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Human Rights Council adopts 16 texts on Sri Lanka, Syria, unilateral coercive measures and the death penalty

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AFTERNOON 1 October 2015 The Human Rights Council today adopted 16 texts on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, the grave and deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, the death penalty, and on human rights and unilateral coercive measures, among others.

Other texts extended the term of all Working Group mandate holders for two regular sessions of the Human Rights Council; approved two annual sessions for the Working Group with the mandate to negotiate, finalize and submit to the Human Rights Council a draft United Nations declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas; and pertained to the contribution of parliaments to the work of the Council and its Universal Periodic Review, the review of the mandate of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights, the progress and challenges in addressing human rights issues in the context of efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030, human rights and the administration of justice, the right to peace, the use of mercenaries, human rights and indigenous peoples, equal participation in public affairs, and reports of the Advisory Committee.

In a resolution on the grave and deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, adopted by a vote of 29 in favour, six against and 12 abstentions, the Council demanded that the Syrian authorities grant immediate, full and unfettered access throughout the Syrian Arab Republic to the Commission of Inquiry, and demanded that all parties work urgently towards the comprehensive implementation of the Geneva communiqué.

The Council encouraged Sri Lanka to investigate all alleged attacks on journalists, human rights defenders, members of religious minority groups and other members of civil society, and requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to present an oral update to the Human Rights Council at its thirty­second session on the implementation of its recommendations and other relevant processes related to reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka.

By a vote of 33 in favour, 14 against and no abstentions, the Council requested the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights to focus in his next reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, on the human rights of victims and to address the issues of remedies and redress with a view to promoting accountability and reparations.

The Council decided, by a vote of 26 in favour, 13 against and eight abstentions, that the biennial high­level panel to be held at the thirty­fourth session of the Human Rights Council, would address the human rights violations related to the use of the death penalty, in particular with respect to the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

By a vote of 32 in favour, 14 against and one abstention, the Council requested the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self­determination to report its findings on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self­determination to the General Assembly at its seventy­first session and to the Human Rights Council at its thirty­third session.