Press Releases

    HR/CN/1016
    3 April 2003

    Commission on Human Rights Continues Review of Violation of Human Rights in Any Part of World

    Speakers Note National Efforts to Uphold Human Rights, Address Alleged Violations in Specific Countries

    (Reissued as received.)

    GENEVA, 2 April (UN Information Service) -- The Commission on Human Rights this morning continued its consideration of the question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world, hearing statements from 16 countries and nine non-governmental organizations on national efforts to uphold human rights and alleged violations in certain countries.

    Speakers raised the issue of alleged violations in the following countries and regions: India, Iraq by coalition forces, Cyprus by Turkish Cypriots, south Lebanon by Israel, Cuba, Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation by Russia, Kuwait by Iraq, south Lebanon by Syria, Azerbaijan by Armenia, Eritrea by Ethiopia, the Middle East by the United States, Sudan, the United States, Turkmenistan, Kenya, Nepal, Zimbabwe and Iraq.

    Representatives of Pakistan, Yemen, Cyprus, Indonesia, Lebanon, Nicaragua, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Belarus, Latvia, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Israel, Greece, Azerbaijan, Eritrea and Afghanistan addressed the Commission, as did representatives of the following non-governmental organizations: International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (on behalf of International League for Human Rights; International Service for Human Rights); Arab Lawyer's Union; Movimiento Cubano por la Paz y la Soberanía de los Pueblos (on behalf of the Federation of Cuban Women; Women's International Democratic Federation); International League for Human Rights (on behalf of International Federation for Human Rights); African Society of international and Comparative Law (on behalf of Minority Rights Groups International); Indian Movement Tupaj Amaru (on behalf of General Federation of Iraqi Women; General Federation of Arab Women; Union of Arab Jurists); Organization for the Solidarity of the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America (on behalf of National Union of Jurists of Cuba; Centro Estudio sobre la Juventud); China Society for Human Rights Studies (on behalf United Nations Association of China); and the International Commission of Jurists.

    Exercising their rights to reply were representatives of Croatia, India, Eritrea, Japan, Australia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, Lebanon, Cuba, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Armenia, Togo, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Australia, and Kuwait.

    The Commission will meet this afternoon in private in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolutions 1503 (XLVIII) and 2000/3 to consider communications submitted to it. The next public meeting of the Human Rights Commission will be at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 3 April.

    Statements on Violation of Human Rights Anywhere in World

    SHAUKAT UMER (Pakistan) said political consideration and prospects of economic gain often stifled the voices of conscience in the Commission. A notable example of this remiss behaviour was the Commission's disinterest in a particularly insidious phenomenon, which had emerged as the dominant reality in some parts of the world. Democracy, it was assumed, was the guarantor of human rights. Secular evidence established that in some countries democracy had begun to derive sustenance from a culture of discrimination, exclusion and decimation. Following the victory of Narindra Modi, the Chief Minister of the Indian State of Gujarat, Arundati Roy, an Indian scholar had rightly written pointed out that this represented the firm footprints of fascism in India. The 130 million Muslims of this country were now being regarded as legitimate prey by Hindu fascism. In India, today, these fascists had mobilized human beings in the name of religion. For months, fundamentalists, with the active support and participation of state institutions, had engaged in the most heinous acts of devilry. Several Muslim localities had been razed to the ground, sparing neither women nor the elderly, children or even unborn babies. The answer to the tragic conflict in Kashmir lay neither in its description as terrorism nor in the subjugation of its people in the name of democracy. The former demeaned the revered concept of self-determination and the latter the great principle of democracy. Instead India would do well by the region and its own billion people to respect both.

    ABDUL LATIF AL DORAIBI (Yemen) said it was concerned about the serious developments in the Middle East region. Yemen condemned the war against Iraq, stressing its rejection of the use of force and the need to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions. The war against Iraq violated international law and human rights and was a threat to peace and security. War in itself was a violation of human rights as its first victims were civilians whose most basic rights were being flouted including the right to life, food, housing and security. The international community was urged to assume its responsibility and ensure the safety of civilians in Iraq. The Red Cross and other relief organizations were also urged to provide the people of Iraq with the necessary humanitarian aid in order to relieve their suffering.

    ALEXANDROS VIKIS (Cyprus) listed, among serious violations of human rights resulting from the Turkish military occupation of the northern part of the island, that: one third of the population of Cyprus had been refugees within their own country for 29 years; more than 100,000 Turks from mainland Turkey had been brought to colonize the occupied territories of Cyprus; 1,400 persons were missing and unaccounted for as a result of the invasion; and the restrictions imposed by the occupation regime in the occupied north were so harsh that only about 500 people still lived there today. The Commission's position concerning this situation was clear; it had called for the full restoration of all human rights to the population of Cyprus, expressed alarm at changes in the demographic structure given the continuing influx of settlers from Turkey, and called for the accounting of missing persons.

    Expressing deep disappointment with the report on the human rights situation currently before the Commission, the representative of Cyprus said Turkey remained non-compliant with the resolutions and decisions of the Security Council and General Assembly. A predominantly political perspective characterized the report instead of a focus on human rights. Moreover, the report did not present all the facts of the issues with which it dealt. For example, the decisive meeting in February between the Secretary-General and the Greek and Turkish Cypriot representatives was not covered. The officially recognized Government of the Republic of Cyprus would continue to make every effort to restore the human rights of all Cypriots; but it was also necessary for Turkey to cooperate constructively with the United Nations, as Greece and Cyprus had done.

    DJISMAN KASRI (Indonesia) said the reform process initiated in 1998 by the Government of Indonesia had seen some major changes, evidenced among others by a thorough overhaul of the country's legislation and infrastructure. Nowhere had these changes been more meaningful than in the field of human rights, which the Government considered crucial and where it had made serious efforts to remedy past shortcomings. The National Plan of Action 2003-2008 involved all the governmental and national human rights institutions, as well as civil society, as implementing partners, and was composed of five main pillars. These were preparation of the ratification of international human rights instruments; further harmonization of domestic laws relevant to human rights; dissemination of and education in human rights; application of human rights norms and standards; and monitoring, evaluating and reporting, including to the relevant treaty bodies, on the national implementation of human rights instruments which had been ratified by Indonesia.

    Concerning the development of legal proceedings in the Ad Hoc Human Rights Court in the prosecution of cases of human rights abuses committed in East Timor 1999, the Court had handed down verdicts after several cases of human rights violations had been established. However, the current legal process had not reached the final stage, not least because the verdicts were now being brought to the Court of Appeal and to the Supreme Court for their final adjudication. Some of the comments made by the High Commissioner in this regard were unfair, since they were tantamount to prejudging the ability of the Indonesian judicial system to function fairly, independently and transparently.

    WALID A. NASR (Lebanon) said that last year the Commission had adopted a resolution entitled the situation of Lebanese detainees in Israel. The resolution had expressed, among other things, displeasure at the detention of Lebanese in Israeli prisons without trial and had asked for visits to be conducted by representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The Commission also had asked the Secretary General to inform Israel of the resolution and call upon it to provide information on its implementation. By December 2002, no reply had been received from Israel, which showed that Israel was not committed to the resolution, which it flouted like all other United Nations resolutions.

    Israel had detained scores of Lebanese and transferred them to Israel, in contravention of international law. One of these Lebanese prisoners had died while under administrative detention. Although Israel withdrew to a line defined as a blue line in southern Lebanon, it continued to occupy the Lebanese Shaba farms. It had also left behind hundreds of mines, causing numerous victims among the civilian population. Lebanon had asked for the maps for these mines. The resolution of the Commission had also expressed concern over the hundreds of mines left by Israel and deplored the fact that Israel had not handed over the maps for these mines. The Government of Israel, however, had addressed the question of these maps in the same way it treated other issues -- with procrastination and prefabrication. The maps received by Lebanon were incomplete and covered only very small areas of the territory that was under Israeli occupation.

    LESTER MEJIA SOLIS (Nicaragua) said that the newly elected Nicaraguan President had, at his inauguration, expressed the determination to protect and strengthen human rights in Nicaragua and to work for economic development. Many difficulties and constraints remained to be faced, but Nicaragua was making headway, if slowly.

    Noting, however, that the General Assembly of the United Nations had decided that manifest violations of human rights in every part of the world should be examined, the representative of Nicaragua wished to express his concern over the human rights situation in Cuba. Asking how long international conventions would be violated by the Cuban regime, he challenged the Cuban Government to open its doors for a review of the human rights situation in the country. Human rights were of universal concern; claims of sovereignty could not be used as roadblocks to democracy and human rights. Furthermore, human rights were interdependent -- and included civil and political as well as economic, social and cultural rights.

    CHOE MYONG NAM (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) said it was important to prevent political consideration and economic powers such as the European Union from using the noble notion of human rights to advance their selfish goals. It was all the more surprising to listen to the European Union since his country and the Union had been involved in a series of constructive discussions on human rights cooperation. The current confrontational approach of the European Union showed that it had decided to join the policies of the United States, including its nuclear confrontation. The European Union had changed its position and claimed to be the best judge on human rights. Instead of denouncing the invasion of the United States against Iraq, the European Union had prevented the special sitting on the humanitarian consequences of the invasion. This kind of approach made their position clear. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea advocated cooperation, as opposed to confrontation. Human rights goals would never be achieved through confrontation and acrimonious behaviour.

    SERGEI ALEINIK (Belarus) said that today no country could claim that all human rights were fully respected within its territory. Belarus condemned human rights violations wherever they occurred and stood for constructive international cooperation in the field of human rights protection based on the principles of mutual respect and partnership on an equal footing. The use of human rights issues as a means to achieve political and economic goals had no prospects and was contrary to the very concept of human rights. Unilateral measures against sovereign states discredited the very principle of participation of the international community in ensuring respect for human rights.

    Moral admonitions with regard to respect for human rights sounded quite cynical from the lips of the delegation of the country which by its actions had undermined the foundations of the existing system of international relations, violated the Charter of the United Nations, the basic norms and principles of international law and provoked humanitarian catastrophes entailing suffering of innocent civilians and violations of fundamental human rights, including the right to life.

    JANIS KARKLINS (Latvia) said that the persistent and growing number of reported violations of human rights in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation should be promptly and credibly addressed by the Russian Federation, in accordance with the international human rights and humanitarian law treaties and conventions to which it was party. While the right to fight terrorism and terrorist activities from spreading over national borders was a legitimate goal, it did not justify the use of excessive means resulting in massive civilian casualties and the suffering of innocent people.

    Profoundly disturbed by the large number of officially recorded disappearances in the Chechen Republic and the discovery of hundreds of corpses bearing traces of violence and torture, the representative of Latvia urged Russian authorities to demonstrate their clear political will for international cooperation and to reaffirm the shared goal of upholding international human rights standards.

    ABDULLAH K.M.J. AL-ASKAR (Kuwait) said that concerning the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, the fact that the Commission continued to study this question was due to the non-compliance of Iraq. Kuwait had studied the report of the High Commissioner. The question related to prisoners was particularly important to the delegation of Kuwait since Iraq, to this day, had not adhered to its obligations vis-à-vis Kuwaiti detainees and citizens according to Security Council resolutions. Iraq had done nothing to cooperate on these issues. The Tripartite Committee had also called upon the Iraqi Government to adhere to its obligations, however the participation of Iraq had been disappointing. Iraq had not displayed any interest in cooperation. Iraq was called upon to uphold its obligations of international human rights law and humanitarian law, as well as the provisions of the Security Council resolutions. Iraq must also free the prisoners in question and inform the Kuwaiti Government about what had happened to the missing people. Kuwait would continue to call for the freeing of its citizens and friends and urged the international community to continue to put pressure on the Iraqi Government in order for this tragic situation to be resolved once and for all.

    PIO SCHURTI (Liechtenstein) said that the people of Iraq, after being subjected to systematic violations of their human rights over long years, were now caught up in a quickly evolving and large-scale humanitarian crisis. Human rights were at particular risk during times of armed conflict, and the ongoing conflict in Iraq had a very strong impact on the human rights and humanitarian situation in the country. This situation must be at the center of the concern of the Commission, and the strict observance of international humanitarian law was of the highest importance to alleviate the plight of the Iraqi people. Liechtenstein, therefore, added its voice to the urgent appeal made by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to all parties in the conflict to fully respect all relevant standards of international humanitarian law, in particular those contained in the Geneva Conventions. There were disturbing reports of serious violations of international humanitarian law, most of them affecting civilian populations directly or indirectly. There must be no abuse of civilians of any kind and all prisoners of war must be treated humanely and in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Geneva Conventions.

    YAAKOV LEVY (Israel) said that it was unfortunate that some members could not acknowledge the basic precepts of international law they purported to support. Following Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon, the Government of Lebanon had been expected to exert its effective authority over southern Lebanon, rather than to allow terrorist groups such as Hezbollah to operate there. However, since Israel's withdrawal, 30 terrorist attacks had been launched across the border by Hezbollah, with the active support of Syria and Iran. Moreover, Al Qaeda had established a broad infrastructure in Lebanon, as its operatives fleeing Afghanistan had sought and found a safe haven in Lebanon, which put Lebanon in violation of Security Council resolution 1373.

    Another source of concern, said the representative of Israel, was the uncertainty of the fate of Israeli soldiers missing in armed conflict. Israeli families had been suffering for decades. The fate of their loved ones held in Lebanon, Syria or even Iran remained unknown. Calling upon Lebanon, Syria and Iran to live up to their responsibility not to use, abuse or manipulate information on the fate of a missing person, the representative also raised the issue of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. In one aspect, Syria had acted to prevent the deployment of the Lebanese army along the Israel-Lebanon border, which permitted the unhindered terrorist activities of Hezbollah.

    PENNY DOUTI (Greece) said the systematic violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms persisted in Cyprus after the invasion of the island and the occupation by the Turkish military forces since 1974. Despite numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions, as well as resolutions of the Commission, violations had been carried out through the implementation of policies such as forcible eviction and displacement of persons from their homes and land, expulsion of the enslaved Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the occupied territories, systematic plundering of the Cypriot cultural heritage, colonialization and obstruction in reaching a solution to the issue of missing persons. Greece strongly supported the continuation of the Secretary-General's mission of good offices and encouraged all parties, particularly Turkey, to spare no efforts towards achieving a just, viable and functional settlement, with full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

    MURAD N. NAJAFOV (Azerbaijan) said that the aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan had continued for 15 years. Having conducted ethnic cleansing against the Azerbaijani population in its own territory, Armenia occupied not only the whole territory of Nagorno-Karabakh region, expelling 60,000 native Azerbaijanis, but also occupied territories of another seven regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan. As a result, the total number of Azerbaijanis expelled from their native grounds had reached one million. Thus, every eighth person in Azerbaijan was a refugee or a displaced person, which significantly complicated the humanitarian situation in the country.

    In four resolutions adopted in 1993, the United Nations Security Council had condemned the occupation of the territory of Azerbaijan, reaffirmed respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and inviolability of the borders of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the admissibility of the use of force for the acquisition of territory, and demanded immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all occupying forces from the occupied districts of Azerbaijan. However, these demands of the Security Council had not been implemented so far.

    AMARE TEKLE (Eritrea) said that there was a dialectical relationship between peace, human rights and development. Not only was peace essential for the eradication of poverty, disease and illiteracy, but after conflict, it was a precondition for rehabilitation, reconstruction and prosperity. Yet Ethiopia today seemed determined to derail the peace process by all means available. It had forcibly driven Eritrean farmers from their land, aided terrorist groups to commit conspicuous atrocities against civilians, laid new landmines in the Temporary Security Zone, threatened to shoot down the helicopter of the Boundary Commission and made public its intention to reject the demarcation of the territory if it did not get a revision of the Commission's "final and binding" decision. Ethiopia must be unequivocally informed that it could not continue its blatant violations of human rights and other international law.

    SHAMSUZZAKIR KAZEMI (Afghanistan) said he had carefully examined the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan. The situation in his country had improved, with the exception of a few incidents of violence attributable to the break down of law and order that reigned throughout the country for almost quarter of a century and the resulting insecurity prevailing in some parts of the country. He concurred with the findings and recommendations postulated which called not only for the continued efforts of the Afghan Human Rights Commission, the Afghan Judicial Reform Commission and the related governmental and non-governmental organizations in Afghanistan, but also and more importantly for the intensification of international assistance in various areas. Considerable progress had been achieved since the Bonn Agreement and the convening of the Loya Jirga aimed at restoring, promoting and safeguarding the human rights of the Afghan people. Obviously, these and other measures constituted the first step in the long journey ahead. In this connection, he stressed the cardinal role of security. Security had been the most important preoccupation of the fledgling administration. Despite a relative calm, acts of violence had taken many lives and intermittently disrupted the fragile peace.

    Concerning the situation of women in Afghanistan, whose rights had been systematically violated during the entire period of internal strife, it was stressed that although political and security situations were preoccupying, the role of women in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the country had been accorded priority. The Office of the High Commissioner was called upon to intensify its efforts in the years to come through projects aimed at rendering technical assistance in various aspects of human rights throughout the country to build-up the capacity of the numerous organizations, public and private, established in the area of human rights.

    BRIGITTE DUFOUR, of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, in a joint statement with the International League for Human Rights, the International Service for Human Rights, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Memorial Human Rights Centre, said that the international community should be informed that Russian federal forces had committed grave abuses against the peaceful civilian population of the Chechen Republic. During the last year, civilians had continued to suffer from mopped-up operations in towns and villages. These operations were accompanied by acts of theft, mass detention and degrading treatment of local residents by Russian federal forces. Hundreds of detainees were transferred to illegal filtration camps where they were beaten and tortured. Many of these detainees subsequently disappeared, never to be seen again.

    The majority of crimes committed against civilians remained unpunished and all evidence suggested that these were not only individual crimes committed by undisciplined military servicemen, but the result of organized criminal groups within the state power structure. These groups functioned as death squads. Against the backdrop of a continuous reign of terror against the Chechen population, the Russian authorities had held a referendum in Chechnya concerning a new Constitution and future presidential and parliamentary elections. However, lack of security, mobility and freedom of political expression within Chechnya had made a parody of this referendum.

    MOHAMED MUSA, of the Arab Lawyer's Union, said that there had been a constant deterioration of respect for human rights in the Middle East region since 11 September 2001. In addition to the illegal war currently being waged by the United States and the United Kingdom against Iraq -- which was an act of aggression that undermined the authority of the Security Council -- manifestations of this dangerous trend were apparent in the policy of double standards applied by the United States on the implementation of international resolutions concerning disarmament in the region. The United States had continued its blind support for Israel, in spite of that State's possession of nuclear and biological weapons. The relevant international resolutions should be implemented for the benefit of the Palestinian people. Also of concern was the situation of human rights in the Sudan.

    OLGA SALANUEVA, of the Movimiento Cubano por la Paz y la Soberanía de los Pueblos, speaking on behalf of the Federation of Cuban Women, and the Women's International Democratic Federation, said she was addressing the Commission on Human Rights on behalf of five Cuban families who had endured separation from their beloved ones since 1998. For many attending this session, it was a surprise to learn that at this moment five Cuban young men, whose only sin was to have fought against terrorist groups that freely operated in Miami, remained unjustly imprisoned in the United States. It was now known that Cuba, her country, for over 40 years had been the victim of terrorist actions supported, protected and financed by the United States Government which did not cease in its endeavour to destroy their revolution, leaving thousands of Cuban families in mourning. The United States, the country that called itself the defender of human rights, had violated, with impunity, the most elemental rights of these Cubans, in its own territory. The groups were accusing the United States Government of being the main violator of human rights, and of using false double standards in the fight against terrorism. They held the US Government fully responsible for the physical and mental integrity of these five men and were demanding their immediate release.

    ALEXEY KOROTAEV, of the International League for Human Rights, in a joint statement with the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, said that the current human rights situation in Turkmenistan had gradually reached enormous proportions, increasingly resembling the regime in North Korea. There were no independent media outlets, no opposition parties and only two religion confessions were allowed: the Russian Orthodox Church and a state-sanctioned and controlled form of Islam. President Niyazov's repressive policies had led to Turkmenistan's almost complete international isolation. The Commission was urged to adopt a resolution that deplored abuses by President Niyazov's Government, called for Turkmenistan to comply with its international human rights obligations, demanded that the principle of due process be observed in all cases, and oblige the Turkmen Government to grant unimpeded access to international commissions of inquiry, including the UN human rights mechanism.

    ABDELBAGI JIBRIL, of the African Society of International Comparative Law, in a joint statement with Minority Rights Group International said that the Nubian community was one of Kenya's most invisible and underrepresented communities at all economic, social, political and cultural levels. Given the rise in recent years of sectarian violence against the Nubian minority in Kenya and the fact that the overwhelming majority of Nubians lived as de facto stateless persons without adequate legal protection, the Government of Kenya should start a dialogue with the community for the solution of its problems, especially regarding demands for Kenyan citizenship and the right to own property. Furthermore, while welcoming the report on the human rights situation in the Sudan, the African Society felt the state of lawlessness and the Government's failure to protect the people of the region should be the main concern in the region.

    LAZARO PARY ANAGUA, of the Indian Movement Tupaj Amaru, speaking on behalf of the General Federation of Iraqi Women, General Federation of Arab Women, and Union of Arab Jurists, said these were dark days for the Commission on Human Rights. Its rejection of the proposal to address grave human rights violations as a result of the Anglo-US war on Iraq had smudged the honour and credibility of the Commission. How could one talk of human rights when ignoring the illegal aggression currently underway in Iraq? An empire had no allies, only vassals - this was a historic truth. The Western countries were mere vassals to the United States when defending their self-interests. In this connection, the courage of France and Germany was welcomed even though there were some contradictions in their most recent silence. A draft resolution would be brought in front of the Commission on the blockade against Cuba. The sanctions imposed on Cuba lacked any legitimacy or international support. For 44 years, Cuba had been suffering from the marginalization which was unparalleled in history. The blockade condemned by more than 10 General Assembly resolutions violated the human rights of the Cuban people.

    LOURDES CERVANTES VASQUEZ, of the Organization for the Solidarity of the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America, in a joint statement with the National Union of Jurists of Cuba and Centro Estudio sobre la Juventud, said that agenda item 9 was used to promote the interests of the industrialized and rich world which attributed to itself the right to judge, manipulate and impose special procedures on third world countries, on the basis of the false premise that the first unfailingly respected human rights, while the latter were compelled to demonstrate to this supranational tribunal that their observance of human rights was in line with the demands of the West. The selectivity, political manipulation and discriminatory nature of the assessments made by the Commission every year were increasingly evident and acceptable. With what moral authority could the United States Government judge other countries while it unconditionally supported the genocide committed by the Government of Israel as part of its policy of State terrorism against the Palestinian people who fought for their right to self-determination. How could one entertain the thought of circulating a report on the human rights situation in Iraq when it was impossible to secure a majority in the Commission to hold a special sitting on Iraq. When would the United States maneuvering against Cuba, whose people were victims of an economic, trade and financial embargo by the US, come to an end?

    BENJAMIN TSZ-MING LIU, of the United Nations Association of China, in a joint statement with the China Society for Human Rights Studies, said that in the years since reunification, the Government and people of Hong Kong and her non-governmental organizations had successfully followed through on the policy of "one country; two systems". Among others, new legislation concerning the maintenance of stability and national security, treason and sedition, and the promotion of legitimate dissent had been proposed and refined. Moreover, the banning of organizations was strictly supervised and could not be called "automatic", while the constitutionality of the Immigration Ordinance's provisions had been upheld.

    IAN SEDERMAN, of the International Commission of Jurists, said that he would limit his statement to the human rights situation in Nepal, Zimbabwe, the United States and Iraq. A Commission fact-finding visit to Nepal two months ago had revealed a highly disturbing human rights situation. The Commission, therefore, called upon the Office of the High Commissioner and the Government of Nepal to take steps toward the establishing a field office in Nepal with the mandate to monitor the human rights situation and provide capacity building assistance. The human rights situation in Zimbabwe had continued to deteriorate to appalling levels. The Government had grossly breached its obligations regarding the right to food, through the deliberate withholding of food aid to people it associated with the political opposition.

    In the United States, the Government continued to hold more than 600 persons in prolonged and indefinite detention in Guantanamo Bay, without charge and without access to courts, lawyers or family members. The Commission called on the United States to honour its human rights and humanitarian law obligations. The ICJ further regretted that additional time had not been set aside this session to discuss the present humanitarian and human rights emergency in Iraq.

    Rights of Reply

    A representative of Croatia, speaking in right of reply in response to a statement made by Canada, said that bringing all persons responsible for war crimes to justice remained one of the priorities of the Government of Croatia. Regular forms of cooperation had been established with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and Croatia was committed to continue its cooperation with the Tribunal. The issues which were raised in the Canadian statement were not based on accurate facts.

    A representative of India, speaking in right of reply, said that Pakistan had made absurd accusations, which anyone who was familiar with Indian society would dismiss. The reference to fascism was amusing, he said, as militarism was a close relative to fascism, which had long characterized Pakistan's regime. The label of "fascist" fit Pakistan much better. India was one of the few genuinely secular states in the world. To speak of a Hindu fascist state was as grotesque as to speak of a Muslim fascist state. Among others, India suggested that Pakistan should enact legislation forbidding the denial of landing rights to army chiefs, forbidding army chiefs to change presidents and constitutions, to arrest former Prime Ministers and to take over foreign and state affairs.

    A representative of Eritrea, exercising his right of reply in response to a statement made by the Representative of Greece on behalf of the European Union and Canada, said no one had been arrested in Eritrea for expressing their views, be they personal or political. People who had been arrested had committed crimes against the State and were not arrested because of their political opinions alone. Secondly, elections had been delayed, but would be taking place in the near future. These elections would be fair, just and honest. In addition no one was forced into involuntary service in Eritrea, and it was highlighted that the newly rebuilt railroad was built entirely with Eritrean national resources. The United Nations had often forgotten the human rights of the Eritrean people, particularly when it had forced the draconian union between Eritrea and Ethiopia which had led to the loss of lives and the violations of human rights.

    A representative of Japan, speaking in right of reply in response to a statement made by North Korea, reiterated the inhuman nature of the abduction cases of Japanese by North Korea. This was a grave violation of human rights and a crime against humanity and therefore deserved the attention of the Commission. There was still a long way to go before a solution was found to the issue. The families of those abductees who had retuned to Japan were still in Pyongyang. North Korea was urged to provide all relevant information on abduction cases and to cooperate with the Working Group on Involuntary and Forced Disappearances.

    A representative of Australia, speaking in right of reply, said that the Zimbabwean delegation's allegations to the effect of Australia being a racist society were preposterous. Australia was one of the least racist, most democratic societies in the world. Moreover, Australia had one of the best refugee programmes in the world. In the current year, the immigration programme had made available approximately 110,000 places, of which 12,000 were reserved for refugees. Australia did not detain refugees, but did detain those entering the country illegally. These persons could submit appeals for refugee status, which were then evaluated in light of international standards. Furthermore, successive Australian governments had made great efforts to address the situation of indigenous people in Australia. The indigenous people of Australia exercised their land rights through possessing some 16 per cent of the continent's land.

    A representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, exercising his right of reply in a response to a statement made by the Representative of the European Union and the Special Rapporteur, said that when assessing the situation in his country, the Commission must refer to its own resolution which encouraged his Government and called upon the Special Rapporteur to identify means to strengthen capacities in the country and to bring to justice perpetrators of human rights violations during the war of aggression. There were no political prisoners nor journalists detained in his country and in April all Congolese parties were meeting to enshrine national conciliation, since the President had relaunched the ceasefire agreement of 1998 in all of its aspects.

    A representative of Zimbabwe, speaking in right of reply in response to a statement made by Australia, asked when Australia would start cooperating with the Commission's special mechanism on the issue of the situation of indigenous people in Australia. When would Australia consider compensating its indigenous people for the stolen generation of the sixties?

    A representative of Lebanon, speaking in right of reply to a statement by Israel, said that the Israeli representative had continued to repeat his false allegations concerning Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon. Israel had always sought to misguide international opinion; it was the only country in the world occupying the land of others by force. The Syrian presence in Lebanon was based on agreements between two neighboring and independent States. The Israeli determination to find points of difference characterized an attitude, which had led to the eruption of bloodshed in Lebanon over the years. Furthermore, had there ever been reports of the Lebanese army, navy or air force storming Israel? It had never been done. However, Israel's defense forces had attacked Lebanon and obstructed the rights of Lebanese citizens. Lebanon had addressed a peace initiative to Israel -- which included the principle of "land for peace", but it had been refused. Israel did not want a just and comprehensive peace, but only to continue its attacks against its neighbours.

    A representative of Cuba, exercising her right of reply in a response to a statement made by the representative of Nicaragua, said it was a shame that a government such as Nicaragua now questioned and criticized Cuba. Cuba had been suffering for long from a genocidal blockade and had the admiration of the entire world for its ability to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights. It was repugnant and an aberrant irony that this neo-Somoza Government of Nicaragua, with its corrupt regime, now criticized Cuba, especially given its carnal relationship with terrorists based in Miami and whose filthy money had brought the Nicaraguan Government to power. It would be better for Nicaragua to focus on its own human rights violations than to criticize Cuba. The Nicaraguan Government was urged to stop manipulating the facts, to stop lying, and to address its own problems.

    A representative of Ethiopia, speaking in right of reply, rejected the baseless allegations made against his country by Eritrea. While Ethiopia had respected the peace agreements, Eritrea had not respected its obligations and had violated the Geneva Conventions by not revealing the whereabouts of Ethiopian prisoners of war.

    A representative of Pakistan, speaking in right of reply in response to a statement by India, dismissed the Indian statement as a tissue of lies, saying he preferred to address the phenomenal growth of fascism in India under the unholy alliance of BJP and its militant offshoots. The actions, which took place in Gujarat were among the worst manifestations of state terrorism witnessed by the international community. The history of Germany in the 1920s and 1930s was now being witnessed again in India. Among the tactics used in India were the emulation of Italian youth organizations, the espousal of doctrines of hatred and cultural superiority and support for totalitarianism and contempt of democracy. The correct follow-up to Gujarat should have been to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

    A representative of Syria, exercising his right of reply in a response to a statement made by the Representative of Israel, said that the Israeli statement proved its policy avoiding responsibility, including the concealing of mine maps. Appeals by Governments to Israel to release this information to help innocent civilians had been ignored. Concerning the presence of Syrian forces in Lebanon, the Israeli representative had claimed that this was an occupation. This was a poor analysis of good friendly relations. Syrian forces were with their Lebanese cousins for reasons of pure defence as a response to Israel who had twice sent in its forces. The representative of Israel should avoid getting involved in issues that did not concern him.

    A representative of Iraq, speaking in right of reply, said that the representative of Kuwait had referred to a failure by Iraq to respect Security Council resolutions and had referred to alleged cases of Kuwaiti citizens who had disappeared. The representative of Iraq noted that Iraq had cooperated with the United Nations inspectors. Nevertheless, the United States was determined to use military force at all costs and this was not linked to the questions raised by the Kuwait. Three quarters of Kuwait's territory was being used for the attack against Iraq. Kuwait had also conducted a campaign against Iraq in connection with the question of disappeared persons. Iraq had stated in the past that there were no Kuwaiti soldiers in the country. Iraq had released all the detainees. At these difficult times, when savage attacks were being launched against Iraq, any one of good conscience must stand by the Iraqi people rather than use pretexts to launch attacks against it.

    A representative of Armenia speaking in a right of reply, said that the first part of the Azerbaijan statement had offered distorted information and a factually flawed interpretation of the current situation in the region. The flagrant denial of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh's right to exercise self-determination had led to events like the killing and mass deportations of civilians. However, the Azerbaijani representative had also made a rare effort to acknowledge the need for negotiation to resolve the region's problem. Despite setbacks, momentum for the peace process had been maintained. Now the resources and efforts of both countries needed to be directed towards it.

    A representative of Togo, exercising his right of reply in a response to a statement made by the representative of the United States, said that the United States had referred to a Mr. Marc Palanga and had expressed concern about his treatment. In fact, Mr. Palanga had been arrested because of his involvement in a matter surrounding war equipment. He had not been treated the way the Representative of the United States had insinuated. There was no impunity for torture in Togo.

    A representative of Zimbabwe, speaking in right of reply, said that his country would consider the International Commission of Jurists seriously only when it stopped considering any action by the Zimbabwean authorities as a violation of human rights. The International Commission of Jurists had also made unfounded allegations against the judiciary in his country. No one in Zimbabwe was above the law. The Representative of Zimbabwe also asked why the International Commission of Jurists ignored the plight of the indigenous people in Australia and the question of land distribution there.

    A representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, rejected the Japanese allegations and said that it had now become clear what Japan's real intention was. His country stood by its position that it had done its utmost to solve the cases through bilateral dialogue, among others. The real interest of Japan was to be found in political confrontation against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Taking the opportunity to stress that thousands of families suffered from not having seen their loved ones, kidnapped during the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula, he stressed that if Japan was truly interested in solving the cases, it should take practical measures to transfer past crimes and to live up to commitments and bilateral agreements.

    A representative of Australia, exercising his second right of reply in a response to a statement made by the representative of Zimbabwe, said he was not going to dignify the representative of Zimbabwe with a long response but would like to say that his highly offensive comments brought no honour to his country or to himself as a diplomat.

    A representative of Israel, speaking in right of reply, said that ironically, there was no doubt that Lebanese society thanked Syria for having a presence of 20,000-strong army of occupation. The Syrian representative had said that the troops came to assist Lebanon against Israel. Israel withdrew from Lebanon two years ago, so why were they still there? Israel had handed over the maps of land mines in southern Lebanon to the United Nations on 1 June 2000 and this was confirmed by Lebanon. With regard to Lebanese detainees, only four Hezbollah members were detained in Israel. These detainees received visits from the Red Cross, could meet with lawyers and could appeal to the courts. Currently, there were no Lebanese administrative detainees in Israel.

    A representative of Eritrea, speaking in a second right of reply, quoted from a Security Council report expressing the Secretary-General's serious concern over the Ethiopian attitude toward the question of the demarcation of the border. He said the Ethiopian Prime Minister had noted that if his country's concerns were not properly addressed, Ethiopia might reject the decision of the Border Commission, in spite of its "final and binding" nature, which Ethiopia had understood before the decision was made.

    A representative of India, exercising his second right of reply in response to a statement made by the representative of Pakistan, said that India had taken note of the statement of Pakistan and its incomprehensible verbiage. India, on its part was proud of the freedom of speech in the country which made India a strong democracy. Unlike other governments, the Government of India did not silence such voices. What the Indian delegation did not understand was why this incident was being re-hashed more than one year after the event. The Commission had considered the incident at the time.

    A representative of Ethiopia, speaking in second right of reply, said he would not waste the Commission's time to respond to false accusations made by Eritrea. However, he reiterated that the human rights situation in Eritrea was appalling. Ever since the dictatorial government took power in 1991, the state of repression had become increasingly systematic and there was a reign of terror in the country.

    A representative of Kuwait, speaking in right of reply, said that Iraq never listened to advice. Kuwait's problem with Iraq had begun on 2 August 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait and then refused to comply with Security Council resolutions. It seemed that Iraq did not like to listen to good advice. The representative of Iraq had claimed his country had cooperated with the United Nations, however, six meetings had been held which proved that Iraq had not cooperated on the situation of the missing Kuwaitis. The Sharm-el-Sheik summit had welcomed Kuwait's participation on the subject of missing Iraqis.

    Corrigendum

    In Press Release HR/CN/1010 of 27 March, the statement by Centre Europe - Tiers Monde on page 5 should read,as follows:

    MALIK OZDEN, of Centre Europe - Tiers Monde, said that by resolution 1989/72, the Commission had requested the Independent Expert on the right to development to carry out "a study on the state of progress of the implementation of the right to development". The Expert should, through his studies, show the political measures States and the international community were taking in the direction of the concrete recognition of the right to development. Instead the Expert attempted to redefine the right to development, and proposed a development compact. He did not precede to a profound analysis of the impact of the policies of the international financial institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization. The definition given by the Expert of the right to development was not accepted by the Working Group, which was attached to the concept contained in the Declaration of the Right to Development.

    A development compact, if drafted, might not be different than existing mechanisms. The Expert, meanwhile, was suggesting international cooperation and voluntary contributions of funds without revealing the mechanism under which such contributions would be collected.

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