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SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 25th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Monday, 29 March 2004, at 10 a.m.
Chairperson : Mr. SMITH (Australia)
(a) QUESTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN CYPRUS (continued)
(a) QUESTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN CYPRUS
(agenda item 9) (continued ) (E/CN.4/2004/28 and Add.1, 29-31, 32 and Corr.1, 33-35, 36 and Add.1 and 118; E/CN.4/2004/G/25; E/CN.4/2004/NGO/5, 18, 53, 80, 91, 102, 118-120, 127, 143, 150, 157-176, 180, 181, 184, 190, 202, 203, 208, 213, 218, 228, 245, 254, 256 and 260; E/CN.4/Sub.2/2003/SR.3-5)
15. Mr. YASSIN (North-South XXI) said that, as a Lebanese citizen, he had led a peaceful life until his village had suffered a savage occupation, during which he and his family had been displaced and hundreds of young people imprisoned. He had joined the Lebanese resistance in order to defend his homeland and his people, in accordance with the rights enshrined in several international conventions. He had been taken prisoner on 16 September 1987 and had been tortured, beaten all over his body and left in the open air for hours on end. He had been interrogated for three months, and during that time had been denied sleep and sunlight. He had been forced to stand for many hours, splashed with water and left outside, sometimes until midnight. A representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who had visited him had been moved to tears, as the visit had followed a session of harsh torture.
16. He had been sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment by the Israeli courts and had been released on 29 January 2004, during a prisoner exchange between Hizbullah and Israel. The Israeli authorities, while claiming to be guided by democratic principles, had confiscated his private diary and personal papers, including messages he had received from friends and ICRC while in detention. During his 17 years in prison, he had witnessed gross violations of human rights, including hostage-taking and the death of Palestinians through torture.
17. His comrade Samir Al-Kantar, who had been detained for 26 years, had been excluded from the exchange operation in 2004 in order to be kept as a hostage. He urged the Commission and the entire international community to call for the release of Mr. Al-Kantar and all the Arab detainees, to investigate the cases of those who had disappeared and to find the corpses of those who had been martyred.
22. Mr. WAREHAM (International Association against Torture) said that the United States and the Group of Western European and Other States acted as if they were not subject to the same rules of international law and norms as other Member States. Yet, the United States was guilty of violations in every sphere of human rights.
23. For example, the Bush Administration had shamelessly exploited the events of 11 September 2001, fanning the flames of racism and xenophobia, to implement an agenda of restriction of civil liberties in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Furthermore, the United States had recently sanctioned Israel’s extrajudicial execution of Sheikh Yassin and forced the removal of President Aristide of Haiti. In 2002, it had underwritten the failed attempt to overthrow Venezuela’s President Chavez and for 40 years had used every possible clandestine method in its attempts to assassinate Cuba’s President Castro. It was holding prisoners of war at Guantánamo Naval Base in violation of all international norms and had sanctioned Zimbabwe for having exercised the right to self-determination by returning stolen land to its rightful owners.
24. The conclusion to be drawn was that, despite the Vienna Declaration, there continued to be two standards of human rights in the Commission: one for the developed world and another for the developing. The United States should be held accountable for its violations, beginning with the adoption of a resolution condemning it for its role in the overthrow of President Aristide of Haiti and one calling for the appointment of a special rapporteur to examine the situation in the United States.
70. Ms. MINGOT (Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man), also speaking on behalf of Al-Mezan and Habitat International Coalition, and supported by the World Organization Against Torture, drew attention to the serious violations of international law and deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Israel had built a wall that had annexed at least 40 per cent of the West Bank, which not only constituted an unlawful acquisition of land, but also aggravated restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom of movement and access to essential services. Moreover, Israeli security forces continued to use torture on detainees, including women and children, and to conduct unfair trials and destroy civilian homes.