4 April 2003

Commission on Human Rights Hears from NGOs Charging Violations Around World

Chairperson of Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights Delivers Report, Address

(Reissued as received.)

GENEVA, 3 April (UN Information Service) -- As the Commission on Human Rights continued its consideration of the question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world, a lengthy series non-governmental organizations (NGOs) expressed concern this morning about situations in numerous countries and regions.

Widespread abuses of the rule of law and administration of justice, including arbitrary arrests, detentions, and torture, as well as measures undertaken in the fight against terrorism, were issues of particular concern to several NGOs. They pointed out that violations of the rule of law and administration of justice were particularly prevalent in situations of conflict and civil unrest, where -- they added -- impunity for human rights abuses often ran rampant.

Continuous and flagrant violation of civil and political rights in many countries and regions, including violation of the rights of free expression and freedom of religion, were also a source of deep concern to non-governmental organizations. In this connection, the international community and the Commission in particular were urged to provide and strengthen existing monitoring mechanisms to prevent systematic offenses.

Other speakers condemned violations of the human rights of vulnerable groups such as children, women, religious and ethnic minorities, and refugees.

The Commission also was addressed by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Chairperson of the fifty-fourth session of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, who introduced the report the Sub-Commission's 2002 session. He said the reformed Sub-Commission, which now functioned as a think tank, had proved remarkably successful, having become not only a forum for the debate of new themes on the multilateral human rights agenda, but also a source of solid contributions to the normative work of the Commission.

The following non-governmental organizations addressed the meeting: Arab Organization for Human Rights; Baha'i International Community; International Federation of Human Rights Leagues; World Union for Progressive Judaism; Human Rights Watch; World Organization Against Torture; International Federation of Rural Adult Catholic Movements; International Save the Children Alliance; South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre; World Federation of Trade Unions; Afro-Asian Peoples' Solidarity Organization - AAPSO; United Nations Watch; International Institute for Peace; International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic and Other Minorities; World Peace Council; A Woman's Voice International; Agir ensemble pour les droits de l'homme; Centro de Estudios Europeos; World Muslim Congress; European Union of Public Relations; Transnational Radical Party; Europe-Third World Centre; Federación de Associaciones de Defensa y Promoción de Derechos humanos; Dominicans for Justice and Peace; International Educational Development, Inc. and Franciscans International.

Speaking in right of reply were Representatives of Azerbaijan, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Nicaragua, Kenya, Yemen, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Cuba, Angola, India, Japan, Kuwait, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The Commission will reconvene at 3 p.m. to continue its consideration of the question of human rights violations in any part of the world.

Report of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

This agenda item was opened briefly to allow introduction of the report of the Sub-Commission.

The report, by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Chairperson of the Sub-Commission at its fifty-fourth session (document E/CN.4/2003/94), notes that the Sub-Commission adopted 31 resolutions, 18 decisions -- 16 without a vote -- and one Chairperson's statement. The only two decisions that failed to secure consensus addressed the issues of women married to foreigners and weapons of mass destruction. The content of the unanimous resolutions varied from liberalization of trade in services in connection with the rights to drinking water to the rights of non-citizens.

The report also notes the Sub-Commission's request for approval of the appointment of four new Special Rapporteurs on the topics of discrimination in the criminal judicial system; property restitution in the context of the return of refugees and internally displaced persons; indigenous peoples' sovereignty over natural resources; and the prevention of human rights violations perpetrated with small arms. In addition to requesting updated papers on existing subjects of investigation, several new subjects for investigation had been identified. Given that country-specific resolutions by the Sub-Commission have been banned, innovative procedural mechanisms for dealing with urgent cases of blatant human rights violations occurring throughout the world were adopted by the Sub-Commission, the report states.

Statement by Chairman of Sub-Commission on Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

PAULO SERGIO PINHEIRO, Chairperson of the 54th session of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, said that in the course of its fifty-fourth session, the Sub-Commission adopted 31 resolutions, 18 decisions, and one Chairperson's statement. The reinvention of the Sub-Commission, which now functioned as a think tank for the Commission, had proved remarkably successful. It had become not only a forum for the debate of new themes on the multilateral human rights agenda, but also a deliberative organ to provide a solid basis for the normative work of the Commission. The fifty-fourth session was preceded -- for the first time -- by a Social Forum, which addressed the issue of the realization of economic, social and cultural rights in the light of the ongoing process of globalization of the world economy. It was agreed that next year's the debate on ways of eliminating rural poverty should shed light on one of the critical aspects of implementing basic rights for all. Most importantly, the Social Forum represented another step towards encouraging further openness of the United Nations human rights system to civil society.

Mr. Pinheiro said that at its first session since the tragic events of 11 September, the Sub-Commission included specific references to terrorism in most of its traditional seven-item agenda, in particular when discussing the issue of the rule of law. Finding ways to reconcile the universal struggle against terror with the obligations imposed by international human rights norms would be one of the great challenges of the Sub-Commission's future work. The Sub-Commission requested the Commission to approve the appointment of four new Special Rapporteurs on pressing issues, namely: discrimination in the criminal judicial system; property restitution in the context of the return of refugees and internally displaced persons; indigenous peoples' sovereignty over natural resources; and prevention of human rights violations perpetrated with small arms. In addition, entirely new subjects were chosen for further investigation, including the impact of corruption on the realization and enjoyment of all human rights: the regulation of citizenship by successor States for national predecessor States. The Sub-Commission also had advanced significantly in drafting legal norms on the accountability of transnational corporations and other business enterprises vis-à-vis human rights obligations, especially with regard to economic and social rights.

Statements on the Question of the Violation of Human Rights Anywhere in the World

MAHMOUD NAZAR, of Arab Organization for Human Rights, said that while his organization had always focused on the internal circumstances leading to the violation of human rights, there were now two additional factors: the international campaign to fight terrorism and increasing foreign intervention. This negative general trend reflected on all central issues in the region including the rights of the Palestinian people as well as those of the Iraqi people, who now found themselves surrounded on all sides despite strong opposition to the war.

Soldiers and weapons had been gathered under the pretence that Iraq owned weapons of mass destruction, when Israel and North Korea both had these same weapons, yet received different treatment.

BANI DUGAL, of Baha'i International Community, said a year had gone by since the Commission had decided to suspend international monitoring of human rights in Iran. This had given the Iranian Government a chance to prove its claims that it was committed to improving human rights. Sadly, the there had not yet been the slightest sign of improvement in the situation of the Baha'is in Iran.

Not only had there been no progress, but their situation had worsened in some respects, as widespread use of arbitrary arrests and short-term detention had increased, Baha'i teachers and students had been harassed, more property had been confiscated and all attempts to obtain redress had been systematically denied. United Nations monitoring would have been of great use in this case. Without it, the Baha'i community in Iran would be subjected to even more widespread and grievous forms of persecution.

DISMAS KITENGE SENGA, of International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, said there were summary and arbitrary executions, violence against women, and acts of torture in Cote d'Ivoire. In Libya, there were systematic obstacles to the realization of fundamental freedoms, particularly the right to freedom of expression and opinion and the right to freedom of association. In the Central African Republic, war crimes and summary executions, rapes and systematic pillage must be the object of an international commission of inquiry. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an international commission of inquiry must be set up to shed light on serious human rights violations, especially those committed in Ituri, Goma and Kisangani.

In Zimbabwe, violence, arbitrary detention, torture and violations of the rights of human rights defenders, trade unions, lawyers and journalists must be condemned by a resolution of the Commission. In China, prisoners of opinion and conscience must be freed and freedom of expression, assembly, association and religion guaranteed. In the Chechen Republic, the much publicized referendum was held in conditions of insecurity, and numerous irregularities were revealed. A resolution must condemn systematic impunity and call for the prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against humanity by independent and impartial tribunals.

DAVID LITTMAN, of World Union for Progressive Judaism, said that his interventions at the Commission would continue until the day that all black Africans of South Sudan would be able to say they were free at last. An abducted person was, ipso facto, an enslaved human being, and tens of thousands still remained enslaved in Sudan today. Although hope for peace and an end to war-related human rights violations had been raised, progress made in the peace talks had been overshadowed by further war crimes committed during the IGAD-brokered cease fire by Sudanese armed forces and allied militias.

As the Special Rapporteur on Sudan noted, the human rights situation in that country had not fundamentally changed; therefore, it was essential that Sudan remain on the Commission's agenda.

JEMERA RONE, of Human Rights Watch, said attention must be paid to the human rights consequences of conflicts in Iraq, Chechnya and Sudan. In Iraq, Human Rights Watch called on all parties to the conflict to respect fully all international human rights and humanitarian law and take effective measures for the protection of civilians. The United Nations and humanitarian agencies must have full, safe and unimpeded access to all populations in need of protection and assistance.

The Commission must adopt a resolution on the Chechnya conflict, calling on the Russian Government to engage in a meaningful accountability process, and to issue long-due invitations to all relevant United Nations human rights mechanisms to visit. In Sudan, it was particularly important for the Special Rapporteur to continue his work alongside the peace negotiations to ensure that human rights were addressed adequately in the peace process.

MICHAEL ANTONY, of World Organization Against Torture, said that the organization was gravely concerned by setbacks to peace agreements in several countries, notably the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nepal and Burundi, which had led to serious deteriorations in the human rights and humanitarian situations there. WOAT was appalled by the widespread violations that were being perpetrated by the parties engaged in the conflict in the DRC, including extortion, arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detention, torture, rape, mutilations, forced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and massacres, with the casualties alone thought to number several hundred thousand persons since the beginning of the conflict.

In Nepal, similar grave and widespread violations were being perpetrated by the Government and Maoist rebels. In Burundi, violations committed by the Government and the FDD were rife and rising. WOAT was also gravely concerned by a serious deterioration in the human rights situation in Iran where there had been a stark increase in the number of harsh sentences, including flogging, amputation of limbs and executions.

PIERRE MIOT, of the International Federation of Rural Adult Catholic Movements, said that the effects of 11 September 2001 had been felt in the social situation in many countries through the creation of repressive measures on individual and collective freedoms in the name of combating terrorism. Moreover, activities to oppose the development and use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) were often characterized as illegal, though they were legitimate given the urgent need to find other solutions to the issues involved.

The right to opposition meant that certain militants and their organizations crossed the legality threshold to protect superior interests. In this instance, the concept of a "state of necessity" as established in French law might provide a useful reference. The Movement condemned all forms of repression that threatened life and human dignity and raised its voice strongly against all practices limiting democratic expression and the exercise of union and social rights.

EVA LAFTMAN, of International Save the Children Alliance, said she would like to draw the attention of the Commission on Human Rights to the continued plight of almost half of the entire population of Afghanistan B children. Save the Children had been working in Afghanistan since 1976. The combination of endemic poverty, acute drought, decades of civil war and continuous international strife had all had a profoundly negative impact on the lives of Afghan children and on their ability to secure their rights.

The Alliance urged the international community to ensure that a sufficient proportion of the funds pledged at the Tokyo Conference in 2002 were being allocated for the protection and advancement of child rights in Afghanistan and to ensure that such funds were effectively used and that progress was monitored. States and United Nations agencies were urged to provide adequate assistance to promote quality basic education and to ensure that not only access but also quality education was provided to all children in Afghanistan.

STEPHEN KOSTAS, of South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre, said Japan's treatment of prisoners was cruel, abusive and sometimes illegal. Standard Japanese prison practices included the use of a leather handcuff device that Amnesty International had compared with medieval instruments of torture. The device was often affixed tightly, resulting in severe abdominal injuries. In May 2002, a prisoner was killed by this device. Japan had stated that it would ban the device by September and the Commission should closely monitor whether it fulfilled this commitment.

While restrained, prisoners were forced to eat without their hands and to defecate through a hole cut in their pants. Japan was one of the only two industrialized democracies that used the death penalty. Currently, there were 57 people on death row waiting to be executed, and approximately 50 other inmates whose death sentences were under appeal. While awaiting execution, death row prisoners were kept in strict solitary confinement. They were not allowed to move about their cells, lean against the wall, or lie down. Inmates were not allowed to talk to their fellow prisoners or to guards. Communication with family members was severely restricted. Inmates were not notified that they would be executed until a few hours beforehand. Their families and lawyers, and the public at large, were not told of the act until after the execution.

RAMON CARDONA, of World Federation of Trade Unions, said the Government of Cuba's respect for human rights was contested precisely because the social process there aimed to provide a better future for all. This was an unacceptable goal to those who wanted to make a profit at all costs. It was inappropriate to persecute Cuba for its respect for human rights; the social achievements of Cuba were only a distant dream for most of the industrialized world.

The members of the Commission should not support the blockade against Cuba, whose sole purpose was to justify an attempt to wear a people down through poverty, hunger and disease. The World Federation endorsed provisions of the Commission resolution opposing the blockade, which imposed by the United States against Cuba. The blockade was extra-territorial and the struggle against it was founded on respect for an international system based on normative elements.

S. SHARMA, of Afro-Asian People's Solidarity Organization, said that when operation Enduring Freedom had been launched and the Taliban had been toppled, people in South Asia had felt a sense of relief that the region was finally going to emerge from a decade of religiously inspired violence and terrorism and the spread of repressive ideologies. The reality was that one of the critical players on whom the success of the operation hinged had refused to change its spots. The international community must conduct a cleansing operation in Pakistan because until this was done, no one, whether in South Asia or South East Asia or in the West, would be safe.

The ideology based in Pakistan that fostered extremist groups was like an ever-present simmering flame that must be completely extinguished or else embers would flare into a catastrophic fire that would engulf mankind.

Mr. SLUREVITCH, of United Nations Watch, said the Commission was terribly sick with diplomatic illness. Iraq accused the United States of committing a crime of genocide unprecedented in barbarity. However, everyone in the Commission knew who had committed the real genocide in history. Cuba had announced that it was ready to lead the charge to empty the last bits of meaning from this Commission. Appealing to its fellow human rights violators on the Commission, Cuba said,"We don't have to take this. We are in the majority". The tyranny of the majority -- that was what Cuba, which prevented its citizens from exercising basic political and civil rights, had proposed.

Cuba had called for Commission members to eviscerate the Commission and make George Orwell's doublespeak its official language. Thirty-one members of the Commission were also members of the community of democracies. Members of the Commission should stand together, not as regional groups, but as democracies, if the Commission was to be brought back from the precipice.

KADIR BUX JATOI, of International Institute for Peace, said Sindh was a province in southeastern Pakistan in which the human rights situation had deteriorated after the advent of the non-representative government brought in by the military in the October 2002 elections. There were weaker police and legal institutions, which led to increased crimes against women and the region's weaker communities. Instead, local "jirgas" had been set up to rule upon crimes; offenders were set free after paying meager amounts to the families of the victims.

Other types of human rights violations in Sindh included violations of the rights of peasants, who struggled under a stranglehold maintained by feudal lords; violations of the rights of minorities; political interference through the use of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to form political coalitions and to control factions posing resistance; and violations of press freedom.

JOEL BATILA, of International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic and Other Minorities, said that on repeated occasions the Federation had spoken about the violation of human rights in the territory of Cabinda. The Angolan Government was undertaking a cleansing operation of the people living in this territory. At this moment, a scorched-earth policy was being pursued by the Government, which also was carrying out arbitrary arrests and on-going exploitation of children. The people of the region were faced with a total instability, threatened on a daily basis by the Government.

In such situations, women and children were particularly vulnerably and often raped on a daily basis. The Angolan people had regained peace after so many years of war, but the Cabindan people were still aspiring to their legitimate right to self-determination. The Commission was urged to appoint a Special Rapporteur on the region in order to break the silence and find a solution to these human rights violations.

ARSHAD MEHMOOD KHAN, of World Peace Council, said serious human rights violations were being perpetrated in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir -- the so-called Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, or the Northern Areas. Rigged referenda and elections were routine events in military-ruled Pakistan. In Azad Kashmir, parties and candidates who stood for a sovereign, secular and democratic independent Jammu and Kashmir had been barred from participating in elections. During elections held in Gilgit-Baltistan, scores of public threats were issued by terrorist groups trained and supported by Pakistan warning people of dire consequences if they took part in the polls. Hundred of political workers belonging to democratic, secular and nationalist parties continued to languish in prison on false charges.

The Pakistani military-establishment had converted Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas into a sanctuary for international terrorists. The blatant discrimination by the Punjabi-speaking ruling elite against the people of Sindh and Baluchistan, the frequent and brutal attacks on Shi'as, Christians and other religions minorities and the subjugation of women had all been well documented by human rights organizations and the media.

TARIK RADWAN, of A Woman's Voice International, said North Korea and China had been ranked by Reporters Without Borders as the worst two countries on earth with respect to press freedom. China had barred access by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to its border regions so that North Korean refugees had no way to explain to the world the suffering they faced. Risking everything, some refugees attempted to seek refuge in other embassies as their prospects within China were severe exploitation, sexual trafficking, and repatriation. Delivered back to North Korea, an individual could expect, among other things, torture by State Security Agents and internment in a forced-labour or political prisoner camp.

The Chinese solution to its North Korean refugee population was to eliminate the refugee population. That China should flout its international obligations was shameful -- that it should do so in favour of a regime such as North Korea's tainted it all the more.

ANDRE BARTOLOMY, of Agir Ensemble pour les droits de l'homme, said her Organization had been working in various parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The recent visit of the Special Rapporteur, Ms. Motoc, had highlighted the unimaginable human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, particularly in the East, including massacres, rapes, torture, kidnapping, summary arrests and even cannibalism. These incidents had also been confirmed by the United Nations Mission to the DRC (MONUC).

In the face of these crimes, impunity reigned. This was because many of the violations were seen as mere incidents of war. Rebel groups had often established their own judicial systems which did not guarantee any human rights whatsoever. All Congolese non-governmental organizations called on the international community and the Commission to address the prevalence of impunity in the country. Moreover, the Security Council should establish a mission of inquiry into the situation, focusing on genocide.

LAZARO MORA SECADE, of Centro de Estudios Europeos, said the double standards applied by the Commission in denouncing human rights violations in different countries were most evident in debate on agenda item 9. No country seemed to be criticized for or accused of violating the rights to education, health and food, despite the fact that violations of these rights were often at the root of violations of civil and political rights.

The problem created by the armed aggression by the United States and Great Britain against the Iraqi people was probably the most serious problem faced by the United Nations system since its foundation. Despite televised evidence of indiscriminate bombings of numerous Iraqi cities, despite the many civilian victims and injuries, the Commission had proved incapable of having a special sitting on the violations of international humanitarian law there and on the violations of the human rights of the Iraqi people. The reason given by those opposed to the proposal was that a debate would be politicized. However, no one could cover up the fact that opposition to the debate was a serious manipulation aimed at preventing the Commission from calling for an immediate respect for the human rights of the Iraqi people and a withdrawal of foreign military forces from the territory of Iraq.

Maqbool AHMAD, of World Muslim Congress, said an adverse outgrowth of 11 September 2001 had been increased challenges to international humanitarian law and disregard for the United Nations. The self-serving interpretation of the Geneva Conventions to justify the denial of basic rights to those taken captive as prisoners of war, including the use of physical and psychological maltreatment, provided one example of this trend towards the dismantling of international humanitarian law.

Combating terrorism had become a useful excuse for Governments to cover their brutal responses to popular dissent and to label demands for human rights and national struggle as terrorism, including by the Russian Federation in Chechnya and by India in Kashmir and in reference to Indian Muslims.

Mohamed Mumtaz KHAN, of European Union of Public Relations, said the Commission needed to focus more attention on non-state actors involved in human rights abuses, violence, militancy and the targeting of civilians for political gains. Recent records indicated that non-state actors were being used by some States as their proxies within the State or against other States for political reasons, and in order to evade outside criticism.

Being a native of the disputed state Jammu and Kashmir, he felt it was his duty to enlighten the Commission about the human rights and political conditions in his region - Gilgit Baltistan - where democracy and human rights were denied for the people of the region, as well as for the majority of the people in Pakistan-controlled Azad Kashmir. A vast majority of unrepresented peoples' voices were being suppressed by the Pakistani regime that wanted them to speak out against the Indian-controlled part. The Commission was asked to appoint a special committee on Gilgit Baltistan to examine the situation and make recommendations for facilitating the democratic process.

ENVER CAN, of Transnational Radical Party, said the Uyghur people, who were natives of East Turkestan, would face extinction under the policy of colonization, assimilation, state terror and intimidation of the Chinese Government, unless the world community urgently intervened. Since 11 September, the Chinese Government had increasingly hijacked the terrorism issue to justify repression of the entire Uyghur population, including the further restriction of their political, social and cultural rights.

The ongoing gross violations of the rights of the Uyghur people included extra-judicial killings and torture, increased illegal transfer of the Han Chinese population into East Turkestan, the displacement of Uyghurs from their homes, the destruction of the Uyghur cultural heritage, abolition of Uyghur language teaching in higher level educational institutions, and tight control of worship and religious life, including the destruction and closing of mosques and unofficial religious schools.

Malik ozden, of Europe-Third World Centre, said that no State, no matter how powerful, which violated international standards of human rights should escape the condemnation of the international community. Yet at the current time the United States benefited from total impunity, as evidenced by the Commission's decision not to undertake a special session on Iraq, which also underlined the gulf existing between the desires of the world's peoples and their leaders.

The United States' impunity was also demonstrated by the embargo it had imposed against Cuba. This unilateral, unjustified and unjustifiable practice must cease. States members of the Commission should refuse to recognize unilateral coercive actions and take urgent measures against the United States and its allies to bring an immediate end to the war in Iraq, among other actions, or accept responsibility for the weakening of the United Nations.

Emilio GILOLMO, of Federación de Associaciones de Defensa y Promoción de Derechos humanos, condemned the unjust and illegal aggression unleashed against the Iraqi people. It was particularly repugnant since it involved violations of human rights of civilians and went against international humanitarian and human rights law.

Thousands of refugees from Western Sahara were living in terrible conditions in camps in Algeria. The Federacion called upon western Governments, particularly the Spanish Government, to attend to the situation. Men, women and children did not have enough to eat, and their health was starting to suffer tremendously. If this situation was not addressed, it was clear that the human rights of refugees meant little or nothing to the international community. The situation required a strong response from the United Nations if the mission of the United Nations was not to be totally undermined.

PHILIPPE BLANC, of Dominicans for Justice and Peace, said that the Puerto Rican island of Vieques had long been used by the United States Navy, NATO countries and arms manufacturers for military training and the testing of conventional and non-conventional weapons and munitions, including depleted uranium. The use of Vieques as a testing ground had been going on for 60 years. Bombing was carried out as often as 200 days a year.

These exercises were a violation of the economic, social and cultural rights of the people of Vieques and caused major degradation of the environment. Dominicans for Justice and Peace recognized the decision of the US Government to end the testing of weapons in Vieques and hoped that this would be achieved, as promised, by 1 May 2003. On the other hand, the organization was concerned at the failure of the US to commit itself to remedying the ecological devastation wreaked by those 60 years of war on the environment. Multiple studies showed that the presence of highly toxic materials, including depleted uranium and heavy metals, continued to endanger the health of the people of Vieques. Concern was also expressed at the refusal of the United States to commit itself to return more than half of all the land of Vieques that it had expropriated.

KAREN PARKER, of International Educational Development, Inc., said that the "shock and awe" campaign being carried out by the United States in Iraq blatantly violated the Charter of the United Nations and the provisions of the Geneva Conventions forbidding terrorism as a method of armed combat. Having pledged to combat terrorism, all States should implement their pledge to bring United States authorities to justice. The Commission should condemn the United States for material breach of the Charter and of the Security Council for the use of illegal weapons and methods of armed conflict, and for gross violations of human rights in Iraq.

While there had been positive developments between Indonesia and Acheh, the international community should focus on the disposition of Kashmir based on conformity with Security Council resolutions -- not based on the religion of the Kashmiri people.

THEO VAN DEN BROEK, of Franciscans International, said there were ongoing human rights violations in Papua, formerly called Irian Jaya, the easternmost province of Indonesia. The indigenous Papuans were among the most marginalized and victimized people in Indonesia. The Papuan people had a collective memory of 40 years of oppression and denial of their human rights, dignity and fundamental freedoms by the Government of Indonesia. Violations included a denial of their right of self-determination since the 1960s; racial and ethnic discrimination; exploitation and expropriation of their ancestral lands; and arbitrary detention, torture and extrajudicial killings for their political beliefs and opinions expressed. The Indonesian authorities used fear and intimidation to suppress and silence the Papuans.

The Government of Indonesia was urged to open up a political dialogue on the history of integration of Papua into the Republic, and to safeguard freedom of expression, including the peaceful expression of Papuans' political aspirations.

Rights of Reply

A Representative of Azerbaijan, speaking in right of reply, said that the real root of the conflict between his country and Armenia was known to all: during the last decade Armenia had been and was still attempting to annex historical Azerbaijani territory -- the Nagorno-Karabakh region. It was enough to recall the barbaric extermination of more than 600 peaceful inhabitants of the Azerbaijani town of Khojali, including women, children and elderly people, during one night from 25 to 26 February 1992. What could be the true worth of the words of the Representative of Armenia in view of the fact that in 1989 the Parliament of Armenia adopted a decision to annex part of the territory of another State -- the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan? Concerning the expression ethnic cleansing, which the representative of Armenia used, in the present territory of Armenia there was no person of Azerbaijani nationality but at the same time 30,000 Armenians were still living in Azerbaijan. This confirmed the fact that Armenia committed ethnic cleansing on its own territory in order to become a mono-national Republic.

A Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic, speaking in right of reply, said he would like to express his amazement at the Greek statement yesterday, as it related to the situation of human rights in Syria. Greece had completely overlooked the role played by Israel, as a country that had placed itself outside the law, as indicated in the testimony of non-governmental organizations, international organizations and Special Rapporteurs. However, Israel was viewed by the European Union as an oasis of democracy, a paradise in which human rights were respected; moreover, violations of human rights were committed by Member States of the European Union and its and associated countries on a daily basis, against populations such as asylum-seekers, minorities and refugees. Syria appreciated Greece's recognition of the extraordinary measures taken to improve human rights in Syria, but the state of emergency remained in place because of the Israeli occupation of Syrian land and the presence of Israeli armed troops only 50 miles from Damascus. It was hoped that the European Union would remember that Syria had signed the treaty of Barcelona.

A Representative of Lebanon, speaking in right of reply in response to Israel, said the latter was misguiding the Commission by having stated that there were no Lebanese detainees in Israeli prisons. There were Lebanese detainees in Israeli prisons who had not had recourse to proper administration of justice. This was a violation of human rights. In Israel there were indeed prisoner under administrative detention. Concerning information on the location of anti-personnel mines, Israel had provided some information but not information on the location of most of the land mines. Israel was misguiding the Commission and Lebanon insisted on receiving information on the remaining locations of the majority of land mines. Israel was a pure example of State terrorism.

A Representative of Pakistan, speaking in right of reply in response to a statement by India, said India had made a miserable attack against his country in order to deflect attention from its reign of terror in Kashmir. Before preaching on democracy, India should look at the ruthlessness with which Muslims were treated in India.

A Representative of Iraq, speaking in right of reply, said Iraq's "little brothers" from Kuwait were short-sighted, believing that through the use of financial resources they could corrupt the truth. Kuwait had hidden the fate of thousands of Iraqis, Jordanians and Syrians after the United States aggression in 1991 and had tried to prolong the invasion of Iraq. Kuwait would fail in its efforts. In reply to the statement made by Human Rights Watch, Iraq wished to say that the Special Rapporteur had been welcome to visit Iraq, but he had asked for the mission to be postponed. The Special Rapporteur had not come to Iraq to acquaint himself in person with the situation of human rights in the country; moreover, if he had been a neutral party, he should have spoken of the violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories. It seemed that certain quarters wanted those who did not support the views of the United States to have no human rights.

A Representative of Nigeria, speaking in right of reply in response to statements by Canada, New Zealand and Australia, said Nigeria was only mentioned in the Commission in relation to the application of corporal punishment and the death sentence by stoning under the Sharia law. Nigeria believed in the rule of law, accountability, good governance and transparency. However, these countries must not allow themselves to succumb to the general influence prevailing in most Western media leading to over-sensationalize and hysterically misrepresent facts in developing countries. The fact was that Nigeria was a federation of 36 states and the Constitution had given discretionary powers to states on certain legislative issues, including the enactment of laws. Some preponderantly Muslim States had decided to adopt and implement Sharia law.

A Representative of Nicaragua, speaking in right of reply, said that once again yesterday the Commission had witnessed the offensive rhetoric of Cuba. It was worth noting that, on 18 March, the Cuban authorities had arrested 60 Cubans for expressing their fundamental right of opinion. These detainees were expected to be sentenced to between 8 and 20 years in prison. Nicaragua urged the Commission to investigate human rights violations by Cuba, including atrocious cases of arbitrary detention. The Government of Nicaragua took action to strengthen democracy and promote a regime that promoted the rule of law and combated corruption in every possible way. Nicaragua called upon Cuba to establish a true democratic system.

A Representative of Kenya said in reply to a joint NGO statement made yesterday concerning the Nubian community in Kenya that the Government had never practiced any policy for the purpose of discriminating against any person. The Kenyan Constitution was explicit in its prohibition of discrimination against any individual on any grounds. Some of the difficulties cited yesterday were administrative in nature and could be experienced by any Kenyan resident. The majority of Nubians had been fully integrated into Kenyan society. However, the Government had made the decision to address these administrative issues in a comprehensive manner. For example, Kenya's land commission was expected to address injustices experienced by the Nubians and other communities in Kenya.

A Representative of Yemen, in reply to a statement by the NGO Arab Organization of Human Rights, clarified that the group mentioned did not represent the leadership but had been a terrorist group. This group, as had been proved, had been involved in the explosion in Aden as well as the explosion of a French vessel. This group had received all the legal safeguards for a just trial but they had elected to continue their terrorist activities. The group was in possession of explosives and arms and several Yemeni soldiers had died in confrontations with the group. The group had been arrested by force. In conclusion, there was complete freedom under the Constitution of Yemen. However, this terrorist group had been condemned since it functioned outside the law and outside Muslim values.

A Representative of Ethiopia said Eritrea was responsible for gross human rights violations and Ethiopia denounced the fact that the Representative of Eritrea had interrupted the Ethiopian Representative during his exercise of his right of reply yesterday.

A Representative of Eritrea said that the issue of war crimes, crimes against humanity and aggression, raised yesterday, had been addressed by the delegation of Eritrea during the past five years. But this issue would have to be addressed with tribunals in the near future and then the world would see who stood accused. Such issues had been raised to distract from the central issues of the final and binding decision of the Border Commission and the peace and development of the region. It was time for the Commission to add its voice to that of the Secretary-General in insisting that both parties faithfully abide by the decision of the Commission.

A Representative of Cuba said in response to the statement of Nicaragua that the lies of Nicaragua had been exposed clearly yesterday. The Government of Nicaragua should be true to the history of its people and stop reading out anti-Cuban messages as ordered by the Government of the United States and the Miami mafia. Banana republics must pay attention to what was happening in Cuba. Instead it seemed that Nicaragua had folded under the pressure of the anti-Cuban sentiments of North America.

A Representative of Angola refuted allegations made by the International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic and Other Minorities, saying that a representative of a separatist organization had infiltrated that NGO delegation. Angola had the right to defend its territory and to combat the armed rebellion. International opinion knew exactly who practiced torture in Angola. The separatist movement raped women and girls and perpetrated massacres.

A Representative of India said the right of reply just made by Pakistan represented a flight of fancy, completely divorced from decorum and propriety, among other qualities. The delegation of India would not respond to such fulminations of an overworked imagination.

A Representative of Japan, replying to the statement of the Democratic People=s Republic of Korea, said the act of forcefully abducting innocent civilians and forcefully taking them to another territory was a violation of human rights which must be considered by the Commission. The fact that DPRK was not taking positive or concrete steps to redress the issue of missing persons was sketchy and spoke for itself.

A Representative of Kuwait said Kuwait refuted allegations by Iraq that there were still Iraqi prisoners in Kuwait, noting that the minutes of the Commission and the summit at Sharm Al Sheik indicated that Kuwait had provided all necessary information on the subject to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

A Representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, speaking in response to Japan, said that the DPRK categorically rejected the Japanese delegate's allegation aimed at misleading the Commission. The DPRK remained ready to resolve all issues pending between two countries. However, Japan had ignored these sincere attempts in favor of provocations designed to internationalize bilateral issues. The DPRK felt compelled to urge Japan to make it clear whether or not Japan would observe its bilateral agreements. It was high time for Japan to make clear its real intentions.

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