raised by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.

Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Coopération Économique Internationale - OCAPROCE Internationale continued to be alarmed at attacks on human rights defenders around the world, including journalists.  Atrocities committed against civilians, in particular in Africa, were continuing.  The Council was doing little to address these.  They asked the Council to set up independent commissions of inquiry in each country where these atrocities were being committed.

Le Pont said that international attention was focused on Venezuela, but they appealed to all delegations to focus on Colombia, where the authorities were turning their back on the peace agreement.  They had also turned their back on international agreements, and the demands placed on them to protect all parties.  The peace agreement was meant to protect victims, but this had not been the case.  They called on the Council to ensure Colombia respected its commitments for peace.

International Institute for Rights and Development Geneva stated that human rights and fundamental freedom for all were meant to be universal rights.  However, following the blockade of Qatar in 2017, citizens of Qatar who had wanted to perform their Hajj pilgrimage had been prevented from doing so.  This was a violation of their right to freedom of religion.  The authorities responsible needed to refrain from preventing Qataris and other citizens from travelling to this pilgrimage site.

Reporters without Borders - International was alarmed by the deterioration of press freedom around the world.  It called on all States to denounce the travesty of justice of the Khashoggi murder.  More than 800 journalists had been arbitrarily imprisoned between 1979 and 2009 in Iran and the organization called for accountability.  The representative of the organization in Turkey was facing 15 years in prison, and it asked the Council to review that situation.

iuventum e.V.supported the drafting of a resolution on the recognition of human rights defenders’ and asked the Council to adopt it.  It deplored the fact that no practical measures had been discussed by the Council to protect the rights of human rights defenders and asked how the world could protect the environment if it could not even protect the people.  It called for measures to be put in place to protect human rights defenders who came to the Human Rights Council and then faced reprisals at home.

Ingénieurs du Monde spoke about the human rights situation in Venezuela and urged the Government to consider the need for humanitarian assistance for its people.  It supported the efforts of the Lima Group.  It condemned the systematic deprivation of food, medicine and basic needs and the disruption of aid distribution.  The International Criminal Court should take into consideration the actions of the Government of Venezuela which may constitute a crime against humanity.

"Coup de Pousse" Chaîne de l’Espoir Nord-Sud (C.D.P-C.E.N.S) said that the human rights situation in Tindouf camps in Algeria was worsening.  The violation of humanitarian law by the Polisario militia and constant attacks on civilians were intolerable.  The imprisonment of the entire population, including of women and children, was unprecedented.  Refugees were prevented from leaving camps freely and were subjected to repression.

Network of Women's Non-governmental Organizsations in the Islamic Republic of Iran said that sanctions against Iran had caused money transferring problems, affecting the importation of medicine and medical equipment for patients.  Women were more at risk to a number of diseases like breast, lung and uterine cancer.  Iran’s health sector was struggling to keep up with increasing prices of medicines.

African Development Association spoke about the tragedy experienced by Mauritanian survivors of Polisario militias in Algeria.  Their families were still expecting the Council to shed light on their plight.  Their stories included abductions and human rights violations.  On behalf of victims in Algeria, the Council was called upon to react so that their plight would not remain without answer.

International Career Support Association stated that the Japanese authorities had misinterpreted the concepts of parental custody and child authority under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.  They also called on the Council to recommend that joint custody plans be made mandatory when a divorce was filed, and where domestic violence was alleged, mandatory investigations must be carried out by the police.

Centre for Gender Justice and Women Empowerment said that Baluchistan was bleeding under Pakistan’s military operations.  Genocide was being committed every day.  Access to the sea and to drinking water were controlled by the occupiers.  The Baluch peoples were being forced from their ancestral lands, women were raped, and men were murdered and mutilated.  The 1996 Treaty on Nuclear Testing was being violated in Baluchistan, and they requested the Council to investigate all these actions.

People for Successful Corean Reunification stated that Hwang In-cheol, the speaker’s father, had been abducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 1969 during a business trip.  The authorities of that country had refused to provide any information on him, and it was not known if he was still alive.  In 1983, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had ratified the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, under which they should repatriate Mr. Hwang.  He asked the authorities to do so.

Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy said that in Cameroon, the military had been using excessive force against Anglophone communities asking for autonomy in their territories.  There had been arbitrary detentions, displaced civilians, harassment and illegal curfews over the past two years.  The Government had continued to defy all recommendations made by this body, and the inaction on this matter discredited the Council.  It called for a special commission to investigate all atrocities perpetrated by both parties in this conflict.

Il Cenacolo spoke about the ongoing human rights violations in Western Sahara.  The rape of Sahrawi women by Polisario leader Ibrahim Ghali was being dealt with by Spanish courts, but he had not turned himself in.  Violations had been carried out by the Polisario that imposed a blockade on several communities.  There were arbitrary detentions of hundreds of Sahrawis and 28 Polisario leaders in Spain.

Prevention Association of Social Harms (PASH) said that children were being actively recruited as soldiers in illegal wars in the Middle East and North Africa region.  It called on all countries to share data on the situation of child soldiers in this region, and urged for solutions to be sought for their long-term support and reintegration.

Peace Brigades International Switzerland observed the deterioration of the situation in Guatemala.  There were attempts by Government forces to dismantle certain parts of the legal system.  It was possible that the Congress would amend the law on enforced disappearances.  The security situation of human rights defenders was alarming and there were over 20 attacks against defenders in 2018.  Defenders were also subjected to defamation campaigns.

The Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims said that violence against children was against all religious discourses.  Street children, poor children and children deprived of parental guardianship were kidnapped in order to be trained for terrorist activities, such as spying, and for sexual exploitation.  This problem required the international community’s consensus on enacting a binding instrument to protect children from terrorism.

International Educational Development, Inc. was concerned about the situation of Hmong people in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.  There were Government plans to eliminate the Hmong people in their traditional territory by 2020, and after each United Nations session, attacks escalated.  The forces of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic killed many civilians.  The United Nations were urged to set up a safe haven for the Hmong people in recognition that there was no other way to protect them from annihilation.

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Inc raised the issue of impunity in the Gulf Cooperation Council.  High-level officials in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain committed crimes against human rights defenders.  Rulers were directly threatening human rights defenders on public television.  Impunity was prevalent in Saudi Arabia and the Crown Prince was responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

European Union of Public Relations said that in Pakistan, civilians were abducted with impunity.  Physical violence and suicide bombings targeted all areas of society.  Torture and drugs were used as means of obtaining evidence from prisoners in detention.  Torture remained an important part of extracting information in Pakistan, and the word was used so regularly that it had lost its meaning in the country.

International Association for Equality of women abhorred the recent trend to hide behind cultural practices, in order to permit human rights abuses.  In Iran, child marriages were permitted under the guise of cultural relativism.  However, these were caused by poverty and oppression, with little evidence that these had happened before the oppressive current regime took over.  The United Nations needed to prevent injustices from occurring under the guise of culture.

World Muslim Congress said the international community was concerned about managing the situation between the two nuclear powers in Pakistan and India, but was ignoring the severe human rights situation in Kashmir.  Murder, and the use of force and other forms of suppression were being used by the Indian authorities with impunity.  They called on the Council to establish a commission of inquiry to investigate the actions of the Indian authorities in Kashmir.

British Humanist Association said the abortion law in Northern Ireland did not allow for safe, legal and effective abortion in cases where pregnancy was the result of rape, incest or not viable.  Criminal restrictions on access to abortion in Northern Ireland were a severe and systemic breach of women’s human rights.  The United Kingdom Government should decriminalize abortion in Northern Ireland without delay.

Society for Threatened Peoples celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of the Tibetan national uprising, and said that attention to the Tibetan plight was more urgent than ever, as there had been 53 self-emulations.  The discrimination was ultimately suffered most by children who were unable to attend Tibetan language classes.  It called on the Council to press China to uphold its commitments in Tibet.

CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation celebrated the civil and political liberation ushered in by sustained protest movements in Ethiopia.  It called on the Government to take the necessary steps to ensure the inclusive participation of civil society in policy making and ensure a free and safe environment for the upcoming elections.

Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme said that there were gross violations of human rights in Saudi Arabia.  The murder of journalists, torture and detention, and the violation of women’s rights were all violations of human rights present in Saudi Arabia.  The Council was asked whether Saudi Arabia had complied with any recommendations issued by the Council to improve the human rights situation?

Organization for Defending Victims of Violence said that sexual sterilization in Canada had been suspended in 1972, however, the forced sterilization of indigenous women in Saskatchewan state hospitals continued.  Over 60 indigenous women had filed complaints for forced sterilization that had taken place in the last 30 years.  Canada was urged to comply with Canadian and international law.

International Muslim Women’s Union said that children were entitled to lifelong education and development.  Children’s rights also included the right to be free from all forms of ill-treatment.   However, Indian occupying forces were violating all of those rights.  They were attacking children in Kashmir in order to silence the masses, and were blinding children with pellet guns.

Imam Ali’s Popular Students Relief Society said that the economic sanctions imposed in recent years had caused a burden on the middle and lower classes in Iran, closing factories and increasing the unemployment rate.  The Society had seen an increase in the demand for its services.  Government food and education services were being reduced across the country, and redirected to more critical regions.  They asked the international community to address this issue.

International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination stated that ethnic and religious minorities faced attacks and discrimination from the Chinese authorities.  In Xinjiang, the Uighur people were being targeted, and China refused to allow international observers in.  In Myanmar, the authorities had committed crimes against minority groups and refused to allow the international community in to assess alleged abuses.

Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru” gave its support to the people of Venezuela, and called on outside governments to stop their economic embargo of the country.  Washington was aiming at a military intervention under the cover of providing humanitarian aid.  They expressed their solidarity with Venezuela as well as with the people of Western Sahara and the Catalan People.

Godwin Osung International Foundation, Inc. (The African Project) said that although Australia was a signatory of many international instruments, its asylum policy had not improved.  The policy had led to many Sri Lankan Tamil people being forcibly returned to dangerous situations in Sri Lanka.  It deplored the lack of in country monitoring for the safe return of people in Sri Lanka, and called for the Australian fast track repatriation policy to be repealed.

L'observatoire mauritanien des droits de l'homme et de la démocratie said that the colonization scheme to take over Tamil land in Sri Lanka started on the first day of its independence.  Currently, colonial projects were being created under the auspices of large-scale irrigation systems, which were in fact State-sponsored ethnic cleansing mechanisms.  It urged the United Nations to protect Tamil heritage in Sri Lanka

Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme had carefully monitored the situation in Cameroon since the elections in 2018 and noted increased harassment and human rights breaches, noting that anti-terrorism legislation was being used to gag all opposition.  It called for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Canto and all who were arbitrarily detained.  It deplored the ill treatment of West African migrants in Angola and called on the Government to uphold their human rights.

Indigenist Missionary Council spoke about the human rights of indigenous women in Brazil, and urged the Council to pay more attention to the plight of indigenous people who were suffering from major decisions made by the Government that were serving mining and logging interests.  They were victims of atrocities perpetrated by the State of Brazil simply for defending their land and rights.

Right Livelihood Award Foundation drew attention to the case of Oyub Titiev, the head of Memorial Human Rights Centre's office in Chechnya who was arbitrarily detained.  He was charged with drug offences, which was fabricated in retaliation for his human rights work.  The Head of the Republic of Chechnya had said last year that human rights defenders had no right to enter the territory.

Women’s Human Rights International Association regretted the situation of the judicial system in Iran which did not protect the victims of human rights violations.  The situation of women’s rights in Iran was horrific and there were no signs of improvement.  The lack of commitment for any change was seen in the recent appointment of Ebrahim Raisi as the head of the judiciary.  He had been responsible for the 1988 repression in Iran.

World Jewish Congress said that this year marked the twenty-first anniversary of the terrorist attack on the AMIA Jewish Cultural Centre in Buenos Aires.  It had been the deadliest attack on Jews in Latin America, leaving behind 85 dead.  Hezbollah, supported by the Government of Iran, had been behind it.  Today, Hezbollah continued to commit atrocious crimes and attacks.  The international community was urged to condemn Iran and its proxy Hezbollah.

Union of Arab Jurists drew attention to the human rights situation in Iraq, where grave violations like torture enforced disappearances and media intimidation were rife.  Human rights defenders faced regular violations, and were regularly kidnaped and tortured to prevent their activities.  Overcrowding of prisons also led to the denial of food and medication.  The grave violations of ISIS in Iraq and Syria had exacerbated the situation.  They encouraged the idea of creating a mandate for a United Nations Special Rapporteur for Iraq.

International-Lawyers.Org stated that since the illegal 2003 invasion, Iraqis had been living without basic human rights.  Unfair trials, extra judicial executions and torture were rife.  The country was placed at the top of corruption indexes, and the bottom of human rights ones.  Elections were neither fair nor independent.  Despite more than 100 United Nations workers in the country, very little discussion on Iraq was taking place.  They called on the Council to establish a Special Rapporteur for Iraq.

Asociacion Cubana de las Naciones Unidas (Cuban United Nations Association) expressed their concern that the Council included countries that hypocritically attacked the behaviour of others.  The United States had perpetrated coercive attacks on Venezuela, and other countries in Latin America.  These had left the people involved in states of poverty and suffering.  What was being done to Venezuela was shameful, especially as the real motive was to acquire the country’s natural resources.

Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation stated that mass graves had been found throughout the northern peninsula of Sri Lanka but were rarely excavated enough to allow for recognition and prosecution.  Disappearances and other abuses since the end of the war had not been addressed and the Tamil community continued to suffer detention without trial and harassment.

Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association sought peace and prosperity in the Assam and Tripura region but was suffering from an influx of refugees in irregular situation.  It called for a commission of inquiry to monitor the situation in the regions and avoid the extinction of natives.
United Nations Watch compared the Council’s treatment of Israel and Iran.  Iran crushed peaceful protests and imprisoned human rights defenders – most recently Nasrin Sotoudeh, yet in this session only one weak resolution was tabled against Iran, and no inquiry had ever been established on it.   In contrast, Israel as an imperfect democracy, had been singled out five times more in this session as it was every time.

Association pour l'Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi said that the suppression of human rights defenders working for human rights of marginalized sections of India demanded the urgent attention of the Council.  India had to stop targeting indigenous people, minorities and Dalits.  The Council was asked to press upon India to release Advocate Azad and to ban brahiminical organisations upholding the caste system.

Child Foundation said that recently, the New York Times had reported how Saudi Arabia had recruited thousands of desperate child survivors, who had been fighting in Darfur, to go fight in Yemen.  Under international law, armed groups should not recruit children under 18, even if children volunteered.  The Council should insist on universal ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

The European Centre for Law and Justice said that Islamic State’s barbaric behaviour had resulted in a systematic pattern of persecution and sexual abuse, forcing thousands of Christians and other minorities to flee their homes.  It was critical to address the humanitarian crisis that had resulted from such atrocities.  In regions where Islamic State had been defeated, the continued conflict posed an obstacle to the return of refugees.

International Humanist and Ethical Union stated that child sacrifice was still being practiced today.  In Uganda, child sacrifices were carried out to bring good luck, and in Nigeria, they were believed to bring supernatural powers.  In South Africa, the body parts of victims were used in medicine.  These brutal acts were often carried out whilst the child was still alive.  A lack of education was the cause, and urgent efforts to end this practice were needed.

France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand called on the Council to address human rights abuses by the Government of Morocco against the Sahrawi people, undertaken with the complicity of the European Union.  They also highlighted the plight of Sahrawi prisoners in Moroccan jails, who had started a hunger strike due to the conditions of their imprisonment.  They asked the Council to look at these abuses.

International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations drew attention to the plight of the Sahrawi people in Western Sahara.  Landmine clearance in the region had been hampered by the occupying power Morocco, which had not allowed international organizations access to help.  According to estimates, 5 to 10 million landmines remained in western Sahara, and they called on Morocco to facilitate de-mining, and for the international community to help.

China Society for Human Rights Studies (CSHRS) said that since the end of the Second World War and despite the efforts of the Council, wars were still persistent across the globe.  Their effects particularly impacted the rights of women and children.  It called on the Council to reduce violence and encourage the resolution of differences by peaceful means, while promoting the protection of the rights of women, children and the elderly in war zones.

Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR) stated that Indian forces in occupied Kashmir had been committing human rights breaches and enjoying impunity for years.  Harassment, arbitrary arrests and intimidations were used to put pressure on political opposition and there was no freedom of expression or assembly in the region, where the use of force was the order of the day.  It called for a commission of inquiry to be set up as soon as possible as recommended. 

International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) spoke about the conflict in Yemen where Houthis were brutally destroying areas to prevent civilians escaping to less dangerous areas.  It reminded the Council that the Houthis had not abided by the minimal requirements of the Stockholm Agreements and called on it to bring criminals to account and guarantee no impunity.

Réseau International des Droits Humains (RIDH) highlighted the systematic violation of the rights of the people of Nicaragua, with persecution, detentions and torture becoming an everyday occurrence.  More than 400 persons had been imprisoned for having protested peacefully, while more than 70 persons had suffered arbitrary detention for more than two months.  Dialogue was the sole way to peacefully resolve the crisis in Nicaragua. 

United Villages drew attention to the situation of children in Jammu and Kashmir whose lives had been shaped by violence, explosions and bullets.  It had impacted their mental and physical development; those children had to be treated with additional care and be granted State protection.  However, the authorities did not take any responsibility for those children.  A number of cases relating to juvenile justice had been reported, with the State police sending juveniles to observation homes and prison.

Geneva for Human Rights – Global Training called attention to acts by the Indonesian Government, which had been exploiting the natural resources belonging to indigenous peoples.  Papuans could not speak out and when they did, the police arrested them, charged them with treason, and destroyed their homes.  No one was given access to the investigation of those abuses. 

Liberation emphasized that India had been violating human rights and fundamental freedoms since 1947, adding that it had to return territories to Nepal.  India was removing the border pillars deliberately.  The organization called the Council’s attention to the foreign army presence in Nepal and it requested that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights take serious note of the Nepalese concerns and to stop the expansion of India’s territorial designs.

World Barua Organization (WBO) said the Christian community in India was being persecuted, and attacks had increased in the past year.  The rise of religious extremism had been a key cause.  Recently a Catholic priest had been beaten by a Hindu mob in Uttar Pradesh.  Hindu groups regularly tried to forcibly convert Christians.  They asked the Council to urge the Indian Government to guarantee the protection of minority religions in the country.

Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee stated that in the last three weeks, the Chief of the Council of Ministers in New Delhi had assumed the post of the Chief of the Armed Forces.  Money had been wasted killing innocent nationals in Kashmir by the Government.  They regretted that this money had not been used instead to care for the needs of the people.  They called on the Council to urge the Indian Government to use its funds for this purpose.

Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul made a statement in collaboration with the Tamil Peoples Front, and stated that the Government of Sri Lanka had rejected the need for criminal accountability for Tamil victims of the conflict.  The fact that Sri Lanka denied responsibility for its actions was dishonest and sinister.  They believed it necessary for the situation in Sri Lanka to be referred to the International Criminal Court, or for the establishment of a special court to look into these crimes.

African Agency for Integrated Development (AAID) called the Council’s attention to the elimination of democracy in southeast Turkey, northern Kurdistan.  The co-leaders of the People’s Democratic Party had been jailed as de facto political prisoners for challenging the one party AKP rule and demanding basic human rights for the over 20 million Kurds in Turkey.  Kurds in Turkey deserved the same human rights as every nation in the room, and the Council should demand they receive it. 

Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism said terrorism was the most severe breach of human rights in the world and the application of anti-terrorism legislation hindered the action of civil society.  Unfortunately, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights did not pay attention to victims of terrorism in Iran.

GAHT-US Corporation said the comfort women issue was a contested issue in this Council.  The expression of apologies by the Government of Japan only complicated matters. They asked for all to stop accusing each other and instead to work together.  Another re-examination should be made into whether the comfort women were sex slaves or professional prostitutes.

Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations reminded that the United Nations had been born on the ashes of atrocity and the Council was especially entrusted to uphold human life and dignity.  However, the lessons of the Holocaust had been neglected and anti-Semitism persisted.  Most of the international community was complicit in the de-legitimization and targeting of Israel and the Jewish people.  Activists were again calling for the boycott of the Jewish people.  The organization urged that a resolution on anti-Semitism be adopted.

Center for Africa Development and Progress stated that there was urgent need to release Catalan leaders imprisoned in Spain.  Their imprisonment was an affront to human rights and democracy.  The Spanish authorities had abrogated the right to assembly and converted it into a crime of treason.  If natural justice was to prevail, Spain had to protect freedom of expression, including political expression, and drop the false charges against Catalan leaders.

Conectas Direitos Humanos,in a joint statement with Réseau International des Droits Humains (RIDH), CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and World Organisation Against Torture, noted that many who spoke the truth in Brazil had been killed, such as Marielle Franco.  The Brazilian authorities had made little progress in the investigation of her murder.  She was a city councillor in Rio de Janeiro and had fought for justice for underprivileged youth and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.  It was time for Brazil to show to the international community that such attacks would not be tolerated.

Mexican Commission of Defense and Promotion of the Human Rights called attention to the dangerous campaign waged against civil society in Mexico by the President of the country.  Those attacks had created a very dangerous atmosphere, as exemplified by the murder of Samir Flores, who had protested the construction of a power plant.  His murder was the seventh registered murder of a human rights defender in 2019 alone.

Right of Reply

China, speaking in a right of reply, said that the allegations against it were unwarranted.  The Government attached great importance to the social and economic conditions in Xinjiang and Tibet, and rights there were fully protected by the law.  The Government had set up centres to help those indoctrinated by extreme ideas.  The policy had been supported by all ethnic groups.  China rejected attempts to interfere in its internal affairs by members of the Council.  China deeply regretted the self-immolation practices in Tibet in recent years, and attached great importance to the freedom of the use of the Tibetan language.  They welcomed anyone free from prejudice to visit Xinjiang or Tibet, but categorically rejected attempts to undermine the social stability of these regions.

Indonesia, speaking in a right of reply, raised the issues of Papua and West Papua.  In recent visits to these regions, non-governmental organizations had interacted with local government officials, and despite this access, it was regrettable that these organizations still spread untruths about the reality on the ground.  Whilst the population itself was thriving, armed groups were active, causing development challenges in Papua and West Papua.  Indonesia regretted that organizations with low credibility had been engaging in publicity stunts.  Human rights abuses had been improving, and past violations of human rights were under investigation by the Attorney General.  Violence in the Nduga region was regrettable, and the Government was attempting to address the situation.  Even as the Government of Indonesia tried to do so, three Indonesian soldiers had been killed by armed groups in recent days.  

Brazil, speaking in a right of reply, assured the Council that all persons in Brazil were able to exercise their political rights and confirmed that the clean slate law was fully compatible with the right to be elected without obstacle.  Brazil reiterated the Government’s long standing commitment to the rights of indigenous people and highlighted that there were currently 606 indigenous lands in Brazil, representing 12 per cent of the total territory.  Brazil shared concerns about violations of rights of indigenous peoples.  It noted the important role of human rights defenders like Marielle Franco and deeply regretted her assassination, stating that two persons had been arrested yesterday in this connection and justice would be served.

Lao People’s Democratic Republic, speaking in a right of reply, rejected the groundless statement made by a non-governmental organization that the Hmong was a discriminated against group.  Every person and ethnic group had equal rights under the laws of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.  The Hmong actively participated in cultural and political life in the country.  It urged the concerned non-governmental organization to stop providing fabricated information to the Council.

Spain, speaking in a right of reply, noted that the specialization in Spanish and Catalan issues of the organization that had delivered the statement on Spain was not very strong.  The Spanish Constitution guaranteed peaceful coexistence in the entire country and every individual had his or her rights completely protected by an impartial justice system.  Any insinuation or accusation to the contrary was completely unfounded.  The Council was not an appropriate setting for distorting political statements.  Spain believed that it would do no good to human rights if they were manipulated for goals that lacked legitimacy and that tried to impose minority opinions on the rest of society.


For use of the information media; not an official record
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