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        Economic and Social Council
28 February 1994

Original: ENGLISH


Fiftieth session


Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Tuesday, 22 February 1994, at 10 a.m.

Chairman: Mr. van WULFFTEN PALTHE (Netherlands)



Question of the human rights of all persons subjected to any form of detention or imprisonment, in particular:

(a) Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

(b) Status of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;

(c) Question of enforced or involuntary disappearances;

(d) Question of a draft optional protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (continued)


This record is subject to correction. Corrections should be submitted in one of the working languages. They should be set forth in a memorandum and also incorporated in a copy of the record. They should be sent within one week of the date of this document to the Official Records Editing Section, room E.4108, Palais des Nations, Geneva. Any corrections to the records of the public meetings of the Commission at this session will be consolidated in a single corrigendum, to be issued shortly after the end of the session.

The meeting was called to order at 10.15 a.m.


21. Mr. PARTOW (Arab Lawyers Union) said that, as in previous years, 1993 had been marked by serious human rights violations in almost all Arab countries, including the territories occupied by Israel. Numerous cases of arbitrary detention, extrajudicial executions and torture had been reported. A number of Governments, assisted by certain non-governmental organizations (NGOs) currently attending the Commission's session, were practising a reverse terrorism against so-called militant Islamic groups for the purpose of slandering the name of Islam. While such groups must be condemned for their indiscriminate violence against civilians and for disregarding the Islamic tenet of tolerance, the arbitrary detention and torture of their members could not be condoned, and the condemnation of those groups must not be generalized to include all of Islam.

22. The work of the NGOs was made more difficult by the double standard employed by certain Western Powers in dealing with issues that directly affected the lives of the Middle East's inhabitants. …

23. The double standard of Western Powers had also manifested itself in the silence they had maintained regarding Israel's bombardment of the civilian population of Lebanon, its repeated violations of human rights in the occupied territories and its deportation of 12 United Nations employees.

24. His organization was particularly concerned about the detention of more than 25 employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), given that torture was routine in Israeli prisons and in view of the introduction, on 22 April 1993, of a "new procedure" regarding the interrogation of prisoners which, according to the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, effectively permitted the humiliation and psychological and physical torture of Palestinian detainees. He gave the example of a Palestinian who had been arrested and interrogated in the period between the conclusion of the Oslo agreement and the signature of the Declaration of Principles in Washington. Thus, the use of torture had not ceased in the wake of the agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

25. One of the major casualties of the Declaration of Principles was the situation of the Palestinian detainees. The international community should not be taken in by such good will gestures as the release of some 600 prisoners, most of whom had been near to the end of their terms. Hundreds of Palestinians under the age of 18 were still in Israeli prisons. It should also be noted that Palestinians belonging to parties which opposed the so-called peace process had been denied release solely on political grounds.

26. The continuing use of undercover Israeli military units to kill undesirable Palestinians - extrajudicial executions - was of particular concern. Israeli soldiers had also, in three separate incidents, opened fire on children, leaving two dead and a third critically wounded. Those barbaric acts were in violation of the Hague Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The meeting rose at 1.10 p.m.

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