Press Release

1 April 2003


Special Rapporteurs on Democratic Republic of the Congo and Iraq,
Personal Representative on Cuba, and Justice Minister of Congo Speak

(Reissued as received.)

GENEVA, 1 April (UN Information Service) -- The Commission on Human Rights heard this morning from the Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the Republic of Congo and from Special Rapporteurs assigned to investigate the human rights situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Iraq, and from a Personal Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights appointed to look into matters in Cuba.  General debate also was heard as the Commission continued consideration of its agenda item on the "Question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world".


Address from the Podium

JEAN MARTIN MBEMBA, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the Republic of Congo, ... The situation in the F continued to be worrisome and the Commission was bound to consider it seriously in order to put an end to the upsurge in violence and to enable the Palestinian people finally to exercise their right to self-determination.  Racism continued to cause great suffering.  This was why the Commission must accord particular importance to the follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action of the World Conference against Racism. 


General Debate on Question of Violation of Human Rights Anywhere in World

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


The full-scale invasion and reoccupation of Palestinian territories by the Israeli defence forces over the past 30 months was a source of deep anguish for the Islamic world.  The OIC strongly condemned Israel's use of force and its attempts to undermine Palestinian national institutions and the Palestinian elected leadership and called upon the international community to put an end to Israeli aggression.  ...


TASSOS KRIEKOUKIS (Greece), speaking on behalf of the European Union and acceding countries of the European Union, said the European Union was concerned over all human rights violations in the world.  It was particularly concerned about situations in Burma/Myanmar, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iraq, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the Republic of Chechnya, the Sudan, Timor Leste, Turkmenistan and Zimbabwe.  With regard to Iraq, while the international community was faced with a new situation with the beginning of the military conflict, the European Union reaffirmed its concerns about the systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations of human rights and of humanitarian law by the Government of Iraq.


AYMAN RAAD (Syria) said that at the turn of the Millennium, one had thought that many changes would come with it, including improvements in the human rights situation.  However, violations of human rights had continued and even doubled.  Syria regretted that the developing countries were targeted by some developed countries as violating human rights.  This implied selectivity in human rights.  Israel had continued to violate the human rights of Palestinians in the occupied territories and that of Syrians in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The occupying power had denied civilians in the occupied territories their basic rights.

The silence of the Western countries concerning human rights violations by Israel was regrettable.  Israel had rejected all peaceful settlements.  Israel should accept these peace initiatives, including the one adopted by the Arab Summit in Beirut.  The Security Council had also adopted resolutions calling on Israel to abide by international instruments.  Countries who claimed to be champions of human rights should be relentless in insisting that Israel respect its international obligations.  The recent military aggression against Iraq was also deplorable.  Civilians and residential areas had been targets of the aggression.

Rights of Reply


A Representative of Israel, speaking in right of reply, said it appeared that three days of discussion on item 8 were not sufficient for Syria and the OIC.  Did the time allotted for item 8 not suffice?  Maybe yet another statement on Israel was aimed at avoiding discussion of other human rights violations that were not convenient for Syria and the OIC.  Did Syria and the OIC ask themselves why Israel had been compelled to build a security fence and enter some territories and install roadblocks?  It was because of terrorism that such actions needed to be taken.  Just yesterday Israel reported on a suicide bombing in Netanya.  The OIC would do well if it condemned unequivocally terrorism and suicide bombings.


A Representative of Palestine, speaking in right of reply, said he had not intended to respond to the Representative of Israel.  However, he was unable to remain silent in the face of Israeli aggression and allegations.  Israel was an aggressor country, and only when this aggression was put to an end would the human rights of the Palestinian people be respected.  The Palestinian people were faced with military occupation -- it was a crime against humanity and a violation of human rights.  Only when the aggression ended would the resistance end.

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For information media - not an official record