HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL STARTS INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE WITH SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND ARBITRARY EXECUTIONS
Concludes clustered interactive dialogue with Special Rapporteurs on Right to Health and Right to Education
19 June 2012
The Human Rights Council this afternoon started a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression and opinion and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. It also concluded a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to health and the Special Rapporteur on the right to education.
Frank La Rue, Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said that his annual report explored key trends and challenges to the protection of journalists and media freedom. 2011 showed a worrying trend of increasing numbers of attacks against journalists and individuals monitoring street protests and demonstrations around the world. An attack against a journalist could be conceived as an attack against democracy. Both State and non-State actors perpetrated attacks against journalists; at particular risk were those who reported on human rights violations, corruption, organized crime, public crises, drug trafficking, demonstrations or environmental issues.
Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, introduced his annual report and said its thematic section was dedicated to the protection of the right to life of journalists. The killing of journalists by State and non-State actors, as well as the intimidation of other members of society into self-censorship was unacceptable. The Special Rapporteur said his report highlighted that two thirds of the deaths of journalists occurred outside armed conflict. He also spoke about the situation in Syria and expressed alarm at the escalation of violence and human rights abuses including extrajudicial killings and attacks directed against civilians.
Algeria, speaking as a concerned country, said that the Special Rapporteur’s visit had taken place during crucial period in the region and country. Unfortunately the report did not reflect the spirit of openness that was present throughout his visit. The document suffered from lack of balance regarding the right freedom of expression and the right to protection for victims.
Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, said occupation was the most flagrant violation of human rights and its continuation by Israel impeded the huge efforts of the Palestinian National Authorities in the field of protection and promotion of human rights. Thousands of persons – political activists and not persons involved in military armed action – had been detained as a result of exercising their rights, including freedom of opinion and expression.
Speaking in the interactive debate were: Sweden, Angola, Austria, Belarus, Senegal on behalf of the African Group, Egypt, United States, European Union and China.
Russian Federation, China and Georgia spoke in right of reply.
At the beginning of the meeting the Council concluded its clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on Health and on Education. Mr. Grover and Mr. Singh presented their reports in the morning meeting on 19 June. A summary of their presentations can be found in press release HRC12/064E.
In closing remarks Anand Grover, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, said the recognition in law of informal sector workers was a major issue, as well as ensuring their access to all basic services, including health.
In closing remarks Kishore Singh, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, said there had been many requests from delegations for best practices in ensuring quality education. There were a number of schemes which provided examples on exchange of information among States. It was time to recognize the importance of technical and vocational education which was relevant to the industry and part of secondary education systems.
Speaking in the interactive debate were United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Luxembourg, Venezuela, Turkey, Romania, Kuwait, and Botswana. The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme, Baha’i International Community, Save the Children International, Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network, Organisation Internationale pour le droit a l’éducation, and Tupaj Amaru.
The Council will resume its work tomorrow, Wednesday 20 June, at 10 a.m. when it will hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Peaceful Assembly and Association and the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism. It will also conclude the dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression and on arbitrary executions.
The Council has before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression (A/HRC/20/17).
The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression on the Mission to Algeria (A/HRC/20/17/Add.1).
The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression on the Mission to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories (A/HRC/20/17/Add.2).
The Council has before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (A/HRC/20/22).
The Council has before it a corrigendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (A/HRC/20/22/Corr.1).
The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on the Mission to Democratic Republic of the Congo (A/HRC/20/22/Add.1).
The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on the Mission to Colombia (A/HRC/20/22/Add.2).
The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on the Mission to United States of America (A/HRC/20/22/Add.3).
The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions containing observations on communications (A/HRC/20/22/Add.4).
Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Health and the Right to Education
United Nations Children’s Fund said that progress in education since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the setting of the Millennium Development Goals had been substantial. School attendance and completion remained a challenge for millions of children and was strongly influenced by such socio-economic factors as age, poverty, social group, disability, language and location. UNICEF wanted to see more attention paid to promoting equity in opportunity and outcomes within and across countries.
Saudi Arabia said that the right to occupational health was vital, as was the right to education which played a role in promoting other rights. Saudi Arabia made efforts to bring about the rights to health and education, and had given particular importance to citizens’ rights and residents’ rights. Appropriate ways of promoting these rights should be developed.
Egypt said that too much emphasis had been placed on States’ obligations without corresponding consideration of the responsibilities of non-state actors. Recommendations required further elaboration on how they could be implemented. Egypt asked Mr. Grover to further elaborate on how States could embark on efforts to regularize the informal sector and reach out to its constituency. The recommendations and the report itself lacked a consideration of the international dimension in this respect. On the right to education, Egypt asked Mr. Singh to elaborate on the issue of the regularization of private providers of education.
Luxembourg stressed the importance of the work on health and education for the Millennium Development Goals. Last week the International Labour Conference had adopted a recommendation concerning the need to establish and maintain social protection floors that contained basic social security guarantees ensuring at a minimum basic health care. The recommendation suggested a tripartite participation including employees, employers and authorities, in order to determine and re-examine the level of protection; and included strategies for extending social security in formal and informal economies.
Venezuela stressed that occupational health was an integral part of the right to health and emphasised the needs of vulnerable groups. Venezuela’s legislation required employers to ensure conditions of hygiene and safety to protect workers’ health. Venezuela reiterated the need for quality education without exclusion or discrimination, and a regulatory framework for public and private education systems based on the principles of equality of opportunities, and special consideration for the needs of marginalised and vulnerable groups. Through education missions in Venezuela and major social investments, universal education had been achieved.
Turkey said the right to education was one of the ways out of poverty, not only investing in society and human beings but as a key itself for the exercise of many other rights, and protecting women from exploitation. Despites efforts made since the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000 concerning universal access to primary education, significant gaps remained and quality education remained far from a reality on the ground. It was important to ensure access to quality education and to continue to invest in education.
Romania said that there was a whole range of measures States could take to address occupational health. Romania fully agreed with Mr. Singh that the acquisition of knowledge about human rights values should be at the forefront of any discourse on quality education. In Romania, the Law on Quality of Education regulated the quality management in education, while the relevant institution was currently developing a system for measuring added value, namely the real contribution of the school to the education of an individual, by correlating the pupils’ results with the process factor.
Kuwait said it was one of the leading countries providing free education on all levels and a country where the enrolment rate was 100 per cent. Kuwait was also providing external university scholarships to high achievers. Kuwait was cooperating with the Gulf countries with the view to strengthening cooperation in occupational health and safety.
Botswana said that the focus on occupational health, particularly in the informal economy, was very appropriate because this sector faced economic challenges and quite often it was the vulnerable and marginalized groups of society such as women and children who worked in it. Could the Special Rapporteur clarify how he envisaged the extension of existing occupational laws to the informal sector without formalizing it and so undermining its vibrancy? Botswana shared the concern about the low quality of basic education and said that States were called upon to re-commit to their obligations to achieve the Millennium Development Goal 2 by 2015.
Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme highlighted today’s date as World Sickle Cell Day and said it would have liked to see further engagement by the international community in this respect. The non-governmental organization wanted to see universal access to quality education. It also wished to know what measures could be recommended to States to face inadequacies in these times of crisis.
Baha’i International Community said that in some countries non-recognized religious minorities were denied the right to education, with specific reference to the Baha’i population in Iran, which was denied the right to enter university, prevented from receiving higher education from any other source, and suffered verbal and physical abuse. The Baha’i International Community enquired whether the question had been raised in communications with Iran and, if so, what the answer had been.
Save the Children International said millions of children continued to be deprived of their right to a quality education which in turn prevented them from developing fully. Children affected by emergencies and those that lived in conflict-affected countries continued to miss out. Guaranteeing a quality education entailed a wider range of normative and policy efforts which required immediate action. Access to primary schools had increased but its quality had been compromised in many countries.
Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network said that additional teaching emphasis on ‘secular ethics’ could help produce a more understanding world and respect for others. In China the quality of education for Mongolians, Uyghurs and Tibetans showed alarming illiteracy rates. This type of “quality” education imposed an alien political ideology upon the Tibetans. The Network urged the Special Rapporteur to support the call for the withdrawal of restrictions on the promotion of the preservation of the Tibetan language.
Organisation Internationale pour le droit a l’éducation, in a joint statement, said education must develop the human personality and respect for human rights. The non-governmental organization stressed the importance of the acquisition of knowledge, cultural diversity, technical and professional education as an essential component, quality training for teachers, and the participation of all relevant parties at all educational levels. Finally the organization echoed the proposal to hold a debate on quality education in the Council.
Indian Society “Tupaj Amaru” said that in the context of neo-liberal globalization, the health of the Mapuche population was affected by economic activities of major forest industries, pollution and destruction of biodiversity. The privatisation of education had forced poor people to pay for education; among them, indigenous groups were not able to pay for educational services. The Chilean Government had responded with repression to the request for culturally relevant education for the Mapuche.
Union of Arab Jurists said in a joint statement that the education system in Iraq, once vaunted as the most advanced in the region, had suffered degradation and dismantling, particularly after the invasion and occupation of 2003. Under the occupation 84 per cent of Iraq’s institutions of higher education had been burned, looted or destroyed and millions of dollars in international aid dedicated to build and repair Iraq’s dilapidated schools had disappeared due to corruption and chaos.
Association of World Citizens pointed that there were many women in the informal sector who were suffering. When pregnant, some of their wages were subtracted and this practice still existed in many countries. States and labour inspectors should monitor employers and ensure they were aware of their commitments.
Concluding Remarks by the Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Health and the Right to Education
ANAND GROVER, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, said in his closing remarks that the major issue concerning the participation of informal sector workers was their recognition in law and that what could be done in the short term was ensuring their access to all basic services, including health. Employers should bear the main responsibility in providing health insurance to their workers, with the support of States. There were a number of issues that presented new risks, including new technologies, nuclear reactors, shift working and others. There was a need for studies and disaggregated data concerning informal workers and States should then build policies based on that evidence. In terms of timeline and priority of action, the first priority should be ensuring access to health for all. Trade agreements should not result in adverse consequences for occupational health of workers in formal and informal sectors. The role of transnational corporations in occupational health would be explored in future reports of the Special Rapporteur. The international community needed to start thinking about health for all, regardless of through public or any other scheme, and this should be health for all without any distinction as to status.
KISHORE SINGH, Special Rapporteur on the right to education, in closing remarks, said that there were many requests from delegations today to identify and compile best practices in ensuring quality education. Mr. Singh said that there were a number of schemes on international, regional and national levels which provided examples of how to intensify the exchange of information among States. The Millennium Summit Review had concluded by highlighting the central role of education in the acceleration action to achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. It was time now to recognize the importance of technical and vocational education which would be relevant to the industry, with understanding that those were part of secondary education systems. It was important for the international community to concentrate on two or three key strategies to achieve its objectives, with clear understanding of the role and responsibilities of all stakeholders and how they related to each other. Mr. Singh said he was convinced that there was a need to embrace a holistic approach to education and it would be extremely important to provide human rights based guidance to improving quality of education, which could be formulated in the form of key principles. There was also a need for a paradigm change in resourcing education: 20 per cent of expenditure should be dedicated to quality in education. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the United Nations Children Fund had a key role to play in advancing the work on quality of education and the right to education in general.
Introduction of the Reports on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
FRANK LA RUE, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said that his annual report explored key trends and challenges to the protection of journalists and media freedom. An attack against a journalist was not only a violation of his or her right to impart information, but also a violation of the right of individuals and society at large to seek and receive information and ideas of all kinds. Without respect for the right to freedom of expression, and in particular media freedom, it was impossible to create an informed, active and engaged society, which was essential for transparency and democratic participation. An attack against a journalist could therefore be conceived as an attack against democracy. 2011 showed a worrying trend of increasing numbers of attacks against journalists and individuals monitoring street protests and demonstrations around the world. Both State and non-State actors perpetrated attacks against journalists; at particular risk were those who reported on matters such as human rights violations, corruption, organized crime, public crises, drug trafficking, demonstrations or environmental issues, including on mining and infrastructure projects. Continued and increasing violence against journalists was not due to a lack of legal standards but a lack of implementation of existing standards.
Online journalists and bloggers also faced additional forms of harassment, intimidation and censorship, such as illegal hacking into their accounts, monitoring of their online activities, arbitrary arrests and detention, and the blocking of websites that contained information critical of authorities. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, almost half of the 179 journalists imprisoned in 2011 were those whose work appeared online. The Special Rapporteur stressed that journalists should not be held responsible for receiving, storing and disseminating classified data which was obtained in a way that is not illegal, including leaks and information received from unidentified sources. Neither should they be forced to reveal their sources of information. He called upon all States to facilitate access historical archives of official information to enable journalists, academics and human rights victims to establish the truth about past violations. The Special Rapporteur welcomed the establishment of a protection programme for journalists and the National Unit for the Protection of Journalists in Colombia, which provided journalists with concrete and material assistance, such as bulletproof vehicles and emergency transfers to safe areas. He was also encouraged by the steps taken in Mexico to combat ongoing violence against journalists.
Turning to his country missions, the Special Rapporteur expressed concern about acts of intimidation against journalists in Algeria, as well as the lack of independence of the media. Following his mission to Israel the Special Rapporteur said he was concerned by recent attempts to limit criticism of Israel regarding its policies and practices of occupation and questioning of Israel as a Jewish state. In the occupied Palestinian territory journalists faced multiple obstacles to carry out their work as a result of the internal division between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the de facto authorities in Gaza. Demonstrations were prevented from taking place in the West Bank by the Israeli Defence Forces. In East Jerusalem, the right of Palestinians to freedom of opinion and expression was unduly restricted by the Government of Israel. There was an excessive use of force by the security forces of the de facto authorities in Gaza to disperse peaceful assemblies and arbitrary arrests and detention of those expressing opinions deemed unacceptable. In conclusion the Special Rapporteur said it was undeniable that without free and independent media to inform the public, and freedom of expression for all individuals, there could not be a sustainable and democratic society based on accountability, transparency and respect for human rights. The Special Rapporteur renewed his call on all Governments to be tolerant of criticisms, ensure that journalists could carry out their functions effectively and to allow individuals to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds through any means.
CHRISTOF HEYNS, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, introduced his annual report and said its thematic section was dedicated to the protection of the right to life of journalists. The protection of the lives of journalists, in the context of armed conflict as well as outside armed conflict, presented a major challenge. The killing of journalists by State and non-State actors, as well as the intimidation of other members of society into self-censorship was unacceptable. The Special Rapporteur said his report highlighted that two thirds of the deaths of journalists occurred outside armed conflict. Most of the journalists killed covered issues related to politics, war, corruption, crime, and human rights. The most common profile of a journalist killed was that of a local as opposed to foreign correspondent, covering political or corruption issues for a local newspaper or a radio station. The largest numbers of journalists were killed in countries with the highest levels of impunity. While the current international legal framework provided the required protection, the main challenge lay in its full implementation. Attempts to silence journalists had dramatic and exponential effects on humanity: their silencing led to ignorance in society, misunderstanding and decision-making in the absence of adequate information. Neither democracy nor human rights could be achieved in such a world.
Regarding his missions to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Colombia and the United States, the Special Rapporteur said that although the Democratic Republic of the Congo had taken steps to fight impunity and strengthened the protection of civilians extrajudicial killings remained widespread. Colombia had taken important steps to prevent extrajudicial killings but instances of extrajudicial execution, persistent impunity and attempts by the military justice system to claim jurisdiction remained a concern. The United States had implemented measures to better track and respond to deaths in immigration detention. However, no significant improvement had been made on due process in the imposition of the death penalty; transparency in law enforcement, military and intelligence operations and accountability for potentially unlawful deaths in the Government’s international operations. The Special Rapporteur expressed gratitude to the Governments of Turkey and Mexico for agreeing to receive him on country visits later in 2012 or 2013.
Turning to Syria, the Special Rapporteur expressed alarm at the escalation of violence and human rights abuses including extrajudicial killings and attacks directed against civilians. He reiterated his call to all parties to cease the use of force. Prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into all alleged violations, including violations of the right to life, should be carried out to shed light on the circumstances of the killings and the identity of perpetrators and victims. The Special Rapporteur called upon the Syrian Government to fully cooperate with the independent Commission of Inquiry and United Nations monitors on the ground and to grant them access to all parts of the country, and to all witnesses, victims, or their families.
Statements by Concerned Countries
Algeria, speaking as a concerned country, said that the Special Rapporteur’s visit had taken place during a crucial period in the region and country. Unfortunately the report did not reflect the spirit of openness that was present throughout his visit. The document suffered from a lack of balance regarding the right to freedom of expression and the right to protection for victims. No reference was made to victims of defamation or violations of privacy or reputation. Algeria expressed concern regarding respect of the rules of impartiality and contested comments in the report concerning the right to assembly and peaceful association, as that question did not fall under the Special Rapporteur’s mandate.
Palestine, speaking as a concerned country, stressed the importance of information contained in the report, particularly in relation to recommendations. It also emphasized the legal dimension of the report, especially with respect to the responsibilities of Israel as the occupying power, including in the Gaza strip. Palestine affirmed that some violations had been committed in some cases, where no distinction had been made between freedom of opinion, freedom of expression and freedom of information. That required continued efforts. Occupation was the most flagrant violation of human rights and its continuation impeded the huge efforts of the Palestinian National Authorities in the field of protection and promotion of human rights. Thousands of persons – political activists and not persons involved in military armed action – had been detained as a result of exercising their rights, including freedom of opinion and expression. Palestine asked about the legal status of those detainees.
Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
Sweden said that with the emergence of the Internet and new technologies, journalistic activities were not only undertaken only by persons who fit the traditional notion of journalists, but by everyone. Protection of journalists included protection of bloggers and citizens journalists who engaged in the publication of journalistic work on the Internet. Mr. La Rue was asked to share his experiences of the role citizen journalism might play for people’s ability to seek, receive and impart information on the Internet. Sweden asked Mr. Heyns for practical examples of how States could facilitate the work of civil society that dealt with freedom of expression and protection of journalists.
Angola refuted allegations concerning restrictions on freedom of expression, arbitrary detentions, and threats of death, torture and ill-treatment to journalists. Angola was a democratic country and its Constitution guaranteed human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. The right to freedom of expression was not absolute and could be limited in exceptional circumstances. There was an independent journalists’ trade union in Angola, made of Government, private and civil society press, and that body was in charge of safeguarding freedom of press.
Austria expressed its deep concern about reports from around the world of different forms of violence against journalists and welcomed the two reports focusing on the issue of protection of journalists. The effective exercise of media freedom did not only depend on the obligation of States not to interfere, but also to provide a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work independently. Impunity was one of the biggest obstacles to the effective protection of journalists and perpetrators must be held accountable. There was no need for development of new standards and mechanisms; the existing ones needed to be strengthened and implemented, but there was a need for better coordination.
Belarus said the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression had an unbalanced approach. Spain was the only European country mentioned by Mr. La Rue’s recent reports: he seemed to have avoided issues in certain European countries. Was Mr. La Rue aware of the prosecution against Julian Assange, that it might be politically motivated, and that it followed the publication of information on the United States activities? Would the Special Rapporteur look at the Assange case and, if so, when? What about instances of criminal prosecution against citizens using social networks? Belarus also asked the Special Rapporteur to comment on the United States’ legislation to stop piracy, and to look into visa sanctions imposed by the European Union on Belarusian journalists.
Senegal, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the group was concerned by the vulnerability of journalists, especially women journalists, despite the protective frameworks. It was vital to improve existing instruments; nonetheless access to that area of work should be better regulated. It was important to implement existing legal instruments; the African Group was concerned that the definition of a journalist employed in Mr. Heyns’ report was too broad. It referred to the importance of remaining within the mandates of Special Procedures.
Egypt said that freedom of expression was essential in enabling democracy to work, and in enabling public participation in decision making. Mr. La Rue had referred to the term of “citizen journalist”: in that regard Egypt requested he elaborate on their rights and obligations in the context of the codes of conduct or ethics governing the profession. The report and focus eschewed dealing with the use of protection of journalists from the perspective of extrajudicial killings, an issue addressed only in limited terms. The notion that the existing legal framework was sufficient defied realities on the ground and were counter to the initiatives brought forward by numerous media and journalist associations.
United States quoted President Obama speaking on World Press Freedom Day: “The United States honours the role of a free press in creating sustainable democracies and prosperous societies”. Unlawful attacks on journalists represented an assault on all human right, the delegate said. Impunity for attacks on journalists must be brought to an end. All States should work towards the complete decriminalization of defamation. Could the Special Rapporteur make recommendations for States seeking to end impunity for attacks on journalists?
European Union said it was deeply concerned about ongoing violence against journalists and bloggers and that the majority of these took place outside situations of armed conflict. It asked how existing standards could be better implemented. The prevalence of impunity for violations committed against journalists and the use of criminal law to curtail freedom was equally of concern. The European Union asked whether there was any advice on additional measures that could be taken to address the need for a gender-sensitive approach to the issue. It supported the need for the Human Rights Council to pay further attention to journalists.
China said that journalists had to follow strict professional ethics and moralities and work within the law. The Government supported and promoted the development of the internet, which allowed it to better understand people. Any acts of persecution were severely dealt with. However no freedom was absolute and journalists could not undermine the interests of the State, of society, or infringe on the human rights and freedoms of others. It was noteworthy that the Western media, that preached freedom of press, had found itself facing an increasing amount of scandals, not forgetting the case of Julian Assange. China asked what could be done to ensure the rights and interests of journalized were not undermined, and to prevent freedom of the press from being abused.
Right of Reply
Russia, speaking in a right of reply, said that the international community and the authorities of Georgia must face up to reality that Abkhazia and South Ossetia were sovereign states which exercised effective control over their territory, including in the area of education. The Georgian army had killed many people during their attacks on Ossetia and those had spilt into a humanitarian disaster affecting many people. Documentary evidence had shown that the fate of Ossetia was to be shared by Abkhazia too.
China, speaking in a right of reply, said that the non-governmental organization who spoke earlier had quoted outdated information which was a serious distortion of Government policy on bi-lingual education in minority regions. The Chinese Constitution clearly stipulated that the national language would be promoted and that all minorities had the freedom to pursue their own languages. In 1997 the Tibetan Autonomous Region promoted the law governing the use of Tibetan language. Tibetan students would learn the Tibetan language as their main course, and bi-lingual education with Tibetan as the main language had been promoted in the whole region.
Georgia, speaking in a right of reply, said that Russia had a tendency to downplay the pledge of Georgia not to use force against Abkhazia and that was its international obligation. Georgia had a firm commitment to peacefully approach the resolution of issues in its occupied regions. At the same time, Russia was violating the territorial integrity of Georgia. Russia needed to fully respect its international obligations.
For use of the information media; not an official record