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SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 41st MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Tuesday, 16 April 2002, at 10 a.m.
Chairperson : Mr. JAKUBOWSKI (Poland)
CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS, INCLUDING THE QUESTIONS OF:
(a) TORTURE AND DETENTION
(b) DISAPPEARANCES AND SUMMARY EXECUTIONS
(c) FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
(d) INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY, ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE, IMPUNITY
(e) RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE
(f) STATES OF EMERGENCY
(g) CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION TO MILITARY SERVICE (continued)
1. The CHAIRPERSON said he took it that the Commission wished to take action on the draft decision submitted by Pakistan at the previous meeting.
2. Mr. LEVY (Observer for Israel) said that the draft decision was one more example of the singling out of Israel, in a series of one-sided resolutions and he urged speakers to refrain from using inflammatory language and from using the Holocaust to illustrate their political points. The matter of sending a visiting mission to the Middle East, led by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, had already been discussed. Adopting another resolution against Israel was superfluous and would not be helpful.
3. Massacres were being perpetrated against innocent Jewish victims. The previous week, a suicide bombing in Jerusalem had killed 6 passengers at a bus station and wounded 64. What had occurred at the Jenin refugee camp had been severe fighting, in which 23 Israeli soldiers had been killed and many more had been wounded, largely because of the suicide tactics used by the Palestinians. The Palestinians, who had fought off the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) for six days, had buried their own dead in mass graves. The IDF had had nothing to do with it.
4. The Israeli Supreme Court had recently received an appeal from two human rights organizations and two members of Parliament and, on 15 April 2002, had ruled that the IDF was prohibited from removing and burying the bodies of Palestinians killed in the fighting. The IDF had committed itself to the Supreme Court to enable the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to participate in the location, identification, documentation and photographing of bodies. Representatives of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society were expected to participate in that important humanitarian task. There was reason to believe, however, that some of the bodies had been booby-trapped, so it was essential to proceed carefully.
5. His Government fully supported the important mission of the United States Secretary of State, who was currently visiting the area in an attempt to stabilize a ceasefire and help the parties to resume negotiations. Israel had announced that it would withdraw within days from all the major cities and villages in the West Bank.
6. Mr. RAMLAWI (Observer for Palestine) asked why the IDF had closed the towns and camps in which it was carrying out military operations if it were not to hide the crimes and massacres perpetrated against the Palestinian people. He also asked why the IDF had invaded the Jenin refugee camp, causing casualties on both sides.
7. An ICRC representative had compared the situation in Jenin to atrocities he had witnessed during the Second World War. Other reports indicated that the situation was comparable to the 1982 massacres at the Shabra and Shatila refugee camps, also masterminded by Ariel Sharon. It was unrealistic to think that the Palestinians would cause such devastation to their own people. His delegation had made no false allegations. The Israeli Prime Minister was the criminal responsible for the massacres.
8. Mr. SALLOUM (Syrian Arab Republic), speaking on a point of order, said that the Commission should proceed directly to the vote. Giving the observer for Israel the opportunity to reply at that stage of the meeting was against the rules of procedure.
9. The CHAIRPERSON said that, while he did not wish to delay the voting procedures, he considered that the observer for Israel, a concerned country, should be given the opportunity to reply to the specific questions put by the representative of Palestine, in order to clarify the situation as much as possible.
10. Mr. PEREZ-VILLANUEVA y TOVAR (Spain), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that he supported the Chairperson’s decision to give the floor to the observer for Israel.
11. Mr. LEVY (Observer for Israel), replying to the questions by the representative of Palestine, stressed that Israel had nothing to hide in the Jenin refugee camp. He drew attention to the fact that the media had been invited into the camp and that humanitarian agencies were working there. The IDF had entered that particular camp because 23 Palestinian suicide bombers had set out on their missions from it. Many tons of explosives had been found in laboratories there. Much of the damage in Jenin had been caused by would-be suicide bombers who had tied dynamite to themselves.
12. Mr. RAMLAWI (Observer for Palestine) said that the Jenin camp had been closed to the media until the IDF had hidden all the evidence. If the IDF had entered the camp at Jenin simply because it had been a source of suicide bombers, then it must explain the occupation of other Palestinian territories. The Palestinians would not surrender and considered fedayeen acts to be a legitimate response to the occupation.
13. Mr. AKRAM (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said that the Commission should act on the draft decision without delay because of the gravity of the situation and because the question of the Middle East had already consumed so much of its time.
14. He had taken into account the views expressed in the Commission and had changed the word order of the first operative paragraph and had deleted the word “authentic” from the third. He hoped that the revised decision would meet with the Commission’s approval. It would read:
1. Expresses its deep dismay that its resolution 2002/1 of 5 April 2002 has not been implemented, due to the absence of a positive response from the occupying Power, even though the human rights situation in the Palestinian occupied territory has continued to deteriorate.
2. Calls for the immediate implementation of its resolution 2002/1 of 5 April 2002.
3. Urges the High Commissioner for Human Rights to report urgently to the Commission on Human Rights on the deteriorating human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory on the basis of reports from all concerned organizations present in the occupied territories.”
16. At the request of the representatives of Canada and Guatemala, a recorded vote was taken on the draft decision.
In favour: Algeria, Armenia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Burundi, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Togo, Uganda, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zambia.
Against: Canada, Guatemala.
Abstaining: Argentina, Cameroon, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland, Russian Federation, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
17. The draft decision, as orally revised, was adopted by 41 votes to 2, with 9 abstentions.
18. Ms. GERVAIS-VIDRICAIRE (Canada) said that, although her delegation was deeply concerned about the human rights situation in the occupied territories, it had voted against the decision because it had serious reservations regarding the nature of the proposed observer mission and considered that resolution 2002/1 did not accurately reflect the full context of the current situation in the region.
19. Her delegation had repeatedly stated that, in order to make a positive contribution to the search for peace, third-party monitoring must be accepted by both parties. As yet, the parties involved had not indicated that they would accept such a mission.
20. The maintenance of international peace and security was the responsibility of the Security Council, which was also the most appropriate body to pursue any such initiatives. She urged the other United Nations organs to take a step back, or risk undermining the work of the Security Council, the initiatives of the United States Secretary of State and the recent joint statement issued in Madrid by the European Union, the United Nations, the Russian Federation and the United States.
21. Mr. LEWALTER (Germany) said that, while his delegation supported the visiting mission of the High Commissioner to the occupied territories, it had abstained from voting because it took the view that the mandate contained in the decision had not been formulated in a balanced way and did not reflect the concerns expressed at previous meetings.
38. Mr. WISHAH (Palestinian Centre for Human Rights), speaking also on behalf of the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment (LAW), said that, as the instance of last resort, the Commission was looked to by the Palestinian people for the alleviation of their sufferings. He wished to apologize for the time and effort spent in the Commission discussing Palestine at the expense of other important issues. However, the fight for the cause of Palestine was a fight for the cause of all the oppressed peoples of the world. As a Palestinian, he had known what it was like to be a victim, having spent over 15 years in Israeli jails and having met a great many other Palestinians who had suffered the same fate. On behalf of all Palestinian prisoners and victims he called upon the Commission, as the conscience of the world, to help put an end to their sufferings.