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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS

HR/CN/01/48
11 April 2001


COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS STARTS DEBATE
ON SPECIFIC GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS

Introductions Made to Reports of Special Rapporteur on Migrants,
Board of Trustees of UN Voluntary Trust Fund
on Contemporary Forms of Slavery


The Commission on Human Rights this evening started its debate on specific groups and individuals, with special emphasis on migrant workers, minorities, mass exoduses and displaced persons, and other vulnerable groups and individuals.

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At the beginning of the evening meeting, the Commission concluded its debate on the rights of the child. A long list of non-governmental organizations decried violations of the rights of children. There was repeated condemnation of, among other issues, the Israeli violence against Palestinians in the occupied territories, including Palestinian children; the effect of globalization on children's rights in developing countries; the effect of the sanctions on children in Iraq; the Chinese educational system for Tibetan children; and Mauritanian children deported to Senegal and Mali. One NGO noted that trafficking of children was a human rights issue and not only an issue of crime prevention and migration. Other issues raised concerned juvenile justice systems, child soldiers, and child labour.

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Speaking under the agenda item on the rights of the child were the following NGOs: Nord-Sud XXI, Federation of Cuban Women, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Franciscans International, All-China Women's Federation, World Organization against Torture, International Federation Terre des Hommes, World Federation of United Nations Associations, International Save the Children Alliance, Defence for Children International, Femmes Afrique Solidarite, Friends World Committee for Consultation, International Union of Socialist Youth, International Council of Jewish Women, International Association for the Defence of Religious Liberty, Arab Organization for Human Rights, Human Rights Advocates, Himalayan Research and Cultural Foundation, Society for Threatened Peoples, Worldview International Foundation, International Human Rights Law Group, International Federation of Free Trade Unions, Consortium for Street Children, Islamic African Relief Agency, Interfaith International, New Human Rights, Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, World Muslim Congress, International Young Catholic Students, World Federation of Democratic Youth, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, and Indian Movement Tupaj Amaru.

The Commission will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 12 April, to continue its debate on specific groups and individuals.

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Statements under the agenda item on the rights of the child

IRENE BRUSCA, of Nord-Sud XXI, noted the ongoing brutal onslaught by Israeli forces against the Palestinian civilian population, including children. This had resulted in an alarming deterioration of the respect for international human rights standards and instruments ratified by the Government of Israel. Israel had justified today many of its actions in the name of security, however, as long as systematic State-imposed human rights violations continued against the Palestinian people, peace and security would not be attained. To date, Israeli forces had killed 397 Palestinians, of whom 104 were under 18 years of age. Over 6,000 children were injured, and many of these children would be permanently disabled. The international community should ensure that Israel abide by provisions of international humanitarian law and human rights instruments that the State had ratified, and it should ensure international protection for the Palestinian people by pushing for the creation of an international protection force by the Security Council to be deployed in the occupied territories.

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ELIAS KHOURI, of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, said in a joint statement that the children of Iraq had been victims of the unfair embargo against that country for the last 10 years. Palestinian children were victims of the Israeli occupation and its military actions. In Iraq, statistics showed that a child under five died every seven minutes. The destruction of schools had reduced the quality of education. Many children -- 53 per cent -- no longer attended schools. Before 1991, Iraq's educational system had been one of the most developed in the Middle East. The destruction of the Iraqi people was being carried out under the cover of the UN Security Council. Almost every day the people of Iraq suffered from bombardment by the United States and British forces. The World Health Organization was concerned about the use of depleted uranium during the Gulf War by the United States on the Iraqi people. The Commission should adopt a resolution calling for the abolition of the embargo on Iraq.

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NAZAR ABDELGADIR, of the Arab Organization for Human Rights, said that Palestinian children had been the targets of Israeli bullets. Several children had been deliberately killed on their way to school. The act of Israeli forces was a genocide and a crime which should be condemned by the international community. Attention should also be paid to the situation of Iraqi children who were suffering from the sanctions imposed against the Iraqi people. The number of children dying because of the embargo had been rising since 1990. The rate of maternal death and infant mortality had increased The basic necessities which were needed for children were lacking. The Commission should do its utmost in repeal the sanctions and to allow Iraqi children to enjoy their rights.

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