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FI interventions before the Human Rights Council

September 2013

During the 24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (9th-27th September 2013) Franciscans International took the floor a total of 11 times, delivering oral statements on country-specific and global concerns in human rights.  Our country-specific interventions for the adoption of UPR recommendations included statements regarding access to water in Burkina Faso, trafficking of children in Cameroon, extractive industries in Colombia, sexual exploitation in Germany, and the impact of climate change in Tuvalu.  Additional country-specific statements were made on indigenous people's rights in Brazil and the Philippines, children in armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and authoritarianism in Sri Lanka.  Statements were also made on two general thematic concerns - fracking, and the debate surrounding human rights in the administration of justice.

UPR Burkina Faso

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FI drew the council's attention to the poor management of waste water from extractive industries in Burkina Faso, undermining efforts to ensure the population's access to safe drinking water.  FI advocated for the adoption of long-term measures to ensure the implementation of accepted UPR recommendations, in particular an improvement of services in rural areas, greater participation of communities in decisions regarding these services, and improved procedures for sanctioning those responsible for water pollution.

Video (min 31:00)

UPR Cameroon

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FI highlighted concerns related to child trafficking for domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.  It was noted that Cameroon had adopted several positive recommendations for combating the trafficking of children and the phenomenon of forced marriages of underage girls in the North of the country.  FI submitted additional recommendations, including enhanced protection for victims of trafficking, and legal action against traditional leaders who kept children in conditions of slavery.

Video (min 41:40)

UPR Colombia

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The FI statement concentrated particularly on the issues of the right to water, and sustainability.  Concerns were expressed over the government's decision to permit mining in the Paramo de Santurban.  Not only is this an area of great biodiversity and ecological importance, it is also an important carbon sink, and a source of drinking water for 70% of the Colombian population.  FI's recommendations were largely concerned with the protection of the Paramo.

Video (min 56:35)

Democratic Republic of the Congo

In collaboration with several other NGOs, FI expressed concerns over the human rights situation in North and South Kivu, in particular for girls and young children.  Many young women are victims of sexual violence, often perpetrated by rebels, as well as certain elements of the army and congolese police.  A climate of impunity prevails, and many victims are reluctant to seek justice.  There is also an issue of young children being forced to work in the region's unsafe mines.  Recommendations for made to combat these problems.

UPR Germany

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Germany was commended on its ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.  FI went on to note, however, that despite Germany's 2002 adoption of the Act Regulating the Legal Situation of Prostitutes, that the working conditions of prostitutes in Germany remain deplorable.  Recommendations were made for the government from protection of sex workers and of victims of human trafficking.

Video (min 38:30)

Brazil (Indigenous Peoples)

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The joint statement by FI, VIVAT International and our Brazilian partner NGOs focused on the devastating impact of mining policies on the rights of indigenous peoples.  The Brazilian government was urged to keep its reforms in accordance with international law governing these rights.  Among other recommendations, the government was called upon to guarantee a thorough and public debate related to the regulatory framework on mining.

Video (min 2:57:29)

Philippines (Mining and Indigenous Peoples)

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In collaboration with the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, FI drew attention to three cases of human rights violations in connection with mining.  These included magnetite mining operations in the coastal area of Cagayan province, the nickel mining operations in East Samar province, and the murder of Mr Jimmy Liguyun, who had resisted the entry of large-scale mining companies in his village.  In the light of these cases, FI's recommendation included a cessation of certain mining activities, and an end to impunity for the murderers of Mr Liguyun.

Video (min 2:32:20)

Sri Lanka (authoritarianism)

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The joint statement of FI and the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) highlighted the increasingly authoritarian character of the Sri Lankan state, echoing the concerns of the High Commissioner. It is asserted that the 1978 constitution of Sri Lanka fundamentally undermined the country's legal system.  Particular concerns include a heavily politicised police force, and a non-independent judiciary.  

Video (min 1:53:00)

UPR Tuvalu

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In a joint statement with Edmund Rice International (ERI) and Earthjustice, FI commended Tuvalu's establishment of the National Adaption Plan of Action for overseeing the impact of climate change, and other actions aimed at mitigating this impact.  It was noted that small island states such as Tuvalu will be among the worst effected by climate change, and that the Council should take concrete action on the issue, through the establishment of a UN Special Procedure on Climate Change and Human Rights.

Video (min 28:51)

Fracking: Water and Wastes

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In a joint statement with Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and Food & Water Watch, FI drew attention to the human rights risks that can come from hazardous waste and water pollution caused by fracking.  It is asserted that fracking damages water systems, quality of water, soil and air, and eventually the communities that depend on these resources.  The Council is urged to use its mandates to raise awareness of human rights obligations related to fracking.

Video (min 1:34:30)

Human Rights in the Administration of Justice

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In FI's joint statement with several other NGOs, the problems of implementing a childs-rights approach to justice on a national level are discussed.  Conditions of detention, as well as inadequate judicial oversight are among the concerns addressed.  Our recommendations focus on the adoption of a restorative approach for promoting the rights of children deprived of their liberty, in reference to the ECOSOC Basic Principals on the Use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters.