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UNITED
NATIONS
E

        Economic and Social Council
Distr.
GENERAL
E/CN.4/2000/SR.31
25 October 2000

ENGLISH
Original: FRENCH

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

Fifty-sixth session

SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 31st MEETING

Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,

on Thursday, 6 April 2000, at 3 p.m.

Chairman : Mr. SIMKHADA (Nepal)

later: Mr. IBRAHIM (Sudan)
(Vice-Chairman)

CONTENTS


CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS, INCLUDING THE QUESTIONS OF:

(a) TORTURE AND DETENTION

(b) DISAPPEARANCES AND SUMMARY EXECUTIONS

(c) FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

(d) INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY, ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE, IMPUNITY

(e) RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE

(f) STATES OF EMERGENCY

(g) CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION TO MILITARY SERVICE (continued )



The meeting was called to order at 3.l5 p.m.

CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS, INCLUDING THE QUESTIONS OF:

(a) TORTURE AND DETENTION

(b) DISAPPEARANCES AND SUMMARY EXECUTIONS

(c) FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

(d) INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY, ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE, IMPUNITY

(e) RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE

(f) STATES OF EMERGENCY

(g) CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION TO MILITARY SERVICE

(agenda item 11) (continued ) (E/CN.4/2000/3 and Add.1-3, 4 and Add.1 and 2, 9 and Add.1-3, 54, 55, 56 and Add.1 and 2, 57-59, 60 and Add.1, 61 and Corr.1 and Add.1 and 2, 62, 63 and Add.1-4, 64 and Add.1, 115, 125, 126, 132, 133 and 135; E/CN.4/2000/NGO/2, 6, 9, 10, 20, 27, 29, 33, 41, 45, 50, 60, 62-64, 78-81, 91, 92, 95, 104-106, 111, 118, 126, 129-135, 138, 141 and 143; E/CN.4/Sub.2/1999/27; A/54/177 and Corr.1)

/...

3. Mr. NASR (Observer for Lebanon) said that, in the small town of Al-Khiam in occupied southern Lebanon, there was a detention camp where violations of civil rights, including torture, were committed systematically. Responsibility for those violations belonged to Israel, the occupying Power, as emerged from the report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (E/CN.4/2000/4). It was Israel that had established the camp on occupied Lebanese territory which it called its “security zone”. It was the Israeli police which carried out interrogations of the detainees and practised torture. The Al-Khiam detention camp currently contained 140 Lebanese detainees of both sexes, whose ages varied from 14 to 70. They were all held arbitrarily; they had no access to a lawyer and had not been tried. Detainees were subjected to various forms of torture but also suffered from lack of medical care and health problems due to malnutrition. Medical examinations of released detainees had revealed pulmonary problems, hip and skull fractures and dermatological infections. Detainees were not allowed to receive visits from their families or humanitarian organizations.

4. His Government urged the Commission to take steps to ensure the closing of Al-Khiam detention camp and the release of the detainees and also of the 34 Lebanese prisoners in Israeli prisons who were also victims of those violations.

/...

61. Ms. SCHONMANN (Observer for Israel) said that ensuring freedom of speech was a difficult task since there was a need for Governments to guarantee freedom of speech on the one hand and combat incitement to violence or hatred on the other. The difficulty was exacerbated by the development of information technologies like Internet which could be used to propagate hatred.

62. Israel was currently facing two crucial questions which aroused controversy - the pursuit of peace and the very nature of democracy as applied in the country, which revealed the need to strike a balance between free speech, the maintenance of public order and the prevention of incitement to hatred. In Israel’s multicultural and diverse society, the highest priority was attributed to freedom of expression. The authorities had ensured that a minimum number of limitations were imposed on that freedom. The law had always prohibited incitement to hatred and racism. The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, had stiffened sentences for offences committed with racist intent. Racist parties were barred from participating in national and municipal elections, a policy which had been upheld by the Supreme Court. The assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had produced a significant turning-point in attitudes towards incitement to hatred. The Government had realized that the mechanisms adopted to deal with the problem were inadequate and had accordingly decided to establish a special team in the State Attorney’s Office to monitor the situation and enforce the law in such cases.

63. Tragically, manifestations of racism and hate speech were currently increasing. In the Middle East, precisely when intensive efforts were being made to advance the peace negotiations between Israel and its neighbours, numerous Arab countries, including those party to the peace negotiations, were engaging in anti-Semitic propaganda and even holocaust denial to win public support for their cause and to frustrate any step towards normalizing relations with Israel.

64. Freedom of expression was a two-edged sword. It could be used to unleash hatred or to enhance respect and tolerance between peoples and neighbours. In the latter case, it could further the cause of peace and cooperation among nations.

/...


The meeting rose at 6.20 p.m.

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