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UN rights chief delivers report on global human rights progress

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Monday delivered a "mixed report" on human rights progress around the world [UN News Centre report], highlighting advances in some areas and alarm in others. "Alarm bells are ringing loud and clear," Pillay stated during a press conference in Geneva, discussing the deteriorating situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the abuses perpetrated in Syria [JURIST news archives]. Pillay is also concerned with the politically-driven instability in Bangladesh, which has claimed more than 150 lives and injured as many as 2,000 people since February, the continuing unrest in Egypt and the current confrontations in Thailand [JURIST reports]. Other causes for concern, Pillay said, include the reprisals against human rights defenders and journalists in several countries, as well as the treatment of migrants and the use of political exploitation of xenophobia and racism in Europe and other industrialized areas. "The rest of the United Nations ... need to pull their weight in the common cause of improving human rights for everyone everywhere, in accordance with the UN Charter," Pillay urged. However, Pillay added, there remains "slow and steady" progress in other areas of the world, highlighting the number of human rights reforms recently announced [JURIST report] by the government of China. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the creation of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website].

The treatment of protesters around the world is a cause of great concern for human rights organizations. Last month, the OHCHR condemned [JURIST report] the use of violence against protesters in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, which caused the death of more than 40 people and hundreds more injured. Also last month the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights released a report [JURIST report] describing numerous rights violations committed by Turkish police forces during the protests in May and June of this year, showing systematic and insufficient respect for binding human rights law. In October Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] expressed concern [JURIST report] over the scope of Egypt's recent law, which restricts citizens' right to protest in public. In February, the spokesperson for the OHCHR also criticized [JURIST report] the new Egyptian law, arguing that it fails to adequately protect freedom of assembly as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [text] and two international rights treaties ratified by Egypt.

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