Human Rights Council
13 June 2007
Discusses Reports on Right to Truth and Human Rights and Arbitrary Deprivation of Nationality
The Human Rights Council discussed the report of the expert group on the situation of human rights in Darfur in a midday meeting today, before going on to debate reports on the right to truth and human rights and arbitrary deprivation of nationality.
Sima Samar, the Chairperson of the expert group, said the group had reviewed all pre-existing United Nations human rights recommendations and identified priority areas, selecting a number of recommendations for each priority area, and outlining practical steps that should be taken by the Government of Sudan to improve the human rights situation on the ground, as well as identifying indicators to measure the status of implementation. Ever since the last session of the Human Rights Council, serious violations had continued in Darfur. The group recommended that the Government of Sudan take urgent action to prevent further violations, and recommended that the Council remain seized of the matter. The Council should continue to monitor the human rights situation, review the implementation of the compilation of recommendations, and evaluate progress made at its forthcoming sessions.
Sudan, speaking as the concerned country, said Sudan was committed to maintaining its course of cooperation with the Council in the spirit of dialogue and abstention from selectivity and politicization that were the hallmarks of the Council in its new form. Sudan had demonstrated its seriousness in relation to the resolution by the commitment it had made to the expert group to implement a number of its recommendations within the timeframe suggested. In its recommendations, the expert group had also urged the international community to render assistance and technical support to Sudan so that it could implement the recommendations on Darfur. In that regard, Sudan requested the Council to recommend that a focal point be appointed to follow-up those needs, and expected that the Council would heed the concerns of Sudan in regard to meeting them.
In concluding remarks, Walter Kalin, the Rapporteur of the expert group, said the group stood ready to continue its work, and much remained to be done. Violations on human rights in Darfur should end. Protection of civilians and justice and accountability for the perpetrators were needed and a peaceful solution to the conflict had to be found. The expert group looked forward to cooperation with the Government of Sudan. The time had come for concrete measures. The group hoped to report a real improvement in the situation on the ground at the next meeting of the Council.
Other members of the expert group are Hina Jilani, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders; Yakin Erturk, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict; and Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
In the interactive dialogue on the report on the situation of human rights in Darfur, speakers noted that the seriousness of the situation in Darfur was not in doubt. New recommendations were not needed but existing ones needed to be implemented. The cooperation of the Government of Sudan with the group of experts was welcomed and commended. Speakers urged that dialogue and cooperation were the way forward, and that they should be used to deal with other issues before the Council. There were concerns about the seriousness of the continuing human rights violations being perpetrated in Darfur and the lack of accountability for the perpetrators of those violations. The civil population was still the victim of the violence. The use of sexual violence against women and girls as a weapon of war continued. The Government was urged to act upon its promises and implement the various mechanisms it had proposed.
Speaking in the interactive dialogue on the report on Darfur were Representatives of Germany on behalf of the European Union, Algeria on behalf of the African Group, Morocco, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Australia, Norway, France, African Union, Yemen, China, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Russian Federation, United States, Tunisia, Palestine, Iceland, Malaysia, Iraq on behalf of the Arab Group, Republic of Korea, Canada, Switzerland and Syria.
The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Amnesty International, International Federation for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, in a joint statement with International Commission of Jurists, Femme Afrique Solidarité, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Hawa Society for Women, World Federation of Trade Unions and African-American Society for Humanitarian Aid and Development, and Native Women's Association of Canada.
The Council then discussed reports on the right to truth and human rights and arbitrary deprivation of nationality.
Speaking on the reports on the right to truth and human rights and arbitrary deprivation of nationality were Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Switzerland, Uruguay, France, Spain, Bolivia, Russian Federation and Cuba.
The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: International Indian Treaty Council and Action Canada for Population Development.
Iran and Lebanon exercised their right of reply.
The Council is meeting today non-stop from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.. It immediately started the afternoon meeting after its midday meeting during which it will start discussions on institution building within the Council.
Report of Expert Group on Situation of Human Rights in Darfur
The Council has before it the report on the situation of human rights in Darfur prepared by the group of experts mandated by Human Rights Council resolution 4/8 (A/HRC/5/6). The group of seven mandate holders carried out their task of ensuring the effective follow-up and fostering the implementation of resolutions and recommendations on Darfur, as adopted by the Human Rights Council, the former Commission on Human Rights and other UN human rights institutions, as well as the task of promoting the implementation of relevant recommendations of the other UN human rights mechanisms, taking into account the needs of Sudan, and contributing to the monitoring of the human rights situation on the ground. The group held two meetings in Geneva. During the first meeting they discussed a methodology for implementation of resolution 4/8, reviewed all pre-existing human rights recommendations and identified priority areas. In addition, the group selected and synthesized a number of recommendations which could improve the human rights situation in Darfur. The group also outlined steps to be undertaken in order to implement the recommendations in the short and medium terms. During the second meeting, the group reviewed the response of the Government of Sudan, held consultations with an interministerial delegation from Khartoum, and decided about its conclusions and recommendations.
In its conclusions, the group reiterates its concern regarding the human rights situation in Darfur, expressed by the Council in resolution 4/8. The group urges the Government to implement without delay the recommendations it committed itself to put into practice, and to continue its dialogue with the experts group on the implementation of other recommendations made by the group. The group also recommends that a review, to ascertain the level of implementation of human rights recommendations, take place three months after the publication of this report and that the results of this review be reported to the seventh session of the Council. The group further invites relevant UN bodies and agencies, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to provide the support and technical assistance to the extent necessary for the implementation of these recommendations, and called upon donors to provide funds for this support and technical assistance.
Presentation of Report of Expert Group on Situation of Human Rights in Darfur
SIMA SAMAR, Chairperson of the Group of Mandate Holders pursuant to resolution A/HRC/4/8: Follow-up to the decision of 13 December 2006 entitled situation of human rights in Darfur (S-4/101), said the group believed that the approach chosen by the Council was not only an innovative and promising way to deal with grave human rights situations but also by focusing on implementation it provided another opportunity for the Government of the Sudan to demonstrate its commitment to the protection of human rights in accordance with its obligations under international law. The group had reviewed all pre-existing United Nations human rights recommendations and identified priority areas, selecting a number of recommendations for each priority area, and outlining practical steps that should be taken by the Government to improve the human rights situation on the ground, as well as identifying indicators to measure the status of implementation.
The commitment and cooperation of national, regional and international mechanisms, first and foremost the Council, were crucial to improve the human rights situation in Darfur. The group fully shared the deep concern of the Council, expressed in its resolution 4/8, regarding the seriousness of the ongoing human rights violations and international humanitarian law in Darfur, as well as the lack of accountability for perpetrators of such crimes. Ever since the last session of the Human Rights Council, serious violations had continued in Darfur. The group recommended that the Government take urgent action to prevent further violations, and recommended that the Council remain seized of the matter. It should continue to monitor the human rights situation, review the implementation of the compilation of recommendations, and evaluate progress made at its forthcoming sessions.
All parties to the conflict were called upon to put an end to all acts of violence against civilians, with a special focus on the protection of women and vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly and internally displaced persons, as well as human rights defenders and humanitarian workers. The Government should ensure that all allegations of human rights violations and international humanitarian law be duly investigated, and those found to be responsible be promptly brought to justice. Respect for human rights was an unconditional State obligation that did not depend on the availability of financial and technical support. Urgent action was required to protect the population in Darfur. The group welcomed the promises of the Government to improve the human rights situation and urged it to implement these and the recommendations of the group without delay. It was improvement in the human rights situation on the ground which would provide the measurement of any real progress.
Statement by Concerned Country on Report on Situation of Human Rights in Darfur
SETAH ELDIN ABUZAID (Sudan) said that Sudan had accorded due attention to the issues of human rights in the past out of its concern that those rights should be promoted and enhanced, as the unprecedented cooperation of Sudan with the Council in its special session on Darfur bore witness. To understand the human rights situation in Darfur, the general region of the situation had to be taken into account. What stood out clearly was that the armed conflict in Darfur had been a breeding ground for all forms of violations of human rights. Nevertheless, Sudan was committed to maintaining its course of cooperation with the Council in the spirit of dialogue and abstention from selectivity and politicization that were the hallmarks of the Council in its new form.
Sudan's dialogue with the team of experts had been characterized by candour and transparency, and had led to some progress and approximation of views. Sudan recalled that resolution 4/8 establishing the group of experts had stipulated clearly that follow-up of the recommendations by the United Nations and its related bodies take into consideration the needs of Sudan. Sudan had demonstrated its seriousness in relation to the resolution by the commitment it had made to the expert group to implement a number of its recommendations within the timeframe suggested. In its recommendations, the expert group had also urged the international community to render assistance and technical support to Sudan so that it could implement the recommendations on Darfur. In that regard, Sudan requested the Council to recommend that a focal point be appointed to follow-up those needs, and expected that the Council would heed the concerns of Sudan in regard to meeting them.
Interactive Dialogue on Report on Situation of Human Rights in Darfur
MICHAEL STEINER (Germany), speaking on behalf of the European Union, thanked the expert group. The seriousness of the situation in Darfur was not in doubt. New recommendations were not needed but existing ones needed to be implemented. The group of experts had taken on this task and produced good results, underlining again the added value of independent experts to the Council. The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Sima Samar, had clearly shown that responsibility for the situation in Sudan lay with the Government of Sudan. It was essential that the good cooperation so far led to change in the situation on the ground. The European Union was concerned about violations of human rights and humanitarian law, notably incidences of sexual violence and aerial bombings. These must cease and the perpetrators had to be held responsible. The expert group had pragmatically shown the measures needed to improve the situation, and cooperation should be stepped up. The mandate of the expert group should be extended. In partnership, an innovative approach had been developed, but the issue was really to be judged by real improvements on the ground.
IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the report was appreciated, in particular the consultation that went on between the Special Procedures and the regional groups. There had been quite a challenge, and the group had wisely made a selection of 40-odd key recommendations which fell within the responsibility of the Council; it had also established a timeframe. The outcome was positive. The African Group had been involved in contributing to addressing the issue of Darfur at the level of the Council in a spirit of dialogue and cooperation, and some people were sceptical as to how far this could advance the situation. A consensus had been reached at the special session, and another at the fourth session of the Council. A draft resolution would be submitted welcoming the report of the Group of Experts, and requesting that they continue to work in order to submit by the end of the year their report, with a possibility for an update in between.
There was confidence that yet another consensus would be reached in terms of addressing this delicate issue. What was important was the evolution of the situation on the ground. The dialogue between the team of experts and Sudan was open and frank, and the Government of Sudan said it was committed to maintaining cooperation with the Council. On the whole, it was felt that the situation was still very challenging in the field, but that an agreement had been reached on the broader force of the African Union and the United Nations to reinforce the limited troops on the ground was most welcomed. The Council had enhanced its status by effectively contributing to a solution to a problem which was fraught with enormous difficulties.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco) said that Morocco took note of the report on Darfur with great interest. As part of the African Group, Morocco had participated in the group that drafted the resolution establishing that mandate. Morocco welcomed the results that had been achieved, which could not have been done without the clear will to cooperate that had been expressed by the Sudanese authorities. Nor would they have been achieved without the pragmatic and logical approach adopted by the group of experts. Morocco welcomed these developments, and saw on the horizon the development of consensus among the Council. It was to be hoped that the spirit in which the Council had addressed the situation in Darfur would be maintained in dealing with other subjects. Morocco also endorsed the appeal that had been made by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Sudan, Sima Samar, to donors.
RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba) said the report was the result of a fresh and significant climate of cooperation which it was now clear could be achieved. The work of the experts was commended. The work of the African Group was to be emphasised - it showed commitment on the regional level to find a solution to the issue. Where there was a will of countries in the region to make headway, even in such a difficult situation, it was possible to find a solution. There could be continued progress through cooperation and through the involvement of the Sudanese authorities.
On this matter, Cuba believed the development component had a fundamental role to play in resolving and addressing the problems that had given rise to the so-called crisis in Darfur. The victims were not merely victims of excesses on the part of individuals, but also of under-development, hunger, and the whole issue of poverty. This also affected other regions of Africa, and the international community should step up its efforts in this respect. The United Nations Development Programme could contribute to the work of the Council in this regard. The Government and authorities in Sudan required assistance if they were to solve the needs of the population.
ENOS MAFEMBA (Zimbabwe) thanked Special Rapporteur Sima Samar for the report. The actions undertaken by Sudan would enable the Council to recognize that it had to adopt an objective and unpoliticized approach in human rights. Dialogue and cooperation were the way to move forward. Zimbabwe urged the Council to adopt cooperation mechanisms on all issues. The international community should work with the Government of Sudan. The focal point should be identified to assure the needs of those identified.
ROBYN MUDIE (Australia) thanked the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan for her presentation of the report of the expert group on Darfur, and for the report's recommendations. Australia noted in particular the concern expressed about the seriousness of the continuing human rights violations being perpetrated in Darfur and the lack of accountability for the perpetrators of those violations. Australia supported the formulation of strong and effective follow-up steps to the report. Australia wished to underscore the statement made in that report that, while the commitments of the Government and its initiatives were important, it was improvement in the human rights situation on the ground that would provide the measurement of any progress made. A credible follow-up by the Council to the report was crucial if it were to remain credible in this matter.
VEBJORN HEINES (Norway) said the approach taken by the group had been constructive and cooperative, in line with the resolution. It was particularly appreciated that the group had based its work on the wide range of existing information, and that they had chosen to work on existing recommendations in a forward-looking manner. The cooperation by the Government was welcomed and appreciated, including by agreeing on a substantial number of recommendations, and expressing willingness to partially or fully implement or to continue implementing these recommendations.
Norway fully supported the conclusions and recommendations in the report, and particularly appreciated the recommendation to finalise a work plan for the implementation of the recommendations, taking into account their short- and medium-term character, and that the expert group report back to the Council on the level of implementation within the suggested timeframe. It was essential that the Council act on these recommendations in a concrete manner and remain seized of the situation in Darfur. The deployment of the joint African Union/United Nations force in Darfur was the key measure in order to improve the situation for the civilian population in Darfur.
JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT (France) said France associated itself by the statement made by Germany on behalf of the European Union. The recommendations in the report were crucial with regard to putting an end to violence against all civilians in Darfur. The expert group should work in the best conditions and produce a new report. Different aspects were mentioned, security among others. The civilian population was still the victim of violence. Two Sudanese individuals were suspected of war crimes and the Government of Sudan was called upon to ensure that those individuals appeared before the International Criminal Court. Assistance should be provided to the civilian population in Darfur. The deployment of a joint United Nations/African Union force was welcomed in order to protect civilians.
The process of the return of displaced persons needed to be re-launched. There was also a very difficult situation in Chad, concerning humanitarian and security conditions. France hoped that the security of the people there could rapidly be restored. A political sustainable solution had to be found. A re-launch pf the peace process should take place. Everyone should support dialogue in this crucial time. The political process had been launched. France was committed to provide all its assistance to the people in Sudan.
KHADIJA RACHIDA MASRI (African Union) congratulated the experts for their report on the situation of human rights in Darfur, and supported the statement made by Algeria on behalf of the African Group in that regard. The African Union was delighted to note that the Sudanese Government had accepted the formula arrived at by the African Union and the United Nations to deploy a joint international force in Darfur. The deployment of such a joint peacekeeping force would greatly aid the humanitarian situation there, would allow for access to humanitarian assistance, and would foster the return of internally displaced persons. The African Union called on the international community to provide all necessary assistance, financial and logistic, to carry out that mission. The African Union looked forward to cooperation with all the stakeholders, as well as to the implementation by the Sudanese Government of the recommendations made in the report. That would have a positive impact and enable a substantial improvement in the human rights situation in Darfur. For its part, cooperation by the African Union and its members would be stepped up to ensure the fulfilment by the group of experts of all aspects of its mandate.
WALID ALETHARY (Yemen) said the group of experts were to be thanked for their report on the situation of human rights in Darfur. The work of the group was based on transparency and cooperation. Consultations had been held with the Government, and these had been transparent and objective and led to major success. The way forward was clear, and all should work to overcome obstacles. The international community should facilitate assistance to Sudan, in particular by coordinating all donor States.
LA YIFAN (China) said China appreciated the report's contents. The Government of Sudan had sent high-level officials to Geneva to take part in the discussion, which was a good sign of cooperation. It was hoped that both parties would continue their cooperation in a good way. Various bodies in the United Nations system and donors should provide active assistance to the Government of Sudan. Many difficult factors, among others poverty, needed to be addressed. Some positive progress had been made on this issue. All parties must show the strength and patience and pursue a dialogue so that the Government would fully implement the plan to bring peace, stability and development to the country.
China had been actively engaged with the Sudanese Government to help implement the plan, he said. Moreover, China decided to despatch a unit of army engineers to take part in peacekeeping operations in Darfur, which had already started its work. China would continue to expand its coordination and communications with all parties concerned. China wished to see an improvement of the humanitarian situation in Darfur. A political solution was sought for the situation.
IMRAN SIDDIQUI (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said with regards to the report on the situation of human rights in Darfur prepared by the group of experts, work in that area had shown how cooperative action in the Council did lead to important results. There had been progressive positive movement in the Council and on the ground. The Organization of the Islamic Conference had been pleased to note that, in its report, the expert group had welcomed the expressed commitment of the Government of Sudan to work with the Council and the United Nations to implement the existing human rights recommendations. It hoped that the observations made by the expert group would be discussed and resolved in consultation with the Government of Sudan. Also supported were the recommendations that the experts continue their work for another fixed term. It was recalled that an integral part of the agreement at the fourth special session of the Council, at which the experts group was established, had been to assess the human rights situation and the needs of Sudan in that regard. For that purpose, the Organization of the Islamic Conference highlighted the importance of having a focal point within the United Nations system to coordinate assistance to Sudan.
MARTIN UHOMOIBHI (Nigeria) said the efforts of the group of experts were commended. For the Council, the quest for sustainable peace in Sudan was imperative, and all Member States should work towards it. Nigeria had demonstrated a firm commitment to assisting wherever possible towards achieving this aim. It was reassuring to note that high-level consultations were held between the European Union and United Nations in Addis Ababa in order to elaborate an international peace-keeping force in Darfur, to which the Government of Sudan had agreed.
The establishment of the Group of Experts had been a result of protracted negotiations among all stakeholders. The conclusions of the Group on the need to reinforce cooperation between the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union and the Government of Sudan should not be ignored. Dialogue and consultation should be maintained and reinforced. The recommendation to all parties to respect the Darfur Peace Agreement, cease all hostilities and respect international humanitarian law was particularly important, and all non-signatories to the Agreement should accede to it. The Abuja Peace Agreement continued to be the crucial means for peace, and it should be implemented in a comprehensive and holistic manner.
THIERRY MALEYOMBO (Central African Republic) said the Central African Republic associated itself with the statements of the African Group and supported the position of France. Darfur remained the most important humanitarian catastrophe the world had known after the two world wars. Many recommendations had been adopted in order to put an end to this drama that was a source of shame for the entire human race. The incapacity of the international community to handle the crisis of Darfur encouraged more human rights violations throughout the world and gave rise to insecurity. Rebels were attacking borders of neighbouring countries. It was central that Sudan accepted resolutions and recommendations without condition to end the catastrophe and enable its people to fully enjoy their fundamental rights and to enable sustainable development.
YURI BOYCHENKO (Russian Federation) noted with satisfaction that dialogue and cooperation were ongoing between the Human Rights Council and the Sudanese Government. In general, the Russian Federation was satisfied with the report on the situation of human rights in Darfur prepared by the group of experts. That comprehensive, well-structured document presented by the experts group had proved once again that the situation in Darfur was a complex one, calling for multifaceted solutions. It had also shown that monitoring of the human rights situation, including monitoring of the implementation of the United Nations recommendations, was required. The Government of Sudan needed the assistance of the international community to complement its efforts. What was needed was an interagency effort by United Nations bodies, in close cooperation with the Government of the Sudan. The Russian Federation, for its part, was prepared to work to ensure the implementation of the recommendations as outlined in the report.
DOUG ROHN (United States) said the Council, now at the end of its first year, had yet to adequately address the on-going human rights violations in Sudan. The targeting of women and children in particular remained an issue of grave concern. The United States had imposed new economic sanctions to increase pressure on the Government of Sudan to end the violence in Darfur and cooperate with the international community on a peaceful resolution to the crisis. Sanctions underscored continued United States efforts to end the suffering of the millions of Sudanese affected by the crisis.
At the Security Council, the United States was consulting on a draft resolution to widen the scope of existing United Nations sanctions against the Government of Sudan. Such a resolution would expand the United Nations' existing arms embargo against the Government of Sudan, and ban military flights over Darfur. The Government of Sudan should immediately disarm the Janjaweed, demonstrate Sudanese commitment to renewed peace negotiations, cease aerial bombardment, and fully comply with the March 28 Joint Communiqué. It should also stop obstruction and allow peacekeepers and humanitarian workers unfettered access to camps for internally displaced persons. All groups should honour the ceasefire and stop all acts of violence.
ALI CHERIF (Tunisia) said Tunisia associated itself with the statements made by Algeria on behalf of the African Group and Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The report presented reconfirmed the desire of all parties to strive to protect human rights. The experts group worked transparently. The Government of Sudan had also shown determination to treat the problem in Darfur successfully. The consultations between the group of experts and the Government of Sudan had been described as frank and open and had reached some progress.
MOHAMMED ABU-KOASH (Palestine) said that resolutions adopted by the Council should be implemented and respected, and should show the Council's concern for human rights violations wherever they occurred in the world, without selectivity. Palestine therefore commended the adoption by the Council of the resolution on Darfur by consensus, as well as the cooperation that had been provided by the Government of Sudan in that regard. Also supported were the recommendations set out in the report on the situation of human rights in Darfur prepared by the group of experts.
INGIBJORG DAVIDSDOTTIR (Iceland) said Iceland shared the view of the European Union that the people of Darfur did not need more human rights recommendations - but the implementation of existing ones. As the Council considered the report, violence in Darfur continued. Iceland remained concerned about the ongoing human rights violations, and violations of humanitarian law in Darfur. Alarming news of sexual violence against women and children were highly disturbing, and the Government of Darfur had the prime responsibility for protecting its citizens.
The deliberations of the Council should be conducive to changing the situation on the ground, and human rights violators should be held responsible for their actions. Iceland supported the work of the expert group, and the concrete measures it had outlined for improving the situation in Darfur, and its mandate should be extended. The Government of Sudan should intensify its cooperation with the expert group, and with the Council and international community as a whole in order to achieve an improved situation on the ground.
WESTMORELAND PALON (Malaysia) said Malaysia associated itself to the statement made by Pakistan on behalf of Organization of the Islamic Conference. The willingness of the Government of Sudan to implement the recommendations in the report was welcomed. The United Nations was called upon to provide assistance therefore. The need for sufficient time was appreciated. A continued dialogue with the Government of Sudan was important. Close consultations were therefore central and should be maintained.
OMER BERZINJI (Iraq), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that Sudan had displayed close cooperation with the Council in the past, and it was hoped that that cooperation would continue in the future so as to strengthen the situation of human rights in that area. The Arab Group called on the international community to provide the necessary resources in that regard, as had been called for in the report on the situation of human rights in Darfur prepared by the group of experts. It was also hoped that a focal point would be established to coordinate activities of the international community on Darfur.
KIM PIL-WUO (Republic of Korea) said the work of the expert group had not only laid important groundwork for improving the situation, but had also set a valuable example of how to make the best use of the system of Special Procedures. The group developed a matrix of recommendations to address these challenges that were designed to be operational, concrete and specific. There was concern about the Government of Sudan's disagreement with some of the key recommendations of the group. It was hoped that the Government would embrace these.
With the work of the group, the Council had taken the first concrete and practical steps towards real action. The next logical step was the development of a specific work plan for the implementation of the recommendations through further discussions between the group and the Government of Sudan. The success of any action by the Council and the international community would require cooperation among all the parties concerned. The Government of Sudan and all relevant parties should implement without delay the recommendations to which they had already committed themselves, and cooperate fully on the implementation of all recommendations made by the group and follow-up measures subsequently taken by the Council.
ROBERT SINCLAIR (Canada) welcomed the report on the human rights situation in Darfur. The dialogue between the Government of Sudan and the international community was welcomed. It was regretted that ongoing violence, particularly sexual and gender based violence, continued in Darfur. Canada was dismayed by the widespread lawlessness and called upon all parties to bring an end to it. Sudan should implement the recommendations of the group. Acts of violence against women and other vulnerable groups should end. Canada noted the importance given to the gender based violence and the issue of child soldiers, which were important issues for Canada. The legal and physical protection of the civilian population should be enhanced.
BLAISE GODET (Switzerland) thanked the group of experts for the remarkable quality of their report on the situation of human rights in Darfur. Switzerland also welcomed the cooperation of the Sudanese Government with the expert group, and encouraged it to continue along that path. It was to be hoped that that cooperative interaction could serve as a model for other country situations the Council would have occasion to deal with. The situation of human rights in Darfur nevertheless remained of great concern. It was to be hoped that the recommendations by the group of experts could be undertaken as soon as possible, and that their implementation could be re-examined three months on, as the report had recommended. Switzerland reiterated its call for all parties to the conflict, the Government of Sudan, the armed rebels, as well as any others implicated in the conflict, to respect their international obligations, in particular with regard to human rights.
ABDULNOMEN ANNAN (Syria) said success in the Council was based on cooperation, and the Government of Sudan had shown exemplary cooperation. The report highlighted the commitment of the Sudanese Government to implementing the recommendations on the human rights situation. Paragraph 39 showed the crucial measures taken to this end. The politicisation of the situation in Darfur was a cause for concern, with countries seeking to achieve their own objectives in relation to oil. There would be no improvement without an end to external interference.
MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG, of Amnesty International, said that Amnesty International wished to address the follow-up to the Council's decision on Darfur. The Council had adopted various measures but little had changed on the ground to alleviate the suffering of the people living in Darfur. In Darfur, massive forced displacements and other human rights violations continued to fuel the humanitarian crisis. The Sudanese Government was reported to have consented again to the long overdue deployment of the United Nations–African Union force. Amnesty International supported the recommendation by the group of experts that the Council remained seized of the human rights situation in Darfur and continued to review the implementation of all United Nations recommendations.
JANE LNDUO ALDO ODO, of International Federation for Human Rights, in a joint statement, expressed deep concern over the continuing deterioration of the human rights and security situation in Darfur. The numerous recommendations adopted by the United Nations, international bodies and human rights mechanisms since the beginning of the conflict remained largely unheard, and today they were faced with a situation of widespread past and ongoing violations threatening peace and security in Sudan and the wider region. The Government had failed to ensure accountability and to end impunity for crimes committed in Darfur and continued to refuse to collaborate with the International Criminal Court, despite United Nations Security Council resolutions. Among other things, the International Federation called on the Council to condemn the continuing violence in Darfur against the civilian population and the campaign of indiscriminate aerial bombardments in northern Darfur, and to fully comply with the recommendations of the group of experts to ensure effective follow-up and foster the implementation of United Nations resolutions and the recommendations of United Nations mechanisms.
SEBASTIAN GILLIOZ, of Human Rights Watch, in a joint statement with International Commission of Jurists, said the situation in Darfur remained bleak. A fundamental shift in attitude was needed on the part of the Sudanese Government. The Government had shown a grossly inadequate response to the recommendations on protecting women and girls from sexual violence, failing to demonstrate a serious will to address the problem of rape sanctioned formally and informally by government policy. Cooperation with the International Criminal Court had been obfuscated, with only 13 cases brought before the Special Criminal Courts for Darfur in 2005, all for minor offences. To date, there was little sign of progress on the ground and the Government should be urged to comply with the recommendations, cooperate with the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and extend the mandate of the experts to the sixth session of the Council.
ROBERTA MEAN, of Femme Afrique Solidarité, welcomed the report by the group of experts, particularly in view of its emphasis on eradicating violence against women. The organization strongly urged the Sudanese Government to act upon its promises. Its ultimate responsibility was the protection of civilians and there could be no justification for disregarding this duty. The use of sexual violence against women and girls as a weapon of war continued unabated. The Government of Sudan was strongly urged to act upon its promises and implement the various, and apparently numerous, mechanisms it had proposed.
MOATAZ EL FEGIERY, of Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, in a joint statement, welcomed the report on the situation of human rights in Darfur prepared by the group of experts, and considered that the recommendations contained therein were a solid basis on which to improve the human rights situation in Darfur. Cooperation of the Sudanese Government with that group had been a positive step; however, many responses of the Sudanese Government did not demonstrate a serious and genuine engagement or commitment with the group's recommendations or the Sudanese Government's international obligations. At no point in its response did the Sudanese Government commit to any substantial legal or policy reforms to prevent and improve the human rights situation in Darfur. In particular, the Government continued to refuse to cooperate with the International Criminal Court, denied any control over militias operating in Darfur, denied hindering or harassing human rights and humanitarian personnel in any way, and asserted that no arbitrary arrests for incommunicado detentions occurred in Sudan, contradicting the clear evidence to the contrary that had been gathered by the United Nations, the African Union, and others. The expert group's report was in danger of becoming another rhetorical exercise by the Sudanese Government that produced no discernable improvements in the situation for civilians in Darfur, and which diminished the reputation of the Council.
ABLA MAHDI, of Hawa Society for Women, said the group of experts had worked hard to achieve progress in the field of human rights in Darfur. Concrete improvements were needed on the ground. Poverty should be eradicated and pressure should be put on the belligerent parties. Progress in human rights was directly linked to sustainable development and not to the sending of more weapons used to target women. The situation should not be allowed to develop as it had in Iraq. True security and true peace were needed, and the international community should commit itself to not sending missiles to Sudan as had been the case in Somalia.
IBRAHIM GANDHOUR, of World Federation of Trade Unions, said that the report on Sudan was somehow objective and contained reliable information, but had shortcomings. Two important practical points included conclusions in paragraph 37 and the role of other parties. Recommendation 42 needed to be strongly clarified and implemented. The Government of Sudan was asking for an increase of the short-term period. The efforts of all United Nations agencies should be directed to peace achievements. All assistance should be directed through the United Nations Development Programme because of its focal point.
YOUSIF EL TAYEB, of African-American Society for Humanitarian Aid and Development, speaking on the report on the situation of human rights in Darfur prepared by the group of experts, said that the Human Rights Council had helped to achieve positive results in Sudan. It was hoped that the recommendations formulated in that report would help to achieve peace in Darfur. It was also hoped that previous failed attempts to improve the human rights situation would not be repeated for lack of resources, and that donor countries would provide funds. It was also hoped that civil society organizations would be helped to provide humanitarian assistance to Darfur. Finally, it was asked that local customs and traditions were respected in delivering assistance.
Concluding Remarks on Report of Group of Experts on Darfur
WALTER KALIN, Rapporteur of the Expert Group on the Situation of Human Rights in Darfur, responding, said the group stood ready to continue its work, and much remained to be done. Violations on human rights in Darfur should be ended. Protection of civilians and justice and accountability for the perpetrators were needed and a peaceful solution to the conflict had to be found. The group looked forward to cooperation with the Government of Sudan, and the time had come for concrete measures. The group hoped to report a real improvement in the situation on the ground at the next meeting of the Council.
SIMA SAMAR, Chairperson of the Expert Group on the Situation of Human Rights in Darfur, said in concluding remarks she hoped that in the next session of the Council, positive steps could be taken and expressed her thanks.
Reports on the Right to Truth and Human Rights and Arbitrary Deprivation of Nationality
The Council has before it the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the right to truth (A/HRC/5/7), which notes the issue of the right to truth, regarding flagrant violations of human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law, has been increasingly recognized in both international instruments and in national and domestic and international legislation. Contributions received from States, national governmental and non-governmental organizations alike confirmed the existence of close links between the right to truth and other rights. The right to truth means the right to absolute and complete truth concerning human rights violations that occurred, the specific circumstances surrounding them, including the individuals that participated in such violations and the reasons or motivations for those actions. While the right to truth is an individual right pertaining to victims and their families, it also has a collective and social dimension. In the former dimension, the right to truth is closely linked with the rule of law and principles of transparency, accountability and good governance in a democratic society. The right to truth constitutes, along with justice, recognition and reparation, one of the pillars of the fight against impunity for grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Because of its links with other fundamental rights, the right to truth is an inalienable, non-derogable right. The High Commissioner recommends that in-depth studies be undertaken on three topics regarding the right to truth: the contribution of national and international criminal law in implementing and ensuring respect for the right to truth; the question of archives and the right to truth, with a view to elaborating guidelines for the protection of archives relating to human rights violations; and the means, procedures and institutional mechanisms to better implement the right to truth in both its individual and social dimensions.
The Council has before it the Secretariat's note on progress on reports and studies relevant to human rights and arbitrary deprivation of nationality (A/HRC/5/8). Reference is made to the publication by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) of the study on "The Rights of Non-Citizens in March 2007" (HR/PUB/06/11). The study highlights diverse sources of international law and emerging international standards protecting the rights of non-citizens. The study is available on the OHCHR website (www.ohchr.org) currently in English while the translations into the other official languages are in progress.
Discussion on Reports on Right to Truth and Human Rights and Arbitrary Deprivation of Nationality
SERGIO CERDA (Argentina) thanked the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the report on the right to truth. In contrast to the first report on this subject, the second report had taken into consideration more information and comments from non-governmental organizations. Argentina believed that other actors, in particular Special Procedures and mandate holders, should make their comments and formulate recommendations on the report as well. It was hoped that at the Council's upcoming sessions it could hold discussions on experiences and practices that contributed not only to the greater visibility of the right to truth, but that contributed to the autonomous nature of that right. Argentina supported the report's recommendations that further in-depth studies be undertaken on the right to truth in three key areas: the contribution of criminal justice in implementation and respect for the right to truth; the issue of archives relating to human rights violations, and the need to protect them; and the establishment of procedures and mechanisms that allowed for the implementation of the right to truth for both the individual and the whole of society. The issue of the right to truth should figure separately on the annual programme of work of the Human Rights Council. The Council should also consider formulating guidelines concerning the right to truth.
EDUARDO CHIHUALIAF (Chile) said truth, justice and reparation were three central pillars of democracy. Chile had worked towards reconciliation since the restoration of democracy through the human rights policies of successive Chilean governments. The right to truth was evolving at present. President Michelle Bachelet of Chile had told the Council that the main perpetrators in Chile had been judged and sentenced by the courts. The report referred to the evolution of jurisprudence in Chile and also highlighted the importance of memory, something that should involve the whole of society. Society wished to pay tribute to those who suffered in the pursuit of democracy. Commemorative places of memory had emerged and these were important cultural and collective symbols of social conscience that served to prevent the repetition of history.
CARLOS EDUARDO DA CUNHA OLIVEIRA (Brazil) thanked the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the report on the right to truth and expressed its appreciation to the Government of Argentina. Many countries had provided information and comments to help elaborate this second report. Brazil was strongly committed to the promotion of the right to truth both at the national and the international levels. At the national level, a commission had been established analysing more than 300 cases. Brazil was undertaking a number of activities focused on the preservation of archives and the maintenance of memory. The identification of victims of enforced disappearance was an important issue.
At the international level, Brazil provided its full support to resolutions on the right to truth, he said. Brazil welcomed the reference made about the activities undertaken within the context of MERCOSUR. Brazil was committed to sharing best practices on the right to truth. The first Latin American film festival had taken place in Brasilia and the right to truth was mentioned there. Building awareness on such an important issue was necessary.
BLAISE GODET (Switzerland) thanked the High Commissioner for the complex analysis given in the report on the right to truth. Switzerland agreed that the High Commissioner should continue to further study this issue, taking a close look at the position of the right to truth in the context of the role of justice in transitional periods.
ALEJANDRA DE BELLIS (Uruguay) said that Uruguay had supported the treatment of the theme of the right to truth. As had been pointed out by Dr. Tabaré Vazquez, truth was the only way to surmount the wounds of the past, and justice was a deterrent to future violations of human rights. Never again should there be armed confrontation and discrimination. Actions undertaken by the Government of Uruguay involved understanding the right to truth and memory, deepening knowledge of the near past, and signing of the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons against Forced Disappearances.
DANIEL VOSGIEN (France) thanked the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the report on the right to truth. Important progress had been achieved with the recognition of this right. Victims could now learn the truth about the circumstances of forced disappearances. France called upon all countries that had not yet signed and ratified this instrument to do so. The right to truth should continue to be promoted at an international level and to be applied in different domains.
The report highlighted the link between the right to truth and transitional justice, he said. The countries and their populations could exercise this right to prevent such violations being replicated. Some countries decided to adopt amnesty measures. France asked how the right to truth could be applied with regard to the fight against impunity. France assured its support for the work of the High Commissioner in the field of justice and also supported Argentina's proposal.
SILVIA ESCOBAR (Spain) said the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was to be thanked for the second report on the right to truth. Note was taken of the recommendations, and the need to deepen certain themes, such as criminal justice and archives, which was a particular issue with regards to the right to truth and the right to remember. This was a complex issue, and Spain was awaiting the submission of a draft resolution by Argentina.
The Office of Human Rights of Spain, in concert with civil society, had been holding a number of round tables in previous years, and the Government had presented a draft law on historical memory. All had a past to be remembered, or a truth to be recovered. It was important for the truth of history and for the right to be respected.
ANGELICA NAVARRO (Bolivia) said the Bolivian delegation welcomed the report, and gave an illustration of the need for additional efforts, describing how in 2003, with the aid of a marketing system provided by other countries, the country was forced to review of the right to water and to resources generally in Bolivia. Over 60 were killed in clashes. During the dictatorships of the 1960s and 1970s many lost their lives when the Government chose to defend the rights of multinationals rather than the rights of Bolivian citizens. Even democracies should be watchful to make sure that such situations did not happen again. The work on the right to truth should be deepened.
ALEXEY GOLTYAEV (Russian Federation) said the Russian Federation attached great importance to the subject of arbitrary deprivation of nationality. Russia considered that the document could and should be used as a reference document and guidance. The subject of arbitrary deprivation of nationality, which described specific problems in specific States, should be further elaborated on by the Human Rights Council and should stay on its agenda. Further elaboration should be done on the basis of the experience of other international organizations such as the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration.
MARÍA DEL CARMEN HERRERA CASEIRO (Cuba) said the delegation of Argentina had been the driving force behind this theme, which was of the utmost importance, in particular for the region of Latin America due to the sad chapters of its recent history. Cuba had always been in favour of the promotion of the right to truth, and was a co-sponsor of all of the draft resolutions on this topic, and had provided replies to requests for information by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Cuba continued to have unbending support for this theme, and would like to see this study of the theme continue.
CLAIRE CHARTERS, of International Indian Treaty Council, in a joint statement with International Organization of Indigenous Resources Development and Native Women's Association of Canada, said the Human Rights Council had adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People. The General Assembly had recently announced the appointment of a President to pursue the Declaration. Concern had been expressed by the Indigenous Peoples Global Caucus to the African Group's undermining of the Declaration approved by the Human Rights Council. The letter sent by the caucus stated that it was obvious that deliberations would never result in a Declaration acceptable to indigenous peoples, and there was growing concern as to whether such a Declaration would ever become a reality. The African Group's concerns could be addressed other than by amendments to the Declaration's text. The speaker rejected the call by Canada, the United States, Russian Federation, Australia and others for further negotiations on the text, which showed that these States had no intention to allow a strong Declaration.
ALEJANDRA SARDA, of Action Canada for Population Development, said that the organization was in favour of the actions taken in Argentina. It was a shiny example of how a Government could serve the cause of its people. As the South African experience showed, without truth there could be no reconciliation.
Right of Reply
FOROUZANDEH VADIATI (Iran), speaking in a right of reply, said with regards to the irresponsible claims of Israel, this was yet another attempt by the occupying power to distract the attention of the Council by raising unfounded allegations against others. The Middle East had been aware of this tactic for years, and urged Israel to cooperate fully with the Council and stop challenging its integrity. Instead of using a smoke-screen, the recognition of the legitimate resistance of the Lebanese people and the nuclear arsenal of Israel should be borne in mind. Only when the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination was fully established through a sovereign and independent state would peace appear.
GEBRAN SOUFAN (Lebanon), speaking in a right of reply, said the inflammatory remarks of the Israeli Representative did not mention that the emergence of Hizbollah was the result of aggressive Israeli policies. Justice in the Middle East was handicapped by Israel's occupying force. Israel should be made to abide by Security Council Resolutions. Gross and systematic violations of international humanitarian law had occurred in the use of cluster munitions. In the Arab saying, "The camel does not see its own hump".
In press release HRC/07/38 of 12 June 2007, the statement by the International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic and Other Minorities should read as follows:
DAMIANOS SEREFIDIS, of International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic and Other Minorities, said the problem of adequate housing should be addressed from two angles: violations of the right to housing through forced evictions, and the housing of populations who find refuge in neighbouring countries because of direct or indirect forced evictions. The situation of Iraq's Assyrian minority was an example of the combination of the two situations. They had been forced to abandon their homeland and flee because of the fragile situation. Strong geo strategic interests in the area had limited the elaboration of frameworks towards harmonious ethnocultural coexistence. The housing of Assyrian refugees in Jordan and Syria, facing high rents, inadequate and substandard housing, showed that in conflict situations there might be multiple violations of the rights to housing.
For use of the information media; not an official record