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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL STARTS GENERAL DEBATE ON HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATIONS REQUIRING ITS ATTENTION
Hears Statement from Namibia’s Minister of Justice
17 September 2013

The Human Rights Council during its midday meeting today started its general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention.  It also heard a statement from the Minister of Justice of Namibia.

Utoni Nujoma, Minister of Justice of Namibia, said he was pleased to present a mid-term report on the recommendations of the first cycle of his country’s Universal Periodic Review.  Namibia was currently implementing its National Development Plan 4 to tackle poverty and put the country on the trajectory to prosperity.  Faster economic growth and improving the welfare and standards of living of all Namibians was the priority, in line with the Government’s obligations under relevant international instruments.  Namibia had made strides towards the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals and had recently made the decision to have 50/50 gender equality in political positions. 

During the general debate on human rights situations requiring the Council’s attention, speakers reiterated the Council’s responsibility to address human rights violations and situations of concern and raised allegations of violations in countries and regions around the world.  Speakers also highlighted concerns about restrictive laws or other obstacles preventing civil society participation, as well as the situation of human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, and other actors targeted because of their efforts to promote human rights.  Participants reiterated calls to the Council and the international community to promote respect for human rights and to ensure that perpetrators were held accountable. 

Speaking in the general debate were Lithuania on behalf of the European Union, Palestine on behalf of the Arab Group, Montenegro, Ireland, United States, Czech Republic, Germany, Japan, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Ecuador, Norway, China, Iraq, Australia, France, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Iran, Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Cuba, Uruguay, Azerbaijan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Belarus, Canada, Belgium, Azerbaijan, Myanmar and Armenia. 

The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Baha’i International Community, Liberal International, Cairo Institute for Human Rights, Verein Sudwind, CIVICUS, Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme, Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims, Union of Arab Jurists, International Commission of Jurists, Asian Legal Resource Centre, Center for Inquiry, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Jubilee Campaign, Human Rights House Foundation, Human Rights Watch, International Lesbian and Gay Association, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, Transparency International, International Muslim Women’s Union, Amnesty International, British Humanist Association, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Reporters Without Borders International, Mouvement countre le racism et l’amitie entre les peuples, Franciscans International, Women’s Human Rights International Association, United Nations Watch, World Barua Organization, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, Press Emblem Campaign and International Educational Development.

The Human Rights Council this afternoon, at 3 p.m., will hold a half-day panel discussion on the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.  The general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention will resume at noon on Thursday, 19 September.

Statement by the Minister of Justice of Namibia

UTONI UJOMA, Minister of Justice of Namibia, said he was happy to present a mid-term report on the recommendations of the first cycle of his country’s Universal Periodic Review.  The Government of Namibia was currently implementing its National Development Plan 4 to tackle poverty and put the country on the trajectory to prosperity.  Faster economic growth and improving the welfare and standard of living of all Namibians was the Government’s priority.  These efforts were also made in line with the Government’s obligations under relevant international instruments.  The Government had made strides toward the fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals, such as achieving Millennium Development Goal 2 on primary education.  The Government had recently made the decision to have 50/50 gender equality in political positions.  Measures on the reduction of maternal and child mortality, in line with the Millennium Development Goals, had been undertaken.  With regard to HIV/AIDS, the situation had stabilised and anti-retroviral drugs coverage had increased significantly.  There remained a large deficit of affordable housing in the country.  Land distribution was another area on which the Government was focusing its attention.  The Government had acquired land with the purpose of expanding communal areas and had a special programme to integrate the San, Ovatue and Ovatjimba communities into the mainstream of the socio-economic life of the country.  It had bought 10 farms, measuring more than 50,500 hectares, and settled about 952 households from the San, Ovatue and Ovatjimba communities. 

Following the first cycle of its Universal Periodic Review, the Government had made progress on developing specific legislation to combat human trafficking.  Regarding child labour, steady progress had been made as per the Action Programme.  Furthermore, an Action Plan was undertaken in 2011 to align ministries toward this goal.  Periodic inspections were carried out to check for instances of child labour and compliance orders were issued when infractions were discovered, backed with criminal sanction.  Namibia would host the Adventure Travel World Summit in September 2013.   It continued to be a leader in eco-tourism.  A severe drought had started earlier this year and a state of emergency was in place.  More than 460,000 people were in need of food aid and this was a human rights and humanitarian emergency.  The Government had allocated $ 20 million in drought relief.  The International Committee of the Red Cross had appealed for a further $ 8 million.  As the world faced other human rights challenges, Namibia called for peaceful resolutions in Egypt and Syria.  Military intervention would be a mistake.  Furthermore all embargoes on Cuba had to be ended, and sanctions against Zimbabwe should be lifted following peaceful elections there. 

General Debate on Human Rights Situations that Require the Attention of the Council

Lithuania, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said it was concerned about renewed fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and by the violent conflict in South Sudan.  The European Union also condemned the ongoing human rights violations in Sudan and expressed concern about the human rights situations in the Central African Republic, Eritrea, Iran, the occupied Palestinian territory, Myanmar and Belarus.  The European Union encouraged Russia to ensure an enabling environment for the work of civil society and expressed concerns about ongoing reports of human rights violations in China.

Palestine, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, expressed its concern at the continuing deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Syria, and that six million persons were now internally and externally displaced.  The Arab Group highlighted the situation of women and children, reiterated its opposition to all violations of human rights and humanitarian law, and expressed concerns about attacks carried out against civilians in Syria.

Montenegro said it remained extremely concerned about the devastating humanitarian, human rights and displacement situation in Syria.  The latest figures of refugees and internally displaced persons indicated the staggering toll that the crisis had taken on the civilians of Syria and the perilous humanitarian situation that those individuals faced.  Montenegro remained committed to supporting a cessation of hostilities and a political and peaceful solution in Syria.

Ireland strongly urged the Government of Bahrain to implement the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry’s report.  Ireland echoed the High Commissioner’s call for an investigation into allegations of human rights abuses in Camps Ashraf and Liberty in Iraq.  Ireland expressed concern about Israeli plans to relocate Arab Bedouins; and reported human rights abuses in Sri Lanka and Sudan.  Ireland welcomed progress made in Myanmar and Mali.

United States denounced the targeting of civilians in Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  In addition, it hoped the new Government of Iraq would end political imprisonment and the execution of minors.  Cuba continued to repress peaceful assembly, while China had increased arrests, forced disappearances, and extra legal detention of human rights defenders.  The United States also noted poor human rights scenarios in Venezuela, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Central African Republic, Egypt, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka.

Czech Republic was deeply concerned by the deplorable human rights situations in Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  It was worried about the situation of religious minorities in Iran and concerned by proposed amendments to the Electoral Code of Belarus, which would challenge fairness and transparency.  Ongoing actions against non-governmental organizations in Russia, detention of human rights defenders in China, and deteriorating human rights situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic were further causes for concern.

Germany regretted that Eritrea continued to deny any space for the activities of human rights defenders and organizations.  It was concerned that the human rights commission formed during the previous Government of National Unity in Zimbabwe had not become fully operational.  Germany also expressed concern about the human rights situation in Azerbaijan and Iran, and about human rights violations in China.

Japan appreciated the efforts of the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and urged the authorities to fully cooperate with the Commission.  The abduction issue was significant and unresolved, and Japan was determined to resolve it.  Japan also expressed concern about the situation in Egypt, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in addition to Syria.

Austria said that a free and thriving civil society was an essential element of any State that fully respected and adhered to democracy, the rule of law and human rights.  Austria was extremely concerned about States such as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Eritrea, where virtually no space was left for civil society activities, and expressed deep concern over the use of torture and labour camps against political prisoners in the former.  Austria also expressed concern about the situation in Iran, China, and Russia.

Switzerland expressed concern about recent human rights abuses reported in Egypt and called for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to be allowed to visit the country.  Switzerland was very concerned about violence committed against women throughout the world, particularly in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.  It was also alarmed by the legal stigmatisation of sexual minorities in Russia and Cameroon.  Freedom of expression in Ecuador remained a concern.

Spain said various countries continued to experience human rights violations but the Council had to stress the legal obligations of States.  Ongoing violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, particularly against women, was a concern.  The Council should also pay attention to the issue of gender-based violence in Somalia and the situation in the Central African Republic.  The work of the Commission of Inquiry on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was commended.

Ecuador was deeply concerned by the quality of exceptionalism that the United States gave itself, which was biased and anachronistic and trampled on the United Nations Charter.  The Human Rights Council should pronounce on all human rights violations, including the growing scandal surrounding the work of security agencies in the United States and other countries which showed flagrant abuses of the right to privacy, and the use of drones.  Ecuador continued to call for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. 

Norway said it was deeply concerned by the serious human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and urged the Government to fully cooperate with the Special Rapporteur and the Commission of Inquiry.  It was also concerned about the human rights situation in Egypt and the crisis in the Central African Republic.  Norway strongly encouraged Uzbekistan to ensure equality before the law for all citizens. 

China agreed that human rights were universal but said at the same time there was no one-size-fits-all model for the promotion and protection of human rights.  States should respect the different development paths chosen by different countries, and adopt an open and inclusive spirit, learning from each other, to ensure sustainable development.  China was opposed to the politicization of human rights issues and the practice of some countries of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.

Iraq was concerned about the exacerbation of the crisis in Syria, which as a neighbouring country, was having a direct impact on Iraq as well.  Iraq welcomed the request made by Syria to accede to the Convention on Chemical Weapons.  According to Iraq’s statistics, the number of Syrian refugees in Iraq, as of August 2013, was 270,000.  Iraqi authorities tried to house refugees in coordination with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, but immediate material and moral assistance for refugees was needed, especially in light of the approaching winter.

Australia reiterated its concerns over the use of chemical weapons in Syria and demanded that perpetrators were held accountable.  Australia called on Iran to translate pledges of support for civil society and women’s rights into action.  It also called for an end to the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Australia remained deeply troubled by the human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Central African Republic.  It looked forward to a normalisation of relations with Fiji after democratic elections.

France said the situation in Syria had reached unprecedented gravity.  It reiterated its appeal to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court to ensure that crimes did not go unpunished.  France was concerned by the situation in the Central African Republic, and attacks against humanitarian actors there; and by sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It was particularly concerned by the situation in Sudan, in particular the conflict in Darfur, the humanitarian and security situation, and the lack of humanitarian access in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

United Kingdom remained concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Syria.  It also expressed concern over the recent elections in Zimbabwe, and impunity in Sudan.  It noted reports of executions and the persecution of minority groups in Iran.  The United Kingdom called on “Burma” to counter rhetoric inciting violence against Muslim communities.  It urged China to ensure the freedom of assembly and demonstration.  Finally it called on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry.

New Zealand welcomed progress in Fiji toward holding national elections in September 2014, including the recent adoption of a new constitution and ongoing discussions with international donors around electoral assistance, as recognized by Pacific Island Forum leaders in the recent meeting in Majuro.  New Zealand said it still had concerns relating to media freedom and the activities of political parties, but overall it was pleased to see election preparations in Fiji moving forward.

Iran said that according to Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, nobody could be subjected to arbitrary interference in their privacy, home lives or correspondence and thus shared the High Commissioner’s concern about the broad scope of surveillance in countries including the United States and the United Kingdom.  Iran was also concerned at discrimination directed towards Roma people in some European States, and towards indigenous and Muslim minorities in Canada.

The Netherland expressed deep concern about the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and urgently called on authorities to engage with the Commission of Inquiry.  The rise in human rights violations in the Central African Republic was also a concern, as were the ongoing human rights violations caused by conflicts in Sudan.  The Netherlands urged all parties in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo to bring serious human rights violations to a halt. 

Denmark said the use of chemical weapons amounted to a war crime and had to be met with a strong international response.  Denmark remained concerned about the human rights situation in Egypt and was extremely worried about new reports of torture of detained human rights activists in Bahrain.  Illegal settlement activity on Palestinian land continued to be of utmost concern and the Israeli Government was urged to investigate allegations of human rights violations and other crimes committed on Palestinian land and prosecute those responsible.

Cuba said that determined countries from the industrialized North continued with their known statements and deeds that they accused the countries of the South of having committed.  Those who would like to act as judges were the main violators of human rights.  When listening in particular to the United States, it seemed they had resolved or forgotten their own violations.  Such countries said nothing about all the poor condemned by the unjust international order they had imposed on everyone.

Uruguay had taken note of the multiple worrying situations around the world and supported the appeal to all authorities to ensure the due protection of human rights of all their people.  Uruguay believed that it was worth mentioning the situation of the Ashraf and Liberty camps as persons requiring international protection.  The attack of 1 September was condemned.  While recognizing the complexity of the situation in Iraq, Uruguay appealed to Iraq’s good offices and its responsibility to ensure the protection of these persons.

Democratic People's Republic of Korea said that the United States and Western countries had been waging wars in several countries resulting in the loss of innocent lives.  In the United States, racial discrimination, police abuse, inequality, rape and violent crimes were witnessed on a daily basis; and, in the European Union and other Western countries, racism, xenophobia, discrimination and maltreatment against immigrants and minorities were also taking place.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea urged Japan to face its responsibility and to apologise to victims of past crimes; and urged ‘South Korea’ to abolish its National Security Law.

Slovakia said that the human rights situation in the Central African Republic was of serious concern and human rights violations and abuses must be urgently addressed by the Government.  Slovakia was also concerned about human rights violations committed in Sudan.  Slovakia was closely following the human rights situation in Belarus; the Council resolution adopted in June provided a timely momentum to address systematic restrictions on human rights, and Belarus was encouraged to engage in genuine dialogue with the Council and its mechanisms.

Slovenia strongly condemned the unacceptable suffering of the Syrian people and said that the use of chemical weapons constituted a war crime.  Slovenia was also concerned about recent events in Egypt and deplored the disproportionate use of force by security forces as well as acts of extremism.  Slovenia expressed deep concern about the ongoing serious human rights violations in Sudan, including the situation of the Nuba people in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile; and about the widespread violations in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Belarus said that there was concern that the rights of youth and minority groups in the European Union were not respected and this was made worse by the lack of legislation that banned racist speech and peaceful protests.  Widespread discrimination against Roma had been noted.  Hate crimes in Sweden had risen to unacceptable levels.  The destruction of computers at the offices of The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom was a cause for concern.

Canada said egregious and systematic human rights abuses continued to take place in Iran.  Disregard for due process and the rule of law belied Iran’s efforts to portray itself as addressing international concerns.  Canada called on President Rouhani to bring to account perpetrators of the recent murder of a member of the Bah’ai community.  In respect of Belarus, where freedoms were limited, Canada called for it to offer full collaboration with the Special Rapporteur.  Canada was gravely concerned about the deterioration of the human rights situation in Sudan.

Belgium shared concern about the human rights situation in Iraq and called on the authorities to see to it that discrimination against minorities was duly prosecuted.  Capital punishment had no deterrent effect.  Belgium was concerned by the human rights situation in Uzbekistan and stressed that the Council should be able to look into all questions and issues regarding situations of human rights.  Belgium reiterated great regret that no Special Rapporteur had been able to visit Uzbekistan for more than 10 years. 

Azerbaijan was disappointed to see a reference to Azerbaijan in the statement delivered by Lithuania today.  There were no restrictions on the freedom of expression, association and assembly in Azerbaijan.  Lithuania was called upon to look into its own cases of human rights violations.  Concern was also expressed about the excessive use of force in Germany and the disappearance of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children from reception centres in Norway.

Myanmar said, regarding the possible opening of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights country office in Myanmar, that the two sides were working closely together to reach a desirable outcome.  Things were changing in the country and for the better.  At this juncture, what the country really needed was a gentle nudge and the strong encouragement and support from the international community in its reform efforts and national development endeavours. 

Armenia drew the Council’s attention to Azerbaijan’s continuous policy of hostility and aggression against Nagorno Karabakh, which aimed at depriving the population of their fundamental human rights and freedoms.  This aggressive policy and militaristic rhetoric, repeated violations of the ceasefire, and armed provocations on the borders endangered peace and security. 

Baha’i International Community recalled the assassination of a member of the Baha’i community in Iran after receiving threats and being asked to leave the country.  The Baha’is in Iran were imprisoned because of their beliefs and were deprived of many basic rights, and hateful propaganda was spread against them by both the State-sponsored media and religious leaders.   Iran should not only investigate this religiously motivated crime but uphold and respect the rights of all minorities. 

Liberal International called attention on the death of Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, Cuban political activist and human rights defender, under suspicious circumstances and after receiving dozens of dead threats from State security forces, as noted by the testimony of Mr. Paya’s driver.  Liberal International welcomed the decision of the Spanish Government to start an independent investigation on this death.
 
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies called on Egypt to extend a standing invitation to all Special Procedures.  The Institute condemned the disproportionate and unwarranted lethal force recently used by security forces to disperse sit-ins by the Muslim Brotherhood. 

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik said that it was concerned about the recent killings in Iraq, where 52 defenceless Iranian residents of Camp Ashraf were massacred.  Sudwind drew the attention of the Council to the systematic and human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The acting president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, speaking on behalf of CIVICUS, said that the situation in Bahrain continued to deteriorate.  In July law amendments were made that further infringed on people’s basic rights to free assembly and free expression.  Reprisals were still ongoing and activists were photographed in the Council’s room.

Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme said that political prisoners in Viet Nam suffered serious discrimination and that religious freedom remained largely trampled upon in the country.  The Council was called upon to put pressure on Viet Nam to set a date for a visit of the Special Rapporteur on religious freedom, and for an invitation to the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders. 

Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims said that the American surveillance programme violated domestic and international law.  The Institute hoped that all these measures were put to an end because social networks had turned into tools for American spying and intelligence agencies, rather than being means of communication and interaction between people. 

Union of Arab Jurists said the Council and the wider international community must have a unified focus of upholding the right of individuals all around the world in a peaceful and just manner.  All States were called upon to demand that there be no aggression against the people of Syria and to enhance efforts at a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

International Commission of Jurists called on the Council to address the grave situation for human rights and the rule of law in Egypt.  The military’s ouster of the elected President, suspension of the Constitution, and the unlawful seizure of power were incompatible with international standards on the rule of law.  The Council should urge the Egyptian authorities to receive a mission by the High Commissioner and an ongoing presence to ensure a quick transition to a lawfully constituted civilian authority.

Asian Legal Resource Centre drew the attention to the Council to the failure of criminal justice systems in Asia.  The Centre expressed concern about the situation of several Asian countries, including police refusal to fill in complaints, de jure impunity practiced through a number of acts which ensured impunity for State perpetrators, the proliferation of threats against human rights defenders, and preventing victims’ access to remedies.

Centre for Inquiry said that thousands of females around the world were being forced into servile marriage every year, transforming them into commodities over which men could exercise ownership.  Girl brides constituted the overwhelming majority of women in servile marriage; and the rate of early and forced marriage was over 60 per cent in countries like Niger, Chad, Mali, Bangladesh, Guinea and the Central African Republic.

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights said that the Tibetan people’s human rights continued to be violated under impunity.  China had not responded positively to the 12 outstanding requests for visits by Special Procedures mandate holders.  The Foundation urged China to receive the High Commissioner without further delay and to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development remained deeply concerned at the increased involvement of the Sri Lankan military in the civilian administration of the Northern and Eastern provinces.  It reiterated its call to the Government to put an end to all forms of harassment and intimidation of journalists, political activists and human rights defenders.  Forum Asia expressed concern over Myanmar’s draft law on associations.

Jubilee Campaign brought to the attention of the Council the violations of freedom of religion in Tanzania.  The Christian minority in Zanzibar was extremely vulnerable.  Twenty churches had been looted and priests had been attacked.  The Tanzanian Government must uphold the supremacy of the Constitution and its international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Human Rights House Foundation said that elections were a moment of national debate on the future of the country and a time when freedom of expression, association and assembly enjoyed even more protection than usual.  It was deeply concerned that in Azerbaijan, Presidential elections of October 2013 were being prepared by ensuring public silence. 

Human Rights Watch said that Chinese officials often insisted that the country’s human rights situation should be given special consideration and be considered in light of national conditions.  Yet, the purpose of the Universal Periodic Review was for all countries to be scrutinized equally.  No State could be exempted of its obligations to protect human rights.

International Lesbian and Gay Association said that one human rights situation that required the Council’s attention was the human rights situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.  Each one was a human being born free and equal in dignity and human rights.  The Council had to therefore remain committed to protecting and promoting their human rights.

International Association of Democratic Lawyers said that free-trade agreements ran counter to several human rights, including the right to food.  In no case should people be deprived of their subsistence means.  In Colombia, the price of seeds had increased as a consequence of the free-trade agreements.

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues said that M23 rebels had committed massive war crimes in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, including the recruitment of child soldiers and rapes.  Freedom of expression in Viet Nam was another area of concern.

Transparency International said that corruption undermined the basic rights of citizens.  In Bahrain, corruption had deprived the population from the benefits of development programmes.  Impunity was the rule for acts of corruption in this country.

International Muslim Women’s Union said that the people of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir had been struggling for their right to self-determination for decades.  The death toll and the context of the killings substantiated the state of exception and impunity regularized by the Indian military, paramilitary and police forces.   

Amnesty International said that there was no room for complacency when it came to double standards.  The stakeholders in the Council should ask themselves to what extent the failure to address the now chronic human rights situation in Bahrain and certain other countries had made it easier to avoid addressing the situation in Egypt. 

British Humanist Association said the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief had recently stated that religious freedom was as universal as any other human right and as liberal as freedom of expression.  Why then were Governments able to systematically abuse this right through the presence and propagation of discriminatory laws on blasphemy, apostasy and defamation of religion?

International Humanist and Ethical Union said that increasing cases of human rights violations of human rights defenders were reported in the Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.  Saudi Bloggers, writers and free thinkers faced arrest, persecution and death under the ruling of the Islamic State.  Saudi Arabia had an appalling record of human rights violations.

Reporters without Borders said that more than 100 journalists had been killed in Syria.  The authorities of both parties to the conflict were less and less tolerant with media professionals.  Reporters without Borders recalled that journalists were protected by international conventions.

Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitie entre les peoples said that a fifth attack was reported against the residents of Camp Ashraf since last year.  The organization drew the Council’s attention to enforced disappearances that took place in Iraq.  Iranian asylum-seekers in Iraq had to be better protected.  It called for the immediate release of those arbitrarily detained.

Franciscans International drew attention to three cases of human rights violations in the Philippines related to mining and recommended that the Government, inter alia, stop the mining operation in Cagayan Valley and Eastern Samar and conduct an independent human rights impact assessment and investigate reported killings and mass displacement of indigenous peoples in San Fernando.

Women’s Human Rights International Association said that the 1 September attack on Camp Ashraf was a crime against humanity.  The security of asylum-seekers in the new location in Camp Liberty had to become a central priority.  The High Commissioner and the Human Rights Council were called upon to set up an independent investigation to hold the perpetrators responsible.

United Nations Watch said that the Government of Cuba had refused to carry out a plebiscite and had incarcerated the majority of the Movimiento Cristiano Liberacion.   Cuban citizens were human beings and had the right to participate in the political life of their nation.  Why was the Cuban Government not carrying out a plebiscite which thousands of Cubans were demanding?

World Barua Organization said that cultural rights of the Buddhist community were ignored in India.  Secularism was a basic feature of the Indian Constitution but fundamentalist forces were stamping the cultural rights of Buddhists.  He called on the Indian Government to keep Buddhist cultural heritage places away from any prejudice and disturbance.

International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination said that corruption was a major cause of underdevelopment and human rights violations.  “Economic war crimes” had been committed in Iraq, where corruption was institutionalized.  Despite the resources of the country, many Iraqis lived in poverty.

Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development said that the situation of minorities in Myanmar was worrying.  All properties belonging to Rohingyas in Myanmar had been seized and their rights were violated on a daily basis.  The Foundation called on Myanmar to put an end to discrimination and violence against Muslims.

Press Emblem Campaign said journalists in Egypt believed that there was no official body in the country to protect them from being intimidated or harassed by security forces or even angry protesters while trying to carry out their work.  The Egyptian authorities were called upon to change the present laws on the media and adopt a clear policy within security forces in order to respect and protect journalists.

International Educational Development said it was concerned about the situation of ethnic minorities in Myanmar, where there had been little progress in truth, reparation and non-recurrence.  The Council had to consider a Commission of Inquiry for Sri Lanka, as the Government demonstrated no intention whatsoever of respecting the rights of the Tamil people. 


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC13/108E


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