CAIRO: The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) issued a statement Monday, coinciding with the beginning of the 25th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) of the United Nations in Geneva, stating that many governments in the Arab region are increasingly criminalizing and violently repressing almost all forms of free expression and peaceful protests.
CIHRS urged in its statement the council to take a firm and principled position on the deteriorating human rights situations in Syria, Sudan, Libya, the Palestinian territories, Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain and Iraq.
The statement further pointed out that the members of the council have to use this session to oppose all Arab governments that use repression against the pro-democracy movements in their countries. “The situations in Syria and the occupied Palestinian territories in particular, necessarily merit a form of international accountability due to the absence of any form of national remedy,” the statement said.
The CHIRS welcomed renewing the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria, charged with investigating war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the country, as the commission is scheduled to be voted on at this session of the HRC.
Although the institute expressed its fear for a substantial drop in the number of states that will vote in support of the resolution, it said that if support for the Syrian resolution would drop, it will greatly undermine efforts to ensure accountability for crimes against humanity, including women and children, being committed in Syria.
Moreover, “a resolution on Libya to renew technical assistance between the U.N. and the Libyan government on human rights issues is also expected to be proposed at the session,” the statement read.
“The CIHRS and Libyan civil society have called for a stronger mandate to be given to the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to monitor and report on human rights violations and challenges in the country.”
Furthermore, a follow-up resolution on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights during Peaceful Protests is expected to be proposed by Switzerland, Costa Rica and Turkey.
As protesters in many countries of the Arab region still facing death, torture, imprisonment, sexual harassment and rape on a regular basis, the CIHRS argued that the resolution on peaceful protests should respond to the lack of sufficient international guidelines on how states should respect the rights of protesters. The U.N. has to create such guidelines and ensure their implementation by governments with all due haste.
According to the statement many Arab governments carried out retribution against human rights defenders, in response to the role they played in promoting democracy in the region.
An Egyptian delegation headed by Ambassador Hisham Badr is participating in the 25th session of the HRC in Geneva, in addition to a number of representatives from civil society organizations and several members the Salafist Nour Party.