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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS GENERAL DEBATE ON HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATIONS THAT REQUIRE THE COUNCIL’S ATTENTION

27 June 2018

The Human Rights Council in its midday meeting held its general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention.

In the general debate, speakers stressed that an enabling environment for civil society and in particular for human rights defenders was key to the promotion of human rights in all States.  That was why continued restrictions on civil society space and reprisals against human rights defenders, as well as the selective use of anti-extremism legislation to unduly restricted freedoms, was a worrying trend.  Concern was raised about the high number of executions in many countries, often following unfair trials and allegations of torture, and about the rise of chauvinistic nationalism, campaigns of hate against religions, and xenophobic and discriminatory policies, which led to targeted attacks against certain communities.  Several delegations objected to the politicization of this debate which often had little to do with human rights but was being selectively used to name and shame and for biased practices in the adoption of country specific resolutions.

Speaking were Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Bulgaria on behalf of the European Union, Venezuela on behalf of a group of countries, Belgium, Pakistan, Germany, Egypt, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Japan, Spain, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Venezuela, Cuba, Georgia, Ukraine, Australia, China, the Maldives, France, Czechia, Canada, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Russia, Ireland, Bolivia, Armenia, and the Netherlands.

The civil society organizations that spoke in the general debate included Procuraduría para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos of Nicaragua, Baha'i International Community; International Lesbian and Gay Association; East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project; International Federation for Human Rights Leagues; European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation ILGA-EUROPE; Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme; African Development Association; Together against the death penalty; Human Rights Now; Iraqi Development Organization; Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Inc; Alsalam Foundation; Presse Embleme Campagne; Conectas Direitos Humanos; Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies; World Evangelical Alliance; Christian Solidarity Worldwide; International Service for Human Rights ; Human Rights Law Centre; International Commission of Jurists; Amnesty International; Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia; VIVAT International (in a joint statement with Franciscans International); International-Lawyers.Org; Human Rights Watch; Center for Inquiry; Center of Action for Rural Development; China Society for Human Rights Studies (CSHRS); Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation; United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation; New Human Rigths Cameroon; Europe-Third World Centre; Guinea Medical Mutual Association ; Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights; Article 19 - The International Centre against Censorship (in a joint statement with Committee to Protect Journalists, Inc.; Freedom House and International PEN); International Educational Development; Organization for Defending Victims of Violence; Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture; Africa Culture International; Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development; CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation; International Muslim Women's Union; Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik; Ius Primi Viri International Association; Indian Council of South America (CISA); France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand; World Barua Organization; International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD); Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs; Alliance Creative Community Project; World Muslim Congress; Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters; Association culturelle des Tamouls en France; American Association of Jurists; Human Security Initiative Organization; Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme; United Villages ; Association of World Citizens; United Nations Watch; International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM); International Fellowship of Reconciliation; Victorious Youths Movement; International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations; European Centre for Law and Justice; Association pour l'Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi; Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR); Solidarity Switzerland-Guinea; Jssor Youth Organization; World Environment and Resources Council; Association des étudiants tamouls de France; International Institute for Rights and Development Geneva; Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul; Le Pont; L'Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie; Society for Development and Community Empowerment; ABC Tamil Oli; Tamil Uzhagam; Association Thendral; Agir Ensemble pour les droits de l'homme; "Coup de Pousse" Chaîne de l’Espoir Nord-Sud ( C.D.P-C.E.N.S); Association Dunenyo; Liberation; Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA; Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee; Center for Organisation Research and Education; Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy; International Career Support Association; Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle (COJEP); B'nai B'rith International; Réseau International des Droits Humains (RIDH); Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health; World Jewish Congress; International Humanist and Ethical Union (in a joint statement with Together against the death penalty and Freedom Now).and Minority Rights Group International.

Greece, Cambodia, Venezuela, India, Egypt, Iran, China, Turkey, Sudan, Brazil, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic, Japan, Cuba, Iraq, Pakistan and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea spoke in a right of reply.


Next, the Council will hear the presentation of the report of the Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises on the sixth Forum on Business and Human Rights, and start a general debate on its subsidiary bodies and mechanisms.


General Debate on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, brought to the Council’s attention a situation of serious concern for the Organization on rising intolerance against migrants and minorities, fed by racism and populism practiced by mainstream political parties.  The rise of modern fascism was chilling.  The demonization of Muslims had been underway for years and individual events might not grab headlines but collectively they had become a mosaic of hate against Muslims.  State sponsored and State sanctioned forcible expulsion and persecution of people for simply being Muslim was deplorable.

Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed that democracy, development and respect for human rights were mutually reaffirming.  Human rights had to be addressed in a global context through a non-politicized and dialogue-based approach with objectivity and respect for national sovereignty.  The Non-Aligned Movement emphasised that the Council was responsible for considering human rights situations in all countries in the context of the Universal Periodic Review.  Deep concern was expressed over the proliferation of the practice of selective adoption of country-specific resolutions in the Council.

Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, continued to call on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to end human rights violations.  China was urged to release Gui Minhai and all detained human rights defenders.  Cambodia was urged to release opposition leader Kem Sokha.  The use of excessive force by Israel during the protests at the Gaza fence was concerning.   Egypt and Pakistan were urged to stop restricting space for civil society.  In Russia, deeply concerning restrictions continued on the freedoms of association, assembly, and expression, as well as in Turkey.  In Venezuela, recent presidential elections had not been free or fair. 

Venezuela, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, expressed concern over the practice of selective adoption of country specific resolutions.  Concern was expressed over the proliferation of such practices which was seen as a flagrant violation of the principles of the United Nations.  Debates under agenda item 4 were undermining national sovereignty. The importance of the Universal Periodic Review was underscored as it was carried out within constructive dialogue. 

Belgium deplored the extrajudicial execution of thousands of suspects, including minors, in the context of the war on drugs in the Philippines, and called upon this country to review its decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute.  Of grave concern was the situation in Nicaragua, and Belgium called upon the Maldives and Cambodia to put in place measures conducive to holding independent and impartial elections.  The erosion of democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela was of concern, and the authorities were called upon to address the humanitarian needs of its people and end human rights violations.

Pakistan was worried about the rise of chauvinistic nationalism, campaigns of hate against religions, and xenophobic and discriminatory policies, which in Europe had led to targeted attacks against Muslims and other migrants.  The populist racist narrative was shaping the political order of India, said Pakistan, noting that the repression in occupied Jammu and Kashmir was the most reprehensible manifestation of unleashing violence by an increasingly communal and extremist State.  India could not hide behind global concerns on terrorism to justify its crimes in Kashmir.

Germany was concerned about the high number of executions in many countries, often following unfair trials and allegations of torture, and about the detention of journalists and human rights defenders in Turkey.  Recognizing Egypt’s challenges, Germany was seriously concerned about increasing repression, recent arrests of journalists and others exercising their right to freedom of expression, and reported torture in detention.  The selective use of anti-extremism legislation in Russia discriminated against minorities and unduly restricted freedoms. 

Egypt regretted to hear selectivity and politicization in this debate, which often had little to do with human rights, and said that this agenda item had been converted into a selective discussion on some States and the establishment of mechanisms without regard for national sovereignty.  Egypt was concerned about the impact on human rights of racism, race speech, xenophobia and incitement to violence, including against migrants, in Europe and Germany specifically.

United Kingdom was concerned about Russia’s decision to categorize Jehovah’s witnesses as terrorists.  Russia was urged to release Ukrainian political prisoners, and China was called on to release those detained for peaceful protests, and improve freedom of expression across China, including Tibet.  The situation in South Sudan was appalling, amounting to crimes against humanity.  Frequent use of the death penalty in Iran was worrying as well as constraints on democratic space in Egypt.  The Government of Sudan was urged to provide human rights to all.

Switzerland was concerned about discrimination against indigenous populations in Guatemala and called on the Government to offer protection to women and girls.  In Russia and Crimea there was discrimination against religious, ethnic and linguistic minorities.  In the Chinese province of Xinjiang, there were re-education camps for detention.  There were violations of international humanitarian law in Ukraine, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.  All attacks against civilians were condemned.

Japan said it had already stated its position on the human rights situations in Syria and Myanmar.  With regard to “North Korea”, it was of great significance that the abductions issue was raised at the United States- “North Korea” summit.  Concern was expressed that in the Asia Pacific region, there was a continuous repression of fundamental freedoms, including those of human rights defenders and minorities. It was expected that the United States would continue to show leadership for the promotion of human rights internationally.

Spain was troubled by the deteriorating human rights situation in South Sudan which had been obstructing humanitarian access to 7 million people.  The situation in Yemen had deteriorated with intensified military operations of the Saudi Arabian-led coalition.  In the occupied Palestinian territories, the scale of violence and violations of international humanitarian law was extremely worrisome.  Spain was following the situation in Venezuela, sharing the concerns of the European Union, and was preoccupied with the crisis in Nicaragua.

Republic of Korea expressed concern about human rights violations in Syria and indiscriminate atrocities against civilians.  It also worried that civilians in South Sudan continued to be killed and raped by Government forces.  It regretted that Burundi had denied cooperation with the mandate holder and urged the Government to resume cooperation with the United Nations and to restore space for civil and political rights.  It welcomed the momentum of inter-Korean dialogue and the agreement made at the inter-Korean Red Cross talks to resume the reunion of separated families.

Slovenia warned that the continuous human rights violations in Burundi affected all efforts for reconciliation, peace and justice.  It was also concerned about the reports on the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, especially continued and growing inter-communal violence in the Kasai region.  Slovenia remained alert about the current political and economic crisis in Venezuela, whereas in the case of Belarus, it opposed the continued use of the death penalty.

Venezuela rejected certain countries’ efforts to transform the Human Rights Council into a forum for threatening developing countries, stressing that colonial powers with horrific records of human rights violations were lecturing others on human rights.  The Council lost its credibility when its fundamental principles were undermined by such odious practice.  Venezuela voiced solidarity with the Government of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and it denounced the perverse political and media campaign against that country.   

Cuba noted that some countries sought to present themselves as examples of promotion and protection of human rights.  There was no mention of the increased xenophobia and intolerance in those countries.  Confrontation, selectivity and double standards were prevalent in the Council.  Cuba reiterated its solidarity with Venezuela and called for the cessation of all meddling in that country’s internal affairs and sovereignty. 

Georgia urged Syria to immediately implement Security Council resolution 2401 and stop the suffering of children from detrimental consequences of conflict.  Georgia was concerned about the dire human rights situation in Georgia’s occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, where kidnapping and torture, restriction of the freedom of movement, and ethnic discrimination, were an everyday reality.  Georgia called upon Russia, which exercised the effective control in those regions, to put an end to the gross human rights violations.

Ukraine drew attention to actions of Russia which neglected the United Nations Charter and committed grave human rights violations in the occupied regions of Ukraine and Georgia.  During the undeclared war against Ukraine, Russia and Russia-led illegal armed groups had killed more than 10,000 people and had forced close to 2 million persons into displacement.  In the illegally occupied Crimea, Russia maintained a policy of racial discrimination and cultural erasure against those ethnic communities that opposed the illegal occupation.

Australia stressed that the focus in Syria, where chemical weapons were being used, must be on reaching a political solution to end the armed conflict that disproportionately affected civilians.  The human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remained grave, while in the Democratic Republic of the Congo the Government must uphold its population’s civil and political rights.  In Yemen, peace through a political solution was needed to fully address the suffering of the people and minimise civilian hardship.

China was always in favour of mutual cooperation and dialogue in the field of human rights and adhered to a development philosophy of putting people at the centre, which was evident in China.  It was regrettable that a number of countries, which called themselves “human rights teachers” had made irresponsible remarks and interfered in China’s internal affairs, while at the same time showed rampant racism and xenophobia against migrants, refugees and minorities, particularly Muslims and Roma.

Maldives said that the current migrant and refugee crisis evoked a sense of collective shame.  The desperate plight of migrants all over the world had to be an issue that the Council took seriously.  Two major issues requiring the Council’s full attention were the issue of Palestine and the situation in Myanmar.  In Rakhine state, conditions remained ripe for ethnic cleansing.  The Council had to work towards ending the de facto system of apartheid in the State of Palestine, and take strong action in Syria.

France said that in Syria, the death toll continued to rise and only a political solution could bring a lasting peace.  In Yemen, hostilities were increasing, while Eritrea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had to preserve the human dignity of their citizens.  France was concerned over the harassment and arbitrary arrests in Russia, Bahrain, Venezuela, Iran, the Philippines, and Nicaragua.  Egypt had to respect human rights in their fight against terrorism, and in China, the authorities were called on to close the camps in Xinjiang.

Czechia noted that several recent elections had been marred by irregularities, including in Venezuela where persecution of the opposition continued, and in Russia where the arrests of participants in the recent post-election protests throughout the country continued.  The outburst of violence in Nicaragua was alarming and concern was expressed about violence in Burundi.  In the Philippines, the death toll of the war against drugs was appalling and the country’s decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court was worrying.

Canada was troubled by attacks on Internet freedom, the increase in State-sponsored network shutdowns, arbitrary or unlawful hacking of private information, and the use of digital technologies to intimidate human rights defenders.  In Russia, numerous new laws had tightened an already restrictive framework for Internet freedom.  During the protests in Iran, authorities had blocked Internet access on mobile networks, and in some regions, access to the Internet was blocked altogether. 

Iceland called on the authorities in Venezuela to immediately heed the High Commissioner’s call to accept a visit from Special Procedure mandate holders.  In Saudi Arabia, Iceland welcomed the recent steps to increase the ability of women to enjoy their human rights and called on this country to use its influence to end the war in Yemen.  Turning to Syria, Iceland called on the Government and other parties to end violations and abuses committed during the war which had decimated the country.

Finland said that although a great deal had been achieved in terms of human rights promotion and protection, much remained to be done.  Free thinking and speech were not being universally delivered.  Human rights defenders and others who wished to freely express themselves continued to be widely subjected to restrictions and reprisals in many parts of the world.  Finland would continue to emphasise the importance of free expression in accordance with human rights law.

Norway noted that the Council Members had to guarantee respect for human rights and lead by example, and in this vein expressed regret about the severe and deteriorating human rights situations in Venezuela and Burundi.  Saudi Arabia and Egypt, also Members of the Council, did not have a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders and the media.  All States, but particularly Members of the Council, should acknowledge the important and legitimate role of journalists and human rights defenders in the promotion of human rights.

Denmark remained concerned about the shrinking space for civil society and human rights defenders both in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.  It condemned the Syrian regime’s continued deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure, and the continued use of chemical weapons and cluster munitions.  Denmark called for the release of all arbitrarily detained persons in Bahrain, remained concerned about human rights violations in Iran, and called on Egypt and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to ensure respect for fundamental rights.

Iran believed that multilateralism was an imperative to the work of the Council, noting that unilateralism triggered adverse impacts on all affairs and escalated chauvinistic sentiments, with devastating effects on the United Nations system.  Iran reiterated the need to treat human rights in a fair and equal manner and expressed deep concern over the continuation of the naming and shaming approach and biased practices in the adoption of country specific resolutions.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was concerned about all human rights violations, including the separation of migrant children from their parents, the refugee crisis in Europe, and the attempts by Japan to glorify its sinful history during which it had committed crimes against humanity, including sexual slavery.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea demanded the return of 12 women abducted by the Republic of Korea so that they could be reunited with their families.

Russia said that the “list of bad guys” hardly ever changed in the Human Rights Council, while human rights situations in a number of States continued to be ignored, such as a paedophile ring in the United Kingdom, the cruel treatment of detainees in Belgium and in France, and a major spike in xenophobia and racial violence in Europe.  Russia also raised concern about the rise in neo-Nazism and nationalism in some Baltic States as well as in Poland.

Ireland stressed that an enabling environment for civil society and in particular for human rights defenders was key to the promotion of human rights in all States, and was worried about continued restrictions on civil society space and human rights defenders in Cambodia and Russia.  Ireland was deeply concerned about the continued use by Israel of law and force to expand settlements in the occupied territories, pushing Palestinians out of their land in violation of international law, and by increased pressure on Israeli and Palestinian civil society and exclusion of outside observers from scrutinising the Israeli occupation.

Bolivia called upon the Office of the High Commissioner to provide possibilities for constructive contributions of delegations when it came to addressing human rights situations worldwide.  The Council had to act in an objective, non-selective and non-politicized manner, upholding principles of national sovereignty, stressed Bolivia, and underlined that the United Nations Charter also noted that mutual relations between countries had to be on an equal footing.

Armenia affirmed the clear commitment of the new Government to deliver in key areas, including the consolidation of the rule of law, socio-economic progress, and the promotion of human rights. Sustainable peace remained a challenge in the region, said Armenia, noting that the status and security of Nagorno-Karabakh was its overarching priority, and reiterating its commitment to the exclusive peaceful settlement of this conflict within the internationally agreed format of the Minsk group.

Netherlands was greatly concerned about the human rights situation in Burundi, a Member of this Council, and appalled by the human rights violations and atrocities committed in South Sudan, which should fully cooperate with the African Union in the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms. The Netherlands was very concerned about the excessive use of force and arbitrary arrests in Cameroon and called upon all parties to comply with international law and engage in a dialogue to ease the prevailing tensions.

Procuraduría para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos of Nicaragua condemned the escalation of violence and disturbing crimes in Nicaragua, which was why it had supported the establishment by the Government of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts to investigate acts of violence, ensure the truth and identify perpetrators.  It welcomed the Government’s decision to invite the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for a visit.

Baha’i International Community drew attention to two countries whose citizens faced human rights violations on a daily basis: Iran and Yemen.  The Baha’is faced relentless persecution for their beliefs, said the non-governmental organization and called upon the international community to urge the Iranian and Houthi authorities to respect the human rights of all their citizens. 

International Lesbian and Gay Association noted that trans, gender non-conforming, intersex and lesbian, gay and bisexual persons were affected by multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination around the world, citing examples from Indonesia, the United States, and Lebanon.  In almost all jurisdictions, intersex persons continued to face unnecessary medical interventions carried out without their free and fully informed consent.

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project drew the Council’s attention to the situation in Tanzania, which increasingly resembled a case of needed preventive action.  It called on Member and Observer States to send the Tanzanian Government a message that such a trend should be put to an end.  As for Sudan, it needed political will to improve the situation of human rights and end impunity, rather than technical assistance. 

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues said that the upcoming elections in Cambodia would not be free nor fair because of the Government’s crackdown on all freedoms.  Cambodia should release all opposition leaders.  In the Philippines, there were increasing attacks on human rights defenders, including verbal attacks by the President himself.  The Council’s silence provided assurance to Egypt that it would face no consequences for the shrinking of democratic and civil space.

European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation ILGA-EUROPE noted transgression with regard to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, noting that the United Kingdom continued to deny same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.  The Council was reminded that in every country in Europe, intersex persons continued to undergo unnecessary medical interventions, carried out without their free and informed consent.

Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme expressed concern over the shrinking of fundamental freedoms and human rights in Kuwait, Bahrain, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia, where civil society continued to face pressures and human rights defenders faced attacks.  It was worried about the international community’s silence concerning the actions of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen, and stressed that the atrocities committed there must be investigated.

African Development Association objected to a Polisario member addressing the Human Rights Council in one of the Council’s previous sessions, as the Polisario was known for its misdeeds and torture.  The speaker compared the suffering of Mauritanians under the Polisario to what had happened in the Nazi camps, and said that the victims were looking up to the Council to seek redress.  That was why it was shameful that a Polisario member had been accepted in the Council.

Together against the death penalty, drew attention to countries that continued to resort to the death penalty for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, namely Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Brunei Darussalam, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen. 

Human Rights Now expressed concern about the attacks on political opposition, media and human rights defenders by the Government of Cambodia, which violated the country’s international obligations.  Human Rights Now called on Cambodia to end the harassment of the opposition media and to repeal laws that limited the freedom of expression. 

Iraqi Development Organization, drew attention to the plight of average Bahraini citizens who were subjected to systemic human rights abuses, and called on the Council to hold Bahrain accountable for those widespread and systematic human rights abuses, and to end the culture of impunity in the country.

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain Inc called attention to the deteriorating situation of human rights in Saudi Arabia, contrary to the announced reforms, noting that the Government ignored the repeated calls from Special Rapporteurs and United Nations mechanisms, and hid behind the fight against terrorism to justify torture and executions.  There was a distortion of reality in Saudi Arabia and the Council should address it.

Alsalam Foundation said that prisoners in Bahrain’s Jau Prison were living in appalling conditions, in violation of international standards for detention, noting that political prisoners were being denied medical attention, and prisoners were not being given safe drinking water.  Alsalam Foundation called upon the Human Rights Council address the human rights violations, and urged Bahrain to release all political prisoners.

Press Emblem Campaign raised concern about the harassment of and violence against journalists around the world.  In Afghanistan, 11 journalists had been killed this year at the hands of extremist groups, and in Mexico, journalists were fleeing the country due to the ongoing impunity for crimes committed against them.  All States should fight impunity for such crimes, urged the organization.

Conectas Direitos Humanos said that during a joint police-military operation in a favela in Rio de Janerio in Brazil, fire had been indiscriminately opened on residents, and also said that the forces had used three armoured combat vehicles and a combat helicopter that had recklessly shot from the sky.  That shameful operation reflected the current process of militarization characterizing Brazil.
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies said Egypt had been witnessing a wave of harassment targeted at civilians, journalists and rights defenders.  The latest wave of arrests was emblematic of a holistic crackdown on all forms of dissent and civil society activity in the country.  The Human Rights Council had failed to take action in the face of such human rights violations.

World Evangelical Alliance said that many Iranian Christians today were serving sentences for baseless accusations, such as acting against the Government by attending a seminar abroad, or for “training church leaders and pastors to act as spies”.  Those court cases had to stop.  The organization stressed that Iranian Christians were not terrorists and called upon Iran to stop prosecuting Christians under false and baseless accusations, and to respect the freedom of religion.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide was concerned that Cuba’s Office of Religious Affairs, which oversaw all religious activities on the island, was the main source of the violations of the freedom of religion, including the harassment and detention of church leaders. Cuba should ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, extend the protection of the right to freedom of religion or belief to all, and release all those arbitrarily detained.

International Service for Human Rights considered that the situation in the Council’s candidate State Bahrain, together with the current Members China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Venezuela, all warranted the Council’s attention.  Those States particularly targeted human rights defenders, including through arbitrary detention, judicial harassment, torture, and travel bans.  The organization urged States to demonstrate political leadership and lead joint Council action on the above-mentioned countries. 

Human Rights Law Centre said that Australia was indefinitely detaining 134 children in its refugee detention centre on Nauru island.  They had been detained for five years now, and 40 of the children, who were under the age of five, had spent their entire lives in detention.  Twelve people had died in the detention camps, and there were cases of children as young as 10 trying to kill themselves.  Those children and their parents deserved a future, said the organization and added that the Council must ensure accountability if the Australian Government continued its cruelty.

International Commission of Jurists underlined that a State rapidly moving in an authoritarian direction, with widespread and deepening repression of human rights, should be discussed as a situation requiring the Council’s attention, and not merely of requiring technical assistance and capacity-building.  An urgent example was Cambodia.

Amnesty International remained deeply concerned that killings of suspected drug offenders, many of which were believed to be unlawful, continued to be reported daily in the Philippines.  It urged the Council to mandate an independent investigation into those extrajudicial executions.  The organization also reminded that attacks on civil society, human rights defenders and independent journalism continued in Bahrain, Egypt, Russia, and Turkey. 

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia drew attention to the Government’s assault on democracy and democratic institutions in the Maldives, with the Government’s anti-narcotics campaign being used for political intimidation, and the new repressive legislation that prohibited the criticism of the Government in Cambodia. 

VIVAT International, in a joint statement with Franciscans International, called attention to the human rights situation in West Papua, which the Government of Indonesia had failed to investigate.  Gross human rights violations had been committed by the Indonesian security forces between April and October 2001 in Wasior, following the conflict between West Papuans and logging companies.

International-Lawyers.Org drew attention to the deterioration of Iraqi institutions since the illegal occupation of 2003.  The Iraqi electoral process was hindered by technological shortcomings.  Iraq must guarantee fair and transparent electoral processes.  Those found responsible of rigging elections in Iraq must be brought to justice.  Internally displaced persons must be guaranteed safe homes to return to.

Human Rights Watch regretted the self-defeating decision of the United States to withdraw from the Human Rights Council.  The United States was turning its back on victims of human rights violations around the world, including in countries that were members of the Council.  Clearly, the Council needed stronger measures to ensure that members complied with international human rights standards.

Centre for Inquiry was greatly concerned that the rights of atheists and non-believers around the world were under attack.  In Mauritania, the Government had adopted legislation that made the death penalty mandatory for blasphemous speech.  In Egypt, an atheist activist was being prosecuted by the State.  The international community must stand with atheists and non-believers.

Center of Action for Rural Development said the organization was made up of people trying to bring an end to violations committed in Tindouf.  No mention was being made of the fact that Polisario operatives were operating with total impunity.  Top ranking Polisario officials were those responsible for torture.  There was no freedom of expression and torture was used to silence dissent.

China Society for Human Rights Studies (CSHRS) noted the importance of ensuring and protecting the peaceful coexistence of different religious, and the relationship between religious persons and the Government.  China had been safeguarding religious freedoms and could offer best practices to other countries.

Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation said that Rohingya fleeing Myanmar had continued to suffer as refugees in Bangladesh.  Conditions in Cox Bazar had worsened.  Sanctions imposed by the United Kingdom and Canada against Myanmar were welcome, but more needed to be done to stop the violence.  The United Nations had to act according to lessons learned from their failed response in Sri Lanka in 2009.  States were called to use multilateral and bilateral means to address the situation in Myanmar.

United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation noted the horrific lives of Syrian children in refugee camps.  Most of them had never felt safe at school, and had never felt safe playing outside.  Children had paid the heaviest price in the conflict and their suffering had hit rock bottom.  Over 5 million children were in need of humanitarian assistance with almost half forced to flee their homes.  A generation was growing up without hope and without formal education.

New Human Rigths Cameroon was deeply concerned about the continuing deterioration of political and human rights in Balochistan and the escalating repression of civil society and the media.  The central problem was military operations and over 45,000 Baloch had been killed by State security forces since 1948 for defending their sovereignty on their land.  Out of those, over 5,000 persons had been killed while in the custody of security forces, and over 18,000 children had been orphaned.

Europe-Third World Centre voiced alarm about increasing human rights violations committed by transnational companies, such as Glencore headquarters in Switzerland, which routinely violated the rights of its workers around the world.  Subcontracted workers were especially susceptible to such violations.  It urged the Swiss Government to comply with its international obligations. 

Guinea Medical Mutual Association reminded that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam had abducted children in northern Sri Lanka to deploy them as child suicide bombers and civilian covers.  Parents resisting the abduction of their children had been killed.  Those responsible continued to live abroad with the blood of innocent children on their hands. 

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights reminded that as China had accumulated 15 pending visit requests from the United Nations mechanisms over the past five years, the Foundation strongly welcomed the High Commissioner’s call on the Chinese Government to enable all actors to contribute to all the international human rights mechanisms, and to cooperate with them in a spirit of open and mutual partnership.  Access to Tibet had to be unfettered. 

Article 19 - The International Centre against Censorship in a joint statement with Committee to Protect Journalists, Inc.; Freedom House and International PEN, expressed deep concern that the Russian Federation was pursuing policies that were significantly and rapidly encroaching on online freedoms, affecting not only the rights of people living in Russia, but Internet users everywhere.  A raft of regressive legislation would severely limit the flow of information online, and potentially give access to the personal communication data of anyone, anywhere.

International Educational Development, Inc was concerned about the conditions of the Hmong people in the Lao Democratic People’s Republic.  The Hmong continued to be extremely persecuted.  The issue had been raised with several Special Rapporteurs.  There must be a safe haven for the Hmong people in their traditional territory.  The situation invoked nearly all mandate holders.

Organization for Defending Victims of Violence said restrictions on freedom of speech and overall human rights violations were the standard practice of the Government of Bahrain.  Human rights activists were facing deteriorating conditions and unfair trials.  Wide-ranging restrictions were in place on most aspects of daily life.  The Human Rights Council was urged to establish a committee to study human rights violations in Bahrain.

Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture expressed deep concern over an Israeli draft law that would prohibit the photographing of Israeli occupation forces.  The act would be punishable with jail time.  This ran counter to international agreements protecting people documenting human rights violations.  The organization had documented over 100 violations against journalists and media members.

African Culture Internationale noted that hundreds of people in Burundi had been tortured or had been victims of enforced disappearance.  Civil society organizations had been dismantled.  Burundi was urged to end the practice of torture.  The Government was also urged to pursue overall better treatment of its population.

Maarji Foundation for Peace and Development said that a quarter of the world’s children lived in conflict or disaster.  Children were the most vulnerable victims of conflict.  Children not only faced violence themselves, but could also be orphaned.  The international community was urged to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to improve the situation of children in conflict-afflicted regions.

CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation expressed concern about the situation in Egypt where the authorities had arrested, interrogated and detained several activists, bloggers and journalists over the past few weeks.  It was also concerned about the deteriorating situation in Tanzania where the past three years had been marked by a worrying decline in respect for fundamental rights.  It called on Viet Nam to allow peaceful expression of dissent and to release all protestors.

International Muslim Women’s Union drew attention to the recent State violence in Jammu and Kashmir in India, which represented a crackdown on freedoms of expression and of assembly.  It called on the international community to stop the ongoing genocide of the Kashmiris by the Indian security forces and to stop the Indian aggression on Kashmir. 

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik called attention to the limitation of the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to freedom of expression, and the right to the independence of judges and lawyers in Iran.  It also noted that the Nelson Mandela rules were gravely violated as prisoners were held in harsh conditions and tortured.

Ius Primi Viri International Association deplored the ethnic cleansing and forced displacement practices by the Government of Myanmar against the Rohingya Muslims.  It also drew attention to impunity, arbitrary arrests, gender-based violence, and the lack of access to justice in Kashmir, noting that an international inquiry should investigate those allegations.

Indian Council of South America (CISA) said the United Nations Charter outlined the right to self-determination.  Several States were attempting to rewrite those principles to promote their own interests.  States were looking to take resources and territory from indigenous populations.  All people had the right to territorial integrity. 

France Libertes: Fondation Danielle Mitterand drew attention to the situation of displaced persons in Morocco and Western Sahara.  Violations of the economic rights of the people of the region were systematic and continued with impunity.  The Human Rights Council was urged to create a special mandate on the matter and other Special Procedure mandate holders were urged to visit the region.

World Barua Organization said indigenous people in India were suffering from misguided national policy.  Extrajudicial killings were a very present risk for indigenous populations.  The influx of illegal immigration was also threatening the existence of indigenous populations.  The Human Rights Council was urged to communicate with India and ensure the protection of indigenous people.

International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD) said the fight against terrorism was being used to condone infringements on human rights.  In Iraq, systematic human rights violations were committed against civilians under the guise of counter-terrorism campaigns.  The fight against terrorism around the world had overlooked international human rights law.

Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs reminded that it had consistently asked the Council to address the issues faced by the people of Gilgit Baltistan, such as forceful evictions and land grabbing.  Freedom of expression was brutally suppressed, affecting political activists and members of civil society.  Pakistan was using the anti-terrorism laws to silence dissent. 

Alliance Creative Community Project noted that Sri Lanka had the highest number of disappearances after Iraq in the past two decades.  The discovery of the mass grave in Mannar had been confirmed after exhuming human skeletal remains in an area previously used as the high security zone of the Sinhala military, which had institutionalized torture chambers and massacre sites attached to its military base in the area. 

World Muslim Congress regretted that India had not responded to the demand that human rights violations in Indian-occupied Kashmir be investigated.  It urged the Human Rights Council to establish a commission of inquiry as early as possible. 

Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters asked why India had denied international access to Jammu and Kashmir if it had nothing to hide.  India had committed numerous human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir, and had intensified military operations in that province.  There was an urgent need to address the ongoing human rights violations and deliver justice to victims.

Association culturelle des Tamouls en France pointed to the arrest by Indian forces of two individuals during a candle-light vigil to commemorate the Eealam Tamil genocide.  The arrest of Tamil activists by the Indian Government had become common practice.  The Human Rights Council was called on to urge India to abolish draconian laws that permitted such detentions.

American Association of Jurists strongly condemned the inhuman migration policy of the United States.  Washington’s policy was separating children from their families.  Migrants were coming from countries negatively affected by Washington’s foreign policy.  Criminal prosecutions continued and children were still being held in detention despite a recent order to end the practice.

Human Security Initiative Organization was encouraged by efforts in Sudan to bridge the gaps between different parties in the region.  A number of African countries were hosting huge numbers of migrants.  Citizens of host countries were being affected as increased funding was needed for social services.  Also, services in migrant hosting camps were deteriorating.

Rencontre Africaine pour la defense de droits de l’homme said a recent death sentence in Sudan highlighted the seriousness of the situation of violence against women around the world.  Women migrants were at particular risk of violence.  In the current anti-migrant climate, the organization condemned European policies that discriminated against migrant populations.

United Villages said that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir deserved the attention of the Council, taking into account mass human rights violations and abuses.  The High Commissioner for Human Rights had proposed a commission of inquiry on Kashmir and it had to be established to further investigate crimes committed.

Association of World Citizens said that for 12 years, various forms of severe pressure, including arrests, killing, exile and other forms of physical and psychological pressures had been systematically imposed on civilians by Iran.  Gratitude was expressed to the Special Rapporteur who had asked for lifting of the death penalty.  Effective intervention and support was asked from the international community.

United Nations Watch said that the United Nations kept on electing to the Human Rights Council countries which had committed gross human rights violations.  Since Vladimir Putin’s Russia was elected to the Council, had the situation of human rights in the country improved, or had more journalists been assassinated?  Since Venezuela was elected and re-elected, had the situation of human rights improved or had they arrested more journalists and political opponents?

International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) said that the use of firearms was always potentially lethal.  The Government of India had used metal pellet-firing shotguns against Kashmiri people in the Kashmiri valley since at least 2010.  Pellet-firing shotguns were blinding, killing and traumatizing hundreds of people in Kashmir.  School and university students continued to have learning difficulties.  The Council had to ensure that those pellets were not fired on civilians.

International Fellowship of Reconciliation said that Morocco was in flagrant violation of international law with its plundering of natural resources in Western Sahara.  Decades of intensive fishing were devastating the ecosystem.  The illegal exploitation of resources had resulted in massive demonstrations by the people of the region.  Protesters were met with severe jail sentences.

Victorious Youth Movement said human rights activists in Tindouf were being expelled and taken advantage of.  There were official reports from a number of international organizations exposing the real and severe violations of human rights in Tindouf.  Such violations could no longer remain hidden. 

International Youth and Student Movement of the United Nations said the right to self-determination was essential to the functioning of the human rights system.  The continued occupation of Western Sahara was a major concern.  The organization welcomed the readiness to undertake a follow-up mission to the region to gain a better understanding of the human rights situation.

European Centre for Law and Justice said the Islamic State’s systematic use of violence was leading to the wholesale destruction of Christians and other minority groups in Iraq and other extremist-controlled territories.  In order to allow for the resettlement of minorities, the United Nations must act swiftly to defend minority rights and declare these atrocities genocide.

Association pour l'Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi said that land grabbing was a leading cause for loss of land in Assam in India.  The land included agricultural land, affecting agrarian society.  Another issue had to do with illegal immigrants concerning land grabbing.  Indian citizenship was granted to illegal immigrants, increasing potential for conflict with indigenous peoples.

Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR) said that the human rights situation in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir was worsening.  Kashmiris were being killed, tortured, humiliated and jailed day in and day out by India’s occupation forces.  The ongoing genocide had intensified after the release of the United Nations report.  India was always trying to hide the crimes committed by its security forces.  Now was the time to establish a commission of inquiry on the worst human rights violations being perpetrated in Jammu and Kashmir.

Solidarity Switzerland-Guinea explained how Tamil Tiger activists had committed violence, contrary to article 4 of the Third Geneva Convention, back in 1990, killing hundreds of Sri Lankan prisoners of war, and they were still operating in Western countries.  Could the Human Rights Council do something to bring Tamil Tiger activists based in Europe to account for their international war crimes for violating the Third Geneva Convention with the killing of prisoners of war?

Jssor Youth Organization said it had launched an initiative known as the Beirut Declaration, providing space for bringing together views on religion and human rights.  In the context of the United Nations resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security, five pillars of actions were integrated to ensure that youth were included: participation, protection, prevention, partnership and reintegration.  The international community had to support such collaboration.

World Environment and Resources Council drew attention to the rampant rights violations perpetrated by Pakistan against Sindhi people.  Pakistani authorities were ruthlessly crushing Sindhi efforts to defend their land and resources.  The State had intensified efforts to spread religious fundamentalism and promote violence against Sindhi Hindus.  The Council was urged to act in the face of these violations.

Association des étudiants tamouls de France said that in May of this year 13 Tamils were killed while protesting pollution at a copper plant.  The scenes were reminiscent of a hunt.  The company implicated stood accused of jeopardising the health of community members.  The copper plant had faced resistance from residents ever since its establishment.  The United Nations must restore the right to freedom of expression and assembly of Tamil residents.

International Institute for Rights and Development Geneva drew attention to the serious deterioration of life in Gaza as a result of Israel’s ongoing blockade.  Gazans who peacefully protested the blockade were met with brutal force at the hands of Israeli forces.  A serious humanitarian crisis was inevitable if the international community did not act immediately to address the issue. 

Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul said Sri Lankan communities that had been affected by the brutal war continued to be afflicted by poverty, heavy militarisation, displacement and land grabbing.  The Government of Sri Lanka was urged to respect the right of the Tamil people who had suffered from discrimination and had been deprived of their rights.

Le Pont said that the proposed corridor in western districts of Tamil Nadu in India had raised severe human rights concerns.  There were fears of the destruction of prosperous agricultural lands, water resources, forests and unique mountain ranges.  Le Pont urged the Council to tell India to reconsider those plans.

L’Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l’Homme et de la Démocratie noted that Sri Lanka continued to violate international humanitarian rights with its genocidal acts.  The authorities were threatening victims who visited Geneva against sharing their experiences.  The Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka was still heavily militarized.

Society for Development and Community Empowerment reminded that the families of missing Tamils in Sri Lanka had not been consulted in the process of their identification and location.  The organization urged the Human Rights Council to explore possibilities to refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court. 

ABC Tamil Oli reminded that between June 2009 and 2013, more than 9,000 Tamil asylum seekers had arrived to Australia by boat.  Many had been sent back to Sri Lanka without their cases being properly assessed.  Those Tamils who had not been sent directly back had been put in detention centres, mostly on Manus Island and Nauru. 

Tamil Uzhagam said that the blatant violation of the human rights of Tamils had been continuing by the racist Sinhala Government in Sri Lanka from the fifties and until today.  In 2009, in the month of March, hospitals had been bombarded and Tamil patients had been killed.  Hundreds of thousands of Tamils were brutally annihilated.  A resolution had to be adopted to conduct an independent international judicial inquiry about these human rights violations.

Association Thendral said that after the end of the war in 2009, all those who had surrendered before the army had been made to disappear.  Why did the Sri Lankan Government try to set up a reparation mechanism prior to judicial mechanisms while the suffering mothers were sitting on the road side and fighting for justice?  The international community had to take necessary action and punish Sinhala soldiers who had committed war crimes.

Agir Ensemble pour les droits de l'homme denounced massive arrests and excessive use of force in Viet Nam, following peaceful protests against a draft law on cyber security, which was giving the Government executive powers in terms of Internet access and control.  The Council was urged to condemn the use of force in Viet Nam.  The Government was asked to respect human rights and freedom of expression.

Coup de Pousse Chaîne de l'Espoir Nord-Sud (CDP-CENS) said that the Council had to redouble efforts to establish a programme of human rights monitoring for so-called Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan and send a fact-finding mission because the international community had no access to those areas.  Grave human rights violations were committed by law enforcement agencies of Pakistan with impunity.

Association Dunenyo highlighted the alarming situation in the Tindouf camps, and expressed concern about the impotence of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to obtain permission to carry out a census in the camps.  Algeria’s refusal to register the population in the camps constituted a violation of international conventions and of the United Nations Security Council resolutions. 

Liberation called attention to caste-based violence, religious hate speech, and mob lynching in India.  Human rights defenders were labelled as terrorists and anti-nationalists, especially human rights defenders from the Dalit community.  Democracy in India was under attack, which was why the organization urged the Council to stop India from becoming a fundamentalist country.

Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA warned that many laws and acts in India violated the human rights of indigenous peoples.  Recently, the Ministry of Home Affairs had proposed an amendment to the Citizenship Bill of 1985, according to which foreigners from neighbouring countries would be exempted from the rules of the Passport Act of 1992. 

Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee warned of discriminatory and unlawful granting of Indian citizenship in the province of Assam and other provinces.  The people of Assam would become a minority and their rights as indigenous peoples were at stake.  The organization urged the Council to send a fact-finding mission to Assam. 

Centre for Organisation Research and Education explained how it was safeguarding the human rights of the indigenous peoples of India.  Assam had experienced waves of illegal immigration, mainly from neighbouring countries, causing demographic changes challenging the very existence of the esteemed Assamese identity and language.  The Government was also merging the Assamese script with the Bengali script.

Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy drew the Council’s attention to the violation of human rights in Pakistan, which included the use of brutal State force against civilians.  Media freedoms did not exist and thousands of people were killed extra-judicially.  Military operations were underway in three out of four provinces in Pakistan.

International Career Support Association stressed the problem of abducted children in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea which was becoming a serious human rights problem.  The Council had to establish a commission of inquiry on abducted persons to investigate the issue.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea kept on ignoring the problem.

Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle (COJEP) talked about the situation of migrants in France.  Illegal squats were opened to provide accommodation to migrants and young people who were in charge were dispelled yesterday morning in an extremely violent fashion by the police.  Those young people were actual soldiers of peace trying to assist migrants.  They were risking their futures, trying to ensure that others had the right to dignity.

B'nai B'rith International said that many countries at the Human Rights Council had been silent about the anti-Semitic outburst by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.  To effectively combat anti-Semitism, States had to, at a bare minimum, confront incitement to anti-Semitism.  Indifference to such incitement in the Middle East allowed it to become normalized and to spread like a virus.

Réseau International des Droits Humains (RIDH) drew attention to the violence, arrests and repression in Nicaragua.  It requested that special attention be paid to Nicaragua, and that follow-up be undertaken and technical assistance provided to the Nicaraguan authorities to ensure support for the rights of victims in the country.

Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health warned of the consequences of the full destruction of the Palestinian refugee camps by the Syrian armed forces and their allies.  These were inhumane violations against Palestinian refugees.  The organization therefore called on the Human Rights Council to investigate the brutal violations committed in the camps.

World Jewish Congress spoke of the increasing threat that Iran posed to the Middle East, and of the Iranian regime’s deteriorating human rights record.  Furthermore, Iran threatened the existence of Israel.  Yet it was Israel that the Human Rights Council chose to target every time.  The Council should place its focus where it belonged.

International Humanist and Ethical Union in a joint statement with Together against the death penalty and Freedom Now, said that Mauritania’s National Assembly had adopted an amendment to the Penal Code which made the death penalty mandatory for anyone convicted of blasphemous speech and sacrilegious acts.  The new law also provided a fine for offending public indecency and Islamic values.  Mauritania was urged to end the arbitrary detention of writer and journalist Mkheitir.

Minority Rights Group International said that in Iraq, thousands of internally displaced persons were forcibly returned just months before the elections.  Many internally displaced persons were coerced to vote and some were denied that right.  As Iraq was recovering from conflict, minority representation was essential.  In Egypt, military operations in the Sinai had resulted in a worsening humanitarian situation.  In India, there was a high level of violence facing lower caste groups.  Attacks were also targeting Muslims.

Right of Reply

Greece, speaking in a right of reply, expressed its strong objection to the Presidency of the Human Rights Council for allowing an organization to make repeated statements under several agenda items irrelevant to the agenda, including today.  Greece said the allegations made by the organization were unfounded, unhistorical, and unsubstantiated, and came at a time of historical agreement on the name issue between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, evidently aiming to create counter-productive impressions.

Cambodia, speaking in a right of reply, said statements made against it violated the rules of the Human Rights Council and only sought to discredit upcoming elections in the country.  The situation in Cambodia could not be discussed during the current session as it was on the agenda for the next Council session.  States and organizations that made the comments were violating the rules of procedure and Cambodia’s sovereignty.  The enforcement of the rule of law had nothing to do with the upcoming election. 

Venezuela, speaking in a right of reply, said it was the subject of false allegations by organizations that were unaware of the situation in the country.  An international campaign was seeking to subvert the Venezuelan State.  Neo-colonial powers wanted to exploit the natural resources of the country.  Venezuela denounced the fact that terrorist violence was being perpetrated by foreign powers in the country.  Countries of the north were demonizing Venezuela in the Human Rights Council.  Venezuela had the most modern and transparent electoral mechanisms available in the world. 

India, speaking in a right of reply, reiterated that it had outright rejected the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report mentioned by Pakistan.  That country sounded like a broken record and was desperately trying to divert the world’s attention from its own human rights violations.  The aforementioned report legitimized terrorism in the region.  Such false narratives must not be allowed to gain any ground in the Human Rights Council.  Turning to statements by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, India said the organization had no locus standi to comment on matters pertaining to India’s internal affairs.

Egypt, speaking in a right of reply, rejected claims lacking any credibility.  Concerning the functioning of civil society in Egypt, these allegations were rejected as well.  As regards to allegations of enforced disappearances, persons were arrested and tried under the national process and existing standards.  As for capital punishment, it was applied only when it came to worst crimes and it was in line with the international obligations of Egypt.  The statement by the United Kingdom was regrettable since any media censorship was prohibited.

Iran, speaking in a right of reply, rejected false claims by different countries, principally the United Kingdom.  The Canadian Government also had to clear its own track record before interfering in the concerns of other countries.  The harassment of girls and women in the United Kingdom and non-ratification of the Istanbul Convention were serious issues.

China, speaking in a right of reply, said that several countries had made false claims about China.  China had made outstanding achievements in its human rights development path and everyone was equal before the law.  China’s judicial sovereignty included its own way of handling criminal cases.  The Chinese Government had been promoting stability and it was cracking down on separatists and terrorists.

Turkey, speaking in a right of reply, said it had endured a terrorist coup attempt against its democracy.  It was its right and responsibility to protect its democracy and the rule of law.  The measures were taken in transparency and in accordance with international obligations.  The promotion of political rights, including media freedoms, were primary objectives that were guaranteed by the Constitution. 

Sudan, speaking in a right of reply in response to the United Kingdom, rejected criticism made by the United Kingdom, and reminded that the United Kingdom had killed millions of people to achieve its economic aspirations.  After the Second World War, its approach had extended to modern wars, killings thousands of people in Iraq.  The United Kingdom was in no position to criticize others when it exercised discrimination and racism towards other people.  Women enjoyed very high esteem in Sudan, and were highly represented in the Government.

Brazil, speaking in a right of reply, clarified that it was deeply saddened by the death of 14-year old Marcos Vinicius da Silva on his way to school recently.  The city of Rio de Janeiro had declared three days of official mourning following the tragic event.  The fight against crime and the promotion of public safety were key priorities for the Brazilian Government.  Public safety was indispensable for development and for the protection of human rights.  The federal intervention in Rio was an exceptional measure in view of the serious situation of public disturbances, and it had been taken with the consent of the State Government and the approval of the Brazilian Congress.  The underlying causes of violence and crime had to be addressed in a comprehensive manner. 

Philippines, speaking in a right of reply in response to Bulgaria on behalf of the European Union, Belgium, Czechia and Finland, regretted that they had misunderstood the Philippines’ judicial system and had continued to rely on biased and politically motivated sources of information.  The Philippines had a vibrant and well-functioning justice system, and it was committed to the rule of law.  It was simply not true that the case filed against the former chief justice had been due to political considerations relating to her opposition to some of the policies of President Duterte.  Domestic laws severely punished atrocity crimes.  The Philippines’ decision to pull out of the Rome Statute was due to the well-orchestrated campaign to mislead the international community by distorting the human rights situation in the country.  The Philippines had never ceased to engage with the United Nations and the Human Rights Council, and its mechanisms.  It only asked that the Special Procedures’ engagement be unbiased, objective, balanced, and open to constructive dialogue.

Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, clarified that the “North Korean” workers had decided with their free will to enter “South Korea” and enjoy the life of freedom like other South Korean citizens.  The Government of the Republic of Korea regretted that free movement in the Korean Peninsula could not be fully enjoyed.  It would make efforts to address the urgent humanitarian issue originated from the north-south division through smooth implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration. 

Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic, speaking in a right of reply, said a non-governmental organization had made unfounded allegations against the country.  No ethnic group in the country faced genocide.  The Government pursued a policy of solidarity and equality among all ethnic groups.  All groups had equal rights under the law.  The Lao People’s Democratic Republic was implementing measures to raise the wellbeing of all ethnic groups and a high number of Hmong people held top Government posts.  The non-governmental organization was urged to abstain from embarrassing itself further.

Japan, speaking in a right of reply in response to the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea, said it was a strong supporter of human rights around the world.  Japan did not have any laws discriminating against Koreans residing in the country.  It was important to overcome scepticism between Pyongyang and Tokyo.

Cuba, speaking in a right of reply, said accusations that it persecuted persons on the basis of religion were false.  Religious institutions were able to hold regular meetings free of any obstacles.  The Government promoted a favourable backdrop for religious freedom through the pursuit of common ideas and projects.  Cuba rejected selective and politically motivated attempts to discredit the country.

Iraq, speaking in a right of reply, strongly rejected all German accusations regarding the death penalty.  Iraq implemented the death penalty in line with international standards for the gravest crimes.  Iraq did not enforce the death penalty on people under the age of 18.  Germany must be aware of remedy means made available to victims of crime and must not lump all countries together when it discussed the issue of the death penalty.  Iraq urged Germany not to intervene in the legislation of other countries. 

Pakistan, speaking in a right of reply, regretted that India continued with its unfounded claims, noting that India could not unilaterally change the status quo.  India’s illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir could not be justified and its excuses of fighting terrorism could not hide the crimes that its security forces had been committing.  India was turning those areas into a ghetto.  The report of the High Commissioner was clear about it.  In Pakistan, terrorism had been defeated, while in India terrorists had been building political careers.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, said that Japan had committed heinous crimes during its occupation of Korea.  Japan had to address its past and present crimes.  Two years ago, 12 women from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were abducted by “South Koreans”.  “South Korea” had to unconditionally repatriate these 12 women, victims of abduction and it should put to an end to draconian laws.

India, speaking in a second right of reply, said that an independent judiciary and an active civil society were natural safeguards to the world’s greatest democracy.  The problem in Jammu and Kashmir was terrorism.  The Council was urged to ask Pakistan to address its terrorist financing and end illegal occupation as well as to stop targeting political dissidents.

Japan, speaking in a second right of reply, said that figures cited by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were erroneous.  However, Japan wanted to focus on extending and deepening cooperation with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Pakistan, speaking in a second right of reply, regretted that India had again followed a predictable pattern of response.  The report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights needed an honest follow-up.  The problem was with the image and not the mirror.  India should not vent its anger at Pakistan and it should be more retrospective.  Pakistan reminded India that the United Nations Security Council resolutions had stipulated a framework for the deployment of troops.  It called on India to implement those resolutions and to spare everyone from its useless right of reply.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in a second right of reply, categorically denied yet another misleading allegation by Japan.  It was a historical fact that Japan had committed crimes against humanity.  Unfortunately, Japan had not addressed those crimes against humanity.  The United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women had estimated that the number of victims by the Japanese military amounted to 200,000.  Japan should address past crimes rather than things that had nothing to do with the right of reply.


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC18/096E