Hears Presentation of Reports on Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti and Yemen
22 March 2018
The Human Rights Council during its midday meeting held a general debate on technical assistance and capacity building, after hearing the presentation of reports on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti and Yemen.
At the beginning of the meeting, Vojislav Šuc, President of the Human Rights Council, announced that he had been informed that the Staff Council of the United Nations Office at Geneva had called for a second full day of strike to take place on Friday, 23 March. In that view, he continued to engage with those concerned to ensure that basic minimum services be extended to the Council.
Presenting the reports, Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, noted that despite positive developments and constructive initiatives led by the Government of Afghanistan, the enjoyment of human rights remained elusive for the people amidst the protracted conflict. She urged the Government of Cambodia to take action to reverse the recent serious deterioration in the status of political rights and fundamental freedoms. In Haiti, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights remained gravely concerned about continuing allegations of human rights violations committed by elements of the National Haitian Police. In Yemen, she noted that minimal efforts towards accountability had been undertaken by all parties to the conflict over the past year.
Georgette Gagnon, Director of the Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the technical cooperation programmes, capacity building, and advisory services offered through field presences were grounded on consistent and fact-based analysis and engagement. Analysis was grounded on the application of human rights standards and the obligations of Member States under international human rights law. The approach allowed the Office to implement results-based programmes, permitting it to act as a key enabler, allowing States to fulfil their human rights obligations. Technical cooperation programmes were identified as central to State efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights.
Morten Kjaerum, Member of the Board of Trustees of the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights, reminded that the Fund was the second largest trust fund administered by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, providing financial support for technical cooperation in the implementation of international human rights standards at the national level. The Board provided policy, advice and guidance on technical cooperation in support of State efforts for the promotion and protection of human rights. The international community should boost the support to the High Commissioner’s Office at the same levels as the other key pillars of the United Nations.
Afghanistan, speaking as a concerned country, noted that despite the protracted conflict since 1979 and the difficult socio-economic and geo-political situation, the country had made enormous progress in the promotion and protection of human rights in recent years, as reflected in the recently adopted new Penal Code. Notwithstanding the progress made, the ongoing conflict and terrorist attacks continued to inflict immense suffering on Afghan people, and continued to violate their rights.
Cambodia, speaking as a concerned country, stressed that the process of promoting and protecting human rights and democracy should be conducted in conformity with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter. It reminded that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was under obligation to respect the sovereignty and domestic jurisdiction of States in delivering its mandate. Furthermore, civil and political rights should not be prioritized at the expense of economic, social and cultural rights.
Haiti, speaking as a concerned country, noted that the fact that the mandate of the Independent Expert had not been extended should not be seen as unwillingness to cooperate. On the contrary, Haiti was fully committed to its cooperation with the human rights mechanisms. The Government had undertaken steps in the field of economic, social and cultural rights, as well as political and civil rights. In order to revitalize the justice system, a workshop had been organized to combat prison overcrowding and combat impunity.
Yemen, speaking as a concerned country, said the report rightly highlighted the flagrant violations since the coup d’état in December 2014 against the legitimately elected President, and insisted that all violations were included in the reports. Recently, Yemen had been faced by flagrant violations at the hands of Houthi rebels. The international community must exert pressure on all militias to ensure they came to the table, and pay greater attention to the humanitarian situation in Yemen.
In the ensuing general debate on technical assistance and capacity building, speakers recognized the importance and centrality of technical assistance and capacity building in the field of human rights, as a way for moving forward and preventing risks and possible human rights crises. They highlighted that international cooperation was paramount for achieving existing standards and obligations. The Council had to work on promoting Governments’ openness to receive technical assistance, and to promote independent expert platforms for human rights. Speakers encouraged Governments facing serious human rights challenges to cooperate fully with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, reminding that integrating a human rights perspective in public policies was necessary for the building of equal and democratic societies in which the rule of law prevailed. The item on technical assistance should thus be bolstered. All countries had to be able to give and receive technical assistance.
Speaking in the general debate were Brazil on behalf of a group of countries, Togo on behalf of the African Group, Bulgaria on behalf of the European Union, Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of a group of countries, Sierra Leone on behalf of a group of countries, Netherlands on behalf of a group of countries, Jordan on behalf of the Arab Group, Germany, Pakistan, Egypt, Republic of Korea, Tunisia, Spain, Saudi Arabia, United States, Togo, Hungary, Australia, China, Iraq, Mexico, Japan, United Kingdom, Peru, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Georgia, United Nations Children’s Fund, Sierra Leone, Finland, Canada, Libya, Poland, Bahrain, France, Myanmar, Malaysia, Maldives, Costa Rica, Jordan, Netherlands, Thailand, Indonesia, Sudan, Ireland, India, Norway, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Azerbaijan and Sweden.
The following national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Independent Human Rights Commission (NHRI Afghanistan); Office for the Protection of Citizens (NHRI Haiti); Baha'i International Community; International Save the Children Alliance ; International Lesbian and Gay Association; Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Inc; Iraqi Development Organization; International Commission of Jurists; Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia, (in a joint statement with CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation; Freedom House and Front Line, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders) ; Alsalam Foundation; Human Rights Watch; International Federation for Human Rights Leagues; Human Rights Now; Advocates for Human Rights; International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM); International Buddhist Relief Organisation ; Organization for Defending Victims of Violence; Amnesty International; Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture; Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik; Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies; Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme; Association of World Citizens; Indian Council of South America (CISA); World Barua Organization; Guinea Medical Mutual Association ; Liberation; Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee; Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA; International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD) ; Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme; International Fellowship of Reconciliation; Center for Organisation Research and Education; Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul; ABC Tamil Oli; Alliance Creative Community Project; Association culturelle des Tamouls en France; Prahar; Association des étudiants tamouls de France; International Solidarity for Africa; Ius Primi Viri International Association; Lumos Foundation; Tourner la page; Association Thendral; Tamil Uzhagam; Le Pont; Association for the Victims of the world; L'Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie; Society for Development and Community Empowerment; Action of Human Movement (AHM); United Nations Watch; Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILF); Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle (COJEP); International-Lawyers.Org; Nonviolent Radical Party Transnational and Transparty; Association A.M.OR. and VAAGDHARA.
Speaking in a right of reply were Cambodia and Russian Federation.
The Council will next start taking action on resolutions before it is scheduled to close its thirty-seventh session on Friday, 23 March.
The Council has before it the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan and on the achievements of technical assistance in the field of human rights (A/HRC/37/45)
The Council has before it the Report of the Secretary-General on the role and achievements of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in assisting the Government and the people of Cambodia in the promotion and protection of human rights (A/HRC/37/64).
The Council has before it the Report of the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights (A/HRC/37/79).
Presentation of Reports
KATE GILMORE, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, presented reports concerning Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti and Yemen. Turning to Afghanistan, Ms. Gilmore said that despite positive developments and constructive initiatives led by the Government, the enjoyment of human rights remained elusive for the people of Afghanistan amidst the protracted conflict. In 2017, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan had recorded 10,453 civilian casualties. While that was a 10 per cent decrease overall compared with 2016, there had been an alarming increase in casualties from suicide and complex attacks. An increased number of children had been recruited by both pro-Government forces and anti-Government elements. The recorded numbers had gone from 88 in 2016 to 115 in 2017. A revised Penal Code had entered into force in February 2018, and it contained positive human rights provisions. It prohibited the recruitment and use of children by armed forces, criminalized the bacha bazi (the practice of maintaining a male or intersex child for sexual entertainment), and it included a definition of torture that was in line with the Convention against Torture. However, it was regrettable that the chapter on violence against women had been removed from the Penal Code.
As for Cambodia, Ms. Gilmore explained that the report described the activities taken to assist the Government of Cambodia with respect to the rule of law, economic and social rights, fundamental freedoms and the right to participate in public affairs. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had continued to support the professionalization of the criminal justice system, and to support indigenous communal land titling. It had also supported the drafting of a law on access to information, and supported civil society partners through the provision of grants in areas such as legal aid and human rights. There were notable improvements in economic and social rights, such as the introduction of social protection policies and an increase in the minimum wage. However, those rights were indivisible from civil and political rights, and the Office urged the Government to take action to reverse the recent serious deterioration in the status of political rights and fundamental freedoms.
On Haiti, Ms. Gilmore reminded that the Office had been supporting the preparation of a plan of action to implement the human rights mechanisms’ recommendations. The Office welcomed the appointment of a new Ombudsman in October 2017. Nevertheless, the high-level focal point to coordinate action on human rights within the executive branch still needed to be appointed. The Office regretted the lack of progress in that respect. The Office had also worked to strengthen the rule of law, including by helping to address the long-standing issue of pre-trial detention and prison overcrowding, and to promote accountability for human rights violations. The Office remained gravely concerned about continuing allegations of human rights violations committed by elements of the National Haitian Police. No judicial measures had been taken to hold accountable the members of the security forces involved in an operation in Grand-Ravine to “neutralize” gang activity in November 2017.
As for Yemen, Ms. Gilmore reminded that as the conflict entered its fourth year, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights continued to receive daily reports of conflict-related civilian casualties. Since 26 March 2015, the Office had verified that 6,100 civilians had been killed, including at least 1,491 children, and 9,683 civilians injured. The number of civilian casualties had dramatically increased during the past six months, peaking in December 2017 with 714 civilian casualties in that month alone. The actual number of casualties was likely to be far higher. The leading causes of civilian casualties were the airstrikes conducted by the Saudi-led coalition, and they were responsible for 61 per cent of all civilian casualties, with indiscriminate shelling and sniper fire in densely populated areas by the Houthis accounting for much of the remainder. Drone attacks by the United States, and other strikes affiliated with Al Qaeda and Islamic State had continued, mostly in southern governorates. The already unbearable suffering had been compounded by the malicious imposition of blockades and restrictions on imports and humanitarian assistance, which severely obstructed the availability and accessibility of critical life-sustaining goods and services, including humanitarian aid. The health system was broken, with less than half of all health facilities functional. The spread of suspected cholera had affected over a million people. Some 22 million Yemenis remained in need of assistance, and eight million were at risk of famine. Minimal efforts towards accountability had been undertaken by all parties to the conflict over the past year. The High Commissioner had appointed three members of the Group of International and Regional Eminent Experts on Yemen, who had begun a comprehensive examination of human rights violations. They would present their report to the Council at its thirty-ninth session.
GEORGETTE GAGNON, Director of the Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the technical cooperation programmes, capacity building, and advisory services offered through field presences were grounded on consistent and fact-based analysis and engagement. Analysis was grounded on the application of human rights standards and the obligations of Member States under international human rights law. The approach allowed the Office to implement results-based programmes, permitting it to act as a key enabler allowing States to fulfil their human rights obligations.
Technical cooperation programmes were identified as central to State efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights. A main pillar of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights would be to support the integration of human rights in sustainable development, including the right to development. Through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Member States had committed to leaving no one behind.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had developed guidance tools to support policymakers, statisticians, and data specialists in government agencies, human rights institutions, and civil society organizations to ensure the materialization of human rights in the context of the 2030 Agenda. Focus was placed on disaggregated data collection. Advising and supporting national authorities, civil society, United Nations entities, and other actors in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals was a core mandate of the Office.
Turning to Kenya, she said the Human Rights Adviser had assisted the Ministry of Justice to draft a National Policy on Public Participation that allowed citizens to participate in policymaking. In Cambodia, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had provided technical advice on the drafting of an environmental code that accounted for the needs of indigenous populations. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office had pursued efforts to strengthen national capacities to investigate cases of sexual violence.
Addressing structural causes of discrimination was an area of focus for the High Commissioner. In the Republic of Moldova, a new framework for disability participation had been drafted and approved. The Office of the High Commissioner in Guatemala had been supporting victims and State institutions in relevant litigation cases. One such case had led to the recognition of property rights over land that a Maya-Kaqchikel community had inhabited since pre-Columbian times. In Papua New Guinea, the Department of Justice, with technical assistance from the Office of the High Commissioner, was working on drafting legislation for the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution in accordance with Universal Periodic Review recommendations. Regrettably, sustainable development remained a distant reality for many peoples around the world. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights would continue making significant progress in supporting States and the United Nations system in strengthening implementation of recommendations from international human rights mechanisms in all regions.
MORTEN KJAERUM, Member of the Board of Trustees of the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights, said the Fund was the second largest trust fund administered by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, providing financial support for technical cooperation in the implementation of international human rights standards at the national level. The Board provided policy advice and guidance on technical cooperation in support of State efforts for the promotion and protection of human rights, including implementation of the Universal Periodic Review recommendations. The report covered the forty-fourth and forty-fifth sessions held in Geneva and in the Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa in Lebanon, with a short visit to the Office presence in the occupied Palestinian territory in March and October 2017 respectively. During the Geneva session, the Board had discussed the importance of the continued process of strengthening the thematic capacities of regional offices. Partners had announced clear expectations that the Office would continue to provide sound advice and had stressed the importance of enhancing the linkages between outcomes, recommendations and reviews, and the efforts on the ground to combat inequality and discrimination. The Board had found that the presence of the Regional Office in Beirut clearly added value on multiple fronts. The support provided on the development of the statutory framework for the establishment of a national human rights institution, commenting on legislation and supporting the strengthening of the complaints and investigative mechanism, had been found as critically important by all the actors with whom the Board had met, including Parliamentarians. The Board emphasized the work done in the region of building new partnerships to support State efforts advancing women’s rights. In response to the crisis in Syria, the Office had established a team which functioned as a virtual country office, operating from Gaziantep, Amman, Geneva and Beirut. The Board observed how the work of the team continued to be a key source for data collection, early warning and advocacy, and also for capacity-building activities with partners. The output that the team provided was an important example of the quality work that the Office delivered and how it facilitated the processes of many other key actors. The Board hoped that the regional office was seen as the expert point of reference. It hoped that the strengthening of the regional presence would result in an increase in its thematic capacity.
In the occupied Palestinian territories, the support received and the value of the work of the Office had been emphasized by all stakeholders. The Board had visited both the West Bank and Gaza. It had noted that capacity-building activities had increased significantly since the accession in 2014 by the State of Palestine to seven of the core international human rights treaties. The discussions had highlighted how the Office’s monitoring work informed the programmes of partners and positively contributed to tangible results achieved in the development of the national protection framework, engagement with the human rights mechanisms, and legal and policy reforms promoting human rights. The close monitoring of the situation of human rights defenders and of persons in detention had enabled the Office to get an accurate idea of the challenges that needed to be addressed and of the relevant institutions to work on the design and implementation of appropriate programmes. The Board felt that such examples could contribute to methodologies of mainstreaming human rights into humanitarian work in difficult situations to be applied in other regions. The cooperation, trust and credibility that the Office had managed to build over more than 20 years of presence, through numerous crisis situations and difficult times, was the result of consistency. In 2017 the Fund continued to provide resources for technical cooperation to build strong national human rights frameworks. However, there was a $ 1 million deficit. It was difficult to ensure sustainability of efforts if financial support was always fragile and under short-term agreements. Long-term strategic partnerships to support effective implementation on the ground were now more critical than ever. The international community should make history and boost the support to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to the same levels as the other key pillars of the United Nations.
Statements by Concerned Countries
Afghanistan, speaking as a concerned country, reminded that since 1979 protracted armed conflict confounded with socio-economic constraints and the geo-political situation had affected all aspects of life and well-being of Afghanistan’s citizens. Despite that, the country had made enormous progress in the promotion and protection of human rights in the recent years. The national constitution enshrined the country’s commitment to human rights principles and reflected the nation’s democratic aspirations. Afghanistan had signed and ratified seven core international human rights conventions, and had made significant progress in including their provisions in domestic laws. The new Penal Code, which had recently entered into force, provided a progressive legal framework aligned with most of Iran’s human rights commitments, including the prohibition of torture, reduction in the number of crimes to which the death penalty applied, recruitment of children by armed forces, and criminalization of several harmful practices. Notwithstanding the progress made, the ongoing conflict and terrorist attacks continued to inflict immense suffering on the Afghan people, and continued to violate their rights.
Cambodia, speaking as a concerned country, noted that the process of promoting and protecting human rights and democracy should be conducted in conformity with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter. It reminded that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was under obligation to respect the sovereignty and domestic jurisdiction of States in delivering its mandate. Furthermore, civil and political rights should not be prioritized at the expense of economic, social and cultural rights. Cambodia had granted all requested in situ visits by Special Procedures. It was a party to eight out of nine core international human rights instruments, and it had accepted 79.5 per cent of the recommendations made to it during its second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review. That active engagement and dialogue with all United Nations human rights mechanisms and the international community unequivocally reflected that the Government of Cambodia was committed to promote, protect and respect for human rights, to uphold the rule of law, and nurture democracy. For more than two decades, Cambodia had managed to achieve constant economic growth. What more could Cambodia do to promote human rights and more importantly, whose standards of human rights?
Haiti, speaking as a concerned country, said last year the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti had not been extended, however, this should not be seen as unwillingness to cooperate. On the contrary, Haiti was fully committed to its cooperation with the human rights mechanisms. The President had reasserted his cooperation with the rule of law. Steps had been undertaken in the economic, social and cultural spheres as well as political and civil spheres. In order to revitalize the justice system, a workshop had been organized to combat prison overcrowding and combat impunity. Extraordinary sessions had been held without assistance from juries in order to make up for the backlog. The court had started criminal hearings which highlighted the work of women as judges, prosecutors, and bailiffs. In March 2016 the delegation had accepted 188 of the 213 recommendations. The Government was working on presenting the progress of implementation measures. A working session had been held aimed at helping the most vulnerable parts of the population. Haiti had recommended an increase of resilience at the One Planet Summit. Regarding the environment, 14 plant coverage centres had been planned and six were already created. On the quality of health, medical training was being undertaken. The number of cholera cases had been reduced.
Yemen, speaking as a concerned country, said the report rightly highlighted the flagrant violations since the coup d’état in December 2014 against the legitimately elected President, and insisted that all violations were included in the reports. Recently, Yemen had been faced with flagrant violations at the hands of Houthi rebels. They had assassinated the former President and were keeping his body and refusing to bury him. They had forced open the doors of Members of Parliament and restricted their freedom of movement. They had restricted the media outlets’ work, and pillaged the offices of money-exchange businesses. They had pronounced a death penalty against the head of the Baha’i community because of his religious convictions. They had also pronounced such convictions against journalists. In December 2017, the Council had decided on the creation of a group of eminent experts to conclude a comprehensive examination of all abuses that had taken place. Yemen hoped this group would be supported in its work, so that it could in full independence and integrity establish the truth and enable accountability and national reconciliation. It also hoped the causes, as well as the consequences of the violations would be examined. The humanitarian situation in Yemen required greater attention. A global humanitarian plan had been launched with $ 1.5 million allocated. Yemen thanked all donors and hoped the international community would continue to meet the needs. A peaceful solution on the basis of the Security Council resolution 2216 was imperative. The international community must exert pressure on all militias to ensure they came to the table. Yemen called upon the Council to assist it to bring an end to the suffering of its people.
General Debate on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building
Brazil, speaking on behalf of group of countries, believed that resolutions on technical assistance and capacity building should provide countries with specific tools and the opportunity to enhance their institutions. Such tools had to include the supply of human and financial resources needed to conduct relevant training to executive, legislative and judicial branches as well as civil society. The participation of countries concerned was vital to pinpoint the exact needs.
Togo, speaking on behalf of the African Group, reiterated the importance of the Council in promoting international cooperation. Primary responsibility for human rights protection lay with States, which had to be offered adequate assistance. Assistance programmes had to entail the promotion of all rights, including the right to development, and had to be subjected to an independent evaluation.
Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed concern about the challenging security situation in Afghanistan and was alarmed by the increase of high profile terrorist attacks in Kabul. In line with resolution 36/31, all parties to the armed conflict in Yemen were urged to take all measures to ensure an independent investigation. Regret was expressed that access had not been granted to Georgia’s regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Antigua and Barbuda, speaking on behalf of Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, noted that those countries were indebted to the sponsors of the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund for their continued support. Without the Trust Fund, the countries would not be here and their voices would not be heard, nor would they have the opportunity to understand and make their contributions to important debates.
Sierra Leone, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, stressed that technical assistance and capacity building should primarily serve toward the prevention of human rights violations. All parts of the Council’s mandate were mutually reinforcing and contributed to the prevention of human rights abuses. It was vital to strengthen that preventive role through the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Netherlands, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, voiced deep concern about the grave human right situation in Yemen, where the crisis could only be solved through a comprehensive political solution. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should continue to provide substantive technical assistance and capacity building to Yemen’s National Commission of Inquiry. The Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen should complement work with the Commission and they should exchange ideas and information within their mandates.
Jordan, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, recalled that many Arab States provided significant contributions to support technical assistance programmes in the field of human rights. The Arab Group stressed the need for having predictability in securing funds for such programmes. Technical cooperation should play an important role in promoting all human rights, including the right to development. Country mandates should be based on the will of receiving countries.
Germany remained gravely concerned about the continuously aggravating crisis in Yemen, noting that the suffering brought to the people of Yemen, especially children, the elderly and the sick, was unbearable. Peace and security, development and human rights were the three pillars of the United Nations. One could not be had without the other. The responsibility to respect, protect and promote human rights existed for all States and in all situations. Where specific requirements existed, technical cooperation could assist in fulfilling that responsibility.
Pakistan believed that technical assistance had to include the principles of objectivity and non-politicization as well as national ownership, in order to bring desirable results. It also had to cater to specific socio-economic circumstances and national priorities to provide sustainable impact. The Council had to overcome politicization, as the idea of naming and shaming brought no concrete results.
Egypt underscored the role of technical assistance as the most important way to strengthen the promotion of human rights in a country. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action affirmed the role of technical assistance. Exchange of experience between countries was one of the best mechanisms for the promotion of human rights, without dictating polices.
Republic of Korea appreciated the role that the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund had played in the past three decades. Hope was expressed that beneficiaries of the assistance would be national human rights institutions and civil society. In 2017, the Republic of Korea had invested funds in the Universal Periodic Review Trust Fund.
Tunisia expressed its appreciation to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the work it had conducted in the promotion of human rights, supporting independent bodies and combatting violent extremism since its opening in 2011. The Council and the treaty bodies were the ideal forum to present joint cooperative efforts of States in the promotion of human rights.
Spain recognized the importance and centrality of technical assistance and capacity building in the field of human rights, as a way for moving forward and preventing risks and possible human rights crises. It highlighted that international cooperation was paramount for achieving existing standards and obligations. The Council had to work on promoting Governments’ openness to receive technical assistance, and to promote independent expert platforms for human rights.
Saudi Arabia reminded of the United Nations resolution on the role of the National Commission of Inquiry in investigating human rights abuses in Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition had recently launched a humanitarian operation plan for Yemen, totaling some 11 billion dollars. The militia did not want to seriously join the peace process. Saudi Arabia wanted to bring about peace in Yemen based on the United Nations resolutions.
United States encouraged Governments facing serious human rights challenges to cooperate fully with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. It urgently sought a political resolution to the conflict in Yemen, supported Georgia’s territorial integrity, and commended Afghanistan’s actions to strengthen laws against torture, criminalize bacha bazi, and increase women’s participation in the election process. It urged the Government of Haiti to strengthen the rule of law, reduce impunity and combat trafficking in persons.
Togo considered that technical assistance and capacity building constituted an essential pillar for making tangible and sustainable progress on the ground. It should be part of holistic strategies for ensuring the resolution of human rights issues and to provide guarantees of non-repetition. Technical assistance should be adapted to the needs of countries and their national contexts.
Hungary believed that working closely with States concerned and aligning capacity building efforts with their national circumstances was vital for relevant technical assistance. Hungary was deeply concerned about the continuing episodes of mob violence by armed groups targeting women and girls in north-western Central African Republic and urged the strengthening of the judiciary and establishment of the Special Criminal Court.
Australia commended the Office of the High Commissioner for the support it offered to States in improving their human rights situations. The sectarian violence in the Central African Republic was causing displacement and grave human rights abuses in Mali were a cause for concern. The dire humanitarian situation in Yemen was deplored and narrowing of the democratic space in Cambodia, including the detention of opposition leaders, was concerning.
China suggested that the Office of the High Commissioner should primarily focus on technical assistance and increase its budget. Principles of the United Nations Charter should guide technical assistance, including non-interference and respect of national sovereignty. Cambodia’s pursuit of national development and stability was supported and the international community was urged to respect that.
Iraq had field offices of the United Nations and specialized programmes across the country. The United Nations stood by Iraq while it had undergone change from totalitarian dictatorship to democracy. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq provided training courses for law enforcement agencies and capacity building for national human rights institutions. All transition countries should benefit from technical assistance.
Mexico recognized the important work done by the Council in providing technical assistance in the field of human rights. In Haiti, international cooperation could contribute to facilitating access to justice and improving detention conditions in prisons. It could also contribute to establishing a commission on truth, reconciliation and reparations. Mexico was concerned about the deteriorating security situation in Mali, and the escalation of violence in Yemen.
Japan stressed the importance of ensuring that upcoming elections in Cambodia were fair and credible. Dialogue among all political stakeholders in the country should take place. Japan aimed to create an environment where all stakeholders could exercise their rights without fear. Japan had continuously provided support to Cambodia since the end of its tragic civil war, and it strongly expected that Cambodia would continue improving its human rights situation.
United Kingdom welcomed Sudan’s international engagement on human rights, but voiced concern about newspaper seizures and the detention of hundreds of citizens, including members of the political opposition. The United Kingdom commended Georgia’s constructive cooperation and openness to discuss human rights challenges. It called for unhindered access for international organizations and monitors to all parts of Georgia.
Peru noted that international cooperation was absolutely key for the promotion of human rights. Integrating a human rights perspective in public policies was necessary for the building of equal and democratic societies in which the rule of law prevailed. The item on technical assistance should thus be bolstered. All countries had to be able to give and receive technical assistance. But that agenda item almost exclusively dealt with country specific situations.
Switzerland remained greatly concerned about the situation in Yemen where civilians were affected by hostilities. Deliberate attacks against civilians were grave violations of humanitarian law. Later this year a conference of donors would be held to garner funds for humanitarian assistance to Yemen. Combatting impunity was essential. All parties to the conflict in Yemen must grant access to experts from international organizations.
United Arab Emirates voiced concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in Yemen and violations committed against civilians. The United Arab Emirates was investing in security and infrastructure projects in Yemen. It was helping to rebuild schools and other civilian infrastructure destroyed by Houthi militants. The United Arab Emirates was also coordinating cooperation between Yemen and relevant agencies.
Georgia remained concerned over developments in eastern Ukraine and Russian-occupied Crimea. Georgia called for full and immediate access of relevant international organizations to the whole territory of Ukraine. Georgia was doing its utmost to defend democracy and promote and protect human rights. However, it was not possible to properly assist Georgian territories under occupation.
United Nations Children’s Fund commended the Government of Afghanistan for stepping up efforts to ensure access to education for out-of-school children in the country. The Fund urged the Government to provide children with full legal protection against violence, abuse and exploitation. The Government must also protect health workers in the country.
Sierra Leone noted that many States had expressed difficulties in implementing accepted recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review due to financial and technical challenges and had requested technical assistance and capacity building. However, such requests went unheeded, due to the lack of funding for this purpose. Sierra Leone appealed to donors to raise the level of funding of trust funds to enable further assistance to countries.
Finland was worried about allegations made by the Philippines against the Special
Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. International monitors had to have full access to Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Cambodia was urged to fully respect freedom of expression. A call was issued for all States to contribute to the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund.
Canada was concerned about the erosion of civil and political space in Cambodia and the Government was urged to lift the ban on the National Rescue Party. Canada welcomed the desire of the Haitian Government to combat corruption. Concern was expressed over humanitarian consequences of the conflict in Yemen, particularly the effects it had on women and children.
Libya insisted on the importance of continuing to deploy further technical assistance and capacity building to States which had required it. This would allow countries to implement recommendations and bolster human rights protection. The importance of partnership and cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner was reiterated.
Poland welcomed Georgia’s efforts to strengthen the rule of law and protect human rights. However, it was concerned about the human rights and humanitarian situation in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region of Georgia where some discriminatory practices based on ethnic grounds and restrictions on the education in one’s native language occurred. Poland was also concerned about the mass demolition of houses of ethnic Georgians in Tskhinvali region.
Bahrain welcomed the efforts of the Commission of Inquiry for Yemen to establish a national mechanism to investigate the crimes committed by the Houthi militia. It reiterated that there was a need for a political settlement to the conflict in Yemen on the basis of the Gulf Initiative and relevant United Nations resolutions.
France encouraged Haiti and the Central African Republic to strengthen the rule of law and transitional justice, and called on Libya and Mali to cooperate with United Nations human rights mechanisms. France called on the Democratic Republic of the Congo to facilitate access to independent experts to shed light on the crimes committed in the province of Kasai. As for Yemen, the Group of Eminent Experts should rapidly start its work.
Myanmar noted that technical assistance and capacity building should be provided in agreement with concerned countries. Concerned countries should be consulted at every stage of the provision of technical assistance. A one-size-fits-all approach would not work and technical assistance should be tailored to specific national contexts. Technical assistance and capacity building were essential to the prevention of human rights crises.
Malaysia said technical assistance and capacity building were a cornerstone of the Human Rights Council’s work. Properly implemented technical cooperation and capacity building efforts could result in long-term improvements in the human rights situation on the ground. Malaysia stressed that the Human Rights Council must avoid any politicization of those projects.
Maldives welcomed efforts to further incorporate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Maldives reaffirmed its commitment to reach the goals set out by the High Commissioner. Strengthening technical cooperation would enhance engagement, especially among the smallest countries in the world.
Costa Rica acknowledged the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in supporting national parliaments and human rights institutions. Costa Rica attached major importance to international cooperation in achieving development goals. The country was advocating for triangular cooperation modalities and said there was a need to maintain a detailed inventory of cooperation strategies.
Jordan encouraged the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue providing technical assistance in conformity with the needs of States. Jordan reiterated the importance of sufficient financial resources for the Office of the High Commissioner to achieve its goals. Jordan reiterated its support for the legitimate authorities in Yemen and welcomed United Nations efforts to reach a settlement in that country.
Netherlands reaffirmed its commitment to improving lives in Yemen. Over 13 million people needed lifesaving assistance. The Security Council resolution on Yemen last week was welcomed. All parties to the conflict bore responsibility for the crimes committed. The Office of the High Commissioner had welcomed the cooperation of the Yemeni Government with the group of eminent experts as well as the establishment of a national commission.
Thailand considered technical assistance as a crucial aspect of the Council’s prevention mandate. Technical assistance and capacity building equipped States to further protect human rights and it promoted national ownership of such processes. The role of the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund was recognized and the sharp decrease of funding had to be a concern for all.
Sudan said that the Human Rights Council provided effective mechanisms for the promotion of human rights. It was very important for countries to receive technical assistance and capacity building. The Government of Yemen was commended for cooperation with the group of eminent experts as well as the establishment of the national commission.
Ireland believed that the provision of technical assistance and capacity building was a fundamentally important tool used by the Office of the High Commissioner to support the fulfilment of its mandate. The Office of the High Commissioner provided invaluable assistance to the Government in implementing international human rights standards, including in the areas of the administration of justice, legislative reform and electoral process.
India said better organized capacity building mechanisms were essential to improving reporting related to the Universal Periodic Review process. India appreciated the ongoing review of the functioning of the Human Rights Council and called for a similar process for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Norway voiced concern over ongoing violence against women in Haiti. The high-level violence in Afghanistan was a major challenge to the human rights situation. Norway encouraged Afghanistan to end torture and the death penalty. Women must be included in all efforts to counter extremism and achieve a solution to the Afghan conflict.
Latvia noted that technical assistance was a crucial tool to improving the human rights situation around the world. Latvia was deeply concerned about the denial of access of humanitarian agencies to areas under occupation in various parts of the world. Denial of access raised serious concerns over human rights situations.
Estonia expressed deep concern over the humanitarian and human rights situation in the occupied territories of Georgia. Estonia regretted that occupying forces were violating the rights to life and safety. The situation in South Ossetia highlighted the need to grant access to international agencies to occupied regions in Georgia.
Lithuania said a positive example of technical assistance was work being undertaken in Georgia. Human rights were being violated as creeping annexation by Russia of occupied Georgian territories grew imminent. The authorities in charge must protect the human rights of all people under their control. Russia and the de facto authorities must grant unhindered access to humanitarian agencies.
Azerbaijan noted that technical assistance and capacity building should remain at the core of the activities carried out by the United Nations system, particularly by the Office of the High Commissioner. Azerbaijan shared strategic partnership with Georgia, condemned aggressive separatism, and reaffirmed its unequivocal support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders.
Sweden said that repressive measures and harassment of the opposition, media and civil society in Cambodia had caused a serious setback for human rights and democracy. The decision to dissolve the National Rescue Party was of particular concern. Time was running out for the upcoming Parliament elections to be free and fair. An inter-sessional briefing ahead of the elections would be proper for the Council to remain seized of the situation.
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission said that there had been progress concerning reform of the laws according to the international human rights conventions, fight against torture, and the realization of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. The continuation of the conflict and acts of terrorism were major threats to this success. Taliban and ISIS continued to commit human rights violations without accountability. The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission had continuously called on the Afghan Government and the anti-government forces to respect international humanitarian law and protect civilians as well as to prevent torture. More technical, financial and political support was needed.
Office for the Protection of Citizens (NHRI Haiti) said that the effective implementation of recommendations made by different committees and independent experts, including the Universal Periodic Review, was still sporadic. The Office for the Protection of Citizens welcomed the declaration 34/1 of the Council which had required the establishment of national mechanisms for the implementation of technical assistance. In Haiti, 11,800 persons lived in prisons in deplorable conditions. The Government was called to allow the national commission to combat trafficking in persons.
Baha’i International Community noted the case of Hamed bin Haydara, a Baha’i man sentenced to death on charges of espionage in Yemen. The group said the case was a part of a systematic refusal by Houthis, under the influence of Iran, to allow Baha’i people to freely practice their faith. The international community must urge Yemen to end its unfair treatment of minority groups.
International Save the Children Alliance noted that air strikes in Yemen continued to take a significant toll on civilians in Yemen, including children. Half of all health facilities were closed and cases of malnutrition were on the rise. The lifting of limits on access of medical supplies was essential. The group called on all parties to the conflict to cease hostilities and end human rights violations.
International Lesbian and Gay Association said that courts in Botswana issued rulings to allow transgender citizens to have their self-defined gender reflected in official documents. In Colombia, a decree was signed to create an open environment and combat gender- and sexual- based discrimination. Governments must continue to share best practices on issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain said Bahrain continued to deny cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Citizens continued to suffer at the hands of the Government. There was no cooperation with United Nations Special Procedures. The Government also refused access to the technical teams of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Iraqi Development Organization expressed concern over the ability of the Group of Eminent Experts to carry out a comprehensive examination of all alleged abuses of international human rights committed by all parties in Yemen. How could the experts be expected to provide technical assistance to a national commission that belonged to a government that was not only complicit in the abuses but also did not exist as an authority on the ground.
International Commission of Jurists said that the Cambodian Government continued to misuse the law to clamp down on political opposition and civil society. In November 2017 the Supreme Court had dissolved the main opposition political party and banned 118 of its members from political activity.
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia, in a joint statement with CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation; Freedom House and Front Line, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, said that civil society groups faced increased restrictions, creating a climate of fear and intimidation in Cambodia. This had escalated following the local elections in June 2017 and continued as the country was nearing national elections in July 2018. A series of legal and administrative measures had been at the core of the Government’s crackdown on civic space in Cambodia.
Alsalam Foundation raised concern about the deterioration of the conflict in Yemen and the complication it presented in fulfilling the technical cooperation programme outlined in resolution 36/31. The continuation and intensification of Saudi Arabia’s and the Emirates’ war efforts would clearly hinder the work of the Group of Experts.
Human Rights Watch condemned the closing of newspapers, control of the judiciary by the Prime Minter, and other serious violations of human rights in Cambodia. It welcomed the statement made by New Zealand and upheld by more than 40 States on the situation in Cambodia. The Council should not stand by idly as Cambodia descended into authoritarianism.
International Federation for Human Rights Leagues firmly condemned the Cambodian Government’s ongoing attacks against civil society and the political opposition. Following the dissolution of the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, and the arbitrary detention of its leader, Mr. Kem Sokha, it was apparent that the general election scheduled for 29 July would not be credible, inclusive or participatory.
Human Rights Now was deeply concerned about the devastating human rights situation in Cambodia. The Government had intensified its suppression of political opponents, journalists, human rights defenders and critical voices. In November 2017, the Supreme Court had dissolved the major opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, and the Government had harassed former members, and used the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations to dissolve civil society organizations.
Advocates for Human Rights deplored Cambodia’s narrowing democratic space, with the arrests of opposition leaders, the dissolution of the main opposition party, and the banning of 118 senior party members, including parliamentarians, from political life. The National Assembly had recently enacted amendments redistributing those seats and further tightening restrictions on voting rights and freedom of association.
International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) appreciated visits by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to Yemen and called on the High Commissioner to provide technical assistance. The group appreciated efforts to promote peace.
International Buddhist Relief Organization said Sri Lanka had suffered three decades at the hands of LTTE terrorists. By eliminating the terrorist threat, Sri Lankan forces had protected the human rights of all Sri Lankans. Over the past few years there had been an international campaign to hide the truth of what had happened in the country.
Organization for Defending Victims of Violence voiced its concern over the human rights situation in Yemen. The organization called on Saudi Arabia to carry out an investigation into war crimes committed by its forces. The Human Rights Council must consider suspending the membership of Member States convicted of gross violations of human rights by international human rights bodies.
Amnesty International said the Human Rights Council’s response to Libya fell short of what was actually required. Amnesty International called for the establishment of a body to conduct effective and impartial investigations in the country. All perpetrators of human rights violations must be held accountable.
Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture noted the increase of violence in Yemen after the appointment of the Group of Eminent Experts to monitor the human rights situation. The violence had to be brought to an end. The appointment of the Group of Eminent Experts, though delayed, was an important step to combat impunity. Protection had to be ensured for the Group of Eminent Experts.
Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik believed that the ratification of the Convention against Torture, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict were important steps toward gender equality, prevention of torture and prevention of child soldiers. Iran had still not ratified these instruments.
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies congratulated the Council and the Office of the High Commissioner on the establishment of the Group of Eminent Experts, as it was a necessary step toward ensuring accountability for grave violations of international law in Yemen. The Group was urged to closely monitor and report on the situation, with a view toward pinpointing individual criminal responsibility.
Conseil International pour le soutien a des process equitable et aux Droit de l'Homme said technical cooperation was very important. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain had committed the worst war crimes and crimes against humanity in a genocidal war against Yemen. The pretext they used to have this war was to bring back the legitimate Government. The organization called for technical assistance and capacity development for the steadfast people in Western Sahara who continued to wait for a response from the Moroccan Government.
Association of World Citizens was very saddened by the passing of Riham Albadr in Yemen, who had been trained here at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and was then targeted and murdered by the militias, as she was working to promote human rights. The Association welcomed the broad overview given on the situation on Cambodia. What could the Special Rapporteur do regarding this extremely concerning situation?
Indian Council of South America (CISA) was saddened by the passing of Riham Albadr of Yemen, who had been a human rights defender. Impunity in Yemen was a root cause and a consequence of the conflict. The Indian Council called on the Council to restore the work of judicial remedies in Yemen.
World Barua Organization was saddened by the fact that the United Nations employees had to go on strike for their basic human rights. The Council should provide technical cooperation to States. At the same time, States should utilize their resources properly. Some States failed to uphold their responsibility toward their own people. Sadly, the Council did not work on issues related to castes. The organization requested the Council to support the fight against caste-based racism.
Guinea Medical Mutual Association said technical assistance must not violate the United Nations Charter. United Nations resolutions on Sri Lanka were based on illegitimate reports and were violating the rights of the State. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States.
Liberation reminded the Human Rights Council that South Yemen had been a sovereign State and Member State of the United Nations. Houthi hostilities were leading to suffering and pollution in the region. The people of South Yemen were opposing violent groups. The Human Rights Council was urged to promote a two-State solution in Yemen.
Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee said people in north east India were suffering as the Government was neglecting the well-being of the region. Poor communities did not receive State assistance and communities had lost their assets to natural disasters that afflicted the region.
Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA said increased technical assistance was needed in India. The Government must undergo extensive human rights training as violations persisted across the country. The group had observed that social support institutions in the country lacked necessary resources.
International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD) emphasized the importance of technical assistance and capacity building for the promotion of the human rights of migrants in Libya. United Nations reports had demonstrated significant abuses of human rights of migrants, so training had to be conducted with law enforcement agencies and the international community was urged to allocate funds.
Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme attached great importance to technical assistance and capacity building to deal with the challenges and fulfil the objectives of human rights, particularly in developing countries, those in conflict, post-conflict and in transition. Regarding the situation in Sudan, technical experience with the country had been in vain.
International Fellowship of Reconciliation noted that technical assistance and capacity building in the human rights sector had been recognized by the Council as a key component of promoting human rights. When dealing with non-self-governing territories, the technical assistance was even more important, such as in the case of Western Sahara.
Centre for Organization Research and Education noted that many countries in the world were in need of technical assistance, especially for training of their security forces, policy makers and judiciary. India was one of those countries as it did not allocate sufficient funds to carry out capacity building of civil authorities.
Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul reminded that the victims in north and east Sri Lanka were urgently in need for the Human Rights Council to provide the necessary technical assistance and capacity building to protect their right to live in peace and to enjoy their right to self-determination. It called on the Council to hold a panel discussion on the implementation of the right to self-determination in the field of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights.
ABC Tamil Oli noted that neither the Sri Lankan police nor courts had shown any interest in searching for the truth regarding enforced disappearances. The Tamil people had no confidence in the Office for Missing Persons. That commission had no power to investigate and punish the offenders.
Alliance Creative Community Project stressed that Sri Lanka had not resolved the ongoing human rights violations, including the expropriation of Tamil lands and detention of internally displaced persons. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had to immediately establish a robust human rights monitoring mission in Sri Lanka, particularly in the north and east of the country.
Association Culturelle des Tamouls en France stated that the Sri Lankan Government should be challenged to make full disclosures about the investigations it had conducted into ongoing torture and sexual abuse by the security forces, and the outcomes of these investigations. Despite numerous inquiries and commissions, the structures of cruelty used for ethnic persecution, political repression, extortion and revenge had not been dismantled.
Prahar requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to increase its partnership with local partners, especially civil society. Governments were ruled by those who were in the majority but went against minorities. For example, in India the Government was openly going against religious and other minorities. It requested the Office to support local partners through the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation, in documenting human rights violations, and other efforts.
Association des etudiants tamouls de France said the Office of the Missing Persons in Sri Lanka was yet to become operational. Furthermore, the appointment of alleged war criminals in the Commission was very alarming. Member States must refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court or set up an interim Judicial Mechanism in a third country.
International Solidarity for Africa said the Tamils thanked the High Commissioner and his Office for his contribution towards promoting human rights across the world. Various reports submitted by the Working Groups and mandate holders on the serious violations of human rights in the north and east of Sri Lanka made it very clear that Sri Lanka must be referred to the International Criminal Court. It urged an immediate referral.
IUS PRIMI VIRI International Association said in Yemen, children were suffering the most as famine and disease rapidly spread, including diphtheria. This plagued the population as the health system was collapsing. The Association welcomed the initiative of the World Health Organization to vaccinate more than 2.7 million children under the age of 15 to protect them from infectious disease.
Lumos Foundation was working in Haiti to strengthen child protection and combat trafficking in persons. The organization stressed the need for technical assistance support to increase the effectiveness of such programmes. The national committee to fight trafficking in persons was facing significant obstacles in conducting its work.
Tourner la page said the Tamil people were in urgent need for the Human Rights Council to provide the necessary technical capacity to allow them to exercise their right to self-determination. The group called on the Council to appoint a Special Rapporteur to investigate the occupied Tamil territories.
Association Thendral said the Government in Sri Lanka lacked the means to prosecute human rights violations and was unable to meet commitments related to transitional justice mechanisms. Draconian policies were resulting in opaque arrests and abductions without legal basis. No serious efforts were being undertaken by the State to reform security institutions.
Tamil Uzhagam said Sri Lanka must establish a reconciliation committee, and transparent and impartial justice mechanisms. The Government lacked the political will for truth and justice mechanisms to be properly implemented. The ongoing failure of existing justice systems called for increased involvement from the international community.
Le Pont stressed the need for setting up permanent offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights given Sri Lanka’s history of failed and corrupt commissions to address the issue of disappearances. Victims remained sceptical of the potential of the Office for Missing Persons to meaningfully address that issue.
Association for the Victims of the world reminded of the May 2009 genocidal war against the Tamils by Sri Lankan military forces, killing more than 146,000 people in the Tamil lands in a period of only six months. It welcomed the Secretary-General’s referral of Syria to the International Criminal Court and noted that there should be an international criminal tribunal for Sri Lanka.
Observatoire Mauritainien des Droits de l’Homme et de la Démocratie underlined that the Sri Lankan Government had waged a war against the people of the north and east of Sri Lanka in which nearly 146,000 people had lost their lives. Eelam Tamils were being denied justice. The organization alerted the Council to the fact that Switzerland denied visas to Tamil victims.
Society for Development and Community Empowerment reiterated the importance of women’s rights, noting that the Australian Government appeared not to hear the concerns of women who had faced rape, abuse and harassment at the hands of the Government, such as the actions performed by the Sri Lankan Government, as they fled their home in search of hope and freedom.
Action of Human Movement (AHM) welcomed the report of the High Commissioner and thanked him for continuously providing technical assistance and capacity building. In his latest report, he had stated that the fulfillment of the transitional justice commitments made under the Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 had been virtually stalled for more than a year. The organization appealed to the Human Rights Council and its members to refer the situation in Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court immediately.
United Nations Watch referred to technical assistance and funds, and asked whether Oxfam may need technical assistance to protect women from its own staff? Amnesty International had cancelled an event hosted by the Jewish Community in London, alleging that it did not want to finance events by those tied to Israeli settlements. All this was reminiscent of a similar 1976 event with the Jews and Joschka Fischer. He asked Amnesty International to stop banning Jews from their own premises.
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILF) said women’s rights had been reduced dramatically since the start of the conflict in Yemen. The international community was obliged to protect women. More than 100 civil society organizations and activists had sent a message to call on all United Nations Member States to support the United Nations mandate to work on the cessation of hostilities in Yemen, lift the embargo, resume the political and peace negotiations, and ensure that women’s issues were reflected.
Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle (COJEP) thanked the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for all the information on funds devoted to combatting discrimination, particularly against Muslims in recent months. It had learned of numerous attacks on women wearing veils and Islamic cultural centres in Germany, France and the United States. It drew the attention of the Council to attacks which aimed at the exclusion of Muslims.
International-Lawyers.Org said the conflict in Yemen had quickly escalated into a humanitarian crisis. A number of epidemics were spreading across the country. During the years of the war, human rights violations had been commonplace. Women and children were particularly vulnerable and needed increased protection. Targeted strategies and international cooperation were needed to end the civilian suffering.
Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty said the main political opposition party in Cambodia had been dissolved. A Cambodian court had also taken action against certain opposition leaders and harassment on political lines persisted. Civil society organizations were concerned that upcoming elections would not be free or fair.
Association A.M.OR. said suffering often went on in silence. Education was the only path to an overall transformation in the lives of children, especially orphans. Transferring knowledge was an effective approach to empowering young people. Literacy strengthened individuals.
VAAGDHARA observed that India was not heeding international human rights obligations. Across many states in India, human rights violations at the hands of State forces persisted. Over 100,000 people were waiting for justice due to prevalent human rights violations, including cases of torture.
Right of Reply
Cambodia, speaking in a right of reply, asked whether a political rhetoric full of incitement, hatred, discrimination and calls for riots to topple a legitimately elected government, was entitled the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The answer was no. No single provision in any international human rights instrument proved these rebellions right. As in other democratic countries, no one was above the law. The Government of Cambodia was bound to enforce law and order indiscriminately and irrespective of the status of individuals or entities. Human rights defenders, political actors, or journalists were not immune from prosecution. Cambodia reiterated its commitment to participating and engaging with all United Nations human rights mechanisms on the basis of mutual respect and non-interference in accordance with the spirit of article 2(7) of the United Nations Charter. It ensured that it would do its utmost to guarantee that the upcoming July elections would be inclusive, free, fair and conducted in an orderly manner acceptable to all parties.
Russian Federation, speaking in a right of reply in reference to the unfounded accusations of some States, recalled that Russia did not have control or jurisdiction over the sovereign states of Abkhazia and Ossetia. These countries had an elected government, which, according to the expression of the will of the people, exercised full authority on their territory. Russia called on all to recognize this and to accept the new political realities in the South Caucuses and to uphold human rights and ensure that that was done directly by the authorities in these states.
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