COUNCIL ENDORSES REPORT OF TASK FORCE ON ACCESSIBILITY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES, USE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
Holds General Debate on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building, Concludes General Debate on Country Reports
21 March 2012
The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted a decision presented by the President in which it endorsed the report of the Task Force on secretariat services, accessibility for persons with disabilities, and use of information technology. It also held a general debate on technical assistance and capacity building after hearing a presentation from the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights on reports on Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea and Yemen; and concluded its general debate on country reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General.
The Council adopted a decision presented by the President endorsing the report and recommendations of the Task Force, which was established to study issues of secretariat services, accessibility for persons with disabilities and use of information technology. It invited all concerned stakeholders to adequately follow up on the recommendations and to immediately start implementing those without financial implications and those which may be implemented within existing resources. It decided to consider at its twenty-first session the Task Force recommendations which could not be implemented within existing resources.
Kyung-wha Kang, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, presenting reports submitted by the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General on country situations under the agenda item on technical assistance and capacity building, said that the human rights situation in Afghanistan remained critical, with civilian deaths on the increase in 2011. Violence against women and girls, including sexual violence, continued to be widespread, while arbitrary detention and abuse in custody remained a serious human rights issue which exacerbated the conflict. The overall situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continued to raise serious concern, including 446 human rights violations linked to the electoral process. Sexual violence and impunity for perpetrators of human rights violations remained areas of major concern. In Guinea, there was the outstanding and critical need for the Government to take significant measures to combat impunity and investigate human rights violations, particularly those committed in September 2009. Ms. Kang welcomed the willingness of Yemen to closely engage with the Office of the High Commissioner, including the establishment of an office in this country.
Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea and Yemen spoke as concerned countries.
In the general debate on technical assistance and capacity building, speakers agreed that technical assistance and capacity building were important for the protection and promotion of human rights. The Human Rights Council had a crucial role to play in the practical implementation of the human rights dimension of the responsibility to protect and should explore how it could contribute towards prevention of human rights violations, and help States to build capacity to prevent serious human rights violations and to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The international community should support the efforts of Yemen in this transitional period to address the human rights challenges in the country: achieving national reconciliation, enforcing transitional justice, and preventing recurrence of human rights violations in the future. The situation in Afghanistan remained complex with enhanced violence and criminal and terrorist activities. 2011 had been marked with the deterioration of the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, mainly due to election-related violence. The Government should prioritize the fight against impunity and double its efforts to put an end to the terrifying number of cases of sexual violence, end violence against journalists and human rights defenders, increase the budgets for education and health and, in cooperation with the international community, improve access to food.
Speaking in the general debate on technical assistance and capacity building were Denmark on behalf of the European Union, Mauritania on behalf of the Arab Group, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Australia on behalf of five countries, Italy, Norway, United States, China, Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Ecuador, Turkey, Sudan, Algeria, United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, morocco, United Arab Emirates, Luxembourg, Council of Europe and United Nations Children Fund.
The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: World Organization Against Torture, Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, International Federation for Human Rights League, Amnesty International, Liberation, Femmes Africa Solidarité, Human Rights Watch, African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme, General Arab Women Federation, Union of Arab Jurists, International Buddhist Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union.
At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded its general debate on reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General, in which the following non-governmental organizations spoke: Colombian Commission of Jurists, Association for Prevention of Torture, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Colombia spoke in right of reply.
The next meeting of the Human Rights Council will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 22 March, when it will start to take action on draft resolutions and decisions.
General Debate on Country Reports by the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General under Agenda Item Two
Colombian Commission of Jurists said that paramilitary groups had not been dismantled in Colombia and there was evidence of complicity of local authorities and public forces with those groups. The number of massacres of civilians attributed to those groups was on the increase. Violence against human rights defenders went unpunished, while impunity existed for enforced disappearances, sexual violence and recruitment of children.
Association for Prevention of Torture said that by ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, Colombia would be obliged to establish a national preventive mechanism which would require a coherent national prevention strategy. Colombia would thus join the emerging international system of prevention of torture which would enable them to share experiences with other countries.
Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik said that international pressure against stoning, execution with torture, and juvenile executions had proven successful in Iran and hoped that a solution could be found to fully abolish the death penalty. Iran had to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocols.
Human Rights Watch emphasized that the issues of declining international aid and political engagement, an inclusive decision-making process, accountable security forces, violence against women, and moral crimes were of great importance to the future of human rights in Afghanistan.
Amnesty International said the Colombian Government must implement effective measures to dismantle paramilitary groups and break their links with sectors of security forces and powerful economic and political groups. All guerilla groups must immediately end all forms of kidnapping, hostage-taking and human rights abuses.
Right of Reply
Colombia, speaking in a right of reply, said the Government was always open to dialogue and was surprised about comments made by Switzerland and Norway with regard to the Victims and Land Restitution Law and the rights of victims of violence. The extensive participatory process involved in the development of the act was itself a means to gratify and recognise the rights of the victims. The various activities carried out by Colombia for human rights and reconciliation were taking place in a country still not in a state of peace. Colombia asked Norway and Switzerland to condemn human rights violators who were acting in violation of humanitarian law.
The Council has before it the report of the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan (A/HRC/19/47)
The Council has before it the report of the High Commissioner on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (A/HRC/19/48)
The Council has before it the report of the High Commissioner on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights activities in the Republic of Guinea (A/HRC/19/49)
The Council has before it the progress report of the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in Yemen (A/HRC/19/51)
Presentation of Country Reports by the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General Under Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building, Item 10
KYUNG-WHA KANG, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the report of the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan had found that the human rights situation remained critical in the country despite some advances in the areas of education and health. It was a matter of great concern that in 2011, the number of civilian casualties had further increased with a total of 3,021 civilian deaths, an increase of 8 per cent over 2010 and 25 per cent from 2009 for which anti-Government elements bore most of the responsibility. Violence against women and girls, including sexual violence, continued to be widespread. Arbitrary detention and abuse in custody remained a serious human rights issue which exacerbated the conflict. The Deputy High Commissioner paid tribute to Joakim Dungel, an outstanding human rights officer who was killed in a mob attack in the United Nations office in Mazar-i-Sharif last April.
The High Commissioner’s report on the situation of human rights and the activities of her Office in the Democratic Republic of the Congo noted that the overall situation of human rights in the country continued to raise serious concern, including 446 human rights violations linked to the electoral process. Sexual violence and impunity for perpetrators of human rights violations remained areas of major concern. On-site hearings conducted by mobile Congolese military courts and tribunals, supported by the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office, had made an important contribution to the fight against impunity. Human rights violations related to detention were another area of concern; in 2011, at least 56 deaths in detention as a result of chronic malnutrition, severe ill-treatment or lack of health care were documented.
The report of the High Commissioner on the activities of her Office in Guinea acknowledged the Government’s efforts towards the reform of the security and judicial sectors and the establishment of an independent national human rights institution and of the provisional National Commission on Reconciliation. The report stressed the outstanding and critical need for the Government to take significant measures to combat impunity and investigate human rights violations, particularly those committed in September 2009. There were cases of arbitrary arrests and detention, threats against human rights defenders and violations of the right to freedom of assembly and association.
The progress report on the situation of human rights in Yemen reflected the findings of a delegation from the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights which visited Yemen from 20 to 27 December 2011. At the time there were armed confrontations between Government forces and armed opposition groups and concern was expressed about the continued use of children under the age of 18 by both security forces and armed opposition groups. Civilians were detained by Government security forces without due process and armed opposition groups continued to illegally detain civilians that had sympathized with the Government. The Deputy High Commissioner commended and welcomed the Government’s recent willingness to closely engage with Office of the High Commissioner, including the establishment of an office in Yemen, and looked forward to constructive cooperation to effectively address human rights issues.
Statements by Concerned Countries
Afghanistan, speaking as a concerned country, said that the protection of civilians in the areas exposed to indiscriminate bombing by anti-Government forces was of grave concern. There was a sharp increase in the death of civilians last year due to killing, intimidation and random suicide attacks. The Government had demonstrated restraint and only took measures to guard against those terrorist attacks. It took extra precaution in conducting operations. Afghanistan remained steadfast to continue to work closely with allies in seeking ways and means to minimize casualties. The Government was alarmed by the Taliban’s use of children for suicide attacks and as cannon fodder. Women in Afghanistan continued to bear the brunt of the conflict; violence against women, harmful traditional practices and other forms of abuse still existed, particularly in areas where the presence of the justice system remained weak. With the enactment of the Elimination of Violence against Women law, positive progress had been made, but gaps still existed, particularly in implementation of the law. There were weaknesses in the criminal justice system in Afghanistan affecting detainee and prisoner populations; despite slow progress, the reform of the Criminal Justice Code demonstrated the commitment of the Government toward its Constitutional and international treaty obligations. Suggestions of systematic torture in prisons did not match reality.
Democratic Republic of the Congo, speaking as a concerned country, said the High Commissioner for Human Rights had recognized that the budget for health and education had been boosted, zero tolerance polices had been applied and an institutional framework contributing to the protection for human rights defenders retained the attention of the Government. The Government rejected allegations of arbitrary detention and arrest. The fight against impunity was very effective. Regarding sexual violence, appropriate institutions for considering complaints had been organized and perpetrators had been brought to justice. Journalists and human rights defenders worked in total freedom. The Government took note that the report of the High Commissioner made reference to the acts against civil populations in the Orientale Province, North Kivu and South Kivu, but mention of the Lord Resistance Army and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) had been omitted. The Government asked the international community for support in putting an end to the presence of the foreign armed groups.
Guinea, speaking as a concerned country, said the country report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had recognised the efforts made by the Government of Guinea to reform after the events of September 2009. The Government had implemented extensive reforms in defence, security, justice, the economy, education, health, social affairs and in the agricultural sector. In order to end the anarchy in the security forces, a pilot multi sector committee was established with representatives from defence, justice, police and customs. Significant results were achieved by confining troops to their barracks and the formal prohibition of carrying arms and wearing military uniforms outside of the hours of duty. The dissemination of humanitarian law through training models had also occurred in the military. Concerning the prosecution of those responsible for the events of September 2009, the Government was committed to organize fair trials. The challenges faced by the new Government were complex in political, economic, social and cultural terms but the new authorities had displayed commitment and determination to overcome them.
Yemen, speaking as a concerned country, said that over the past six months Yemen had achieved progress, namely in forming the Government of National Unity and the election of the President; a Military Commission had been set up to ease the tensions, clean the streets and ensure return to normal; and dialogue with stakeholders had been initiated to present an image of new Yemen. Yemen was encouraged to build a new Yemen based on democracy and the rule of law, taking into account the need for transitional justice. The Government was committed to implementing accepted recommendations from the report of the High Commissioner and had charged all parties concerned with reporting on the progress achieved. To date, Yemen had released illegally held detainees and closed illegal detention centres; revised draft legislation on transitional justice and national reconciliation; undertaken reconstruction of public buildings damaged during the crisis; and invited the High Commissioner for Human Rights to open her office in Yemen, visit the country and assist in the establishment of the national human rights institution. There were enormous challenges still facing Yemen in the field of security and Yemen had done its utmost to face them. Following the crisis, an outflow of Yemeni citizens had occurred and the economy had suffered, with tourism being hardest hit. Yemen needed to meet its long-term challenges as well, and international assistance was needed to continue building democracy.
Denmark, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said technical assistance and capacity building were important for the implementation of human rights. The field presence of the Office of the High Commissioner contributed to progress on human rights on the ground. The European Union commended Tunisia for opening an office in cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner. The European Union welcomed the Office’s strong engagement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and commended the implementation of recommendations; however more needed to be done to address the structural weakness. The European Union appreciated the responsiveness of Colombia in responding to the concerns of non-governmental organizations and the international community.
Mauritania, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said Yemen had been through many political developments, including adoption of the Arab League plan. A Government of national unity had been established and elections had been held. The Government of Yemen had taken many steps and decisions in order to promote and protect human rights. The Arab Group appreciated Yemen’s implementation of the High Commissioner’s recommendations. The Arab Group welcomed the role played by the Government in strengthening ties with the High Commissioner’s Office. Yemen had extended an invitation for the High Commissioner to send staff to set up a local office. Now, it was up to the international community to provide assistance to Yemen.
Pakistan, on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, supported the ongoing efforts of Yemen and expected that the mechanism would play a role in stabilizing the country. The international community should support the efforts of Yemen in this transitional period, including through mobilization of resources for the priorities set by the Yemeni Government. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation noted with satisfaction the invitation that the Government of Yemen had extended to the High Commissioner to visit the country and open an Office there.
Australia, on behalf of Australia, Hungary, Nigeria, Thailand and Uruguay, said that the Human Rights Council had a crucial role to play in the practical implementation of the human rights dimension of the responsibility to protect. Australia proposed to convene a high-level side event at the twentieth session of the Council, which would seek to focus on how the Council could contribute towards prevention of human rights violations, help States to build capacity to prevent serious human rights violations and to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
Italy said the High Commissioner’s report had underlined that serious challenges had delayed the orderly transition of Yemen towards democracy and the rule of law. It was essential that accountability for all human rights violations was expeditiously ensured and that protection of all components of Yemeni society was guaranteed. Italy encouraged the Government of Yemen to make full use of the assistance provided by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and her Office.
Norway said the transition process in Afghanistan was under way and the responsibility for increased respect for human rights rested with Afghan authorities. Capacity building of national institutions, including human rights institutions and civil organizations, was a priority and Norway was working closely with the Afghan Human Rights Commission. Norway called on the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to prevent and hold accountable those who attacked human rights defenders.
United States said that technical assistance and capacity building was an invaluable tool for addressing human rights around the world. States who were undergoing challenging human rights situations should utilize the expertise of Special Procedure mandate holders. The United States supported the continuation of the Independent Expert on Haiti and supported passage of item 10 technical assistance resolutions on Guinea, Libya, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Somalia to help these countries improve their human rights situation.
China supported technical assistance and capacity building by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the request of the countries concerned. China hoped that the Office could respect more the territorial integrity and sovereignty of countries concerned and acknowledge their own priorities. China also hoped that all parties in Yemen would continue to use dialogue to achieve stability and national development.
Kyrgyzstan said it had a clear interest in achieving peace in Afghanistan, which affected the whole region. The situation in Afghanistan remained complex with enhanced violence and criminal and terrorist activities. Kyrgyzstan supported the efforts of the security forces in Afghanistan to build stability and underlined the need for respect of international humanitarian law in those efforts. Definite solutions in this country required a systemic and integrated approach combining political and humanitarian aspects.
Indonesia attached great importance to technical assistance and capacity building to assist Yemen in addressing the human rights challenges in the country: achieving national reconciliation, enforcing transitional justice, and preventing recurrence of human rights violations in the future. Indonesia stood ready to further cooperate with the Government and people of Yemen in ensuring the smooth democratic transition in the country.
Maldives said Yemen faced significant challenges in its ongoing process of democratic transition and in strengthening human rights protection in the county. Yemen should continue with its open engagement with the international community and its efforts to match domestic commitments with requests for international support. The Maldives supported the process of political transition in Yemen including the Gulf Cooperation Council implementation mechanism.
Saudi Arabia said Yemen had made progress in its reforms since signing the Gulf Cooperation Council agreement in 2011. Early presidential elections were held and a Government of national unity was established. The Government had released all those illegally detained and had established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights violations. The Government of Yemen should continue to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner to overcome the economic and social challenges it faced.
Jordan appreciated the cooperation provided by the Government of Yemen to the Office of the High Commissioner and the efforts made to investigate human rights violations, including the recent decision to establish a national independent commission of inquiry. Yemen required technical assistance to build a democratic state. Jordan highlighted the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Yemen and said the international community should provide solidarity and support during its transition.
Kuwait supported resolution 18/19 which mentioned the need to provide assistance to Yemen and consolidate cooperation with the High Commissioner’s Office. Kuwait congratulated Yemen on its invitation to the High Commissioner and the acceptance of most of the recommendations issued. Kuwait reiterated the importance for unity, national integrity and stability and urged human rights bodies to support Yemen and its economic development in the wake of the great changes taking place in the country. Yemen was promoting and protection human rights despite the challenges it faced.
Ecuador said, in the case of Afghanistan, Ecuador noted with concern that the human rights situation had deteriorated. Ecuador condemned the deaths of civilians and also the deaths of those committed to protecting civilians. Ecuador noted that there were meager resources for victims as well as the need for technical cooperation. There should not be selectivity or double standards in this regard. Impunity had to be ended.
Turkey said Yemen was a special country for Turkey with whom Turkey had deep-seated relations. The people of Yemen had endured great suffering and hardship. The determination and sacrifice of the Yemeni people in the struggle for their universal rights had been inspiring and brought about political change. Turkey welcomed the Presidential election held in February 2012 as an important step in the transition process. The Yemeni people had explicitly demonstrated their will towards a fully inclusive transition process.
Sudan attached particular importance to technical assistance for the promotion of human rights. The challenge was to provide a level of assistance and cooperation between the Council and the concerned country on country mandates. Technical assistance should not be tied to other measures.
Algeria said that Yemen had collaborated with the Office of the High Commissioner which demonstrated its willingness to promote human rights nationally. The efforts made by the Democratic Republic of Congo to promote good governance had led to presidential elections. Algeria said that international assistance should be provided to both Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
United Kingdom welcomed Yemen’s progress towards implementing political transition. The proposed opening of an Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Yemen was a positive step. The high level of grave human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in particular the shocking prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence, was of concern. The Government should prioritize the fight against impunity and address the causes of this abuse.
Sri Lanka said the delegation of Sri Lanka was strongly of the view that the draft resolution tabled by the United States in the current session urging Sri Lanka to accept advice and technical cooperation from the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and Special Procedures mechanisms, without Sri Lanka being consulted nor with its consent, fundamentally violated General Assembly Resolution 60/251 and the United Nations Charter requirement that human rights shall be promoted through international cooperation. This was tantamount to interference by virtue of the imposition of such assistance. This was counterproductive, inappropriate and unwarranted.
Morocco commended the cooperation shown by Yemen in its relations with international human rights institutions. The current political process had allowed Yemen to emerge out of the crisis without falling into violence. The international community and all human rights protection mechanisms should provide technical support to Yemen while respecting the sovereignty and integrity of the country.
United Arab Emirates commended the efforts of Yemen to achieve stability and security and establish the rule of law and social justice. Yemen had agreed to host a regional human rights office which would open broad prospects for the country. Yemen deserved technical assistance to build a better future and emerge from this difficult period.
Luxembourg commended the fight against impunity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and said that progress made so far was not enough to prevent persistent human rights violations in the country. The Government should double its efforts to put an end to the terrifying number of cases of sexual violence, end violence against journalists and human rights defenders, increase the budgets for education and health and, in cooperation with the international community, improve access to food.
Council of Europe said it provided concrete and specialized support to Member States in the area of human rights which were closely coordinated with the beneficiary country and civil society there. There was no obligation to report on the implementation of activities, but information sharing was ongoing. The Council of Europe, together with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, had held a colloquium on refugees.
United Nations Children’s Fund was encouraged by the democratic power transfer process taking place in Yemen and the willingness of the new government to incorporate children’s protection issues into transitional justice and other legislation. Civil unrest in 2011 had taken a heavy toll on the civilian population, especially children. Continued displacement of the population was disrupting education. Children and adolescents continued to be used and recruited by armed forces and groups, exposing them to enormous risks to their rights to life, protection, education and health, as well as their psycho-social well-being.
World Organization Against Torture said systematic violations of human rights, including sexual violence, existed with total impunity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. During the election process in 2011, grave violations were committed by the security forces and police forces with total impunity.
Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development said the development of human rights in Sudan was the fruit of efforts made by the Commissioner and the Council. A Commissioner for Human Rights had been established three years ago in Sudan. Consultations and assistance should be made available.
International Federation for Human Rights Leagues remained concerned about the human rights situation in Afghanistan and in particular about violations of women’s rights, impunity, and the lack of a credible transitional justice mechanism. Perpetrators of human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo must be held accountable and Yemen should break with the past and ensure the establishment of the rule of law.
Amnesty International said the Human Rights Council should emphasize the fight against impunity and justice reform in its deliberations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Government should bring judicial and law enforcement systems in line with international standards, cooperate fully with the International Criminal Court, and ensure a full investigation into election-related human rights violations.
Liberation said that there would be no positive impact of technical assistance in crisis countries without adopting conflict prevention and post-conflict peace building by the High Commissioner. To avoid repeating negative impacts of technical cooperation, the High Commissioner should pave the way for dialogue between South and North Yemen and work with the Council for the appointment of an investigative Commission.
Femmes Africa Solidarité, in a joint statement, said women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo lived in insecurity and were unable to enjoy their human rights, including economic and social rights. Femmes Africa Solidarité recommended support for a policy of zero tolerance for human rights violations, especially against women.
Human Rights Watch asked the Human Rights Council to take the draft resolution one step further by requesting that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights provide an oral update on Yemen’s progress in June 2012. Frequent reporting on Yemen’s progress could bolster reform efforts.
African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters said the first democratic elections in Guinea in November 2010 brought about deep political change. Legislative elections should follow shortly. The creation of an Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the country was highly commendable.
United Nations Watch remained concerned about the situation of women in Afghanistan, where violence against women, including sexual violence and harmful traditional practices, continued to be widespread. United Nations Watch condemned the unjust treatment of women and girls who were forced to flee their homes due to abuse, or threats of forced marriage.
Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme said that 2011 had been marked with the deterioration of the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, mainly due to election-related violence. Increases in arbitrary detention were noted, and the Government needed to address practices of rape and sexual violence. In Guinea, security sector reforms were noted.
General Arab Women Federation said that the High Commissioner had addressed a whole range of issues in her report on Yemen, including sexual violence and displacement of women who were deprived of their most basic rights. Those women were particularly vulnerable to violence, and children and adolescents were conscripted into armed groups.
Union of Arab Jurists was deeply disturbed by the events in Yemen and the silence of the international community regarding crimes committed there. The human rights situation was going from worse to worst. Protests continued and 800,000 workers had lost their jobs. Despite the creation of a national unity government, security had not been restored.
International Buddhist Foundation said technical assistance should always be offered after proper consultation with the country concerned. Sri Lanka, a predominantly Buddhist country, was threatened with interference from the West in the guise of technical assistance. Various elements were determined to discredit Sri Lanka.
African Civil Liberties Union said the United States should consider actions including programmes that led to racial profiling, studying the use of solitary confinement, providing Special Rapporteurs with access to Guantanamo Bay, providing accountability for torture, and examining racial disparities in the application of the death penalty.
Action on Decision Submitted by the President of the Council
In a decision submitted by the President of the Council regarding a Task Force on secretariat services, accessibility for persons with disabilities and use of information technology, adopted without a vote, the Council endorses the report and recommendations of the Task Force, which was established to study issues of secretariat services, accessibility for persons with disabilities and use of information technology; invites all concerned stakeholders to adequately follow up on the recommendations and to immediately start implementing those without financial implications and those which may be implemented within existing resources; decides to consider at its twenty-first session the Task Force recommendations which cannot be implemented within existing resources, in the context of the preparations for the 2014-2015 regular budget biennium, and to transmit thereafter the Task Force recommendations with programme budget implications to the General Assembly for its consideration; and invites the Council to review the status of implementation of the Task Force recommendations contained in its report at its 22nd session.
LAURA DUPUY LASSERRE, President of the Human Rights Council, expressed gratitude to all members of the Task Force. Generous support had allowed the Task Force to recognize needs and other considerations. Constructive ideas were made available. With regard to decision 16/21, all stakeholders should begin implementation of actions that had no budgetary implications as well as implementation that could be implemented within existing resources. The Council at its nineteenth session had already tested the delivery of video messages by non-government organizations. Further opportunities to deliver video messages would be implemented gradually over forthcoming Council sessions. In June, a limited number of non-governmental organizations would be able to deliver a number of video messages. From the twenty-first session onwards, when the Council adopted outcomes for the second Universal Periodic Review cycle, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations would be able to deliver statements through video messages. This would allow for equal treatment for all States participating in the second cycle. This would ensure all States were comfortable with the changes. There would also be further consideration of the provision of captioning, brail documents and sign language.
For use of the information media; not an official record