First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Addresses the Council
16 September 2016
The Human Rights Council this afternoon concluded its general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development. It also heard an address by David Zalkaliani, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia.
Mr. Zalkaliani said that human rights education and training was indispensable to the realization of human rights and freedoms and to promoting equality and preventing conflict and human rights abuses. Referring to the High Commissioner’s statement on Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, Mr. Zalkaliani reminded the Council that serious human rights violations continued to be systematic in those regions.
During the general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, speakers addressed a wealth of issues ranging from the safety of journalists to the right to development, as well as alleged human rights violations connected to a number of ongoing conflicts around the world. The plight of vulnerable groups such as migrants, women and children were also addressed by numerous speakers, who noted among other measures that migrants’ access to legal recourse was essential when it came to their exercise of their human rights.
The first part of the general debate started earlier in the day and a summary can be found here.
Speaking were Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, Indigenous peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee, Norwegian Refugee Council, Article 19, Alliance Defending Freedom, Korea Centre for United Nations Human Rights Policy, Conseil de Jeunesse pluriculturelle, World Liberal Union, Associazione Communità Papa Giovanni XXIII (in a joint statement), Centre for Reproductive Rights (in a joint statement), World Jewish Congress, Make Mothers Matter, Friends World Committee for Consultation (Quakers), Humanist Institute for Co-Operation with Developing Countries, International Commission of Jurists, World Muslim Congress, International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations, World Barua Organization, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association, Action Canada for Population and Development, Alsalam Foundation, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, Iraqi Development Organization, CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, International Career Support Association, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Federacion de Asociaciones de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace
International Association for Democracy in Africa, Pan African Union for Science and Technology, Asian Legal Resource Centre, Union of Arab Jurists, Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs, United Schools International, Prahar, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, World Evangelical Alliance, United Nations Watch, Indian Council of South America, European Union of Public Relations, Canners International Permanent Committee, Centre for Environmental and Management Studies, International Bar Association, Colombian Commission of Jurists, International-Lawyers.org, International Educational Development, Inc, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance, International Committee for the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, International Service for Human Rights, Commission africaine des promoteurs de la santé et des droits de l’homme, Liberation, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights, Arab Commission for Human Rights, Association of World Citizens, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Iuventum, Human Rights Now, Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts, Helios Life Association, International Muslim Women’s Union, Fundacion Latinoamericana por los Derechos Humanos y el Desarollo Social, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, Reportes Sans Frontiers International, All-China Environmental Federation, Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) Asociación Civil, France Libertes: Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, Auspice Stella, Franciscans International, African Regional Agricultural Credit Association and the Organization for Defending Victims of Violence.
India, Republic of Korea, Japan, Pakistan and Democratic People's Republic of Korea spoke in exercise of their right of reply.
The Human Rights Council then met in private to discuss its complaints procedure. The Council will next meet in public on Monday, 19 September at 9 a.m., to hold an interactive dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, followed by a general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention.
General Debate on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development
Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture drew attention to the oppressive measures taken by the Government of Bahrain against its citizens, and to the oppression of the Palestinian people, as well as to the oppression of the people of Saudi Arabia and most of the Gulf States. A genocidal war was being waged by Saudi Arabia against other Arab people.
Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy pointed out to the lack of human rights training of the Indian police and armed personnel who did not know the difference between the preservation and violation of human rights. It appealed to the Council to suggest to India the introduction of human rights training to law enforcement personnel.
Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee requested the Government of India through the Human Rights Council not to neglect their elderly citizens but to provide them with what they needed most, which was care, shelter, food and health facilities. Elderly people in conflict zones required special attention so provisions should be made for their overall development.
Norwegian Refugee Council spoke about the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, noting that in the West Bank, three schools had been demolished in 2016. In Gaza, the adverse impact of the destruction of schools and kindergartens was still being felt. There were severe restrictions on movement and access. In East Jerusalem, the acceptability of the form and substance of education was under threat as a result of policies which threatened educational autonomy.
Article 19 expressed alarm that in 2015 alone, 114 journalists had been killed. Journalists could not rely on authorities to keep them safe if those same authorities sought to put them in prison. The Human Rights Council was called on to act to address the disparity between the standards for the safety of journalists adopted in Room XX, and the reality for journalists on the ground.
Alliance Defending Freedom said that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development pledged that no one would be left behind. That was why abortion was a concern, it was unacceptable to the inherent dignity of all human beings. Induced abortion could never truly be safe and States must do all that was in their power to avoid recourse to abortion. The priority for the international community should be to assist States in providing necessary maternal health care.
Korea Centre for United Nations Human Rights Policy was deeply concerned that the right to effective remedy and reparation to victims of human rights violations continued to be neglected. In December 2015, the Republic of Korea and Japan had announced that they had reached a final and irreversible agreement on the issue of military sexual slavery by Japan, but the agreement did not include a full admission of responsibility or the recognition of the fact; it was neither a remorse nor apology.
Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle was concerned about the human rights situation in the United Arab Emirates and the limitation of freedom of expression by the anti-terrorism legislation. The Emirati authorities also used systematic enforced disappearances as a tool of political oppression: last year, some 180 prisoners of conscience had been disappeared.
World Liberal Union said that the murder of the British Member of Parliament Jo Cox had been a stark reminder of the violence that women engaged in politics faced. Acts of violence against politically active women reinforced stereotypes and traditional roles given to women by using domination and control to exclude them. It was a clear violation of human rights and a major barrier to achieving gender equality.
Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII, on behalf of severals NGOs1, reiterated that the 2030 Agenda had been informed by the right to development and provided a new impetus for realizing this vision. States must focus on strengthening the means of implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 17, and adopt a right to development approach that focused not only on the outcomes but also on the processes though which those outcomes were to be achieved.
Centre for Reproductive Rights, in a joint statement, noted that despite massive reductions in maternal mortality rates over the last two decades, the full realization and enjoyment of women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health rights remained a distant goal for millions. In 2015 alone there had been 303,000 pregnancy-related deaths of women and girls which were largely preventable.
World Jewish Congress said that violent extremism often had devastating effects on minorities, as exhibited by the recent attacks on Jewish communities worldwide. One of key ways to contain extreme violence was through children’s education and avoidance of negative stereotypes, as well as the stopping of hate speech on the Internet and social media. There should be immediate removal of extremist ideas shared online.
Make Mothers Matter regretted that the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights dismissed the role of women in the prevention and countering of violent extremism. Women’s empowerment and active participation were key to build communities and societies that were resilient to violent extremism as mothers often had significant insight and influence in families and communities.
Friends World Committee for Consultation (Quakers) noted that for too long children of incarcerated parents had been ignored not only by the systems that deprived them of their carers but also by the systems in place to protect their rights. It called on all States to learn from examples of good practices as they sought to implement the relevant Council resolutions.
Humanist Institute for Co-Operation with Developing Countries said that a number of cases of disappeared migrants had been reported when the migrants had been transiting through a third country. Access to the justice system was limited for migrants, and their families did not have access to remedies. Migrants lived through situations of defencelessness. It was a matter of urgency for countries of origin, transit and destination to eradicate violations of migrants’ human rights.
International Commission of Jurists said that migrants had to have access to justice, which included fair and effective individualized procedures in relation to key decisions such as entitlement to refugee status, among other important aspects. Concern was expressed about any reduction of the role of judges and lawyers in relation to large-scale movements of refugees and migrants.
World Muslim Congress said that those who were demanding the right to self-determination were being tortured, humiliated, maimed, blinded, and killed with impunity in Jammu and Kashmir. Yesterday, a well-known Kashmiri human rights defender, Mr. Khurram Parvez, had been arbitrarily arrested and prevented from attending this session of the Human Rights Council.
International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations said that the arrest of Mr. Khurram Parvez came immediately after the High Commissioner for Human Rights had requested India to allow a United Nations mission to meet with victims of reported excessive use of force against the civilian population in Kashmir. His unlawful detention was an act of reprisal for the work he and his organization had carried out, documenting human rights violations committed by Indian armed forces in the region.
World Barua Organization said that there were 81 million older persons in India and nearly 40 per cent of the senior citizens living with their families experienced abuse, but only one in six cases actually came before the justice. The laws in India obliged children to provide monthly allowance for their parents, but the State was under no obligation to establish old people homes and to provide old age pensions throughout the country.
Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association drew attention to modern forms of slavery in the form of caste-based discrimination which affected 160 million persons, mainly Dalits, in South Asia and 260 million persons in the world. Despite the evolution of international human rights law, the Human Rights Council continued to insufficiently address caste-based discrimination.
Action Canada for Population and Development recalled that the right to make free and informed decisions about one’s own body without coercion, violence or discrimination was at the heart of human rights law. The Council should continue to produce contextualized analysis of sexuality and gender in relation to bodily autonomy to expand the range of people and groups who were able to access protections under the international human rights system.
Alsalam Foundation raised concern about the increasing trend of arbitrary detention in Bahrain, and the detention of human rights defenders, including one with his infant son. Others were sentenced to death based on admissions obtained under torture. All States should end the practice of arbitrary arrest and detention and immediately release all those detained.
Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, in a joint statement, raised concern over arbitrary detention in Saudi Arabia. It continued to share deep concern over the death penalty used by certain States, particularly of the death sentence handed down to minors in Saudi Arabia. It called on all States to end the practice of political executions and unfair trials.
Iraqi Development Organization drew attention to the political situation in Yemen and the fact that Parliament did not have a quorum. The attacks of the Saudi-led coalition continued to have devastating effects on the country. Financial transfers from the country were interrupted and Yemeni cultural sites were in danger.
CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation welcomed the discussion to develop a more robust guiding framework to protect and promote the right to participate in political and public affairs. It regretted that civil society and human rights defenders were commonly subjected to targeted persecution to prevent them from engaging in election-related activities.
International Career Support Association stated that the United Nations report on comfort women during the Second World War was groundless and based on fabricated stories. Nevertheless, the term “sex slaves” spread all over the world. The organization urged the United Nations to send another Special Rapporteur to Japan to examine the authenticity of the Coomaraswamy report.
International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination said that countless human rights abuses in Palestine were taking place on a daily basis, including denial of access to water; those were clear features of an apartheid system. In Iraq, the population was still suffering from the effects of the United States invasion. Generations would suffer the consequences. Militias were responsible for crimes. The lack of accountability set dangerous precedents.
Federacion de Asociaciones de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos asked a rhetorical question relating to whether the presence of a national human rights institution of an occupying power could be considered legal or not. Western Sahara was a non-self-governing territory. The United Nations had had a peacekeeping mission there for over 20 years, but oversight of the human rights situation seemed to fall on the institution of the occupying power.
Commission to Study the Organization of Peace said that the right to development was significant, and that discrimination was prohibited under the right to development. That right remained a distant reality, however, for the Ahmadiya community in Pakistan. Discrimination started at birth and ended at death. The Ahmadiya community were being deprived of the right to live. They were not even safe in their graves, as Pakistani authorities had barred the constructions of Ahmadiya mosques.
International Association for Democracy in Africa spoke about the right to be free from arbitrary arrest, adding that in Pakistan, the authorities were failing to protect human rights defenders. Pakistan was one of the more challenged countries in the region concerning human rights defenders. Many human rights defenders had had their offices attacked. Educational curricula should be devised so that they respected cultural diversity.
Pan African Union for Science and Technology said that the systematic use of enforced disappearances in Pakistan created a constant state of anguish, particularly in Balochistan. It was not only political opponents who were victims of enforced disappearances, but also the family members of activists, in order to put pressure on them.
Asian Legal Resource Centre called the attention of the Council to the fact that in most States in Asia, arbitrary detention was the norm and that the judiciary of those States were unable to prevent it. The practice of arbitrary arrest was widely exercised also because the States had failed to modernize the police. Arbitrary detention was used to silence political opponents and activists who dared to speak against governments.
Union of Arab Jurists said that human rights were for all peoples and societies, so that they could be enjoyed with full participation and without discrimination. The sanctions imposed by some countries on other countries were illegal; in the case of Syria, those sanctions included the prohibition of oil trade with the Government regardless of the fact that the income from oil trade was used to fund health and education in Syria.
Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs said that development was not just a popular demand but a right for all. In an international context marked by conflict, violence and hate speech, the interest in the realization of the right to development and the Sustainable Development Goals was on the decline; poverty had not declined, and child mortality reflected gaps in access to health.
Statement by the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia
DAVID ZALKALIANI, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, said that despite the fact that the Human Rights Council stood guard over fundamental rights and freedoms, systematic human rights violations were ongoing. Terrorism continued to threaten global security and stability. It fell under the obligation of the international community to seek opportunities to reinforce common efforts, building upon lessons learned. Human rights education and training was indispensable to the realization of human rights and freedoms, and to promoting equality, preventing conflict and human rights abuses. The effective participation of civil society in the work of the Council and its mechanisms was instrumental. Without close cooperation with all stakeholders it was impossible to secure the sustainable development of the country, based on democratic values, the rule of law and human rights. Georgia had fruitful cooperation with civil society when it came to the Universal Periodic Review process and its reporting obligations within the United Nations treaty based bodies.
Referring to the High Commissioner’s statement on Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, Mr. Zalkaliani reminded that serious human rights violations continued to be systematic in those regions. Local residents were deprived of their basic rights and perpetrators roamed free and went unpunished. The absence of international monitoring had turned both regions into black holes. The occupation regime had blocked access to a number of Special Rapporteurs. For example, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of internally displaced persons had already been denied entry to both occupied regions. Such deplorable practice significantly hindered the effectiveness of the whole United Nations human rights machinery and it should not be tolerated by the international community.
General Debate on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development
United Schools International said that the right to development was of utmost importance. In Pakistan, being a minority was a nightmare. It was not just that the cards were stacked against them when it came to getting a job, but that they faced attacks. Pakistani minorities lived in constant fear of violence. The police were reluctant to register the complaints of minorities.
Prahar spoke about arbitrary detention in Manipur and other parts of India. The speaker said that his sister had been under detention for the last 16 years. The Working Group on arbitrary detention was requested to communicate with India regarding her cause. There were many victims of arbitrary detention in Manipur.
International Fellowship of Reconciliation said that the Government of Morocco was trying to deny the situation in Western Sahara. A report featured 351 cases of enforced disappearances, including 21 women, and provided information about 144 cases. Mass graves had been discovered, which among others had contained the bodies of two boys. They had been liquidated in the same place that they had been abducted.
World Evangelical Alliance said that in most nations, Christian Evangelical believers were a minority, who were often the target of identity politics. Diversity was a necessity for long-term peace and for reaching Sustainable Development Goal 16. India had a keen understanding of including minorities. But some Indian states had laws which were used to obstruct individual freedom of conscience.
United Nations Watch wondered whether the Council was living up to its mandate to address situations of human rights violations, including gross and systematic violations. This summer, the Council had remained silent on Turkey’s unprecedented purge, firing or arresting tens of thousands of academics, government employees, journalists and human rights activists. It had also refused to call an urgent session on Venezuela where extreme policies led to severe hunger and violence had spiked.
Indian Council of South America lauded the report on the impact of sanctions and unilateral coercive measures which had detrimental effects on the human rights of peoples, particularly civilians. They were a backward attempt for behavioural change and the non-governmental organization protested the illegal occupation of Alaska, Hawaii and other indigenous territories.
European Union of Public Relations said that 2.6 billion persons in the world did not have access to basic sanitation, and challenges associated with water and sanitation would be magnified in the future due to the ever growing population in cities needing to share inadequate and poorly managed resources. Pakistan was experiencing a fast depletion of its major sources of water due to the lack of political interest in making the existing water reservoirs efficient.
Canners International Permanent Committee said that Pakistan was a home to the second largest Shia population in the world and that the Government remained apathetic if not complicit in the violence against them, while the Sunni majority continued to look the other way. Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Jews, and Ahmadis faced discrimination, oppression, and abuse at the hand of State and non-State actors.
Centre for Environmental and Management Studies stated that the Pakistani army’s military operation in North Waziristan that began in June 2014 had caused civil, political, economic, social and cultural destruction to the region. More than a million civilian Pashtuns had been forced to displace and 40,000 civilians had been killed. The organization called for an end to the military operation in North Waziristan.
International Bar Association welcomed the abolition of the death penalty in some countries and their ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Nevertheless, it remained concerned that a number of States had retained in their legislation the mandatory death penalty.
Colombian Commission of Jurists pointed to the lack of political participation of indigenous peoples, as well as barriers to their access to land. Many indigenous peoples risked their identity and culture as a result of conflict and forced displacement. It took too long for them to restore their land rights. Indigenous authorities suffered threats and were murdered without any legal consequences. Colombia urgently needed to implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
International-Lawyers.org raised concern over the ongoing and widespread violations of Palestinians’ rights caused by intentional actions of Israel. It also drew attention to the violence in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan. Countless cases of unfair trial, torture, arbitrary detention and executions had been documented in Egypt, while Switzerland had held Mohammed el Ghanem arbitrarily detained for a decade.
International Educational Development, Inc said that the demise of the right to self-determination had had a serious effect on the situation of the people in Kashmir; they had been promised a plebiscite by the Security Council to determine their status but that had repeatedly been denied by the Government of India. The situation of the Hmong people in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic also demanded resort to the right to self-determination.
International Association of Democratic Lawyers said that using unilateral coercive measures was a serious violation of the spirit and the letter of the United Nations Charter, yet one third of the world’s population lived under unilateral coercive measures. The sanctions imposed on Cuba by the United States were one example of the uselessness of these measures.
Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance called upon the United Nations to urge the Philippines to address the situation of enforced disappearances which was among the worst in south east Asia. The human rights situation in the country was worsening and the fear was that the summary killings might shift to enforced disappearances to conceal the bodies of the victims.
International Committee for the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas spoke about the illegal occupation of the Kingdom of Hawaii in the island of Hawaii in the United States. The situation of the island of Hawaii, Alaska and the Dakotas should be referred to the United Nations Decolonisation Committee for the determination of their status.
International Service for Human Rights urged the High Commissioner to request response from the countries that still had not replied to communications from human rights bodies. Without further individual and collective leadership, the Council’s mandate would be squandered. It called on all Member States of the General Assembly to apply the highest standards of human rights.
Commission africaine des promoteurs de la santé et des droits de l’homme said that the Indian authorities had used excessive force against civilians. Hospitals in Jammu and Kashmir were full of wounded civilians and there had been frequent harassment of hospital staff by the occupying forces. The Commission called for the immediate sending of a United Nations fact-finding mission to Indian-occupied Kashmir.
Liberation drew attention to modern forms of slavery. According to a global survey of 2016, some 18 million people in India lived in conditions of modern slavery. Migrant workers were also highly vulnerable as they faced violence, sexual harassment and bonded slavery.
International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations stated that combatting racism was part of the promotion and protection of human rights. However, since the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action there had been no effective implementation of its recommendations. The most important task was to develop a multi-year programme to implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights said that the right to self-determination was a fundamental principle of international law and its respect was the fundamental feature of the United Nations Charter. The people of Jammu and Kashmir had been promised the right to self-determination but gradually India had refused to implement its promise and considered the territory as its own, resulting in massive human rights violations.
Arab Commission for Human Rights said that despite the international community’s agreement on the Sustainable Development Goals and, before those, on the Millennium Development Goals, the Inter-Governmental Working Group on the right to development had not made progress for decades. Thousands suffered enforced disappearances, due to paramilitary groups and militias that carried out abductions, including in Yemen and Libya.
Association of World Citizens said that following the outbreak of the armed conflict in Yemen and the invasion by the Houthi militias in September 2014, the humanitarian situation had collapsed. The Houthi militias were not seriously engaged in political talks and negotiations, they targeted markets, civilians and homes, and held several thousand prisoners; the resources of the Central Bank had been pillaged to pay for the mercenaries.
International Humanist and Ethical Union said that 13 anti-slavery activists had been recently arrested in Mauritania, which was particularly worrying due to the fact that more than 155,000 persons were trapped in slavery, making Mauritania the country with the highest prevalence of slavery in the world. Despite outlawing slavery three times and making it a criminal offence in 2007, the Government had failed to genuinely tackle the problem.
Iuventum raised the issue of the quality of drinking water and called for special attention by the Special Rapporteur and the Council to that matter. Having water was a vital common good, the minimum quality standard should never be compromised regardless of the level of privatization of the service.
Human Rights Now expressed great concern over the ongoing human rights violations in Okinawa, Japan, in the course of the construction of United States’ military facilities. There were 34 American military facilities covering 10 per cent of the area. Peaceful protests against the construction were currently being suppressed by the Japanese Government. It urged the Governments of Japan and the United States to respect the rights of indigenous peoples and their access to land.
Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts stated that Japan had a moral obligation to acknowledge the plight of war victims they caused during the Pacific War. Nations that waged war could not be exempted from responsibility when their military committed war crimes. The Human Rights Council could not ignore Japan’s past and present conduct that did not abide by United Nations conventions.
Helios Life Association noted that the world prison population amounted to more than 11 million, adding that the very idea of incarceration did not deter crime and did not prevent from reoffending. The recidivism rate in some countries reached 80 per cent. More hospitals, rather than prisons, were needed so that criminals could undergo treatment and rehabilitation.
International Muslim Women’s Union stated that it was high time to intervene in the Kashmir conflict and insist that India stop using pellet guns. People there were crying out for help. The statement of the High Commissioner was a hope for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, whose situation should be immediately investigated.
Fundacion Latinoamericana por los Derechos Humanos y el Desarollo Social said that a number of citizens were currently being investigated by a civilian court in Venezuela, after having been accused of offences against public order. The court process met the established parameters.
Sudwind drew attention to the very high number of prisoners awaiting the death penalty in Iran. Gruesome details on the massacres carried out in 1988 had been recently revealed in an audio recording. The massacres marked a political purge without precedent in modern Iranian history, which the State still refused to acknowledge.
Reporters Sans Frontiers International said that political and religious authorities were more and more frequently attacking journalists. In Turkey, some 40 journalists were in provisional detention, while in Burundi the Government was called upon to open investigations into the disappearance of Jean Bigirimana.
All-China Environmental Federation spoke about the contributions to society made by environmental civil society organizations, noting that they carried out awareness-raising campaigns and training sessions, provided legal aid to safeguard public environmental rights, and promoted continuous innovation in environmental technologies. The All-China Environmental Federation would continue to play its role in the protection of the right to development.
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) Asociación Civil in a joint statement with Conectas Direitos Humanos, said that the rights of migrants should be part of a broad debate in the United Nations. At the moment, the international community fell short of ensuring the rights of people on the move. The serious humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean required a change in attitude. Irregular migratory status was an obstacle to accessing rights.
France Libertes: Fondation Danielle Mitterrand spoke about arbitrary detention in the context of the Western Sahara. Citing a report by the relevant Working Group, it noted with concern that allegations of torture and mistreatment were not investigated. Concern was also expressed at the situation of 23 Saharawi human rights defenders, 21 of whom were still detained. Military judges had refused to take into account allegations of torture made by the accused.
Auspice Stella said that of 185 recorded deaths of environmental defenders in 2015, 75 of the people murdered were indigenous persons. International instruments had to be supported by strengthened observation and reporting mechanisms in order to effectively monitor powerful State and commercial actors. States were urged to fully comply with international standards.
Franciscans International highlighted the issue of Dalits and Adivasi of India classified as Schedule Castes and Scheduled Tribes, who comprised 200 million Dalits, excluding those of Christian and Muslim origin, and 82 million Adivasi, representing 25 per cent of India’s population. Dalits were forced to live in separate settlements, prohibited from worshipping in temples, barred from using the village wells, and their children were often denied education.
African Regional Agricultural Credit Association said that Balochistan remained out of the radar of many, thus allowing Pakistan to kill and violate writs with impunity. Demographic engineers were a tool used by Pakistan to turn the Balochi people into a minority. The world must wake up to the injustices suffered by the Balochi people.
Organization for Defending Victims of Violence was seriously concerned about the lack of respect of the human rights of migrants. At least 50,000 people, including children, had died over the past two years and the problems and difficulties continued even upon their arrival to their destination. Migrants were often victims of human trafficking, xenophobia and discrimination, and were used as scapegoats by politicians despite the contributions they were making to host countries and countries of origin.
Right of Reply
India, speaking in a right of reply, said that Pakistan had made unwarranted comments about Kashmir, which was an integral part of India, and forgot its obligations under the United Nations Security Council resolution on Kashmir. Parts of Jammu and Kashmir were indeed under foreign occupation, but the occupying force was Pakistan. Concrete evidence about the cross-border support for the protests by Pakistan existed. It was a high time for Pakistan to do some deep introspection and focus on dismantling terrorist structures in the country.
Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, read a quote from the report by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In the statement, the High Commissioner said that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ remote monitoring indicated that grave human rights violations persisted throughout the country.
Japan, speaking in a right of reply, stated that the construction works in Okinawa had been carried out on the basis of a permit issued by the Governor of Okinawa. Japan was a country ruled by law, so the construction works were carried out in line with rules and regulations. The Government had not imposed any unjust restrictions when it came to freedom of expression in Okinawa.
Pakistan, speaking in a right of reply, said that India was openly interfering in Pakistan’s internal affairs, particularly in Balochistan, and reminded of India’s support to one of the deadliest terrorist organizations in Asia, the Tamil Tigers. Delhi was trying to suppress the increasing attention being paid to the plight of the Kashmiri people. Over 600 million people in India lived on less than two dollars a day, noted Pakistan.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, rejected provocative assertions made by “South Korea”, which had nothing to do with human rights. Unverified and groundless allegations were continuously repeated, all with the view of eliminating the socialist system. In “South Korea”, some political parties were prohibited and certain political figures had been abandoned.
India, speaking in a second right of reply, said that terrorism was the grossest violation of human rights, and the most wanted terrorists of the world had found refuge in Pakistan in recent decades. A continuous flow of terrorists across the Indian-Pakistani border had been observed for a while. Pakistan was a nation which practiced terrorism on its own people, including those in Balochistan.
Pakistan, speaking in a second right of reply, stated that India’s effort to deny its occupation of Jammu and Kashmir was a travesty. Some had described the occupation there as worse than that of Nazi German forces. Why not allow the local population to decide on their future in an internationally supervised referendum? Kashmir would always be on the top of any agenda of talks between Pakistan and India.
Republic of Korea, speaking in a second right of reply, asked the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to stop defaming human rights and the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in a second right of reply, rejected the misleading remarks by “South Korea”. If “South Korea” sincerely cared about human rights, it should genuinely address its own human rights problems. All the information about the abductees ought to be revealed, and unhindered access to them should be allowed.
1Joint statement: Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII; American Association of Jurists; Arab Commission for Human Rights; Caritas Internationalis (International Confederation of Catholic Charities); Company of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul; Dominicans for Justice and Peace - Order of Preachers; Edmund Rice International Limited; International Catholic Migration Commission; International Organization for the Right to Education and Freedom of Education (OIDEL); International Volunteerism Organization for Women, Education and Development – VIDES; Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco; Mouvement International d'Apostolate des Milieux Sociaux Independants; New Humanity; Pax Christi International, International Catholic Peace Movement; Teresian Association; World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations; and International-Lawyers.Org.
For use of the information media; not an official record