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18 May 2000

18 May 2000

      The Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories will visit Egypt, Jordan and Syria from 18 to 31 May to receive views as to conditions in the occupied territories affecting human rights.

      The Special Committee plans to hold hearings in Egypt between 19 and 21 May and in Jordan from 23 to 25 May. While in Jordan, it was the Committee's intention to interview persons from the West Bank at the King Hussein Bridge. The dates for the Special Committee's hearings in Syria have been scheduled from 27 to 30 May 2000.

      The Special Committee was established in December 1968 by General Assembly resolution 2443 (XXIII). It is composed of three Member States: Sri Lanka (Chairman), Senegal and Malaysia. Sri Lanka is currently represented by John de Saram, the Permanent Representative of that country to the United Nations Office in New York. Senegal is represented by Absa Claude Diallo, the Permanent Representative of that country to the United Nations Office at Geneva. Malaysia is represented on the Committee by Hasmy Agam, the Permanent Representative of that country to the United Nations Office in New York.

      The territories to be considered as occupied territories for the purposes of the Special Committee's mandate currently are the occupied Syrian Arab Golan, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), and the Gaza Strip.

      Since its establishment, the Special Committee has repeatedly tried to obtain the cooperation of the Government of Israel but has consistently been denied such cooperation and thereby access to the occupied territories. However, the Committee has been able to benefit from the cooperation of the Governments of Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Without direct access to the occupied territories, the members of the Special Committee decided to base their reports on relevant articles appearing in the Israeli press as well as articles appearing in the Arab press published in the occupied territories. In addition, the Special Committee includes in its reports excerpts of testimony gathered during visits to the neighbouring States from persons having first-hand and recent experience of the human rights situation in the occupied territories. The Committee also formulates conclusions containing its evaluation of the situation as well as recommendations.

      The Special Committee holds three annual meetings. The second series of meetings is combined with a mission to the area. The Special Committee will adopt its annual report during the third series of meetings scheduled to take place in August 2000. This report will be presented to the fifty-fifth session of the General Assembly this year.

      The Special Committee has so far presented 31 annual reports to the General Assembly. The latest annual report was adopted on 8 September 1999, document A/54/325. Since 1989, the Special Committee has also submitted each year two periodic reports to the General Assembly in addition to its annual report.

      The Special Committee's mandate was renewed again for an additional year on 22 February 2000 by General Assembly resolution 54/76.

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