Human Rights Council Hears Presentation on Cooperation with Georgia and Concludes Interactive Dialogue with Independent Fact-finding

OHCHR

The Human Rights Council this afternoon heard a presentation on cooperation with Georgia and concluded its interactive dialogue with the Independent Fact-finding Mission on Libya.

Hulan Tsedev, Chief of the Europe and Central Asia Section at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, presenting the High Commissioner’s oral update on Georgia, said the lack of political solutions to address security and humanitarian related risks for the enjoyment of human rights had been compounded by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The absence of regular monitoring and availability of effective remedies was exacerbated by the lack of access, in some instances, for international human rights organizations and mechanisms, especially in the context of South Ossetia. The Office called on all those concerned to put human rights sensitive approaches at the centre of efforts to address outstanding issues and individual cases with a view to minimising tensions and building trust.

Georgia, speaking as a country concerned, said Georgia stood in solidarity with Ukraine, as this was an example of the same pattern of behaviour that Russia had been carrying out against Georgia. As much as Russia tried to deny responsibility, it was responsible for gross violations carried out against the Georgian population. The consolidated approach of the international community was essential for reminding Russia to comply with the cease fire agreement and ensure the safe and dignified return of internally displaced persons. No progress had been made in executing justice and perpetrators of crimes remained at large, contributing to the sense of impunity.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded its interactive dialogue with the Independent Fact-finding Mission on Libya.

In the interactive dialogue, some speakers said that although they were aware of the challenges facing the Independent Fact-finding Mission on Libya, there was concern at the lack of documentation of many violations amounting to war crimes. The report should have documented grave violations and crimes and initiated accountability. Crimes against humanity and other crimes against international law had been committed with impunity, and successive governments had unaccountably integrated perpetrators, continuing the lack of accountability for organized crime and terrorism, among other violations of human rights, and causing a shrinking of civil space. The Mission should continue its mandate, and be supported until its work was complete and there had been significant improvement of the human rights situation on the ground. The Mission or an alternative mission was required to oversee efforts for peace, and failure to do this would only hamper them, as it was crucial to ensure domestic accountability. The Government had cooperated with the Mission during recent visits, but the Mission’s work was incomplete.

In concluding remarks, Tracy Robinson, Member of Independent Fact-finding Mission on Libya, said that the human rights situation in Libya was grave and accountability was still outstanding. While the Council awaited the March 2023 report, there was no need to delay attention to the recommendations made by the Fact-Finding Mission, including providing a framework for technical support, focusing on truth, justice and reconciliation. The international community could support Libyans through dialogue around human rights in online spaces.

Chaloka Beyani, Member of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya, said in concluding remarks that the Mission was a means by which the international community was supporting the Libyan people’s quest for self-determination through free and fair elections, accountability and justice, and this should be fully supported. The Mission had made and would make more concrete recommendations to this end, and he encouraged members of the Human Rights Council to follow-up on the implementation of these recommendations.

Speaking in the discussion on Libya were Human Rights Solidarity Organization, Amnesty International, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, International Commission of Jurists, Human Rights Watch, Partners for Transparency, Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights Association, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme, World Organization Against Torture and Institut International pour les Droits et le Développement.

Speaking in right of reply was the Russian Federation.

The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s fiftieth regular session can be found here.

The next meeting of the Human Rights Council will be at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 7 July, when it is scheduled to begin consideration of draft decisions and resolutions before closing its fiftieth regular session.

Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Fact-finding Mission on Libya

The interactive dialogue with the Independent Fact-finding Mission on Libya started in the previous meeting and a summary can be found here.

Discussion

Some speakers said that although they were aware of the challenges facing the Independent Fact-finding Mission on Libya, there was concern at the lack of documentation of many violations amounting to war crimes. The report did not document the enforced displacement of tens of thousands of citizens, some since 2014, from various regions. The report should have documented grave violations and crimes and initiated accountability. Crimes against humanity and other crimes against international law had been committed with impunity in Libya, and successive governments had unaccountably integrated perpetrators, continuing the lack of accountability for organized crime and terrorism, among other violations of human rights, and causing a shrinking of civil space.

The Mission should continue its mandate and be supported until its work was complete, and there had been significant improvement of the human rights situation on the ground, some speakers said. There was concern that the current draft resolution submitted once again contained an abbreviated timeframe for the mandate of the Mission of only nine months. This break of usual practice broke the Council’s duty to oversee the situation, a speaker said, and the resolution before the Council sent a dangerous message to armed groups, that the international community lacked the will to oversee a sustained accountability process. The Mission or an alternative mission was required to oversee efforts for peace, and failure to do this would only hamper them, as it was crucial to ensure domestic accountability.

Some speakers said that the Government had cooperated with the Mission during recent visits, but the Mission’s work was incomplete. Human rights conditions remained precarious, as serious human rights violations committed by armed groups continued, and abuse was rampant. To date, no perpetrators had been held to account. The investigative work of the Mission held the key to ensuring that this situation was remedied. Violations of the rights of human rights defenders, judges and other actors continued. The rights of children needed to be further defended. The activities of those blocking the establishment of a Government of National Unity should be put to an end.

Concluding Remarks

TRACY ROBINSON, Member of Independent Fact-finding Mission on Libya, thanked all the delegations and civil society for their comments and questions. There was key consensus on the Fact-Finding Mission and its mandate, including the importance of extending the work of the Mission. The human rights situation in Libya was grave and accountability was still outstanding. The international community must help. While the Council awaited the March 2023 report, there was no need to delay attention to the recommendations made by the Fact-Finding Mission, including providing a framework for technical support, focusing on truth, justice and reconciliation. This had been welcomed by the State and by many delegations, and was now open for action.

Ms. Robinson said areas where the international community could assist included the pervasive family-wide victimisation, in which children were victims and women were left to manage family structures with little support, while searching for disappeared family members. There was a strong pattern of online abuse which included abuse against children. It was critical to ensure that recovery was a victim-led process, and space could be found for their participation. A good signal of cooperation would be the repeal of the Presidential Decree and the beginning of preparing a code of conduct for public officials’ speech. Ms. Robinson said that the international community could support Libyans through dialogue around human rights in online spaces.

CHALOKA BEYANI, Member of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya, said the national human rights plan of action was a Libyan holistic approach to the better protection and promotion of human rights, as well as to assist the pillars of transitional justice. This latter was one of the major solutions for sustainable justice, but it should also include the right to truth, accountability for perpetrators, reparation and memorialisation for victims, and the righting of wrongs. This was an area of technical cooperation which the international community could assist with, including investigating, prosecutorial integrity, and the establishment of special tribunals.

The Mission was a means by which the international community was supporting the Libyan people’s quest for self-determination through free and fair elections, accountability and justice, and this should be fully supported. The Mission had made and would make more concrete recommendations to this end, and Mr. Beyani encouraged members of the Human Rights Council to follow-up on the implementation of these recommendations. The attack on the Hadaba military academy had been documented in the report, as well as the attack on Tajura and other incidents. War crimes had been documented. With regard to internally displaced persons, there were copious paragraphs relating to them, and the report noted that attacks on them had in some cases constituted war crimes.

Oral Update by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Cooperation with Georgia

Presentation

HULAN TSEDEV, Chief of the Europe and Central Asia Section at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, presenting the High Commissioner’s oral update, said as in previous years, the Office of the High Commissioner’s Senior Human Rights Adviser for the South Caucasus, based in Tbilisi, had continued to provide technical assistance to the Government and institutions of Georgia, civil society organizations and other actors, to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights in the country. The Office of the High Commissioner called on the authorities in Georgia to adopt the national human rights strategy and the national human rights action plan. It was essential to maintain the level of the functional independence of institutions dealing with torture prevention and privacy protection while ensuring transparency and public debate. The lack of political solutions to address security and humanitarian related risks for the enjoyment of human rights had been compounded by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The absence of regular monitoring and availability of effective remedies in Georgia was exacerbated by the lack of access, in some instances, for international human rights organizations and mechanisms, especially in the context of South Ossetia. These features combined also contributed to the deepening of the existing vulnerabilities and socio-economic isolation of the affected populations. All relevant parties should ensure prompt, impartial and thorough investigation into the cases of alleged violations of the right to life that had occurred since 2014 in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, including those mentioned in previous reports by the Office to this Council. All relevant parties should build on some positive examples from 2021 and conduct a thorough and transparent review of all alleged cases of arbitrary and prolonged deprivations of liberty in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The Office called on all those concerned to put human rights sensitive approaches at the centre of efforts to address outstanding issues and individual cases with a view to minimising tensions and building trust.

Statement by Country Concerned

Georgia, speaking as a country concerned, expressed gratitude for the oral update. Georgia stood in solidarity with Ukraine, as this was an example of the same pattern of behaviour that Russia had been carrying out against Georgia. As much as Russia tried to deny responsibility, it was responsible for gross violations carried out against the Georgian population. The consolidated approach of the international society was essential for reminding Russia to comply with the cease fire agreement and ensure the safe and dignified return of internally displaced persons. The conflict affected people in Georgia were prevented from access to their families, healthcare, and education due to various sanctions enforced by Russian forces.

The oral update spoke about the persistent reoccurrence of human rights violations, particularly affecting ethnic Georgians. Movement restrictions had put pressure on the most vulnerable members of society, including the elderly and those with medical conditions. No progress had been made in executing justice and perpetrators of crimes remained at large, contributing to the sense of impunity. There were also cases of illegal detention of Georgian citizens who must immediately be released. The Geneva Discussions remained the only format to ensure that the Russian Federation would adhere to its international obligations.

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