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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS

HR/CN/1063
29 March 2004

INDEPENDENT EXPERT TELLS COMMISSION THAT EXTREME POVERTY NEGATES ALL RIGHTS
Numerous NGOs Speak as General Debate
Concludes On Worldwide Human Rights Situation
(Reissued as received.)

GENEVA, 29 March (UN Information Service) -- The Independent Expert on extreme poverty told the Commission on Human Rights this morning that such poverty amounted to an absolute denial of human rights wherever it occurred.

The Expert, Anne-Marie Lizin, presenting a final report on the topic, said her principal recommendations were as follows: the recognition of the indisputable responsibility of the State on the territory of which the extremely poor populations lived; the need for a programme of “good laws”, including a system of social security which would insure health, employment and retirement risks; a restructuring of States aimed at good governance; a guaranteed minimum income; access for all to education and health; a reinforcement of the role and power of women; micro-credit; and a listening policy with regard to poorer populations.

Ms. Lizin’s remarks came as discussion began on the subject of economic, social and cultural rights.  Earlier in the morning general debate was completed under the Commission’s agenda item on the question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, annually the Commission’s most contentious topic of discussion.

Charging that abuses were occurring in numerous countries, forty-two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) spoke.  In addition to raising charges against specific countries, NGOs remarked on a series of trends and themes.  The General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists said the development of religious extremism and intolerance in many parts of the world was alarming.  International Save the Children Alliance said education was a priority, especially for girls.  The Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organization said that among the major impediments to the effective enjoyment of human rights was indiscriminate violence unleashed against innocent civilians by non-State actors.  And the Himalayan Research and Cultural Foundation termed it “amazing” that so many authoritarian States claimed to be democracies.

Contributing statements at the morning meeting were representatives of the following NGOs: International Religious Liberty Association; Centro de Estudios Europeos; World Peace Council; General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; International Save the Children Alliance; South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre; American Association of Jurists; World Alliance of Reformed Churches; Society for Threatened Peoples; North-South XXI; Lutheran World Federation; European Union of Public Relations; Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organization; International Association against Torture; Federation of Cuban Women; Movimiento Cubano por la Paz y la Soberanía de los Pueblos ; Liberation; Becket Fund for Religious Liberty; International Educational Development; Himalayan Research and Cultural Foundation; World Federation of Trade Unions; African Society of International and Comparative Law; International NGO Forum on Indonesia Development; World Union for Progressive Judaism;and International Association for the Defence of Religious Liberty.

Also, Médecins du Monde International; International Human Rights Association of American Minorities; World Muslim Congress; National Union of Jurists of Cuba; International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations; International Union of Socialist Youth; Worldview International Foundation; International Islamic Federation of Students Organizations; Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”; Voluntary Action Network India; Comité international pour le respect et l'application de la charte africaine des droits de l'homme et des peuples ;Centro de Estudios Sobre la Juventud; Organization for Defending Victims of Violence; Al-haq, law in the service of man speaking on behalf of Habitat International Coalition; Netherlands Organization for International Development and Cooperation; International Institute for Peace; and Movement against Racism and for Friendship among Peoples.

Cyprus and Belarus spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Commission will reconvene at 3 p.m. for general debate under its agenda item on economic, social and cultural rights.

Statements on Violation of Human Rights around World

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ANWAR YASSINE, of North-South XXI, said he was from the southern Lebanon and wished to give the Commission his testimony about the torture that he had suffered while inside Israeli prisons.  He had been living a peaceful life until the savage Israeli occupation occurred.  Israel had invaded southern Lebanon, killing women and children and imprisoning hundreds of youth.

His family was displaced and exiled; it lost its resources and livelihood.  When taken prisoner, he had been subjected to severe torture, beaten on all parts of his body, kicked and insulted.  The Israelis used to force him to stand for long hours with chains on his arms and legs.  They splashed him with hot water followed by cold water and then left him wet and exposed during the winter for whole days and sometimes until as late as midnight.

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DAVID LITTMAN, of World Union for Progressive Judaism, said the Commission should address the alarming wave of anti-Semitism which today characterized not only Europe but a growing part of the Arab/Muslim world.  Europe’s reaction to this scourge had so far been disappointing, with Islamists permitted to openly preach their anti-democratic values in the heart of Europe.

At the beginning of the 21st century, terrorism, anti-Semitism, racism and jihad had become globalized, and the consequences affected all.  The struggle against these evils was an indivisible part of the campaign for human rights across the globe. 

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MURIEL MINGOT, of Al-haq, law in the service of man speaking on behalf of Habitat International Coalition, said the NGOs were greatly disturbed by the swiftly deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.  One of the most disturbing developments of the past year was the construction of the annexation wall, which would snake through the West Bank to encompass Palestinian land and illegal Israeli settlements on the “Israeli” side, while excluding indigenous Palestinians.  Its construction had already involved the confiscation of thousands of acres of Palestinian land, including fertile agricultural land and critical water resources.  At least 40 per cent of the West Bank would be de facto annexed by the Wall once it was completed.

This construction had also aggravated violations of fundamental human rights, such as the rights to freedom of movement, property, adequate housing, work, livelihood, family, water and access to public goods and services including education and health.  In addition to the wall, Israeli authorities had systematically implemented other ongoing restrictions on Palestinians’ movement.  Such restrictions had a grave impact on all aspects of Palestinian life.

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CORRIGENDUM

The statement of the International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination appearing in press release HR/CN/04/21 should read as follows:

HANAN SHARFELDDIN, of International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, said the apartheid wall under construction by the fanatic Zionist forces in Palestine was clear evidence of the fascist and racist policies that had been fought by the international community all over the world.  The wall would harm not only Palestinians, but also would harm Israelis and isolate them.

Israel remained above the law and ignored the rest of the world because of the blind and unconditional support given the country by the American Administration.  NGOs and members of the Commission would undoubtedly stand firm against this racist apartheid wall, and against double standards when dealing with Israel, since the approach violated all of the principles humanity had worked so hard to uphold.

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