22 September 2017
The Human Rights Council this afternoon concluded its general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms and started its general debate on the Universal Periodic Review.
In the general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms, many delegations were deeply concerned by the growing number of acts of reprisals and intimidation against people working with the human rights mechanisms. Speakers called on the Human Rights Council to undertake positive steps to counter such acts and investigate all allegations. Many delegations were of the view that the plight of people working in rural areas should be kept in mind. The rights of peasants could not be achieved without inclusive engagement. Speakers were particularly concerned that after a consistent decline, global hunger was on the rise again. They raised specific violations of rights in a number of countries and regions.
Speaking were Latvia on behalf of a group of countries, Brazil on behalf of a group of countries, Estonia on behalf of the European Union, Russian Federation on behalf of a group of like-minded countries, Ecuador on behalf of a group of 18 countries, Tunisia, on behalf of the African Group, Germany, Iraq, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, United States, China, India, Hungary, Egypt, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Brazil, Belgium, Norway on behalf of Nordic countries, Pakistan, Nicaragua, Maldives, Estonia, Iran, Ireland, Sudan and Armenia. The Food and Agriculture Organization also took the floor.
The following civil society organizations took the floor: Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) Asociación Civil, Khaim Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, Europe-Third World Centre, Canners International Permanent Committee, Colombian Commission of Jurists, International Service for Human Rights, Iraqi Development Organisation, African Regional Agricultural Credit Association, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Alsalam Foundation, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain Inc., Society Studies Centre, United Villages, Amnesty International, Commission to Study the Organisation of Peace, International Muslim Women’s Union, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, United Schools International, Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme, International Association for Democracy in Africa, African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters, Pan African Union for Science and Technology, Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme - RADDHO, World Muslim Congress, World Environment and Resources Council, Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee, Prahar, Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle, Liberation, European Union of Public relations, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA, Association pour l'Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, FIAN International e.V., International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Centre for Organisation Research and Education, Organisation pour la communication en Afrique et de promotion de la coopération économique internationale Ocaproce International, VAAGDHARA, World Barua Organization (WBO), International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty, Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR), International Buddhist Relief Association, ABC Tamil Oli, ANAJA (Lord replied), ASSOCIATION CULTURELLE DES TAMOULS EN FRANCE, Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul, International Solidarity for Africa, Association for the Victims of the world, Association des étudiants tamouls de France, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, LE PONT, Jssor Youth Organization, Alliance Creative Community Project, L'Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie, Society for Development and Community Empowerment, Tamil Uzagam, Association Thendral, Tourner la Page, Association of World Citizens, Africa Culture International, International Commission of Jurists, The Next Century Foundation, and International Federation of Rural Adult Catholic Movements.
China and Thailand spoke in right of reply.
The Council also started its general debate on the Universal Periodic Review.
In the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review, speakers favourably described the Universal Periodic Review, calling it transparent and objective, not selective. States also underscored how strongly they remained committed to the Universal Periodic Review. As the third cycle had been entered, effective implementation of previous recommendations was key for all States.
Speaking were Tunisia, on behalf of the African Group, Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group, Estonia on behalf of the European Union, Portugal on behalf of a group of countries, Armenia on behalf of the Francophone Group and Georgia.
The Council then met behind closed doors to consider its Complaint Procedure.
The Council will resume its public meeting on Monday, 25 September at 9 a.m., to continue the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review, followed by general debates on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories and on the follow-up to and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
General Debate on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms
Latvia, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, reiterated its commitment to advance human rights. The group called on all countries to extend invitations to Special Procedures and to fulfil their commitments. The group welcomed the increasing number of visits by Special Procedures, but was concerned about the non-cooperation or selective cooperation by States that undermined human rights instruments. It encouraged candidates to the Council to make concrete commitments to Special Procedures.
Brazil, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, recognized the mandate of the Human Rights Council to address the violations of human rights and to act to prevent them from happening. The work of the Council should be guided by the principles of impartiality and non-selectivity. It was crucial to ensure that consultations were carried out in a transparent manner. States should seize the opportunity to close the implementation gap.
Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, reaffirmed its commitment to human rights bodies and supported the independence of the mandates. The European Union called on all States to send invitations to Special Procedures and to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The European Union was concerned about continuing acts of harassment against persons cooperating with the United Nations.
Russian Federation, speaking on behalf of a group of like-minded countries, said that in a number of instances, certain thematic and country-specific mandate holders went beyond their mandates. There was no official procedure for the re-appointment of Special Rapporteurs. Sponsors of a resolution on cooperation with United Nations bodies and mechanisms would politicize and polarize the entire discussion.
Ecuador, speaking on behalf of a group of 18 countries, commended the efforts undertaken against hunger and poverty, especially the work of the intergovernmental Working Group on a declaration on the rights of peasants. That issue was important because 75 per cent of people that suffered from extreme poverty and hunger lived and worked in rural areas. A declaration on the rights of peasants could eradicate poverty and reduce inequalities. All Member States were called on to continue participating actively.
Tunisia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that the open-ended intergovernmental Working Group on a declaration on the rights of peasants supported sustainable economic growth for the continent of Africa, noting that the plight of people working in rural areas should be kept in mind. They could make an enormous positive contribution in terms of food security. Rural development could not be achieved without the full participation of women.
Germany welcomed the designation of Andrew Gilmour by the Secretary-General as senior official to lead the efforts within the system to address intimidation and reprisals against civil society. Germany was deeply concerned by the growing acts of reprisals, which fostered a climate of fear that tormented civil society participation. Intimidation and reprisals contributed to a shrinking civil society space and deprived society of public debate.
Iraq commended the outcome of the open-ended intergovernmental Working Group in its preparation of a draft resolution on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. The Government of Iraq supported peasants’ agricultural processes and was committed to raising the cultural level and awareness of peasants, especially of women through educational programmes. Iraq had rehabilitated and re-farmed lands destroyed by the war and it had implemented a number of development policies on the ground.
Cuba commended the work of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on a United Nations draft resolution on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. It urged the Working Group to continue its efforts and it encouraged all States to adopt the draft resolution. While the Special Procedure mandate holders should be allowed to continue their work, human rights operators could not be allowed to conduct operations against Governments.
Venezuela recognized the valuable work of the open-ended intergovernmental Working Group on a United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. Important studies had recognized the difficulties faced by peasants and their contributions in the fight against hunger. Venezuela reiterated its firm support for the adoption of an international instrument in that area, and it would continue to actively participate in the work of the Working Group.
Bolivia said that the draft declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas included an important right, which was the right to food. A dignified life in rural areas meant that people could be fed. The food chain was jeopardized due to price speculation, concentration by transnational corporations in production systems, and climate change. Bolivia had ensured food sovereignty for its people, and it urged all countries to support the work of the open-ended intergovernmental Working Group.
United States highlighted the importance of the participation of civil society in the Human Rights Council, noting that there should be no reprisals for their engagement with the United Nations. Several documents detailed ways of addressing those reprisals, but more should be done by the presidents and membership of relevant United Nations bodies to address them. The United Stated drew attention to the harassment of civil society by Venezuela and China.
China voiced serious reservations on the report of the Secretary-General on the cooperation with United Nations mechanisms in the field of human rights. Experts of special mechanisms were not judges of human rights and they had no right to fabricate cases of reprisal in order to exert pressure on Member States. One mentioned person named was not even a member of civil society but a known terrorist who was on an Interpol list. China regretted and rejected the allegations made by the United States.
India recalled that agriculture played a key role in the country where a great part of the population still relied on it for its livelihood. India had taken steps to increase food productivity in order to achieve food security, and it had taken measures to realize the right to biological diversity by protecting genetic resources and traditional knowledge. India urged the open-ended intergovernmental Working Group to take into consideration the existing international obligations in various conventions in order to consolidate its work.
Hungary was concerned that a large number of individuals cooperating with the United Nations continued to experience acts of intimidation, harassment, arbitrary detention and arrest, torture or travel bans. Intimidation and reprisals were one of the biggest challenges for the Human Rights Council. Hungary strongly condemned any acts of intimidation or reprisals against persons cooperating with the United Nations, noting that States should investigate all such cases.
Egypt was appalled by the report of the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour, which contained allegations about an alleged case of enforced disappearance in Egypt. Ebrahim Metwali had been arrested after the issuing of an arrest warrant for belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. He was also being investigated for belonging to a terrorist organization. Egypt rejected such unprofessional allegations.
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, reiterated that the Special Procedures should work in line with the principles of universality, objectivity, impartiality, constructive cooperation, and non-selectivity. The Organization also underlined the need for full transparency in the funding of Special Procedures. The rights of peasants could not be achieved without their inclusive engagement, which was why the draft United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants was very important. The Organization called attention to the pernicious impact of Islamophobia.
Brazil, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, noted that the Human Rights Council, as a primary global forum on human rights, should provide space for the consideration of human rights for all its Member States. While resolutions had proliferated, there seemed to have been diminished appetite for dialogue and engagement, which challenged the relevance and legitimacy of the Council. The political space had to be increased through formal and informal approaches, and in order to live up to its role, the Council should make better use of the existing tools and be mindful of its preventive mandate.
Belgium reminded that reprisals and intimidation against those who cooperated with human rights mechanisms continued at unacceptable levels. Belgium fully supported the important work of Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour in that respect, and it called on all States to cooperate with him. It welcomed the commitment of the current President of the Human Rights Council to ensure follow-up to cases of reprisal, but noted that a more structured and consolidated approach was needed.
Norway, speaking on behalf of Nordic countries, stated that Nordic countries were deeply concerned about all acts of reprisal or harassment against human rights defenders. They reminded that a recent report by the United Nations Secretary-General had condemned those reprisals, and had called on States where reprisals had taken place to prevent attacks on individuals and groups cooperating with the United Nations.
Pakistan believed that the Human Rights Council and the Special Procedure mechanisms must take a holistic approach to vulnerable groups. States had to play the role of regulators of the human rights system and develop policies in line with development objectives and national priorities, keeping in mind principles of inclusivity, transparency, accountability and equality. The international economic order and trading system needed to be more responsive to the needs of developing countries.
Nicaragua supported the United Nations draft declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, and welcomed the work of the open-ended intergovernmental Working Group. It pointed to links between traditional farming and global food security worldwide. The protection of the rights of that group was the basis for the protection of the rights of all humanity.
Maldives advocated the universality of the Human Rights Council, but noted that many delegates from least developed country or small island developing States attended the Council for only one session, to their disadvantage. The Council’s working methods could be made more accountable and transparent to all Member States by ensuring that the compilations of all comments were made available, and by ensuring that every State would have the possibility to comment on resolutions.
Estonia fully supported the call of the Secretary-General in his report for the non-governmental organizations’ community in New York that assessment criteria be applied to those organizations that wanted to apply for consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council in a fair and transparent manner. Estonia regretted the fact that acts of reprisals were often perpetrated by State officials.
Iran stated that it was necessary to provide access to rights and legal remedies for indigenous people. It welcomed the progress made in the work of the open-ended intergovernmental Working Group on a United Nations draft declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. The rights of persons living and working in rural areas needed to be enhanced with appropriate measures by all Member States.
Ireland was concerned by the rise of reprisals from both State and non-State actors against human rights defenders. It encouraged all States to protect those who sought protection and firmly condemned all acts of violence against such individuals. Ireland welcomed the Secretary-General’s report about acts of intimidation, noting that Member States should cooperate fully with him.
Food and Agriculture Organization was concerned that after a consistent decline, global hunger was on the rise again, affecting 11 per cent of the global population. It was of grave concern that the majority of poor people were living in rural areas. The Food and Agricultural Organization thus supported the extension of the mandate of the open-ended intergovernmental Working Group on a United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.
Sudan thanked the open-ended intergovernmental Working Group on a United Nations draft declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, noting that it was imperative to enhance the rights of peasants, notably through providing banking loans to farmers. Sudan encouraged farmers to become more responsible and efficient, and it offered them training. It asked the Working Group about actions needed to exchange good practices to address climate change and unilateral coercive measures, which impacted the agricultural sector.
Armenia valued the work of civil society at the Human Rights Council and condemned reprisals against human rights defenders who worked with human rights mechanisms. Nevertheless, Armenia noted that sometimes national human rights institutions were under close State scrutiny and thus not reliable. Armenia encouraged the United Nations human rights mechanisms to verify whether the information received by national human rights institutions was politicised.
Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions was concerned about reprisals against human rights defenders working with the United Nations which showed contempt for the United Nations system as a whole. It was necessary to bring perpetrators to justice. In line with the Secretary-General’s focus on the prevention of reprisals, the Alliance called on the Human Rights Council to dedicate a high-level panel to the threat of reprisals.
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) Asociación Civil commended the progress made on the draft United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and recognised its importance for justice, food security and land rights. The draft declaration would support small farming, and improve the quality of food and seeds. It urged the Council to hold further sessions of the open-ended intergovernmental Working Group.
Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture noted that the wars in the Arab region had led to the deterioration of the environment, having a negative effect on peasants, landowners and agriculture. The cost of agricultural tools, water, seeds and pesticides had increased dramatically, making the work of peasants and agricultural workers additionally difficult since they did not enjoy health insurance and social security.
Europe-Third World Centre commended the work of the open-ended intergovernmental Working Group on a United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, especially the inclusive process of the negotiations. There was a need for further protection of the right to land, seeds and biodiversity. The organization called on all States to support the draft declaration.
Canners International Permanent Committee stated that a number of conventions and treaties had been established so that the international community could protect minority rights against authoritarian rule. The prosecution of the Christian minority in Pakistan required the urgent attention of the international community. They were tortured, raped and burned alive, as well as prosecuted under blasphemy laws.
Colombian Commission of Jurists welcomed the work of the open-ended intergovernmental Working Group on a draft United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, which was particularly important for those living on the margins of development in Columbia after the signing of the peace accords. The Commission recognized the role of peasants in building a stable economy, production of food, job creation, eradication of poverty, and general development of the nation.
International Service for Human Rights called upon the Human Rights Council to discharge its legal and moral duty to address reprisals against human rights defenders, to implement the Secretary-General’s recommendations, and to devote sufficient time to discuss his report. It also called on the Council to ensure that States regularly informed the Council of the steps taken to investigate, prosecute and remedy cases of reprisal.
Iraqi Development Organization called for more interaction between Special Procedures and the authorities in Yemen, and urged Special Procedures to extend more requests for visits to that country. Visits were needed in the area of unilateral coercive measures, health, food, water and sanitation, cultural rights, and a democratic and equitable international order. The organization called on the Government of Yemen to accept those requests and to welcome all mandate holders by issuing a standing invitation.
African Regional Agricultural Credit Association drew attention to the human rights violations committed by Pakistan against the indigenous people of Baluchistan, noting that Pakistan had never been made accountable for many outrageous abuses, such as the genocide in Bangladesh and the harbouring of Osama bin Laden. Nowadays, the slow-motion genocide taking place in Baluchistan was also going unpunished.
International Association of Democratic Lawyers congratulated the Permanent Representative of Bolivia for her report on the rights of peasants and people living in rural areas. The draft declaration on the rights of peasants would be a milestone which recognised peasants as custodians of the world’s natural resources and their dynamic traditional knowledge. The Human Rights Council was urged to adopt that declaration without delay.
International Federation for Human Rights Leagues was concerned about the reprisals against human rights defenders in Turkey, particularly against Osman Isci who had been detained after cooperating with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Reprisals against Mr. Isci took place in a context where human rights defenders were increasingly harassed in Turkey under terrorism charges.
Alsalam Foundation drew the Council’s attention to the fact that not a single United Nations mandate holder had been able to visit Bahrain since 2006, in spite of frequent calls by the international community. The Bahrain Government had also postponed the visit of the Special Rapporteur on torture in 2012. Alsalam Foundation urged Bahrain to halt all forms of reprisals and to allow visits of all mandate holders.
Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain Inc. stated that in Bahrain journalists, activists, political and religious leaders, civil society representatives, and human rights defenders had been subjected to reprisals and attacks. The Government had severed connections between its civil society and international human rights institutions by imposing travel bans. The organization thus called on the Council to urgently adopt the draft resolution on reprisals.
Society Studies Centre expressed its deep concern about the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures. The organization welcomed the outputs of the workshop held by the Human Rights Advisory Committee and the two resolutions against unilateral coercive measures, as they had stated that coercive measures violated international humanitarian law.
United Villages highlighted the resolution by the United Nations General Assembly proclaiming a Decade of Action on Nutrition from 2016 to 2025, as the most important document for the global goal of receiving zero hunger. The State of Jammu and Kashmir, under Indian occupation, had had issues of food security for the past year. Businesses had been closed and due to the constant curfew, the apple industry had been affected. Farmers and traders in Jammu and Kashmir faced an economic crisis.
Amnesty International said it was alarmed about cases of intimidation and reprisals in 29 countries, including Bahrain. In one week in April 2017, Amnesty International had documented 32 human rights defenders and political activists who were summoned for questioning by the Public Prosecutor in Bahrain. Amnesty International urged the Human Rights Council to establish a mechanism to document reprisals. The system should be able to protect victims, but beyond that, it should be available publicly.
Commission to Study the Organization of Peace said minority rights were individual and collective rights under which people had the right to freedom of assembly and expression, the enjoyment of equal participation, the enjoyment of the right to education, and so on. Despite this, there continued to be States where such rights were encroached upon, by State institutions themselves. Such was the case of Pakistan.
International Muslim Women’s Union said that the Special Procedures were important mechanisms but it was astonishing how little cooperation States gave them. The arrogant attitude of the Government of India to the fact-finding mission to report on abuses in Kashmir was regretted.
Verein Südwind Entwicklungspolitik said that human rights protection was not merely a bureaucratic exercise and certain abuses deserved attention. For example the prisoners of conscience in the Republic of Iran, Atena Daemi, who had been denied hospital treatment; and Ehsan Mazandarani, who had been imprisoned despite being medically unfit, and others.
United Schools International spoke out against manufactured terrorism in the Kashmir Valley and the ethnic cleansing of Kasmiri Pandits. How long would the world, including the United Nations, ignore the brazen export of terrorism by the Pakistan army and the killing of the people of Jammu and Kashmir?
Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme reiterated the importance of the enjoyment of rights of indigenous peoples, seeing how they were becoming minorities on their own land. Members of Shia and Ismaili groups had been oppressed on the basis of their belief. This culture of oppression was being exported by Saudi Arabia against the Shia people.
International Association for Democracy in Africa stated that Shia Muslims in Pakistan had been subjected to massacres and bombings of religious places and economic deprivation. Members of the Shia minority faced regular sectarian attacks by extremist forces in Sunni-dominated Pakistan, which often resulted in their community members being killed.
African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters regretted that the Government of India had rejected an appeal by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to allow a fact-finding mission to Jammu and Kashmir. The people of Jammu and Kashmir were being tortured and killed and innocent women and children were being blinded, including through the use of chemical weapons.
Pan African Union for Science and Technology drew attention to the importance of the protection of the rights of minority groups, noting that all such groups should be reasonably accommodated in society and effectively integrated while preserving their identity. In Pakistan, religious and ethnic minorities, including Muslim minorities, were attacked and even killed by extremists and terrorist groups. Mob groups attacked them based on false blasphemy allegations.
Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme – RADDHO highlighted the negative impact of the non-repatriation of illicit funds on human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights. Ten years since the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples had passed, but little progress had been achieved regarding these rights, including access to land and health.
World Muslim Congress welcomed the Special Procedures Joint Communications report that highlighted cases that some governments had yet to respond to. It highlighted one case on the disproportionate use of force against student demonstrators by the army in India.
World Environment and Resources Council noted the deteriorating human rights conditions in Pakistan, especially for indigenous and religious minorities. The wide use of blasphemy law prescribing the death penalty had been used against religious minorities.
Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee noted that India aimed to eliminate the culture of indigenous peoples, while denying there were any indigenous peoples in the country. Indigenous peoples in India had been subjected to torture, extrajudicial killings and arbitrary detention by Indian armed forces. Indian authorities in north eastern states and Punjab were committing strong human rights violations.
Prahar informed the Council on a matter of great concern relating to safeguarding the human rights of the people of Assam in India. Illegal migrants had always been a cruel reality in Assam. Reports showed that in 22 districts there were illegal migrants. The Council was urged to pay attention to grave violations faced by indigenous people in Assam.
Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle recalled the importance of fostering participatory dialogue to move the process of democracy in Tunisia. Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle praised the engagement of civil society in Tunisia while regretting the setback represented by the increase of torture in prisons under the pretext of combatting terrorism.
Liberation was concerned that the Indian army and paramiliary forces for the past 60 years had been committing rape and murder of indigenous women in Manipur and other States in north east India. There was evidence of mass rape in north east India by the Indian army as well as sexual violence, killings and torture. Liberation urged the Council to communicate with India to stop using rape as an arm of war.
European Union of Public Relations welcomed the fact that minority rights were being increasingly recognized in the work of United Nations. In Pakistan, however, the rights of minorities were shrinking while girls and women were forcibly converted to Islam and abducted.
International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations expressed concern about the decrease of resources in the United Nations. More resources were needed to ensure the effective implementation of mandates. International Youth and Student Movement called for the constitution of a broad coalition to advocate for the increase of the United Nations budget in the interest of present and future generations.
Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA said the situation of indigenous societies of Assam had deteriorated since they had been forcibly merged with the Indian union. Imperialist and colonial India had encouraged settlement of foreigners from Bangladesh. The locals were denied employment and other opportunities. The Human Rights Council was requested to help give back the belongings of the north-eastern people to them.
Association pour l'Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi drew the Human Rights Council’s attention to the plight of nomadic tribes in India. Legislation continued to stereotype them into deep vulnerability. Due to this attitude, they were alienated from the process of development. Their traditional occupations should be protected.
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada said thousands of persons including rights defenders, journalists and travellers were being taken hostage by non-State actors outside their home countries. Since 2012, a Canadian citizen remained held by Taliban Afghanistan with his United States citizen wife and their two children born in captivity. State practice on consular protection was not in line with international obligations.
FIAN International e.V. said peasants were chased from their land, transformed into migrants and refugees. Europe had an enormous responsibility for peasants from around the world, who were affected by the impact of the European investment and trade policies. Securing access to means of production and local markets would enable all peasants to live from the ground and feed people in a healthy and culturally appropriate way.
International Fellowship of Reconciliation said the International Court of Justice had confirmed that the principle of self-determination of the peoples of Western Sahara was in line with legal norms. In its decision of 2016 the European Court of Justice had confirmed the sovereignty of these people and of Western Sahara. The exploitation of natural resources of the Western Sahara was illegal.
Centre for Organization Research and Education said with the Government of India’s refusal to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples, including the right to self-determination, was ongoing. It called on the Human Rights Council to call upon India to stop exploration in the Indian north east, stop all construction of dams in these indigenous people’s lands, and to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Organisation pour la communication en Afrique et de promotion de la coopération économique internationale Ocaproce International stated that Yemen had been marked with displacement and flagrant disrespect for human rights. The repatriated funds should be used for the reconstruction of the country, as this would be the only way to bring to an end the sectarian conflict and bring about any sustainable peaceful solution.
VAAGDHARA stated that India planned to build 200 dams across the country, causing additional suffering to indigenous peoples and violating the recommendations by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. The Council was urged to remind India to protect the rights of its indigenous peoples.
World Barua Organization (WBO) said that the community of indigenous peoples in India continued to suffer. The incidence of racist incidents in the north-east area of the country had risen in cities. The Council was urged to call upon India to respect the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and utilize the funds directed towards this population efficiently.
International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination said it went without saying that indigenous peoples needed protection and noted that they found it expensive to find redress in the courts against transnational corporations that violated their rights. States should take responsibility for violations committed by corporations where they took place.
Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty spoke up on behalf of the indigenous peoples of Gilgit Baltistan, a disputed territory in Pakistan. The Shia people that lived there were becoming a minority and suffered cultural and linguistic repression by the authorities of Pakistan.
Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR) said Special Procedures were an important mechanism and drew attention to the harassment of human rights defenders in occupied Kashmir. Many local leaders had had their passports confiscated by the Indian Government and many human rights defenders had been imprisoned. A fact-finding mission should be sent there.
International Buddhist Relief Organization said terrorists were the worst violators of human rights and in Sri Lanka, terrorism had been perpetrated by the LTTE. The United Nations Secretary-General had violated his own United Nations Charter by appointing a panel of experts as regards alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka. All the evidence presented by the panel was virtually unsourced and made up of lies.
ABC Tamil Oli expressed appreciation for efforts deployed to bring peace to Yemen. Peace could not come without strong justice and self-determination for the people living in the south of Yemen. Capital punishment had been was used against them when they sought self-determination. The Human Rights Council was called on to work with the people of south Yemen and to ensure there was a Special Rapporteur for self-determination to follow-up on the situation of people in south Yemen.
ANAJA (Lord replied) said the Tamil people were being forced to learn Sinhala as proof of rehabilitation. They were later released to their homes, which were an open prison. The reintegration of former combatants and other released detainees was challenging due to the military. The Sri Lankan military carried out an ongoing genocide against the people of Sri Lanka. Many high-ranking military were involved in war crimes against Tamils.
ASSOCIATION CULTURELLE DES TAMOULS EN FRANCE said Sri Lanka now occupied the second place in the table of enforced disappearances globally. More than 100,000 Tamils had disappeared since 1981 in Sri Lanka. The Human Rights Council was urged to pressure Sri Lanka to release the list of all persons currently being detained by the Government or its agents.
Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul said many civil society organizations had highlighted the discriminatory Prevention of Terrorism Act in Sri Lanka, which affected ethnic and religious minorities, especially the Tamils, and could be used to stifle freedom of expression and the right to dissent. Despite pledging to repeal the law, Sri Lanka continued to utilize it to discriminate against and marginalize the country’s ethnic minority through detentions and arbitrary arrests.
International Solidarity for Africa said Sri Lanka had failed to implement the consensus United Nations resolution. It took Sri Lanka’s President 18 months to formally create an Office of Missing Persons, as set out in the resolution and enacted by Parliament, without consultation with the victims. The genocidal Sri Lankan armed forces were involved in large-scale summary killings, abductions and enforced disappearances, torture and sexual violence of Tamil civilians.
Association for the Victims of the World stated that the Government of Sri Lanka had agreed upon various post war measures that would help bring a political solution closer and render justice to the Tamil victims, but these promises had remained a mirage. The armed forces had grabbed the land of the Tamils in the north and east and prevented them from resettling after ending the war eight years ago.
Association des étudiants tamouls de France urged Working Groups, Special Procedures and the relevant United Nations treaty bodies to jointly formulate an effective engagement with the Sri Lankan Government. This coordinated engagement was most relevant when dealing with the issue of Tamil detainees under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy stated that the United Nations resolutions on indigenous people had to be respected, which was particularly important for the Pakistani Government, which continued to violate the rights of people in Balochistan. Despite being one of the richest areas in terms of natural resources, its people lived below the poverty line and the situation in health and education sector was one of the worst in the world.
LE PONT said that Tamils constituted a nation in north Sri Lanka and had been victims of a genocide. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ investigation and report on Sri Lanka should be referred to the International Criminal Court. Lengthy delay in holding the Sri Lankan Government to account by entertaining their false promises undermined the very integrity of the United Nations.
Jssor Youth Organization said the Government of Bahrain was continuing to imprison and torture opposition dissidents and reprisals had taken place against human rights defenders who had engaged with the Human Rights Council. Human rights defenders should not be accused of terrorism.
Alliance Creative Community Project spoke out against reprisals against human rights defenders in Kanataka, India, and said that the Government of India could no longer be trusted not to oppress its political opponents.
L'Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie said that the practice of making human beings clean out latrines was widespread and these people were often Dalits. They faced discrimination in employment and education. The dehumanising practice of manual scavenging should be prohibited and the victims should be rehabilitated.
Society for Development and Community Empowerment said the Goondas Act had originally been conceived to punish bootleggers and drug offenders. But it was being wielded against social and political activists and human rights defenders, and the Human Rights Council was urged to prevail on the Government of India to adhere to the International Covenants.
Tamil Uzagam said the Sri Lankan President had spoken with United Nations Secretary-General Guterres. There had been a unanimous resolution regarding the Tamil nation, and the House of Representatives had adopted a resolution. The Human Rights Council was requested to support the formation of a Tamil nation by referendum.
Association Thendral said that when the Government of Sri Lanka had co-sponsored resolution 30/01, it had also signed an international convention on the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance. Victims felt that the Sri Lankan Government’s actions were carried out to deceive the international community on this issue.
Tourner la page said that according to the 2011 census, around 60 per cent of the Indians did not speak Hindi. There were 22 national languages in India. However, the Government had been trying to impose Hindi across the country. The Indian Government wanted to promote Hindi and Sanskrit through its official media network.
Association of World Citizens outlined that opening the European Union’s borders had made migration possible. This type of migration had nothing to do with nomadic culture and was linked to socio-economical contexts. In Switzerland, 50,000 persons were forced migrants with specific sanitary needs. Some of them had no identity papers. There was a need to ensure equal rights for all through an international framework.
Africa Culture International was concerned that rights were being abandoned by military operations, displacement of people and the arbitrary arrest and detention of the Baloch people. Inadequate justice mechanisms were enormous obstacles to prevent violations of rights.
International Commission of Jurists highlighted the case of a detained lawyer and human rights defender in Thailand who had been providing free legal assistance to those involved in protests in 2014. In April four Special Rapporteurs sent a joint note on her case to the Thai authorities, with no results. The organization called on Thailand to promptly resolve this case.
The Next Century Foundation noted the failure of the Council to engage effectively with some key States which had been accused of not living up to the requirements of the Council. The double standards on the part of the Council competed with pomposity on the part of those criticized. Bangladesh and India should sign the Refugee Convention to ensure their compliance with international law and human rights standards on the treatment of refugees.
International Federation of Rural Adult Catholic Movements stated that millions of peasants had been deprived of their human rights and yet the international community had no instrument to address their plight. The fact that the Council had established an intergovernmental Working Group to draft the resolution on the rights of peasant was appreciated and the Ambassador of Bolivia was particularly acknowledged for her work.
Right of Reply
China, speaking in a right of reply, said that it firmly rejected an accusation made by a non-government organization. China was a country that observed the rule of law. It did not accept outside interference in its judicial system. The prisoner who had died had received good medical treatment and the case had nothing to do with human rights.
Thailand, speaking in a right of reply, said that the allegations made by one non-government organization were false and the arrested person was not detained because she was a human rights defender but for other reasons. Thailand supported human rights defenders and stood against reprisals against them.
General Debate on the Universal Periodic Review
Tunisia, speaking on behalf the African Group, reiterated its support for human rights but said that mechanisms should work in a non-confrontational and non-politicized manner. The African Group recalled that the Universal Periodic Review mechanism was solidly set forth in the institution-building of the Council. Any changes to the mechanism could not be envisaged without the widest possible consultation. It was important to state that the implementation of recommendations depended on capacity building and efforts should be made to provide necessary technical assistance, especially to least developed countries and small island developing States.
Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the Universal Periodic Review mechanism was transparent, objective, and not selective. The Arab Group rejected all efforts to underestimate the Universal Periodic Review or turn it into a hijacked tool at the hands of a few countries who wanted to taint its reputation. The role of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the provision of technical assistance was appreciated, and such efforts should be intensified for the countries requesting technical assistance and capacity-building.
Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union remained committed to the Universal Periodic Review. As the third cycle had been entered, effective implementation of previous recommendations was key for all States. Involvement of all segments of national societies must be further encouraged. The valuable contribution of non-governmental organizations could not be overstated. The European Union fully supported the Universal Periodic Review and all important contributions to the process.
Portugal, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said the delivery of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development should be ensured to assure no one was left behind. The success of the Universal Periodic Review would be measured by its effective implementation on the ground. Voluntary national mechanisms should be encouraged.
Armenia, speaking on behalf of the Francophone Group, stated that the third cycle should focus on the impact created at the institutional level. The experience of many Francophone countries showed that it would be useful for the third cycle to have reorganized recommendations from the previous two cycles in such a way that it could be shared as a best practice. In the first two cycles organizations helped countries to prepare for review. Four francophone seminars were organized to provide technical assistance.
Georgia believed that effective implementation of the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review was crucial. Since submitting the report to the Council, they had worked on the recommendations and in July 2017 Parliament had amended its oversight role in monitoring international human rights obligations, including the Universal Periodic Review recommendations. A dialogue was opened on many issues and concrete recommendations were later issued from Parliament to the executive branch. As a result, work on the Child Code was underway.
For use of the information media; not an official record