Paris, May 16, 2012
Excerpts from the daily press briefing by Bernard Valero, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokesman (Paris, 16 May 2012)
Honduras – Murder of Alfredo Villatoro Rivera
France utterly condemns the murder of Alfredo Villatoro Rivera, a journalist and co-director of a Honduran radio station, who had been kidnapped on May 9. We express our solidarity with his family as well as with the editorial team of HRN radio.
France is concerned by the deadly violence being targeted against Honduran journalists and reaffirms its attachment to ensuring that full light be shed on this crime as well as on the previous murders of journalists, which are posing a serious threat to the freedom of the press.
Violence in Syria
We condemn in the strongest possible terms the further killings perpetrated by the Syrian regime’s forces against their own people. We especially condemn the shootings carried out by these forces during the funeral in Khan Cheikhoun which left 20 people dead, as well as the attack against the UN observer convoy. It is the responsibility of the Syrian authorities to ensure the protection and safety of the observers.
We strongly urge Damascus - as the Joint UN and Arab League Special Envoy, Kofi Annan, did yesterday – to agree to the conditions that would allow the distribution of humanitarian assistance needed by more than a million Syrians. It is unacceptable that Damascus has continued to refuse access to humanitarian workers and the UN since the visit by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Ms. Amos, at the beginning of March.
In light of this worsening situation and Damascus’s blatant disregard for the ceasefire, the international community must refocus its efforts in order to allow the effective implementation of the Annan plan. The next report based on the conclusions presented by UNSMIS should allow the Security Council to take the necessary decisions.
International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (May 17, 2012)
On May 17 we will celebrate the 7th International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. On this occasion we want to reaffirm the importance of the fight against the violations of human rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity and France’s commitment to this fight.
France deplores the fact that in far too many countries, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people continue to be subjected to harassment, acts of torture, arbitrary arrests, and even murder, perpetrated with impunity. In nearly half of the world’s countries homosexuality is subject to criminal penalties, sometimes the death penalty.
This situation is unacceptable. All persons should be able to enjoy the same protection of these rights, without discrimination, in accordance with human rights as recognized in the international texts.
It is incumbent upon us all – States and international organizations – to support efforts to promote human rights and the fight for the acceptance of human diversity and the universality of human rights.
France also wants to pay tribute to the resolute efforts of human rights activists and NGOs, whose mobilization is critical to this fight in which we’re all engaged.
Human Rights Ambassador François Zimeray therefore hosted a meeting this morning with the participation of Maghreb LGBT rights defenders and French associations. This meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the reality and perspectives of the struggles for human rights in the context of the Arab Spring and to affirm France’s support for al-Damj, the Tunisian association for justice and equality and the first official association working, among other things, to promote and defend the rights of LGBT persons as well as all the associations that are working to promote and protect these rights.
Costa Rica – Fight against illicit trafficking in cultural property.
On May 16, Mr. Jean-Paul Balzamo, Deputy Director responsible for the fight against fraud, controls policy and legal affairs and disputes, delivered, on behalf of the Directorate General of Customs, to Mr. Carlos Bonilla Sandoval, Costa Rica’s Ambassador to France, 6 archaeological items dating from the pre-Columbian era. These are ceramic objects in the form of animals or humans.
This cultural property was seized by Roissy customs agents, and then identified as archaeological items from Costa Rica. After completion of the necessary legal procedures, the Directorate General of Customs decided to return this cultural property to its country of origin.
The return of these archaeological items is another example of France’s wholehearted commitment to and our active international cooperation on the fight against illicit trafficking in cultural property and the trafficking of works of art.
Was the raid carried out by the European Atalanta force, for the first time, on an alleged Somali pirate base an entirely one-off operation or will it, as far as France is concerned, be repeated whenever necessary, even if it means changing the mission’s mandate ?
The action carried out by the European Anti-Piracy Operation Atalanta against the equipment of a pirate base on the Somali coast is part of the EU’s overall approach in Somalia.
It was carried out with the full support of the Somali authorities – the transitional government and regional entities – and in accordance with the agreed legal framework. The entire Atalanta operation contributed to this success.
The operation didn’t target individuals, merely equipment and craft stowed on the beaches in order to prevent the pirates from taking to the sea. The sites used by the pirates had been clearly identified. Surveillance of the area indicates that no Somalis were injured.
By adopting a strong approach, the goal of the operation’s commander is to increase pressure on the pirates and to disrupt their economic model. This is an extension of the offensive action already carried out by Atalanta at sea.
For the record, France currently provides the operation with three ships and a maritime patrol aircraft and will provide tactical command to the operation until August.