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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL STARTS GENERAL DEBATE ON HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATIONS REQUIRING ITS ATTENTION
Concludes Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea
5 June 2013

The Human Rights Council during its midday meeting today began a general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention after concluding its interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea. 

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. 

Speaking in the general debate were Ireland on behalf of the European Union, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, United States, Republic of Korea, Japan, Ecuador, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Venezuela, Czech Republic, Norway, Australia, China, Cuba, Iran, France, United Kingdom, Sudan, Denmark, Netherlands, Tunisia, Belarus, Slovakia, Iraq, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Myanmar, Belgium, Viet Nam, Canada and Azerbaijan.

Human Rights Watch, Baha’i International Community, CIVICUS, Verein Sudwind, British Humanist Association, Human Rights House Foundation, COC Nederland, Centre for Inquiry, Amnesty International, Jubilee Campaign, Union of Arab Jurists, and the International Humanist and Ethical Union also took the floor.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded its interactive dialogue with Sheila B. Keetharuth, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea. 

The report of the Special Rapporteur was presented on Tuesday, 4 June.  A summary of Ms. Keetharuth’s statement and the beginning of the interactive dialogue is available here.
 
In the interactive dialogue, speakers said Eritrea had to cooperate with the international community, including the Council, to address human rights concerns, and should allow the visit of Special Procedures.  Speakers deplored that the Government of Eritrea had not cooperated with the mandate holder.  Eritrea was called upon to fully cooperate with the Special Rapporteur, whose report painted a dire picture of the human rights situation in Eritrea and the violation of multiple rights. 

Speaking in concluding remarks, Eritrea said it was surprised to hear concerns expressed about the mandatory military service in the country.  The international community had failed to take action in relation to the security threats facing Eritrea, which had necessitated a rigorous defence mechanism in the first place.  It was hypocritical of delegations to express concerns about the human rights situation in Eritrea, when their own countries had violated the human rights of Eritrean people by imposing sanctions on Eritrea and strangulating its economy.  

Also in concluding remarks, Sheila B. Keetharuth, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, reiterated that her mandate was an opportunity for a frank dialogue with Eritrea.  There needed to be a shift from the language of denial to one that allowed for a breakthrough and solutions; and there was a need to ground any further action on rights contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to implement the 2008 recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.  There should be calls for all on the removal of legal barriers that prevented the establishment of civil society organizations, and their right to function freely and safely should be guaranteed. 

Speaking in the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea were United States, Switzerland, Djibouti, Estonia, Germany, European Union, Australia, Mexico and Botswana.

Human Rights Watch, International Fellowship for Reconciliation, Jubilee Campaign, Human Rights Defender’s Project, Amnesty International, and Article 19 also took the floor.

The Human Rights Council this afternoon, at 3 p.m., will resume its annual full-day discussion on women’s human rights with a panel on strengthening the work of the Council and other inter-governmental bodies and processes in the area of violence against women.  The general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention will continue at noon on Friday, 7 June.

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea

United States said that the African Group had led the creation of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea last year and the need to maintain it could not be greater.  Eritrea had to cooperate with the international community, including the Council, to address human rights concerns, and should allow the visit of Special Procedures.  The Government did not respect the rule of law, there was no separation of power, and its Constitution had yet to be implemented.

Switzerland said that it deeply regretted the fact that the Government of Eritrea had not cooperated with the mandate holder.  Switzerland was concerned that very young, unaccompanied children were exiled in neighbouring countries, placing their lives at great risk.  What measures could the international community set up to ensure that the Eritrean Government provided the necessary protection? In all countries civil society played a key role and Switzerland invited the Government of Eritrea to cooperate with civil society, including with a view to preparing the Universal Periodic Review. 

Djibouti said that it deplored that the Government of Eritrea had not cooperated with the mandate holder.  Djibouti welcomed the methods used by the Special Rapporteur to obtain information on the human rights situation on the ground.  It asked the Government to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur, and restated its support for the renewal of the mandate.  Djibouti requested the Special Rapporteur to inform in her next report about any information regarding the disappearance of Djibouti prisoners of war since clashes began.

Estonia commended the Special Rapporteur for her efforts in the implementation of her mandate in a constructive, transparent and impartial way, despite the lack of cooperation from Eritrea.  The human rights violations were systematic and widespread, affecting almost all members of society, and Estonia was concerned about the number of children affected.  Unresolved border issues could not be used as an excuse to disregard human rights violations.  Estonia called on Eritrea to fully cooperate with the Special Rapporteur.

Germany said that the report of the Special Rapporteur painted a dire picture of the human rights situation in Eritrea and the violation of multiple rights; the list was appalling.  While Germany welcomed Eritrea’s participation in the Council’s Universal Periodic Review, participation could not be an end in itself.  What was required was implementation.  The Government should address the issues identified in the report of the Special Rapporteur.  Germany regretted that access had not been granted by Eritrea.

European Union appreciated the victim-oriented approach of the report of the Special Rapporteur and asked what measures were being taken to avoid reprisals against those cooperating with the mandate holder.  The European Union asked the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on the critical elements of a reform process in Eritrea and how could this be best supported by the international community.  How could the international community strengthen efforts to protect the rights of those fleeing from Eritrea, in particular, unaccompanied children?

Australia said that it was deeply concerned about the report’s findings, and condemned all violations of human rights occurring in Eritrea, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, inhumane prison conditions and torture.  Australia called on Eritrea to abide by its obligations under international law, to stop violating women’s and children’s rights, to cooperate fully with human rights mechanisms, and to respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law.  

Mexico said that it recognized that Eritrea was going through a post-conflict situation.  Nevertheless, that did not justify the ongoing violation of human rights.  Eritrea should cease the mandatory and indefinite military conscription, restrictions on the freedom of movement, and the practice of executing persons who tried to cross the border.  Eritrea should also take measures to improve the living conditions of its population, provide access to the country for humanitarian purposes, and cooperate with human rights mechanisms.

Botswana said that the Special Rapporteur’s report on Eritrea deserved special attention.  Botswana noted with appreciation the number of occasions on which Eritrea had met with the Special Rapporteur, but also pointed out that the Special Rapporteur had not enjoyed as much cooperation as she would have hoped for.  Botswana encouraged Eritrea to strengthen its cooperation with the Special Rapporteur and with the Council’s Special Procedures.   

Human Rights Watch said that the Government of Eritrea remained among the worst human rights violators in the world.  As noted, there was blatant disrespect for human rights in Eritrea which required immediate reform.  Its citizens were denied their fundamental rights in almost every sphere.  Human Rights Watch urged the Government to implement recommendations urgently.

International Fellowship of Reconciliation said that Eritrea stood alone with Israel in placing an obligatory military service on all its citizens, men and women.  It was known that military training was a prominent part of the primary school curriculum in Eritrea.  The shoot to kill policy left no witnesses but occasionally it went wrong, some had been able to tell the tale.

Jubilee Campaign called on the Council to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and it was saddened to hear that Eritrea had shown no sign of willingness to cooperate.  Thousands of Eritreans were detained arbitrarily for political purposes, and there was also no religious freedom.  Jubilee Campaign urged Eritrea to seek to improve the lives of Eritreans and implement the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur.

Human Rights Defenders Project provided testimony on the detention of journalists and the negative impact on families.  In many cases, it was not known if the prisoners were alive because the Government did not provide information about their location.  On behalf of children who suffered from this practice, Human Rights Defenders Project called on the Council to take action.

Amnesty International assessed that since independence at least 10,000 political prisoners had been detained, including journalists, people trying to flee the country, asylum seekers, and family relatives of persons who had been able to escape, sometimes entailing forced disappearances.  Amnesty International called on the Council to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.

Article 19 said that the report noted the failure of the Government to respect the rule of law and ensure freedoms that were curtailed.  The Eritrean Government had used the continuous state of emergency to curb opposition, and dozens of journalists had been detained without trial or judicial process.  Eritrea must release journalists and Article 19 called on the Council to keep the momentum to ensure people’s voices were heard.
Concluding Remarks

Eritrea, in concluding remarks, thanked all the delegations for their constructive comments and said that it was surprised to hear concerns expressed about the mandatory military service in the country.  The international community had failed to take action in relation to the security threats facing Eritrea, which had necessitated a rigorous defence mechanism.  Eritrea stressed that peace, security and development were interlinked and interdependent, and said that it was important to safeguard all of those.  Ethiopia had deported tens of thousands of Eritrean citizens and, therefore, did not have the moral authority to talk about the human rights of Eritrean people.  Eritrea also said that it was hypocritical of delegations to express concerns about the human rights situation there, when their own countries had violated the human rights of Eritrean people by imposing sanctions on Eritrea and strangulating its economy.  Eritrea stood by the positions expressed in its statement yesterday.  

SHEILA B. KEETHARUTH, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, in concluding remarks, at the outset reiterated that she viewed her mandate as an opportunity for a  frank dialogue with Eritrea, and all others including victims of human rights violations.  There needed to be a shift from the language of denial to one that allowed for a breakthrough to find solutions.  The Special Rapporteur had reported the facts of what she had seen and heard when visiting refugee camps.  There was a need to implement on the ground any further action on rights contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to implement the 2008 recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.  Refugee children, especially unaccompanied minors that crossed the borders, had a right to special protection.  Civil society actors around the world contributed substantially to the protection and promotion of human rights and helped people to claim those rights.  There should be calls for all on the removal of legal barriers that prevented the establishment of such civil society organizations, and their right to function freely and safely should be guaranteed.  Rule of law and ensuring that certain very important conventions were ratified were some of the key priority issues.

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

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, believed that the situation in Belarus required the Council’s continued attention.  It acknowledged the reforms undertaken by Myanmar and was aware of the challenges that remained.  The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was urged to halt the widespread and systematic human rights violations in the country.  China should ensure the rights of persons from minorities.  There was also alarm at the deteriorating situation in the Central African Republic.

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, condemned the violation of human rights against Muslims in Myanmar and those responsible had to be held accountable.  It was also concerned over reports that authorities in Rakhine State had banned Muslim families from having more than two children.  The Organization of Islamic Cooperation called on Myanmar to take immediate and concrete measures to end violence against Muslims and find a peaceful and sustainable solution, as well as to allow full humanitarian access to affected communities and persons. 

Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed that all human rights, particularly the right to development, were indivisible, interrelated and interdependent, and emphasized the importance of implementing a constructive approach in the promotion and protection of all fundamental human rights and freedoms.  There was a need to preserve the progress achieved by the Council. There was a need to defend the principles of neutrality, objectivity and impartiality in the Council’s work in addressing human rights issues.

United States remained deeply concerned about situations in Syria, Sudan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Iran.  It expressed concern about limits to religious freedom and freedom of expression in China and Cuba, where detentions were also increasingly violent.  The United States also called on Venezuela to carry out an inquiry on its recent elections and was concerned about an escalation of security abuses in northern Nigeria.  Since the Arab Spring, countries in the Arabian Peninsula continued to restrict freedom of expression.

Republic of Korea welcomed the appointment of members of the Commission of Inquiry on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and urged them to cooperate with other United Nations mechanisms.  The failure of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to protect the rights and freedoms of its citizens caused many to flee and seek asylum abroad.  The road to safety and freedom was full of pain and suffering for this people.  The Republic of Korea had continuously emphasized the paramount importance of providing international protection to the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Japan expressed concerns about the situation in Syria, noting the risk that the crisis could spill over into the region, and called on the international community to provide support for dialogue among the parties.  Japan urged the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to cooperate fully with the Commission of Inquiry on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and to accept its visit; in this context, the issue of abduction was of particular concern for Japan and it called on the international community to endeavour to improve the human rights in this country.

Ecuador said that it was concerned at the persistent need to repeat that there were acts by certain countries that violated the human rights that they were trying to solve.  Through the use of drones and the so-called argument of the war on terror, the United States was fomenting lack of transparency, due process and the implementation of international norms.  Ecuador recognised that it was promising to hear the announcement that Guantanamo would be closed.

Austria was gravely concerned about the continuously deteriorating situation in Syria and condemned the serious and widespread human rights violations that had been committed by the Government as well as by the opposition.  It was also concerned about the situation in Belarus, particularly about the systematic violation of the freedom of association, assembly and opinion.  Austria was further increasingly concerned by the situations in Iran, Belarus, Eritrea, China, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Viet Nam, Cuba and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Switzerland said that the number of States and territories that had abandoned capital punishment had increased but some had resumed executions, including Indonesia and Japan.  Switzerland deplored these executions and called on those countries that still imposed capital punishment to immediately establish a moratorium on it with a view to its abolition.  It was also concerned by the violation of the rights to freedom of assembly, association and opinion in several countries around the world.

Spain reiterated the responsible attitude shown by the Council concerning the most urgent human rights violations and appealed for the immediate stop of violence in Syria and for a democratic transition.  Spain was alarmed about the reports of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and also expressed concerns about the human rights situations in the Central African Republic, Sudan, South Sudan and Belarus.  Spain reiterated its commitment against the death penalty, which was cruel, inhumane and degrading.

Venezuela said that as a position of principle, Venezuela was against the selective practice and politicisation of human rights and the imposition of country-specific mandates against the consent of concerned States.  Venezuela had always condemned the use of country mandates as a policy of aggression or hostility against certain countries.  It recalled that the disappearance of the deceased Human Rights Commission was the result of the attempt of western countries to manipulate it.

Czech Republic reiterated its concerns about Syria, Eritrea and Belarus, and about the overall deterioration of the human rights situation in China.  The existence of political prison camps in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was particularly appalling.  Myanmar should undertake effective steps to end the numerous conflicts in several parts of the country.  The Czech Republic also expressed concerns about the situation in Central Asia and hoped that the upcoming presidential elections in Iran would meet international standards.

Norway called on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to fully cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry to improve the grave human rights situation.  It remained deeply concerned by the high number of executions in Saudi Arabia and urged it to place a moratorium on capital punishment.  Norway expressed the same concern about Iran’s application of the death penalty.  It was also concerned about several human rights situations including in Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Sudan, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Australia said it was deeply concerned by the deteriorating human rights situation in Syria, as well as the increased number of executions and ill treatment of ethnic and religious minorities in Iran.  In its own region, Australia wished to see Fiji return to a democracy and while it welcomed positive steps taken, further steps had to be taken.  Australia also condemned the widespread and systematic human rights abuses in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.  It was further concerned by the dire human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

China said that all countries had the right to choose their road to development and protection of human rights.  Naming and shaming and double standards did not help promote human rights or contribute to the development of the human rights cause.  China was ready to engage with all parties for dialogue and cooperation.  Some countries were violating the human rights of other countries by carrying out military actions in their territories.  It was hoped that such countries would address human rights issues in their own countries first.

Cuba condemned the attempts to politicise human rights as well as double standards and treating the Council as a tribunal.  Cuba had listened to the statements of numerous western countries and recalled that secret prisons, rendition, the practice of torture and other serious violations had been committed by these countries; for this reason, none of the States that had mentioned Cuba in their statements had the moral authority to do so.  The Council had had enough of hypocrisy and double standards and Cuba rejected the hegemony that western powers sought to impose.

Iran drew attention to cases of serious concern in the United States, which saw the largest number of violations in its records, committed under the pretext of terrorism, and the situation of migrants, Roma persons and other minority groups in the European Union.  Cases of arbitrary renditions had also been documented.  The situation of Muslim persons in Canada, including instances of discrimination and other violations, was also of concern.  Iran called on Canada to uphold its international obligations and respect minorities and indigenous peoples.

France hoped that the situation in Syria would be referred to the International Criminal Court to address impunity of perpetrators.  The situation in the Central African Republic was extremely alarming and France called on transitional authorities to prosecute perpetrators.  France was also concerned about the situation in Eritrea and continued to engage with the Council and the Special Rapporteur in this regard.  The situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was also of concern, including reports of sexual violence. 
 
United Kingdom said it remained seriously concerned about the worsening human rights situation in Syria, and supported its referral to the International Criminal Court.  The United Kingdom urged the Council to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus.  The United Kingdom was very concerned about the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Myanmar and China.

Sudan said the Special Rapporteur on internally displaced persons had presented a report to the Council this session, including an addendum on his visit to Sudan.  Last April, the so-called Revolutionary Front had attacked an area in South Kordofan, committing a number of crimes against humanity and violations of human rights. This had resulted in the displacement of 30,000 people, and the Government was carrying out huge efforts to help them.  The international community had to stand strongly against such acts.

Denmark said it was concerned with reported war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria and urged the United Nations Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court.  Denmark was concerned about prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.  It was appalled by yesterday’s court verdict against non-governmental organizations in Egypt.  It also remained concerned about illegal settlements on Palestinian lands.

Netherlands said that it was deeply concerned about the human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the persistent violation of human rights, including the situation in prisoner camps.  The Netherlands recalled the Government’s responsibility to cooperate with the Human Rights Council.  The Netherlands was further concerned by the situation in the Central African Republic and it welcomed that there would be a Fact-Finding Mission to the country.

Tunisia said that it was deeply concerned about the deterioration of the situation of Muslim minorities in Myanmar.  It was concerned by the measure imposed by the authorities of allowing Muslims to have no more than two children.  Tunisia firmly condemned the persecution and acts of barbaric oppression against Muslims in Myanmar and called on the authorities to put an immediate end to these violations and take all measures so that perpetrators were held accountable.

Belarus said that the Roma bore the brunt of discrimination in many countries in Europe.  The most systematic and flagrant violations of their rights and other violations were seen in France, Poland and Hungary, among others.  There was continued violation of protection from torture, according to European Union data.  At the end of April, the United Kingdom adopted a bill establishing secret courts to consider secret cases where the criminal was the State.  The Council should pay attention to this.

Slovakia said that the authorities in the Central African Republic had not been able to prevent violence against civilians; ensuring accountability as per international standards was necessary.  Slovakia called on Bahrain to investigate alleged instances of torture of human rights defenders in detention.   Slovakia regretted the discrimination against women in regards to political participation in Iran, and deplored the measures taken in Egypt yesterday against representatives of non-governmental organizations.

Iraq complained about a document submitted by a non-governmental organization concerning Iraq’s history and its lack of accuracy.  Iraq had suffered from a number of armed conflicts which had left behind many victims and serious consequences on the country’s infrastructure.  Iraqi people as a whole had also been the victim of human rights violations at the hand of the previous regime, including a number of socio-economic problems which the current Government was trying to tackle. 

Democratic People's Republic of Korea drew the Council’s attention to the serious violations of human rights in the United States, including instances of racial discrimination, police abuse, inequality, rape and the operation of Guantanamo.  The delegation expressed concern about the European Union and other western countries, in particular, Ireland, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Norway, Australia and Canada; human rights violations such as racism, xenophobia, discrimination and maltreatment against migrants and minorities were taking place in those countries. 

Myanmar said it was implementing the recommendations of an independent commission in Rakhine, including taking action against perpetrators of violence in Meikhtila irrespective of racial or religious background.  Myanmar’s family policy in Rakhine had been misreported.  Offers of non-discriminatory humanitarian assistance were being facilitated.  Because the situation on the ground was still volatile, Myanmar did not believe it was the right time to open an Organization of the Islamic Cooperation office in Yangon.

Belgium said it was concerned about the continued use of the death penalty in Belarus.  It deplored the violence in Syria in which hospitals were reportedly targeted.  Belgium regretted the records of reported human right abuses in Iran and cited a number of examples.

Viet Nam echoed that dialogue based on mutual understanding was the most constructive method of work of the Human Rights Council.  It stressed the sovereignty of States and was encouraged by the discussion of the human rights situation in the United States.  Viet Nam objected to the partial and biased allegations made by the United States of the human rights situation in Viet Nam.  As in other countries, the laws of the land must be respected.
Canada expressed concerns about the deterioration of the situation in Syria and unequivocally condemned the ongoing violation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, in particular the recent forced repatriation of nine children and youth, and urged the Government to protect their right to life.  Canada was also disturbed by the increasing efforts of the Iranian regime to restrict freedom of expression and assembly, by the detention of citizens for exercising their fundamental rights in Belarus, and ongoing violations in Sri Lanka.  

Azerbaijan drew the Council’s attention to reports of illegal transfer of Syrian Armenians into the Nagorno Karabakh region and the deliberate settlement of the ethnic Armenians in the occupied territories.  While the international community was focused on searching for ways out of the Syrian crisis, the suffering faced by Syrian people was being used to further complicate peace efforts in another region.  Azerbaijan drew attention to restrictions on the right to freedom of assembly in Switzerland as highlighted by the report of the Special Rapporteur.

Human Rights Watch, in a joint statement, said that the United States continued to detain individuals for indefinite periods without trial in Guantanamo; transfers to their countries had been subjected to a number of restrictions; and some of them currently on hunger strike were being forcibly fed, in contravention of international norms.  Indefinite detention without trial marked the human rights records of the United States and Human Rights Watch called on the United States to put an end to this practice. 

Baha’i International Community said that in 2007 an Iranian Government bureau had barred Baha’i from 25 specific trades.  The Baha’i were also denied access to higher education.  When appealing to relevant authorities, they were rejected.  The Iranian Government had to abide by its international obligations under human rights law. 

CIVICUS said that there were reprisals against human rights defenders in Bahrain.  There was also evidence that tear gas canisters fired in demonstrations indeed did not contain tear gas, but contained toxic chemicals that were poisoning the population. 

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik said that the situation in Syria was no doubt the most important issue requiring the attention of the Council, but it was also closely related to the situation in Iran.  The engineered elections due to take place next Friday were very much affected by the 2009 elections. 
   
British Humanist Association said bloggers were being targeted with death threats on charges of being atheists by Islamists in Iran with tacit government approval.  Freedom of belief and freedom of expression must be protected.

Human Rights House Association said that the authorities in Azerbaijan were preparing for elections later this year with a crackdown on independent voices, civil society groups, journalists and online activists, which would make the election neither free nor fair. 

COC Nederland said lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights defenders were under threat in many States.  The criminalization of homosexuality in some States meant that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights defenders were rendered de facto illegal in those States.  The Human Rights Council was urged to mandate a thematic report on the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights defenders.

Centre for Inquiry said that reports suggested that instances of torture in Iran were not confined to a single prison but that torture constituted a systematic State policy, including young people attending demonstrations or people suspected of being dissidents and bystanders; however, the delegation of Iran had affirmed that torture was not a State policy.

Amnesty International said that Egyptian authorities had yet to meet demands for reform, including the security forces amid allegations of violations.  Women faced numerous forms of discrimination and minorities were also subject to violations, including restrictions on their freedom to association, assembly and expression.  Amnesty International also expressed concerns about the independence of the judiciary in Egypt. 

Jubilee Campaign, in a joint statement, drew the Council’s attention to restrictions to the freedom of religion and belief in Egypt, in particular the situation of Coptic Christians who suffered from a number of ongoing violations aggravated by a climate of impunity.  The increase in charges of defamation had also resulted in problems for atheists.  Jubilee Campaign called on Egypt to ensure equality for all its citizens.

Union of Arab Jurists said that 10 years had passed since the unlawful war in Iraq and for its people it had been a decade of hardship.  In breach of international humanitarian law, coalition forces had used weapons that had polluted the environment.  The invasion had severely affected children.  Compensation had to be provided. 

International Humanist Ethical Union said that despite the fact that human rights were reflected in the Moroccan Constitution, atheists and freethinkers suffered discrimination, violation of their rights, arrests and death threats if they spoke out.  How could a non-believer living in Morocco raise his voice?


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC13/072E


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