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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS

HR/CN/01/34
4 April 2001


COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS CONTINUES
DEBATE ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS


Speakers Urge Action to End Torture, Enforced Disappearances


The Commission on Human Rights continued its debate on civil and political rights in an extended meeting from 6 p.m. to midnight, hearing from country delegations about national efforts to promote those rights and from non-governmental organizations who alleged violations of civil and political rights around the world.

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The Commission will resume its meeting at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 5 April, to continue its debate on civil and political rights.

Statements

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JEAN-DANIEL VIGNY (Switzerland) said that certain groups such as human rights defenders, political activists, journalists or members of different minorities had continued to be subjected to extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions. In this regard, Switzerland expressed its grave concern at the excessive use of force by the Indonesian police and army in their police operations in different regions, notably Irian Jaya and Aceh. Switzerland also expressed its serious concern at the culture of impunity which was deeply rooted in Colombia. Thousands of persons had disappeared in recent years in many countries. Enforced disappearances constituted a grave violation of numerous human rights and an international crime, according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal. Freedom of religion continued to be violated in some countries, notably in Afghanistan by the Taliban, China, Viet Nam, and Saudi Arabia. In some cases , the authorities failed in their duties, allowing a negative climate to develop which resulted in serious violations, for example, in Cote d'Ivoire, Nigeria, Indonesia or Sudan. In the Israeli-Palestinian context, the end of 2000 saw unprecedented scenes of desecration of holy sites.

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DAVID LITTMAN, of the World Union For Progressive Judaism, addressed the question of Jewish refugees from Arab countries in 1947. After the proclamation of independence of the State of Israel, the armies of five Arab countries, with the support of the Arabs of Palestine under British mandate, had invaded the new State. This war was a pretext for the intensification and legitimization of a settling of accounts in Arab countries. The leaders of these countries had forced Jews to abandon their homes and property and take the path to exile. The State of Israel constituted a natural refuge for the great majority of these refugees from the Arab world. These Jewish refugees had been the victims of waves of pogroms and humiliation. These refugees, unlike the Arab refugees of Palestine, did not receive any compensation from the international community, and had not even requested any compensation.

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MOHAMMED FAYEK, of the Arab Organization for Human Rights, said that the organization was satisfied with continuous governmental efforts aiming to promote women's rights in Bahrain and Egypt. The setbacks suffered by those efforts, because of social traditions as in the case of Kuwait, did not belittle them in any way. In Somalia, the efforts to achieve national reconciliation did not lead to the anticipated positive results as they failed to put an end to the destructive conflict. Civil war in the south of Sudan continued to be a source of serious violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. In Algeria, acts of violence and terrorism had spread all over the country. In Arab countries some violations of human rights and basic freedoms continued, the most dangerous was the continued practice of torture in some countries and the death of some detainees by suspected torture practices in Tunisia and Sudan. In both Egypt and Mauritania established political parties were banned; other political parties were denied the right of registration in Algeria without any legal reason. A matter of particular concern was the continued Israeli violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people

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JAIRO SANCHEZ, of the American Association of Jurists, said a few weeks ago, a Mexican judge had established an important precedent when he ordered an Argentinian detainee deported to Spain for crimes committed in his native country. The Association considered the concept of universal jurisdiction should cover all human rights, and should inspire the work of the Commission. This should be linked with courts, both national and international. The Working Group on forced disappearance considered the lack of information from Governments was a form of inhuman treatment. The Government of Brazil should provide information on dozens of persons who disappeared in the 1970s. The Association hoped the Commission would pronounce itself on particularly serious human rights violations in Afghanistan, Colombia and Iran, and on the treatment of the Palestinian people by the Government of Israel.

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KAREN PARKER, of International Educational Development, said that terrorist States included Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, India, Sudan, Burma and Somalia. State terrorism in Indonesia was now most apparent in the Moluccas where the Javanese-dominated authorities obliterated the Moluccans' free choice in 1950 to establish a separate state under the terms of the 1949 Round Table Conference Agreements. The Moluccas had seen the flight of thousands of Moluccans even since due to conditions intended to crush out Moluccans aspirations of independence. Particular concern was expressed about the new phenomena of 'terrorist' lists by the United States and now - apparently in copy-cat support of US foreign policy objectives- by the United Kingdom. Figuring on these lists were opposition armed forces in Palestine, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Kashmir and Iran

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