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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS

HR/CN/1016
2 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.

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Statements on Violation of Human Rights Anywhere in World

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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Rights of Reply

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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