The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - August 30, 2018
In this issue:

◢  Austria – Death of photographer Erich Lessing (August 29, 2018)

◢  Myanmar – Preliminary report by the UN International Fact-Finding Mission (August 28, 2018)

◢  UN / Human Rights – International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances (August 30, 2018)

Austria – Death of photographer Erich Lessing (August 29, 2018)

We were saddened to learn of the death of Austrian photographer Erich Lessing. France extends its heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

Erich Lessing was awarded the Prix Nadar for his book "Odyssee" in 1966 and was a pioneer of the photographic reporting which shaped our vision of the 20th century. This Viennese native had lived through the tragedies of Europe before documenting its reconstruction; he was passionate about and deeply committed to the destiny of Europe.

For the French, he will remain one of the great photographers who captured the French-German reconciliation on camera when General de Gaulle visited Chancellor Adenauer in 1962.

Myanmar – Preliminary report by the UN International Fact-Finding Mission (August 28, 2018)

The preliminary report published on August 27 by the UN International Fact-Finding Mission, commissioned by the Human Rights Council, confirms the extreme seriousness of the accusations against the Myanmar army.

France is extremely concerned by its findings that charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, which fall within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, could be brought against the Myanmar army.

It calls on the international community to take resolute action to collect and retain evidence in order to ensure that the perpetrators of crimes against the Rohingya population are brought to justice.

France is working with its partners, notably at the Security Council and the Human Rights Council, to ensure that all of the consequences are drawn from the conclusions of the Fact-Finding Mission. We commend the work of the mission and await its final report. The public meeting of the Security Council on August 28 provided an opportunity to take stock of the situation in Myanmar and to consider all of the possible outcomes.

We reaffirm that, together with our EU partners, we have strengthened the arms embargo on Myanmar and that in June we imposed sanctions on seven senior military and border patrol officers who perpetrated serious human rights violations against the Rohingya population.

As the preliminary report emphasizes, combating impunity is a necessity in dealing with the tragedy of the Rohyngas, as is dealing with the deep-seated causes of the crisis, which will lay the necessary groundwork for the safe, voluntary return of Rohingya refugees to their homes in Myanmar, in accordance with the tripartite agreement signed by the Myanmar authorities, the HCR and the UNPD. In this regard, we reiterate our full support for the UN Secretary-General's special envoy.

As the conditions for their return are not in place, international assistance for refugees in Bangladesh and for displaced persons in Myanmar remains essential. France has provided €7.2 million in aid since the beginning of the crisis and the EU has provided €91 million.

UN / Human Rights – International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances (August 30, 2018)

On this International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances by a government or with its consent, Argentina and France would like to commemorate the victims and their families. These serious human rights violations are unfortunately ongoing in a large number of countries, some of which are in the midst of serious crises or wars.

The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (2006), which currently counts 97 signatories, 58 of which have ratified the agreement, represents a major step forward in demonstrating the international community's awareness of the need for decisive action in the face of these human rights violations. The purpose of this text is to prevent enforced disappearances and to combat impunity for the crime of enforced disappearances. It is based in particular on the right to know the truth on the circumstances of the enforced disappearance, the progress and results of the investigation, as well as the fate of the disappeared person.

In 2017, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights set the goal of doubling the number of states parties to the Convention in five years; France and Argentina fully support this aim. It is why France and Argentina are calling on all nations that have not yet done so to ratify this convention and to recognize the jurisdiction of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances, established to monitor the implementation of the convention, and which began its work in 2011.

To achieve the universality of this convention, Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Argentinian counterpart, Jorge Faurie, sent a letter to their counterparts last April.

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