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Organization for Difending Victims of Violence Human Rights Council 33rd session – September 2016
Item 3: UCM impeding citizens from their fundamental rights and needsThe crises in Syria and Yemen remain catastrophic. War crimes and crimes against humanity are widespread. Civilians are bearing the brunt of the conflict.
Unilateral Coercive Measures (UCM) refers to economic measures taken by one state to compel a change in the policy of another state.
In Syria the diplomatic relations between much of the West have been virtually non-existent since 2011. In addition, the Arab League has imposed its own punitive measures on the country. The ranges of punitive measures are broad ranging from the imposition of trade restriction to the freezing of assets. The Syrian Centre for Policy Research stated that the country had lost nearly 40 years of economic development and accumulation of capital. Syrian citizens are the main victims of this war.
In Yemen, on March 2015, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched a war on the people of Yemen. According to the Legal Centre for Rights and Development, 9,136 civilians in Yemen were killed. In addition to the casualties, these bombardments occasioned the destruction of vital infrastructures such as food storage facilities, petrol stations, airports, seaports, hospitals, and schools. Furthermore, ships are being stopped at will, delayed from entry for days, weeks or months. As a result, the food, medicine, fuel and other goods brought by the ships do not reach Yemeni civilians.
This conduct appears to further exacerbate the status of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. In Yemen and Syria, most of the unilateral coercive measures amount to a collective reprisal, which is in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
As a result, the Organisation urges the Human Rights Council, its members and observer states to gather all means in order to stop embargoes, trades restrictions, airstrikes, and all measures hampering the wellbeing of civilians and their accessibility to fundamental resources.
Thank you for your attention.
See Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Geneva, 12 August 1949, Art. 33.
Item 3 - Human Rights situations that require the Council’s attention
The Organisation for Defending Victims of Violence is gravely concerned with the lack of respect of migrants’ human rights during their journey to find settlement in a new country.
Most migrants undertake perilous journeys by sea, land and air. Many have lost their lives in the process. Appallingly, at least 50,000 persons; including thousands of children have died in the past two decades.
Once migrants reach their destinations, their struggle does not stop. Very often they are facing difficulties when seeking asylum and as a result they are being kept in detention centres. At the beginning of this month twenty-two women migrants from Central America went on a Hunger Strike to draw attention to their conditions of detention in the Pennsylvania centre.
Also, migrants remain among the most vulnerable members of societies. They are victims of human trafficking, xenophobia and racial threats. In addition, politicians and the media often scapegoat migrants, despite their contribution to economic growth and development in both home and host communities. This does not help their integration in their new country.
The world population is projected to continue to grow; the global migrant population will reach 321 million by 2050.
ODVV would like, therefore, to stress the importance of cooperation aiming to create, over a long period of time, mechanisms to ensure safe regular migrations. These mechanisms should involve the imposition of more accountability from states, regarding the treatment of migrants and also regarding the different migration policies in the countries in addition to more restraints being placed in detention centres.
Thank you for your attention.
IOM, Missing migrants project database.https://missingmigrants.iom.int/.
Item 4 - ID with the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab RepublicMr President,
In the absence of meaningful efforts to end the war in Syria, armed groups continue to attack civilians and carry out grave human rights abuses such as kidnapping, torture, and summary executions. The human rights violations by the Syrian government do not justify attacks on civilians by terrorists and extremist groups. Anti-Shia and anti-Alawite sentiments have triggered these attacks and escalated sectarian tensions in Syria and in the region.
The Special Envoy of the Secretary General and the ISSG have made some efforts to decrease armed violence and hostilities. However, dual agendas in the war on terror and lack of political will to reach a peaceful solution are key obstacles to the peace process. The political realities have shifted greatly since the start of the conflict and strategies that include arming opposition groups have proven ineffective. Today, the spill over effect of the Syrian conflict is mostly affecting those who contributed to the escalation of the crisis.
With the deterioration of the crisis in Syria, humanitarian needs have reached unprecedented levels and civilian access to humanitarian aid has been hindered dramatically. Therefore, it is crucial to urgently allow civilians under siege access to humanitarian aid. We call on the Syrian government to ensure immediate and unhindered access of aid workers to civilians. We urge all sides of the conflict to respect international human rights standards and protect civilians. We call on the international community to further improve humanitarian assistance and take immediate measures to enhance civilians’ access to the necessary resources. We urge the international community to take immediate action against parties financing and supporting terrorist groups.
Thank you Mr President.
Item 6 – UPR Outcomes: TajikistanMr President,
Organization for Defending Victims of Violence welcomes Tajikistan’s continued cooperation with the human rights mechanisms for improvement of its human rights situation. However, we remain concerned about the ongoing human rights abuses against opposition activists in Tajikistan.
The leading Tajik authorities have widened crackdown on the opposition and banned the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), declaring it a terrorist organization. Hundreds of people landed behind bars for no reason other than for their peaceful political activism.
The members of the party are being deliberately targeted. In March 2015, an opposition figure was shot dead in Istanbul. Two former members of the party have been jailed for life. The court has also sentenced 11 other members of the IRPT to a maximum of 28 years of imprisonment.
Advocates representing political opponents are being arrested, imprisoned and harassed. One of the most recent of these cases is the case of Jamshed Yorov; he was detained on charges of disclosing classified information. The authorities have even approved a new law requiring all lawyers to renew their legal licenses with the Justice of Ministry; it is suspected that this law will be used in order to exclude lawyers who take on politically sensitive cases.
ODVV urges the government of Tajikistan to end the sweeping restriction on the freedom of expression, association and the use of torture and ill treatment. Tajikistan should respect the fundamental rights of every single human being. No discrimination should be made because of an individual’s belief and political orientation.
Thank you for your attention.
Item 7- Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian TerritoriesMr President,
The Organization for Defending Victims of Violence is appalled at the Human rights violations in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.
Human rights are inherent to all human beings, regardless of their nationality, language, religion, ethnic origin or any other status. The Palestinian people have been enduring a human rights crisis since 1947. Year after year relentless and gross violations are occurring under the Israeli forces. Amongst other violations, these acts constitute unlawful killings, torture, other ill treatment, restrictions of freedom of movement and freedoms of expression.
A senior British NGO official told Al- Jazeera that: “This is about Israel trying to put international NGOs, who are increasingly critical of Israel policies, in their place”. Indeed, NGO’s are not the main victims. Lately, in addition to the unreasonable use of force and the destruction of houses, the Israeli forces conducted several incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and in Jerusalem. Civilians, including children were arrested.
Israel is holding 334 prisoners from Gaza convicted for “security crimes” related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Israeli authorities have imposed general limitations on Gazan families’ entry into Israel. As result, Palestinian families can only obtain entry permits for a prison visit every two months at most, because the Israeli service allows prison visits every two weeks for all prisoners. It is a violation of rule 58 of the “Nelson Mandela Rules”.
ODVV calls upon the Human Rights Council and the International community to put an end to this ongoing blood-filled conflict and to strongly advise both sides of the conflict to respect each other rights and respect International Law, in particular International Human Rights.
Thank you for your attention.
Item 9 - Muslims living in fear with the proliferation of Islamophobic attacksMr President,
After all the devastating terrorist attacks that occurred in France, Germany, the United-States of America, Turkey and in many other countries, the Muslim community fears conflation between believers of Islam and the ISIL. Islam is not the face of terrorism. Insults, threats, places of worship vandalised, all forms of hate crimes are being reported all over the world.
Islamophobic attacks and threats have tripled since the beginning of 2016. Islamophibia is a new form of racism. There is for sure a link between the islamophobic incidents and the terrorist attacks. In the wake of January 2015, in only three weeks, one hundred and twenty assaults have been reported.
Seventy four per cent of Women are victims of islamophobic incidents; they are one of the main casualties. In addition, schools are also affected by discriminations and islamophobia speeches. In France, Ahmed 8 years old has been summoned to the police station because he was accused of “terrorism-praising”. Furthermore, in the public space, there is a spread of hate speeches. Last July, after the Nice attack, the word “anti-Muslim” was the principal topic on Twitter.
The Muslim community is suffering the consequences of the terrorist attacks for crimes perpetrated falsely under the banner of Islam. This undoubtedly triggers hatred towards Muslims without distinction.
The global threat of religious extremism and the diffusion, by the media, of the atrocities, do not paint a real picture for the world. Extremists are forming sects. This sect has been created for political reasons with the support of some countries.
The Organization for Defending Victims of Violence would like us, as a community, to focus our efforts on this matter. We should use our tools and the tools of the high commissioner in this essential fight against islamophobia! The key words are UNITY, RESPECT and TOLERANCE.
I thank you, Mr President.
Item 10 - Human Rights Situation in YemenThe crises in Yemen remains catastrophic, war crimes and crimes against humanity are widespread. Civilians are bearing the brunt of the conflict.
The Organisation for Defending Victims of Violence is gravely concerned by the fact that in Yemen Masses of coalition airstrikes have been indiscriminate, in breach of the laws of war and killing and wounding thousands of civilians. The coalition is also consistently using cluster munitions, banned by international treaty.
The Saudi-led coalition is also using imprecise munitions involving large US- and UK-made bombs with an extensive sphere for it’s ramification which lead to severe casualties and destruction far beyond their instant point of strike. US-made cluster munitions, fundamentally indiscriminate and prohibited weapons, were also operated in Sa’da and Hajjah. They present an on-going risk to civilians as they recurrently fail to detonate upon collision.
As a result, the Organisation urges the Human Rights Council, its members and observer states to:
1. Call on all parties to the conflict to immediately and unconditionally stop all embargoes, trades restrictions, airstrikes, and all measures hampering the wellbeing and accessibility to fundamental resources for the Yemeni population.
2. Urge the Human Rights Council to bring together all parties to work in unity for the common good. The repercussions of such a coalition could be significant; it has the potential to decrease migrations and the intimidating growth of terrorist groups.
Thank you, Mr President.