ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS GENERAL DEBATE ON ALL HUMAN RIGHTS, INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS GENERAL DEBATE ON ALL HUMAN RIGHTS, INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT
14 March 2014

The Human Rights Council this afternoon held a general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, hearing from the National Commission of Human Rights of Mexico and 75 non-governmental organizations. 

In the general debate, speakers raised an array of issues including the negative impact of foreign debt, the impact of terrorism on human rights, anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender legislation and unilateral sanctions.  Concern was raised about child marriage, access to contraception and reproductive healthcare for women, and the detention of minors.  The rise in cases of religious extremism and intolerance was also highlighted, as was the situation of children of parents sentenced to death penalty and the criminalization of human rights defenders and journalists.  The human rights situations in Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Western Sahara, Iraq, Ukraine, China, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bahrain, Philippines and Algeria were also mentioned.

The National Commission of Human Rights of Mexico and the following non-governmental organizations took the floor: Soka Gakkai International, COC Netherlands, Advocates for Human Rights, Action Canada for Population and Development, Human Rights Advocates Inc., Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), Auspice Stella, World Environment and Resources Council, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, Society of Iranian Women Advocating Sustainable Development of Environment, Reporters without Borders International, Maryam Ghasemi Educational Charity Institute, Japanese Workers’ Committee for Human Rights, International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, European Union of Public Relations, CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, African Technical Association, International Association for Democracy in Africa, Alsalam Foundation, United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation, Ligue Internationale contre le racisme et l’antisémitisme, Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts, Conectas Direitos Humanos, European Centre for Law and Justice, Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII, Islamic Women’s Institute of Iran, International Buddhist Relief Organization. International Association of Democratic Lawyers, International Institute for Peace, Canners International Permanent Committee, United Schools International, Centre for Environmental and Management Studies, International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Khiam Rehabilitation Center for the Victims of Torture, Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, Iranian Elite Research Center, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Amnesty International, United Nations Watch, World Barua Organization, British Humanist Association, International Muslim Women’s Union, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence (ODVV), Human Rights House Foundation, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, Human Rights House Foundation, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Friends World Committee for Consultation, Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Cooperation Economique Internationale Minority Rights Group, Center for Inquiry, Human Rights Now, France Liberté: Fondation Danielle Mitterand, Society Studies Centre, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, International Education Development, Inc., International Buddhist Foundation, Action international pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs, Ecumenical Federation of Constantinopolis, Al-Khoel Foundation, Action international pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs,  Ecumenical Federation of Constantinopolis, Al-Khoel Foundation, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, African Technology Development Link, Franciscans International, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Education Fund Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament, Al Hakim Foundation, Agence Internationale pour le Developpement, Tchad Agir pour l’environnement, Le Collectif des Femmes Africaines du Hainaut, Transparency International, Vivekananda Sevakendra-O-Sishu Uddyan, World Federation of Khoja Shi’a Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities, World Muslim Congress, Liberation, Liberal International, Association of World Citizens.

Nigeria, Iraq, China and Algeria spoke in the right of reply.

For the rest of the day the Council will hold a closed meeting as part of its complaint procedure.  At 9 a.m. on Monday 17 March the Council will hear a presentation of the report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, followed by an interactive dialogue.  In the afternoon it will hold individual interactive dialogues with the Special Rapporteurs on the human rights situations in Iran and Myanmar. 

General Discussion

National Commission of Human Rights of Mexico said the death penalty was an unfair and unacceptable punishment, since life should be preserved as a fundamental value irrespective of the criminal responsibility of the person.  Life was the supreme good of a human being: the Commission considered that of legal value and rejected the application of the death penalty.

Soka Gakkai International, speaking in a joint statement, said media professionals and journalists in many cases were in great need of empowerment through human rights education to protect their own freedoms and rights.  At the same time, they were opinion shapers and accountable for their strong social impact. 

COC Netherlands expressed concern about the number of States trying to institutionalize protection of families in the framework of the Human Rights Council.  Family should not be idealized and it should be kept in mind that there were some in which abuses occurred.  Also, it should not be forgotten that there were many forms of families and that diversity of families must be acknowledged.

Advocates for Human Rights said a largely overlooked category of human rights defenders who could assist the work of Special Rapporteurs were those defenders operating in diaspora.  Their potential to help bring about change in their countries of origin must be recognized and strengthened, and thematic country visits to diaspora should be undertaken by mandate holders.

Action Canada for Population and Development said that comprehensive sexual and reproductive health must be a part of official education curriculum and should assist individuals to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health and protect themselves from sexual abuse.  That was important given that more than half of new infections of sexually transmitted diseases were among adolescents.

Human Rights Advocates Inc. addressed the fundamental right to vote.  Voting was a mechanism by which citizens held leaders accountable and promoted good governance.  The Council was encouraged to establish a mandate in relation to that and to determine whether State electoral laws were reasonable and appropriate.

Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), speaking in a joint statement, highlighted the importance of the review process of the United Nations minimum rules for prisoners.  They were often regarded as a primary source of reference for the treatment of detainees and in many countries were the only standards available.

Auspice Stella said that the lack of equity in justice administration in Chile was affecting many adolescents and adults of the Mapuche people.  Some communities were technically surrounded by the military and monitored by drones.  Raids and arbitrary detentions continued, as well as torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

World Environment and Resources Council spoke about gross human rights violations and atrocities committed by the State and security establishment of Pakistan against Sindhi people.  The campaign of enforced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial killing of Sindhi political leaders and activists continued unabated. 

Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy said that bonded labourers were a socially excluded group who suffered political discrimination, among others, based on their cast.  Dalit children were often victims.  Despite a pluralist image outside, certain countries were in violation of United Nations instruments.  The plight of the Dalit should not be forgotten.

Society of Iranian Women Advocating Sustainable Development of Environment said because Iran was a semi-arid country, it had problems in providing safe drinking water to its urban population.  The Society also drew the Council’s attention to the problem of air pollution in the capital. 

Reporters without Borders International, speaking in a joint statement, said examples of whistle-blowers being threatened or prosecuted for revealing information of public interest were on the rise, regardless of laws protecting whistle-blowing activity in some countries.  Whistle-blowing was an integral part of freedom of expression.

Maryam Ghasemi Educational Charity Institute said health and wellbeing of children and women in Iran in the past years had been significantly improved.  Unjust sanctions against Iran had prevented some of the country’s region from achieving standards in health and education.

Japanese Workers’ Committee for Human Rights requested that China, Republic of Korea and Democratic People's Republic of Korea support and promote adoption of the International Memorial Day for Japan’s Military ‘Comfort Women’ slavery issue.  Japan had failed to accept legal responsibility and rejected most recommendations made by the United Nations human rights mechanisms. 

International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies said that women and children around the world did not enjoy the same basic rights and freedoms as men.  However, the problem was more than unequal rights.  It was also the brutal exploitation and oppression faced by women and children.  Children were subject to abusive treatment and women were bought and sold as slaves.

European Union of Public Relations said terrorism would remain a major violator of the human rights of innocent people in liberal, secular, democratic societies.  The coming years would see a terrible toll of death and destruction inflicted on societies at the hands of fundamentalist terrorists.  Instability in Afghanistan would contribute to the problem, although reference was made to terrorist groups that came into existence before the 9/11 attacks. 

CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation said that in order to promote the right to peaceful protest, people needed to enjoy their right to peaceful assembly and that meant that no authorisation was to be sought from the authorities.  That was not the case in Ethiopia and Uganda.

African Technical Association drew the attention of the Human Rights Council to the situation in Gilgit-Baltistan and said that it was primary responsibility of States to prevent actions of terrorist organizations which demanded the unification of Gilgit-Baltistan with Pakistan.

International Association for Democracy in Africa said that it was distressing that some fundamentalist groups in Bangladesh, such as Jamaat e Islami and the Hefajat, were pursuing an agenda that sought to fragment society by indulging in propaganda and violence against minorities.

Alsalam Foundation noted with particular concern the deteriorating human rights situation in Bahrain.  Despite having made commitments to the international community to improve the status of human rights in the country, Bahrain continued to violate the universal human rights of its citizens.  The Council was urged to work with the Government to take concrete steps in that regard.

United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation said that civil, economic and political rights of the Baluch people had been violated with impunity and many Baluch had been abducted and killed.  The recent uncovering of mass graves was evidence of atrocities being perpetrated against the Baluch people.  They were being denied all of their rights by Pakistan.

Ligue Internationale contre le racisme et l’antisémitisme was concerned by reprisals against human rights defenders that cooperated with the United Nations.  It was the role and responsibility of the international community to ensure that States that had not obtained a satisfactory level of enjoyment of human rights did so.

Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts said surviving victims of the Japanese occupation during World War II could not forget their deliberate barbaric treatment and many suffered from incurable disorders as a consequence.  Japanese leaders must accept responsibility; they must avoid glorifying the role of Japanese military in the World War II, and stop rewriting history.

Conectas Direitos Humanos, speaking in a joint statement, highlighted serious violations of the human rights of people visiting their loved ones in prisons in Brazil, which included humiliating body searches.  All visitors – including elderly and pregnant women, and children – were subject to being stripped and body and cavity searches, often in inadequate hygienic conditions.

European Centre for Law and Justice said with regard to freedom of religion or belief, it was what a State did, not what it said that was very important; and sometimes State inaction was problematic too.  In many cases States itself violated the right to freedom or religion or belief by trying to impose one single morality.

Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII, speaking in a joint statement, said States bore the primary responsibility to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms within their boundaries and had to make efforts according to their capacity to expeditiously realize the economic, social and cultural rights of their people.  There was an urgent need for the implementation of the right to development. 

Islamic Women’s Institute of Iran said that the unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran had resulted in the cutting of approximately 90 per cent of the Iranian people’s foreign trade.  Sanctions only targeted the weak and middle classes in Iran and were contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

International Buddhist Relief Organization drew the Council’s attention to deteriorating standards of human rights in the world’s most populous democracy, India, despite making commitments to tackle some of the most prevalent abuses.  The time had come for India to take positive steps to accord equal status to caste members in all spheres of life. 

International Association of Democratic Lawyers said that in the Philippines, 18 children had been victims of extra-judicial killings and the Government continued to sow violence and terror though military operations under the counter-insurgency programme Oplan Bayanihan.  The Special Representatives of the Secretary-General should conduct an investigation into those cases.

International Institute for Peace said that there was an element of hypocrisy in the global debates on the death penalty and the protestations by States and human rights activists.  There was no hesitation when Saddam Hussein was executed and no punitive actions were undertaken against the countries responsible.  If the death penalty went against humanity, it went against humanity in all countries, including Saudi Arabia which beheaded people, United States which used lethal injection, or Bangladesh which preferred the gallows.

Canners International Permanent Committee said little attention was paid to acts of torture and ill-treatment by individuals and groups operating outside of defined State structures such as armed groups, militias, jihadi organizations and religious seminaries, where treatment meted out to children constituted nothing less than torture.  The international community found it impossible to hold them accountable and some even enjoyed the support of States.

United Schools International said that as NATO’s twelve-year campaign in Afghanistan ended, an intense debate had begun as to whether withdrawal was actually the right decision.  Unfortunately, the social and political consequences of the move received less attention.  Many, especially women, feared that achievements made in the protection and promotion of human rights would be increasingly at risk following the withdrawal.  

Centre for Environmental and Management Studies said that culture manifested itself in many forms and included duties and obligations necessary for social life to continue, and fundamental to identity.  Cultural rights were particularly important for indigenous communities and religious minorities.  All over the world, a huge gap had been found between the minority and majority communities.

International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists addressed the matter of Mr. Ouda Seliman Tarabin, who had been unlawfully detained by Egypt for over twelve years and remained deprived of his basic rights.  Mr. Tarabin had been accused, indicted, prosecuted and sentenced in his absence. His continuous detention was a gross violation of his rights and of Egypt’s international obligations. 

Khiam Rehabilitation Center for the Victims of Torture said that Bahrain had failed to protect the freedom of worship of the Shia who represented a majority among the citizens.  Reports had confirmed the continuation in 2013 of arbitrary arrests, excessive use of force and detainee torture and mistreatments.  In several incidents the security forces had engaged in collective punishment against predominantly Shia towns.

Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, speaking in a joint statement, raised the situation of migrants in Qatar who suffered grave violations of their rights.  The situation was particularly difficult for construction workers and many risked being used as forced labour or trafficked.  Qatari law did not adequately addressed the issue and had not yet lifted the sponsorship principle currently in place.

Iranian Elite Research Center said that Iran had taken steps to improve the situation of its religious minorities, including non-Muslims, and had ensured their political participation.

International Humanist and Ethical Union regretted that a persistent form of discrimination and inequality that still persisted in Mauritania was slavery.  Despite slavery being defined as a crime against humanity in Mauritania’s constitution and recent efforts by Mauritanian representatives to address the problem, Mauritania had the world’s highest proportion of slaves in a population. 

Amnesty International said the lack of legal frameworks that conferred a minimum degree of security of tenure left marginalized groups vulnerable to harassment and threats and made it easy for Governments to evict people without due process.  Guaranteeing equality and non-discrimination was an important component of securing the right to adequate housing of those living in informal settlements and slums. 

United Nations Watch said that one way the Council could protect the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was by recognizing the heroes who inspired activities the world over in the cause of human rights.  United Nations Watch did that a few weeks ago at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, which it organized with twenty other non-governmental human rights groups from around the world.

World Barua Organization said that it was encouraged to hear that everyone was entitled to all rights and freedoms without discrimination of any kind.  The discrimination against Dalits in India that had been ongoing for centuries was devastating and unfortunately had not enjoyed any progress in the promotion of human rights.

British Humanist Association said anti-homosexual laws and practices in Russia, Nigeria, and Uganda indicated a global increase of homophobia and meant that the hunting season was now open.  Human Rights Council resolution 17/19 was an international agreement to improve the situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, it noted.

International Muslim Women’s Union said women and children were the first victims of conflicts and sexual violence was part and parcel of all armed conflict.  It was important to provide victims with an education and support to recover from the trauma, but the question was how.  The children of Kashmir continued to be victims of the 65 year-long conflict.

Organization for Defending Victims of Violence (ODVV) deplored imposing unilateral coercive measures and their impact on human rights.  Many States believed that such measures were contrary to international law, international humanitarian law and the United Nations Charter.  The sanctions imposed on the Iranian people had negative effects such as escalation in inflation, a rise in commodities and energy costs, increase in unemployment and shortage of necessary items including food, clean water and medicine.

Human Rights House Foundation said regarding the right to protest peacefully that the violent nature of certain events did not warrant use of force by law enforcement officials and human rights of everybody were to be protected. It called upon States to investigate any death or injury committed during protests, noting with concern in particular the situations in Belarus and Ukraine.

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) emphasized the importance of protecting and promoting the freedom of rights to assembly, association and expression as essential ways of public participation in national affairs.  The organization was concerned about the high incidence of force by law enforcement officials while policing protests and lack of accountability, and underscored the need for States to have oversight bodies and justify a need to limit protests beyond what was necessary and proportionate.

Friends World Committee for Consultation said that when the right to conscientious objection was not recognized and implemented in practice, there was a wide range of negative implications for objectors such as prosecution, imprisonment and fines.  Following criminal prosecution, they might have a criminal record which led to a lifelong socioeconomic disadvantage.

Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Cooperation Economique Internationale expressed concern about the situation of the people in the Tindouf camp and the failure of authorities to promote and protect their rights.  Given the lack of access to the camp, it was difficult to establish the daily situation of the refugees there.

Minority Rights Group said that in the current contexts of economic crisis, social tensions and political turmoil, religious identities were often instrumentalized for political reasons and religious minorities were victimised and used as scapegoats.  The recommendations of the Sixth Forum on Minority Issues had practical value and shed light on concrete ways for states to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Right of Minorities.

Center for Inquiry drew the Council’s attention to the case of four atheist bloggers imprisoned in Bangladesh, one of whom had been murdered, and urged that exploration and criticism of a faith could not be called hatred of that religion.  As such, it urged Bangladesh to release the bloggers, retract a list of 84 individuals facing great personal risks for defamation and work with the Council to prevent future persecution.

Human Rights Now raised a new piece of Japanese legislation, the Special Secret Bill, which would enable the Government of Japan to severely restrict the freedom of expression in an almost arbitrary manner, which was contradictory to human rights law.  Growing concerns and obstacles of the media, academics and civil society in Japan had also been largely ignored.

France Liberté: Fondation Danielle Mitterand raised serious economic, social and cultural rights violations of human rights defenders in the Western Sahara.  They were victims of repression by the Moroccan authorities including limited freedom of expression, ill-treatment, defamation, and arbitrary detention, sometimes for perpetuity.
 
Society Studies Centre expressed concern about the negative impact of foreign debt and said that Sudan, as a result of debt servicing, was unable to provide adequate resources to fulfil economic, social and political rights.  Sudan should be able to enjoy the merits of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative and the Council should consider relief of its debts to allow it to increase spending on development, education and health.

International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, speaking in a joint statement, said the human rights situation and the functioning of the rule of law in Iraq had deteriorated since 2003 and human rights violations often occurred under the pretext of combating terrorism.  Women and children were particularly affected, living in constant fear and hardship, and a law had been passed recently lowering the marriageable age for girls to nine years.

International Education Development, Inc. recalled the failure to prevent the genocide in Sri Lanka of the Tamil, and welcomed the quick response to the situation in the Central African Republic.  It was important to differentiate between armed conflict and terrorism.  Detained perpetrators of acts of terrorism should be regarded as common criminals and should not be awarded the status of combatant.

International Buddhist Foundation said that in Buddhist heritage, everyone had the right to four basic needs and the community had the duty to provide those. The world was failing in its duty to children when 1,800 children under the age of five died every day from diarrhoeal diseases linked to water, sanitation and hygiene.

Action international pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs underlined that political imprisonment, including solitary confinement, kidnappings, enforced disappearances, mutilations and even executions had been conducted by the Algerian authorities.  It deplored Algeria’s intelligence that aimed to mislead public opinion by denying responsibility, and called on the Council to intervene and demand fundamental freedoms and an effective and fair trials in Algeria.

Ecumenical Federation of Constantinopolis accused Turkey of violating the property rights of people from non-Muslim minorities.  The organization called on Turkey to return properties to their rightful owners, as so far only 16 per cent of them had been able to recover their property as a result of Government measures.

Al-Khoel Foundation expressed deep alarm over the rise in religious extremism and intolerance, coupled with State-led restrictions on the religious practices such as in Malaysia.  That instigated a series of social hostilities against minorities limiting their freedom of religion.  Sectarianism was rife in societies in conflict such as Iraq and Central African Republic. 

Commission to Study the Organization of Peace said that past decades had seen an alarming increase in divisiveness, often accompanied by violence between peoples, nations and communities.  It was imperative to reach out to people of all faiths to discuss, debate and define a common initiative that could be unleashed with the united strength of humanity to fight human rights violations wherever they occurred.

African Technology Development Link said China had blatantly violated human rights in Tibet and had repeatedly violated United Nations conventions through extensive use of torture against Tibetan political prisoners, often monks or nuns.  Since 2009 about 100 monks and nuns and others had set themselves on fire to protest against the severe living conditions imposed on Tibetans.

Franciscans International expressed concern about the human rights situation in the Philippines, especially the impact of mining and extractive activities on the right to full enjoyment of a healthy and sustainable environment.  Several human rights had been violated, such as the right to life, livelihood, food, safe drinking water and sanitation, and right to freedom of expression.

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Education Fund said international law did not directly deal with access to contraceptives; and it should not be considered as a human right because contraceptives could damage health and endanger the life of an already conceived child.  Women must be informed of the health risk of contraception, especially those who were opposed to abortion.

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik said child marriage was one of the most brutal violations of children’s rights, particularly for girls.  In Iran last year more than 40,000 girls under the age of 15 were legally married, including 187 under the age of ten years.  All countries whose legal systems still allowed child marriage should immediately prohibit such a severe violation of child rights, and prevent it by supporting poor families.

Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament said that the terrorist acts in Chinese provinces had a political agenda which aimed to destabilize the country.  It also complained that the Japanese Government refused to consider the crimes and human rights violations it had committed during the World War II, further urging it to pass anti-terrorism laws.

Al Hakim Foundation spoke of the suffering of disabled persons in particular in Iraq where there had been an increase in numbers of disabled people over the last decade.  Disabled persons received little support, but should be helped and their cause be highlighted, to allow them to enjoy their human rights.

Agence Internationale for le Developpement said seeking the root causes of events allowed us to find solutions and understand the complex nature of situations.  In current conflicts arms were being stockpiled and the result was seen in the suffering of civilian populations, especially women and children.

Tchad Agir pour l’environnement said the situation in Egypt, including that of arbitrarily detained journalists, was extremely difficult and may be exacerbated if human rights violations continued.  It was incumbent upon the international community to take urgent action to put an end to the widespread human rights violations. 

Le Collectif des Femmes Africaines du Hainaut said children affected by war spent a lifetime recovering from the impact.  The organization spoke about Sri Lanka, lamenting the missing who went unaccounted for, sexual violence crimes, the forced labour of children and the armed occupying military which controlled every aspect of civilian lives.  It called on the Council to bring about an independent international investigation.

Vivekananda Sevakendra-O-Sishu Uddyan, in a joint statement with the Tamil National Alliance, also called for an international investigation into human rights violations in Sri Lanka.  The homeland of Tamil people in the north and east of Sri Lanka was occupied by a genocidal military. For 60 years a ‘structured genocide’ had been carried out.  The lack of political will to tackle the issue was underscored. 
 
Transparency International recognized the link between the struggle for integrity and transparency to combat corruption, and underlined the declining ranking of Bahrain in its Corruption Perception Index.  It regretted that Government agencies were blocking civil society efforts.  Effective anti-corruption measures required respect for human rights, on promoting which the Bahrain authorities should cooperate with the civil society.

World Federation of Khoja Shi’a Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities expressed concern about the rise of religious intolerance around the world.  Minorities in Pakistan faced persecution and terrorists groups were allowed to operate with impunity in several parts of the country.  Human rights violations and abuses committed in Pakistan should be investigated.

World Muslim Congress spoke about crimes committed by Indian occupation forces against the people of Jammu and Kashmir which it said had now reached genocidal proportion and represented the worst form of State-sponsored terrorism.  The Council should persuade India to guarantee the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people.

Liberation was seriously concerned about the plight of children in India where two out of every three children were physically abused, and even a recent Government study showed that half of all children suffered various forms of sexual abuse.  India should adopt new legislative measures to prohibit all forms of physical and mental violence against children in family, school and institutions.

Liberal International highlighted the ongoing horrific practice of female genital mutilation which many women around the world were still forced to endure against their own will.  Religious or traditional rhetoric could not and should not be allowed to be used as an excuse to consciously practice a barbaric act which harmed the physical well-being and personal dignity of the very persons who gave us life.

Association of World Citizens said that most people in the Council chamber were members of the estimated 214 international migrants worldwide.  If they belonged to a single country its population would rank fifth in the world.  The Association spoke about the rights of those migrants, including not to be deported.

Right of Reply

Nigeria, speaking in the right of reply, responded to a statement made by the British Humanist Association.  Nigeria believed that people should be properly educated with regard to its lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender laws, which were supported by 98 per cent of Nigerians.  Nigeria was a democracy and its laws were not passed arbitrarily, they were adopted through transparent juridical process.  Statements by non-governmental organizations must be based on fact, it said.

Iraq, speaking in the right of reply, rejected allegations by a non-governmental organization on its Marriage Act, saying that the information was false as no law had yet been adopted.  In any event, it was for the Iraqi Parliament and people to decide. 

China, speaking in the right of reply, rejected accusations made by certain non-governmental organizations regarding its policy in the Tibetan region.  The Chinese Government was strongly opposed to self-mutilation and immolation, as people’s lives were precious.  The acts were caused by a criminal group that made people kill themselves, including by posting advice on the internet.  Since 2011, the incidents in the Tibetan region were criminalized activities and serious violations of Buddhist teachings. 

Algeria, speaking in the right of reply, said it rejected allegations made by non-governmental organizations on the Sahrawi refugee population on its territory. 
Algeria shouldered its commitments to all refugees and its responsibility towards the Sahrawi refugees, as a country of asylum, carried out in accordance with the norms and standards of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  Algeria worked to provide lasting solution and said that the best way of proving that it had fulfilled its responsibilities was to see the congratulations from other countries.  It was important to stress that the camps hosting Sahrawi refugees were managed by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.


For use of the information media; not an official record


HRC14/031E