Paris, June 14, 2012
Excerpts from the daily press briefing by Bernard Valero, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’spokesman (Paris, 14th June 2012)
Iran – Sentencing after appeal of Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani
France strongly condemns the 13-year prison sentence handed down after appeal to Mr.Abdolfattah Soltani, a human rights lawyer and the 2003 recipient of the French Republic’s Human Rights prize.
The Iranian justice system’s remorseless treatment of human rights defenders, in particular the former members of the Defenders of Human Rights Center founded by Ms. Shirin Ebadi, of which Mr. Soltani was a member, is especially troubling.
France condemns the continuation of this policy which runs counter to Iran’s international commitments, notably the right to freedom of opinion, recognized by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran freely subscribed.
Myanmar/ Burma – Lifting of restrictions on Burma’s full participation in the activities of the International Labor Organization
France welcomes the decision taken yesterday by the International Labor Conference to lift the restrictions on Burma’s full participation in its activities. These restrictions had been in force since 1999 due to the widespread use of forced labor.
This decision, which France supported, will allow Burma to become fully involved in the work of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the implementation of cooperation programs in support of the ongoing economic, political and social development of the country. The ILO recently sent an initial assessment mission to Burma which carried out excellent work there.
The lifting of restrictions has been made possible thanks to the progress achieved over the past year by Burma, under the leadership of President Thein Sein, in the area of social rights. This is notably reflected by the adoption of laws recognizing the right to belong to a trade union and the right to strike, as well as the agreement between the Burmese government and the ILO signed in January 2012 on the complete elimination of forced labor by 2015.
It’s in this context, and as a symbol of the progress that has been made, that Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi is due to due to speak today in Geneva at the closing session of the International Labor Conference.
Burma must now ensure the strict implementation of the new legislation, notably with respect to the right to belong to a trade union, and its commitments relating to forced labor. France urges Burma to continue on the path it has embarked upon by ratifying the major ILO conventions and by taking strong measures to combat child labor.
More generally, France calls on Burma to address the outstanding issues, notably the situation of ethnic minorities and the detention of a certain number of political prisoners.
Bangladesh -Myanmar/ Burma – Burmese refugees turned back at the Bangladeshi border
Following the violence that recently broke out in Rakhine state in Burma, France urges Burma to abide by human rights principles, notably by refraining from turning back at the border any person whose life is at risk.
Bangladesh must allow all refugees who come to its border access to its territory as long as the troubling situation in Rakhine state in Burma shows no signs of easing over the long term.
France also encourages the Bangladeshi authorities to cooperate with the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The action of the NGO’s which offer humanitarian assistance to the refugees fleeing the violence in Burma must not be impeded.
Qatar – Investigation into the fire at the Villaggio Mall shopping complex
We have taken note of the initial elements of the report by the commission of inquiry concerning the terrible fire that ravaged the Villaggio Mall shopping complex on May 28 and which reportedly killed 19 people including 13 children, one of them a young French boy.
We pay tribute to the efforts of the Qatari authorities who worked quickly, and in a transparent manner, to establish the commission of inquiry ordered by Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and chaired by Deputy Prime Minister, Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah.
Our embassy in Doha is in close consultation with the Qatari authorities. The latter must continue their efforts to ensure that full light be shed on the circumstances of the fire in order to help the families of the victims to overcome this terrible tragedy.
We have taken note of the guidelines already provided to the Council of Ministers by the Crown Prince in order to ensure that the initial recommendations of the experts are swiftly implemented in order to avoid such tragedies in the future.
Rio+20 – WWF award bestowed on France
Today in Rio de Janeiro, France will receive the WWF Leaders for a Living Planet award. This award recognizes France’s commitment to promoting the 1997 UN Convention on Transboundary Watercourses. This agreement of universal importance advocates strengthened regional cooperation for the management of international rivers and respect for the principles relating to the rational and equitable use of water. It falls within the framework of preventive diplomacy which is a key factor of peace and stability.
France acceded to this convention in February 2011 and has, since then, used diplomatic efforts to convince other countries to do the same. The mobilization seen at the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille (March 2012) contributed to the current momentum. Many partners have recently acceded to this convention or are preparing to do so, and the goal of bringing together 35 States Parties to ensure the entry into force of the convention should be achieved in 2013.