Human Rights Council concludes general debate on the annual report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Human Rights Council


22 March 2018

The Human Rights Council this morning concluded its general debate on the annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General.

The Council started the general debate on Wednesday, 21 March after hearing the presentation of reports on Burundi, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Cyprus and Iran, and a summary can be seen here.

In the general discussion, delegations noted that some progress was being made to improve the human rights situations in those countries, but much remained to be done. Speakers stressed the relevance of protecting civil society actors and human rights defenders, including in the context of implementing peace agreements and pursuing reconciliation plans. States were commended for cooperating with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other United Nations mechanisms, and were urged to prioritize efforts to combat impunity and to prosecute perpetrators of rights violations.

Speaking were the delegations of the United States; Australia; Georgia; Belgium; Israel; Norway; United Nations Children’s Fund; Canada; Denmark; Morocco; Greece; Algeria; Turkey; Ireland; and Netherlands.

The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: International Movement Against All Forms of Racial Discrimination; Dominicans for Justice and Peace-Order of Preachers; Action contre le faim; Oidhaco, International Office for Human Rights - Action on Colombia, Oidhaco ; Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund, (in a joint statement with Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries); International Commission of Jurists; International Service for Human Rights; Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia; Human Rights Watch; Franciscans International; Lutheran World Federation; Advocates for Human Rights; Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation; Europe-Third World Centre; World Organization Against Torture; Résau International des Droits Humains; International Buddhist Relief Organization; Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik; Amnesty Internaitonal; CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation; Peace Brigades International Switzerland; Conseil International de Soutien à des Procès Equitables et aux Droits de l'Homme; World Barua Organization; Guinea Medical Mutual Association; Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme; International Fellowship of Reconciliation; International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; VAAGDHARA; Associaiton Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul; Colombian Commission of Jurists; American Association of Jurists1; International Federation for Human Rights Leagues; United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation; Tourner la page; Association Thendral; Tamil Uzhagam; Le Pont; International-Lawyers.Org; Liberation; Center for Organisation Research and Education; International Catholic Child Bureau; Association Culturelle des Tamouls en France; Association des étudiants tamouls de France; L’Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'homme et de la Démocratie; Commitee for Human Rights Advocacy and Promotion Recommence; Fundación Latinoamericana por los Derechos Humanos y el Desarrollo Social; Amnesty International; Association for the Victims of the world; United Nations Watch; Associaiton of World Citizens; International Buddhist Relief Organization; Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik; and, Mbororo social and Cultural Development Associaiton.

Speaking in right of reply were Iran, Egypt, Bahrain, Cuba and Israel.

The Council is holding a full day of meetings today. It will next hold its general debate on technical assistance and capacity building after hearing the presentation of reports on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti and Yemen, as well as a presentation of a report of the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights.

General Debate on the Annual Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General

United States was concerned about the serious human rights abuses in Burundi. In Egypt, civil society continued to face severe constraints. In Bahrain, there were severe restrictions on the freedom of expression. The ongoing attacks on democratic institutions by the incumbent Government in Maldives were condemned. In Viet Nam, the Government was urged to release prisoners of conscience.

Australia acknowledged the steps that Sri Lanka had taken to implement resolution 30/1. The recent appointment of Commissioners for the Office of Missing Persons and the passage of legislation for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearances were welcomed. The Government was urged to release land, repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act and offer reparations.

Georgia was alarmed over the deteriorating situation in Burundi. The Government was called on to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner. Recent developments in Sri Lanka were noted and the Government was commended for its engagement concerning resolution 30/1 as well as their cooperation with the Special Procedures.

Belgium commended the Sri Lankan Government for its cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner. Progress made concerning legislation on the protection of all persons from enforced disappearances and the appointment of Commissioners for the Office of Missing Persons was noted. Regret was expressed over the lack of progress concerning transitional justice and the Government was encouraged to develop a strategy in this area.

Israel reminded the Human Rights Council that Iran’s subversive actions were destabilizing the Middle East. Tehran was financing terrorist organizations and openly calling for the destruction of Israel. The international community must take decisive measures to address Iran’s violations of human rights in Syria. Furthermore, Iran was using Afghan refugees as cannon fodder in Syria.

Norway said protests in Honduras were being met with excessive force. The safety and security of civil society actors and human rights defenders must be guaranteed. In Colombia, the alarming trend of deaths of human rights defenders continued. Weakened accountability and impunity were undermining the Colombian Peace Agreement. Norway urged Sri Lanka to fully implement relevant Human Rights Council resolutions.

United Nations Children’s Fund praised the launch of plans to focus on the prevention of adolescent pregnancies in Guatemala. There remained a need to reform the protection system in Guatemala. Fighting inequalities and discrimination of indigenous children must be a priority for the Government. The Fund reaffirmed its commitment to work alongside Guatemalan authorities and other United Nations agencies.

Canada said impunity for serious rights violations continued in Burundi. All civil society actors must be able to participate in the political debate without fear of reprisals. Canada welcomed the creation of the Office of Missing Persons in Sri Lanka. However, confidence-building measures critical to reconciliation were needed. Sri Lanka must create a time-bound strategy to implement relevant Human Rights Council resolutions.

Denmark encouraged the Government of Sri Lanka to establish a credible transitional justice mechanism, return all military-held private land and repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act. It highlighted the importance of safeguarding civil society space, and noted with disappointment the lack of progress on a number of emblematic cases suggesting systematic impunity. It encouraged the Government to develop and present a clear, time bound and transparent transitional justice strategy.

Morocco said it was regrettable that the Council did not adopt a response based on consensus with regard to Burundi. This question should be dealt with through a constructive dialogue, given that the responsibility to promote and protect human rights was the responsibility first and foremost of the State of Burundi. Its national efforts deserved to be supported by regional and international mechanisms, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Burundi.

Greece said Turkey bore the responsibility of the mass violations of human rights in Cyprus. It expressed concern about the Greek nationals in the Turkish Cypriot part of Cyprus and deplored the fact that Greek Cypriots had been deprived of the right to enjoy their properties in the occupied areas of Cyprus. It was concerned about the approximately 500 Greek Cypriots enclaved in the island.

Algeria encouraged Burundi to make greater efforts to promote and protect human rights, including fighting poverty in rural areas. It encouraged the Government to make efforts to find a response to the difficult issues that the country was facing, and to undertake more measures to fight impunity. It invited the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to cooperate with the Government and to implement the technical assistance needed by the Government.

Turkey said in Cyprus, Turkish Cypriot human rights and freedoms continued to be held hostage to an all-embracing isolation for more than half a century now. Turkish Cypriots were prevented from interaction with the international community in all fields of life, including trade, travel, and sporting, cultural and educational activities. There were cases of discrimination, maltreatment and hate attacks against Turkish Cypriots and Muslim religious sites; lack of preventive measures in this regard; restrictions on freedom of religion and belief; and a legislative ban on the usage of Turkish names for geographical places. All this continued unabated in south Cyprus.

Ireland welcomed all reports of the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner. Progress in Sri Lanka was noted, however the slow pace of change was regrettable and the authorities in Sri Lanka were urged to work on transitional justice. In Colombia, the Office of the High Commissioner was praised for monitoring the Peace Agreement. The increased number of killings of human rights defenders was worrying.

Netherlands welcomed the constructive approach of the Sri Lankan Government and its ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, as well as the appointment of the Commissioners of the Office of Missing Persons. Sri Lanka was urged to speed up the remaining three mechanisms for transitional justice. Perpetrators of hate crimes had to be brought to justice.

International Movement against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) noted that without the full attention of the Council, Sri Lanka risked a reversal of the modest progress it had made. Except for the Office of Missing Persons, no other transitional justice mechanism had been established. The new wave of targeted violent attacks against Muslims was condemned.

Dominicans for Justice and Peace Order of Preachers noted that the report on Colombia had not sufficiently mentioned risks faced by the human rights defenders, particularly in rural areas. Indigenous persons were facing grave risks by armed groups, including recruitment of children. Necessary grants had to be provided for land tenure, as envisaged by the Peace Agreement.

Action contre le faim said that in the 11 years since the massacre of 17 humanitarian aid workers in Sri Lanka, no progress had been made to ensure accountability. A Sri Lankan court must be created to deal with crimes against humanity. The international community must urgently address Sri Lanka’s utter failure to fulfil its international obligations with regard to the fight against impunity.

International Office for Human Rights - Action on Colombia, Oidhaco noted that human rights defenders in Colombia were being murdered at an alarming rate, with the majority of murders going unpunished. The Ministry of Defence denied that the murders were a systematic political occurrence. The participation of State officials in transitional justice mechanisms was increasing the likelihood of impunity.

Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund, in a joint statement with Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries, said that in Guatemala and Honduras certain business activities went hand in hand with harassment and violence directed at indigenous communities. Barriers stood in the way of the fight against corruption and impunity. Reports on the country emphasized that violence against human rights defenders was ongoing.

FIAN International voiced concern over the lack of space provided by Colombia to implement the Peace Agreement, particularly in the context of rural reform. Problems experienced by rural communities were complex. Without comprehensive rural reform, drug trafficking would continue and armed groups would remain active in the country.

International Commission of Jurists said Sri Lanka had not made sufficient progress on its commitments and obligations as reflected in Council resolution 30/1, noting that only the Office on Missing Persons was operational, while the process on establishing the other mechanisms was unclear. In Colombia, it shared the deep concern about the exclusion of non-military State agents and private individuals from the scope of the mandatory application of the Integrated System of Justice, Truth, Reparations and Guarantees of Non-recurrence.

International Service for Human Rights said the people of Honduras were facing serious human rights violations, including executions, and none of these had been investigated by the judiciary due to the lack of independence thereof. It asked the Council to ensure the prosecution and sentencing of high-ranking political leaders who had ordered the 38 murders, and to free political prisoners.

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia said the Government of Sri Lanka had failed to implement most of its commitments under resolution 30/1 on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka. Draft legislation for three of the four promised transitional justice mechanisms were not publicly available and the one that saw some steps taken – the Office of the Missing Persons – was still not operational.

Human Rights Watch said Sri Lanka’s co-sponsorship of resolution 30/1 in October 2015 represented a moment of hope, of opportunity, the prospect of justice and accountability for the tens of thousands of victims of the country’s brutal civil war. In the resolution, Sri Lanka had pledged to set up four transitional justice mechanisms, however, only one had been set up thus far. Sri Lanka risked to become a Council failure if human rights were side-lined in the name of perceived political pragmatism, and if the Council moved onto other issues while the promise of justice remained unfulfilled.

Franciscans International said that in Sri Lanka, a clear timeline on a comprehensive transitional justice strategy had yet to be made publicly available. A year ago, the Government-appointed constitutional task force on reconciliation had submitted their final response to the Government. Relatives of the disappeared had been protesting on roadsides in the north and east for over a year, seeking information about their loved ones.

Lutheran World Federation welcomed the report on Colombia pointing to systematic abuses of indigenous persons who were at risk of extinction, partially because of economic interests, although provisions of the Peace Agreement had been applied in those areas. Large-scale projects and armed conflict had an adverse effect on ethnic communities. Comprehensive agrarian reform was a priority.

Advocates for Human Rights noted that in Colombia, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People's Army, not the State, had administered justice in cases of violence against women and now Family Commissioners had to fill the vacuum in the rural areas. Building a lasting peace in rural Colombia required community and institution prebuilding.

Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation pointed that the repeated answer of the Sri Lankan Government to the Council’s demands had been “we need time and space”. Now, three years after resolution 30/1 had been adopted, the credibility of the Council was being called into question. Sri Lanka had only implemented 3 out of its 25 recommendations. States were urged to explore other avenues to foster accountability.

Europe-Third World Centre said it had carried out a field mission that had determined that the Colombian Peace Agreement was seen as a sign of hope. Still, rural reform was lacking. The Government must ensure land ownership titles could be improved and distributed. The State must function effectively and efficiently in rural areas to tackle deep-seeded causes of conflict in Colombia.

World Organization against Torture said 14 persons were recently executed in Colombia for exercising their right to public protest. This fell into a systematic pattern of murder in the country. The group was concerned about the implementation of transitional justice mechanisms. There was a lack of access to health services and the military must progressively withdraw from certain regions.

Réseau International des Droits Humains (RIDH) said the report on Colombia had highlighted the murder of human rights defenders and women. Paramilitary groups were now controlling various regions in Colombia. The State must address power vacuums. The organization called for acknowledgement of the real level of violations in the country. Corruption was affecting access to social and economic rights.

International Buddhist Relief Organization said certain United Nations resolutions on Sri Lanka were based on lies and adopted without a vote. The group urged the Human Rights Council not to forget the decades of terrorist violence in the country. The United Nations appeared to be covering up its own shortcomings.

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik added some updates to the second report on Iran by the United Nations Secretary-General and the report of the late Special Rapporteur. It informed that Ms. Atena Daemi, a civil society activist working against child labour and now a prisoner of conscience, was despite her deteriorating health, still deprived of medical care and subject to physical assault.

Amnesty International echoed its concern about the latest attacks in Sri Lanka and called on the Government to establish a timeline for the implementation of Council resolution 30/1. It was concerned about the continued abuses of international humanitarian law and human rights, even after the Peace Agreement in Columbia, and urged the authorities to guarantee the protection of farmers and disarm the armed groups.

CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation remained gravely alarmed by the striking inattention given to the disturbing increase of killings of human rights defenders since the signing of the Peace Agreement by the Colombian Government and the FARC guerrilla group. Violence in Honduras following the contested November 2017 elections had escalated, and protests had been met with excessive police force, with more than 20 protesters killed.

Peace Brigades International Switzerland was seriously concerned about the situation of human rights defenders in Columbia, Guatemala and Honduras. It regretted the ongoing threats, attacks, murders and criminalization of these people, and the fact that nothing was being done to combat impunity. Those most affected were human rights defenders who fought for land rights.

Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l'Homme noted some progress over the situation in Iran. All States were urged to engage in comprehensive dialogue. It was essential to recognize that there were States supporting terrorism and seeking to destroy Syria. There were Arab countries in the Gulf which supported terrorism in their desires to destroy human rights in the region.

World Barua Organization said that during the war in Sri Lanka, innocent civilians had been used as human shields by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Though Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam had been destroyed, those supporting them and offering financial support were still in this forum and had not been prosecuted.

Guinea Medical Mutual Association said that resolution 30/1 on Sri Lanka had required the creation of a special court with foreign judges. The President of Sri Lanka often publicly said that such court would never be created, and claimed that the resolution had been signed by a Minister who had no such authority to do so.

Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme said that since 2015, the Burundian political context had been that of repression. Violence had been used as a political tool, with the participation of Government backed militias. The people of Burundi were being held hostage by their own Government. Concerning the national referendum, concern was expressed over the potential escalation of violence.

International Fellowship of Reconciliation said the number of soldiers in Colombia was swelling as defense spending continued to increase. Still, there had been cuts in education and science spending. Compulsory military service continued and most soldiers came from underprivileged communities. There were not enough guarantees in place to guard the right to conscientious objection.

International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination pointed to the relationship between minority rights, violence, and development. Violations of minority rights created a dual system that subverted democracy and social cohesion. The plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar was a blatant example of this.

VAAGDHARA said India continued to support repressive environments across many regions of the country. The Government ignored the plight of the poor and continued to plunder the resources of impoverished communities. The group called on the Human Rights Council to assist those affected by India’s detrimental policies.

Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul expressed disappointment in the extension of certain United Nations resolutions on Sri Lanka. The Government was falling short of its international obligations. There was no real expectation that the State would fulfil any of its obligations as war crimes were being swept under the rug. Sri Lanka must be referred to the International Criminal Court.

Centre for Organization Research and Education said it was extremely concerned about the news that the General Assembly had decided to reduce the budget of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The latter must accept the proposed regional restructuring. The restrictive legislation in India against human rights defenders and civil society organizations must be repealed.

Association Culturelle des Tamouls en France said a flood of international condemnation was being directed toward Australia and its mistreatment of refugees and asylum seekers. Far from being congratulated as leaders in the advancement of human rights, Australia was being condemned on the world stage. It urged the Government to ratify the remaining international human rights treaties and reconsider its reservations, and adopt a comprehensive legislative human rights framework.

Association des étudiants tamouls de France said the resolution on Sri Lanka had not been implemented on the ground. The violations and criminal activity could not be captured through transitional justice alone. The Tamil people believed that the crime of genocide had been inflicted against them. Only a referral to the International Criminal Court or the set-up of an Ad-Hoc Tribunal would make accountability a reality.

International Solidarity for Africa was highly concerned about the crucial issue of the disappearance of thousands of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission had not worked. The root cause of the conflict had not been targeted. Concerns expressed in the report of the High Commissioner persisted to this day. The draconian laws persisted. A referral to the International Criminal Court for the crime of genocide was indispensable.

Colombian Commission of Jurists said that the new representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia had not been appointed. The Peace Agreement had made the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner even more important. The delay in appointing the new representative was unacceptable and the Council was urged to push Colombia to fulfil its obligations and provide accreditation to the new representative.

American Association of Jurists1, said that they were speaking on behalf of 150 organizations and expressed deep concern over systematic violations of the rights of the Sahrawi people in the occupied territory of the Western Sahara. Over 40 years of illegal occupation had led to numerous violations by the Kingdom of Morocco of international humanitarian law, some amounting to war crimes.

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues welcomed the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia concerning the monitoring of the treatment of victims. A victim-centred approach had been introduced but was not well developed. Some 23 generals and 6 colonels had been held responsible for extrajudicial killings but had not been prosecuted. There was fear that high-level officials would not be prosecuted.

United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation said that the adoption of resolution 30/1 had been historical moment. In 2017, the Government of Sri Lanka had issued a report which had been warmly received by political parties and civil society. The road toward transitional justice and reconciliation was a long one and the Government was urged to fulfil its obligations under the resolution.

Tourner la page noted that eight years since the massacre of Tamils by Sri Lankan forces, any time extension to that State’s obligations would only assist the military in occupying Tamil villages. The international community was turning its back on the Tamil people. Sri Lanka must not be given the opportunity to prosecute its own crimes.

Association Thendral said that to this day Tamils lived in fear of violence by Sinhala mobs and dreaded the armed forces of Sri Lanka. There was no political will among State agencies to implement any transitional justice mechanism. International action had only led to regime change, not a desire to implement accountability mechanisms to address human rights violations.

Tamil Uzhagam said that Sri Lankan forces had committed genocide against the Tamil people. The international community must understand the suffering of those affected by State brutality if any reconciliation process was to be successful. The Tamil people would welcome the support of the United Nations and other international agencies in recognition of their fundamental rights.

Le Pont said the report on Sri Lanka pointed to pervasive double standards in the administration of justice in cases involving State officials. Crimes under international law were not incorporated into national law to allow for the prosecution of human rights violators. The group urged the Human Rights Council to refer the case of Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court.

Association for the Victims of the world said Tamil temples were being demolished to build Buddhist temples. Sexual abuse and widespread abduction of Tamils persisted. The Justice Minister had audaciously called war criminals war heroes. There was a need for an International Independent Commission of Inquiry. The world had not asked Mussolini to investigate his own crimes. It could not now ask the Sri Lankan Government to investigate its own crimes. Delayed justice was denied justice.

L’Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l'homme et de la Démocratie said Sri Lanka had transformed the State into a single Buddhist nation. The Tamils were being discriminated against and their rights seriously violated. Sri Lanka had now turned on Muslims who were strong in challenging the single-headed hegemony. It appealed to the international community to refer the situation in Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court.

United Nations Watch said there were zero resolutions on China and 12 on Israel. At a time when the world was shrinking from deadly civil wars, by what morality was the Council singling out so much time to Israel? Why was the world obsessed with scapegoating the single Jewish nation? Driven by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the act of a Jew living in the corner of Jerusalem, was seen as a war crime. Why had the United Nations defined the practice of Judaism as a war crime?

Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle (COJEP) welcomed the report on Libya and supported the recommendations. It called on the Council to provide the International Criminal Court with necessary resources to investigate and prosecute crimes committed in Libya since 2011. The victims of the siege suffered and the situation of migrants in Libya was of grave concern.

International-Lawyers.Org stressed that reports of the High Commissioner underlined the importance of cultural rights. Cultural institutions were often the first to challenge the status quo and raise questions. Artistic expression gave a voice to marginalized communities and encouraged critical thinking. Diversity had to be seen as a strength.

Liberation stated that in India, the Government had never been cooperative with the indigenous people of the north east, but the antagonist approach had increased in recent times and those who spoke against it were being tagged as anti-nationalists. The Government was targeting non-governmental organizations working for the rights of people from the north east.

International Catholic Child Bureau, in a joint statement, welcomed the report on Guatemala, in particular the parts covering the administration of juvenile justice. Pre-trial detention continued to be a main problem. As a result, there was inhuman and degrading treatment towards adolescents and prisons were overcrowded.

Commitee for Human Rights Advocacy and Promotion Recommence welcomed the peace agreement in Colombia, and though aware that structural change had taken a long time, concern was expressed over the lack of guarantees that alternative political bodies would be as slow to exercise their political rights. There were murders of political leaders and 38 former combatants had been murdered

Fundación Latinoamericana por los Derechos Humanos y el Desarrollo Social regretted that despite the Colombian Peace Agreement, the murders of human rights defenders continued. The State must be the guarantor of the agreement. The group further regretted that the report on Colombia did not analyze in detail the activities of paramilitary groups. The Human Rights Council must firmly condemn human rights violations in Colombia.

Association of World Citizens said it was speaking on behalf of Ahmadreza Djalal, sentenced to death in Iran on espionage charges. He had never confessed to being a spy, or to transferring data about projects or Iranian nuclear scientists to Mossad or any intelligence agency. The Human Rights Council was urged to launch an investigation by neutral lawyers to analyse the content of Mr. Djalal’s judicial file.

Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association said it was still waiting for mention of the situation of vulnerable minorities in India. Security forces were persecuting minority groups in India. Brutal acts of violence directed at vulnerable minorities were daily occurrences. Persecuted minorities were afraid to speak out against these violations.

Right of Reply

Iran, speaking in a right of reply, categorically objected to the absurd allegations made by Israel, the sponsor of terrorism and occupation and the main threat to peace, security and stability in the Middle East. Iran condemned Israel’s systematic human rights abuses, and breaches of the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Egypt, speaking in a right of reply in response to the United States, noted that it was surprised that the United States had tackled the situation in Egypt in a session that was supposed to be dedicated to the situation of human rights in specific countries. The United States’ comments were inaccurate and not objective. The Egyptian Law on Non-Governmental Organizations could not be judged before being implemented and it did not in any way undermine the role of civil society as the partner of the Egyptian Government. There were some 48,000 non-governmental organizations active in Egypt.

Bahrain, speaking in a right of reply in response to the United States, noted that Bahrain had repeatedly assured civil society, especially in the Human Rights Council, that it would not retaliate against or arbitrarily arrest civil society activists. Bahrain respected freedom of expression and opinion, but all those rights should be exercised according to national laws. Bahrain also respected freedom of association, whereas freedom of expression should respect national culture. It could not accept practices that undermined national practices. The United States should deal with its crimes of hatred and respect the rights of minorities.

Cuba, speaking in a right of reply, highlighted once again the criticism of the United States, which had no moral right to judge the political systems of other countries. Of what democracy could they speak when their President had not won the popular vote, and when they promoted the coup d’état of democratically elected Governments, and devoted millions of dollars to meddling in the internal affairs of other countries? How could the United States Government speak of human rights when it was not able to protect the right to life of its own people? The international community should put an end to acts of torture and assassination of African Americans, police monitoring of immigrants, and deportation of children. It should end the economic and financial blockade of Cuba by the United States for 60 years.

Israel, speaking in a right of reply, said Iran was attempting to brush away claims made by the United Nations bodies and Member States about the persistent violation of women, minors, the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transsexual, and intersex community, and other minorities. Iran pursued the well-known tactic of attack. However, all knew the truth as they read the reports of the many violations of human rights. It was important to understand the danger of the Iranian policy trying to export the Iranian view of the world to the rest of the Middle East.

For use of the information media; not an official record