Question of Palestine home
25 March 1996
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 4th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Wednesday, 20 March 1996, at 10 a.m.
Mr. VERGNE SABOIA (Brazil)
QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES, INCLUDING PALESTINE (
THE RIGHT OF PEOPLES TO SELF-DETERMINATION AND ITS APPLICATION TO PEOPLES
UNDER COLONIAL OR ALIEN DOMINATION OR FOREIGN OCCUPATION
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.
QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES, INCLUDING PALESTINE (item 4 of the provisional agenda) (continued) (E/CN.4/1996/18-21, 108 and 120)
THE RIGHT OF PEOPLES TO SELF-DETERMINATION AND ITS APPLICATION TO PEOPLES UNDER COLONIAL OR ALIEN DOMINATION OR FOREIGN OCCUPATION (item 7 of the provisional agenda) (E/CN.4/1996/26 and 27)
1. Mr. ZAHRAN (Egypt) said that important progress had been made in the Middle East peace process - in which his Government had actively participated - since the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-government Arrangements in 1993 and, in that connection, he welcomed the first meeting of the Palestinian Council in March 1996. It was to be hoped that the ongoing negotiations between Syria and Israel and between Lebanon and Israel would result in fair settlements, which would help achieve a just and lasting peace in the region and liberate resources for development and social and economic progress.
2. The recent acts of violence and terror in the Middle East were a matter of serious concern, not least because they threatened the peace process. The recently held international summit conference on terrorism had established three basic guidelines: (a) complete support must be given to efforts to find a global solution to the disputes in the Middle East; (b) the security of all the populations in the region must be guaranteed without discrimination; and (c) the problem of terrorism must be resolved through cooperation and intensification of bilateral, regional and international efforts.
3. His Government wished to reaffirm its unequivocal condemnation of terrorism, regardless of its source. It also rejected measures of collective punishment or oppression of innocent victims, which constituted a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms. It hoped that further progress would be reflected in full respect for human rights in the occupied territories and the end to all human rights violations in those areas and that bridges of trust and understanding could be built among the peoples of the region.
4. He commended the work of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 and encouraged him to continue his efforts until such time as the occupation of those territories came to an end and the Palestinians were granted full enjoyment of their rights, in compliance with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and other United Nations bodies.
5. Mr. QAZI (Pakistan) said that the establishment of the Palestinian Authority and the recent holding of free and fair elections were encouraging developments. Nevertheless, the process had to be carried to its logical conclusion: the granting of full rights to the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination. Until that time, the peace process must be continued in a framework of respect for the human rights of all the peoples of the Middle East, first and foremost those who had been the tragic victims of occupation and subjugation.
6. The recent resurgence of violence in the region was a matter of serious concern. He urged the parties involved to maintain their commitment to the peace process, which was the only realistic hope for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. The recent spate of bombings should not be used as a pretext to delay the peace process or to deny the Palestinians their rights.
7. Peace could be achieved only if the principle of land for peace was respected. All the occupied Arab territories must be returned and the Palestinian people must be granted all its inalienable rights. Th
e international community must continue its efforts to bring peace and stability to the Middle East.
8. Mr. BIN GHANEM (Yemen) said that the Israeli authorities had failed to respond to international calls for an end to the violations of human rights and the appeals for full respect for humanitarian principles. The report of the Special Rapporteur (
) painted an unpleasant picture of the situation in the occupied territories.
9. The reports of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories noted that human rights violations in the occupied Arab territories, included murders, imprisonment, destruction of property, collective punishment and blockades of towns and villages and confirmed that such violations were contrary to the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the second Additional Protocol thereto. The shelling of towns and villages in southern Lebanon had increased in intensity.
10. All those acts were flagrant violations of the will of the international community and the principles of international law prohibiting the acquisition of territory by force. A just and comprehensive peace could thus be achieved only by complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories and by respect for the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to a State with its capital in Jerusalem. In the meantime, the Commission must bring pressure to bear on the Israeli authorities to implement international resolutions concerning the principles of international law.
11. Ms. AULA (Pax Christi International) said that the real aim of those who had perpetrated the terrible attacks on the civilian population of Israel was to impede the peace process. The repressive measures taken in response to the attacks would result only in severe socio-economic consequences for the other civilian population, which should not be made to pay for the crimes of a few marginal individuals. Collective punishment could itself be viewed as a form of terrorism.
23. Mr. MEJIA (World Organization against Torture) said that the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements had considerably raised the hopes of the people of Israel and Palestine for peace, reconciliation and the full recognition of their rights, hopes that had been bolstered by subsequent negotiations, agreements and events. In recent months, however, the assassination of the Prime Minister of Israel and the attacks committed by terrorist groups had endangered such hopes.
24. Those reprehensible crimes must be vehemently condemned and their perpetrators and instigators prosecuted and punished. It was even more important to ensure that they did not recur and, in that connection, the
Sharm El-Sheikh meeting
was a positive event though it had not, unfortunately, led to a serious and important commitment to strengthen the social and economic development of the Palestinian people, the democratization process and the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms.
25. However, the need to track down and punish the perpetrators of such appalling crimes and the concern to prevent their recurrence could not justify violations of human rights and of the rule of law. Collective punishments, whether of the families of criminals or of entire communities, were quite unacceptable. Administrative detention and arrests without legal grounds were not only wrong in themselves but also conducive to other violations of human rights such as inhumane treatment, torture and even summary executions. Both the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority were open to criticism in that regard.
26. Referring to paragraphs 89 and 90 of the report of the Special Rapporteur on torture (
), he said that his organization had received information concerning the deaths of four Palestinians detained by the Israeli authorities. In three of the cases, the deaths appeared to have been the result of torture and the fourth had been due to serious health problems, aggravated by the conditions of the person’s detention and inadequate and tardy medical care.
27. There was cause for special concern about the current uncertain situation of organizations and individuals committed to the defence of human rights, as they were the target of intimidation, threats, detention without apparent cause, attacks and illegal searches.
28. The Commission should firmly condemn all such acts and demand that the authorities comply with their obligations under the international standards they had accepted and with the recommendations of the special rapporteurs and the various committees and working groups.
The meeting rose at 12.05 p.m