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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS


26 April 2002

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS ADOPTS MEASURES ON THE SITUATION IN OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY, COLOMBIA, CHILDREN


Commission on Human Rights
58th session
26 April 2002
Afternoon

Also Adopts Measures on Organization of the
Work of the Session, Concludes Fifty-Eighth Session


The Commission on Human Rights this afternoon adopted a resolution on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, a Chairperson's Statement on the situation in Colombia, and a resolution on the Rights of the Child at the last meeting of its fifty-eighth session.

In a resolution on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, adopted by a roll-call vote of 33 in favour and 1 opposed, with 19 abstentions, the Commission expressed deep concern at the grave humanitarian situation of the Palestinian civilian population following the invasion by Israel of Palestinian cities and camps, especially Jenin Camp, and condemned the continuing gross, widespread and flagrant violations of human rights of the Palestinian people by the occupying power, Israel. The Commission also endorsed, in this context, the proposal by the High Commissioner for Human Rights for a comprehensive investigation into the breaches of human rights and international humanitarian law.

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In a resolution (E/CN.4/2002/L.116) on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, adopted by a roll-call vote of 33 in favour and 1 opposed, with 19 abstentions, the Commission deplored the denial by Israel of the visit of the team headed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in defiance of Commission resolution 2002/1 and decision 2002/103; took note of the report submitted by the High Commissioner (E/CN.4/2002/184) 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 following the invasion by Israel of Palestinian cities and camps, especially Jenin camp, and condemned the continuing gross, widespread and flagrant violations of human rights of the Palestinian people by the occupying power, Israel; endorsed, in this context, the proposal by the High Commissioner for Human Rights for a comprehensive investigation into the breaches of human rights and international humanitarian law; called upon Israel to ensure full respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, especially the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War; called upon the international community to provide urgent and adequate humanitarian assistance for the reconstruction of the areas in the occupied Palestinian territory destroyed by Israeli military operations; and decided to continue its consideration of this question in the light of further developments in the occupied territory.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Bahrain, Brazil, Burundi, Chile, China, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Togo, Uganda, Venezuela, Viet Nam and Zambia.

Against: Guatemala,

Abstentions: Austria, Belgium, Cameroon, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Uruguay.

ANDREA NEGROTTO CAMBIASO (Italy) said his country had voted in favour of the resolution on the mission of the High Commissioner and totally endorsed the report of the High Commissioner which called for an end to the unbearable suffering of the Palestinian people, as well as calling for accountability on both sides for the tragic events in the region. No mention had been made of terrorism in the resolution, nor had the need for both sides to be accountable been mentioned. Italy would therefore abstain in the vote on the draft resolution while wholeheartedly wishing the High Commissioner success in the difficult mission ahead.

KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) said that the Government of Japan was gravely concerned about the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. Japan attached great importance to the efforts of the international community to put an end to the spiral of violence. While the Government of Japan was sympathetic to the general thrust of the resolution, it felt that several paragraphs were not balanced. Japan said it would abstain.

MARIE GERVAIS-VIDRICAIRE (Canada) said her country was concerned about the situation in the Middle East; the parties in the conflict should be encouraged to come back to the negotiating table; the use of inflammatory words in the text was not useful; and for that reason Canada would vote against the resolution.

JORGE VOTO-BERNALES (Peru) said his country agreed with the High Commissioner on the need to protect human rights in the region and deplored that the High Commissioner had not had access to the region. However, Peru did not concur with all the provisions in the draft resolution, particularly the unbalanced nature of some provisions. Both sides needed to be accountable. Peru supported an exhaustive investigation of human rights violations as proposed to the Commission by the High Commissioner and regretted that operative paragraph 4 failed to capture the full mandate of the High Commissioner.

WALTER LEWALTER (Germany) said that his country supported the decision adopted on 5 April. Germany welcomed the report of the High Commissioner and was still examining it. Even a first reading, convinced Germany that the High Commissioner had tried to present the situation in a balanced way. This balance was absent in the resolution. While sharing in the concern about the Middle East and the violence there, Germany would abstain on resolution L.116.

JUAN ENRIQUE VEGA (Chile) said that his delegation would vote in favour of the resolution.

ALVARO MENDOCA E MOURA (Portugal) said that from a procedural and a substantive view, the draft was a consequence of previous resolutions. There needed to be accountability on both sides and there was an urgent need for a comprehensive investigation, and draft L.116, particularly operative paragraph 4, had seemed to endorse this. In the past Portugal had supported resolutions which sought to eliminate impunity, and Portugal had been ready to vote in favour of the draft. However, given the discussions this morning, Portugal would have to abstain on the vote on the draft resolution before the Commission. Portugal stressed that there needed to be accountability on both sides

GUSTAVO ALBIN (Mexico) said that it was disturbed at the humanitarian crisis in the occupied territories. Mexico agreed with the report of the High Commissioner that argued that peace could be achieved only through respect for human rights and international law. All parties should face up to their responsibilities and make sure that violations of the human rights of both Palestinians and Israelis were prevented. Mexico supported the proposal to carry out an investigation on violations of human rights and humanitarian law with the full cooperation of both parties. It was in this context that Mexico would vote in favour of L.116

CARLOS PEREZ DEL CASTILLO (Uruguay) said his delegation would abstain because of the inflexibility of the co-sponsors of the resolution. The co-sponsors did not change the ambiguity of the resolution so that everybody would have voted in favour of it.

JOSE VALENCIA (Ecuador) said his country acted in full defense of human rights and it believed that one needed to consider all human rights violations. Ecuador supported the High Commissioner's objective approach and had every confidence that action would be taken and it would vote in favour of the draft resolution. However, it had been noted that the words "in the context" were manifestly ambiguous. It was stressed that all human rights violations, particularly those against civilians, needed to be looked into.

EUI-YONG CHUNG (the Republic of Korea) said that it had voted in favour of resolution 2002/1 and was sympathetic to the deep concern expressed by the co-sponsors of L.116. It was with great regret that the Government decided to abstain because the draft resolution did not call for accountability from all sides. However, the Republic of Korea would continue to support an investigation of human rights violations.

AUDREY GLOVER (the United Kingdom) said her delegation was unable to support the draft because it was not balanced, however, it would abstain. The United Kingdom supported the Secretary-General's inquiry mission to the region. The United Kingdom reiterated its call for an Israeli withdrawal from the areas it recently occupied and the cessation of hostilities.

GEORG MAUTNER-MARKHOF (Austria) said his country had abstained on the resolution because of difficulties with some of its provisions which lacked balance. It was stressed that there were clear merits to an investigation by the High Commissioner. Such an investigation must be impartial and comprehensive and unfortunately this was not made clear enough in the resolution.

HORACIO SOLARI (Argentina) said his country condemned terrorism in all its forms. For this reason, it would have liked to see this reflected in L.116. Regrettably this was not the case. Argentina would have also liked to see better language used in operative paragraphs three and four. Nevertheless in view of the scale of the violations, Argentina would vote in favour.

JEAN-MARIE NOIRFALISSE (Belgium) said his delegation had regrettably abstained from the vote. The resolution had omitted mentioning the fight against impunity and other important aspects.

SHARAT SABHARWAL (India) said his delegation's vote was in recognition of the situation in the region. The situation had been characterized by an increase in the loss of life and a sharp increase in human rights violations. India did not believe in acts of terror, and believed that the greatest need of the hour was moderation paving the way for a return to the negotiation table. It was hoped that the Commission would keep this in mind when taking further action on this issue.

TOUFIK SALLOUM (Syria) thanked all those who had voted in favour of the resolution. The resolution reaffirmed the need to investigate the inhuman war crimes committed against the Palestinian people by the Israeli official and unofficial forces. Syria said that it did not understand why some countries considered the resolution unbalanced. The suffering of all was due to the Israeli occupation.

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