Press Release

Commission on Human Rights
23 March 2005


Concludes General Debate on Violation of
Human Rights in Occupied Arab
Territories, Including Palestine


Earlier, the Commission concluded its general debate on the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine after hearing from the following non-governmental organizations: International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists; North-South XXI; International Save the Children Alliance; National Union of Jurists of Cuba; Simon Wiesenthal Center; Federation of Cuban Women; Habitat International Coalition; Women's International Zionist Organization;
Medecins du monde international; Movimiento Cubano por la paz y la Soberanía de los Pueblos; and Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions.

Syria and Lebanon exercised their right of reply at the end of the general debate on that item.


The Chairperson of the Commission, Ambassador Makarim Wibisono of Indonesia, reopened agenda 1 entitled "Election of Officers" to allow the Commission to elect a new Vice Chairperson from Ukraine to replace the current Vice Chairperson Anatoliy Zlenko, who was unable to continue his functions. Volodymyr Vassylenko was elected.

When the Committee concluded its midday meeting at 3 p.m., it immediately started an afternoon meeting from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. during which it continued with its general debate on the question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world, including the question of the human rights in Cyprus.

Documents on the Question of the Violation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in Any Part of the World

Under its agenda item on the question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world, the Commission has before it a report on the
question of human rights in Cyprus (E/CN.4/2005/30) prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The report covers the period up to 31 December 2004 and provides an overview of human rights issues in Cyprus. It notes that despite some recent positive developments, the persisting de facto partition of the island constitutes a major obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights by all Cypriots throughout the island. The situation of human rights in Cyprus, the report continues, therefore would greatly benefit from the achievement of a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

There is also the report of the Secretary-General on
cooperation with representatives of United Nations human rights bodies (E/CN.4/2005/31) which notes that during the period under review, reports of intimidation and reprisals against private individuals and groups who seek to cooperate with the United Nations and representatives of its human rights bodies have continued to be received. Of particular concern is the continued seriousness of such reprisals as victims suffer violations of the most fundamental human rights, including the right to mental and physical integrity, to liberty and security of person, and, at worst, the right to life. The gravity of reported acts of reprisal reinforces the need for all representatives of United Nations human rights bodies to continue to take urgent steps to help prevent the occurrence of such acts, the report states.

General Debate on the Question of the Violation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in Any Part of the World


Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Organization (OIC), ...


The Organization of the Islamic Conference was deeply concerned at the continued occupation of the Palestinian territories. Over the past forty-two months, that had caused countless deaths of innocent civilians including women and children. The OIC called for the full implementation of the
resolution 425 and the withdrawal of Israel from all occupied Lebanese territories including Shebaa farms. The continued detention of Lebanese civilians in Israeli prisons also remained a source of concern for the OIC. ...


General Debate on the Question of the Violation of Human Rights in the Occupied Arab Territories, Including Palestine

International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, said the report of the Special Rapporteur was far from objective in assessing the impact of the sustained campaign of mortar attacks coupled with the suicide bomb attacks mounted from the Palestinian centres of population on Israel civilian targets with which the Israeli Defence Forces had had to contend. That hopelessly one-sided litany of accusations exceeding in tone and content the unbalanced and distorted presentation earlier reports, failed to grasp the essence of the problem to which the decision of the Israeli authorities to construct the security and separation fence responded.

North-South XXI, said the issue of the Lebanese, Palestinian and Arab detainees in Israeli prisons needed to be addressed. There was grave concern about the remaining Lebanese detainees in Israel, about Israel's continued concealment of the fate of scores of Lebanese missing persons, and about the bodies of deceased Lebanese nationals who were taken into detention and transferred by Israel to Israeli prisons during the occupation of Southern Lebanon. They were being held as bargaining pawns. There were also more than 7,500 Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli prisons, including women and children. The Israeli Government should ensure that all prisoners were given prompt, regular and unrestricted access to family, lawyers and doctors and were not subjected to torture and/or other ill-treatment.

International Save the Children Alliance, said four key issues constrained the fulfilment of children's rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, including closures, child detainees, protection and human rights monitoring. Closures and curfews violated children's rights by restricting their movement, and hence their rights to education and access to quality healthcare services. Furthermore, 750 Palestinian children had been arrested by the Israeli military in 2004, most accused of stone throwing. Many of those arrested had been subjected to degrading treatment. Israel should immediately halt its policy of child arrest and discontinue its unlawful treatment of Palestinian children in detention centers and prisons. Moreover, children's right to survival and development was being violated as the current situation put children at risk of being injured or losing their lives. Some 154 Palestinian children, and 11 Israeli children, had been killed in 2004. Finally, while there was broad recognition of the need for enhanced monitoring of children's rights in the occupied territories, little progress had been made in identifying clear steps.

National Union of Jurists of Cuba, said her organization could not underline enough the situation of the Palestinian people and their suffering. The genocidal Government of Israel continued to apply illegal practices against the Palestinian people. There had been many victims of what mounted to war crimes by Israel. The United States should speak unequivocally and without double standards against the crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinian people.

Simon Wiesenthal Center, said item 8, in its one-sidedness and single-country bashing, was emblematic of the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's description of the Commission's credibility deficit and need for restructuring. The Commission had a responsibility to focus on a scourge that had been sidelined in this debate, which was terrorism and the violation of the human rights of its victims. By discrediting the death-mongers and emphasising the paramount respect for life and hope, the Commission was invited to empower the human rights of the victims of terrorism who should be the central subject of today's debate, a focus that might just help to redeem the integrity of the Commission.

Federation of Cuban Women, said due to Israeli actions in building the wall, hundreds of roads had been torn up, hundreds of thousands of people had been prevented from going to their schools and places of worship, and the means of existence of Palestinians was being destroyed. Women, in particular, suffered from high unemployment. More than 5,000 Palestinian homes had been destroyed by Israeli demolitions, and more than 2,000 boys and girls had undergone traumatic experiences of being arrested and mistreated in Israeli detention centres. Israel was armed to the teeth with a fascist mentality that outdid even that of Hitler's Nazism. The United States and Israel sought to eliminate the resistance of the Palestinian people. For its part, the United States had used the veto power 29 times against Security Council resolutions aimed at ending the extermination of an entire nation. However, the people of Cuba maintained that no war, no siege, no cruelty would staunch the Palestinians' struggle for their rights.

Habitat International Coalition, said Israel facilitated the violation of Palestinian individual and collective land rights by imposing its discriminatory domestic laws, confiscating the occupied people's property including land, water and other natural resources. Palestinian and Israeli organizations had made significant efforts to prevent the above-mentioned violations through contacts with military bodies or by approaching the Israeli High Court but in vain, and in spite of the International Court of Justice's opinion that the settlements and separation wall were in violation of international law. The international community and the members of the Commission bore a responsibility under the principle of international cooperation to remedy these violations, and failure to do so perpetuated hostility in the region, and destroyed faith in the entire system of international law and legitimacy among the wider public.

Women's International Zionist Organization, said that her organization's main objective was to care for children, especially those from deprived backgrounds, and to improve the status of women in every sphere. To respect and accept the "other" was the primary focus of this work. Conflict prevention was more important to that end than conflict resolution, for which purpose the organization had organized a Children's Peace Day at the European Council in Strasbourg. It brought together Christian, Muslim and Jewish children. Human rights education was the key to successful conflict prevention. Women in general believed in restraint of aggression, she added; 95 per cent of all crimes were committed by men. Women would mould the peace process, and the most significant work was in teaching children. Children should be educated toward understanding the points of view of others, and endeavouring to reach out.

Médecins du monde international, said her organization had been present in the occupied territories since 1995 and had been carrying out programmes to improve the right to health of the Palestinian citizens. Since June 2002, the construction of the wall has worsened the health situation of the Palestinian people. Her organization had set up a programme with local partners to remedy this situation. The health system was in peril due to the wall which also broke down family links; it also had had a psychological impact. Moreover, the people guarding the wall had no medical knowledge. Regular access to hospitals had been suspended for virtually 200,000 Palestinians. The wall was also a violation of international human rights and humanitarian law. Medecin du Monde called for the ruling of the International Court of Justice to be implemented as a matter of urgency. The construction of the wall had disastrous effects on the physical and mental health of the population within.

Movimiento Cubano por la Paz y la Soberanía de los Pueblos, said the tenacity of the Palestinian people was admired as they had fought for independence with great dignity and skill and relentless resistance. There should be solidarity so that in the course of the negotiations, a true peace plan could be achieved. The Zionist Government of Israel sought to find shameful capitulation. The unity and capacity of the Palestinians would shatter those pretensions. Israel should comply with all resolutions passed by the international community.

Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, said there had been a dramatic and horrifying escalation of housing demolitions, destruction of property, and expropriation of land in the occupied Palestinian territories in the last year. In May 2004, Israeli military forces had demolished 298 buildings in Rafah, leaving more than 3,700 people homeless. Forty Palestinians had died as a result of that incursion, as crops, greenhouses and farm equipment had been destroyed and damaged. The Rafah incursions were only part of a series of operations in which homes and property had been destroyed as a collective punishment. Homes had also been demolished as part of clearing operations, and for having been built without a permit. These housing demolitions took place in the broader context of annexation of Palestinian land through a complex legal system, which sanctioned discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, as well as against the residents of the occupied territories. The construction of the security fence was the latest of these developments, which allowed for settlement expansion and destruction of Palestinian land and forced displacement of Palestinians from their land.

Right of Reply

Syria), speaking in exercise of the right to reply, said Syria was surprised by the accusation lodged against his country by the United States which was politically motivated. It was clear that the United States had used its Security Council veto several times to block action which aimed to condemn Israel. Syria called on the United States, which was a sponsor of the 1991 Madrid declaration, to follow the principles of the Madrid Conference and to be a full-fledged partner for peace in the Middles East. All resolutions calling for international legitimacy should be applied. It was important to indicate that the Syrian presence in Lebanon was in line with United Nations resolutions as well as with previous United States' administrations. The Syrian Government had been redeploying from Lebanon since 2000 and at present there were only 9,000 Syrian soldiers present. The Secretary-General's Special Envoy, in his meeting with the President of Syria yesterday, said the meeting had been very fruitful.

Lebanon), speaking in a right of reply, said the interest of other countries for the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon was appreciated, but those in charge of independence and sovereignty were the people of Lebanon. The only invasion suffered by Lebanon had been that by Israel. As for the relationship with Syria, every Lebanese today and in the future wished to preserve the brotherly relations in the framework of the independence of both countries. The presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon was legitimate and temporary, and their withdrawal had begun. Words of excessive zeal would not be of assistance. All resolutions adopted on the Middle East should be implemented, as should the principles of the Madrid Conference in order to ensure a just and lasting peace.
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