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

20 September 2017

The Human Rights Council in a midday meeting concluded its general debate on human
rights situations requiring the Council’s attention.

The first part of the general debate was held on 19 September and can be seen here.

Speakers taking the floor during that segment drew the attention of the Human Rights Council to human rights violations across a wide geographic range and across numerous categories of human rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of belief and cultural rights. Several speakers pleaded with the Human Rights Council to speak out against situations affecting ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities, while others called for the implementation of various already agreed upon mechanisms and institutions.

The following non-governmental organizations took the floor: 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, Action Internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs, Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty, International-Lawyers.Org, Victorious Youths Movement, Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR), International Buddhist Relief Association, Association Dunenyo, "Coup de Pousse" Chaîne de l’Espoir Nord-Sud (C.D.P-C.E.N.S), 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, Cameroon Youths and Students Forum for Peace, Alliance Creative Community Project, Centre for Inquiry, Helios Life Association, Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations (in a joint statement), l’Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l’Homme et de la Démocratie, Society for Development and Community Empowerment, Tamil Uzhagam, Association Thendral, Tourner la page, Kiyana Karaj Group, Press Emblem Campaign, African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters, The Association of World Citizens, Africa Culture International, Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”, Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims, International Career Support Association and The Next Century Foundation.

Cuba and Thailand spoke in exercise of the right to reply.

The Council will next hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples as well as with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

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

Organisation pour la communication en Afrique et de promotion de la coopération économique internationale OCAPROCE International expressed concern about the situation of children suffering from poverty and natural disasters. The Human Rights Council was called on to pay attention to the worst migrant crisis facing humanity. People were seeking a better life, and there should be solidarity with migrants and especially children among them. It highlighted the violations of human rights of the Saharawi people.

VAAGDHARA said extrajudicial executions were being committed by the armed forces in India. Victims of land mines were waiting for rehabilitation in Manipur. Since 2009, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings and others had visited and asked for the Armed Forces Special Powers Act to be repealed. The Human Rights Council was urged to establish a hybrid court to investigate crimes by India’s armed forces.

World Barua Organization (WBO) drew the attention of the Human Rights Council to the situation of human rights in the Maharashtra region of India. Tribes in that area were destitute and there was high child mortality. Malnutrition was a serious problem. The Human Rights Council was urged to look into the issue and hold stakeholders in the region accountable for the right to life of the tribal community.

International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, in a joint statement, highlighted the massive violations of the population of Mosul, where 40,000 civilians had died. This was a city of culture, where cultural monuments as well as road and water infrastructure had been destroyed. There were no means to rebuild the infrastructure and many internally displaced persons were living in difficult circumstances.

Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs was deeply concerned about the freedom of expression and assembly in Pakistan. Trade union activities were also controlled by instruments from the Government. The right to development in the peripheries was not being enjoyed. In recent years, thousands of political objectors had been imprisoned without a trial.

Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty brought the Human Rights Council’s attention to Uighurs. In Egypt 22 Uighur students had been deported forcibly and returned to China. Today there was no information on their whereabouts and they were at serious risk of torture. There was no indication that these students had done any wrongdoing. The Transparty urged China and Egypt to address this issue.

International-Lawyers.Org drew the attention of the Human Rights Council to crimes committed in Iraq by the United States. In 2003, during the invasion of Iraq, treaties had been violated, but those responsible had benefitted from immunity due to United States law. The Human Rights Council was called on to have all States assure that no one had immunity from crimes under jus cogens law.

Victorious Youths Movement said people in the camps did not receive basic services. The inhabitants suffered as their food and its distribution was managed by the Polisario. The Polisario leaders wielded power in a way that had created a food deficit and scarcity of food for new-born children. The Polisario and Algeria had always imposed a blockade on the region. Algeria was silent, and it was neglecting its obligations in the realm of human rights. The Human Rights Council was invited to create a Commission of Inquiry on the distribution of aid in the camps.

Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights (APWCR) drew the attention of the Human Rights Council to the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmiri students had been deprived of their rights, and those demanding their rights were being raped and tortured. Extrajudicial killings were widespread. The use of pellet guns against peaceful protesters had become the order of the day. The Human Rights Council was requested to end the massive human rights violations against the Kashmiri people.

International Buddhist Relief Organization said Liberation Tamil Tigers had committed the most brutal crimes, including the use of 4,000 child soldiers and murder. It had also used 300,000 human beings as human shields. This had led to the famous security operation to rescue them.

Association Dunenyo said the people under the Polisario had been suffering from psychological torture and were kept against their will. They were deprived of education and forced to marry. All these rights had been violated with the blessing of Algeria for more than 40 years now. It was time to push Algeria and the Polisario organization to move the ban imposed on the media to work in this field.

"Coup de Pousse" Chaîne de l’Espoir Nord-Sud ( C.D.P-C.E.N.S) expressed its grave concern at the confiscation of freedom of expression in Tindouf Camps in south western Algeria. Those against the Polisario Front were being persecuted with the knowledge of Algerian authorities. It was 41 years now that these camps were allowed to operate by the Algerian State. Many children and women were being trafficked. The people under the Polisario sought their human rights, including their right to freedom.

ABC Tamil Oli said there had been no Manus Island for many years, but persons still suffered psychological and emotional trauma. Any mistreatment was subject to legal acts. Australia intended to close detention camps on naval bases. The Papua New Guinea Supreme Court had issued a finding related to the situation. The Human Rights Council should recommend that Australia resettle certain persons.

ANAJA (Lord replied) said Tamils had pleaded with the international community to set up an international judicial mechanism for the war crimes and genocide committed against them. The Sri Lankan Government had not taken any meaningful steps, but had rejected its commitments. There was a need for an international judicial process, and the speaker requested an international judicial mechanism for the Tamil people.

ASSOCIATION CULTURELLE DES TAMOULS EN FRANCE said the Sri Lankan President had said acting as compassionate beings was a prerequisite. A Reuters news story was cited. Lists of persons who had surrendered to the armed forces were supposed to have been released. The Government had promised to criminalize enforced disappearances but that had not happened either.

Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul said the families of persons who had disappeared were protesting. However, in Sri Lanka’s three decade old war, the problem of enforced disappearances was yet to be resolved. The Association sought assurances from the Government, including the release of political prisoners, and the release of a list of detainees being held since 1983.

International Solidarity for Africa said no the measures had been fulfilled to ensure transitional justice in Sri Lanka. There was little evidence that armed forces members who had perpetrated crimes were being brought to justice. Entire communities had been stigmatized and arrested with arbitrary detention.

Association for the Victims of the world said it was eight years since civilians in Sri Lanka had been forced out of their land illegally and without their consent. Their land was being used for commercial activities, including several large farms. These people were eager to return.

Association des étudiants tamouls de France was concerned that Sri Lanka was not implementing the recommendations of the Human Rights Council concerning the rehabilitation of the members of the LTTE. It was time that the Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights started to set up an accountability mechanism and an ad hoc tribunal for the Tamil victims.

Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy raised the issue of the situation of human rights in Baluchistan where Pakistan was perpetrating grave violations, including the abduction of Baluch activists. Civilians including women and children were killed and brutally massacred by the military forces. Cases of enforced disappearances documented by Amnesty International were denied by Pakistan.

Le PONT regretted the numerous violations of the right to free assembly in regions of India where Tamil people lived. The organization of gatherings of Tamil people had been prohibited. The participants in Tamil culture festivals had been displaced through brutal violence. Le Pont called the Council to assure the right to freedom and peaceful assembly of Tamils in India.

Cameroon Youths and Students Forum for Peace said the human rights of the Baloch people in Pakistan were being violated. The number of Baloch people had decreased from 60 to 50 per cent. The Government used illegal means to show the Baloch as a minority. The Forum called on the Human Rights Council to remind Pakistan to stop atrocities towards the Baloch people.

Alliance Creative Community Project said those who had been arrested in refugee camps were being tortured and charged, under the Foreigners Act. India must repeal the Foreigners Act of 1963.

Centre for Inquiry said Malaysia claimed to provide its citizens religious freedom. Unfortunately freedom of conscience did not apply to Muslims. Rather than stand up for the rights of their atheist citizens, the attendees had been hunted down for their beliefs. There was no room for forbidding freedom of conscience in this world.

Helios Life Association drew the attention of the Council to the role of money and the damages caused by the global economic system which seemed to be solely devoted to the worship of money. It was time to tie money to the real world again instead of letting it float in the air. Money had become a goal instead of a mean and had become more important than life.

Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations, in a joint statement with B'nai B'rith, was deeply concerned about the gathering of Nazi movements in the United States. The Council should not turn a blind eye to the ongoing acts of anti-Semitism everywhere in the world, including in the Middle East. It was time to stop presenting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a one-sided manner.

L'Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie was concerned about the hate campaign raised against minorities in India by a right wing party which was in favour of an anti-secular imperialist approach. Many activists had been murdered and intimidated in the country as reflected in the incidents of Bangalore on 5 September.

Society for Development and Community Empowerment said conditions of refugees in Thailand were horrendous. Their resettlement had been rejected. Children had no formal education. The Human Rights Council should be severely concerned about the fate of these children. They had no proper medical access. The Society urged States to resettle these people.

Tamil Uzhagam said blatant violation of human rights of Tamils was still ongoing today. In March 2009 hospitals had been bombarded and people killed, hospital personnel had been shot dead while their hands were tied and their heads were down.

Association Thendral said there was denial of social justice in India. Entrance exams had undermined the rights of different linguistic minorities in India to education. It called on India to respect the rights to social justice and education for all.

Tourner la page was concerned about the Hindu supremacism in India which went against the rights of religious minorities. Those who expressed different opinions were considered enemies of the State. The right to dissent was obliterated. The authorities were responsible for assassinations and hate campaigns. Tourner la Page was concerned about the presence of Hindu groups that dictated what to eat and who to love.

Kiyana Karaj Group was concerned about the spread of cholera in Yemen. The destruction of infrastructure had resulted in the lack of access to medicines and had left the people of Yemen to die. Kiyana Karaj Group called for the immediate setting up of a commission to investigate human rights violations committed in Yemen.

Press Emblem Campaign condemned the attacks against journalists around the world. Media workers were killed and threatened, particularly in conflict zones. Impunity was a major problem, notably in Syria and Yemen. The protection of media workers in the field should be strengthened. The situation was particularly alarming in Mexico and Turkey where journalists were threatened and detained.

African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters said it was tragic that States had ignored the brutal oppression of Kashmiri people who were undergoing genocide in Jammu and Kashmir. Extrajudicial killings, torture, forced disappearances, arbitrary arrest, and other human rights violations were ongoing.

Association of World Citizens said the great work of the civil society community was to keep the link with the same language to all States. How could the international community ensure that on the international front, human rights could promote ethical behaviour when the world sought to adopt global ethics? The project was not that of adopting legal obligations but of calling upon individual values.

Africa Culture Internationae had great concern about human rights violations against the Baloch people who had previously been independent people. A genocide of the Baloch nation was ongoing, people were being abducted and raped, and dead bodies were being returned without their organs. It asked the Human Rights Council to save the Baloch people.

Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru” stated that the conflicts in the Middle East were religious conflicts, financed by intelligence services of Western powers, seeking to overthrow the Governments of Arab States.

Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims drew attention to the killings and fleeing of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar. They were one of the most impoverished communities in the country who enjoyed no citizen rights. The Council should adopt stringent measures to investigate their humanitarian catastrophe. The Institute called on the Government of Myanmar to fully cooperate with the Fact-Finding Mission.

International Career Support Association rejected the claims that the Government of Japan infringed on the freedom of expression and opinion. Pressure on Japanese journalists was exerted by external interests. Biased allegations should be rejected and a proper investigation should be conducted.

The Next Century Foundation said that Syria should establish a mechanism to monitor prisons and examine prison conditions. An independent unit should investigate the allegations of torture in prison. Syria should undertake that effort because it wished to be rehabilitated in the eyes of the international community.

Right of Reply

Cuba, speaking in a right of reply, rejected the accusations made against it regarding the persecution of religious minorities. Religious minorities had access to places of worships and some of them had their own publications and charity organizations. Cuba had fostered a favourable situation for religious freedom on its territory. The attacks made against Cuba were selective and politically oriented.

Thailand, speaking in a right of reply, attached high importance to the humanitarian situation of migrants and refugees on its territory. Migrant and refugee children had access to education free of charge.



For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC/17/137E