Human Rights Council
MORNING 16 June 2011
Concludes General Debate on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention
The Human Rights Council this morning held interactive dialogues with the Independent Experts on the situation of human rights in Burundi and in Haiti. It also concluded its general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention.
Fatsah Ouguergouz, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Burundi, thanked the Government of Burundi for welcoming him and recognized that it had made significant institutional changes. Seven commissioners had been recently elected to the National Independent Commission on Human Rights in Burundi. The Commission had wide-ranging powers, including investigative powers regarding human rights violations and if necessary, the power to refer violations to the competent authorities. This reinforced the primary place of human rights in Burundi. Mr. Ouguergouz said he would take this opportunity to shed light on certain human rights violations in Burundi. No progress had been made regarding the 12 cases of torture and thus he urged the Government to investigate these grave alleged violations. The Independent Expert also expressed concern about the recurrence of extrajudicial executions and underlined the importance of investigating these reports. He underlined that restrictions still existed concerning freedom of expression, association and assembly and urged the Government to decriminalize certain press activities. Positive changes had taken place in Burundi and he hoped they would have a positive effect on ending impunity in the country.
Speaking as a concerned country, Burundi said that the municipal elections which took place in 2010 in Burundi were in conformity with international standards and the irregularities noted by the Independent Expert in the report were not recognized by either the National Independent Electoral Commission, national or international observers or the press. The transitional justice mechanism had been established and the High Commissioner for Human Rights had agreed to provide technical expertise in this area with the first United Nations experts reaching Burundi on 27 June 2011. The Ombudsman’s office was established and was operational. A National Independent Commission for Human Rights was operational and its President was present in the Council today. The main allegations of human rights violations in the Independent Expert’s report related to impunity and to address this, a Commission of Inquiry into Shortcomings during the pre and post electoral period had been established and would report on a monthly basis with a final report after three months. The Government of Burundi was committed to the promotion of human rights and was also confronted by major challenges, including more than a decade of war which required the complete rebuilding of society, the fight against corruption, the promotion of good governance and the strengthening of capacity at all levels.
In the interactive dialogue, speakers welcomed Burundi’s approach to transitional justice and encouraged the authorities to introduce civil society participation. They welcomed the establishment of the Independent National Human Rights Commission that was fairly composed. As a developing country with regard to protecting human rights, Burundi faced challenges in terms of finance technical capacity and speakers hoped that the international community could provide this support. Speakers fully recognised the progress made in Burundi, including the holding of fair and free elections. Burundi had done almost everything the Human Rights Council had requested and it was fair to state that Burundi had established an institutional framework to address human rights issues, including an independent National Commission of Human Rights, trans-national justice, ombudsmen and a number of other measures. Some speakers were disturbed by threats to life and physical integrity and impunity for those responsible for such violations. Members of the security forces were involved. The Commission of Inquiry into extrajudicial executions started in April and it was hoped that those responsible would be brought to justice. The lack of an independent judiciary was one of the largest weaknesses of the Burundian legal system. The authorities of Burundi were able to engage with the Council, their institutions were now mature and Burundi was in a situation of normality and on an equal footing with any other observer state in this Council. Most speakers called for the mandate of the Independent Expert not to be renewed.
Speaking in the interactive dialogue on Burundi were the European Union, Switzerland, Cuba, China, Algeria, Nigeria on behalf of the African Group, Canada, Angola, United States, Belgium, Organisation International de la Francophonie, Norway, Rwanda, Uganda, Chad, Sudan, Republic of the Congo, and Morocco. The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Federation International des Ligues des Droit de L’homme, World Organization against Torture, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.
Michel Forst, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, said that since the drafting of the report last April, elections had been held in Haiti leading to the election of the new President Michel Martelly who had received the presidential sash from the hands of the outgoing President, Rene Preval. It was noted that this was the very first time in Haitian history that a democratically elected President had handed power over to another democratically elected President. The Independent Expert said that he saw this as a positive sign, indicative that a root and branch change was underway in Haiti. His activities had been focused on a number of priorities: strengthening the place of human rights within the humanitarian crisis; ensuring the integration of human rights within the reconstruction process, in particular economic social and cultural rights; and advising on the implementation of reforms in the area of the rule of law, so as to enable the full realization of economic, social and cultural rights. The Independent Expert stated that the first message related to the humanitarian crisis; there was no doubt that the situation had improved but there was no doubt that a crisis still continued. The Independent Expert noted that the international community needed to change the paradigm, change the message that was being sent. Reconstruction must be balanced and fair across the different regions of the country.
Speaking as a concerned country, Haiti said the Independent Expert had witnessed how the tragedy of 12 January 2010 had given rise to a major humanitarian crisis with thousands of people affected directly. The Independent Expert had visited the homeless in their makeshift tents with limited access to basic services and one year later they still faced many challenges. The Government of Haiti was concerned by the rise in violence, the resurgence of kidnappings, attacks by armed groups in and around the capital, domestic violence, forced returns, corruption and impunity. Many of the Independent Expert’s recommendations had been implemented including programmes to curb violence against women in all its manifestations. The Government of Haiti was grateful for the Independent Expert’s concern for the vulnerable in Haiti but noted that he had not mentioned the extensive improvement that had occurred in social and civil rights, including freedom of expression, assembly, religion and worship which were all safeguarded in the country. The Haitian Government regretted that the Independent Expert had not mentioned the urgent need for technical capacity building that the country so urgently required.
In the interactive dialogue on the situation of human rights in Haiti, speakers agreed that as the Independent Expert had noted in his remarks, the long-standing issues such as the state of the justice system, discrimination and others, continued to be of concern. Some speakers supported calls to reduce discrimination against vulnerable groups in the Haitian society, such as women, children, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and persons with disabilities, and they expressed particular concern for restavec who were often subjected to abuse. Some speakers believed a priority importance was to achieve better cooperation amongst all international organizations in Haiti. The direct participation of the Haitian Government was required in the delivery of basic services, including health and education, which could no longer continue to be in the hands of international organizations and should be transferred to the Government as soon as possible. Some speakers said that it was indispensable for the Government of Haiti to understand that it could not deal lightly with corruption. Speakers hoped that the new Government would ensure the implementation of the recommendations in the report of the Independent Expert. Speakers recognised that there were still reasons for concern about the human rights situation in Haiti but were also pleased to also note signs of progress.
Speaking in the interactive dialogue on Haiti were the United States, Brazil, Colombia, European Union, Spain, France, Honduras, Algeria, Germany, Chile, Uruguay, Cuba, Canada, Mexico, Norway, and Ecuador. The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie also spoke. The following non-governmental organizations took the floor: International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, American Civil Liberties Union, and World Vision International.
At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded its general debate on human rights situations that require the attention of the Council. The following non-governmental organizations took the floor: Cairo Institute for Human Rights, Rencontre Africaine Pour La Defense des Droits de L’homme, Liberation, United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation, France Liberté, Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Cooperation Economique International, Indian Council of South America, Action International Pour La Paix et le Developpements Dans La Region des Grand Lacs, International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations, World Muslim Congress, International Movement Against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism, Union de l’action féminine, Basic Technical Scientific Cooperative, United Nations Watch, Amnesty International, Press Emblem Campaign, and World Alliance for Citizens Participation.
Uzbekistan spoke in right of reply.
The Council today is holding a full day of meetings from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. In its midday meeting, the Council will listen to the presentation of the report of the High Commissioner on Kyrgyzstan. It will then hold a general debate on technical assistance and capacity building. At 3 p.m., the Council will start taking action on draft resolutions and decisions.
General Debate on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention
LAILA MATAR, of Cairo Institute for Human Rights, said that the international community had consistently turned a blind eye to rights violations in Bahrain. Healthcare professionals had been the victims of human rights violations in Bahrain because they had provided care to protesters. They had been held in custody and exposed to torture. Bahrain felt emboldened by an international community that had decided to ignore the situation of human rights violations in Bahrain. The current behaviour of the Bahrain Government was increasing tensions. In Libya, the current atrocities being committed by the Gaddafi regime were a natural extension of the policies followed by the regime in previous years.
ALIOUNE TINE, of Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, expressed solidarity with all the families who were victims of repression at the hands of the Syrian forces. The Government forces must be judged and punished for grave violations of human rights. The Syrian authorities continued to flout human rights. Recontre Africaine stood in solidarity with the civilian population that had continued to suffer at the hands of the Government of Syria. Concerning the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire, Rencontre Africaine had been one of the first organizations that had sounded the alert with regard to the complex political crisis which led to the tragedies today. There continued to be persistent humanitarian challenges in that country with regard to the resolution of the conflict.
DIPMONI GAYAN, of Liberation, said that the destructive policy of the Government in India branded as a divide and rule one had split the peoples of north east India into many small groups along caste and ethnic lines leading to conflicts among them motivated by political issues. Assam was one of these seven states where resources were drained out of the state since India’s independence for the development of other parts of the country and as a lucrative revenue earner for industrial giants at the behest of vested interest of corrupt political leadership. Illegal Bangladeshis and Nepalese threaten to destabilize not only the north east part of India but also mainland India.
ELIAS KHOURI, of United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation, hoped the Syrian authorities would continue the reforms they had already begun. United Towns Agency noted the armed groups which had infiltrated the demonstrators and committed acts of violence resulting in the heavy response by the military forces. These armed groups received extensive financial resources and were a threat to the stability of Syria as evidenced by the 120 members of the Syrian forces near the border of Turkey who were massacred. The destabilization of Syria could have catastrophic consequences for the region as a whole. United Towns Agency urged the Government of Syria to carry out reforms and continue to respect and uphold the human rights of all citizens in Syria.
ANNINA MIRJAM HIRZEL, of France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, regretted that the situation of human rights in the non-self governing territory of the Western Sahara continued to be of grave concern. France Liberté was particularly alarmed by the increase in arbitrary arrests and ill treatment of Saharawi human rights defenders. It further needed to be mentioned that pacific demonstrations organized by Saharawi civil society were also regularly and violently repressed by Moroccan forces. France Liberté called on the Council to urgently attend to and facilitate the matter so that Special Procedures representatives could, without delay, visit the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara in order to investigate the human rights situation in that territory.
ELBACHIR ED-DAHY, of Organisation pour la communication en Afrique et de promotion de la coopération économique internationale (Ocaproce International), drew the attention of the Council to the restrictions on the right to free expression and peaceful assembly in the Polisario camps in Tindouf, Algeria. Recently, young Saharawis who were planning to demonstrate to demand better living conditions and the right to freely choose their place of residence were brutally dispersed by the Polisario militia. This situation was a source of great concern. These youth whose voices could not be heard like their contemporaries in neighboring countries expected from the Human Rights Council a particular attention to their situation so that they could enjoy their basic human rights and freedoms. Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Cooperation Economique called on Algeria to respect the right to freedom of expression and freedom of movement of these youths, allowing them to leave the camps.
RONALD BARNES, of Indian Council of South America, noted that the right to prior consultation was linked to other rights of indigenous peoples such as the right to political participation, the right to free prior and informed consent, the right to self determination and the right to autonomy and territorial control. Indigenous people continued to be manipulated to develop their own right to consent. Many States were allowing Canadian and American mining companies into the territories of indigenous people without their consent. Concerning Alaska and Hawaii, the Indian Council of South America diplomatically protested the illegal annexation vis-à-vis General Assembly resolution 1469 of 1959. In both Alaska and Hawaii the United States Military voted to annex these independent peoples in Alaska and Hawaii. The Indian Council of South America stressed that indigenous people in Alaska and Hawaii and also indigenous people in Canada were under apartheid law and policy; these countries applied the doctrine of discovery and the Papal bulls decree of 1493.
SID AHMED ABDY ACHLEYCHIL, of Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs (AIPD), said that the Mauritian citizens held in arbitrary detention in 1970 were targeted in the Polisario camps and that dozens of people were tortured and killed. The speaker said that he was himself a victim of disappearance and torture in the camps of Tindouf. In the Tindouf camps the denial of economic and social rights was the norm. Victims suffered to see their torturers unchallenged. Parents wanted to know about the fate of their children to date. Action International Pour La Paix et le Developpements Dans La Region des Grand Lacs, appealed to the Algerian authorities to shed light on the hundreds of Mauritanians who had disappeared in their territory.
ALTAF HUSSAIN WANI, of International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations, said that the human rights situation in Indian occupied Kashmir warranted the special attention of the Human Rights Council. The armed forces special powers act, the public safety act, the Jammu and Kashmir disturbed area act and the natural security act had all led to human rights violations. Various forms of torture were used against civilians in Indian occupied Kashmir, including use of rollers, electric shocks, sexual abuse, beating, crushing of muscles and other forms of physical assault. The conspiracy of silence over the gross human rights violations were an affront to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
FAISAL REHMAN, of World Muslim Congress, said the right to self determination of peoples was a fundamental right of international human rights law and it was obligatory for the Human Rights Council to support this right for all peoples. The people of Indian ruled Kashmir had suffered a regime of human rights violations due to their inability to pursue their right to self determination. The use of violence by the Indian army in 2010 resulting in the death of over 100 people was evidence of the excessive use of force by the Indian army in Kashmir.
NIMALKA FERNANDO, of International Movement Against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism, wished to focus attention on the alarming situation in Sri Lanka. The International Movement Against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism urged the setting up of appropriate and widely representative mechanisms to investigate acts committed by the Government and the opposition. The people of Sri Lanka had been denied to right to know by the repression of the release of a recent report on violations. Reparation, judicial and other mechanisms needed to be put in place to address this issue. The International Movement Against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism considered the recent treatment of the body of a worker as an early warning to the Human Rights Council about the possibility of further human rights violations. The International Movement Against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism asked when and how the Human Rights Council would respond. It recommended that the Human Rights Council appoint a Special Rapporteur or another Special Procedure mandate holder to investigate the situation in Sri Lanka.
MAIMOUNA ESSAYED, of Union de l'action féminine, wished to draw the attention of the Council to the human rights violations against women in Tindouf, Algeria. Thousands of women and girls were held in the camps at the mercy of the leaders of the Polisario movement and with the support of the Algerian military. Union de l’action féminine called on the Council to put an end to violations and ensure there was justice for those held in the camps. If there was any place in the world where the access of non-governmental organizations and United Nations human rights mechanisms was prohibited, it was in the Tindouf camps. Union de l’action féminine sought the support of the Council to free the families held in captivity to return to the Moroccan Sahara and support for opening the camps to international organizations to investigate the situation in the camps.
STEFANO MANNACIO, of Cobase - Associazione Tecnico Scientifica Di Base, in a joint statement with Gherush92 - Committee for Human Rights, said that Jewish and Islamic rules were not religious but they were part of the legal system; they were laws that Jews and Muslims were obliged to respect and therefore, they could not be subject to the dialogue of comparison. By their nature, these legal rules which had been given to them by the creator could noted be changed. The only way to change these laws was to destroy them or those who practiced them. Additionally the destruction of Jewish, Islamic and indigenous rules had already been made over the centuries and had resulted in the destruction of portions of the environment, peoples and species, in some cases to their extinction. Basic Technical Scientific Cooperative said that this was racism, anti- Semitism and Islamophobia. Jews and Muslims were horrified at the thought of killing any animal by the gun or gas chamber or electric shock or being left in agony as permitted notwithstanding.
HILLEL NEUER, of United Nations Watch, noted that one year ago the Council held a three week session like the present one. Arab and Islamic States demanded an interruption to debate the deaths of nine members of a so-called humanitarian flotilla. Many of those persons had been recruited by the Jihadi HHH, and had boasted of seeking to die as martyrs. There was no procedure for interrupting a session, so something was created, called the Urgent Debate. United Nations Watch noted that Israel was immediately condemned as guilty. The world’s diplomats had been gathered for three weeks now conducting debates on human rights and panels on tolerance. While this went on, the Syrian Government had been massacring hundreds of its citizens in cold blood. In relation to the lack of an Urgent Debate on the situation in Syria, United Nations Watch asked why the precedent had not been applied
PETER SPLINTER, of Amnesty International, said that more than 1,400 refugees and migrants were reported to have died this year trying to reach Europe from North Africa. While Egypt and Tunisia had quietly admitted hundreds of thousands of refugees from Libya, European Union Member States had failed to take credible measures to help prevent the deaths at sea of persons fleeing that country. Migrants were not seeking to come to Europe out of greed; portraying refugees and migrants as undeserving, greedy or criminal was not only disingenuous, it fuelled hatred and violence. Amnesty International appealed to the European Union to do more to help those who are fleeing the desperate situation in North Africa. The European Union had a responsibility to protect the rights of refugees and migrants and to come to their rescue when their lives were at risk.
GIANFRANCO FATTORINI, of Press Emblem Campaign, believed that denying access to foreign media in Syria and hindering independent Syrian journalists from objective coverage of the turbulent events was a violation of article 19 on freedom of opinion and expression of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Press Emblem Campaign called upon the Council to endorse a recommendation that would allow a study on such serious violations against journalists including the right to life covering the period 2010 and 2011 and to be presented to the Council in March 2012; Press Emblem Campaign expressed its willingness to spearhead this effort with other like-minded groups.
RENATE BLOEM, of World Alliance for Citizens Participation, wished to support action by the Human Rights Council on the situation in Belarus, including adopting the draft resolution which should help to end the ongoing crackdown and systematic violations and commit the Government of Belarus to urgently needed human rights reform. The Council should end the deafening silence on Yemen and Bahrain. The Council should open its blind eyes on Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in light to the stream of information on torture, the recent closure of Human Rights Watch in Tashkent and the ongoing crackdown in civil society in these countries. The international community and the European Union should reconsider their policy with regards to central Asian regimes to adopt effective measures to ensure that international human rights norms were honoured.
Right of Reply
BADRIDDIN OBIDO (Uzbekistan), speaking in a right of reply, wished to respond to the statement by CIVICUS and expressed concern about the statement made. This non-governmental organization had not specified or substantiated its statement on issues of torture in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan had provided information on the measures and steps taken to combat torture and other cruel treatment of detainees, which had been provided to Council and other United Nations treaty bodies. Uzbekistan had also provided information about a national plan of action on the subject. This information had been largely circulated in the Council and other human rights bodies of the United Nations. Uzbekistan felt such a non-governmental organization statement harmed the Council by politicizing it and applying double standards. Uzbekistan urged CIVICUS to reflect on this issue.
The Report of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Burundi, (A/HRC/17/50), is currently unavailable in English.
Presentation of Report by Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Burundi
FATSAH OUGUERGOUZ, Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Burundi, said the report circulated was subsequent to his first visit to Burundi and covered developments up to February 2011. Mr. Ouguergouz would thus orally provide information on the situation in the country from February 2011 onward. Mr. Ouguergouz thanked the Government of Burundi for welcoming him and recognized that it had made significant institutional changes. Seven Commissioners had been recently elected to the National Independent Commission on Human Rights in Burundi. The Commission had wide-ranging powers, including investigative powers regarding human rights violations and if necessary, the power to refer violations to the competent authorities. This reinforced the primary place of human rights in Burundi. Regarding the appointee to the post of Ombudsman, some non-governmental organizations had expressed concerns regarding this Ombudsman’s independence in relation to the political party in power, but Mr. Ouguergouz stated that the Ombudsman had shown commitment to the post in an independent manner. National consultations had taken place regarding mechanisms of transitional justice and Mr. Ouguergouz urged the Government to put such a mechanism in place as quickly as possible in a largely participatory manner.
Mr. Ouguergouz took the opportunity to shed light on certain human rights violations in Burundi. No progress had been made regarding the 12 cases of torture and the Independent Expert urged the Government to investigate these grave alleged violations. Mr. Ouguergouz also expressed concern about the recurrence of extrajudicial executions and underlined the importance of investigating these reports.
Another important development related to the assassination in April 2009 of the Vice-president. Investigations should resume now that the principal suspect had returned and been incarcerated. Mr. Ouguergouz underlined that restrictions still existed concerning freedom of expression, association and assembly and urged the Government to decriminalize certain press activities. Mr. Ouguergouz was also concerned about prison overcrowding and the degrading situation in the detention centers and urged the Government to take all measures necessary to remedy this situation.
Positive changes had taken place in Burundi and Mr. Ouguergouz hoped they would have a positive effect on ending impunity in Burundi. The Government should strengthen the judicial system and respect freedom of expression and assembly. Building the rule of law was a long undertaking which required the bringing about of respect and enjoyment of all human rights. Ensuring that human rights were fully exercised would depend on the political climate and economic situation. The Government needed to be supportive of opening up the political dialogue and improving the economic situation and thus Mr. Ouguergouz urged the Government and all its partners to continue to pursue efforts in this regard.
Statement by Concerned Country
IMMACULEE NAHAYO, Minister of Solidarity, Human Rights and Gender of Burundi, speaking as a concerned country, said that the municipal elections which took place in 2010 in Burundi were in conformity with international standards and the irregularities noted by the Independent Expert in the report were not recognized by either the National Independent Electoral Commission, national or international observers or the press. The transitional justice mechanism had been established and the High Commissioner for Human Rights had agreed to provide technical expertise in this area with the first United Nations experts reaching Burundi on 27 June 2011. The Ombudsman’s office was established and was operational. A National Independent Commission for Human Rights was operational and its President was present in the Council today. The main allegations of human rights violations in the Independent Expert’s report related to impunity and to address this, a Commission of Inquiry into Shortcomings during the pre and post electoral period had been established and would report on a monthly basis with a final report after three months. The accusation of extrajudicial killings in the provinces of Bujumbura Rural, Bubanza and Cibitoke was highly premature as a Commission of Inquiry with six judges had already submitted its report to the Procurator General and more than 100 members of the defense and security forces were convicted or discharged because of these investigations. The murder of the Vice President of the Observatory to Counter Corruption Mr. Olucome had been resolved due to the efforts of the Canadian Government and a person name Gabriel Ndikuriyo, alias Sese, had been identified.
The new Criminal Code had made acts of torture an offense and a number of actors from civil society would agree that acts of torture had disappeared. The Procurator General had instructed all institutions to act against any form of torture in the country and the Minister noted that the Government applied a principle of individual responsibility. Freedom of expression was respected in the country as borne out by the large number of media and press actively participating in society; every three months there was a radio debate for the community and the Government had provided a building for press organizations along with funding. The National Broadcasting Commission regulated the media with representatives that included journalists. However, the Government of Burundi could not tolerate discrepancies that could threaten peace and stability and incidents where the acts of the media would support violence. There were 40 political parities and 4,000 civil society associations authorized by the Ministry of Interior.
The revised Criminal Code contained provisions for the suppression of human rights violations, including rape which was no longer subject to a statue of limitations or amnesty; the death penalty had been abolished; the age of criminal responsibility was raised from 13 years to 16 years old; and crimes of war, crimes against humanity and genocide would all be prosecuted in Burundi. Neighborhood justice was being addressed through local hearings. Overcrowding in prisons was being addressed by limiting cases of preventive remand detention and finding alternative measures to prison sentences. The Government of Burundi was committed to the promotion of human rights and was also confronted by major challenges, including more than a decade of war which required the complete rebuilding of society, the fight against corruption, the promotion of good governance and the strengthening of capacity on all levels. The Government of Burundi thanked all donor countries for their support and called on them to continue to provide support to institutionalize the rule of law. Burundi strongly supported and engaged in human rights work as evidenced by its participation in maintaining peace and security in Somalia, Darfur, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire and Haiti.
NICOLE RECKINGER (European Union) paid tribute to the authorities of Burundi in their efforts to ensure that human rights were protected. The Independent Expert had confirmed that the elections recently held did conform to international standards. The European Union recognized Burundi’s approach to transitional justice and encouraged the authorities to introduce civil society participation. It supported the highest authorities in the country. The Independent National Human Rights Commission was fairly composed. The European Union looked forward to the functioning of the Commission and hoped that it would involve all sectors of the Burundian society in its work. The first report of the Commission aught to contribute to accreditation of the Commission pursuant to the Paris Principles. The European Union asked the Independent Expert about whether after meetings with the Burundian authorities, there may be a broadening of the mandate to examine new cases of extra judicial killings.
MICHAEL MEIER (Switzerland) welcomed the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission in Burundi and congratulated those who just took office. Switzerland inquired as to the Independent Expert’s opinion on the establishment of the Commission. Switzerland supported the recommendation of the Independent Expert for the Government to take into account civil society in establishing transitional justice mechanisms. Switzerland was disturbed by threats to life and physical integrity and impunity for those responsible for such violations. Members of the security forces were involved. The Commission of Inquiry into extrajudicial executions started in April and Switzerland was confident that those responsible would be brought to justice. Switzerland inquired whether the Independent Expert had been able to communicate with authorities regarding cases of torture. The lack of an independent judiciary was one of the largest weaknesses of the Burundian legal system. Switzerland supported the Government in continuing to reform this system. Switzerland encouraged the Government and opposition parties to engage in a constructive dialogue and asked how such a dialogue could be supported by the international community.
JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA (Cuba) said that Cuba noted the progress made by the Government of Burundi. Cuba believed that there should be no other special mechanisms set up for Burundi. The authorities of Burundi were able to engage with the Council, their institutions were now mature and Burundi was in a situation of normality and on an equal footing with any other observer state in this Council. Cuba called on the Human Rights Council to put a stop to any special treatment of Burundi.
YANG CHUANHUI (China) said that China appreciated the active cooperation of the Burundian Government with international human rights agencies and with the Council. China noted with satisfaction that the elections took place in 2010 and that the process was well organized and peaceful. Burundi had set up a National Human Rights Commission which further guaranteed the protection of human rights at the national level. This would assist in consolidating peace in Burundi and work toward the millennium development goals. As a developing country with regard to protecting human rights, Burundi faced challenges in terms of financing technical capacity. China hoped that the international community could provide this support. The mandate should not be extended.
IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria) thanked the Independent Expert for the presentation of the report on human rights in Burundi. Algeria welcomed the extension of consultations and the cooperation the Independent Expert enjoyed with the Burundian authorities. Burundi had suffered from the ravages of colonization and fratricidal civil conflict. The Burundian authorities had managed to put the country back on the path to economic development and stability. The establishment of an Independent National Human Rights Commission was one of the recommendations of the Independent Expert and Algeria congratulated Burundi in creating this institution. Burundi was doing everything it could to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Progress was tangible in many areas, particularly in realizing the right to education. Algeria asked Burundi to step up efforts to combat extreme poverty and hunger. Algeria joined the Independent Expert in calling for assistance to this land-locked African Government. Resolution 9/19 of the Council was unequivocal in Article 8 that the mandate of the Independent Expert would end with the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission.
OSITADINMA ANAEDU (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that the African Group thanked the Independent Expert on Burundi for making conclusions without entering into interpretation of his mandate. The African Group fully recognised the progress made in Burundi, including the holding of fair and free elections. Burundi had done almost everything the Human Rights Council had requested and it was fair to state that Burundi had established an institutional framework to address human rights issues, including the Independent National Commission of Human Rights, a trans-national justice system, ombudsmen and a number of other steps. Fairly speaking, what Burundi needed right now was international assistance to enable them to put policies into practice and ensure concrete outcomes. The work of the Independent Expert had been well done and there was no need to continue this mandate. This was in agreement with the Council’s prescription that once the institutional framework in Burundi was established, this mandate would end.
JEFFREY HEATON (Canada) thanked the Burundian delegation for its explanation and welcomed the progress that it had made in establishing peace and security. Canada welcomed the efforts to establish a National Commission of Human Rights according to the Paris Principles. It asked the Burundian delegation to provide information on measures that had been put in place to ensure the functioning of the National Commission in line with the Paris Principles. Canada was concerned by the ongoing reports of human rights violations in the country. Canada urged the Government to foster human rights by promoting an inclusive dialogue with civil society. It noted that land disputes were exacerbated by returning refugees and had become sources of human rights abuse in Burundi. Canada asked the Burundian Government how it planned to address this situation.
JOSE MARIA CAPON DUARTE E SILVA (Angola) welcomed the positive developments made by the Burundian authorities in establishing a transitional government mechanism. Angola also supported the appointment of members of the National Human Rights Commission, pursuant to the Paris Principles and was encouraged that the Commission had a wide-ranging mandate. Angola urged the authorities of Burundi to continue consultations on the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a special tribunal according to international standards. Angola welcomed that the President had just established these mechanisms by decree and also supported the work of the Attorney General in working to end unwarranted detention. Angola called on the Burundian authorities to re-establish and re-enforce political dialogue and called on the international community to support these efforts.
OSMAN TAT (United States) said the United States was grateful to the Government of Burundi for facilitating the visit of the Independent Expert last month. The United States noted the creation of a National Independent Human Rights Commission and anticipated that it would soon be fully functional and prepared to take on the crucial task of the promotion and protection of human rights in Burundi. The United States strongly supported the work of the Special Procedures and their work in the field and strongly urged the Government of Burundi to continue its engagement with the Special Procedures until the Commission was fully functional. While Burundi had made significant progress since the ceasefire agreement of 2006, the United States had noted several shortcomings in the respect of human rights in Burundi, including cases of extrajudicial killings, arrests and intimidation during the electoral period, as well as resurgence of documented cases of torture that were continuing into this year. The United States asked the Independent Expert what concrete steps he was recommending to the Government of Burundi and the international community in order to support development of an independent judiciary in this country.
HUGO BRAUWERS (Belgium) was pleased that the Independent Expert’s report had confirmed that the elections took place in 2010 according to minimum international standards. However it remained concerned that extra judicial killings continued. Concerning extra judicial killings, Belgium noted that a Commission had been set up to investigate nine cases. However it stressed that cases of disappearances of people must be addressed in inquiries. Canada noted that it had been informed that since the visit of senior Belgium officials to Burundi, the situation had improved. Belgium commended the country’s move to transitional justice and asked for a proactive approach and for all members of civil society to be involved. It looked forward to the National Human Rights Council beginning and involving civil society in a constructive manner. It hoped that once the National Human Rights Commission was functioning it would be in line with the Paris Principles.
RIDA BOUABID, of Organisation International de la Francophonie, thanked the Independent Expert for the report and wished to pay tribute to the efforts undertaken by Burundi in implementing the Universal Periodic Review recommendations and the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission. Organisation International de la Francophonie was working with the authorities on the National Human Rights Commission, which was important for the promotion and protection of human rights. Contacts with the Ombudsman had allowed Organisation International de la Francophonie to support their efforts. Organisation International de la Francophonie emphasized the cooperation between it and the Ministry of Education in Burundi in implementing human rights education.
GEIR SJOBERG (Norway) said Norway commended the Independent Expert for his excellent report on Burundi that addressed several issues that gave cause for concern. Norway was pleased that the elections in Burundi had been conducted in a fair and free manner, but Norway was concerned by the narrowing of the political space and by reports of torture and extra-judicial killing of members of the opposition parties. Norway urged the Government to conduct proper investigations and bring those responsible to justice. Norway welcomed the steps taken to establish institutions to foster reconciliation and promote human rights and was confident that once those institutions had been well in place and fully operational, they would contribute positively and constructively to the reconciliation among the Burundians and to the stability of the country. In order to further consolidate the peace, it was imperative to strengthen the rule of law and Norway strongly encouraged the Government of Burundi to adhere to the recommendations of the Independent Expert and to speed up the justice reform.
ALPHONSE KAYITAYIRE (Rwanda) took note of the report of the Independent Expert on Burundi. Rwanda commended Burundi for its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights despite the challenges it faced. Rwanda fully supported the initiatives of the Government and brotherly people of Burundi towards the protection and promotion of human rights. It congratulated Burundi for the adoption of the law setting up the Ombudsman and for the adoption of a law establishing the Independent National Human Rights Commission. Rwanda recommended the non-renewal of the mandate on Burundi.
ROSSETTE NYIRINKINDI KATUNGYE (Uganda) said Uganda took note of the important work of the Independent Expert and commended the Government for the bold steps taken to hold fair and free elections as well as the steps taken to assure the universal right to education. The establishment of the National Human Rights Commission demonstrated Burundi’s will to created an open forum for dialogue about human rights. Uganda believed Burundi was capable of advancing the human rights agenda with the now existing national human rights mechanisms. Uganda believed it was not necessary to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert and thanked him for the visible contribution he had made to advance human rights in Burundi.
AWADA ANGUI (Chad) said that Chad thanked the Independent Expert for presenting his report on Burundi. He had been appointed in 2010 to help improve the human rights situation in Burundi and since then, significant progress had been made. The Burundian authorities had set up the necessary institutions in the field of human rights, including the setting up of the National Commission for Human Rights. Therefore, there was no need to continue a special mechanism to monitor the human rights situation in Burundi. Chad hoped that the international community would provide the necessary resources to Burundi to continue strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights.
HAMZA AHMED (Sudan) noted that Sudan’s position on its neighboring countries was clear and that regarding the special mandate, the mandate should cease once it was seen that human rights were promoted in the country concerned. Sudan noted that the President of Burundi had fulfilled the human rights requirements. It noted that there was now an Ombudsman’s office and general elections had been held in the country. Sudan said that for these reasons it would like to ask the Human Rights Council to respect these developments and to avoid politicization of the situation. Sudan urged the international community to help Burundi to protect human rights.
LUC-JOSEPH OKIO (Republic of the Congo) thanked the Independent Expert for the detailed report on the human rights situation in Burundi. There had been positive developments in Burundi, even if some issues required further development, as related to the judiciary and courts. The Republic of the Congo hoped the Government of Burundi and the National Human Rights Commission would continue to strengthen these developments. The Government’s cooperation with the Independent Expert showed its willingness to support its international engagements. The Republic of the Congo encouraged the Government of Burundi to consolidate reforms in the security forces and the judiciary. International support would be beneficial for these efforts. The continuation of the Special Procedures mandate was no longer necessary.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said that Morocco paid tribute to Burundi for all the work, wisdom and commitment they had shown. The Government had made progress in the establishment of the institutional framework for the promotion and protection of human rights. Morocco welcomed the efforts to fight impunity, measures to address violence surrounding the electoral period, improvements in the prison system and others. The recommendations proposed by the Independent Expert worked alongside the Government and it was appropriate for the Human Rights Council to draw positive lessons from its engagement with Burundi. The mandate for Burundi was connected with the establishment of the National Commission for Human Rights and now that the Commission had been established, Morocco believed that the mandate should come to an end.
JULIE GROMELLON, of International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, regretted the break down of the dialogue between national authorities and opposition political parties on political security terms in Burundi. It remained concerned regarding cases of arrest and arbitrary detention of members of the opposition. It noted that this lack of the rule of law was due to the continuation of the weakness in the judicial system, political interference with the courts and non respect for the rule of law. The Federation asked what practical steps had been taken by the authorities to undertake measures to end impunity. With regard to the National Human Rights Commission, the Federation said that its effectiveness would have to include practical steps to address its mandate. Until these and other conditions were fulfilled, the mandate of the Independent Expert should remain a priority in the Council.
ZOE SPRIET, of World Organization against Torture, in a joint statement with International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH), stated that human rights defenders were subject to pressure and threats in Burundi, and thus asked the Independent Expert what had been done to respond to his communications and recommendations for the protection of human rights defenders. Human rights defenders were one of the special targets of the authorities, who equated them with the opposition. There had been calls for an inquiry and full trial regarding the murder of Enerst Manirumva, but those allegedly responsible had not been charged despite proof of their responsibility for the murder. The World Organization against Torture asked what practical steps Burundi had taken to redress victims of other human rights violations and whether the people responsible had been brought to justice. The World Organization against Torture felt the maintenance of the mandate of the Independent Expert was vital and called on the international community to ensure the effective functioning of national bodies to ensure the full respect of the rights of human rights defenders.
PHILIPPE DAM, of Human Rights Watch, said Human Rights Watch welcomed several positive developments in Burundi in the last few months, including the creation of the National Independent Human Rights Commission, and looked forward to this institution playing a critical role in protecting human rights in Burundi. Human Rights Watch remained concerned about a number of human rights issues, including political violence and other killings, lack of accountability for torture, and threats against civil society activists and journalists. Significant resource cuts for the United Nations mission in Burundi meant that there was currently very little international capacity to monitor the human rights situation in Burundi and Human Rights Watch called on all Governments to ensure that appropriate mechanisms were set up to compensate for this gap and to follow up on the recommendations of the Independent Expert.
PATRIZIA SCANELLA, of Amnesty International, shared the Independent Expert’s concerns on restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and association and in particular the persistent harassment of human rights defenders. Amnesty International noted that in the report the Independent Expert highlighted the role of the security forces in human rights violations ranging from extra-judicial killings to torture, as documented by UN observers in Burundi. Amnesty International supported the recommendation that investigations into these cases should be opened or expedited resulting in the prosecution of those responsible. It noted further that it shared the considered opinion of the Independent Expert that the absence of justice for past crimes under international law contributed to continued human rights violations. It welcomed the President’s commitment to move forward with the creation of transitional justice mechanisms. However, it remained concerned that the recent statements by the President which focused on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission made no specific mention of when a Special Tribunal would be established. Amnesty International stressed that the victims of human rights violation were entitled to justice, truth and reparations.
EDOUARD BIHA, of Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, welcomed the work of the Independent Expert and the opportunity to speak on the report. The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies noted with satisfaction that Burundi had taken a step forward in establishing the National Human Rights Commission but looked forward to further concrete steps to promote and protect human rights. The Cairo Institute for Human Rights welcomed the establishment of mechanisms of transitional justice but deplored that Burundi had taken steps back in heeding the recommendations of the Independent Expert. Positive developments had been made with the adoption of the penal code, but torture, extrajudicial killings, refusal to investigate or never-ending investigations continued to exist in Burundi. The Cairo Institute for Human Rights was concerned about threats to human rights defenders and journalists. The Cairo Institute for Human Rights urged the international community to support the country and monitor the political situation and recommended an extension of the mandate of the Independent Expert, at least until the National Human Rights Commission submitted its report.
Concluding Remarks by the Independent Expert on Burundi
FATSAH OUGUERGOUZ, Independent Expert on the situation on human rights in Burundi, in his closing remarks thanked the participants for their comments and questions which reflected the interest in this mandate. Concerning allegations of grave human rights violations in Burundi, the Independent Expert said that the Commission of Inquiry to look into extra-judicial killings committed before 2010 had been established during his last visit to Burundi. On the mandate of the Commission, the President of the Commission and the Procurator General said the Commission should focus on inquiry into extra-judicial killings allegedly committed before its establishment. Another Commission was being set up by the Head of State, charged with investigating acts of violence prior, during and after the elections. With regard to cases of torture allegedly carried out in the premises of the National Information Service in the summer of 2010, the Independent Expert said that he was astonished that no investigation had been opened into those cases. The officials from the Government said that no complaint had been lodged, but the Independent Expert said that the authorities must act ex officio and not wait for the complaints. On political dialogue in Burundi and how it could be encouraged by the international community, the Independent Expert said that much had already been done in mediation by diplomatic missions in Burundi, as well as by the Commission for Peace and added that those efforts should continue. The diplomatic community in Bujumbura should invite extra-Parliamentary parties to make their own comments on legislation being prepared by the Government.
Turning to questions related to institutions to monitor human rights violations and combat impunity, and in particular on institutions for transitional justice procedures, the Independent Expert said that he had shared his concerns with the authorities and encouraged the Ministry to associate all civil society with this process. This unfortunately was still not happening and the Independent Expert invited the members of civil society to press with their concerns and try to get included in the process. The Government had adopted a schedule for the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which would operate for two years. On the National Commission for Human Rights and its independence, the Independent Expert said that the members must have a protected status to enable them to implement the mandate. Another crucial question was funding for the Commission and the Independent Expert called on the international community to make sure that the Commission was funded at the level of the Ombudsmen’s office. On criminal justice and the improvement of the system, the Independent Expert said that the Government must take steps to ensure professional judges and attorneys and paralegals. Also, the Government must be assisted with resources to restructure the system and with funding for its proper functioning. The National Independent Human Rights Commission had some very important prerogatives. There still remained the question on how to interpret its mandate, which would hopefully be clearer once the rules of procedures that the Commission was currently working on were produced. Concerning the mandate on Burundi, the Independent Expert said that this matter was fully in the hands of the Human Rights Council.
The Report of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, (A/HRC/17/42), describes the human rights situation in Haiti and the threats posed to human rights in the context of an ongoing humanitarian crisis; draws attention in particular to the plight of women, who are often prey to gender-based violence, children who have been separated from their families, orphans, child domestic servants and persons with disabilities, as well as to the question of forced return; describes the impact of cholera on mob justice and cases of lynching of voodoo priests; reviews the performance of the judicial authorities and the police and, in particular, looks at the need to restart the vetting process for police officers; describes the prison system and the threats faced by persons deprived of their liberty, together with extended pretrial detention and sanitary conditions in prisons; and concludes with the Independent Expert’s recommendations.
Presentation of Report of Independent Expert on Situation of Human Rights in Haiti
MICHAEL FORST, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, apologized that the report after having been posted on line was then withdrawn, but noted that this was done to give the Haitian authorities a chance to formulate their response. This was the case as the Haitian Government had not yet received the report from the Secretariat before its posting on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights website. The Independent Expert noted that since the drafting of the report last April, elections had been held in Haiti leading to the election of the new President Michel Martelly who had received the presidential sash from the hands of the outgoing president, Rene Preval. This was the very first time in Haitian history that a democratically elected President had handed power over to another democratically elected President. The Independent Expert said that he saw this as a positive sign, indicative that a root and branch change was underway in Haiti. Mr. Forst noted that as was suggested by the Haitian authorities and by the President of the Human Rights Council upon the renewal of the mandate in Haiti, the activities of the Independent Expert had been focused on a number of priorities: strengthening the place of human rights within the humanitarian crisis; ensuring the integration of human rights within the reconstruction process, in particular economic social and cultural rights; and advising on the implementation of reforms in the area of the rule of law, so as to enable the full realization of economic, social and cultural rights. The Independent Expert stated that the first message related to the humanitarian crisis; there was no doubt that the situation had improved but there was no doubt that a crisis still continued.
Mr. Forst said that such a humanitarian catastrophe as the one experienced in Haiti did not fit into the traditional parameters of a crisis, with the chronology of well defined phases in which the intervention of the international community went from emergency assistance to reconstruction. There was the allegation of trafficking in children and this was diffusing into modern slavery. The rule of law was important in Haiti. The Independent Expert reminded the Council that Haiti was a sovereign country and that protection of human rights would have to, in time be transferred to the Haitians themselves, and that was why among the current priorities, the international community must continue efforts to strengthen the country’s institutions, including the national human rights institution represented be the Protectrice de Citoyen. The Independent Expert also reiterated concern about the country’s reconstruction. He had often said and repeated that in his opinion the role of human rights in the reconstruction process was not visible enough and he believed that it was still not the case. What Haitian women and men expected from the reconstruction was to transition from a necessarily transactional logic of assistance to the more compelling logic of access to rights and first of all their economic, social and cultural rights, that constituted their principal demands. He noted that the international community needed to change the paradigm, change the message that was being sent. Reconstruction must be balanced and fair across the different regions of the country. There must be a rights based approach as this was an essential tool to ensure that no one was left behind in the reconstruction effort. It was hoped that such a perspective would be a reality soon and that John Ruggie’s guiding principles would be adopted by the Council.
Statement by Concerned Country
JEAN-CLAUDE PIER. (Haiti), speaking as a concerned country, said the Independent Expert had witnessed how the tragedy of 12 January 2010 had given rise to a major humanitarian crisis with thousands of people affected directly. The Independent Expert visited the homeless in their makeshift tents with limited access to basic services and one year later they still faced many challenges. The Government of Haiti was concerned by the rise in violence, the resurgence of kidnappings, attacks by armed groups in and around the capital, domestic violence, forced returns, corruption and impunity. Many of the Independent Expert’s recommendations had been implemented including programmes to curb violence against women in all its manifestations. To combat the spread of cholera, the health authorities would open a major cholera centre in the town of Carrefour. Since the appearance of cholera in mid October 2010, there had been 5,000 deaths with more than 135,000 persons affected. The Government of Haiti was grateful for the Independent Expert’s concern for the vulnerable in Haiti but noted that he had not mentioned the extensive improvement that had occurred in social and civil rights, including freedom of expression, assembly, religion and worship which were all safeguarded in the country. The recent presidential elections were a demonstration of Haiti’s active political life and the new Government’s priorities were education, corruption, agriculture, housing for the homeless and the establishment of the rule of law. The Haitian Government regretted that the Independent Expert had not mentioned the urgent need for the technical capacity building that the country so urgently needed.
Interactive Dialogue on Situation of Human Rights in Haiti
JOHN C. MARIZ (United States) said the United States regretted there was no sufficient time to review the report of the Independent Expert and engage better in the interactive dialogue. The United States had long supported the Haitian people and had reiterated that support in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake of 2010. As the Independent Expert had noted in his remarks, the long-standing issues such as the state of the justice system, discrimination and others, continued to be of concern and those were areas that the United States would continue to address in its cooperation with the Haitian Government. The United States noted the difficult conditions in Haitian prisons and supported the call of the Independent Expert for judicial sector reform. The United States also supported calls to reduce discrimination against vulnerable groups in the Haitian society, such as women, children, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and persons with disabilities. Finally, the United States was particularly concerned about child exploitation practices, particularly for restavec who were often subjected to abuse and the United States wanted to hear what steps the Independent Expert recommended to address this situation.
JOAO ERNESTO CHRISTOFOLO (Brazil) noted the problem of the situation regarding internally displaced persons and persons with disabilities and children. There needed to be an emphasis on the international rights of the child, particularly putting an end to international adoptions. Brazil also noted the work carried out within the MINUSTAH protection cluster. This work had been fundamental in placing human rights at the core of reconstruction in Haiti. The question of economic, social and cultural rights was of great concern. The improvement in the situation could not be sustainable without addressing economic, social and cultural issues. Brazil noted that among the priorities were the rights of the child and access to justice. The creation of jobs should be considered as one of the criteria for the approval of reconstruction projects. The mandate regarding Haiti had been in the Council for 16 years and had been the subject of several other mechanisms. Information available under these other mechanisms could inform the process in Haiti. Brazil noted that President Martelly had already shown his determination to work for human rights in Haiti.
ALVARO ENRIQUE AYALA MELENDEZ (Colombia) repeated the appeal made by the representative of the Government of Colombia before the Security Council that all countries should extend support to Haiti. Colombia believed a priority importance was to achieve better cooperation amongst all international organizations in Haiti. The direct participation of the Haitian Government was required in the delivery of basic services, including health and education, which could no longer continue to be in the hands of international organizations and should be transferred to the Government as soon as possible. Colombia would continue to support the strengthening of the Haitian police. The delegation of Colombia asked how would the Independent Expert envision improved coordination with the international community with a better focus on facilitating the enjoyment of fundamental human rights by the most vulnerable sectors of society?
MARIANGELA ZAPPIA (European Union) said that the report of the Independent Expert outlined the challenges that the Haitian Government was grappling with more than one year after the earthquake. The Independent Expert focused his attention on the situation of vulnerable groups in Haiti, including internally displaced persons, children, elderly, persons with disabilities and others. The European Union shared his opinion that the new Presidency was an opportunity to place human rights at the heart of reconstruction and to pursue the necessary reforms towards the establishment of the rule of law. The European Union noted that some of the recommendations by the Independent Expert concerned combating impunity and reforming the judicial system. To fail to do so would send a very bad signal to the people of Haiti and the European Union asked what the Independent Expert thought were the priorities in this regard. The Independent Expert underlined the crucial role of civil society in Haiti in the reconstruction and the European Union inquired about the suggestions of the Independent Expert to effectively strengthen the relationship between the United Nations Mission to Haiti and other humanitarian actors with civil society in Haiti. Finally, the European Union asked how the Independent Expert intended to monitor implementation on the ground of the recommendation related to the strengthening of the rule of law.
MANUEL ALHANA (Spain) noted that the report of the Independent Expert gave a good overview of the human rights situation in Haiti. Spain believed that before the disastrous earthquake the human rights situation was already difficult. It was indispensable for the Government of Haiti to understand that it could not deal lightly with corruption. Spain hoped that the new Government would ensure the implementation of the recommendations in the report of the Independent Expert. In relation to reconstruction, Spain noted with some concern that persons in the camps had declared that they were not thinking of going away as they were better off there than in their former homes. The reconstruction efforts could consider building suitable communities in the area of the camps. Spain said that without an independent judiciary that guaranteed respect for human rights and a mechanism that ensured that sentences would be handed down according to the law, there would be no human rights.
JACQUES PELLET (France) said that the Independent Expert on the situation in Haiti had emphasized the importance of human rights for vulnerable people and the need to provide protective protection for women against all forms of violence. France agreed that human rights should be at the centre of reconstruction with the end purpose of reconstruction being the return to the citizens of Haiti of the full enjoyment of their rights. France had guaranteed to provide financial aid to Haiti of Euros 365 million over two years, of which half had already been distributed. France asked what role the Independent Expert could play in reinforcing the role of civil society during reconstruction and what were the priorities for reconstruction and for reinforcing the rule of law. Concerning the protection of women, France asked if the Independent Expert would develop cooperation with the Special Rapporteur on violence against women. France strongly supported the renewal in September this year of the Independent Expert’s mandate.
ROBERTO FLORES BERMUDEZ (Honduras) said Honduras agreed with the Independent Expert that the State must guarantee the rights of all, particularly those vulnerable, in the reconstruction process of Haiti. Honduras regretted that the Independent Expert did not reflect in his report the aspect of capacity building and technical assistance. The support provided by the international community to the country after the earthquake was crucial but was not enough. Capacity building and technical assistance must be reinforced and must become part and parcel of the reconstruction process and Honduras asked the Independent Expert about the plans to improve the cooperation with the international community to make resources and expertise available to Haiti.
IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria) noted that natural disasters had had a dramatic impact on the enjoyment by Haitians, particularly of vulnerable citizens, of economic, social and cultural rights. It was important for the international community to assist the Government in rebuilding the devastated infrastructure. This required massive investment for the construction of new housing which must now meet earthquake resistance standards. Algeria paid tribute to the United Nations institutions such as MINUSTAH in Haiti, for their unflagging efforts to relieve the burden on the authorities in Haiti. Algeria noted the democratic election of the President. It also noted that economic growth with human rights at the core would relieve the situation of the people in Haiti. Algeria asked for the opinion of the Council on what should be the priorities for reconstruction and the sources of finance, particularly external sources.
MICHAEL KLEPSCH (Germany) expressed its profound sympathy and solidarity with the ongoing suffering of the population of Haiti and called for a renewal of the Independent Expert’s mandate. Germany noted the importance of the rule of law and ownership by the population of Haiti of the ongoing work of reconstruction and called on all Member States to consider these points in their efforts to support reconstruction in Haiti.
JUAN PEDRO SEPULVEDA (Chile) said that the focus of the Independent Expert in formulating his recommendations and dividing them in three areas was crucial to addressing priorities in Haiti. Chile supported the proposals for promoting a human rights-based approach to reconstruction, examining all legal paths for the trial of former leaders, and strengthening links and cooperation among Haitian human rights organizations and the United Nations Mission in Haiti. Chile believed there was a serious problem affecting Haiti, which was the lack of a sound foundation and opportunities for socio-economic development. Indeed, the link between development and human rights was very much present in Haiti and Chile wished to receive better analysis on the repercussions of this effect from social, political and economic perspectives. Also, Chile wished to hear more about cooperative efforts, capacity building and technical assistance for human rights promotion and protection. Funding agencies should continue to take account of the needs of all Haitians without exception and by involving civilian population even more in the reconstruction projects.
RICARDO GONZALEZ ARENAS (Uruguay) said that in the framework of cooperation among South American countries present in Haiti, several meetings took place in order to coordinate action between those countries. Uruguay and other countries were also preparing the mission to Haiti in order to directly assess the situation on the ground and find out about the Haitian needs. Uruguay would continue to participate actively in regional and global initiatives to address the humanitarian situation in Haiti, the reconstruction process and the strengthening of democracy and human rights in the country.
YUSNIER ROMERO PUENTES (Cuba) said the situation in Haiti was complex. In March 2010, there was a commitment by the international community to provide financial resources for reconstruction and one year later, a significant amount of these resources had yet to be received by the Government of Haiti. Cuba asserted that it had given priority assistance to creating an overall health system to provide health services to 75 per cent of the most vulnerable population which was well under way and Cuba received the backing of several countries, including Brazil in this effort.
JEFFREY HEATON (Canada) said that over a year later, the effects from the earthquake in Haiti were still wide in scope and deep in impact. However there were improvements on the ground especially in human rights challenges. There must be an avoidance of reinforcing structures that accentuated inequality. Canada was concerned about the violence among vulnerable groups and strongly supported proceeding with the President de la Cour de cassation, a key milestone to advance progress in the area of justice sector reform and the rule of law. Canada asked how the international community could ensure that a human rights perspective was enshrined in the reconstruction and recovery process over the long-term and in particular during the current transition context. How would the international community balance support for the important work of non-governmental organizations and civil society in Haiti with strengthening the capacity of the Haitian State?
GISELE FERNANDEZ LUDLOW (Mexico) said that Mexico agreed with the Independent Expert that protection must be a priority for the international community, particularly for vulnerable groups such as children, women, elderly, persons with disabilities and others. It was essential to protect those vulnerable groups from abuse and exploitation. Mexico welcomed cooperation between the Independent Expert and Haitian authorities in order to strengthen the protection of vulnerable groups. There was a need for a framework of cooperation to address the situation in Haiti and to make progress. The election of the new Haitian President opened up new opportunities for engagement with Haiti and Mexico requested the Independent Expert to identify cooperation measures and technical assistance which would have a great impact in developing productive projects. Mexico asked the Independent Expert what measures could be taken to diversify donors and to include more diverse actors in the process of capacity building in Haiti.
BAARD HJELDE (Norway) said Norway recognised that there were still reasons for concern about the human rights situation in Haiti and was pleased to also note signs of progress. The earthquake of January 2010 was a humanitarian disaster with enormous destruction of physical infrastructure. In the wake of the disaster, the necessary but problematic camps for internally displaced persons had been established and now the challenge was to get rid of them and prevent them turning into shantytowns. Shutting down the camps must be accompanied by greater efforts in the housing sector, and all in consultation with the population of the camps. Norway congratulated Haiti’s new President as this created a new momentum for positive change that needed to be utilised. Norway wished to hear from the Independent Expert how the international community could best capitalise on this opportunity. The new Government would need assistance, not only from donors, but also through the participation of all groups from Haiti, which was a prerequisite to succeeding in putting Haiti on the path to lasting improvement.
ALFONSO MORALES (Ecuador) reaffirmed Ecuador’s solidarity with the Haitian people. Ecuador hoped that the new Government would continue to take action to improve the human rights situation in Haiti. Respect for economic, social and cultural rights as an integral part of human rights was necessary. Ecuador agreed with the need to increase international cooperation for Haiti. Further it praised the fact that the new Haitian Government had chosen a democratic path and hoped it would continue. Ecuador underlined the regularization of migration between Ecuador and Haiti; it had accepted 400 Haitians who came as a result of the devastating events. Ecuador participated in specific activities for rebuilding Haiti. Ecuador repeated its appeal for countries to continue to support all necessary efforts to rebuild the infrastructure, institutions and the rule of law in Haiti. It stressed that there must be a link between respect for human rights and achievement of economic, social, and cultural rights.
RIDHA BOUABID, of Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, said it had completed the project to support the reform of the justice system in Haiti which was sponsored by Canada; the programme was used to provide training for all justices of the peace in Haiti and to complete the collection of public legal texts dating back to 1804 and their digitalization. A needs assessment mission was sent to Port au Prince which drew up a multi-year programme for the period from 2011 to 2013 for capacity building for the Office of the Protection of Haitian Citizens.
JULIE GROMELLON, of International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, said that the reform of the judicial system still had not been completed in Haiti, thus preventing the proper functioning of the courts. The reform of the police needed to be another priority, including combating corruption. The situation in the country was not improving and cases of killing, abductions and kidnapping were continuing. Cases of rape were recorded daily while the health situation was disastrous, particularly for the people living in the camps and in poor neighbourhoods. The International Federation of Human Rights Leagues called on the Human Rights Council to support the efforts of the Independent Expert and the Interim Reconstruction Commission in adopting a human rights-based approach to reconstruction in Haiti.
BRECHTJE SOEPNEL, of American Civil Liberties Union, asked the Human Rights Council to urge the United States and other countries to suspend deportations to Haiti until the safety of deportees was ensured. Haiti remained devastated by the massive earthquake and the cholera epidemic, but the United States continued with the deportations and forced repatriations. In April, the United States limited deportations to persons who posed danger to the United States public but had still continued to deport people with non-violent and minor crimes. The American Civil Liberties Union urged the Human Rights Council to call for the immediate suspension of deportations until individuals might be returned to Haiti in a safe and humane manner.
CAMILLE GALLIE, of World Vision International, noted that the Independent Expert would include the investigation of the issue of child trafficking in his next visit and said this was very important. Since the earthquake World Vision had witnessed the exacerbated vulnerability of boys and girls to sexual and labour exploitation on both sides of the Haitian Dominican border. Would the Independent Expert consider a specific focus in the area of implementing a comprehensive social system to include universal quality health and education coverage and access to decentralized services and specific child protection measures? World Health Vision strongly urged the Independent Expert to involve youth, adolescents and children to ensure there was an effective approach to identify their needs and assess gaps and progress during the reconstruction of Haiti.
MICHAEL FORST, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, said that he agreed with the representative from Haiti that the mandate on economic, social and cultural rights was critical. The Independent Expert would work on decentralization and would call on his colleagues from other mandates to accompany his mission or to carry out their own missions to ensure the effective development of economic, social and cultural rights. The Independent Expert said he had spent a significant time on the role of human rights during the humanitarian crisis as this was the critical issue he faced on the ground. He supported the reiterated appeal made by numerous States to strengthen his efforts in social and cultural rights and noted Brazil’s statement that there was an opportunity to promote positive developments in this area.
Mr. Forst said he was impressed with the new President’s focus on the rule of law which he had stated as one of his highest priorities. The rule of law covered not just political rights but also ensured that Haiti received the assistance it needed to guarantee that all its citizens would enjoy their full economic, social and cultural rights. The Independent Expert said that concerning impunity, there were some important first steps in this area with trials and investigations and that more would occur in the future. The ultimate goal of reconstruction was not just constructing buildings but to ensure that there was enjoyment of full economic, social and cultural rights for all the citizens of Haiti. There was a special role for civil society to play in monitoring recommendations and the Independent Expert intended to ensure there was sufficient oversight in this area.
For use of the information media; not an official record