Question of Palestine home
Economic and Social Council
13 January 2003
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Item 11 (b) of the provisional agenda
CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS, INCLUDING THE QUESTIONS OF
DISAPPEARANCES AND SUMMARY EXECUTIONS
Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
Report of the Special Rapporteur, Asma Jahangir, submitted pursuant to
Commission on Human Rights resolution 2002/36
The present report, which is submitted pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution 2002/36, covers information received and communications sent by the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in the period from 2 December 2001 to 1 December 2002, unless otherwise stated. The report is divided into five sections, focusing on different aspects of the problem of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and contains the Special Rapporteur’s observations on issues falling within the purview of her mandate.
1. This report is submitted pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolutions 2001/45 and 2002/36. It is the fifth annual report submitted to the Commission by Ms. Asma Jahangir, and the twentieth submitted since the mandate on summary and arbitrary executions was established by Economic and Social Council resolution 1982/35.
14. The Special Rapporteur has particular regard for the individual complaints she receives, as they offer an important channel for victims, their families and members of civil society to have their voices heard. Reports of incidents form the basis of the Special Rapporteur’s communications to Governments and they lend further credibility to the supplementary information she receives. She wishes to point out that the figures presented below only give an indication of the situation regarding her mandate. They do not reflect the entire picture.
15. The amount of information received is overwhelming. It has to be selected, categorized, analysed and checked before being communicated to the Governments concerned. So far, the Special Rapporteur has been selective in sending communications, basing her criteria on sufficiently detailed information, as well as the nature and seriousness of the allegation.
16. A summary of all cases transmitted to Governments as well as summaries of replies received can be found in addendum 1 to this report.
17. During the period under review, the Special Rapporteur transmitted 188 urgent appeals on behalf of several thousand persons and several groups of people to the following countries: Algeria (1), Argentina (6), Azerbaijan (1), Bangladesh (2), Bolivia (1), Brazil (7), China (7), Colombia (29), Costa Rica (1), Cuba (1), Democratic Republic of the Congo (1), Ecuador (2), Equatorial Guinea (1), Ethiopia (1), Georgia (1), Ghana (1), Guatemala (27), Haiti (2), India (2), Indonesia (4), Iran (Islamic Republic of) (2), Iraq (2), Jamaica (3), Japan (1), Kazakhstan (1), Kyrgyzstan (1), Liberia (1), Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (2), Mexico (14), Mozambique (1), Namibia (1), Nepal (1), Nicaragua (2), Nigeria (5), Pakistan (2), Paraguay (1), Peru (3), Philippines (1), Russian Federation (1), Saudi Arabia (2), Singapore (1), Sri Lanka (1), Sudan (6), Sweden (1), Tajikistan (1), Thailand (1), Tunisia (1), Turkey (2), Uganda (1), Ukraine (1), United States of America (21), Uruguay (1), Uzbekistan (1) and Venezuela (4). She also sent three urgent appeals to the Palestinian Authority.
18. A total of 128 urgent appeals were transmitted jointly with other mechanisms of the Commission on Human Rights, such as the Special Rapporteur on torture, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, the Chairman-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders. As in previous years, the Special Rapporteur welcomes this development, which to a large extent is due to the enhanced coordination between the various mechanisms of the Commission as facilitated by the newly established Quick Response Desk in OHCHR.
19. The Special Rapporteur further transmitted 56 letters of allegation
regarding violations of the right to life of a large number of individuals and groups to the Governments of the following countries: Algeria (1), Argentina (2), Azerbaijan (2), Bolivia (2), Cameroon (1), China (1), Colombia (3), Egypt (1), Ethiopia (1), Georgia (1), Germany (1), Greece (1), Guatemala (1), Honduras (2), India (2), Indonesia (2), Israel (1), Kyrgyzstan (1), Mexico (1), Myanmar (2), Nepal (2), Nicaragua (1), Pakistan (2), Peru (1), Philippines (1), Russian Federation (2), Sierra Leone (1), Spain (1), Sri Lanka (2), Sudan (1), Thailand (1), The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1), Tunisia (1), Turkey (1), Ukraine (1), United Arab Emirates (1), United States of America (1), Uruguay (1), Uzbekistan (2), Venezuela (2), Yemen (1) and Zimbabwe (1). Allegations were also transmitted to the Palestinian Authority regarding three cases of alleged violation of the right to life.
20. The Special Rapporteur wrote more than 29 letters of allegation jointly with other mandate holders, in particular the Special Rapporteur on torture, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders.
21. During the period under review, the following Governments sent replies to urgent appeals or communications addressed to them by the Special Rapporteur during or prior to the reporting period: Algeria, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Georgia, Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Iraq, Jamaica, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Russian Federation, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, United States of America, Venezuela and Yemen. The Special Rapporteur wishes to express her appreciation to those Governments which have provided comprehensive replies to her communications for their cooperation. Regrettably, some Governments have replied only in part or on an irregular basis to her enquiries.
22. She is concerned that the Governments of Bolivia, Cameroon, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Greece, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Namibia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe did not reply to any of her communications and requests for information during the reporting period. The Palestinian Authority did not reply to any of the communications sent.
27. At its fifth special session on the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories in October 2000, the Commission on Human Rights adopted resolution S-5/1 in which it requested the Special Rapporteur, together with a number of other mandate holders, to carry out immediate missions to the area concerned and to report on their findings to the Commission at its fifty-seventh session and, on an interim basis, to the General Assembly at its fifty-fifth session. The Special Rapporteur continues to follow events and will pursue her request for a visit with the Government of Israel. In this connection, the Special Rapporteur takes note of a letter from the Permanent Observer for Palestine to the United Nations Office at Geneva dated 26 January 2001, urging the Special Rapporteur to carry out her mandate under resolution S-5/1 as soon as possible. During the reporting period the Special Rapporteur continued to follow closely the development of the situation in Israel and the occupied territories. On 12 April she issued a press release expressing her alarm and concern at reports of alleged extrajudicial and summary executions by Israeli forces in connection with operations in the Jenin refugee camp. The Special Rapporteur has written repeatedly to the Government of Israel requesting a visa, so as to enable her to visit the country in the exercise of her mandate. The most recent of these letters was sent on 22 June 2001. So far, the Government has not agreed to this request.
V. CONCLUDING REMARKS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
During the last 12 months the world has generally not witnessed an improvement in the situation with regard to extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
Reports of past systematic and widespread extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions that may constitute crimes against humanity continue to be received from Afghanistan. There has been little progress in addressing the issue of transitional justice in the country.
Resorting to extrajudicial killings in order to fight terrorism is a worrying precedent and an issue of serious concern. There are also reports of Governments and their agents misusing their authority and using excessive force against unarmed civilians in the guise of fighting against terrorism.
There are growing reports of threats and extrajudicial killings of journalists. These must be taken notice of and specifically condemned. It is also an issue of great concern that human rights defenders, lawyers, students, trade union officials and judges are apparently being increasingly targeted.
eath threats against human rights defenders have been reported
n a number of countries. It is alleged that these death threats are in connection with the work of the victims, who either expose human rights violations committed by security forces, powerful members of the Government or the Government itself. NGOs supporting individual witnesses to extrajudicial killings or torture have also reported receiving death threats.
Special forces, intelligence services and the military accused of extrajudicial killings often enjoy impunity and are rarely held accountable for their acts.
Deaths in custody are reported in a number of countries but appear to be more problematic in countries where either localized or other forms of conflicts exist and in countries where the democratic process has remained in its infancy. Incidents of deaths in custody, even in disputed circumstances, are either not investigated or poorly investigated.
The death penalty continues to be applied without due care for the safeguards and restrictions imposed by international guidelines and customary law.
Governments have begun in some cases to pay greater attention to the killing of women in the name of honour, but in other cases the pattern of institutionalized impunity continues.
The recommendations presented in the Special Rapporteur’s previous report (E/CN.4/2002/74) as well as her report to the General Assembly (A/57/138) should be considered as still valid and read as part of the present report. In addition, the Special Rapporteur wishes to present the following recommendations in the hope that they will receive attention.
Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions often occur during the period leading up to a conflict and in many cases spill over into the post-conflict period. A greater focus and effort need to be concentrated on preventive actions, so that violence does not escalate or turn into armed conflict.
Many reports submitted to the United Nations, including those of all the Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, have constituted early warnings of deterioration in particular situations where extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions could escalate. Regrettably, these warnings have not been responded to effectively. A stronger system of response to early warnings must be conceptualized and made effective.
The Special Rapporteur has addressed the issue of dealing with past suspected crimes against humanity in the report on her mission to Afghanistan.
The Special Rapporteur encourages organizations of journalists to keep the United Nations human rights mechanisms informed of any incident of human rights violations, in particular death threats, imminent danger to their lives, or incidents of extrajudicial killings.
The military should be used for internal security demands as a last resort, if at all. Special forces and intelligence agencies must constantly be kept in check and made accountable to a high-level committee or institution.
When imposing or executing the death penalty, the safeguards and restrictions contained in international guidelines and customary law must be respected in each and every case.
Governments must end systematic and institutional impunity for those who kill women in the name of honour and so-called morality.
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