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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE WITH SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS ON EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTIONS AND ON THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION

26 June 2019

The Human Rights Council this afternoon held a clustered interactive dialogue with Agnès Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and Koumbou Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on the right to education.

Ms. Callamard said that she had undertaken the inquiry into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi under the terms of her mandate, compelled by what she had perceived to be the paralysis of the United Nations. The inquiry had found credible evidence, warranting further investigation, of high-level Saudi officials’ individual liability, including presumably that of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. The United Nations could play a stronger role in the face of targeted killings of journalists, human rights defenders and political dissidents when certain criteria were met, such as the prevalence or probability of impunity. If the international community ignored a targeted killing designed to silence peaceful expression or independence of mind, it put at risk the protections on which all human rights depended. Silence and inaction would only cause further injustice and global instability. “The time to act is now,” she concluded.

Ms. Barry said that her report addressed the question of the effectiveness of the right to education and the Sustainable Development Goal 4 in the context of the growth of private actors in education, whose number had doubled over the past 20 years. International human rights law provided a delicate balance concerning the obligation of States to guarantee the right to education for all, including by providing good quality and free educational services. The purpose of those instruments was not to protect commercial interests in the sector of education nor to provide States with a means of shirking their responsibilities by adopting neoliberal policies under the pretext of budget austerity. States were required to regulate the participation of private actors in the education sector and ensure that educational services they provided conformed to educational norms and standards.

In the interactive dialogue that followed, speakers, stressing that those responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi must be held to account, called on Saudi Arabia to disclose all information available and fully cooperate with all investigations into the killing. Ensuring accountability entailed prompt, effective, and thorough criminal investigation into the killing carried out in an impartial and transparent manner. Several questioned the report's methodology, pointing out that it singled out one kind of individual whose rights it defended. The report’s hastily drawn conclusions were based on unreliable information, speakers said, noting that Saudi Arabia had sent an interim report on the killing to the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In the discussion on the right to education, it was noted that at issue was not so much the choices made by parents or individuals, but rather the decision of States to delegate their responsibility to the private sector, thus contributing to turning what was a public good into a commercial product. Private educational institutions could play an instrumental and complementary role in supporting States’ efforts towards realizing the right to education and ensuring that the Sustainable Development Goal 4 targets for inclusive and equitable education were met, some delegations said.

Speaking in the interactive dialogue were the following States: European Union; Angola (on behalf of the African Group); Norway (on behalf of a group of countries); Finland; Qatar; Russian Federation; Switzerland; Togo; Holy See; Liechtenstein; United Arab Emirates; Australia; Malaysia; Bahrain; India; United Nations Children's Fund; Burkina Faso; Cuba; Italy; Germany; Montenegro; Venezuela; Egypt; Netherlands; Ecuador; Saudi Arabia; Indonesia; Malta; Myanmar; New Zealand; Iraq; Portugal; Morocco; Afghanistan; Bolivia; Canada ; Bulgaria; Mexico; Azerbaijan; China.

Also speaking were the following civil society organizations: International Organization for the Right to Education and Freedom of Education – OIDEL (in a joint statement with Soka Gakkai International and Teresian Association); DRCNet Foundation, Inc.; Amnesty International; Rutgers; Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Association apprentissage sans frontieres; International Bar Association; Amman Center for Human Rights Studies; Together against the death penalty; Reseau International des Droits Humains (RIDH); and Franciscans International (in a joint statement with Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund).

Iraq and China spoke in right of reply.

The Human Rights Council will meet at 9 a.m. on Thursday, 27 June, to conclude the clustered interactive dialogue on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and on the right to education. It will then hold the first part of its annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women. This will be followed by an interactive dialogue with the Working Group on discrimination against women and the Working Group on business and human rights.

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions and the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education

Documentation

The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (A/HRC/41/36).

The Council has before an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions – Observations on communications transmitted to Governments and replies received (A/HRC/41/36/Add.1).

The Council has before an annex to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions – Investigation into the unlawful death of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi (A/HRC/41/CRP.1).

The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education (A/HRC/41/37).

Presentation of Reports by the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions and the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education

AGNÈS CALLAMARD, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said that she had undertaken the inquiry into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi under the terms of her mandate, compelled by what she had perceived to be the paralysis of the United Nations. She had travelled to Turkey and held meetings in the United States, Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden. She had also requested authorization to visit Saudi Arabia, but had received no response to date. The evidence gathered by the inquiry suggested that the killing of Mr. Khashoggi constituted an extrajudicial killing, an enforced disappearance and possibly an act of torture for which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was responsible. While there were numerous theories as to the circumstances of Mr. Khashoggi’s death, none led to anything other than to the responsibility of the State of Saudi Arabia. His killing was overseen, planned and endorsed by high-level officials, and it was premeditated. The inquiry had found credible evidence, warranting further investigation, of high-level Saudi officials’ individual liability, including presumably that of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. It constituted a violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations; the prohibition against the extra-territorial use of force in time of peace; as well as a core tenet of the United Nations, the protection of freedom of expression. Mr. Khashoggi’s execution was emblematic of a global pattern of targeted killings of journalists, human rights defenders and political activists.

The United Nations could play a stronger role in the face of targeted killings of journalists, human rights defenders and political dissidents when certain criteria were met, such as the prevalence or probability of impunity. The United Nations could study best practices related to the investigation and evaluation of, as well as the reaction to threats in order to establish standards. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should create a working group tasked with carrying out rapid missions on specific situations, aiming to investigate, assist authorities, and reinforce prevention and protection measures, among others. Furthermore, the United Nations could establish a standing instrument responsible for, inter alia, conducting criminal investigations on allegations of targeted killings or disappearances; preparing files to facilitate and accelerate equitable and independent criminal procedures in front of existing competent courts; and identifying other political and diplomatic mechanisms. The right to life was right at the core of international human right protection. If the international community ignored a targeted killing designed to silence peaceful expression of independence of mind, it put at risk the protections on which all human rights depended. Silence and inaction would only cause further injustice and global instability. “The time to act is now,” she concluded.

KOUMBOU BOLY BARRY, Special Rapporteur on the right to education, said that her report addressed the question of the effectiveness of the right to education and the Sustainable Development Goal 4 in the context of the growth of private actors in education, whose number had doubled over the past 20 years. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, by 2021, one in four children of primary school age would attend private school. The report recalled the obligation of States under international human rights law to provide quality and free of charge public education and introduced the Abidjan Principles on the human rights obligations of States to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education. Education was a human right, stressed Ms. Barry, and drew attention to the impact on the Sustainable Development Goal 4 of the growing number of private education actors, which profoundly transformed the structure of educative systems, especially in developing countries whose education systems were particularly fragile.

One of the reasons behind the increased presence of private education providers was multilateral and bilateral donor support, the Special Rapporteur said, and stressed that the financing of for-profit actors through development aid to the detriment of the support to publicly provided education was a step in the wrong direction. The funding and providing of free public education services must be prioritized instead, especially in the light of the fact that the funding for good quality and free of charge preschool, primary, and secondary education in low-income and middle-income countries for the 2015-2030 period showed a gap of $39 billion.

International human rights law provided a delicate balance concerning the obligation of States to guarantee the right to education for all, including by providing good quality and free educational services. The purpose of those instruments was not to protect commercial interests in the sector of education nor to provide States with a means of shirking their responsibilities by adopting neoliberal policies under the pretext of budget austerity. The human rights framework provided orientation and guidance to States in this context of worrying multiplication of private providers pursuing a profit-making goal and questioning the role played by the State, underlined the Special Rapporteur. The Abidjan Principles, organized around 10 fundamental principles, were a new tool for States and other stakeholders to use in their implementation of the right to education. States were required to regulate the participation of private actors in the education sector and ensure that educational services they provided conformed to educational norms and standards, as well as to ensure that the right to education was not violated and that education did not increase inequalities or injustice.

Interactive Dialogue

Concerning extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, speakers stressed that those responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi must be held to account, and called on Saudi Arabia to disclose all information available and fully cooperate with all investigations into the killing. Ensuring accountability entailed prompt, effective, and thorough criminal investigation into the killing, carried out in an impartial and transparent manner, said the speakers, and called upon Saudi Arabia to establish the truth and to protect journalists, since impunity perpetuated the cycle of violence against journalists and the media worldwide. The report’s indication that trial observation had been made conditional upon agreement not to disclose the details was concerning, some delegations noted, and asked the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on the faults she had identified in this trial which did not meet procedural and substantive standards. The delegations asked about measures to be taken to implement the recommendations put forward by the Special Rapporteur, and examples of best practices of national mechanisms for the prevention of and protection against threats and attacks on journalists and freedom of expression.

Several speakers questioned the report's methodology, pointing out that it singled out one kind of individual whose rights it defended. This led one to wonder whether other people’s rights were less valuable. The report’s hastily drawn conclusions were based on unreliable information; Saudi Arabia had sent an interim report on the killing to the High Commissioner for Human Rights and was taking all measures to adequately investigate the murder, one delegation said, and warned that the inclusion of this issue in international fora and the media prejudged the outcomes and could have an adverse impact on justice.

Saudi Arabia expressed its full cooperation with the Council and its mechanisms and said that because Ms. Callamard had breached the Code of Conduct of Special Procedures and had disrespected the full integrity of her mandate, she had been unable to do her work professionally. The Special Rapporteur had not personally participated in the investigation nor was she aware of the efforts of Saudi Arabia to conduct the investigation. Her conclusions were based on prejudiced and prefabricated ideas, Saudi Arabia said, and strongly objected to any attempt to remove the issue from the national jurisdiction.

With regard to the right to education, it was noted that even with substantial progress, at least 175 million pre-primary school age children and 262 million primary and secondary age children – one in five – did not have the opportunity to enter or complete school. In many countries, girls remained more likely than boys never to attend school. At issue was not so much the choices made by parents or individuals, but rather the decisions of States to delegate their responsibility to the private sector, thus contributing to turning what was a public good into a commercial product. Private educational institutions could play an instrumental and complementary role in supporting States’ efforts towards realizing the right to education and ensuring that the Sustainable Development Goal 4 targets for inclusive and equitable education were met, some delegations said, and asked the Special Rapporteur to share examples of effective monitoring mechanisms to assess the systemic effect of private educational institutions and best practices of successful public-private partnerships in the area of education.

More needed to be done globally to achieve universal education, especially for girls, refugees, and other minorities, if the world was to achieve fairer societies, remarked the speakers, and asked about inclusivity in education; the best practices in terms of public-private partnerships aiming to prevent discrimination despite the growing privatization of education; and what could be done to avoid that private institutions, whose course offerings and teachers were typically better, contributed to worsening inequalities. Could the Special Rapporteur comment on unilateral coercive measures taken by some States against developing countries and their impact on the realization of the right to education and provide her thoughts on the implementation of the Abidjan Principles in occupied territories?

Interim Remarks

AGNÈS CALLAMARD, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, responding to questions and comments raised in the discussion, said that the investigation had not been conducted in good faith nor in cooperation with Turkey and there was strong evidence that the crime scene had been cleaned. Furthermore, the chain of command had not been subject of an investigation, while the charges or the identity of those currently on trial had not been made public. Those were some of the reasons for which the investigation or the trial should not go forward, explained the Special Rapporteur.

In her response to the comments made by Saudi Arabia, Ms. Callamard firmly stated that the methodology she had used was indeed a tried and tested part of the Code of Conduct and reaffirmed that she had not relied on media reports to reach her conclusions. Explaining that the sources had not been made public because of their fear of retaliation, Ms. Callamard underlined that her mandate was to ensure non-repetition and to assist Governments in changing attitudes, behaviours and policies. She therefore stood ready to support Saudi Arabia in conducting a trial that met international standards, which could currently only be done in collaboration with international investigations, the United Nations, and Turkey.

KOUMBOU BOLY BARRY, Special Rapporteur on the right to education, noted that almost all delegations supported the Abidjan Principles, which represented, in a way, their validation. Ms. Barry said she in particular valued the questions that States had raised in the dialogue and in response, spoke about her experiences in Burkina Faso, and stressed the need for a minimum level of contextual analysis before crafting policies. Also important was the involvement of private and religious education providers, as well as parents, to define and decide what it was they wanted for their children.

Interactive Dialogue

Speakers condemned in the strongest possible terms the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and expressed concerns about restrictions reported regarding the investigative process. Some urged the international community to endorse the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations, and ensure the accountability and impartiality of the investigation. Others warned against any politicization of the killing and urged those present to respect the Saudi judiciary’s independence and safeguard its ability to conclude its proceedings free from any interference and without any pressure, including the international kind.

HATICE CENGIZ, Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée, speaking under the banner of a non-governmental organization, stressed that it was clear from the report that an international investigation must take place and that those behind the murder and the cover-up must face the consequences. “I want to know – as I am sure each of you would want to know about your murdered loved one – who did this?” she said, asking where his remains were, still hidden to this day. Underlining the need for action to prevent impunity in the future, Ms. Cengiz said that it was not only Mr. Khashoggi who had been murdered that day, but also any sense of democracy, human rights and freedoms.

On the right to education, speakers underscored that education was the corner stone of social transformation and economic development. And yet, children were often excluded from learning because of who they were or where they lived. Underlining the importance of considering the phenomenon of privatization of education from a human rights perspective, a speaker stressed that a plural educational system must reflect diversity in order to ensure the cultural dimension of the right to education, and that the specific educational needs of minority and indigenous groups were not ignored. A speaker drew attention to the manipulation of scientific freedom and research in the Arab world, as well as the supervision of higher education by Governments, which imposed their views of science and knowledge, for their own political purpose.


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC19.066E