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Human Rights Council holds interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence

17 September 2020

Concludes Interactive Dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development

The Human Rights Council this afternoon held an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.  It also concluded its interactive dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development.

Speaking on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence were European Union, Burkina Faso, Peru, Liechtenstein, Israel, France, Belgium, Sierra Leone, Armenia, Indonesia, Libya, Togo, Morocco, Chile, India, Namibia, Paraguay, Botswana, Iran, Angola, Switzerland, Republic of Korea, Venezuela, Nepal, Timor-Leste, Peru, Croatia, Russian Federation, Sudan, Ireland, United Kingdom, Egypt, Cambodia, Japan, France, Syria and Iraq.

The following civil society organizations also took the floor : Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism, International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, Asociación Civil, International Lesbian and Gay Association, International Commission of Jurists, Peace Brigades International Switzerland, International Organization for the Right to Education and Freedom of Education, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Conscience and Peace Tax International and Public Organization "Public Advocacy".

At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded its interactive dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development.  The interactive dialogue with the Expert Mechanism started this morning and a summary can be found here.

Speaking on the right to development were European Union, Pakistan, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Morocco, China, Bangladesh, Iran, Venezuela, Nepal, Malaysia, Sudan, Syria, Egypt, Nigeria, Chad and Tanzania.

The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor : Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII, Sikh Human Rights Group, Beijing Zhicheng Migrant Workers' Legal Aid and Research Centre, Servas International, iuventum e.V., Beijing Children's Legal Aid and Research Centre, and Centre for Environmental and Management Studies.

The Republic of Korea and Japan spoke in right of reply at the end of the meeting.

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

The Council will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 18 September, to hold an urgent debate on the situation of human rights in Belarus.

Interactive Dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development

The interactive dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development started this morning and a summary can be found here.

Discussion

Speakers drew a distinction between the right to development and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, noting that the former was by no means limited by the content and deadlines of the latter.  In addition to the implementation of adequate policies at the national level, the realization of the right to development required equitable international trade conditions.  The negative impacts of unilateral coercive measures on the right to development in targeted countries should be the subject for a thematic study by the Expert Mechanism.  

Expressing support for the creation of a legally binding instrument on the right to development, speakers welcomed the five thematic studies outlined by the Chairperson-Rapporteur.  The right to development was an overarching human right that required sustained international attention.  Speakers drew attention to the adverse impact of occupation on this right.  Underlining that the right to development was not yet well known by the general public nor at the grass-root level, speakers asked if the Expert Mechanism had thought to develop a communication strategy to fill this gap.  It was important to provide vulnerable groups with means for the independent development of individuals, as well as access to work to improve their socioeconomic conditions.

Concluding Remarks

BONNY IBHAWOH, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development, addressing concerns about an overlap between the work of the Expert Mechanism and other mechanisms, said the Mechanism had already met with the Special Rapporteur on the right to development to map out areas of cooperation.

MIHIR KANADE, Member of the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development, said that the importance of operationalizing the right to development and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals was paramount.  The first study of the Mechanism would centre on the symbiotic relations between the two with concrete policy recommendations for action.

ARMANDO ANTONIO DE NEGRI FILHO, Member of the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development, said concerns about the general awareness of the right to development were relevant.  The Mechanism would include dialogues with grass root organizations in the framework of their studies.

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-recurrence

Presentation of Reports

FABIÁN SALVIOLI, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, presenting his report, said memorialization processes constituted the fifth pillar of transitional justice : an autonomous and transversal pillar that contributed to the implementation of the remaining four, and represented a vital tool that allowed societies to get out of the logic of hatred and conflict, and initiate solid processes towards a culture of peace.  The principle of progressive development applied fully to memorialization processes. 

On his visit to El Salvador, he acknowledged the progress in terms of truth and guarantees of non-repetition achieved after the signing of the peace accords, but expressed serious concerns about delays and setbacks, such as the adoption of the Amnesty Law, and the slow pace of criminal investigations after it was declared unconstitutional.  

On the visit to the Gambia, he welcomed the process initiated with the support and guidance of the international community to address the grave human rights violations committed during the authoritarian regime of former President Yahya Jammeh.  However, he urged the authorities to move more quickly on the pending aspects of the transitional justice programme.

Statement by Concerned Countries

El Salvador, speaking as a concerned country, said it was important to note that the visit of the Special Rapporteur to El Salvador had been carried out in a context of transition of government and that the observations had been received by a new administration.  The report recognized the open and fruitful relationship that the State had established with the Human Rights Council and its special procedures, as well as with the treaty bodies.  The progress that El Salvador had achieved since the signing of the Peace Accords was also recognized.  President Bukele, on February 28, 2020, had made use of constitutional powers to veto the legislative decree that contained the “Special Law of Transitional Justice, Reparation and National Reconciliation”, which did not address the request of victims and their families and contained other loopholes.

The Gambia, speaking as a concerned country, welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s report.  As the Government continued its efforts to lay the foundation for good governance, democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights, it took note of the report.  The Gambia was struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had hindered the implementation of the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur and caused delays in the enactment of a number of bills.  The Government had been working towards the domestication of the International Convention against Torture.  Further, the Constitutional Review Commission had submitted a draft constitution.  A bill had then been tabled before the national assembly, which was currently debating it.  A truth, reconciliation and reparations commission had been created to address past violations and prevent impunity.

Sri Lanka, speaking as a concerned country, said the report failed to adequately and positively portray the significant progress achieved in respect of truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence since the visit of the Special Rapporteur and hence was not a reflection on the situation currently prevalent in Sri Lanka.  Further, it failed to note the progress made in promulgating legislation and the progressive steps taken by the Government of Sri Lanka to address truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence to all communities.  Reference to the role of the Attorney General had been misconstrued and misconceived and the references made in the report to the Office of the Attorney General were without any justification or legal basis.  Sri Lanka cautioned the Council against certain segments that attempted to fabricate false narratives of intimidation and harassment by the State, which the Government had disproved with solid evidence.

Discussion

Speakers said that memorialization and “dialogic truth” were absolute preconditions for debates on the causes and consequences of past crimes and violence, and the attribution of direct and indirect responsibility, inter alia.  Memory was a dynamic process ; the Special Rapporteur should dedicate his next report to the way in which the passage of time affected the perception of past crimes.  Concurring with the Special Rapporteur, speakers said failure to recognize and punish crimes led to denialism that could perpetuate violence.  What mechanisms could guarantee that the publication of documents pertaining to past violations did not compromise peace and stability?

Interim Remarks

FABIÁN SALVIOLI, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, said the report outlined that it was fundamental that victims’ associations be involved from the outset of transitional justice processes.  There were various participation mechanisms and several best practices in different countries, not all of which were reflected in the report.

Discussion

Speakers said that the report stated that history and memory work could not be dissociated from contemporary political influence.  Holocaust denial and revisionism aimed to undermine the foundations of democratic societies, just as the hijacking of memory and forgetting heightened tensions and bred violence.  One of the most egregious forms of violence waged during conflict was sexual and gender-based violence, disproportionately inflicted on women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex persons.  Yet, the particular experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex persons had rarely been included in the official narratives of the conflicts. 

Concluding Remarks

FABIÁN SALVIOLI, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, thanking all those who had supported and assisted him, said that in many transitional justice processes, memory was diluted, and this was why he had established memorialization as the fifth pillar of transitional justice.

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