31 March 1999
Hannu Halinnen Special Rapporteur on the situation in the occupied Arab territories, told correspondents gathered at the Palais des Nations this afternoon that it was becoming clearer than ever that a sustainable peace could not be achieved without respect for human rights; the promotion and protection of human rights was an indispensable part of maintaining and strengthening peace and security as well as advancing social and economic development. He had recommended the Commission the discussion of the review of his mandate to take into account recent changes, such as the Oslo Accords.
It appeared often that the human rights situation in the occupied territories remained hostage to political considerations and expediencies, the Special Rapporteur said. He hoped that one day there would be equal treatment of the Israeli Government's responsibilities and those of the Palestinian Authority, as well as an equal discursion about human rights situation.
Mr. Halinen said torture was torture and that it was not to be condoned under any circumstances. Torture had not disappeared , but it had changed its scope, and had become more scientific and systematic. The reference in his report to the discontinuation of the most flagrant methods of torture was based on information from many NGO's.
Asked about the human rights situation under the Palestinian authority, Mr. Halinen said that issue did not come under his mandate. None the less, he could not say that the human rights situation in the occupied territories could be good in any way.
Asked whether he happy with his current mandate, he said he had not been happy with his mandate from the very beginning. He had been constantly asking for an amendment of the mandate, which was so distant from reality that it must be reviewed if one wanted to improve the human rights situation. According to the current mandate, he reported on human rights violations by Israel. He wanted to be able to report on the situation of human rights as did other Special Rapporteurs, and not be told beforehand what the violations were and by whom they were committed.