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

19 September 2017

The Human Rights Council this afternoon held a general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention.

In the debate, some speakers said the Council should tackle human rights issues in a constructive and non-conflictual approach, with respect for national sovereignty and non-interference in domestic affairs. It should avoid the proliferation of politicized mandates and double standards. Other speakers said it was important that the international community made a concerted effort toward rectifying human rights situations in countries around the world. The restriction of civil society space and the targeting of human rights defenders and journalists in a number of countries was raised. Other issues highlighted in specific country contexts included the violations of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, refugees and migrants, and the scourge of racism. Access of women to sexual and reproductive health and to abortions was raised by speakers, as was the issue of violations of the rights of indigenous peoples.

The following States took the floor: Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Japan, United States, Slovenia, Bolivia, Georgia, China, United Kingdom,
Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Estonia on behalf of the European Union, Ecuador, Cuba, Venezuela, Iceland, Israel, France, Canada, Australia, Russian Federation, Maldives,
Denmark, Czech Republic, Spain, Belarus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ukraine, Ireland, Luxembourg, Solomon Islands, Norway, Pakistan and Iran.

The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: British Humanist Association, European Centre for Law and Justice, International Lesbian and Gay Association, International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, Jssor Youth Organization, Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, VIVAT International in a joint statement, Baha’i International Community, World Evangelical Alliance, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Minority Rights Group, European Humanist Federation, Conectas Direitos Humanos, Europe-Third World Centre, Canners International Permanent Committee, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Women’s Human Rights International Association, International Commission of Jurists, World Jewish Congress, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Franciscans International, Iraqi Development Organization, International Association for Equality of women, African Regional Agricultural Credit Association, Asian Legal Resource Centre, American Association of Jurists, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Alsalam Foundation, United Villages, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum - Asia, Palestinian Return Centre Ltd., Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Inc., International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, Badil Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, International Muslim Women’s Union, Amnesty International, Union of Arab Jurists, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University in a joint statement, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspoliitk, Human Rights Watch, Society of Iranian Women Advocating Sustainable Development of the Environment, Human Rights Agency, United Schools International, and Conseil international pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux droits de l’homme.

Also speaking were International Association for Democracy in Africa, Pan African Union for Science and Technology, Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme, World Muslim Congress, France Libertés – Foundation Danielle Mitterrand, Human Rights Now, Pax Romana (International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs and International Movement of Catholic Students), in a joint statement, World Environment and Resources Council, Association for Progressive Communications (APC), in a joint statement, Indian Council of South America, Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee, Centre for Environmental and Management Studies, CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Prahar, Conseil de la jeunesse pluriculturelle, Liberation, European Union of Public Relations,
Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, African Development Association,
Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA, Fundación Latinoamericana por los Derechos Humanos y el Desarrollo Social, International Fellowship of Reconciliation,
Association pour l'Integration et le Developpement Durable au Burundi, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, Song of Cheetah in Desert, Organisation Internationale pour le Développement Intégral de la Femme, United Nations Watch, International Committee for the Respect and Application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, and Centre for Organizational Research and Education.

Speaking in right of reply were Egypt, Japan, Turkey, Iran, India, Indonesia, China, Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Philippines, Brazil, Russia, Republic of Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Venezuela and Pakistan.

The Council will next meet at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, 20 September, when it will hold a panel discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples, commemorating the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It will continue with the general debate on human rights situations requiring the Council’s attention at noon.

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

Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that all human rights situations had to be tackled in a constructive and non-conflictual approach, and in a non-selective fashion, with respect for national sovereignty and non-interference in domestic affairs, bearing in mind States’ cultural, political, historical, economic and social realities. The Non-Aligned Movement expressed concern over the proliferation of selective practices such as politicized mandates taken by the Council which had a political aim and violated the principles of universality and non-selectivity and undermined cooperation as an essential element for the promotion and protection of all human rights.

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, noted that Islamophobia was a serious concern, taking on the forms of hate speech and negative profiling of Muslims. It also drew attention to the serious human rights situation in Myanmar and the humanitarian catastrophe which had a severe impact on the Rohingya Muslims. The Organization wanted to work with all stakeholders to resolve the crisis, and it called on the Government of Myanmar to immediately take steps to de-escalate the situation, and to bring the perpetrators of violence against the Rohingya to justice.

Germany expressed concern about the growing number of detained journalists and human rights defenders in Turkey. It also remained concerned about widespread human rights abuses in China, especially in Tibet, Xinjiang and neighbouring regions. It drew attention to numerous killings in the Philippines, the ongoing oppression against civil society in the Russian Federation, the silencing of civil society in Egypt, and to the dismantling of the democratic order in Venezuela.

Belgium expressed concern at the ongoing deterioration of the situation of human rights in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Turkey should respond to concerns expressed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights last week. The Government of Myanmar should implement the recommendations of the Fact-Finding Mission. Egypt needed to combat terrorism in a way that respected international obligations without repression of human rights defenders or the media. The situation in Yemen was of concern and all abuses should be investigated. Venezuela should respect the rule of law.

Switzerland was alarmed at the trend toward restricting civil society space, and called on all States to guarantee a safe environment for the right to freedom of expression. Switzerland was concerned about the situation in Turkey, and deplored the arrests targeting human rights defenders and journalists. Events in Cambodia were of concern, and the country should respect its human rights obligations. The reform programme of Saudi Arabia was followed with interest, but restrictions on civil society remained in place. Persistent restrictions in Iran were also of concern, as were conflict situations in Yemen and Iraq, among other States.

Japan said it was important that the international community made a concerted effort toward rectifying human rights situations. The international community also had to come together to address the human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, including the issue of abduction. There had been no improvement, and the country had carried out repeated provocative actions. Pyongyang was requested to take a hard look at its human rights situation and take concrete steps toward cooperation with the international community and relevant United Nations human rights mechanisms.

United States remained deeply concerned about the situation in Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Burundi and Russia, among others. It called upon Russia to hold perpetrators accountable for the judicial killings of gay men in Chechnya and deplored the death sentences for prisoners of conscience. It remained troubled by reports that lawyers and activists were being arbitrarily arrested and detained, and was appalled by conditions in Tibet and other areas. It urged the restoration of Venezuela’s democratic institutions and urged Cuba to release political prisoners. Finally, it was troubled by Turkey’s severe crackdown on dissenting voices during the protracted emergency situation.

Slovenia remained concerned about the situation in Syria, Sudan and Ukraine. It was highly concerned over recent reports on the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and called upon the Government of Myanmar to remove restrictions to access for humanitarian workers. It was alarmed by the Commission of Inquiry’s findings in Burundi and regretted the lack of cooperation thereof by the Government. It was concerned about the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and, in particular, on the use of children as human shields in the violence. It was deeply concerned about the situation in South Sudan and Yemen, where people faced abductions, sexual violence and other human rights violations.

Bolivia was aware of the fact that any improvement of the human rights situation in the world would not result from the instrumentalisation of the Human Rights Council, which focused on countries that did not threaten world peace. The focus had to be on solidarity and complementarity and States had to avoid attempts to politicize the Human Rights Council. Bolivia welcomed the steps taken by Venezuela and believed that its people should be the only ones to decide upon their fate. Bolivia wished to promote inter-culturalism with the full respect of sovereignty of States.

Georgia strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria. It reiterated its full support to the Commission of Inquiry and called on the authorities of Syria to allow it access to the territory. Georgia called for the end of human rights violations and the launch of investigations in Burundi. It was concerned by the violence, including acts of sexual violence, in South Sudan. Georgia condemned the ongoing violence in Myanmar and the total disrespect of human rights in Venezuela. It remained alarmed by the situation in eastern Ukraine and occupied Crimea.

China said that the Human Rights Council should be a platform for dialogue and not a tool for States’ confrontation. China was concerned that the scourge of racism was deeply embedded in the United States where there was a resurgence of white supremacy. In Germany, neo-Nazis incited racism and xenophobia. The United Kingdom was experiencing a grave phenomenon of modern slavery. China said that these countries never expressed self-criticism on their own issues. This was typical of the politicization of the Human Rights Council.

United Kingdom was concerned about the death of Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo in China and the handling of his case. It remained concerned about restrictions of civil and political freedoms in China and the continued detention of human rights lawyers and defenders. The United Kingdom raised the desperate plight of Rohingya Muslims of “Burma’s” Rakhine state. The security forces bore responsibility for this humanitarian crisis. The United Kingdom condemned the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in Chechnya.

Republic of Korea regretted the man-made catastrophe in Yemen, as the cholera outbreak there was preventable. All military parties were urged to heed international voices and work for the promotion and protection of human rights. The Republic of Korea remained seriously concerned about human rights abuses in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, including the food security of the “North Korean” people. Developing weapons of mass destruction had to be stopped, and Pyongyang should extend its cooperation with United Nations mechanisms.

Netherlands expressed grave concern about human rights violations in Syria, in particular torture in detention facilities and displacement of the civilian population. Continued violations of the human rights of the Rohingya minority remained a major concern, and Myanmar should fully cooperate with the Fact-Finding Mission and investigate reports of serious human rights violations. The continued man-made crisis in Yemen was also deeply concerning.

Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed concern with regard to the situation of human rights in Yemen, Syria, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and several other countries. The European Union was concerned about the consequences of the new non-governmental organizations law in Egypt, and reiterated its concern over the human rights situation in the Russian Federation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons. China should abide by its international human rights law obligations. While the fight against drug crime in the Philippines was important, the European Union was concerned about the high number of killings. Venezuela’s political and social situation had reached critical levels, and as regards the occupied Palestinian territory, the European Union was concerned about the loss of life among those in administrative detention.

Ecuador deplored the double standards and politicization seen in the Human Rights Council, where some countries had even dared to propose that human rights be looked at through a security perspective as a pretext to justify intervention. The Human Rights Council mechanisms had been used selectively to establish mandates that targeted certain countries. Ecuador deplored the scarce attention given in the Human Rights Council to the violations of the rights of migrants and refugees in countries of transit and reception. It called upon the Human Rights Council to conduct an analysis of the arms trade that fed violence and led to human rights violations.

Cuba said it had seen double standards, selectiveness, and poor practices in the Human Rights Council. Many States used agenda items to criticize other countries about xenophobia in the south whereas in their own territories there was heightening xenophobia. The accusations made by the United States were politicized and baseless. Their focus on alleged violations was an attempt to make the world ignore human rights violations in their own territories. Cuba denounced the financial and border embargo imposed upon it 50 years ago. It reiterated its solidarity with the people of Venezuela and believed there should be no interference in the domestic affairs of this country. Selectivity and politicization had to disappear from the Council once and for all.

Venezuela condemned the politicization in the Human Rights Council of some States directed at some countries of the south. The use of agenda item 4 in this way was regrettable. Venezuela rejected the misinformation campaign promoting imperial powers and demonizing President Maduro. The Human Rights Council had to fulfill its mandate on the basis of genuine dialogue, strictly complying with principles of universality and without resorting to selectivity, politicization and double standards. There were no political prisoners in Venezuela. The right to peacefully demonstrate was fully guaranteed. The Government of President Maduro promoted dialogue with all democratic segments in the society.

Iceland was concerned about the human rights situation in Venezuela as well as the excessive use of force by the Venezuelan authorities. Iceland remained concerned about the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It condemned recent nuclear experiments and strongly urged the “North Korean” Government to focus its efforts instead on redressing systemic human rights violations against its own people. Iceland was deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Yemen. The Saudi Arabia-led coalition had conducted scores of unlawful airstrikes, some of which amounted to war crimes.

Israel was deeply concerned about the involvement of Iran in the war in Syria and its constant desire to destabilize the region. It was particularly concerned by the use of militias and mercenaries to help the Syrian regime and Hezbollah. Executions and oppression of minorities were a common policy of Iran. The world should not turn a blind eye to the violations of human rights there. Children camps created by Hamas bred hatred against Israel. Dialogue was the only way for peace and a better future.

France was concerned by the persistent abuses of human rights in the context of the crisis in Syria, where the regime had used chemical weapons against the population, and in Yemen and South Sudan, where the situation was continuously deteriorating. France was concerned about the reports of violations of human rights in “North Korea”, Burundi or the state of “Burma”. Civil society was severely oppressed in Venezuela. Egypt was facing threats of terrorism, but its policy should be aligned with human rights principles. France called for the universal abolition of the death penalty.

Canada expressed concern about the situation in Venezuela, urging the Government to restore the powers of the national assembly. The situation in Iran remained of concern, as the death penalty continued to be used against minors. Canada would lead the resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran at the United Nations General Assembly. The ongoing conflict in South Sudan was also concerning, and the high level of suffering of the civilian population was of concern, and all humanitarian actors should be given unfettered access.

Australia was concerned at the deterioration of human rights in some States since the last meeting of the Council, with appalling abuses occurring in Syria. The persecution of members of religious and ethnic minority groups was condemned. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea had failed to improve the human rights situation since the Commission of Inquiry’s report. Reports of the Government’s involvement in arbitrary killings in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were shocking, and the Government should provide certainty on the timing of elections.

Russian Federation said serious human rights issues were characteristic of States promoting themselves as paragons of virtue. Washington apparently had a right to judge others, while using disproportionate force. The increase in racism and xenophobia was also of concern in the United States. In the European Union, journalists were detained, and the situation for human rights defenders was also of concern. There was discrimination against Roma and immigrants who were detained in holding centres. Torture was used in Ukraine and in the Baltic countries ethnic minorities were being suppressed.

Maldives said it was with deep concern that it saw conflicts and human rights violations in many parts of the world. The international community had failed to bring alleviation to those who were suffering. The Rohingya minority was subject to the most horrendous human rights crimes. Maldives reiterated its call to the Government of Myanmar to allow the Fact-Finding Mission access and to provide assistance to the Rohingya population.

Denmark strongly condemned the Syrian regime’s indiscriminate use of chemical weapons. It called for the release of all detained persons, especially the victims of torture and abuse. It remained concerned about the human rights violations in Iran, and in particular the execution of juvenile offenders. Denmark urged that accountability be upheld. It remained deeply concerned by the human rights situation in Crimea and the discrimination against Tatar peoples.

Czech Republic was gravely concerned about the escalation of the crisis in Venezuela, and in particular the arbitrary detention and torture of political prisoners. In Russia, it was worried about the detention of peaceful protestors. The reported abuse against persons from the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender communities had to be thoroughly investigated. Czech Republic regretted reports of extrajudicial killings in the fight against crime in the Philippines, which were troubling. Maximum efforts had to be made to stop human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Spain was concerned about the human rights situation in Syria, Burundi and Myanmar. The situation in the Kasaï region in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was particularly alarming. Spain was appalled by the human rights violations perpetrated by all parties in South Sudan where the situation was worsening. Spain supported the establishment of an independent investigation mechanism to investigate human rights violations in Yemen. The occupied Palestinian territories were seeing increasing human rights violations, including ongoing Israeli settlements. Spain finally condemned the human rights violations caused by terrorist groups.

Belarus called on the Human Rights Council to strengthen its cooperation with States in order to increase their potential to protect and promote human rights. Cooperation with non-politicized mechanisms was the only way to succeed. In the human rights sphere, the cooperation between Belarus and the European Union had been particularly fruitful. The Council should not support biased monitoring nor apply double standards in the examination of the situation of human rights in countries.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was deeply concerned about racial discrimination and police violence in the United States. It was also particularly concerned about the crimes of slavery committed in the past by Japan. The ongoing repression and discrimination against Korean residents in Japan was unacceptable. Twelve “DPRK” citizens had been abducted by the “South Korean” authorities last year. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea condemned all acts of unilateral coercive measures that negatively impacted civilians.

Ukraine stated that three years of illegal occupation by Russia of Crimea had been marked by blatant violations of basic human rights. Ukrainians were kidnapped by Russian authorities using brutal violence. Ukraine called on the international human rights monitoring mechanisms to assist and use all possibilities to release illegally detained Ukrainian citizens, who were political prisoners in Russia. United Nations Member States were urged to strengthen political and diplomatic pressure upon the Russian Federation for their release.

Ireland shared the High Commissioner’s alarm about the human rights situation in Yemen, calling on all parties to grant full unimpeded humanitarian access to the country. In Turkey media freedom was increasingly restricted and there had been severe curtailment of civil society in Bahrain. Ireland was worried about the persecution of religious minorities in Myanmar, the suppression of civil society organizations in Turkey and the deteriorating crisis in Venezuela.

Luxembourg was profoundly concerned about the deteriorating situation of human rights in a number of countries, including Azerbaijan, China, Egypt, Philippines and Venezuela. Severe restrictions on political and civil rights had to be discussed outside of the sessions of the Universal Periodic Review. Luxemburg supported mandates of Special Procedures and treaty bodies.

Solomon Islands drew attention to the human right abuses in West Papua, noting that it was deeply concerned that the Indonesian military and police continued to suppress the indigenous people of West Papua and stop them from freely exercising their rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and association. Between July and August 2017, more than 300 indigenous West Papuans had been arrested and in some cases severely beaten during peaceful assembly.

Norway remained deeply concerned about the serious human rights situation of the Rohingya in Myanmar, and it urged the Government to take steps to end the violence. It condemned all human rights violations in Burundi, and the targeting and killing of civilians in South Sudan. Norway also deplored the actions of the Government of Venezuela that undermined democratic institutions, and it remained concerned about the situation of civil society in Turkey, Azerbaijan and Egypt.

Pakistan raised the issue of human rights abuses committed by India in occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Human rights violations there should not go unnoticed. Such silence on account of political and economic expediency was a manifestation of blatant double standards. That practice of double standards damaged the credibility of the proponents of human rights and defeated the purpose for which the Council was created.

Iran was deeply concerned about the systematic violations of human rights by the United States both inside and outside of the country. It had a long list of human rights abuses such as racial profiling, ethnic and racial bias in the criminal justice system, torture and ill-treatment of detainees, among others. Iran was concerned about the violation of the rights of a disproportionate number of minorities in the United States, especially the black and Latino minorities. These were just the tip of the iceberg. Millions of the most vulnerable peoples in European societies were subject to exclusion, ill-treatment and violence. Discrimination and hate crimes were increasingly directed against the most vulnerable. Abusive treatment against indigenous peoples in Canada were among the grave violations of indigenous human rights.

British Humanist Association said abortion was still illegal in all circumstances in five counties around the world, and in a great many more the circumstances in which an abortion was permitted were so limited as to make accessing an abortion almost impossible. These restrictive abortion laws infringed upon the rights of women under several articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including the right to a private life and to an effective remedy, and placed women in significant danger.

European Centre for Law and Justice drew attention to the growing attacks on freedom of expression, thought, conscience and religion in Europe and particularly in Spain. Spain was currently discussing a draft law against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation for so-called "LGBT persons", which seriously undermined freedom of expression and conscience. Spain was in contradiction with its treaty commitments because it restricted freedom of expression in too vague a manner, prohibiting speeches that defended public morals and disturbed citizens' opinions.

International Lesbian and Gay Association said that the Council had promised to address the human rights of all, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons. However, in Indonesia, the authorities had launched home raids and forced evictions of lesbians. In Nigeria, there was police harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. In Haiti, a law had been passed prohibiting public support for homosexuality. And in the United States, a ban had been placed on transgender persons serving in the military.

International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism drew the Council’s attention to the deteriorating human rights situation in Bangladesh where human rights defenders had been subjected to intimidation and harassment by the Government. The Border Guards in Bangladesh had tightened border control to restrict the entry of Rohingyas fleeing from Myanmar. The Japanese Government had not taken any measures to implement the recommendations from the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression.

Jssor Youth Organization said there was a growing tendency toward religious extremism in the Arab world. Extremism was the result of the lack of social cohesion, social justice and accountability and could also be caused by unemployment. The best way to face the extremism would be to uphold ethics in employment and put an end to paternalistic ways of ruling societies. Improvement of personal status laws and control of state and religious institutions was much needed.

Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture drew attention to the hunger strike of prisoners in Bahrain and called on the Council to pressure the Bahraini authorities to allow a visit of the Working Group on arbitrary detention and investigate the allegations of torture. The Centre urged the Government of Bahrain to get rid of the articles in the Criminal Code which allowed the imprisonment of political opposition.

VIVAT International, in a joint statement with Franciscans International, highlighted the extrajudicial killings of indigenous West Papuans, including minors, by Indonesian security forces. It recommended that the Government of Indonesia uphold transparency in the justice system and keep the responsible parties accountable, as well as to invite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions.

Baha’i International Community noted that the Baha’is in Iran lived in a society where their youth were deprived of access to education and public jobs. Small Baha’i-owned shops had been attacked, their cemeteries desecrated, and they were vilified in State-sponsored media on a daily basis. They had been arrested and imprisoned solely for their beliefs. It was high time that the international community played its part and called on the Iranian Government to cease the relentless persecution of its own population.

World Evangelical Alliance expressed concern about the situation in south Asia, where it was important to pay attention to minority rights. India had for a number of years been asked to review State laws which created obstacles for members of the majority religion to change their beliefs and adhere to another faith. India was asked to take a position on freedom of conscience for all by repealing those laws.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide remained concerned about human rights defenders in Viet Nam, where activists had been arbitrarily arrested and charged with spreading propaganda against the State. The Government should remove unwarranted charges. In Cuba, attacks on defenders of freedom of religion or belief had increased. Throughout 2017, members of the Ladies in White Movement had been arrested.

Minority Rights Group expressed concern at protracted displacement in Iraq, and reports of attempts at demographic re-engineering in reclaimed territories. Restrictions on the rights of non-Muslims in Egypt were also of concern, and Egypt should uphold rights stated in the Egyptian constitution. Rising tensions and human rights abuses in the Anglophone-majority regions of Cameroon were also brought to the attention of the Council.

European Humanist Federation said in nine days, the world would celebrate the Global Day for Action for Access to Abortion. Despite repeated international commitments to protect sexual and reproductive rights, many countries worldwide, including Members of the Human Rights Council, continued to ignore these rights.

Conectas Direitos Humanos said in the past, Brazil had developed innovative policies to eradicate slavery. However recently the Government had resisted publishing the so-called “dirty list.” Now the Special Group on Enforcement was under risk. Since 1995 this Group had freed over 50,000 labourers from modern slavery. Now the pre-existing funds had run out. Currently the Special Group was unable to respond to the needs of labourers.

Europe -Third World Centre was alarmed by the surge of a new dynamic of violence by the Chilean authorities against the Mapuche people. It was concerned at the poor implementation of the Government's commitments, such as constitutional recognition, the creation of the Ministry of Indian Affairs, the end of the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Law and the beginning of a new model of multicultural coexistence. Chile should establish a torture prevention mechanism to guarantee the right to physical and spiritual stability for the Mapuche people.

Canners International Permanent Committee said there were a number of countries where being a member of a minority implied suffering worst forms of vicissitudes. In Pakistan, Christians were persecuted on a frequent basis and targeted because of blasphemy laws. Mob violence was utilized to pressure the Government and the courts to issue or uphold harsh sentences for Christians for alleged crimes. Many Christian girls had been kidnapped and forced into Islamic marriages or even killed.

International Humanist and Ethical Union, speaking on behalf of an atheist community in Malaysia, said a Malaysian Minister recently called for investigations of the atheist community, essentially proclaiming a witch hunt on atheists, and was later joined by another Minister. This type of Government’s language was not new, as in 2014 secularism was described as an enemy of the State.

Women’s Human Rights International Association drew the Council’s attention to the alarming rate of executions in Iran. Only last week five executions took place, out of which four were public, usually for drug related charges. However, such charges were concealing the true reason, which was often political. Moreover, capital punishment was disproportionately used and revolutionary courts continued to issue death sentences. The Council should use its authority to urge Iran to live up to human rights standards.

International Commission of Jurists said that in Venezuela, arbitrary detention and persecution and attacks on human rights defenders had become systematic practices. Those gross human rights violations remained subject to impunity. Given the serious human rights situation and the breakdown of the rule of law, it was imperative that the Human Rights Council appoint a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Venezuela.

World Jewish Congress said the persecution of Christians in the Middle East was deeply concerning. The situation for Rohingya refugees was also very alarming, as the situation had the potential to escalate into ethnic cleansing. The Jewish people should not remain silent in the face of such events, and all Member States and observers should safeguard all who were persecuted because of their religion in the world today.

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies said the Egyptian Government continued to carry out systematic and widespread attacks on human rights defenders and organizations within its territory. Ibrahim Metwally had disappeared from Cairo airport as he was preparing to depart for Geneva to engage with the United Nations Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances. The Council should address the situation in Egypt before the human rights movement in the country was eradicated.

Franciscans International drew attention to the food shortage in Venezuela that was causing child malnutrition. There was also a problem of inadequate supply of medicines in the country, as well as their high cost. Indigenous peoples were severely affected by infectious diseases and could not access appropriate healthcare. It called on the Venezuelan Government to facilitate the import of medicines and food.

Iraqi Development Organization called the attention of the Council to the Bahraini Government’s widespread and systematic abuses of human rights, often in the name of countering terrorism. Under that pretext, the authorities had imposed increasingly severe restrictions on basic freedoms and had arbitrarily arrested and tortured activists, opposition figures, journalists and religious leaders.

International Association for Equality of women expressed concern about the condition of prisoners in Iran. Political prisoners and dissidents had been deprived of drinking water and food, as well as of contact with their families. Their medical conditions were ignored, and torture and ill-treatment were deeply worrying. The Association asked the Council to urge Iran to comply with its international obligations.

African Regional Agricultural Credit Association warned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Balochistan. Pakistan had put an iron curtain around Balochistan, making it completely inaccessible for the media and civil society. The barbarism of the Pakistani military was reflected in the fact they had been conducting serious crimes without making any news because of the media blockade.

Asian Legal Resource Centre drew the Council’s attention to the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. Close to half a million Rohingya had been forced to flee Myanmar. While Bangladesh allowed Rohingya in, it was unable to provide them with appropriate protection. The Bangladeshi Government had been executing its own citizens in extrajudicial killings, so it would be unrealistic to expect that they would offer protection to others.

American Association of Jurists spoke about problems faced by the Mapuche in Argentina. In 2017 there had been an incident with police resulting in the injury of a number of Mapuche persons. The State denied that such actions took place. This was just one of the incidents in the ongoing climate of violence taken against indigenous people. The Council was urged to react and protect indigenous people and their ancestral lands in Argentina.

International Association of Democratic Lawyers called the attention of the Human Rights Council to the failure of the Japanese Government to assist the survivors of the Fukushima disaster. Many residents were being economically pressured to return to areas where they might be exposed to higher than internationally recommended doses of radiation. The Japanese Government’s policy was deliberate, structural violence against the victims of the disaster.

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project said the situation of Kenyan human rights defenders was challenging as the country prepared for elections. Police had responded to isolated protests with excessive force. The coalition had documented 26 cases of violence, including assault and confiscation of equipment. Human rights defenders should be allowed to play a constructive role without fear of reprisals.

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues expressed concern about the situation in Egypt, where restrictive tactics were silencing legitimate dissent. Last month, two United Nations Special Rapporteurs had raised concern over freedom of expression in the country. That was more like repression than counterterrorism. The Egyptian Government was disregarding its obligations, and had failed to hold to account those responsible for human rights violations.

Alsalam Foundation expressed concern about the ill-treatment of prisoners of opinion in Bahrain, who had started a hunger strike to protest against torture. Those detainees had said that the hunger strike had been their only resort. The Foundation called on Bahrain to guarantee the rights of political prisoners in line with the Mandela rules.

United Villages drew attention the arbitrary detention and arrest of people of Jammu and Kashmir. They were incarcerated for months and years without any recourse to justice. The trials were not based on any charges. The practice of issuing of detention orders was a deliberate tool used against the local population.

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia highlighted the deteriorating human rights situation in several Asian countries, such as the Philippines, where extrajudicial killings continued in the Government’s “war on drugs” and where media outlets that criticised that war had been accused of spreading misinformation. In Maldives, opposition members of the Parliament faced politically motivated charges, while in Bangladesh freedom of association was restricted by the 2016 Foreign Donations Regulation Act.

Palestinian Return Centre Ltd. warned that Palestinian families in Syria had been displaced for the second or third time, after they had been originally ethnically cleansed from Israel in 1948. As hostilities continued to escalate in the war-torn Syria, thousands of displaced Palestinian had fled the country. The Action Group for Palestinians from Syria had documented 3,557 deaths from war-related incidents, while 301 had gone missing.

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Inc. raised their concern that some Member States of the Council were effectively side-lining human rights concerns in the name of security cooperation. The British Government had taken command of a new naval base in Bahrain. The United States had recently announced a $ 3.86 billion dollar package of F-16 fighter jets. Increased bilateral relations between Bahrain and Switzerland had resulted in Switzerland’s reluctance to continue its longstanding leadership in addressing Bahrain in the Council.

International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) stated that in Kashmir thousands of innocent civilians, including children, women and elderly were dying. State terrorism against minorities, especially in Myanmar, had resulted in the persecution of Rohingya. Yemen was facing enforced disappearances as a result of the weakened State, which warring parties had been using for their own purposes.

Badil Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights said systematic violations were carried out in an organized and deliberate way in the occupied Palestinian territories by Israel. Israel’s policies of land confiscation, denial of services, discriminatory zoning and collective punishment resulted in the forcible transfer of the Palestinian population. Since colonization and apartheid were international crimes, the international community had to respond appropriately. States needed to cooperate to bring an end to the situation.

Organization for Defending Victims of Violence called on the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to address the situation of the Rohingya. The displaced Rohingya should be allowed to return to their homes. The Human Rights Council should hold a Special Session to address the Myanmar situation. The Saudi coalition was killing people in Yemen, and Israel was forcing Palestinians to leave their homes.

International Muslim Women’s Union said the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir had deteriorated. India had rejected an independent investigation. Thousands of people had been blinded, and there was impunity for perpetrators. Indian forces were deliberately targeting the eyes of protesters, particularly the young. If the Human Rights Council could not silence India, they would do it again and again.

Amnesty International stated that in Egypt the authorities had further escalated the crackdown on civil society, which included travel bans imposed on human rights defenders and asset freezing. In Turkey, there had also been an unprecedented crackdown on civil society and the arrest of journalists despite the lack of any evidence of wrong doing.

Union of Arab Jurists noted that after the accusations between the Gulf countries regarding the financing of terrorism, it was high time to document those accusations. Those countries needed to reconsider their position with respect to the conflict in Syria. The Gulf countries had politicised the Human Rights Council in order to place Syria under item 4. The Union of Arab Jurists called on the Council to preserve its credibility.

Commission to Study the Organization of Peace drew attention to the protection of minority rights, which were part of the general human rights framework. The international community should urgently pay attention to the lack of rights of religious minorities in Pakistan. Recent years had seen an increased persecution of religious minorities in that country.

Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, in a joint statement with Dominicans for Justice and Peace - Order of Preachers; and Franciscans International, drew the Council’s attention to the impact of climate change. The Council’s resolution 33/20 on climate change was welcomed. The world had failed to keep the balance of ecosystems. While some financial activities seemed lucrative, they had been in turn destroying the future. Member States were called upon to take concrete measures in fighting climate change, as promised in COP21.

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspoliitk said that the President of Iran had yet to fulfil his election promise to free the 2009 rigged presidential election candidates. Their names had been heard in many protests. So far in 2017, 400 executions had been carried out, 23 of them in public and four were juvenile offenders.

Human Rights Watch stated that the repression of journalists, rights defenders and opposition in Egypt had reached levels not seen in decades. Authoritarianism in Egypt was best defined by widespread and systematic torture, inflicted upon dissidents with near-absolute impunity. Egypt’s torture epidemic was systematic and widespread and likely constituted a crime against humanity, making the Council’s utter silence an insult to victims.

Society of Iranian Women Advocating Sustainable Development of the Environment said there was an interaction between media and the society. The media had an unlimited and serious impact. Given that ability to influence public opinion, it could be a useful instrument for countries in their foreign policy. The mechanism was used universally in diplomatic language. A culture of violence would push the world toward barbaric acts; silence was not acceptable.

Human Rights Agency said crimes against the people of Yemen were supported by the United States. The United Nations had to require the coalition to guarantee access to journalists and humanitarian actors throughout the territory. Yemen was the most serious humanitarian crisis at present, and yet nothing was being done to stop the situation. The Human Rights Council should act to stop all deliveries of arms and put pressure on the regime and Saudis to reopen Sanaa airport.

United Schools International said being a member of an ethnic or religious minority in Pakistan brought risks for persecution in many forms. The security and basic rights of religious minorities in Pakistan were deteriorating. Christians, Hindus and Sikhs and others were on an exodus from Pakistan. Religious minorities were often stuck on the lowest rungs of the economy, working as day labourers.

Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme regretted the lack of reference to the role of Saudi Arabia, the United States and the United Kingdom in the sale of chemical weapons to the warring parties in Syria. In Yemen, children had been exterminated and the lives of Yemenis had become hell on earth. In Bahrain, the Government was beholden to Saudi Arabia and violated the rights of its people. Those Governments should be expelled from the Council.

International Association for Democracy in Africa drew attention to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws which were legal instruments through which grave violations of human rights were committed. In 2016 Pakistan had arrested 15 persons on blasphemy charges. There had been a spike in the level of intimidation of the media and an increased level of self-censorship.

Pan African Union for Science and Technology stated that the manner in which Pakistan treated its minorities was in total violation of the established international human rights norms. Minorities were subject to terror attacks and pogroms. Terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi had openly committed brutal murders of Shias with the self-avowed purpose of “cleansing Pakistan” of their presence.

Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme RADDHO asked whether the speech by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi would do much to help put an end to the actions of Myanmar’s armed forces. The situation in Pakistan remained worrisome and in Yemen, the armed conflict continued to be a source of violations of international law. Due to Burundi’s defiance of the Human Rights Council, the Council was asked to suspend its membership.

World Muslim Congress said the Council had been silently watching the daily struggle of people fighting for their right to self-determination in Kashmir, an area occupied by India. This year, India blocked local services 15 times when they had been trying to speak about what was happening in Kashmir. India had abducted several political leaders and journalists, and if the Council remained silent, there was a possibility of a new conflict in Kashmir.

France Libertés – Foundation Danielle Mitterrand stated that among the situations demanding the Council’s attention, one had been present for decades. The Sahrawi population had lived for numerous years under the illegal occupation of Morocco. The political prisoners had been imprisoned for years because of their peaceful protests. The Council was called upon to use all the necessary arguments to undertake an inquiry regarding the allegations of torture.

Human Rights Now expressed deep concern about the deteriorating situation of human rights of the Rohingya people. The Myanmar Government had rejected cooperation with the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission and there was widespread impunity for alleged gross violations of human rights. The authorities were urged to stop military action and violence against the Rohingya people. The Myanmar Government should also implement the recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission.

Pax Romana (International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs and International Movement of Catholic Students), in a joint statement with Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd; Dominicans for Justice and Peace - Order of Preachers; and Franciscans International, said there was a growing threat toward indigenous people in Colombia. Since the signing of the peace agreement, people had been killed and had had to give up their land. The actions of paramilitary groups were not recognized, and the justice system should become more efficient. The indigenous people were threatened and the peasants were calling for their lands to be returned.

World Environment and Resources Council said there were gross human rights violations committed in Pakistan against the Sindhi people. More than 100 political activists had been abducted. The Human Rights Council was requested to press Pakistan to stop atrocities against the Sindhi people and stop the forced implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Violence against religious minorities should be stopped and human rights abuses should be investigated.

Association for Progressive Communications, in a joint statement with Access Now; and Front Line, The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, expressed grave concern about the crackdown of States on digital communications. Many Governments, including Australia and the United Kingdom, had recently legalised a backdoor to digital communications. Secure digital communication could often be the only way to freely express opinions. The Association requested the Council to work with States to ensure free usage of digital communications.

Indian Council of South America thanked Brazil for its initiative to promote free and informed consent of indigenous peoples. Alaskan indigenous peoples called on the Human Rights Council to review the removal of Alaska and Hawaii from the list of self-governing territories. The organization rejected the exploitation of indigenous peoples’ lands and natural wealth.

Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee drew attention to India’s ban on freedom of expression, opinion and assembly under the law regulating foreign contributions to civil society. The Ministry of Home Affairs regularly rejected the registration of thousands of non-governmental organizations. The Council was urged to react and to protect the basic human rights in India.

Centre for Environmental and Management Studies raised a voice on behalf of a prominent human rights defender from Pakistan who had to flee to the United Kingdom and live in self-exile. The political repression in Pakistan, particularly in Baluchistan, was criticized. All Member States were asked to request Pakistan to explain the situation concerning the freedom of speech and freedom of expression in this region.

CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation was gravely concerned by the crackdown on human rights defenders and pro-democracy activities in Viet Nam, despite its international treaty obligations and recommendations accepted at the Universal Periodic Review to respect the freedom of expression and civil society space. The Vietnamese Government was urged to implement in good faith its Universal Periodic Review recommendations.

Prahar spoke about drug abuse in Indian provinces, where over 1,250 people had died from drug abuse since January 2017. Malnutrition and pneumonia were also among the grave concerns, especially as the fatality rates were high despite those, and many other diseases, being easily treated. The appeal was made to the Council to act upon its responsibility to protect the rights of children in India.

Conseil de la jeunesse pluriculturelle said the Rohingya had been victims of human rights violations for decades, and yet many considered this situation to be recent. The current situation was tantamount to ethnic cleansing, in which thousands had been expelled and had their villages burnt. The Human Rights Council had set up a Commission of Inquiry on Myanmar which had not had access to the country. All the international values were being overlooked in this country.

Liberation said cybercrime undermined human rights in India, and hacking affected the population in northern India, with cyberterrorists extorting money. Violence against women took different forms, and in Assam and the north eastern states of India, women were being humiliated in public and their right to privacy was being violated. Stronger measures to curb cybercrime in India were requested.

European Union of Public Relations said that Baluchistan was in the limelight of attention, and experts believed that the Pakistani Government was neglecting the region. Baluchistan was a very sensitive area, and there were many cases of enforced disappearances. The Human Rights Council was urged to save the people of Baluchistan and to acknowledge them.

Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development drew the attention of the Council to the ongoing killing of the Muslim Rohingya people by the Myanmar army. Entire villages had been burned to the ground, women had been raped, and the Rohingya refugees reported that soldiers had shot at them as they fled. There were reports that the military had laid mines along the border with Bangladesh to ensure that those fleeing would not return.

African Development Association was concerned that in the past 41 years, in the camps of Tinduf, the Polisario sponsored by Algeria continued to categorically refuse the organization of a population census, despite repeated calls by the international community to do so. In the camp, the humanitarian assistance was being traded and sold for cash on the black market. A comprehensive consensus was needed on the humanitarian aid in order to stop the Polisario’s monopoly.

Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association MBOSCUDA drew the Council’s attention to the situation of human rights of the Assam minorities in India. Children and women were detained under the allegations that they supported insurgent groups and 87 people had been killed in December 2014. Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association called on the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions to visit Assam.

Fundación Latinoamericana por los Derechos Humanos y el Desarrollo Social expressed grave concern over the events in Venezuela from April to July this year, where over 60 per cent of victims and those affected were not directly involved in the protests. Protesters set fires, used minors to prepare explosives and shot the people who were trying to fight blockades. Certain sectors of the Parliament continued to promote violence and sought to generate chaos in Venezuela.

International Fellowship of Reconciliation noted that the legal status of Western Sahara was clear. Morocco, in blatant disregard of the legal status of Western Sahara and its right to self-determination, continued its illegal occupation, seeking to alter the reality on the ground. The non-governmental organization wondered where Morocco got such powerful leverage to continue its actions in spite of their illegality.

Association pour l'Integration et le Developpement Durable au Burundi emphasised the danger posed by the Indian fundamentalist groups that were attacking those who thought differently. Increasing violence was marked by frequent incidents of killing of writers and journalists because they spoke against extremism and fundamentalism. Three activists had been killed because of their critical analysis of religion in India.

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada called on the Council to persuade China, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and other Member States to uphold standards of human rights. Those countries engaged with impunity in human rights violations against human rights defenders. Saudi Arabia refused to release globally renowned human rights defenders. In the Philippines, extrajudicial killings continued. The Human Rights Council was called on to develop fair procedures to deal with complaints of non-compliance by its members.

Song of Cheetah in Desert said that the right to a healthy environment affected the right to life and health. A stable economic situation and access to green energy were vital to the green use of the environment. The Human Rights Council should establish a mandate regarding the suffering caused by unilateral coercive measures, to which all non-governmental organizations of targeted countries could submit information.

Organisation Internationale pour le Développement Intégral de la Femme said that, since the creation of the Tindouf camps, the Polisario Front was committing extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations. For 40 years, the reparation mechanisms, including the courts, refused to consider the heinous practices, and the families of the victims had been ignored. Victims were afraid of being criminally prosecuted.

United Nations Watch asked for the release of blogger Raef Badawi, who, though he had not committed any crime, had been sentenced to receive a thousand lashes and five years of prison, only for expressing his opinion which was a basic human right. United Nations Watch asked Saudi Arabia to grant pardon to Raef Badawi and questioned the presence of Saudi Arabia in the Human Rights Council.

International Committee for the Respect and Application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights was concerned by the increase of human rights violations in the part of Kashmir occupied by Pakistan since 1947. Terrorist groups were spreading in this part of Kashmir where the increase in the practice of enforced disappearances was alarming.

Centre for Organizational Research and Education was alarmed by the grave human rights situation of religious minorities in India, where several journalists had been killed and many were under severe threats. Freedom of expression and freedom of assembly suffered from many restrictions. The Human Rights Council should communicate with India and ask the Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism to investigate human rights violations in the country.

Right of Reply

Egypt, speaking in a right of reply, stated that there were no constraints on foreign funding, including for civil society. With regards to the allegations of torture by a non-governmental organization, Egypt remarked that the release of such information strangely coincided with the Council’s session. Torture was criminalized and Egypt always cooperated with the United Nation bodies. It reported on all matters to the Working Group on enforced disappearances. Egypt expressed growing concern about the increasing Islamophobia in Germany, discriminatory tendencies, and acts of violence against migrants without any accountability.

Japan, speaking in a right of reply in response to the statements made by the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and two civil society organizations, noted that the allegations that Japan was exerting additional pressure on the Korean people were erroneous. In Japan, freedom of expression was guaranteed and could not be restricted. The Government was investing great efforts in renewing the infrastructure in Fukushima, while fully respecting the human rights of inhabitants, including women and children.

Turkey, speaking in a right of reply, said that Turkey had endured a heinous coup attempt. Turkey attached importance to the work of human rights defenders. A comprehensive reform process had been launched, and had contributed to an enabling environment for civil society. Turkey remarked that the state of emergency was permitted under the Turkish constitution and under international law. Judicial authorities had evidence concerning the terrorist organization behind the coup plot. Turkey had an active and pluralistic media community, and stressed that none of the ongoing judicial processes concerning journalists were related to the conduct of their profession, but were due to their affiliation in one way or another with terrorist organizations.

Iran, speaking in a right of reply, categorically rejected distortions by the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark and others. Abuse of the United Nations human rights mechanisms was a tactic by some States and such a failed practice was a manoeuvre to distract.

India, speaking in a right of reply, said that Pakistan concocted false narratives over Jammu and Kashmir, and that it had had territorial ambitions over Jammu and Kashmir for decades. Pakistan’s efforts were a textbook case of doublespeak. Religious minorities continued to face discrimination. Enforced disappearances continued, and more than a million people had been displaced as a result of the conflict in the north of the country. Pakistan should channel its energies toward putting its own house in order and should stop acting as the fountainhead of international terrorism.

Indonesia, speaking in a right of reply, rejected the allegations made by the Solomon Islands related to the situation of human rights in the provinces of Papua and West Papua, and stressed that the people in Papua and West Papua were free to move and stay in any other Indonesian province. The Government had continuously engaged in a dialogue with the local authorities in both provinces. The Special Rapporteur on the right to health had visited Indonesia and had met with non-governmental organizations in those provinces. Indonesia questioned the motivation of the delegation of the Solomon Islands that had not participated in the last Universal Periodic Review session, and urged this country to fulfil the fundamental rights of its own people.

China, speaking in a right of reply, said it was opposed to the allegations made against China by some countries that were keen on politicizing human rights issues. China urged those countries to protect human rights on their territories where minorities were often subjected to acts of discrimination. The situation of human rights in China had reached an unprecedented level of progress: living standards had improved and minorities enjoyed their rights. China was committed to promoting the rule of law and strengthening the protection of human rights, and affirmed that its judicial organs were dealing with cases in which other countries could not interfere.

Bahrain, speaking in a right of reply, stated that Bahrain had submitted its report to the Universal Periodic Review in May of this year. The Constitution guaranteed the right of opinion, expression and peaceful gatherings. Bahrain would not allow targeting of its human rights record nor absurd claims, which were not constructive. Bahrain called on Denmark and Ireland to curb Islamophobia and hate speech in their countries and respect the rights of minorities.

Azerbaijan, speaking in a right of reply in response to a number of countries, said that the Government had taken continuous steps to ensure a conducive environment for the functioning of non-governmental organizations and for further enhancing capacities of domestic non-governmental organizations. However, it was unfortunate that the efforts to ensure transparency in the activities of civil society were sometimes purposefully misinterpreted and presented in a distorted manner by some countries that used human rights as an instrument for exerting political pressure. Azerbaijan expressed concern over the rise of extremism, xenophobia and radicalization in Ireland, Norway and Luxembourg.

Philippines, speaking in a right of reply, said that the issues raised by some delegations had been addressed during the Universal Periodic Review process. The Philippines had internal mechanisms to investigate all law enforcement operations that led to deaths, and criminal and administrative cases against officials were being tried in appropriate judicial bodies. The Philippine Government was looking at all documented allegations of human rights violations in the course of the illegal drugs campaign and would continue to campaign against the drug menace to prevent the Philippines from becoming a “narco-state”. States should refrain from issuing sweeping statements.

Brazil, speaking in a right of reply, said that Brazil had mechanisms to combat forced labour and that it had been taking steps toward the elimination of modern slavery since 1995. In 2014, the Constitution had been amended to identify working conditions analogous to slavery. Brazil had been carrying out studies to find out how people could benefit from targeted services. Workers had been rescued from forced labour. The Ministry of Labour was ensuring the continuity of monitoring actions.

Russia, speaking in a right of reply, rejected the unfounded criticism of the European Union and the United States that continued to deny their own problems related to human rights and urged those countries to focus on resolving their own issues. Russia called on Ukraine to stop interfering in the affairs of other countries and to address its own issues. Any human rights violations committed in any Russian district were verified by the relevant authorities and perpetrators were brought to justice, reaffirmed Russia.

Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, said that the 12 citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea present on its territory had escaped their country of origin of their own free will. They were now living in freedom in the Republic of Korea. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should put an end to its repeated allegations.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, rejected the politically motivated statements of Japan, United Kingdom, “South Korea”, and United States. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had been targeted for over half a century by the United States and compelled to take self-defense measures and build its nuclear arsenal. The delegation rejected the mandate of the anachronistic Special Rapporteur and the Commission of Inquiry, though it was still cooperating with human rights mechanisms and was reporting to the treaty bodies. The United States, Japan and “South Korea” had their own track record of torture, crimes against humanity, genocide and abductions, so the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea raised concern over their double standards and hypocrisy and called upon those countries to address their own systematic abuses before anything else.

Venezuela, speaking in a right of reply, said that the United States was the most interventionist empire in history, plotting to demonize the Government of President Maduro and democracy in Venezuela through an information campaign which had been echoed in some countries, resulting in the repetition of lies. For 20 years, Venezuela had been a robust democracy in which 22 national elections had taken place. The empire of the United States had massacred thousands of people through their preventive wars, so it was strange that they would stand to accuse anyone. The United States had no moral grounds to speak on human rights.

Pakistan, speaking in a right of reply, said that Pakistan had shown great restraint and that India’s negative attitude had left it with no choice but to expose this country. The horrific atrocities in Kashmir were part of India’s systematic disregard for human dignity. According to reports, rape was used against women by the Indian security forces to humiliate the entire community. More than 35 incidents of rape had occurred last year, and India had become the rape capital of the world. A Manipur State policeman had been involved in more than 100 extrajudicial executions. India’s policy of State-perpetrated terrorism was now biting them back. A number of churches had been vandalized, and the beef ban movement was moving to new states.

Japan, speaking in a second right of reply, categorically rejected the statement made by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, saying that it was regrettable that this country had not responded to the concerns of the international community with respect to the situation of its own people. Japan urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to take constructive steps forward.

Republic of Korea, speaking in a second right of reply in response to the irresponsible distortions by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, said that more than 30,000 people had escaped to the Republic of Korea, a number which spoke for itself.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in a second right of reply, said that in the past, Japan had been responsible for the abduction of 8.4 million people as well as for military sexual slavery acts. Japan had never acknowledged its past crimes against humanity. Today, the rights of Korean citizens were regularly violated in Japan. “South Korea” had a low human rights record and had forcibly abducted 12 citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.



For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC/17/135E