ODVV Statements at 17th Session of the Human...
Item 3 : Women’s trafficking and violence against women
As a nongovernmental organization, we believe that despite all the improvements made with regards to the vulnerable groups of societies, such as women, nevertheless several areas in this regard require further action and efforts. Right now in most parts of the world, even Europe, further measures are needed for the protection of women’s rights.
We understand and commend the efforts that have been made on important issues such as violence against women; efforts that include legislation, establishment of shelter and counselling centres for women rape victims, research initiatives and European countries’ efforts for raising public awareness of this issue. But we also believe that the present and high statistics of the extent of violence against women and girls, low criminal prosecution figures, the high figures of refraining from reporting crimes and also not enough funds for organizations that provide support services to the victims are all very alarming.
Also the spreading of violence against women in vulnerable and marginalised groups that include women tourist, migrants, refugees and the disabled in Europe are further cases which we call for enough studies to be conducted by the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women.
Sadly as mentioned in the reports of the Human Rights Council reporting mechanisms, recommendation and conclusions of European countries’ UPR and also ECOSOC committee reports, alongside the problem of violence, there is the trafficking in women and girls which is one of human rights violation of this gender. The lack of information and the extent of this problem, the shortfalls of laws in this regard, and the lack of a comprehensive strategy to fight trafficking results in not only any action not be taken in the fight with this problem, but also not enough multilateral understanding will be possible. As an organized crime trafficking in humans is the third biggest global business after drugs and weapons trafficking. It is fast growing in different countries. And according to United Nations published figures the trafficking trade brings 7 to 10 billion dollars profit, and unfortunately most of the destination countries are American and European countries.
Expressing concern towards these high figures and:
1 – with understanding that human trafficking is a grave human rights violation and a serious challenge in the face of humanitarian activities;
2 – with a stress on the fact that all countries are accountable for actions taken in the fight against human trafficking;
3 – with a stress on the role and effects of globalisation in the increase in the human trafficking problem, women and children in particular;
4 – pointing to the challenges that exist in the lack of unified and fair laws in confrontation with the subject across the world;
5 – considering that most prostitution and force labour victims fall prey to human traffickers;
6 – considering that most trafficking victims are women and children who are trafficked from developing to developed countries;
7 – with a stress on the conditions of vulnerable groups such as women who are continuously threatened by poverty and social outcasts, rural, old, migrant, heads of household, and disabled women attention to the obstacles in the way of individuals involved in education, employment, health care and other social services;
8 – pointing to prevention policies and programmes, rehabilitation and reintegration of the victims back to society and their families and their full access to their rights must increase;
We at the Organization for Defending Victims of Violence call upon the cooperation of all countries for the eradication of human trafficking in source, transit and destination countries, and the monitoring and facilitating role of the Human Rights Council and other mechanisms for the protection of women’s rights, such as the newly established UN Women.
Item 4 : Human rights violations that need the attention of the Human Rights Council
The ODVV states that although human rights violations have become very normal in most parts of the world, but ignoring accepted human rights standards, particularly in countries that claim to be human rights advocates and have high standards, must be brought to attention and dealt with.
On this basis we believe that although the European Union issues statements in condemnation of human rights violations in other parts of the world, but in practice it does not have a comprehensive and practical solution to change its own terrible human rights conditions. We alongside many other global civil society members believe that the EU’s credibility and reputation in human rights, solely depends on paying attention to the human rights violations of its member states. The human rights violation records of the EU include discrimination against migrants, Muslims, the Roma and other groups, improper access to shelter for refugees, human rights violation cases in the war on terror. The EU must make further political commitment towards its own human rights conditions and its international comments.
The human rights conditions in Canada are a cause for concern for us. The refusal of Canadian officials in the accountability for the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan, change of views with regards to the subject of human rights violations of Palestinians, and also Ottawa’s failure in filling the income gap between Canadians and the Natives of the country are some of the criticisms made on the human rights conditions of the country.
The violation of economic, social and cultural rights of the citizens – vulnerable communities in particular – of the United States of America is alarming. According to a study conducted by nongovernmental organizations the United States has one of the lowest global standards in family support, in the employment market in particular. According to official figures in more than 19 million American families women play the role of the main or secondary breadwinners, and 70 percent of children live in homes where all the adults work. In spite of all this the US government has left the decision to provide or not provide perks and benefits and also family support facilities to employers and their personal choice. We believe the US government’s approaches and policies in this regard will have significant negative consequences in areas such as health and medicine, children drinking their mothers’ mil, fair and reasonable wages, and career advancement opportunities.
With regards to civil and political rights, while expressing our grave concern towards America’s improper approach towards Guantanamo, and prevention of the inmates from filing their complaints in Federal courts and also delaying the closure of the facilities, the UN special rapporteur on torture’s criticism of the holding of Bradley Manning accused of leaking secret information to Wikileaks and America not allowing the special rapporteur to visit him, all indicate that the United States only observes human rights when it is in the interest of its national interest. The special rapporteur has rightly said that private and unmonitored conversations with prisoners or any other individuals who are possibly threatened by torture is a natural due process and US officials must not disagree.
In Saudi Arabia the attitude towards human rights, has taken a more security shape, particularly security forces’ treatment of those complaining the lack of basic rights is a cause for concern. In February this year, five political activists were detained for the crime of attempting to register the first political party in Saudi Arabia. This caused a stir among international nongovernmental organizations such as Human Rights Watch. Also the treatment of Shia minority in the country violates their basic rights, and they are always looked upon with suspicion and national security threat, and life is made unbearable for them.
Despite Saudi authorities promises during the country’s UPR regarding the improvement of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia, unfortunately no visible improvements have been made with regards to their conditions. The current weakness in the law in the legislative body of the country, in the treatment of foreign workers deems them in a framework called “kefaleh”, and causes the majority of human rights violation cases. Ultimately it results in the torture of workers. According to this law anyone that employs migrant workers, has full control over them, and can treat them anyway they like. These individuals even have control over the migrant workers leaving Saudi Arabia. This is why those migrant workers that are subjected torture and bad treatment, have no means to get help and assistance.
Several humanitarian law violations of people living on the borders of Yemen and Saudi Arabia have been reported by international organizations. Saudi military intervention in the recent Yemeni unrest, regardless of the pretext cannot be a green light for the killing of the defenceless people of the country. According to the US Department of State annual report in a military attack in February 2010 up to 14 Yemenis were killed near the border with Saudi Arabia.
The same thing has also recently happened to Bahrain and the presence of Saudi security forces in the country and their participation in the crackdown on the protestors, is not only the violation of human rights, but it is also the violation of the humanitarian rights of the people of Bahrain and also violation of their national sovereignty. This is something that unfortunately international organizations have been silent on and refrain from adopting measures in condemning these acts.
The Organization for Defending Victims of Violence (ODVV) wishes to express its deep concern over the way the protesters are treated and their citizen’s rights not observed, particularly the death of two Shia Bahraini citizens following their arrest, which was probably due to torture. Addressing the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner for Human Rights recent criticism of the situation confirms this going concern. She called arbitrary detentions, killing of the protesters, assaulting and battering the protesters and medical personnel and attacking hospitals very concerning and unlawful and called for an immediate end to these acts. Also the joint statement of a group of UN Special Rapporteurs and experts on 22 March that included Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial executions, torture, human rights defenders, and the arbitrary detention working group, Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression and belief, all show that the Human Rights Council’s silence towards the treatment of the Bahraini protesters is not justifiable.
While criticising the way Saudi and Bahraini officials have approached the civil unrest of these countries, the ODVV strongly criticises the existing double standards of the big powers – the United States in particular – towards the wave of awareness of the region and Arab countries, calls upon international organizations, particularly the Human Rights Council and the global civil society, in view of the double standards approach with regards to Libya and Bahrain, to try to document the stated violations cases, and prevent the continuation of the crackdowns and the silence of the west.
The ODVV hopes that the processing of human rights violation cases in the Human Rights Council to be managed and organized in such way that not only countries that claim to human rights, but all members of the international community understand that in the monitoring of human rights situations of countries, there are no double standards and selective treatments.
Item 7 : Human Rights Situation in Occupied Palestinian Territories
The violation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories has been going on for 6 decades and unfortunately neither the United Nations nor its Member States have managed to fairly deal with the blatant violation of the fundamental rights of the Palestinians. Below are some of the instances of these violations over the recent months to show the concern of international civil institutions and society over the lack of multilateral and resolute condemnation of the occupiers of these lands:
1 – Israel’s continued attacks on the residents of Gaza, is one of the grossest violations of the rights of the people of the occupied territories. With 16 deaths and 36 injured, March of 2011 was one of the bloodiest months in Gaza since then end of the Operation Cast Lead. Several international organizations have expressed concern over this that include the human affairs bureau of the Organization of Islamic Conference, whose special report on the human conditions in the Gaza Strip stresses that these attacks will have serious material consequences for the residents, because as well as targeting Gaza’s international airport, farms, factories and properties of the residents of the region have been targeted by Israel.
2 – On 10 March 2011, the UN Special Rapporteur in the Occupied Territories called upon Israel to put an end to illegal demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank. In his speech correctly stressed that the eviction of Palestinians from their homes, the demolition of homes, expansion of Jewish settlements and aggressive repossession of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem were all blatant violations of fundamental human rights and the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Organization for Defending Victims of Violence states that from the beginning of this current year and according to nongovernmental sources from inside occupied territories, to-date Israel has demolished 96 Palestinian owned buildings in the West Bank 32 of which were residential buildings.
3 – Despite the calls by the international community to completely halt the construction of settlements in the occupied territories and East Jerusalem, Israel has sadly been ignorant. We believe that these practices are in conflict with international humanitarian laws and an obstacle for the restarting of the peace process and reaching a comprehensive, just and lasting agreement for the Palestinians, something that the world public opinion insists on.
4 – According to published reports by NGOs based in occupied territories, Palestinian prisoners suffer from terrible conditions. According to evidence they are only allowed visits with lawyers or their families when they make confessions. This type of interrogation of detainees is contradictory to international laws. According to these documents to get confessions the IDF commit various acts of torture such as tying prisoners to chairs for prolonged periods, denying them access to hygiene facilities, sleep depravation, threats to hurt family members and degradation.
The Organization for Defending Victims of Violence believes that attention to these cases, which are not few in number, shows the depth of the conditions and numerous cases of human rights violations of the occupied territories. In this regard, the refusal of Israeli officials in being accountable towards the war crimes in the 22 day war, and their efforts to ridicule and dismiss the findings of the Gaza Conflict Fact Finding report – the Goldstone Report – for solely to further complicate the situation and also the increased mistrust of human rights advocates in the current procedures in international human rights monitoring, which we hope the Human Rights Council will halt this trend with wisdom.
Item 9 : Xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia
A vast part of world’s communities have deep and rooted problems with they way they approach foreigners, religious and ethnic minorities, and how they approach the holies of religions. In view of the acceptability of the levels of some of these insults and hope to improve them, especially through raising societies’ awareness and transparency of attitudes and distorted beliefs , nonetheless we witness more powerful and rooted forms of racism and Islamophobia in Europe, in spite of all the human right claims of this continent, something that is very sad.
Reviewing the events that have taken place in Europe over the last few months, the Organization for Defending Victims of violence has noticed a large volume of human rights violation cases, particularly intentional or unintentional incitement of the mass media to these issues and escalation and provision of racist and Islamophic views.
As stressed by Human Rights Watch, in Italy ethnic and racial hatred crimes are very rarely prosecuted in Italy. In fact it seems as though Italian officials try to make this issue insignificant; an approach that in practice has resulted in the spread of these types of crimes. Furthermore, the tone of the officials of the country, government policies and the media have given negative clichés against migrants, Muslims and the Roma and escalated these injustices.
In Germany, the approach of the government to Muslims issues has resulted in the number of attacks against mosques and Islamic centres in Berlin to rise sharply to an extent where the city has become the main focal point of Islamophobia in the country. Over the last few months several Islamic centres have been attacked by groups who wanted to set these places on fire, and although the police is investigating these very slowly, but we believe that these acts that have been committed in a series have roots in racial and religious convergence in Germany. Explosion of a bomb outside the Iranian Cultural Centre in Berlin and a total of 5 attacks against mosques last summer are examples of these acts.
One of the most significant Islamophobic and also escalation of defamation of religion that took place eight months ago by a preacher in the United States who had announced his intention on burning the holy book of 1.6 billion people and only backed off when the US government pressed him to refrain from doing so. With a reference to the consequences of these unwise behaviours on Muslim societies, such as the death of a number of Afghans during anti-Koran burning protests, while condemning these Islamophobic treatments that are committed under the cover of freedom of belief and expression, the Organization for Defending Victims of Violence resolutely calls upon the United States government to adopt measures to not only prevent these types of actions not to take place, but also the “defamation of religion mentality, Ibrahamic religions in particular” not to have the space to grow in the American society, a society which is religious.
We believe the US government’s performance against these sorts of treatments have not only not been preventive, but it can even be said that they have been inciting. Biased news coverage on Muslims, efforts to link Islam to terrorism, which unfortunately are repeated not only in the media, but also the official statements of the government, and other instances are all issues which escalate this sick phenomenon, cause Islamphobic views to appear in the American society.
Unfortunately it seems that not only in America, but also in Europe over the recent months such measures and vocabulary by western politicians have become in a way a method to win votes in elections, and by exploiting the sentiments of the people in their constituencies, to promote anger and hatred towards Islam and Muslims.
While condemning these sorts of measures that serve no purpose other than fuelling the fire of religious hatred, the Organization for Defending Victims of Violence calls upon the Human Rights Council to by paying importance more than before on issues such as the promotion of interfaith dialogue and transparency and clarification of wrong assumptions of monotheist religions, to the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression, and freedom of religion and belief a joint mandate to find practical and sustainable solutions to overcome this problem. We hop with the acceptance and start of this initiative an fitting atmosphere away from prejudices comes about, so that the followers of monotheist religions can live alongside each other amicably through peaceful coexistence and mutual respect to each others holies.