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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL DISCUSSES REPORTS ON GUATEMALA, BOLIVIA, COLOMBIA, CYPRUS AND IRAN
Hears the Introduction of Reports on Afghanistan, Libya, Guinea, Somalia and the Central African Republic
26 March 2014

The Human Rights Council this afternoon heard the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights present reports by the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Guatemala, Bolivia, Colombia, Cyprus and Iran under the agenda item on the annual report of the High Commissioner and reports of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General, followed by a general debate on that agenda item.

The Council also heard the Deputy High Commissioner present reports on Afghanistan, Libya, Guinea, Somalia and the Central African Republic under the agenda item on technical assistance and capacity building.

Introducing the reports by the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights under the agenda item on the annual report of the High Commissioner, Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that with the conviction of Efraín Ríos Montt, Guatemala became the first country in the world to convict a former Head of State for genocide, while specialized courts set up to handle cases of femicide represented progress in protecting women’s rights.  The 2013 Law on Guaranteeing Women a Life Free from Violence in Bolivia presented a significant advance towards combating this widespread issue, including through a comprehensive approach involving prevention, care of victims and prosecution of offenders. 

Ms. Pansieri commended Colombia for its determined pursuit of a negotiated end to the internal armed conflict and welcomed the efforts undertaken during the first two years of implementation of the Victims’ and Land Restitution Law.  The persisting division of Cyprus remained an obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights by all; reaching a comprehensive settlement would contribute to improving the human rights situation throughout Cyprus, particularly if human rights and gender-related issues were integrated in the negotiations.  In his report on Iran, the United Nations Secretary-General expressed concern about the abrupt surge in executions in 2013, including in public, reiterated his call for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty and a prohibition on executions in public, and urged the release of human rights defenders detained solely for exercising their rights to freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly.

Bolivia, Cyprus, Colombia, Guatemala and Iran spoke as concerned countries.

Bolivia, speaking as a concerned country, noted that 2013 was a year of great progress in the human rights sector, in which the National Legislative Assembly was engaged in building the State and promulgated a number of important laws, including laws to guarantee a life free of violence for women, for protection of refugees, on migration and on business organization for rural families, among others. 

Cyprus, speaking as a concerned country, said that the continuing presence of foreign troops and the persisting division of Cyprus hindered the full enjoyment of all human rights by the people of Cyprus, and recalled that the Security Council had urged all parties to be more forthcoming in assisting in exhumation activities throughout the island.

Colombia, speaking as a concerned country, welcomed the recognition paid to efforts to reach a peace agreement and said that the protection of human rights defenders was a priority.  Colombia had undertaken campaigns against the stigmatization of defenders, and had approved a new prison code to improve detention conditions and rehabilitation of former detainees. 

Guatemala, speaking as a concerned country, said that amnesty laws were adopted to ensure national peace and security, and prevailed on the obligation for the State to investigate alleged violations.  The armed conflict in Guatemala had never amounted to genocide, and the international community should not re-write the history of the conflict in Guatemala.  This would impede the national reconciliation process. 

Iran, speaking as a concerned country said that the death penalty was only considered for the most serious crimes; as to the alleged increase in the number of executions exercised in Iran, the report had not taken into consideration the kinds and gravity of crimes and their dire social repercussions. 

In the general debate on the annual report of the High Commissioner and reports by the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General, delegations expressed concern about the persistent worsening of the situation in Ukraine, urged the parties to enter in dialogue and to refrain from any measures which might result in further violence, and expressed support for the initiative of the Secretary-General to assist the Ukrainian authorities to consolidate democratic institutions and protect human rights, including the rights of minorities.  Several speakers welcomed the return to negotiations between Israel and Palestine and expressed deep concern about the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Occupied Syrian Golan.  In Iran, more than 600 individuals were executed in 2013, including women and children.  Speakers welcomed the reforms implemented in Colombia to improve the human rights situation and encouraged it to address the challenges, including the protection of human rights defenders and land claimants.

Speaking in the general debate were Greece (on behalf of the European Union), United States (on behalf of a group of states), Ireland, United Kingdom, Costa Rica, India, Spain, Switzerland, Greece, Council of Europe, Hungary, Turkey, Ukraine, Holy See, Belarus, and Norway. 

Also taking the floor were the non-governmental organizations: World Organization Against Torture; Colombian Commission of Jurists; Amnesty International; International Catholic Child Bureau; Alsalam Foundation; France Libertes Fondation Danielle Miterrand; International Buddhist Foundation; OIDHACO, Bureau International des Droits Humans- Action Colombie; Vivekananda Sevakendra-O-Sishu Uddyan; Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik; Le Collectif des Femmes Africaines du Hainaut; and Indian Council of South America.

Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Russia, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey spoke in a right of reply.

At the end of the meeting, the Deputy High Commissioner introduced the reports by the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights under the agenda item on technical assistance and capacity building.  Ms. Pansieri said that in Afghanistan the upcoming elections and the scheduled conclusion of the security transition created an environment of uncertainty, while violence, discrimination and harmful practices against women remained systemic and entrenched.  With regards to Libya, the report noted the security-related challenges faced by the Government, including with respect to preventing and promptly investigating attacks against judicial personnel. 

A major over-arching challenge in the Central African Republic was the persistent absence of State control, law and order which resulted in widespread impunity.  The most urgent priority was to ensure immediate protection, but the report also flagged the need for measures to address structural and longer-term issues.  The report on Guinea acknowledged the efforts in the security sector reform and the measures to improve conditions of detention, and noted that the fight against impunity, the strengthening of rule of law institutions and the dysfunctional justice system were outstanding challenges.  The report on the stand-alone high-level interactive dialogue on assistance to Somalia offered a summary of the key conclusions and the recommendations on finalizing and implementing the post-transition human rights road map at the national and subnational levels in Somalia.

The Human Rights Council will next meet at 9 a.m. on Thursday, 27 March, when it will hear from concerned countries under the agenda item on technical assistance and capacity building, to be followed by a general debate on the item.  The Council will then proceed to the election of a member of its Advisory Committee, and will consider the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Israel, before it starts to take action on draft resolutions and decisions.

Documentation

The Council has before it a corrigendum to the annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/25/19/Corr.1).

The Council has before it an addendum to the annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the activities of her office in Guatemala (A/HRC/25/19/Add.1).

The Council has before it an addendum to the annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the activities of her office in Bolivia (A/HRC/25/19/Add.2).

The Council has before it a corrigendum to the addendum to the annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the activities of her office in Bolivia (A/HRC/25/19/Add.2/Corr.1).

The Council has before it an addendum to the annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the activities of her office in Colombia (A/HRC/25/19/Add.3).

The Council has before it the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the question of human rights in Cyprus (A/HRC/25/21).

The Council has before it the report of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (A/HRC/25/26).

The Council has before it a note verbale dated 12 February 2014 from the Permanent Mission of Guatemala to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva addressed to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/25/G/8).

The Council has before it a letter dated 18 March 2014 from the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Office at Geneva addressed to the President of the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/25/G/17).

Presentation of the Reports by the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights under the Agenda Item on the Annual Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General

FLAVIA PANSIERI, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, introducing the reports of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General, said that the Addendum on Guatemala noted the encouraging steps taken in the fight against impunity, both with regard to criminal activities and past human rights violations.  With the conviction of Efraín Ríos Montt, Guatemala became the first country in the world to convict a former Head of State for genocide; although later overturned, it had proved that it was possible to conduct trials for gross human rights violations, crimes against humanity and genocide in national courts, even against former Heads of State.  The new Special Cabinet for Women and specialized courts set up to handle cases of femicide and other forms of violence against women represented progress in protecting women’s rights.  The Government should continue to foster initiatives to reduce violence, strengthen the National Civilian Police, and establish a timeframe to withdraw the army from public security functions.

The Addendum on Bolivia noted the measures undertaken by the Government to combat racism and other forms of discrimination and stressed the critical need to step up implementation of the Plan of Action to combat this persisting phenomenon and to allocate adequate resources.  The 2013 Law on Guaranteeing Women a Life Free from Violence represented a significant advance towards combating this widespread issue, including through a comprehensive approach involving prevention, care of victims and prosecution of offenders.  The Government should continue to respect the independence of the Ombudsman’s Office and implement measures to enable human rights defenders and civil society organizations to carry out their work without undue constraints.

The third Addendum to the report on Colombia commended the Government for its determined pursuit of a negotiated end to the internal armed conflict and welcomed the efforts undertaken during the first two years of implementation of the Victims’ and Land Restitution Law.  The recognition by the Ministry of Defence that “military errors” or “unavoidable errors” could constitute human rights violations was a first step towards the restoration of the rights of the victims; the military should continue to strengthen internal controls and accountability, supported by robust democratic oversight.  The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—Ejército del Pueblo and Ejército de Liberación Nacional must deliver comprehensive information regarding civilians and security personnel disappeared or in their power, and on the location of land mines.  They must also urgently cease to recruit and use children, and collaborate with the Government to disengage them. 

The report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the question of human rights in Cyprus described several positive developments in 2013, such as measures to protect cultural heritage sites on both sides of the island, improved inter-religious communication, steps to allow Greek Orthodox and Muslim religious leaders to cross the Green Line that divides the island, and the launch of the first bi-communal Internet broadcasting facility.  The persisting division of the island remained an obstacle to the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all.  Reaching a comprehensive settlement would contribute to improving the human rights situation throughout Cyprus, particularly if human rights and gender-related issues were integrated in the negotiations.

In his report on the situation of human rights in Iran, the Secretary-General expressed particular concern over the abrupt surge in executions in 2013, including in public, and reiterated his call for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty and a prohibition on executions in public.  He welcomed steps taken by the new Government, particularly the release of some political prisoners, but urged the release of human rights defenders detained solely for exercising their rights to freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly, and called on the authorities to allow them to exercise their activities without any form of restriction, harassment or intimidation.  As in previous years, the Secretary-General regretted that Iran did not cooperate meaningfully with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran and called upon the Government to strengthen its collaboration with the international human rights mechanisms.

Statements by Concerned Countries

Bolivia, speaking as a concerned country, said that 2013 had been a year in which it had seen great progress in the human rights sector.  The National Legislative Assembly was engaged in building the State and had promulgated a number of important laws, including laws to guarantee a life free of violence for women, for protection of refugees, on migration and on business organization for rural families, among others.  These spoke volumes of Bolivia’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.  Last year, economic growth of 6.83 per cent was seen, thanks to the economic policies that the State had changed to ensure that the life of all Bolivian men and women could be one with dignity.  In seven short years, Bolivia had reduced extreme poverty in rural areas.   It was aware of challenges still faced and restated its commitment to improve access to justice through strategic institutional operational plans.  The recommendations and conclusions of the report were noted. 

Cyprus, speaking as a concerned country, said that regrettably, the continuing presence of foreign troops and the persisting division of Cyprus hindered the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by the people of Cyprus.  On the issue of missing persons in Cyprus, the Security Council in a number of resolutions had highlighted the activities of the Committee on Missing Persons and urged all parties to be more forthcoming in assisting in exhumation activities throughout the island, including areas in the occupied part of Cyprus.  Regrettably, during the reporting period, the Committee had not been given unimpeded access to Turkish military zones, and to Turkish army archives.  Despite some improvement in the living conditions of the Greek Cypriot enclaved population since the partial lifting of restrictions to the freedom of movement in 2003, severe violations of human rights continued unabated.  Reference was also made to long-lasting restrictions concerning the fundamental human right of religious freedom of the enclaved people in the occupied areas, as well as of the displaced persons. 

Colombia, speaking as a concerned country, welcomed the High Commissioner’s support and cooperation with the State.  Colombia welcomed the recognition paid to the dialogue currently underway with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and efforts to reach a peace agreement.  There was no restriction or criminalization of social protest in Colombia.  Colombia believed that the protection of human rights defenders was a priority, and had undertaken campaigns against stigmatization of defenders.  A new prison code had recently been approved to improve detention conditions and rehabilitation of former detainees.  Colombia regretted the lack of balance in the report between human rights violations perpetrated by armed groups and those perpetrated by the State.  The report also regrettably failed to recognize the progress made to reduce poverty and inequality as well as in the field of economic, social and cultural rights.  Colombia however welcomed the fact that the report also contained recommendations addressed to the armed groups. 

Guatemala, speaking as a concerned country, welcomed that the report recognized efforts and achievements, including regarding reforms in the judicial sector.  The report unfortunately lacked objectivity on many aspects.  The High Commissioner inappropriately implied that the Supreme Court of Guatemala acted wrongly on particular cases.  Amnesty laws in Guatemala were adopted to ensure national peace and security, and prevailed on the obligation for the State to investigate alleged violations.  The armed conflict in Guatemala had never amounted to genocide, and the international community should not re-write the history of the conflict in Guatemala.  This would impede the national reconciliation process.  Guatemala believed that most serious human rights violations should not be left unpunished, and had for that reason acceded to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. 

Iran, speaking as a concerned country, said that Iranian people had actively participated in another open, all-encompassing and democratic presidential election; the new Government had promised to fully realize all human rights of the people and create a prosperous society based on justice, equality, fundamental freedoms and partnership.  Iran then elaborated on a number of issues raised in the report, and said that it had failed to take account of the principle of the division of power and the judiciary’s strict compliance with the regulations and the criminal code.  The principles of the Constitution strongly prohibited any resort to torture and ill-treatment of inmates.  The death penalty was only considered for the most serious crimes; as to the alleged increase in the number of executions exercised in Iran, the report had not taken into consideration the kinds and gravity of crimes and their dire social repercussions.  Iran was committed to bring about a bright future for its people and was determined to use all national capacities to safeguard and promote the rights of all people and to move steadfastly toward progress and prosperity.

General Debate on the Annual Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General
 
Greece, speaking on behalf of the European Union, drew particular attention to the reports concerning the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Occupied Syrian Golan.  The European Union fully supported the efforts of the parties and of the United States towards a just and lasting settlement for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  All parties were urged to refrain from actions that could undermine the negotiation process and the European Union called on Israel to fully cooperate with the Council.  The settlements, the separation barrier and the demolition of homes were illegal under international law.

United States, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said that they stood with the people of Ukraine in this moment of crisis and strongly supported the new Ukrainian Government.  The countries reiterated the importance of respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.  Deep concern was expressed about the continuing deterioration of the situation, including Russian actions that continued to contribute to this.  The situation of minorities in Crimea was extremely vulnerable.

Ireland welcomed developments in Cyprus on freedom of religion, such as steps towards greater freedom of movement on either side of the green line.  The division of the island continued to have an impact on the enjoyment of human rights on the island.  In line with recommendations, Ireland urged Bolivia to adopt all necessary measures to implement Law Number 348.  On human rights in Iran, Ireland remained very concerned about the overall human rights situation, although noting some positive developments.  

United Kingdom welcomed the return to negotiations between Israel and Palestine and was deeply concerned about the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the frequent demolition by Israel of Palestinian property and the continuing construction of illegal settlements.  The international community should stand strong with Ukraine; the referendum in Crimea had been illegal and the United Kingdom did not recognize its outcome.

Costa Rica was concerned about the persistent worsening of the situation in Ukraine and said the Human Rights Council had an obligation to prevent and promptly respond to human rights violations there.  In light of the situation in Ukraine, all should recall the commitments they had made.  Costa Rica called on the parties to avoid an escalation of violence which would lead to systematic human rights violations.  The principles of the United Nations Charter must be respected to avoid seeing victims of yet another conflict tomorrow.

India noted that the reports of the High Commissioner and the United Nations Secretary-General were not offered for comments to the country concerned before they were made public.  It was only fair that the comments of the concerned country were published as addendum to the reports, if the concerned country so desired.  This would comply with the principles of the institution-building package.

Spain underlined the professionalism of the personnel of the Office of the High Commissioner and the importance of their work for the promotion and protection of human rights.  Spain particularly insisted on the importance of the presence of the Office of the High Commissioner on the ground to support progress in the field of human rights.  Spain welcomed that the presence of the Office in Guatemala had been renewed. 

Switzerland said that Colombia was in a phase with new opportunities for human rights, dialogue and sustainable peace.  Switzerland welcomed Colombia’s efforts in favour of the rights of victims.  It was necessary now to restore the victims’ confidence in the State’s institutions.  Switzerland underlined the important role played by civil society in Colombia, and reiterated its readiness to continue its support to and cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner. 

Greece said that the report on Cyprus focused on challenges met in the occupied part where Cyprus did not exercise control.  The report should have better insisted that the responsibility to protect human rights there lay with the occupying power.  Greece called on Turkey to investigate the cases of those disappeared in 1974.  Greece also regretted that the report did not refer to the issue of settlements, which constituted a serious human rights violation. 

Council of Europe said that the Council had reiterated its solidarity with Ukraine and emphasised the need for a peaceful solution with respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, in compliance with international law.  The Council also urged the Russian Federation to enter in a dialogue with the Government of Ukraine and to refrain from any measures which might result in further violence; and expressed support for the initiative of the Secretary-General to assist the Ukrainian authorities to consolidate democratic institutions and protect human rights, including the rights of minorities.

Hungary referred to the case of a Hungarian citizen arbitrarily detained in Bolivia.  Recommendations had been so far ignored and Hungary called on Bolivia to free this Hungarian citizen in compliance with its international obligations, in particular those concerning pre-trial detention.  Hungary thanked the local bureau of the Office of the High Commissioner concerning the legal and human rights aspects of the case.  Hungary hoped that the Government of Bolivia would respond constructively to this case and open new beneficial avenues.

Turkey said that the report on the question of human rights in Cyprus did not address the situation of Turkish Cypriots, the lack of schools providing education in Turkish, and other discriminatory policies denying Turkish Cypriots freedom of movement.  It was unfortunate that the concerned speakers once again tried to politicise the issue.  Regarding the remarks by the Greek delegation, Turkey recalled that the problem had been triggered by Greek Cypriots’ attempts to take over the country.

Ukraine urged all Member States to distance themselves from the act of the annexation of Crimea and use all legitimate means and mechanisms to stop this outrageous attempt to ruin international law and the United Nations system of collective security.  Any step recognizing the result of this farce would be viewed as a deeply unfriendly move and would cause repercussions on a bilateral level. The international community should not tolerate a number of outrageous human rights violations reported since the annexation of Crimea.

Holy See expressed closeness to all the people of Ukraine in this time of crisis.  The Holy See recognized and supported the special role of the United Nations and its bodies in promoting space and peaceful coexistence among nations.  The Holy See considered that for the good of the international order, national interests should be resolved through internationally accepted procedures rather than through the unilateral decisions of any particular country.

Belarus said that it would like to see a rapid settlement of the political crisis in Ukraine.  It noted the growth in nationalism and the strengthened influence of extremist elements in Ukraine.  The Ukrainian authorities had to distance themselves from those forces and show readiness to respect the rights of all of the population.  The situation in Crimea was considered on the basis of current realities there.  Those that were making accusations against Russia should acknowledge their contribution to the destabilization in the country. 

Norway welcomed reforms implemented by Colombia to improve its human rights situation and encouraged it to address its challenges, including the protection of human rights defenders and land claimants.  The implementation of the peace agreements in Guatemala was important, and food insecurity and the situation of indigenous peoples were priority issues, while investors in the natural resource sector must comply with the guidelines on businesses and human rights. 

World Organization Against Torture expressed concern about the systematic use of torture with impunity by all parties to the conflict in Colombia and that military courts continued to deal with cases of torture, which made the issue invisible.  There had been an increase in murders of human rights defenders in recent years: the authorities must effectively fight that phenomenon and related impunity.

Colombian Commission of Jurists said that Colombia was taking steps in its quest for peace but they were not sufficient to ensure lasting stability.  The military must shoulder responsibility for human rights and international humanitarian law violations.  The Government must address violations committed by paramilitary groups, particularly in Buenaventura, where over one hundred people had been murdered this year alone.

Amnesty International said that measures exacerbating impunity such as protecting security forces from scrutiny could undermine the viability of a peace accord.  It called on the Council, Member States and observers to request parties to the conflict to implement all human rights-related recommendations, including dismantling paramilitary groups and breaking links between them and the security forces, and supporting the local bureau of the Office of the High Commissioner.

International Catholic Child Bureau, speaking in a joint statement, addressed challenges to the administration of juvenile justice systems in Colombia and Guatemala. It called on Colombia to reform the 2006 act.  Efforts by Guatemala to establish 19 juvenile criminal justice courts as well as one juzgado pluripersonal that controlled the implementation of judicial decisions were welcomed.

Alsalam Foundation recalled repeated concerns expressed by the High Commissioner on the human rights situation in Bahrain since 2011, adding that the Government of Bahrain had failed to adequately respond to those concerns.  Further cooperation was needed and Bahrain was called on to demonstrate its serious intent to engage with the Office of the High Commissioner by allowing a permanent mission to be established in the country with a full reporting and investigatory mandate.

France Libertes Fondation Danielle Miterrand said human rights continued to be violated in Colombia.  It fully endorsed the recommendation in the report urging the Government to fully commit to its obligations to realize economic, social and cultural rights.  There was more and more impunity.  The international community had to assist in bringing about an end to the war. 

International Buddhist Foundation said that the draft resolution to be tabled at this session of the Council was a penance meted out by Sri Lanka’s former colonial masters, agitated by the electoral base and the illegally-hoarded wealth of the expatriate diaspora.  The Foundation appealed to the Council to reject both the resolution and the report of the High Commissioner.

OIDHACO, Bureau International des Droits Humans- Action Colombie highlighted the serious situation faced by human rights defenders in Colombia. The statistics showed a steady increase in the number of human rights defenders killed since 2010.  The crimes would continue to occur unless there were investigations and those responsible were punished.
 
Vivekananda Sevakendra-O-Sishu Uddyan said that Sri Lanka had the second highest number of cases of enforced disappearances in the world.  The non-governmental organization brought to the Council’s attention the case of a woman and her daughter detained in Sri Lanka.

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik said that Iran executed more than 600 individuals in 2013, including women and children.  The Secretary-General and the High Commissioner were concerned about Iran’s lack of cooperation with the Council’s Special Procedures and urged all Member States to support the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Iran.

Le Collectif des Femmes Africaines du Hainaut said that national mechanisms in Sri Lanka consistently failed to establish truth, which was not due to lack of capacity but rather lack of political will.  It was disappointed that the High Commissioner’s report continued to urge Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations of its Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission because they were not the solution that would bring about national reconciliation.

Indian Council of South America commended Bolivia for its cooperation with the High Commissioner, but said although the report had noted the framework for consultation with indigenous peoples, there was still a long way to go until the principles of self-determination and equal participation were sufficiently recognised.  The Indian Council asked how one could claim to have a consultation based on international standards when the questions had not been settled at the international level.

Right of Reply

Sri Lanka, speaking in a right of reply, said it took serious note of the statements regarding the arrest and detention of Balendran Jeyakumari, and the detention of Ruki Fernando and Father Praveen.  The statements had been made despite the official note circulated by the Mission of Sri Lanka in Geneva to all delegations that provided background to the incidents that took place in Kilinohchchi and subsequent arrests, and the statement of facts under a previous right of reply exercised on the same issue.  The delegation appealed to Member States not to impede its quest to ensure the non-resurgence of terrorism.   Investigations had confirmed that those activities had been coordinated by a broader network of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam functioning from overseas.  Sri Lanka continued to maintain vigilance in the face of credible evidence on the resurgence of terrorist activity by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Bolivia, speaking in a right of reply, said that in April 2009 the Working Group on the use of mercenaries asked it to investigate allegations of recruitment of mercenaries and to establish responsibility for the authors of the crimes.  Every State had the right to choose their economic and political system.  It had been established that the people who detained the citizens may have been involved in an attempt against the life of the President, and investigations were ongoing.

Russia, speaking in a right of reply, said that it could have invoked a point of order on the legitimacy of a delegation raising the topic of Ukraine under this agenda item but it did not, as Russia also had something to say.  Those who wanted to know the truth would certainly have studied the statement made by President Putin on 18 March.  Ukraine was going through a profound crisis, a split between east and west.  The crisis was caused by ugly forces.  The ultra-nationalists were threatening minority groups.  The crisis had extremely negative consequences for the economic and social rights of the Ukrainian people, and Ukraine was on the brink of financial collapse.  Russia was ready to cooperate with the international community to help Ukraine overcome its problems.

Greece, speaking in a right of reply, said that both Greece and Turkey were co-guarantors to the peace agreement in Cyprus, and Turkey did not have the right to invade.

Cyprus, speaking in a right of reply, said that the 1948 treaty had not given Turkey the right to invasion.  It recalled the many resolutions calling for the withdrawal of troops and return of displaced persons.  Cyprus rejected the other allegations made by Turkey.

Turkey, speaking in a right of reply, said that the crisis in Cyprus had begun not in 1974, but in 1963 when the green line was first established.  It recalled that United Nations peacekeepers were deployed in 1964 to protect Turkish Cypriots.  The Turkish intervention had been legitimate under international agreements, including the Treaty of Guarantee, and political polemics could not change those facts.  At this juncture, however, it was essential to leave the past behind and to focus on the constructive negotiations and reconciliation in Cyprus.  Turkey hoped that all those involved would follow a similar approach.

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan and on the achievements of technical assistance in the field of human rights in 2013 (A/HRC/25/41).

The Council has before it the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on technical assistance for Libya in the field of human rights (A/HRC/25/42).

The Council has before it the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Guinea (A/HRC/25/44)

The Council has before it a corrigendum to the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Guinea (Only available in French: A/HRC/25/44/Corr.1)

The Council has before it the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on a stand-alone high-level interactive dialogue on assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights (A/HRC/25/45).

The Council has before it the communications report of Special Procedures (A/HRC/25/74).

Presentation of Reports by the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights under Agenda Item on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building

FLAVIA PANSIERI, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, introduced the reports of the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Afghanistan, Libya, Guinea, Somalia and the Central African Republic.  During her visit to Afghanistan in 2013, the High Commissioner had heard that many Afghans, especially women, feared that achievements made in the protection and promotion of human rights were increasingly at risk.  Indeed, the upcoming elections and the scheduled conclusion of the security transition created an environment of uncertainty, including for human rights.  Violence, discrimination and harmful practices against women remained systemic and entrenched. 

Regarding Libya, the High Commissioner’s report noted the security-related challenges faced by the Government, including the prevention and prompt investigation of attacks against judicial personnel.  Thousands of persons had been deprived of their liberty since the 2011 conflict, without access to due process and amidst reports of torture and ill-treatment.

The report on the Central African Republic shed light on the human rights context, which had unfortunately continued to deteriorate rapidly and drastically since the finalization of the report.  A major over-arching challenge was the persistent absence of State control and law and order, which resulted in widespread impunity.  The most urgent priority was to ensure immediate protection, but the report also flagged the need for measures to address structural and longer-term issues. 

The report on Guinea acknowledged efforts made in the security sector reform and measures taken to improve conditions of detention, as well as the fight against impunity.  Outstanding challenges were the strengthening of the rule of law institutions and the dysfunctional justice system, together with the persistence of discrimination and violence against women, and inter-communal tensions that might undermine the search for peace and security.  Guinea should reinforce its legal framework for the promotion and protection of human rights and increase support to fight growing poverty and social exclusion. 

The report on the stand-alone high-level interactive dialogue on assistance to Somalia offered a summary of the key conclusions of the interactive dialogue and included recommendations on finalizing and implementing the post-transition human rights road map at the national and sub-national levels in Somalia.


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC14/051E