Human Rights Council discusses technical assistance to Sri Lanka, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen and Cambodia
25 September 2013
The Human Rights Council this afternoon heard the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights present updates and country reports on the situation of human rights in Sri Lanka, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yemen and Cambodia under its agenda item on technical assistance and capacity building.
Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, provided an oral update on Sri Lanka on behalf of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. She said the majority of the persons who had been internally displaced at the end of the armed conflict had now returned or been resettled. The High Commissioner had heard complaints about the continuing high levels of harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists, and about the rule of law and democratic institutions in Sri Lanka being undermined and eroded.
Turning to the report of the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights and the activities of her office in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ms. Pansieri said that sexual violence remained a major concern, both in terms of its scope and its systematic nature, particularly in the east. The Government’s efforts to fight impunity, improve prison conditions and establish its national human rights commission were encouraging.
Concerning the report on the situation of human rights in Yemen, Ms. Pansieri said that further steps were necessary to ensure the sustainability of efforts to address past and chronic violations. Children continued to be recruited both by the armed forces and by armed groups, while there were frequent tribal road blockades and persistent sabotaging of electricity, oil and gas infrastructure,
The Deputy High Commissioner said that the report on Cambodia showed that there had been considerable progress in prison reform, and the capacity of lawyers had been strengthened through joint activities with the Bar Association. With assistance from the Office of the High Commissioner, Cambodia’s interaction with the international human rights mechanisms had improved and the country was preparing for its second review under the Universal Periodic Review.
The Deputy High Commissioner also briefly presented the report on the Central African Republic, but it was considered in an interactive dialogue in the previous meeting and a summary of the proceedings can be found here.
Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sri Lanka and Yemen spoke as concerned countries.
Cambodia said that progress had been made with regard to critical issues such as land and judicial reform. With the assistance of the High Commissioner’s Office, a lawyers’ code of conduct had been put in place. Cambodia acknowledged shortcomings and limited capacity in cross-cutting issues of human rights.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo said it had taken various measures to improve the administration of justice and to combat impunity. Trials were organized against perpetrators of grave human rights violations. The resurgence of the conflict in the east, the poverty of the population and the limited national budget were major constraints to implement human rights.
Sri Lanka said that the report was not objective but the outcome of a politicized process. Last Saturday free and fair elections had taken place in three major Sri Lankan provinces, which demonstrated that democracy was functioning in the country. Work remained to be done to complete the ongoing reconciliation process in Sri Lanka, but positive steps had been taken to address the issue of accountability.
Yemen said that after a long conflict Yemen had responded to the call for national reconciliation and an office of the High Commissioner was opened in the country. The most urgent issues were detained persons as a result of the revolution and Yemen was pursuing a rights-based approach to justice. Despite the challenges faced, Yemen was moving forward in pursuit of human rights by drafting laws that would address such issues as human trafficking.
The Human Rights Council will reconvene on Thursday, 26 September at 10 a.m. to hold a general debate on technical assistance and capacity building. The Council will then start taking action on draft resolutions and decisions.