Human Rights Council Hears Presentations by the High Commissioner on Cambodia, Georgia, Yemen and the Philippines and Holds General Debate on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building - Cambodia - ReliefWeb

قبل 2 أسابيع 110

The Human Rights Council this afternoon heard presentations by Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, on Cambodia, Georgia, Yemen and the Philippines, and held a general debate on technical assistance and capacity building.

In Cambodia, the High Commissioner said the Government’s important economic recovery policies and social protection programmes for vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 crisis were welcomed. The report highlighted heavy reliance on law enforcement to curb the pandemic, including through the newly enacted COVID-19 law, which granted law enforcement with sweeping powers, leading to the curtailment of human rights.

Concerning Georgia, recent high rates of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Georgia were concerning, said Ms. Bachelet. She urged effective investigation of violence by homophobic groups in Tbilisi on 5 July, which had resulted in injuries to over 50 journalists and, reportedly into the death of a television cameraman. With respect to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, she regretted that she must again report that the Office continued to be refused access, despite the Council's repeated requests.

On Yemen, the High Commissioner said that the conflict was in its seventh year, with no peace in sight and no respite for the civilian population. Since the escalation of the conflict in March 2015, the Office had verified, as of 6 October 2021, the killing of 8,218 civilians, including 2,270 children, and the injury of 13,283 civilians. Parties to the conflict had continued to act with little regard to their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law.

On the Philippines, the High Commissioner said her Office had been working with other stakeholders to develop a three-year United Nations joint programme on human rights. Regarding accountability for security force personnel alleged to have committed human rights violations, there had been some initial developments. Despite steps, reports of continuing and severe human rights violations across the country were concerning.

Cambodia, speaking as a country concerned, stressed that while the Human Rights Council provided commendable technical assistance to countries, the report on Cambodia was based on false claims and it was a compilation of selectivity and bigotry.

Georgia, speaking as a country concerned, stressed that despite the pandemic, deprivation of life, torture, ill-treatment and arbitrary detention continued in Russian-occupied areas in Georgia. Russia was taking steps towards de facto annexation of Georgia’s regions.

Philippines, speaking as a country concerned, said that concerning the police reform, disciplinary and accountability mechanisms were being developed. As for the alleged reprisals against human rights defenders, there were sufficient legal remedies in place.

Yemen, speaking as a country concerned, confirmed that the national human rights institution was independent and fully effective. The Council was called upon to continue discussing Yemen under agenda item 10 on technical assistance and capacity building.

In the general debate, speakers called for the establishment of periodic, transparent and objective evaluation mechanisms for technical assistance and capacity-building programmes, to assess their suitability and to put adaptation measures in place. Some speakers launched a call for the appropriate use of technical assistance, highlighting that sometimes countries had been coerced to accept technical assistance. Technical assistance should be provided to countries, on a strictly voluntary basis, without politicisation. The Council was called upon to advocate for universal access to vaccines.

Speaking in the general debate were: Slovenia on behalf of the European Union, Egypt on behalf of Arab States, Brunei Darussalam on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Finland on behalf of Nordic-Baltic countries, Pakistan on behalf of Organization for Islamic Cooperation, Bahrain on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Cameroon on behalf of African Group, Azerbaijan on behalf of Non-aligned movement, Gambia on behalf of group of countries, Mali on behalf of a group of countries, Cabo Verde on behalf of a group of countries, United Kingdom on behalf of a group of countries, Zambia on behalf of a group of countries, Pakistan on behalf of a group of countries, China on behalf of a group of countries, Germany, France, Venezuela, Indonesia, Bahrain, Cuba, Russian Federation, India, Nepal, China, Pakistan, Sudan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Poland, Bulgaria, Mauritania, Libya, Eritrea, Egypt, Sierra Leone, Finland, Kuwait, Lithuania, Switzerland, Iraq, Costa Rica, South Africa, Morocco, United States, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Republic of Moldova, Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Lesotho, Sri Lanka, South Sudan, Surinam, Viet Nam, United Nations Women, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, Brunei Darussalam, Benin, Lebanon, Iran, Ethiopia, Turkey, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Thailand and Sweden.

Taking the floor was the following national human rights institution: Commission of Human Rights of the Philippines. Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: International Drug Policy Consortium, Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearances, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Franciscans International, The International Organisation for LDCs, International Commission of Jurists, ASEAN Forum for Human Rights and Development, Zéro Pauvre Afrique, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Amnesty International, International Harm Reduction Association, Action Rights Watch Canada, Solidarité Suisse-Guinée, Next Century Foundation, Tamil Students in France, Action of Human Movement, and Center for Africa Development and Progress.

The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s forty-eighth regular session can be found here.

The Council will next meet in public at 3:40 p.m. to start taking action on draft resolutions and decisions.

Presentation by the High Commissioner for Human Rights

MICHELLE BACHELET, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, introducing the report on Cambodia, said it provided an overview of the work of the country office in Cambodia from 1 June 2020 to 31 May 2021. The report welcomed the Government’s important economic recovery policies and social protection programmes for vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 crisis. On the other hand, it also highlighted heavy reliance on law enforcement to curb the pandemic, including through the newly enacted COVID-19 law, which granted law enforcement sweeping powers, leading to the curtailment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. By the time the report was prepared, the Office of the High Commissioner had received credible reports that at least 110 individuals were being held in pre-trial detention and 16 received prison sentences through summary trials for violating COVID-19 restrictions. Civic and democratic space in Cambodia had seen further deterioration. Human rights defenders were routinely harassed and intimidated, while trade union activists reported broad restrictions on peaceful assembly. The Office remained extremely concerned about the impunity for attacks against political activists and human rights defenders. The Office of the High Commissioner would continue to work with the Government of Cambodia and other stakeholders, with a view to ensuring that the human rights of all people in Cambodia were fully respected and protected.

Concerning cooperation with Georgia, the report provided an update on the technical assistance delivered by the Office as well as information on key human rights developments from 1 June 2020 to 31 May 2021. Ms. Bachelet said she was particularly concerned about the recent high rates of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Georgia. She urged effective investigation of violence by homophobic groups in Tbilisi on 5 July, which resulted in injuries to over 50 journalists and, reportedly into the death of a television cameraman. She echoed concerns recently voiced regarding aspects of the nomination and appointment processes for Supreme Court judges in Georgia. With respect to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, she regretted that she must again report that the Office continued to be refused access, despite the Council's repeated requests. The COVID-19 pandemic had heightened the Office’s concerns about the negative impact of some discriminatory measures imposed in and around Abkhazia and South Ossetia. She was also concerned about continuing allegations of human rights violations resulting from discrimination based on ethnic grounds, particularly affecting ethnic Georgians who mainly resided in the Gali district of Abkhazia and the Akhalgori district of South Ossetia. She encouraged all relevant actors to implement the recommendations in this and previous reports to the Council, and to place human rights at the centre of the response to and recovery from COVID-19.

Concerning Yemen, Ms. Bachelet said the conflict in Yemen was in its seventh year, with no peace in sight and no respite for the civilian population. Since the escalation of the conflict in March 2015, the Office had verified, as of 6 October 2021, the killing of 8,218 civilians, including 2,270 children, and the injury of 13,283 civilians. Parties to the conflict had continued to act with little regard to their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law. Numerous attacks targeting or disproportionately impacting civilians or civilian objects during the past year may amount to war crimes. Parties to the conflict also continued to commit extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, torture, child recruitment and forced displacement, among other violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law. Yemen remained the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 20 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and protection – more than 12 million of them in acute need. Four million people had been displaced; 83 per cent of them were women and children. Urgent funding across all sectors was needed to avert large-scale famine and she called on all donors to step up. The National Commission faced multiple challenges. The report included recommendations to reinforce the work and impact of the Commission. One chief priority concerned the need for the Yemeni Government to renew the mandate of the Commission, which expired in August. The Commission's mandate should also be strengthened so that it could effectively fulfil its role as an independent mechanism, and sufficient financial resources should be provided to expand its accessibility and outreach, and to enable the Commission to extend beyond its current focus on criminal accountability and expand work on transitional justice.

Moving on to the update on the Philippines, Ms. Bachelet said the Office of the High Commissioner had been working closely with the United Nations Country Team, the Government, the National Human Rights Commission, and a wide range of civil society actors to develop a three-year United Nations joint programme on human rights in the Philippines. The joint programme aimed to achieve concrete and measurable progress, especially in the key areas identified in the resolution: domestic investigative and accountability measures; data gathering on alleged police violations; civic space, and engagement with civil society and the Commission on Human Rights; reporting and follow-up to human rights mechanisms; and human rights-based approaches to counter-terrorism and drug control. Priority activities had been identified, and several had now commenced. Given serious concerns regarding the human rights implications of the Anti-Terrorism Act adopted last year, the joint programme also sought to bolster the role of the National Human Rights Commission in monitoring counter-terrorism measures. Regarding accountability for security force personnel alleged to have committed crimes or human rights violations, there had been some initial developments. Despite steps, she remained disturbed by reports of continuing and severe human rights violations and abuses across the country.

Statements by Countries Concerned

Cambodia, speaking as a country concerned, stressed that while the Human Rights Council provided commendable technical assistance to countries, the report was based on false claims and it was a compilation of selectivity and bigotry. It was erroneous to state that the COVID-19 response in Cambodia was restricting human rights as it was one of the rare countries around the world that did not introduce a state of emergency.

Georgia, speaking as a country concerned, stressed that despite the pandemic, deprivation of life, torture, ill-treatment and arbitrary detention continued in Russian-occupied areas in Georgia. Against this backdrop, refugees and internally displaced persons remained deprived of their basic human rights. Russia was taking steps towards de facto annexation of Georgia’s regions. Education was being used as a tool for this venture. There was an illegal decision to prohibit Georgian language education in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions.

Philippines, speaking as a country concerned, said that the United Nations joint programme was bringing together United Nations, national authorities and different stakeholders around subjects of accountability and the rule of law, and the Government had contributed $ 200,000 towards this end. Concerning the police reform, disciplinary and accountability mechanisms were being developed. As for the alleged reprisals against human rights defenders, there were sufficient legal remedies in place.

Yemen, speaking as a country concerned, confirmed that the national human rights institution was independent and fully affective. The efforts of the international community had not lived up to the need to deal with the main cause of the disaster in Yemen. The reason for the conflict was the Houthi militias that were fighting against the legitimate authorities. Houthi militias were targeting civilian areas, causing numerous casualties and preventing access to medicine and food of 35,000 people. The Council was called upon to continue discussing Yemen under agenda item 10 on technical assistance and capacity building.

General Debate on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building

Speakers welcomed the cooperation of Georgia with the Office of the High Commissioner, as well as the technical assistance provided by the Office. Georgian authorities were called upon to address remaining shortfalls outlined in the report and implement the recommendations. Speakers called on the authorities to increase the independence, accountability and quality of the justice system through a broad, inclusive and cross-party reform process, including through a substantive reform of the High Council of Justice. In Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the pandemic had heightened concerns about the human rights and humanitarian situations.

Some speakers called on Cambodia to fully cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner and to ensure the safety of anyone cooperating with the Office. Speakers regretted that the Special Rapporteur had not been able to visit Cambodia. Growing restrictions on civil society and the shrinking of democratic space in the country were concerning. Other speakers said that Cambodia was cooperating with the Office and invited the Office to rely on objective facts when drafting reports.

Although the Philippines’ commitment to engage in technical cooperation under the United Nations joint programme was welcomed, some speakers said that widespread human rights violations persisted. The war on illegal drugs continued to result in numerous killings. The Philippines must ensure that reports of enforced disappearances and deaths in the campaign against illegal drugs were investigated and that perpetrators were brought to justice. In that respect the Philippines was called upon to cooperate with the International Criminal Court.

On Yemen, some speakers launched an appeal for increased international efforts to reach a political solution to the crisis, based on relevant regional and international initiatives. Support was expressed for the work of the Yemeni Independent National Commission, especially in collecting evidence and addressing human rights violations. It was important to continue to provide technical assistance to countries without undermining their national sovereignty.

Speakers reiterated the importance of item 10 on technical assistance and capacity building as vital in promoting respect for human rights, especially in light of the current health crisis and its repercussions on the human rights situation across the world. Some speakers called for the establishment of periodic, transparent, and objective evaluation mechanisms for technical assistance and capacity-building programmes, to assess their suitability and to put adaptation measures in place. Actions of the United Nations Trust Fund for Technical Cooperation and the Trust Fund for Voluntary Technical were praised as they supported the participation of least developed countries and small island developing States in the work of the Council. Countries reaffirmed their commitment to working with other States and stakeholders to advance technical cooperation for the full and effective enjoyment of human rights. The human rights agenda had suffered unprecedented setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making the technical assistance provided by the Council essential in assisting States in building back better.

Some speakers launched a call for the appropriate use of technical assistance, highlighting that sometimes countries were coerced to accept technical assistance. This undermined the spirit of constructive engagement and partnership, as technical assistance must be based on the principle of consent of the State concerned. Technical assistance should be provided to countries on a strictly voluntary basis, without politicisation, and considering the priorities and needs of each country. This meant that funding for technical assistance should be decoupled from donors’ political interests. The Council was called upon to advocate for universal access to vaccines as this was the main issue facing the developing world, in addition to socio-economic problems they were facing. Some speakers informed of their voluntary contributions in support of the work of the United Nations treaty bodies. The High Commissioner was called to redouble her efforts in the provision of technical assistance.

The current pandemic had reversed valuable gains towards achieving the 2030 Agenda. Therefore, there was an increased need for constructive multilateralism through enhanced international solidarity and increased cooperation amongst States and relevant United Nations organizations. To ensure that human rights standards were translated into practice, technical assistance and capacity-building measures should have an equal focus on civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. The efforts of the Office of the High Commissioner to assist accountability processes, support human rights defenders and support countries in transition had been pivotal in advancing legislation to protect human rights and democracy. Countries were encouraged to implement technical assistance and capacity building that was inclusive of minority groups and women and girls. The technical assistance should take stock of existing situations in the countries, particularly the health situation. Poorer nations, conflict and post-conflict countries, small island developing States and countries heavily affected by natural hazards and by the pandemic had to receive support from the international community, United Nations agencies and international organizations.

Link: https://www.ungeneva.org/en/news-media/meeting-summary/2021/10/le-conseil-entend-la-presentation-de-rapports-sur-le-cambodge-la

اثرأ بقية الخبر