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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS

HR/CN/990
26 April 2002

 COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS CONCLUDES FIFTY-EIGHTH SESSION


Appoints Special Rapporteur on Right to Health; Establishes Working
Groups on Durban Declaration, Discrimination Faced by African Diaspora

(Reissued as received.)


GENEVA, 26 April (UN Information Service) -- The Commission on Human Rights concluded today its six-week session for 2002, having debated a wide series of human rights matters and having decided to appoint a new Special Rapporteur on the right to health and to establish two new Working Groups related to the outcome of the World Conference against Racism, held in September 2001 in Durban, South Africa.  The first is an intergovernmental Working Group to make recommendations on the effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, and the second, a Working Group of five independent experts to study problems of racial discrimination faced by people of African descent living in the Diaspora following the slavery period.
 
Problems posed by racism figured prominently in the Commission's deliberations.  The Commission decided to establish a voluntary fund to provide, among other things, additional resources for the effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.  And it requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to submit an analytical report at its next session on the extent of implementation of the Programme of Action of the Third Decade to Combat Racism.
 
Also extensively discussed during the Commission's fifty-eighth session were the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and the effects on human rights of efforts to combat international terrorism in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States.
 
The Commission condemned the frightening increase in the loss of life during the invasion of Palestinian cities and villages by Israeli forces under way even as the Commission met, and following an afternoon's "special sitting" on the topic requested High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson to head a mission to travel immediately to the area and return expeditiously to submit its findings and recommendations.  When the High Commissioner later reported she was unable to carry out the mission, the Commission expressed deep dismay that the trip had not been possible due to the "absence of a positive response from the occupying power" and even though "the human rights situation in the Palestinian occupied territory had continued to deteriorate".  A later resolution on the topic deplored again the refusal of Israel to allow the visit and endorsed a proposal by the High Commissioner for Human Rights for a comprehensive investigation into breaches of human rights and international humanitarian law during the Israeli military campaign in occupied Palestine.
 
In addition, resolutions were passed as in previous years reaffirming the right of Palestinians to self-determination;  strongly condemning violations by Israeli occupation authorities of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem; and expressing concern at continued Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine.
 
On the topic of anti-terrorism efforts, the Commission adopted a resolution on "combatting defamation of religions" which among other things expressed deep concern that Islam was frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and with terrorism.  And it requested the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief to examine the situation of Muslim and Arab peoples in various parts of the world with special reference to physical assaults and attacks against their places of worship, cultural centres, businesses and properties in the aftermath of September 11 and to submit a preliminary study on the matter to the fifty-ninth session of the Commission.
 
In presenting her annual report to the fifty-eighth session, High Commissioner Robinson said she was concerned that counter-terrorism strategies pursued after the Sept. 11 attacks had sometimes undermined international standards and had suppressed or restricted such individual rights as those to privacy, freedom of thought, presumption of innocence, a fair trial, and free expression and peaceful assembly.
 
And United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in an address to the Commission on 12 April, said security against terrorism could not be achieved by sacrificing human rights -- that "to try and do so would hand the terrorists a victory beyond their dreams".

[...]

      Country-by-Country Examinations of Situations of Human Rights

Under this agenda item, the Commission:
 
-- called in a resolution on the human rights situation of Lebanese detainees in Israel for the Government of Israel to refrain from holding the detained Lebanese citizens incarcerated in its prisons as hostages for bargaining purposes and to release them immediately; affirmed the obligation of Israel to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross and other international humanitarian organizations to visit the detainees regularly; called upon the Government of Israel to submit to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon all maps of landmine fields laid throughout civilian villages, fields and farms; and requested the Secretary-General to bring this resolution to the attention of the Government of Israel and to call upon it to comply with its provisions.

[...]

 
Report of High Commissioner for Human Rights

Under this agenda item the Commission:
 
[...]
 
-- condemned, in a resolution on the situation in occupied Palestine, the frightening increase in the loss of life in occupied Palestine; the invasion of Palestinian cities and villages, the arrest and detention of Palestinians, the restrictions on the movement of residents, as well as personnel of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, medical personnel, human rights defenders and journalists, the refusal of humanitarian access to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, and the systematic destruction of homes, installations and infrastructure in the territory as reported by the High Commissioner for Human Rights; and requested the High Commissioner to head a visiting mission that would travel immediately to the area and return expeditiously to submit its findings and recommendations to the current session of the Commission.
 
-- expressed its deep dismay, in a decision on the situation in occupied Palestine, that its resolution 2002/1 of 5 April 2002 had 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 territories had continued to deteriorate; called for the immediate implementation of the resolution; and urged the High Commissioner for Human Rights to urgently report to the Commission on the deteriorating human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories on the basis of reports from all concerned organizations present in the occupied territories.
 
-- in a second resolution on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, deplored the denial by Israel of the proposed visit of the team headed by High Commissioner for Human Rights; took note of the report submitted by the High Commissioner providing details of reports of the gross widespread and flagrant violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people and the utter disregard for international humanitarian law by the Israeli forces in their operations in the occupied Palestinian territory; expressed deep concern at the grave humanitarian situation of the Palestinian civilian population; condemned the continuing gross, widespread and flagrant violations of human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel; endorsed the proposal by the High Commissioner for Human Rights for a comprehensive investigation into the breaches of human rights and international humanitarian law; and called upon Israel to ensure full respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.
 
[...]


      Human Rights in Occupied Arab Territories, including Palestine

Under this agenda item, the Commission:
 
--  in a resolution on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, called upon Israel, the occupying power, to comply with relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council, in particular the Council resolution deciding that the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan was null and void; determined that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken or to be taken by Israel that purported to alter the character and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan were null and void and constituted a flagrant violation of international law and the Geneva Convention  and had no legal effect; and called upon member States not to recognize any such measures and requested the Secretary-General to report to the Commission on the subject at its fifty-ninth session.
 
-- affirmed, in a resolution on the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine, the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to resist the Israeli occupation; strongly condemned the practice of "liquidation" or extra-judicial executions carried out by the Israeli army against Palestinians; the establishment of Israeli settlements and other activities, such as the construction of new settlements and expansion of existing ones, the expropriation of lands, the biased administration of water resources, and the construction of bypass roads; the use of torture against Palestinians during interrogation; expressed grave concern at the restriction of movement imposed on President Yasser Arafat; called upon Israel to desist from all forms of violation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory; and called upon it to implement the recommendations in the reports of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory.
 
-- and in a resolution on Israeli settlements in the occupied Arab territories, expressed grave concern at the dramatic escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which had led to a spiral of hatred; expressed concern at continuing Israeli settlement activities; strongly condemned all acts of violence, in particular indiscriminate terrorist attacks over the past weeks, killing and injuring civilians; urged the Government of Israel to comply fully with previous Commission resolutions on the subject and to prevent any new installation of settlers in the occupied territories.
 
Right of Peoples to Self-Determination

Under this agenda item, the Commission:
 
-- reaffirmed, in a resolution on the situation in occupied Palestine, the unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to establish their sovereign and independent Palestinian State; and looked forward to the early implementation of that right.

[...]

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