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Human Rights Council starts general debate on human rights situations requiring its attention

Human Rights Council
AFTERNOON

21 September 2015

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

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

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

Also speaking were Baha’i International Community, Human Rights Watch, Shimin Gaikou Centre, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Lawyers for Lawyers in a joint statement, World Muslim Congress, Global Network for Rights and Development, France Libertés: Fondation Daniele Mitterrand, International Educational Development Inc., International Federation of Human Rights Leagues and American Association of Jurists.

Lebanon, Turkey, Sudan, Myanmar, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Republic of Moldova, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Venezuela, Bahrain, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Turkmenistan and Iran spoke in right of reply.

The Human Rights Council will resume its work on Tuesday, 22 September at 9 a.m. to continue its general debate on human rights situations requiring its attention, before holding 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

Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that the international community should support the strengthening and promotion of democracy, development and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the entire world, without distinction between developed and developing countries. The Non-Aligned Movement stressed the need to ensure that human rights were not used for political purposes and adopting politically motivated decisions. It deplored the continuation and proliferation of selective adoption of country-specific resolutions in the Council.

Luxembourg, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed deep concern over the continuous restrictions on independent media, excessive use of force against demonstrators, arbitrary detentions, and the general climate of intimidation of opposition parties in Burundi. In Sudan, the European Union deplored continuing conflicts and restrictions on humanitarian access in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. It remained seriously concerned over the growing number of death sentences and recent executions in Egypt, and in China over the recent mass arrest of human rights lawyers and defenders. It also criticized the ongoing crackdown on civil society in the Russian Federation, and the continuing tensions and violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Germany raised concerns over the situation in Syria, Ukraine and Sudan. It expressed concerns about the human rights situation in China, and the detention of human rights defenders there, and urged China to reconsider the adoption of laws that would restrict freedom of expression. Germany was also concerned about restrictions against non-governmental organizations in the Russian Federation, and called on the authorities to investigate and prosecute allegations of torture. Germany called on the Government of South Sudan to promote and protect freedom of expression, and expressed concerns about recent developments in Burkina Faso, urging all parties there to respect and protect human rights.

Ireland was concerned about the increased use of the death penalty, including the end of the moratorium, in Chad and the death penalty against minors in Iran. It urged South Sudan to investigate and prosecute sexual violence, and was concerned about human rights violations in Burundi. Ireland called on Azerbaijan to end the persecution of human rights activists. It condemned barbaric acts against minorities by ISIL and called for accountability for perpetrators. It condemned forced and illegal evictions of Palestinians, and called for the rights of Rohingya to self-determination to be respected by the authorities of Myanmar.

Netherlands condemned deliberate attacks against civilians in South Sudan, as well as the hindering of humanitarian access there. It called on all parties to the conflict in South Sudan to end restrictions on freedom of expression and persecution of journalists and activists, and insisted on the importance of accountability for human rights defenders. It was alarmed at attacks against civilians in Sudan. The Netherlands urged the Government of Burundi to diffuse the situation there and opt for dialogue, to strengthen efforts to prevent further violence, and to lift restrictions on freedom of expression and the media.

Republic of Korea expressed appreciation to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for having faithfully implemented the Human Rights Council resolution by establishing the field-based structure in Seoul. The Special Rapporteur had visited the country two weeks ago and all those activities would ensure accountability for the human rights violations in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

France said that Assad was the one responsible for the most serious humanitarian crisis the world had to deal with since World War II and said that the crimes by ISIS could not be ignored; there must be accountability for the crimes committed in Syria. The Council must be mobilized by the massive violations committed by Boko Haram, while the international community should encourage all parties in Burundi to respect the provisions of Arusha acquis.

United Kingdom was seriously concerned about the human rights situation in Sudan, where violence must be brought to an end. Accountability was fundamental to a lasting peace in South Sudan; thus, the African Union’s Commission of Inquiry should publish its report into human rights abuses in full. The United Kingdom was concerned about the deterioration of the human rights situation in eastern Ukraine and illegally-annexed Crimea. The dire situation in Gaza must be addressed though practical steps in support of reconstruction and economic recovery, and to prevent a further cycle of violence.

Russian Federation said that many situations in the world required the Council’s urgent attention, such as the phenomenon of massive lack of citizenship within the European Union. Discrimination of national minorities in Latvia and Estonia negated international standards. Additional attention was necessary with respect to the United States using the principle of extraterritoriality in order to remove itself from the jurisdiction of international courts, such as in the case of Guantanamo. It regretted that the United States and the United Kingdom continued their practice of using drone attacks against suspected terrorist forces. The practice of surveillance of private citizens’ phone calls in the United States, France, Belgium, Canada and Norway, under the pretext of anti-terrorist campaign, was also unacceptable

United States expressed deep concern over the human rights situations in Iran, such as the crackdown on journalists and human rights defenders, as well as executions carried out in a manner contrary to international obligations. China had detained nearly 300 lawyers and activists since July 2015 and the United States called for their immediate release. Venezuela’s recent efforts to silence political dissent was concerning. It urged Cuba to make good on its commitments to receive Special Rapporteurs and schedule their visits, and Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to allow domestic and foreign journalists and human rights activists to carry out their work. It also expressed concern over violation of freedom of expression in Egypt, Russian Federation and Myanmar.

Japan appreciated the increasing momentum in the international community around the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The opening of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Seoul in June 2015 raised expectation that it would monitor and document the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, perform advocacy activities and provide technical assistance for capacity building. Japan expected the Special Rapporteur’s next report to be action-oriented and substantial. It condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea threats against the Office in Seoul.

Montenegro encouraged States to place the promotion and protection of human rights at the centre of their policy. The human rights situation in Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was particularly disturbing, for which reason Montenegro welcomed separate discussions on the two countries. The current migrant and refugee crisis in Europe added to the importance of finding a political solution to end the conflict in Syria. Montenegro asked the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to deliver on its initially expressed interest to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Ghana welcomed the opening of the office in Seoul, which should help further strengthen the early warning mechanism. Ghana was hoping that the two Koreas would resolve the open issues, including enforced disappearances, through an engaged dialogue. The Council was called to pay close attention to the ongoing developments in Burkina Faso, where the democratic process ought to be re-established. The peace and security in West Africa could be brought into danger if the instability in Burkina Faso continued. Ghana intended to ratify the Convention on Enforced Disappearances.

China said that human rights issues should not be used for interference in other countries’ internal affairs. China refused accusations made in today’s session, including on China’s ethnic policy. Racial discrimination was a serious issue in the United States, and minority groups were treated unfairly in many areas. China was concerned about the double standards by European countries in the way they were treating arriving migrants. In the United Kingdom and Germany, for example, migrants, including many Muslims, were exposed to xenophobia and unfair treatment. The United States had no right to assume the tasks of mentoring others in human rights.

Venezuela condemned the United States’ interventionist and imperialist discourse, which contained no reference to arbitrary detentions perpetrated in Guantanamo or to savage police repression, global espionage and unilateral sanctions by the United States. It was regrettable that some States that gave lectures on human rights did not respect human rights on their territory. International relations should be based on genuine and constructive dialogue and cooperation, rather than selectivity, politicization and double-standards.

Cuba condemned Western countries’ use of this agenda item to systematically criticize developing countries, while deliberately overlooking their own human rights shortcomings, such as the situation of migrants in Europe, which was an offense to the human conscience. Cuba was deeply concerned at the European Union’s failure to address this issue, as well as at the increase of xenophobia and racism there. It then voiced concerns over racial discrimination and police brutality in the United States, which never happened in Cuba. Cuba had also never been responsible for violating international law in its extra-territorial activities.

Norway expressed concerns about the humanitarian and human rights situation in South Sudan, and said it was of the utmost importance that the peace agreement be respected there. It was also concerned that the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo remained grave. In Eritrea, the militarization of the society remained one of the main concerns. Norway called on Iran to put in place a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. It reiterated its call on the Russian Federation, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan to ensure that civil society and human rights defenders were able to operate in an enabling environment.

Spain raised concern over the barbarity of ISIL that affected in particular children and women. It was seriously concerned about the deteriorating situation in Burundi where media were repressed, as well as the right to protest, and political opposition leaders were imprisoned. The situation in Yemen also deserved the Council’s attention, especially indiscriminate attacks against the civilian population. Human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories were also worrying, as well as the use of the death penalty in various countries.

Australia stated that the Seoul office was undertaking essential work, building on the ground breaking work of the Commission of Inquiry on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Commission had a powerful mandate to seek full accountability and its report provided a detailed factual record and legal analysis of the shocking violations by the regime.

Canada voiced alarm by the continued atrocities committed by Boko Haram and the resulting humanitarian impact on civilians across the region. It also remained deeply concerned over the ongoing systematic human rights violations in Iran, including the continually increasing application of the death penalty. Canada was also seriously concerned about the human rights situation in Burundi, Sudan and Uzbekistan.

Switzerland deplored death sentences against persons suspected of terrorism in Iraq and Pakistan, where forced confessions were sometimes taken as evidence. Switzerland remained concerned about the incarceration of more than 200 lawyers and their families in China. Russia’s use of the judiciary to limit actions of persons critical of the Government was also worrying. In Venezuela, the arrest of persons critical of the Government remained a matter of concern. The persistence of the prison camp in Guantanamo was disquieting.

Ukraine drew the attention of the Council to illegal arrests of Ukrainian citizens, their abductions from the territory of Ukraine and their further illegal detentions in Russia on trumped-up charges. There were politically motivated prosecutions in occupied Crimea, and a full list of those imprisoned for political reasons was still not available. Ukraine reiterated that the provisions of the Minsk agreements regarding the release of all hostages and illegally detained persons applied to the Ukrainian citizens illegally detained. Nadiya Savchenko and other illegally detained Ukrainian citizens should be released.

Czech Republic was concerned about the seriously flawed trials in Russia, and the campaign against human rights defenders in Azerbaijan. In Bahrain, the imprisonment of political opposition members should be stopped. Iran was asked to review its stance on the death penalty. Venezuela and Belarus were called upon to apply democratic standards in their respective upcoming elections. Venezuela should release all politically imprisoned inmates, such as Leonardo Lopez. The Czech Republic regretted to see the increasing number of executions in Pakistan.

Belgium was concerned over the deterioration of the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including the harassment of human rights defenders. It called upon the Council to establish a monitoring mechanism to prevent further human rights violations in Burundi. Belgium then raised concerns over human rights violations in Venezuela and Cuba. It called on China to put an end to repressive measures against political opponents and activists.

Iran expressed grave concerns about human rights violations by the United States, inside and outside of the country. It also condemned grave human rights violations by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It condemned the excessive use of force and racism against migrants in some European countries. It then referred to grave violations of indigenous peoples’ rights in Canada.

Ecuador said it had expressed concerns at racial discrimination in the United States and the absence of effective oversight leading to increased gun violence there. It voiced concerns about the closing of Guantanamo being postponed, alleged torture by the CIA and extrajudicial executions in the Middle East by the United States. Ecuador called on European countries to protect the rights of migrants and asylum seekers.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea noted that an honest discussion of the state of human rights should also include the issue of human rights violations in the United States, such as the killing of persons of African descent, discrimination of immigrants, Islamophobia and widespread neo-Nazism. The United Nations should not ignore the appalling human rights situations in the United States and other Western countries. Japan committed war crimes in Korea during the Second World War and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea urged the Japanese Government to offer a serious apology. The Republic of Korea should stop confrontation with its northern neighbour in the international arena.

Denmark condemned the widespread human rights violations and abuses by all parties in South Sudan. It also urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to take all measures to improve the appalling human rights situation. It called on Maldives to put an end to arbitrary and politically motivated detentions. It criticized Israeli settlement activity, the horrific human rights abuses perpetrated by the ISIL and other armed groups in Syria and Iraq, the detention of human rights activists in Bahrain and Egypt, and discrimination against women and religious minorities in Iran.

Georgia drew attention to the grave situation of human rights in the occupied Georgian territories. The Georgian language was forbidden in the Abkhazia and Ossetia region. The United Nations Secretary-General had expressed his concern over the situation, which undermined stability and peace in the region. Georgia appealed to the international community to make efforts to prevent further human rights violations its occupied territories.

Sudan regretted statements by some countries which neglected efforts made by Sudan to improve the human rights situation, and were divorced from reality. The Government had joined a number of international human rights covenants, but Sudan continued to be targeted by various accusations. The Government was preparing to declare a ceasefire and called upon all the parties to the conflict to respond to the calls for peace and dialogue.

Israel stated that Iran was continuing its notorious campaign of executions amongst its citizens. The situation in Iraq, Libya and Syria continued the nightmare, including indiscriminate attacks on civilians and the persistence of torture. In Jerusalem, radicals had deliberately turned a holy place to both Muslims and Jews to a place of conflict. Over recent months, there had been sharp increase in attacks in Jerusalem and its environs; Israel would take necessary measures and would not tolerate violence.

Belarus was in favour of a mutually respectful dialogue in the Council, but item 4 of the agenda had recently been used for political purposes by certain countries, which violated numerous rights of their own citizens. Measures taken by some European countries in the midst of the refugee crisis brought attention to the need to develop a better coordinated approach and the creation of refugee centres with the participation of all interested parties.

Slovenia said Syrians were being subjected to unimaginable suffering, and called on all States to show political will to address the situation there. The Syrian conflict was in direct correlation with the migrant crisis which Slovenia and other European countries were facing. Slovenia respected the rights of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, and its police respected their dignity and rights, in cooperation with non-governmental organizations. The international community needed to address the root causes of the crisis, i.e. the gross violations of human rights in Syria.

Iceland was deeply concerned about restrictions on freedom of opinion in Bangladesh, and called on the authorities to create an enabling environment for civil society. Iceland urged Saudi Arabia to address violations against freedom of expression, to end impunity and to review legislation containing inadequate safeguards against due process and human rights. It then urged Egypt to abolish or review any national legislation that aimed to fight terrorism but could be abused to penalize legitimate expression. Finally, it voiced concerns at the continuing violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Azerbaijan remained deeply concerned about hate speech, xenophobia and violations of the rights of migrants in the European Union, and over discrimination against the Roma community in European countries. It expressed concerns over racial profiling in Switzerland, discrimination against people of African descent in Ireland, and restrictions on freedom of expression in Norway.

Baha’i International Community drew attention to the mistreatment of the Baha’i in Iran. They were subject to arbitrary detention and discrimination throughout the judicial process, which violated Iran’s own Penal and Criminal Procedures Code. The Baha’i in Iran did not ask for any special privileges but only for their rights. They expressed hope that the High Commissioner for Human Rights would continue to put pressure on the Iranian Government to put an end to discrimination.

Human Rights Watch said that the Council had demonstrated inefficiency in human rights protection all over the world. In Bangladesh journalists and opposition members had been arrested and remained in custody. The authorities had failed to protect bloggers and their right to free expression of opinion. The Russian Federation continued to pursue a crackdown on civil society activists and smeared them as “foreign agents”. The Russian Parliament had adopted a law on civil society that undermined Russian law. China, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan also required further attention of the Council.

Shimin Gaikou Centre (Citizens' Diplomatic Centre for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) featured a statement by the Governor of the Okinawa Prefecture in Japan who advocated against the United States military presence and military bases in Okinawa. Okinawa covered only 0.6 per cent of Japanese soil. However, 73.8 per cent of the United States bases were located there. Those bases had caused many incidents, accidents and environmental problems in Okinawa. The right to self-determination and human rights of the local people were being neglected.

International Fellowship of Reconciliation asked that the long-lasting conflict in Colombia be brought to an end. To that goal, criminal gangs and paramilitary groups ought to be disarmed. The demand was made that nobody left the negotiations table until the final agreement had been reached. The support and backing of all in the Council was necessary in that regard.

Lawyers for Lawyers, in a joint statement with International Federation for Human Rights Leagues and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada stated that Saudi Arabia had threatened the integrity of the United Nations human rights system. A large number of prominent human rights defenders had been charged, inter alia, for striving to overthrow the State by calling for a constitutional monarchy and for criticising the judiciary. The Council should preserve its integrity by condemning gross and systematic violations of human rights in Saudi Arabia.

World Muslim Congress said that the situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir deserved the full attention of the Council. A recent report revealed the true scope of impunity; the Indian State was using “terrorists to kill terrorists” in the occupied lands. The world chose to look the other way when Kashmiri toddlers were killed by Indian bullets. The Council was asked to appoint a special rapporteur on Kashmir.

Global Network for Rights and Development expressed concerns about the situation of refugees and asylum seekers from Syria, and recalled every man’s right to seek asylum in third countries. There was a need for comprehensive solutions to protect refugees’ rights. It was vital that States granted asylum to these refugees and observed the principle of non-refoulement.

France Libertés: Fondation Danielle Mitterrand was concerned about the lack of improvement of the human rights situation in Western Sahara, including the death in detention of Sahraoui activists. The right to peaceful demonstration was systematically violated by the Moroccan authorities. The Council should establish an international monitoring mechanism in Western Sahara.

International Educational Development Inc. was concerned about the situation of Sikh persons in India, and the authorities’ denial of the Sikh people’s strong claim for self-determination. The Council should recognize the Sikh claim and assist the Sikh people as they would carry out a referendum on the issue in 2020.

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues warned of the widespread use of force against demonstrators, arbitrary arrests, torture and ill treatment in Burundi. It called on all States to urge China to cease its targeting of human rights defenders and to immediately release those arbitrarily detained. It deplored the failure of the Council to take collective action on Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

American Association of Jurists called the attention of the Council to the legal opinion released by the African Union regarding the legality of actions taken by the Moroccan Government or any other State, foreign companies and other entities in the exploration and exploitation of renewable and non-renewable natural resources or any other economic activity in Western Sahara. It called the Council to hold a regular debate on human rights violations in the Non Self-governing Territory of Western Sahara.

Right of Reply

Lebanon, speaking in a right of reply, said that Israel had referred to Hezbollah, one of the governing factions in Lebanon, as a terrorist organization, which was an unacceptable characterization. Israel still occupied certain parts of Lebanon, and before it had withdrawn from the rest of the south of Lebanon, it had committed numerous crimes and carried out torture. Lebanon hosted a large number of Syrian refugees, who represented one third of its population, and devoted significant resources to them.

Turkey, speaking in a right of reply, denied unfounded accusations by Syria, and stressed that the Syrian regime was the main responsible party for the destruction of Syria. Da’esh posed a clear and imminent threat to Turkey, which was countering it. As long as President Assad stayed in power, the vicious cycle of terrorism could not be broken.

Sudan, speaking in a right of reply, stated that it had made efforts on its part to achieve peace. There were some false accusations on governmental bombing of civilians. Sudan’s judicial system had always ensured that persons responsible for violations were brought to justice across the country. European countries made no reference that the rebels were rejecting the peace.

Myanmar, speaking in a right of reply, regretted that some delegations had referred to it by the name of Burma. Myanmar regretted some delegations’ comments relating to human rights in Myanmar, and rejected allegations of discrimination in the country.

Syria, speaking in a right of reply, regretted that France had forgotten its colonial past and continued to give lessons. France should abstain from supporting terrorist groups and providing them with weapons. France was a prominent member of the Security Council and should assume a particular responsibility.

Egypt, speaking in a right of reply, categorically rejected remarks made about Egypt, and said these allegations were politically motivated and groundless. Egypt’s constitution guaranteed the rule of law and the impartiality of the judiciary. The death penalty was used in accordance with international standards. Every person arrested or detained was treated with the due process of the law and in a manner that protected dignity. It was ironic that despite allegations, the number of civil society registered in Egypt had increased over the past year. Egypt condemned violations by Israel.

Saudi Arabia, speaking in a right of reply in response to Ireland’s statement with respect to the application of the death penalty, said Islam was enshrined in the constitution and it was the source of all rights for all peoples. It provided provisions for fair trial, and the death penalty was only applied for the most serious crimes. The accusation that fair trials did not exist in Saudi Arabia was not true and was unacceptable. Those countries criticizing Saudi Arabia should look at their own actions and their own human rights violations, such as those committed by Israel.

Japan, speaking in a right of reply, said its position on the past had been stated many times. As for the statement by the Okinawa Governor, nothing was more important for the Government than to ensure the security of the country and its people. In cooperation with the United States Government, Japan had taken a series of measures to alleviate the impact of the United States military bases in Okinawa. The Government would continue to work on the matter in line with relevant laws and regulations, and it would continue to provide explanation on the matter.

Republic of Moldova, speaking in a right of reply in response to the statement by the Russian Federation, rejected the alleged restriction on the freedom of media in the Republic of Moldova, reminding that it was a traditional co-sponsor of the resolution on the freedom of opinion and expression. The work of the Russian media in the country was not limited in any artificial or illegitimate way. In total, in the country, there were 80 rebroadcast television channels in the Russian language.

Uzbekistan, speaking in a right of reply, said that Uzbekistan had taken serious measures in recent years to strengthen its civil society. Today, there were more than 7,000 non-governmental organizations in Uzbekistan. The number of media in the country was constantly growing. Continuous steps were being taken to fight forced labour. Uzbekistan was worried about racism and xenophobia in the United States.

Pakistan, speaking in a right of reply, stated that the courts and judiciary in Pakistan were professional and independent. Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts were in total compliance with both its national legislation and international human rights law. The death penalty was only applied after adhering to the full due process of law, and with the right to seek pardon or appeal for commutation.

Russian Federation, speaking in a right of reply, said that the people of the Crimea had exercised their right to self-determination in line with Article 1 of the United Nations Charter. Allegations of any abuses in any of the subjects of the Russian Federation were thoroughly investigated. The present situation of the Tatars was the result of the long-time neglect of their minority by the Kiev authorities.

Venezuela, speaking in a right of reply, condemned some countries’ targeting of Venezuela, and rejected allegations made by them. This Council was not the place to undermine other States. States should re-verify their sources of information before making baseless allegations.

Bahrain, speaking in a right of reply, said freedom of expression was respected in Bahrain, and that there was no discrimination on any ground in the country. Justice was independent and impartial. Bahrain said limitations to freedom of expression were in some cases legitimate to combat terrorism.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, referred to Japan’s mass atrocities and lack of accountability for past crimes.

Turkmenistan, speaking in a right of reply, responded to the statement made by the United States with respect to its Constitution and relevant laws that guaranteed the rights of citizens to freedom of opinion and expression, as well as access to information. Its laws regulated the field of media in accordance with international law and practice.

Iran, speaking in a right of reply, rejected the politically motivated references made by Denmark. They ran counter to the upholding of human rights. Council Member States should engage in a meaningful and sincere way in order to provide for the enhancement of human rights for all.

Japan, speaking in a second right of reply, responded to the statement made by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on past crimes. They were groundless and based on an erroneous understanding of the past. Japan had since the end of the Second World War striven to build a democratic society and conducted its foreign relations as a peace loving nation.

Syria, speaking in a second right of reply, said that it was clear that Turkey supplied weapons to the armed groups in Syria. The Erdogan Government was involved in the killing of civilians in Syria. It was intent on re-establishing the Turkish Sultanate. It was also benefiting from the illicit trade of oil with ISIL.

Turkey, speaking in a second right of reply in response to what it said were Syria’s baseless allegations, rejected them entirely, noting that it was a shame that the Assad regime was still allowed to occupy a seat at the Human Rights Council.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in a second right of reply, categorically rejected Japan’s allegations. Japan was trying to convince the Council that the past was distant, but it had not admitted its past crimes and persistently refused public apology and compensation. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea urged Japan once again to settle all the past crimes and bring all those responsible to justice.

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For use of the information media; not an official record