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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL CONCLUDES GENERAL DEBATE ON HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATIONS REQUIRING THE COUNCIL’S ATTENTION

15 March 2017

The Human Rights Council this morning concluded its general debate on human rights situations requiring the Council’s attention.

Some speakers in the general debate noted that the health of civil society in a State, and its treatment of human rights defenders was a key metric to access the overall human rights environment.  Thus attacks on civil society, journalists and human rights defenders were of particular concern.  Some delegations were worried about the increased use of the death penalty and the resumption of executions in a number of countries.  Anti-immigrant sentiments, closure of borders and pushbacks of migrants and refugees in a number of countries were worrying.  Several speakers reiterated the commitment to working towards the absolute prohibition of torture.

A number of delegations objected to country-specific resolutions, noting that they were selective and politicised, and led to dissatisfaction of many with the human rights hierarchy and the Council.  Speakers alleged human rights violations in a number of countries and regions. 

The general debate started on Tuesday, 14 March and a summary of the statements made in the first part is available here.

Speaking this morning were France, Nicaragua, Iran, Australia, Maldives, Norway, Ukraine, Spain, Belarus, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Syria, Israel, Azerbaijan, Iceland, Armenia, Pakistan and Ireland.

Also speaking were the following non-governmental organizations: Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme, International Commission of Jurists, Amnesty International, Imam Ali’s Popular Students Relief Society, International Lesbian and Gay Association, CIVICUS-World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Comité International pour le Respect et l’Application de la Charte Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples, International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (joint statement), Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, American Association of Jurists, International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, Liberation, International Service for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, African Development Association, Victorious Youth Movement,  Baha’i International Community, International PEN (joint statement), Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture, Association des étudiants tamouls de France, Association Solidarité Internationale pour l’Afrique, Action international pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grand Lacs,  Association Dunenyo, African Regional Agricultural Credit Association, World Environment and Resource Council, United Schools International, International Association for Democracy in Africa, Society of Iranian Women Advocating Sustainable Development of Environment, The Society for Recovery Support, Association of Citizens Civil Rights Protection “Manshour-e Parseh”, Kiyana Karaj Group, Rencontre Africaine Pour la Defense des Droits de l'Homme, Human Rights House Foundation, Disability Association of Tavana, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association, Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights, Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee, Association pour l’Integration et le Développement Durable au Burundi, International Lawyers.Org, Prahar, United Nations Watch, Union of Arab Jurists, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, World Evangelical Alliance, Peivande Gole Narges Organization, Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme, VIVAT International, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, European Union of Public Relations, Canners International Permanent Committee, Center for Environment and Management Studies, Pan African Union for Science and Technology, Pan African Union for Science and Technology, International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, Indian Council of Education, “Coup de Pousse” Chaîne de l’Espoir Nord-Sud, Centre Europe-Tiers Monde, L’Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l’Homme et de la Démocratie, International Humanist and Ethical Union, World Jewish Congress, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, Alsalam Foundation, Iraqi Development Organization, Asian Legal Resource Centre, Islamic Women’s Institute of Iran, France Libertes: Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, International Education Development Inc., International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Indian Council of South America, Association pour les Victimes du Monde, ANAJA (L’Eternel a répondu), International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, World Barua Organization, Family Health Association of Iran, Institute for Women’s Studies and Research, Organisation Internationale pour le Développement Intégral de la Femme, Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul, Child Foundation, Women’s Human Rights International Association, CIRID (Centre Independent de Recherches et d’Initiatives pour le Dialogue), International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, European Centre for Law and Justice, Center for Inquiry, Prevention Association of Social Harms, Commission Africaine des Promoteurs de la Santé et des Droits de l’Homme, Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation, Society for Threatened Peoples, Ecumenical Alliance for Human Rights and Development, Tourner la Page, Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa, Presse Embleme Campagne, Society for Development and Community Empowerment, Helios Life Association, Hazrat Jawad al-Aemeh Cultural Charity Institute, Al-Hakim Foundation, World Muslim Congress, Conseil de jeuness pluriculturelle, Association Mauritanienne pour la promotion du droit, Alliance Creative Community Project, International Muslim Women’s Union, Centre for Organization, Research and Education, and B’nai Brith International.

The following delegations took the floor in right of reply: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Republic of Korea, India, Bahrain, Latvia, China, Russia, Lebanon, Ethiopia, Gabon, Turkey, Philippines, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Thailand, Indonesia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Iran and Israel.

The Council at 2 p.m. will hold an interactive discussion with the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Ms. Rita Izsak-Ndiaye, who will present her reports.  The Council will then hear the presentation of reports by the Forum on Minority Issues, the Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law, the Social Forum, and the annual report of the Special Procedures.

General Debate on Human Rights Situations Requiring the Council’s Attention

France said that human rights violations were not confined only to countries in conflict, as were the cases of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi.  France was alarmed about attacks against civil society organizations and human rights defenders, and the resumption of executions in a number of countries.  France would continue to work to ensure absolute prohibition of torture.

Nicaragua reiterated concern about the practice of double standards, selectivity and the use of the Council for political ends by some countries.  Resolutions adopted under this agenda item must comply with the principles of sovereignty, impartiality, neutrality and respect for dialogue.  The international community must reject double standards and politicization.

Iran said that violations of human rights in certain European countries were a matter of concern, particularly the rise of anti-immigrant sentiments, the closure of borders, and the pushback of migrants.  The rise of Islamophobia and attacks against Muslims in Europe and in the United States were of concern.  In Canada, the situation of indigenous people and other human rights abuses remained issues of serious international concern.

Australia reaffirmed the important role of the Council in addressing serious human rights situations.  It voiced concern about the serious human rights abuses in Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and the treatment of ethnic and religious minorities in Iran, including the use of the death penalty for minors.  It encouraged South Sudan and Burundi to ensure efforts for peace, and Eritrea to mainstream human rights. 

Maldives was concerned about human rights violations against the Rohingya minority group.  It condemned any form of systematic discrimination and persecution on the grounds of cultural or religious belief.

Norway welcomed the release of several political activists in Azerbaijan, but raised concern about the oppression of political dissidents in Tajikistan and recently Kazakhstan.  Norway was worried about the human rights situation in Turkey, especially about limitations on the freedom of expression.  It remained concerned about the situation of human rights defenders worldwide.

Ukraine said that despite the calls for the immediate release of detained Ukrainians, Russia continued to use them for its political ends, in direct violation of the Minsk Agreements.  Russia also refused visits to detained Ukrainian political prisoners, and there were reports of torture of those persons held in Russia.

Spain raised concern about the dramatic humanitarian situation in Yemen and called upon all sides to cooperate with the commission of investigation.  The situation in the occupied Palestinian territories was alarming in the context of the expansion of settlements, and Spain was very concerned about the practice of forced transfers of people.  Spain denounced human rights violations by terrorist groups regardless of where they occurred.

Belarus said that country-specific resolutions had a negative impact on the situation of human rights on the ground.  Belarus raised concerns about the violation of the rights of migrants in a number of Western countries, and noted that those should lead to country-specific resolutions but this was not the case.  Item 4 was selective and politicised and many were not satisfied with the human rights hierarchy and with the Council.

Democratic People's Republic of Korea said that the international community must no longer tolerate human rights violations by the United States, Japan, or “South Korea” and its notorious anti-terrorism law.  The United Nations human rights mechanism must bring the perpetrators of abductions to justice and ensure reparation for victims.

Syria rejected using the Human Rights Council as a pretext to interfere into the internal affairs of States, and the politicization of human rights issues.  It was regrettable that agenda item 4 was used to achieve political ends.  The United Nations Charter reaffirmed the principle of States’ equality and respect for their sovereignty.  But, the current trend in the Council ran counter to those principles. 

Israel drew attention the Syrian and Iranian allegations against Israel, reminding that those countries had serious deprivations and abuses of human rights.  In recent years the international community had witnessed the spread of terrorism in the Middle East and beyond.  The Hezbollah terror organization, Iran’s proxy, continued to operate unhindered in Lebanon.  Iran continued to be the major sponsor of terrorism in the region and beyond.  Hamas’ daily incitement against Israel should be the Council’s concern.

Azerbaijan reminded that one million Azerbaijanis had become refugees due to the aggression of Armenia, which forcibly occupied 20 per cent of Azerbaijan’s territory.  It called for the unconditional withdrawal of Armenian forces from Azerbaijan’s territory in line with United Nations resolutions, and appealed to the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to address the human rights violations perpetrated by Armenia. 

Iceland was alarmed by serious human rights violations against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, and called on the Council to establish a robust mechanism to investigate those serious violations.  In remained concerned about the ongoing systematic discrimination and harassment of religious and ethnic minorities in Iran.  Iceland also shared concern about the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, and called on both parties to resume meaningful negotiations.

Armenia was concerned about the human rights violations in the south east of Turkey, and stressed that human rights were universal and should be promoted and protected in every part of the world.  The Azerbaijani authorities continued to blatantly disregard human rights and Armenia stressed that combatting impunity and strengthening accountability at the international level were prerequisites for the prevention of systematic violations of international humanitarian law.

Pakistan said that the emergence of intolerance and bigotry was supported by extremist parties and their leaders who were targeting the weak and marginalized.  The effects of this were deeply worrying, including the impact on the rights of migrants and refugees.  The critical element was the lack of will of the international community to speak out against demagogues and uphold international human rights norms.  The oppression in Jammu and Kashmir was the most obvious example of unleashing of nationalism and violence by one State.

Ireland noted that the health of civil society in a State, and its treatment of human rights defenders was a key metric to access the overall human rights environment.  Thus the situations in Azerbaijan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Bahrain and Turkey were of concern.  Ireland was concerned about the worsening situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, in particular recent actions reducing legal protection available and hindering the work of human rights defenders.

Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme said that the inhabitants of Western Sahara were deprived of their autonomy, while Yemen was still under embargo with children suffering.  Syria and Iraq were victims of a plot which had made them victims of Da’esh and Wahabi terrorism, with the support of foreign States.  Bahrain was detaining and torturing its people.

International Commission of Jurists drew attention to the alarming human rights situation developing in Pakistan, where State agents had subjected human rights defenders to excessive force.  Others had been killed or disappeared.  Blasphemy laws discriminated against minorities and were incompatible with human rights and freedoms.  Laws allowed indefinite detention without judicial supervision.

Amnesty International was alarmed at the deteriorating human rights situation in Bahrain, including the excessive use of force and civilians being tried by military courts.  Bahrain was urged to address those concerns and ensure accountability.  Over 8,000 drug-related killings had been reported in the Philippines which might constitute crimes against humanity.  The international community was urged to ensure that support to the Philippines was not used for the war on drugs.

Imam Ali’s Popular Students Relief Society said Iran due to its location and proximity to countries in war such as Afghanistan and Iraq had always been a destination for many immigrants, and noted that refugee families faced identification issues in the destination country, and refugee children faced problems because of the lack of legal status of their parents.  Children born of Iranian mothers and refugee fathers should have the right to have identification cards.

International Lesbian and Gay Association said that in uncertain times, minorities were often targeted as scapegoats, and expressed concern about the situation in Cameroon, Morocco, and the United States, where last month guidance had been withdrawn that instructed schools to respect the gender identity of students.  In Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands, intersex persons faced unnecessary medical interventions.  The situation in Malaysia and El Salvador was also of concern.  All persons were born free and equal in dignity and in rights.

CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation warned of the growing number of States that wilfully disregarded and deliberately flouted long-standing human rights principles established to protect people’s rights to organize, participate and speak out.  It cited such cases in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Turkmenistan and Bahrain.  It was greatly concerned that those examples were becoming the norm rather than the exception.

Comité International pour le Respect et l’Application de la Charte Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples drew attention to human rights violations in Pakistani administered Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, which had been illegally held by Pakistan since 1974.  The Government had not only neglected the region’s development, but had systematically repressed political freedoms of the people there.  It had repressed democratic freedoms, muzzled the press and practiced routine torture. 

International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, in a joint statement with CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation, highlighted the arbitrary arrests and detention of a prominent human rights defender in Japan, Hiroji Yamashiro.  The latest arrest had been made on 29 November 2016.  It expressed grave concern that Mr. Yamashiro was selectively targeted due to his role as a leader of the non-violent peace movement against the United States’ military facilities in Ryukyu/Okinawa, and called on the Government of Japan to immediately release him.

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development noted that in the Philippines more than 7,000 people had been killed in the so-called “war on drugs” and called for a credible and independent investigation of extrajudicial killings there.  It voiced concern over the arbitrary detention of human rights defenders in Cambodia, the targeting of civil society in India, and the increased attacks and killings of writers, bloggers, journalists and minorities in Bangladesh.

International Association of Democratic Lawyers called attention to the delays affecting the implementation of the peace agreement in Columbia, including the obstacles to ensuring minimal infrastructure and reintegration of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People's Army (FARC).  Further, paramilitary groups were not being demobilized yet.  This was sending the wrong signal about the commitment of the Government to peace.

American Association of Jurists drew attention to a trial that had started in Rabat which involved a group of Sahrawi human rights defenders who had been detained for peacefully protesting the dismantlement of a camp.  Their confession had been extracted under torture.

International Federation of Human Rights Leagues said that China continued to spearhead a campaign of enforced disappearances of lawyers and human rights defenders.  In the name of national security, it was tightening freedom of expression online and offline.  The situation in Turkey was swiftly deteriorating with state of emergency legislation being abused to silence the opposition, and to shut down independent media.  The situation in the south east Turkey remained dire.

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik noted that the time allocated to non-governmental organizations during the interactive dialogue on the situation of human rights in Iran was very short.  The report presented by the Special Rapporteur was comprehensive, objective and balanced.  The numerous victims and witnesses of the grave, widespread and systematic human rights violations in Iran were impatiently waiting the visit by the Special Rapporteur.

Liberation drew the attention of Member States to minorities in India facing threats from Hindu extremists.  Hate crimes had been committed against Christians to force them to convert to Hinduism.  A mob had assaulted a group of Christians, with one victim telling the media he had been beaten for his faith.  The speaker pleaded with the Human Rights Council to protect religious minorities in India.

International Service for Human Rights said there were acts to silence human rights defenders, and individuals promoting and protecting human rights in China were at risk.  Human rights defenders did not deserve to be criminalised for their exercise of free speech and they did not deserve to be targeted for seeking dialogue on human rights with their country, and with the international community.  None could be present at the Human Rights Council today, the speaker said.

Human Rights Watch expressed concern about the situation in Bahrain and said the Council should take collective action to address the situation there.  In the Philippines, more than 7,000 people had been killed in an anti-drug campaign since President Duterte took office last June, and the Council was urged to support an international investigation.  The Council should address the situation in Turkey.

African Development Association said the existing natural resources in the region of Western Sahara were at the service of the local population, and after Morocco regained its position in the African Union, the development of the Sahara provinces would proceed.  The Council was called on to put the needed pressure in order to definitively resolve the issue considering its human dimension.

Victorious Youth Movement remained concerned about the persistent abuses and inhuman treatment of the Saharans confined in the Tindouf camps in the Algerian territory.  They were deprived of their fundamental rights, freedom of expression, movement and association.  The host country had the obligation to protect them, and to open its borders to inquiries of human rights abuses on its territory.

Baha’i International Community noted that for nearly four decades the Iranian Government had tried to eliminate the Baha’i community as a viable entity.  It had recently stepped up its persecution of the Baha’i, adding more covert and less quantifiable tactics to the already long list of abuses.  The Iranian authorities were still barring access to education for Baha’i youth and thus depriving them of qualified employment.

International PEN, in a joint statement with International Press Institute, voiced deep concern over the continuous deterioration of freedom of expression and media in Turkey, following the violent coup attempt on 15 July 2016.  Turkey was the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. Restrictions had reached new heights in the lead up to the referendum on constitutional reforms set for 16 April 2017, with threats, arrests and persecutions of those who had voiced criticism.

Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture reminded of 23,000 civilian casualties in Yemen due to the Saudi-led campaign against that country, including the rising number of child victims.  The world continued to watch without taking any action.  Was it not the time to stop the suffering and for the Human Rights Council to respond to the call to set up an independent, international Commission of Inquiry for the situation in Yemen?  Some 19 million people in Yemen needed humanitarian assistance.  

Association des étudiants tamouls de France said that resolution 30/1 on Sri Lanka had provided only an appearance of credibility and did not address the serious shortcomings.  Sri Lanka also lacked the political will to provide justice, which was evident now that it had disowned the resolution and had not implemented even one of the obligations under the resolution.

Association Solidarité Internationale pour l’Afrique said that the Tamils had been subjected to genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity at the hand of the Sri Lankan State for decades.  Eight years had passed since the genocidal war had ended in 2009, but the genocide of Tamils continued through structural and demographic means.  
 
Action international pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grand Lacs was deeply concerned about the state of human rights and the security situation in Gilgit Baltistan and in Jammu and Kashmir where Pakistan was plundering natural resources without the consent of the population.  Mega projects in a disputed territory, such as dam construction by Pakistan, were a violation of the international resolution on Jammu and Kashmir.

Association Dunenyo called attention to the suffering of Mauritanians at the hand of the Polisario Front, who were targeted on the basis of their nationality.  The Polisario Front regularly tortured detainees, and detainees in prisons in south Algeria greatly suffered.  All must be done to help the victims and end impunity.

African Regional Agricultural Credit Association said human rights abuses were occurring on a daily basis in Baluchistan, and Pakistan silenced activists by kidnapping them.  Hundreds of women and children had been picked up.  Religious extremism was being pushed.  China supported Pakistani projects in the area.  The Council was urged not to remain silent in the face of the situation.

World Environment and Resources Council said a suicide attack on a Sufi shrine had sent shockwaves through an area of Pakistan, and Sindh was a victim of Pakistan’s war-mongering and its Islamist agenda.  Sindh today saw a systematic persecution of Hindus, Christians, Ahmedis and other sects of Islam.  Mainstream schools were non-functional in Sindh while jihadi madrassas were flourishing.

United Schools International said almost half of Jammu and Kashmir was occupied by Pakistan, which was culpable of human rights violations, including forced disappearances, torture, political repression and suppression of freedom of speech.  The Council was urged to pay urgent attention to the human rights violations in part of Jammu and Kashmir as Azad Kashmir was a local colony of the State of Pakistan which ruled the area with impunity through its intelligence agencies.

International Association for Democracy in Africa said that Iranians faced limitations to their freedom of religion as the Government prohibited any conversion from Islam.  Violence against Christians, Shia Muslims and Buddhists had continued in Pakistan.  Blasphemy laws in Pakistan targeted minority groups and allowed for heinous crimes to be committed under their guise.  The United Nations needed to implement concrete measures against such countries.

Society of Iranian Women Advocating Sustainable Development of the Environment noted that if human needs were not taken care of, there would be an increase of immigration due to environmental, economic and social problems.  The problems caused by climate change could be transferred from one country to another.  Decision makers thus had to plan for future development in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

Society for Recovery Support reminded that the world had witnessed children in disastrous situations in wars in Syria, Iraq, Somalia and other countries.  It called on Member States to prepare international guidelines for an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child which could oblige countries of origin, as well as destination countries, to respect children’s rights in special and extraordinary situations.

Association of Citizens Civil Rights Protection stated that human rights and development were two concepts related to each other.  The right to development was realized by the fair distribution of benefits resulting from it.  Achieving the right to development would require a global commitment away from extremism, threats and sanctions from developed countries to developing countries.

Kiyana Karaj Group said that Syrian refugee women and girls faced numerous problems in camps, including sexual violence and harassment, while the education of children was an issue of concern.  The non-governmental organization also raised the problem of early marriages of girls in camps.

Rencontre Africaine Pour la Defense des Droits de l'Homme deplored the rise in sexual violence in a number of African countries and called for the implementation of the Maputu Protocol to combat sexual violence.  It was regrettable that Gabon refused to cooperate to resolve electoral difficulties.  Algeria should respect its international obligations with regards to respect of the rights of refugees.  

Human Rights House Foundation said that in 2015 Belarus had introduced a tax on those considered “social parasites”, who were people who worked for less than six months a year.  Belarus began a crackdown on peaceful protests against this legislation in February 2017.  Highly restrictive legislation was in place in Belarus which allowed the arrest of dissenting voices, human rights defenders, journalists or anybody else.

Disability Association of Tavana said that Governments must respect the rights of persons with disabilities.  International efforts could raise awareness and accelerate the enjoyment of basic rights by those marginalized in societies throughout the world.  Attention must be paid to persons with disabilities affected by armed conflicts.  

Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association spoke about torture in India due to the armed forces.  Children in a village had been kept in a concentration camp of the Indian army.  Villagers of Manipur were regularly tortured.  Around 530 villages suffered from psycho-social problems due to their treatment by the army.  The villagers were not able to go to their paddy fields.  The Government of India was urged to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.   

Association for the Protection of Women’s and Children’s Rights said that horrible acts were being caused by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Jammu and Kashmir.  There had been thousands of criminal cases but no action could be taken against army personnel. People were detained under pretexts for having voiced dissent.  People were not allowed to go to Friday prayers, as the grand mosque had remained closed for months.

Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee said that in India, the authorities had clamped down on civil society organizations critical of official policies, and censorship and attacks on freedom of expression by hard-line Hindu militant and fundamentalist groups were on the rise.  The Council was urged to impress upon the Government of India the need to ensure the provision of basic human rights to all, including Dalits.

Association pour l’integration et le développement durable au Burundi said a hierarchy based on caste divided Indian society, and violence against Dalits ranged from humiliation to murder.  Several incidents of brutal rape of Dalit women had occurred.  Dalits had been assaulted due to false allegations.  The Council was urged to hold India accountable for the promotion of Dalit rights.

International Lawyers.Org, in a joint statement, reminded of the upcoming anniversary on 20 March when the international coalition led by the United States had launched an unlawful war against Iraq, which had created social and political turmoil in the country.  Accountability should be provided and the international community should demonstrate that no State could act with impunity.  The reparation process should be launched and encompass all violations perpetrated.

Prahar highlighted the issue of granting of citizenship to illegal migrants in India, noting that some 30 per cent of the population were illegal migrants.  Assam had already born the burden of illegal migration and its people would lost their own identity due to that problem. 

United Nations Watch said that almost every Member State of the Human Rights Council had serious human rights problems.  When would the world hear about real human rights abuses? 

Union of Arab Jurists said that the idea of agenda item 4 was not to undermine the sovereignty and reputation of States, but to improve their human rights situation at home.  However, those very countries that did not meet the minimum of human rights standards were using item 4 to criticize others and thus undermine the Council’s credibility.

International Fellowship of Reconciliation drew attention to the recent judgement of the European Court of Justice which recognized that Western Sahara was not a part of the territory of Morocco.  It was hoped that this ruling would be scrupulously implemented by the European Union Member States and noted by other countries.

World Evangelical Alliance said that a sustainable and developed State was not possible without ensuring the equal rights of all its citizens, and said that the treatment of minorities was a litmus test.  Noting the example of Indonesia, the World Evangelical Alliance stressed that integration and equal rights of minorities was the way forward.

Peivande Gole Narges Organization said that the political and social situation in the Middle East forced many people to flee but refugees continued to face grave human rights violations and hostile acts in Europe.  In 2016, populism and racist speech in Europe had increased, leading to xenophobic acts against refugees, including children.  Many children along migration routes had disappeared.
 
Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme spoke about religious minorities in Viet Nam who suffered daily religious persecution.  The members of the Unified Buddhist Church were constantly harassed and detained. 

VIVAT International drew the Council’s attention to the human rights situation in West Papua and expressed concern at the decline of indigenous Melanesians in West Papua.  The population of indigenous people in West Papua could disappear in 40 years.  The Government of Indonesia was urged to stop the depopulation of indigenous Melanesians in West Papua.
 
Commission to Study the Organization of Peace said children had been subjected to torture in Pakistan, and one of the main causes was poverty.  People were also tortured because of their beliefs.  There were reports that 70,000 cases of violence against children had been registered.  Children were sent to madrassas where they became brain-washed.  Women and girls were also subject to various forms of torture in Pakistan.

European Union of Public Relations said human rights defenders helped victims by providing housing and healthcare, but with the increasing number of conflicts human rights defenders work was in danger.  Pakistan, Iran and Egypt were countries where this problem existed.  The Syrian conflict was also a factor.  Women defenders suffered especially.  In Pakistan, the situation of human rights defenders was also precarious.

Canners International Permanent Committee said health was a fundamental right and millions of people across the world faced hindrances to accessing health care at affordable prices.  Another problem in Iran was the lack of clean water and sanitation services.  Water-related diseases were common.  In Baluchistan, Pakistan, considerable numbers of people were living under the poverty line. 

Centre for Environmental and Management Studies drew attention to Pakistan’s persecution against the second largest political party.  The Government had breached freedom of expression and denied to millions the right to associate themselves with the leader of their choice.  Thousands were in arbitrary detention without lawful charge.

Pan African Union for Science and Technology highlighted that people in Iran were subject to various forms of torture due to religious reasons.  Both men and women were subject to torture.   Women were also killed in so-called “honour killings”.  In Pakistan women were treated as second-class citizens.

International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies noted that women and girls were often raped by soldiers and forced into prostitution.  Sexual assaults and violence were quite common, and were sometimes used by men as a way to protect communal pride.  Cruel acts of torture and rape were frequently committed by State security forces.

Indian Council of Education said that the protection of human rights was closely linked to sustainable development, economic growth and democracy.  Many conflicts were characterized by the failure to protect human rights.  States had to institute policies to protect human rights.  But in many cases they adopted policies that undermined human rights.

“Coup de Pousse” Chaîne de l’Espoir Nord-Sud said that it was fighting to break the silence surrounding violations in Sahrawi refugee camps at the hand of the Polisario Front, including enforced disappearances, executions and arbitrary detention.  The Polisario Front was acting with complete impunity, while victims suffered in silence.

Centre Europe-Tiers Monde spoke about the serious situation of civil servants in Chad who had not been paid and had gone on strike.  The Government had announced measures to confront the economic crisis which included a 50 per cent cut in salaries of civil servants.  The Government must uphold labour rights and trade union rights, including the right to strike.

L’Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l’Homme et de la Démocratie was concerned about the failure of the Government of Sri Lanka to implement decisions related to justice and accountability, including to involve victims in hearing of all war crimes.  Also of concern was the military land grab in the north-east of the country, where genocide of the Tamils continued through sinhalization and buddhistisation.

International Humanist and Ethical Union drew the attention of the Council to the case of Professor Djalali who had been sentenced to death last month in Iran for alleged collaboration with scientists from hostile nations.  All he had done was to attend university workshops to share professional knowledge and learn from colleagues.  Writer Cheikh Ould Mohamed M’Kheitir had been accused of apostasy and insulting the Prophet and sentenced to death in Mauritania, over an article on the role of Islamic teachings in the perpetuation of slavery.

World Jewish Congress said there were violations of human rights under the current Iranian regime, and religious minorities struggled.  Bahá’í, Chistians from Muslim backgrounds and Sufis faced arbitrary arrests, harassment and targeted attacks.  Iranians continued to suffer while their Government neglected to address violations of their most fundamental rights.

Americans for Human Rights and Democracy in Bahrain drew the attention of the Council to failures in Bahrain.  Bahraini authorities had crossed a red line when they targeted a senior Shi’a authority and when they executed three torture victims.  Bahraini courts had also convicted two men based on confessions extracted under coercion, and they were in imminent danger of execution. 

Alsalam Foundation expressed concern over the United Kingdom providing political protection to shield Bahrain from any substantial criticism in the Council.  The United Kingdom had worked to dilute every effort to raise multilateral concern over the continuing human rights crisis in Bahrain.

Iraqi Development Organization drew the attention of the Human Rights Council to impunity for violations of international humanitarian law which deprived citizens of their basic rights in places like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.  Some violations could be considered genocide and crimes against humanity.  The genocide committed against part of the Bahraini society was condemned, as were violations in the West Bank and occupied Palestinian territories.

Asian Legal Resource Centre stated that the conditions that had crushed the freedom and security of human rights defenders in Bangladesh and Thailand had not yet attracted adequate international attention.  It called on the Council to closely examine the conditions of human rights defenders in those two countries so that the minimum guarantee for their safety was ensured. 

Islamic Women’s Institute of Iran noted that human rights were challenged by modernity, production and wealth at any cost, power to control, and polarization of elites.  No one had noticed the collapse of those norms and values that guaranteed bonds between humans.  No one had noticed the loss of human’s emotional attachments that enabled dedication and self-devotion to each other.

France Libertes: Fondation Danielle Mitterrand reminded that the trial of West Sharan political prisoners had been postponed twice, and expressed deep concern over the way the trial had been held.  It also wondered about the conformity of the Moroccan court decision with the provisions of equity in line with Morocco’s international obligations.

International Educational Development continued to be very preoccupied by the situation of the Hmong people in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.  Mass murder, ethnic cleansing and other atrocities had drastically reduced their numbers in their traditional territory in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.  There was a need for a United Nations “safe haven” for the Hmong people, as the Government continued its intention to wipe them out, and there was a need for the Council to appoint a Special Rapporteur on the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination recalled that it had been 14 years since the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq by the United States and its allies, which was waged on a false pretext.  It had left behind a devastated country and a shattered society.  Where was the justice for Iraq?  There had been no official apology, no adequate compensation, and no one had taken responsibility.

Indian Council of South America diplomatically protested the annexation of Alaska and the illegal removal of Alaska from the list of territories, as well as taking of natural and other resources.  This was an official notice to the United States Government that it had illegally taken territories and resources that did not belong to it.  The United States must address the Dakota Access Pipeline in accordance with the 1851 and 1858 treaties.

Association pour les Victimes du Monde said that Tamils in Sri Lanka had been disappointed by the decision of the Council to conduct the war crimes investigations through a domestic mechanism, even if it had been crystal clear that such mechanism would not provide justice to the victims.  The justice system and the constitution of Sri Lanka were weak and did not provide protection to the Tamils.

ANAJA (L’Eternel a répondu) spoke about the loss of lives of Tamil fishermen by the Indian and Sri Lankan Governments and said that attacks on Tamil people living in a number of Indian states continued.  No measures had been taken to stop attacks or to address the impunity.

International Human Rights Association of American Minorities said as there existed a contemptuous disregard for international humanitarian laws, there had been no attempt to address human rights crises in various parts of the world.  Indian troops operated as killing machines in Indian-held Kashmir.  Bullets had been indiscriminately used, and people had been blinded.  The brute disproportionate force had resulted in massive human rights violations.

Organization for Defending Victims of Violence expressed serious concerns about the situation of Rohingya minorities in Myanmar.  The violations amounted to crimes against humanity according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.  The international community was called on to put pressure on the Myanmar Government to allow the Special Rapporteur access to Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state.

World Barua Organization said India was an exception to the removal of children from the labour force, and child labour in India continued because of a weak legal framework.  Children cared for cattle and worked in the fields, and as household workers in middle-class homes.  The Indian education system worsened the situation by separating children according to social class.

Family Health Association of Iran said paying attention to the health of female inmates was neglected in many areas, and non-governmental organizations in Iran had affected female inmates’ health.  The association in collaboration with prison organizations had trained peer groups and helped empower women in the area of entrepreneurship. 

Institute for Women’s Studies and Research stressed that one of women’s severest problems was widespread violence against them in every armed conflict.  At present women were caught in the crossfire in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.  The United Nations needed to ensure women’s participation in peacekeeping and peace making processes, to promote female leadership and enforce zero tolerance for sexual abuses in conflicts. 

Organisation Internationale pour le Developpement Integral de la Femme drew attention to the case of Saharawi girls who used to live in Spain and were now forced to stay in Tindouf camps.  It condemned the officials in Tindouf camps because they continued to refuse to grant the Saharawi population permission to leave the camps, and to deny them documents to travel.

Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul noted that justice and peace was a better investment in Sri Lanka than holding onto the oppression of the Tamil people through force and violence by maintaining the expensive army and security apparatus.  It called on international financial institutions to be centrally involved in the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in order to ensure that their money was not wasted on war, violence against women and children, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Child Foundation stated that children were most vulnerable to corruption and conflict, and were most affected by violence in their home countries.  In warring countries, such as Somalia, Syria and Sudan, children were abducted, sexually assaulted and forced to become soldiers despite their inalienable rights.  Child Foundation called on the international community to support and provide understanding for victims of such unforgivable crimes. 

Women’s Human Rights International Association said that at least 530 executions had taken place in Iran in 2016, and that Iran had executed the highest number of juvenile offenders in the world.  As of December 2016, there were 78 juvenile offenders on death row, languishing in prison for years.  Juveniles as young as 15 had been sent to the gallows.  The Council should establish a Commission of Inquiry into the massacre of political prisoners in 1988.

CIRID (Centre Indépendant de Recherches et d’Initiatives pour le Dialogue) said that the human rights situation in Yemen had deteriorated, with more than 2,700 civilians, including children, killed in 2016.  Journalists and activists were being harassed and 18 journalists had been disappeared by the Houthis.  Famine was looming in the country, threatening millions.

International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations said that the right to self-determination was the basis for the exercise of all other human rights.  The United Nations should fulfil its obligations towards the last African colony – the Western Sahara.  It was disappointing that no progress had been made towards the holding of a referendum, as decided by the United Nations in its 1991 resolution.

European Centre for Law and Justice said that the members of the Islamic State had enslaved thousands and committed genocide.  The international community should intensify its efforts to eradicate ISIS and bring the perpetrators to justice.  This obligation was incumbent to those States which, like France, had many of their nationals in ISIS.

Centre for Inquiry expressed concern about the recent rise in baseless xenophobic rhetoric and actions by political leaders as well as heightened social hostilities in many places, including the United States.  The Government of the United States was urged to respect equal dignity and human rights.  The Centre urged other States to engage with the United States to ensure the protection of human rights norms there.
 
Preventive Association of Social Harms spoke about the hasty action of the new United States President in banning entry to the United States of nationals from seven Muslim majority countries.  War killed women and children and caused an increase in the number of refugees around the world.   

Commission Africaine des promoteurs de la sante et des droits de l’homme spoke about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, noting that ambulances ferrying the wounded to hospitals had come under attack.  Small metal pellets had injured hundreds of Kashmiri youths, leading to widespread loss of vision.  The Council was urged to give the situation in Jammu and Kashmir special attention.

Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation said the Sri Lankan State continued to pay only lip service to its promises, as four transitional justice mechanisms had been proposed while none had been operationalized.  Accountability provided the vital function of redress for victims of abuses.  The Council was urged to keep its focus on the victims and to hold Sri Lanka accountable for its promises.

Society for Threatened Peoples stated that China’s consistent repressive policies coupled with intense regulation and control over religious institutions against the practice of Tibetan Buddhism had given rise to a series of protests, including self-immolation of 145 known Tibetans.  China had to uphold its responsibilities and protect fundamental human rights and religious freedoms.

Ecumenical Alliance for Human Rights and Development called on the Council to focus more on the human rights situation in the Arab world.  Crimes committed by Da’esh and Al Nusra in Syria had led to the deaths of thousands of women and children.  In Yemen, the international community was failing to implement regulations, while in Iraq, armed militias were committing crimes in the absence of a State apparatus.  Civilians ought to be protected.

Tourner la page said that, in Sri Lanka, victims had been patiently waiting for the last 18 months for the Council to ensure and deliver justice and accountability with a strategy on transitional justice.  There had to be consequences for non-compliance, and there should not be further extension for Sri Lanka, which should be referred to the International Criminal Court.

Human Rights League of Horn of Africa expressed its concern over the never-ending gross violation of human rights of Ethiopians by the Government of Ethiopia.  Following the mass protests in Oromia and Amhara regions, the Government had detained more than 50,000 civilians.  The Government of Ethiopia remained defiant and continued with the killings of civilians and arresting of opposition party leaders.

Presse Embleme Campagne called on States to maintain a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work without undue influence.  Turkey had been using the coup to silence independent media in the country, creating a climate of fear.  The authorities in Turkey were urged to release all journalists.

Society for Development and Community Empowerment said that Tamil people were seeking asylum in transit countries and human rights abuses in Sri Lanka were well known to the Council.  Refugees were stranded all over the world, yet their resettlement had been delayed.  The root cause which had led them to flee the country had not been addressed.  A moratorium was requested on returning asylum seekers until safety in Sri Lanka could be guaranteed.

Helios Life Association spoke about the concept of money, which could not solve the problem of poverty.  Two thirds of adults worldwide were financially illiterate, and lack of knowledge of billions of people led to high debt and insolvency.  There would never be fulfilment because money could never fill the soul.  The speaker called for country-specific strategies to foster financial consciousness.

Hazrat Jawad al-Aemeh Cultural Charity Institute said thousands of child casualties had occurred in Afghanistan, and ground engagements between forces were the main cause.  Childhood was entitled to special care and assistance.  Every State party should ensure the survival and development of the child.  But in Afghanistan, children’s health and livelihood was endangered.

Al-Hakim Foundation, presented by a Yazidi speaker, spoke of her personal ordeal, as she had been kidnapped by Da’esh, and recounted her family ordeal by the barbarians.  She had been sold into slavery and methodically raped and beaten.  The speaker thanked the Kurdistan Government for taking care of her and helping her family.  The international community should bring Da’esh to justice.

World Muslim Congress said that abuse of the people of Kashmir and Jammu had been the policy of the Indian State ever since the occupation.  State-sponsored violence was coupled with blanket impunity for security forces.  The high magnitude of lawlessness in 2016 had led to the killing of over 300 persons, the highest number in years.  Hundreds more had been injured by pellet guns.

Conseil de jeuness pluriculturelle pointed to the xenophobia against Syrian refugees in Europe.  Vulnerable refugees arriving to Europe were frequently abused.  Official and unofficial voices continued to call for shutting the doors against vulnerable people.  Everywhere in Europe, Syrian refugees were seen as a burden.  Furthermore, hate crimes often went unreported and unprosecuted.  The human rights of each individual had to be protected.

Association Mauritanienne pour la promotion du droit said that the High Commissioner’s report on Sri Lanka provided a comprehensive overview of the situation.  Genocide had been conducted in Sri Lanka, under the patronage of the Sri Lankan army.  Almost 17 months after the Human Rights Council resolution, there were no signs of tangible progress, and no redress had been provided for Tamil victims in Sri Lanka.  An independent international investigation was needed in Sri Lanka.   

Alliance Creative Community Project said Sri Lanka had pulled out of its responsibility.  But in agreement with the Sri Lankan Government, the United Nations had agreed to an investigative mechanism.  Even after the adoption of a resolution, the High Commissioner had called for international participation in the mechanism.  There was a hidden agenda of diluting the process.  Justice was needed for Tamil victims.

International Muslim Women’s Union said the children of Jammu and Kashmir were affected by the use of pellet guns.  The stories of individual children were related, including that of a 13-year old girl who was sitting quietly at home when she was hit with a shower of pellets.  Hundreds of people had sustained pellet injuries.  Most of the blinded were teenagers.

Centre for Organization, Research and Education spoke about the human rights situation in northeast India, saying that in Manipur, human rights defenders had been arrested under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.  A democratic and peaceful protest had not been respected by India.  The Indian Government refused fair trials.

B’nai Brith International said there were still people who denied the existence of the Holocaust, and therefore the remembrance of the Holocaust was an absolute must.  Schools had to teach the need for respect and tolerance toward the other.  The Council had to adopt a working definition of anti-Semitism which included virulent anti-Zionism.   

Right of Reply

Democratic Republic of the Congo, speaking in a right of reply, informed that a national commission of investigation had been established to look into human rights violations in the province of Kasai.  The National Human Rights Commission was also operating in the country.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo was one of the few countries in the world with the freedom of expression assured for all, and the media rights were fully respected.  The country was already hosting an office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

Saudi Arabia, speaking in a right of reply, said that Saudi Arabia was not the only country to apply the death penalty.  That penalty was applied only for the most serious crimes, following a fair trial.  The issue of the death penalty was a controversial one, and each country had the right to choose its own measures.

Japan, speaking in a right of reply, said that the crimes cited by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were erroneous and based on false facts.  Freedom of expression was fully respected in Japan, and the case quoted by the International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism had been fully dealt with by the judiciary.

Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, said that it was an undeniable fact that “North Korean” workers had escaped of their own free will and today were living in the freedom hitherto unknown to them.  The total number of “North Korean” defectors who had settled in the Republic of Korea exceeded 30,000.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should protect and promote the human rights of its people.    

India, speaking in a right of reply, said Pakistan had misused the Human Rights Council and terrorism was the grossest violation of human rights.  In recent times, the people of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir had become victims of the global export of terror.  Pakistan’s selective approach underscored its unwillingness to accept the truth.  Pakistan had referred to the situation of minorities in India, where they held high positions.  All the minorities of Pakistan had were blasphemy laws and human rights violations.

Bahrain, speaking in a right of reply in response to Denmark, Switzerland and others, said attacks on Bahrain were based on selectivity.  Bahrain was committed to human rights and cooperation with the Human Rights Council.  The right of assembly was protected by international humanitarian law.  Peaceful demonstrations were allowed, but some had not been peaceful and had engaged in riots, that was the case across the world.  The exercise of rights should be based on good will and human rights defenders should not be involved in politicized acts.

Latvia, speaking in a right of reply in response to the Russian Federation, said the Russian Federation seemed to be bad with numbers.  The Russian Federation had referred to Latvian non-citizens.  Latvia had been occupied by the Soviet Union, and had created a temporary legal status for people from the occupying power who had decided to stay afterwards.  Latvian non-citizens were not stateless and had the right to naturalization.  Ungrounded accusations had also been heard suggesting that State authorities were not willing to fight totalitarian ideologies.

China, speaking in a right of reply in response to the delegations of the United States, the European Union, and many other countries as well as non-governmental organizations, said they had made accusations against China which China rejected.  The Government had always attached importance to allowing lawyers to practice.  But the status of a lawyer did not produce immunity.  China had equality for all.  Tibet and Xinjang enjoyed rapid socio-economic development.  The Government protected religious activities and China managed according to the law on religious groups.  Using religion to engage in criminal activities would be punished according to the law.  Human rights issues should not be politicized.  

Russian Federation, speaking in a right of reply, stated that the accusations on the limitations of civil society in Russia were not objective.  There were numerous non-governmental organizations operating in Russia, and they were receiving significant financial support from the budget.  Regarding Crimea and Sevastopol, Russia said that the citizens of those regions had expressed their free will in line with the United Nations Charter.   Countries criticizing Russia should look at their own situations.

Lebanon, speaking in a right of reply, said that Israel had described a component of the Government of Lebanon as terrorist.  Such accusations had to be rejected, especially because they were coming from an occupying State.  Israel was still occupying some parts of Lebanon, even after it had withdrawn from other occupied areas.  Israel had run prisons in Lebanon in which worst forms of torture had been committed. 

Ethiopia, speaking in a right of reply, said that it supported a vibrant civil society and free expression of views.  The participation of various civil society organizations in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism was one good example of that.  Thousands of non-governmental organizations in Ethiopia were helping with poverty reduction programmes.  In Ireland, dozens of towns did not have proper sewage plans, in contravention of many regulations.

Gabon, speaking in a right of reply, said Gabon had always shown its commitment working with civil society organizations. There had been no massacres or enforced disappearances in Gabon during the electoral process.  Gabon was a welcoming country and all organizations that wished to visit it were welcome. 

Turkey, speaking in a right of reply, said that human rights, democracy and the rule of law were fundamental pillars of the country.  As a founding member of the Council of Europe, Turkey applied the highest standards of human rights, including in freedom of expression.  No one was imprisoned or detained for exercising their journalistic profession.  Turkey was a target of multiple terrorist groups and had endured a coup d’état in July 2015.  The declared state of emergency was in line with the right and responsibility to protect democracy and the rule of law, and the safety and well-being of its people.  The political debates on the upcoming constitutional referendum were taking place in an inclusive and open manner.

Philippines, speaking in a right of reply, said that the relentless campaign against illegal drugs was anchored on the rule of law and human rights.  The Philippines also aimed to rehabilitate the users.  The Philippines did not tolerate extra-judicial killings, and there was no incitement to kill from the President.  The police were ordered to follow protocols and defend when drug peddlers violently resisted arrest.  The Philippines urged all States to give a chance to domestic processes.

Lao People’s Democratic Republic, speaking in a right of reply, said that unfounded allegations had been made concerning the treatment of the Hmong in the country and reiterated that the Lao People’s Democratic Republic pursued a policy of equality and solidarity among all its ethnic groups, in line with the principle of national unity.  All necessary measures were being taken to raise the development level and reduce the poverty of all ethnic groups, including those with small populations.

Thailand, speaking in a right of reply, reiterated that the right to freedom of expression was not absolute as it could be restricted as necessary to protect national security and public order.  The Government worked at preventing expression of hate in order to prevent polarization in the society.  The Thai monarchy was a pillar of stability in Thailand, and the national identity was closely linked to the royals.  The new law on freedom of expression which would enter into force in May 2017 aimed to strengthen the existing laws such as those prohibiting child pornography.

Indonesia, speaking in a right of reply, said that no human rights violations could pass without public scrutiny in Indonesia.  The vibrant civil society and media ensured checks and balances in the country.  Local elections had successfully taken place in all parts of Indonesia the previous month.  Indonesia was a multi-ethnic and pluralistic country, and the allegations by the Papuan community were baseless.  Just the previous week, customary land rights for more than 350 hectares had been handed over to a community in West Papua.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, rejected groundless accusations made by Japan and “South Korea”, which were pursuing sinister political purposes under the cover of human rights.  Japan should stop campaigning against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and apologize for its past crimes against humanity.  The “South Korean” delegation represented a doomed shamanistic government, under which the intra-Korean relations had deteriorated.  “South Korea” was asked to release the 12 citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea abducted in 2016.

Pakistan, speaking in a right of reply, said that India should not blame Pakistan for everything that went wrong in India.  Indian interference in Pakistan had been repeatedly confirmed.  Pakistan could not ignore India’s subversive activities in Pakistan; that included blowing up of a passenger train in 2007.  The world was not blind to Indian atrocities in the India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.  The legitimate struggle of the Kashmiris for self-determination was brutally suppressed by India.

Iran, speaking in a right of reply, rejected baseless allegations made by the Israeli regime, which was trying to hide its own human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law.
  
Israel, speaking in a right of reply, regretted that Lebanon had come to the defence of Hezbollah, an internationally recognized terrorist organization which was threatening the stability of the Middle East.  Lebanon should fulfil its international obligations and disarm Hezbollah without delay.

Russia, speaking in a second right of reply, said that Latvia had invented the status of non-citizens, a category of persons which did not fall under the definition of refugee or national minority and did not have any citizenship rights.  Latvia should not deceive the international community and should take steps to naturalize the non-citizens.

Japan, speaking in a second right of reply, reiterated that its position on issues of the past was well known.  The Democratic People's Republic of Korea should listen to the repeated expression of concern by the international community, take a hard look at the issue of detainees and abductions, and cooperate with the international community and the United Nations human rights mechanisms.

Lebanon, speaking in a second right of reply, said that Hezbollah was a component of the Lebanese Government and the Parliament; it had been born in response to the occupation of parts of Lebanon by Israel.  Hezbollah was not listed as a terrorist organization by the United Nations, it was described as a terrorist organization only by Israel.  There was a high level cooperation between the Israeli army and terrorist organizations such as Al-Nussra, and it was also known that Israel was providing support to terrorist organizations.

Lithuania, speaking in a second right of reply, said it had never tolerated racism or xenophobia.  Countering those required efforts of the international community.  Lithuania combatted racism and xenophobia in a systematic way and in cooperation with relevant organizations.   Russian partners could well benefit from such good practices in fighting discrimination and xenophobia.  Lithuania recalled that more than 20 radical movements had been registered in the Russian Federation, which also took part in the Russian aggression against Ukraine.  Annual meetings of nationalist movements from Europe took place in the Russian Federation.  It was disappointing that some partners in the Council preferred to target certain States in a counter-productive manner instead of fighting xenophobia and discrimination in a constructive manner.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in a second right of reply, rejected the preposterous allegations of Japan and said it was dismayed by Japan’s combative attitude regarding its past crimes, such as sexual slavery that had been well documented.  It was Japan that had gone back on their agreement and imposed unilateral sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The allegations of the abductions of Japanese citizens had recently turned out to be false as some of the supposedly abducted Japanese citizens actually still lived in Japan.

Latvia, speaking in a second right of reply, regretted that the delegate from the Russian Federation refused to acknowledge the facts that were accepted by relevant international organizations.




For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC17/041E