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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS

Fifty-ninth General Assembly
Third Committee
26th & 27th Meetings (AM & PM)
GA/SHC/3793
27 October 2004

NEED TO PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS WHILE FIGHTING TERRORISM STRESSED, AS THIRD COMMITTEE
HEARS REPORTS ON TORTURE, EXECUTION, RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, RIGHT TO FOOD

No Executive, Legislative, Judicial Measure Authorizing Torture,
Cruel Treatment Could Be Considered Lawful under International Law, Expert Says


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Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to continue its consideration of questions of human rights.  It was expected to hear presentations by, and hold dialogues with, the following special procedures of the Commission on Human Rights:  the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (presenting his report contained in document A/59/324); the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (presenting his report contained in document A/59/319); the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of religion or belief (presenting her report contained in document A/59/366); the Special Rapporteur on the right to food (presenting his report contained in document A/59/385); the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants (presenting her report contained in document A/59/377); and the Independent expert on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

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Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Executions

Participating in the subsequent dialogue with the Special Rapporteur were the representatives of the Netherlands (on behalf of the European Union), Egypt, Venezuela, Switzerland, Afghanistan, Cuba, Côte d’Ivoire, Singapore, Iran, Colombia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Finland, Norway, and China, as well as the Observer of Palestine.

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In the specific case of the assassination of Sheikh Yassin, a public correspondence had occurred between the Special Rapporteur and the Government of Israel, he said.  The lack of an explicit reference to Israel in the paragraph did not constitute an attempt to conceal anything.

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Statement by Special Rapporteur on Right to Food

JEAN ZIEGLER, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, said that realizing the right to food would require combating hunger through policy.  According to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s latest report, 842 million people continued to be gravely and permanently undernourished; yet the world already grew more than enough food to feed the global population. 
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Finally, on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, he underlined the humanitarian tragedy affecting the 3.8 million Palestinians living there.  A recent United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) report had indicated that 22 per cent of Palestinian children were permanently malnourished and that 85 per cent of water in Palestinian aquifers had been diverted to illegal Israeli settlements in contravention of the Geneva Convention.  Although it had been condemned by the International Court of Justice, the construction of the security barrier continued and had led to the destruction of hundreds of arable, Palestinian-owned acres.  The international community had attempted to alleviate the dramatic humanitarian and food situation in the occupied territories, yet it continued to deteriorate from month to month.  Israel had every right to defend itself and to protect its people, but collectively punishing an entire population ran counter to the right to food and to international humanitarian law.

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Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Right to Food

Participating in a dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to food were the representatives of Mali, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Netherlands (on behalf of the European Union), United States, Israel, and Cuba.  The Observer of Palestine also addressed the Special Rapporteur.

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On the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, he pointed out the resolution that called on non-State actors to show respect for all human rights.  A letter had been written to Caterpillar, Inc. regarding its armed bulldozers which were built according to stipulations of the occupying forces.  The bulldozers were destroying land; as the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, it was within his mandate to question a multinational society that was guilty of infringing on the right to food.

Responding to comments by the representative of Israel that the right to food was being distorted for political purposes and that Mr. Ziegler’s report was biased against Israel, Mr. Ziegler said that during his visit to Israel he had been warmly welcomed by various ministries.  No restrictions had been placed on his travels, and all his questions had been answered.  He had focused on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory because the Commission on Human Rights had issued a singular and unique mandate for him to carry out a mission in the occupied Palestinian territory.  But it had not been the only mission; he had made visits to numerous other countries.

He said all acts of violence were equally horrible and equally repulsive, but it was not within his mandate to address this in his report.  He could not talk about the roots of a conflict.  It was not within his mandate and he was obligated to stick to the bounds of his mandate.  Reiterating that he had remained within the bounds his mandate, he said he had not participated in anti-Israeli activities, and that as a member of an NGO in Israel, he had participated in activities which had taken place in Tel Aviv. 

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