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HRC36 – MRG calls for the Counsil’s attention to the situations of minorities in Iraq, Egypt and Cameroon

19 September 2017

UN Human Rights Council

36th session

General Debate – item 4 (Situations deserving the attention of the Council)

Mister President,

MRG remains concerned about the protracted displacement crisis in Iraq and the lack of a comprehensive strategy for returns and reconstruction. MRG is further concerned by reports indicating widespread attempts at demographic reengineering in reclaimed territories. Meanwhile, the lack of transitional justice mechanisms covering violations by all parties to the conflict is impeding national reconciliation and potential reparations. The Council should closely monitor violations committed by all parties in order to ascertain the truth and pave the way for future judicial efforts. Iraq should also demonstrate its will to ensure accountability for violations of human rights and humanitarian laws by acceding to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and accept its jurisdiction from the start of the conflict.

Mister President, MRG is also concerned about the assault on the rights of indigenous people in Egypt, in particular the arrest of at least 23 Nubians on September 3rd, as they were protesting for their right to access their ancestral land which has been contended by a 2014 presidential decree. MRG is also concerned about the restrictions on the rights of non-Muslims in Egypt, including Coptic Christians, to practice their religion publicly, and the continued restriction on their freedom of expressing their religion through articles in the Penal Code criminalising “insult of religions”. Egypt must uphold the rights stated in the Egyptian constitution, particularly the right of indigenous people to live on their ancestral land, and the rights of all to free expression, which includes the public practice and expression of their religion.

Finally, Mister President,

MRG and its partner RECODH would like to bring to the attention of the Council rising tensions and human rights abuses in the Anglophone-majority regions of Cameroon. We are concerned about the government of Cameroon’s reaction to social movements and popular protests initiated by teachers and lawyers from the Anglophone minority, concerning the perceived marginalization and injustice faced by the Anglophone population in North West and South West regions. The state reaction has included the arbitrary detention and alleged torture of peaceful protesters, an Internet block affecting the concerned regions of Cameroon which lasted several months, and interference by the State of Cameroon in citizens’ rights to freedom of association, expression and public demonstration. Though the government freed some of the leaders of the movement, others are still into jail and little information is available on the exact number of persons arrested or detained. MRG and RECODH are concerned that the failure to successfully accommodate and respect linguistic diversity in Cameroon, in line with past government commitments, has the potential to lead to continued or escalating human rights abuses unless early and positive steps are taken. 

I thank you.