Paris, April 20, 2012
Excerpts from the daily press briefing by Bernard Valero, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokesman (Paris, 20th April 2012) :
Ukraine – Mission of the Human Rights Ambassador, Mr. François Zimeray (April 18 to 19, 2012)
Human Rights Ambassador, Mr. François Zimeray, attended the hearing in the trial of Ms. Yulia Tymoshenko which opened in Kharkiv yesterday morning in Ukraine.
Following the trial he travelled to the Kachanivska penal colony in order to try and meet with Ms. Tymoshenko for the second time. He was received by the head of the prison who informed him that his request had been denied. The ambassador then requested that a letter be given to her but his request was denied. The head of the prison also refused to answer Mr. Zimeray’s questions regarding Ms. Tymoshenko’s state of health.
France again warns Ukraine against using the justice system for political purposes. Previous trials have been marked by serious infringements of the rights of the defense, as protected by international standards. We warn Ukraine against committing any further violations. Our concerns relate not just to the functioning of the judiciary but also to the detention conditions and the treatment of detainees, whether with respect to Ms. Yulia Tymoshenko or to three of her former ministers who have already been sentenced : Mr. Yuri Lutsenko, Mr. Heorhiy Filipchuk and Mr. Valery Ivashchenko.
France again urges the Ukrainian government to ensure full respect for human rights and its international commitments notably those made to the Council of Europe, as well as the commitments that it renewed at the EU-Ukraine Summit in December 2011.
Syria – Humanitarian assistance
On the sidelines of the ministerial meeting devoted to Syria which took place yesterday at the Quai d’Orsay, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs’ Crisis Center brought together French NGOs on April 19 for a meeting chaired by Mr. Eric Chevallier, Ambassador of France to Syria, to discuss the humanitarian situation in that country.
The continued deterioration of the humanitarian situation is extremely troubling almost a week after the Syrian authorities’ purported acceptance of Mr. Kofi Annan’s plan.
The list of victims is growing longer and the crackdown in this country has so far left more than 11,000 people dead and tens of thousands injured.
More than a million Syrians are now directly or indirectly affected by the violence. Access to medical treatment and food is now extremely difficult because the Damascus authorities are continuing to impose unacceptable restrictions on the activities of humanitarian organizations in Syrian territory.
Lastly, 200,000 Syrians have been forced to leave the country in order to seek refuge in the neighboring countries of Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. 60,000 are being helped by the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees ; the others have been taken in by families.
On February 14, the Ministre d’Etat announced his decision to create an emergency relief fund of €2 million for Syria. The fund’s available resources have been equally distributed among international organizations, NGOs and local associations working to help the Syrian people.