18th session of the Human Rights Council Item 4
Delivered by Renate Bloem
Thank you Mme President,
During the recent 10th World Assembly of CIVICUS (10-12 September) our members and partners from the ground asked to bring to the Council following strong concerns:
1. Syria: With the death toll and arbitrary detention each day increasing - most recently Gayath Matar, a 26 years old, was arrested and died under torture and his body was sent back to his family with harsh bruises- the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) and CIVICUS condemn strongly this cycle of violence and terror. We welcome the appointment of the International Commission on Inquiry, but ask for depth investigation, field visits all around the country and insurance that witnesses and interrogated people will be safe of reprisals.
2. Uzbekistan: Protecting human rights is dangerous (for human rights activists and defense lawyers). Following the tragic Andijon 2005 events, Uzbek authorities have established their own fully controllable civil society sector. The few independent Uzbekistani human rights activists remaining in the country face immense pressure and persecution, including personal threats, beatings and physical attacks, arbitrary detention and arrests, long imprisonments under trumped up criminal charges and being subjected to torture and ill-treatments. In some cases family members face the same threats and treatment. The latest cases include the son of Tatiana Dovlatova –and the relatives of activist Abdullo Tojiboy og’li. Defense attorneys on these cases work also under serious pressure or are simply deprived of their state license, as it happened to Ruhiddin Komilov, Khusan Mahbubov and Rustin Tulyaganov. The Expert Working Group on Uzbekistan and CIVICUS ask the Council to give to the few human rights defenders of Uzbekistan its utmost attention and support.
3. Turkmenistan: The Turkmenistan Government is grossly violating freedom of assembly and expression. Human rights activists and journalists critical of government are being harassed, watched in every step, their phones and emails being tapped. The situation has been made dire by black-listing perceived activists and their families and friends and banning them from travelling outside or entering the country. Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights and CIVICUS call on the Council to urge the Turkmen Government to
• Lift the ban on freedom of movement for all Turkmen people
• Conform to its obligations under international law by repealing all existing laws restrictive on registration of independent civil society
• Institute more transparent legal proceedings to avoid unfair trial
• Establish an effective Ombudsman to genuinely investigate citizen’s complaints
• Improve freedoms of expression, information by opening up for independent media
4. Finally on Yemen, with the killings ongoing, we urgently call for an international independent investigation into the violations that have taken place, to bring those responsible to justice and to compensate the victims.
I thank you, Mme President