Joint Committee on Human Rights Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 18

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE EUROPEAN UNION FOR THE UN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS 2001

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1.  A UNIVERSAL SYSTEM OF HUMAN RIGHTS AT THE CENTRE OF POLICY

  EU Nice European Council Document.

  Standing invitations to UN human rights mechanisms.

2.  DRAFT CONVENTION OF FORCED DISAPPEARANCES

  Background and reasons for the convention.

  Recommendations and process.

3.  VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN

  Violence against children.

  The use of children as soldiers.

4.  VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: HONOR CRIMES

5.  DEATH PENALTY

6.  PROTECTION FOR REFUGEES AND MIGRANT WORKERS

7.  COUNTRY CONCERNS

  Algeria

  Burma

  Burundi

  China

  Colombia

  Cuba

  The Democratic Republic of Congo

  East Timor

  Indonesia

    Aceh

    Moluccas

    Papua

    West Timor

  Israel/Palestinian Authorities, the Occupied territories

  Iran

  Russia/Chechnya

  Sudan

  Rwanda

  Sierra Leone

  Uzbekistan

  Former Yugoslavia.

1.  A UNIVERSAL SYSTEM OF HUMAN RIGHTS AT THE CENTRE OF POLICY

EU Nice European Council Document

  Human Rights Watch welcomes the Nice European Council's endorsement of the EU High Representative/Secretary General's and European Commission's policy paper on "Improving the Coherence and Effectiveness of European Union Action in the Field of Conflict Prevention".

  In this important move the EU committed itself to undertake new and pro-active efforts on behalf of conflict prevention and crisis management by embracing a universal system of human rights and humanitarian law as centre of EU policy. The policy among others stresses the need for enhanced support to UN treaty bodies, special human rights mechanisms and their work. However, for the policy to be affective and credible a number of concrete steps will be required.

  At this moment Human Rights Watch would recommend the following:

EU support to UN human rights mechanisms:

  Consistent with the EU's commitment to strengthen and support UN human rights mechanisms, Human Rights Watch urges EU member states to:

    —  Consistently seek information from UN treaty bodies and the special mechanisms of the UN Commission on Human Rights, regarding their findings, concerns, recommendations, access problems etc. ensuring that such information becomes an integral part of the EU common foreign and security policy (CFSP);

    —  Appoint an EU liaison person in the Policy Unit of the EU High Representative/Secretary General to maintain close contact and collaboration with the office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights and other UN human rights mechanisms, as well as the office of the UN Secretary General;

    —  Undertake a joint effort to ensure UN human rights mechanisms' funding through the general UN budget.

Standing Invitations to UN human rights mechanisms

  As the EU is pledging its commitment to support and promote the work of the UN human rights mechanisms as an integral component of its CFSP, it should also demonstrate willingness to co-operate with all the thematic mechanisms' work in EU member states. All human rights mechanisms are established by resolutions adopted by the Commission in which all UN member states can participate. Country missions are part of the established methods of the mechanisms' work. In order to undertake a country visit the individual human rights mechanism has to be invited by the state concerned. EU member states should do their best to assist and facilitate such visits and co-operate with UN thematic human rights mechanisms.

    —  Human Rights Watch urges all EU member states to issue Standing Invitations to all UN thematic human rights mechanisms during the Commission's 57th session, or deposit such Standing Invitations with the High Commissioner.

  The issuing of such Standing Invitations would greatly enhance efficiency of the process that UN mechanisms are bound by, reduce delays and decrease the administrative burdens on all parties. Standing Invitations would enable mechanisms to plan and prioritise visits more effectively and would depoliticise the whole process of country visits by shifting the focus away from the question of access to questions of substance.

  Canada, the Czech Republic, Iceland and Norway have already issued Standing Invitations to all UN human rights mechanisms.

  Last September, prior to the Commission's intersessional meeting we called on all government members of the CHR to issue a standing invitation to all thematic Special Procedures of the CHR. Since the Special Procedures have all been established by resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights and since country missions are part of the working methods to fulfil their mandates, we believe our suggestion is a logical consequence of this membership. A state's willingness to cooperate with the CHR's monitoring mechanisms should be a condition of eligibility for Commission membership.

  In addition, governments which themselves engage in systematic or widespread abuses should not be elected to this body. Experience teaches that the participation of such governments in the Commission is often focused on minimising the exposure of their own human rights record rather than on stigmatising the worst human rights violations in the world and devising methods to bring about the urgently needed change of these practices.

2.  DRAFT CONVENTION ON FORCED DISAPPEARANCES

Background and reasons for the Convention

  The practice of forced "disappearances" constitutes one of the most appalling human rights violations. Over the past years persons have been "disappeared" in countries such as Algeria, Russia/Chechnya, Colombia, Indonesia/East Timor, Iraq and Sudan. Provisions in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) enshrine the rights that are violated by the occurrence of forced disappearances and impose a duty on a States party to protect and ensure the enjoyment of those rights. The ICCPR has, however, been insufficient to prevent and end the practice. There is an acute need for the adoption of a convention on forced disappearances. At its August 1998 session, the Sub-Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights forwarded to the Commission on Human Rights a draft convention on the protection of all persons from enforced disappearances. The current text expands and strengthens the provisions of the UN Declaration on "disappearances" adopted in 1992 by the General Assembly and would constitute a valuable tool in the struggle against this grisly practice. The draft convention defines the crime of "disappearance" and declares that its widespread or systematic practice constitutes a crime against humanity. At its regular session in 1999 the Commission chose not to make substantial progress in the elaboration of this treaty. In 2000 the Sub-Commission recommended that the "Commission on Human Rights, in light of the fact that it has recently concluded its consideration of the draft optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, establish an inter-sessional working group to consider the draft international convention on the protection of all persons from forced disappearance". In a resolution adopted at its 2000 session the Commission on Human Rights called on States to "submit their views and comments, as a matter of priority, on the Draft International Convention, on the follow-up thereto, and, in particular, on whether an inter-sessional working group should be set up to consider the draft International Convention".

  International human rights instruments in force do not establish specific obligations of prevention, investigation, suppression and international cooperation necessary for combating the practice of forced disappearance. For example the ICCPR does not confirm such obligations as classifying forced disappearance as a crime under national legislation; exercising territorial criminal jurisdiction on an extraterritorial basis with respect to presumed perpetrators of forced disappearance; maintaining registers of detainees; preventing and suppressing the abduction of children born during the captivity of disappeared mothers. Equally the ICCPR does not establish the right to reparation for victims and their families. While the Rome Statute permits punishment for forced disappearance by the International Criminal Court (ICC), it is limited to when the crime is committed "as part of a generalised or systematic attack against the civilian population", that constitutes a crime against humanity.

  So although both the ICCPR and the Rome Statute do address certain aspects of forced disappearance, a specific treaty would be required in order to regulate the obligations specific to the prevention and suppression of the practice. The situation is somehow similar to that involving torture, but even while torture is specifically prohibited by the ICCPR, a separate treaty was adopted in order to prevent and suppress it.

Recommendations and Process

  Several EU member states have shown interest in the effort to draft this important Convention:

  It is important that the EU as such voices strong support to this initiative and that it uses the 57th session of the Commission on Human Rights to:

    —  Emphasise the importance of the adoption of a clear and comprehensive convention on forced disappearances;

    —  Call on the Commission to entrust an inter-sessional Working Group with the examination and adoption of a strong text for the Convention;

    —  Call on the Commission to designate an Expert to comment and clean-up the current draft text of the convention prior to the meeting of the inter-sessional Working Group.

3.  VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN

  Throughout the world, in developing and industrialised countries alike, children are subject to unconscionable violence. On the street, in schools, in institutions, the workplace, and elsewhere, life-threatening abuses are often perpetrated against children, often by the very individuals charged with their safety and well-being.

  Children are easily victimised because they are young, often small, ignorant of their rights, and frequently do not have adults to whom they can turn for assistance. Particularly vulnerable are those children who are institutionalised, who are from ethnic minorities, or who live on the streets.

  Since 1991, Human Rights Watch has published 18 reports on violence against children by police and state authorities, covering 14 countries on six continents. At virtually every stage of contact with the law, children may be subject to abuse. Street children are frequently beaten, tortured, sexually assaulted and even killed by police and security forces. They are frequently subject to extortion, and street girls are sometimes forced to provide sex in addition to money to avoid arrest or to be released from police custody. Children are frequently taken into custody with insufficient cause, and then subjected to brutal interrogations and torture, in order to solicit false confessions, information, or simply as a means of intimidation. Once placed in detention, children may be routinely abused physically, subjected to sexual assault, and placed in restraints or isolation for prolonged periods.

  Orphanages are home to millions of orphaned and abandoned children around the world. Dependent on the state for care, many of these children are exposed instead to shocking and sometimes deadly levels of abuse and neglect. In 1998, we found that some children in Russian orphanages were restrained in cloth sacks, locked in freezing rooms for days at a time, sexually abused and beaten. Children have been tortured by shoving their heads in a toilet, and running electrical current through metal beds where they have been placed naked. An investigation of Chinese orphanages in 1995 found that children were tied to cribs, beds and chairs, and subjected to such malign neglect that mortality rates in some institutions exceeded 50 per cent. Such institutions are often closed to outside scrutiny and children have no mechanism for reporting abuse.

  Even in schools, many children find that violence is a regular part of their experience. Teachers sometimes use canning, slapping, and whipping to maintain classroom discipline and to punish children for poor academic performance. The infliction of corporal punishment is often routine, arbitrary, and brutal. In extreme cases, beatings by teachers have left children permanently disfigured, disabled, or dead. Some countries have taken steps to ban corporal punishment in the schools, but it remains a practice allowed by law in scores of others.

  Girls in many countries endure sexual harassment and abuse in educational settings at the hands of teachers and other students. In South Africa, for example, a 1998 study by CIETafrica found that one in three Johannesburg girls experienced sexual violence at school; two-thirds of those subjected to sexual violence did not report the abuse to anyone.

  Children who identify as or are perceived to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered may experience harassment and violence from other students, while school authorities fail to intervene.

  In a welcome response to such violence, the Committee on the Rights of the Child agreed to focus two general days of discussion—in 2000 and in 2001—to the issues of violence against children. Aspects of the issue being examined by the Committee include mistreatment, abuse and neglect of children in the care of the state, violence against children in the context of law and public order concerns, violence suffered by children in schools, and violence within the family.

  Although violence against children is rampant, its full extent and impact is still unknown. For this reason, Human Rights Watch strongly endorse the recommendation from the Committee on the Rights of the Child (following its September 2000 general day of discussion on violence against children) that the Secretary-General be requested by the General Assembly to conduct an in-depth study on the issue of violence against children. The Committee noted that such a study should be as thorough and influential as the 1996 Machel Study on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children.

  The EU will be the sponsor of this year's resolution on children's rights. In this resolution the Commission should:

    —  Recommend that the Secretary-General undertakes a major international study on violence against children similar in its thoroughness and influence to the Graca Machel report on children and armed conflict. As recommended by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, such a study should, inter alia, explore the different types of violent treatment of which children are victims, identify their causes, the extent of such violence, and its impact on children, and put forward recommendations for action, including effective remedies and preventative and rehabilitative measures.

    —  Request special rapporteurs and working groups to systematically include violence against children in country and thematic reports.

    —  Request that the High Commissioner for Human Rights organise a special workshop for all relevant special rapporteurs to examine violence against children and ways in which special rapporteurs can more effectively incorporate this issue into their work;

    —  Urge all states to vigorously investigate violence against children by state authorities, take effective steps to protect children from such violence, and hold accountably those responsible;

    —  Welcome Somalia's stated commitment to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child;

    —  Urge the United States—the only country that has not moved to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child—to do so, without reservations and any further delay.

The use of Children as Soldiers

  Important steps were taken in the last year to stop the use of children as soldiers. The conclusion and adoption of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict established, for the first time, a sorely-needed prohibition on conscription, forced recruitment or participation of children under the age of 18 in armed conflict, while unfortunately failing to prohibit voluntary recruitment of 16 and 17-year olds. The swift pace of signatures—now 75—promises early entry into force for the new standard.

  Despite the new standard, children continue to be used as soldiers in more than 30 countries, world-wide. Countries of particular concern include Columbia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, and Uganda. In Columbia, opposition guerrilla and paramilitaries often linked to the armed forces maintained more than 5,000 children in their ranks. In Sierra Leone, both the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and pro-government forces continued to forcibly recruit children, including demobilised child soldiers.

  In the DRC, child soldiers number over 12,000 by UNICEF's estimates. Although a presidential demobilisation decree was issued, it is unclear how many children have been demobilised from the government's forces. Rebel groups fighting the government, meanwhile, continue to recruit and use child soldiers, often with the full support of foreign backers. Uganda in particular has trained and equipped children as part of the Liberation Movement for the Congo (MLC) and the Congolese Rally for Democracy-Liberation movement (RCD-ML). Many of these children have been trained in Uganda. The mainstream RCD, backed by Rwanda, also is actively recruiting large numbers of children for its forces.

  In Sri Lanka, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have reportedly forcibly recruited many children in a new recruitment drive, despite commitments made to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict not to recruit children under the age of 17. In a December gun battle between LTTE and government forces, the majority of guerrilla fighters reportedly killed were children, mostly girls.

  In Northern Uganda, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) escalated attacks against civilians in the last year, including the forced abduction of children. Over the past 14 years, UNICEF estimates that more than 12,000 children have been abducted by the LRA and frequently forced to commit atrocities against civilians and each other. Some 6,000 are believed to remain in captivity in LRA bases inside government-controlled Sudan. The LRA, which has no bases inside Uganda, is entirely dependent on the government of Sudan, which provides arms, training and facilities. Despite an October 2000 agreement, and several earlier agreements, between the governments of Uganda and Sudan to ensure the release and return of the abducted children, extremely few children have been returned to safety. Five years have passed since this LRA practice of abducting, brutalising and conscripting children, facilitated and condoned by the government of Sudan, was first exposed. This led Stephen Lewis, formerly deputy director of UNICEF who negotiates with the government of Sudan on this problem, to remark about the government of Sudan: "In my experience, where these children are concerned, this is not a government [the government of Sudan] that cares one whit about the meaning of negotiation. We've tried that, as we should have tried—everyone's tried—we failed. The capacity to manipulate and to barricade wins out every time. The December 1999 so-called Nairobi Agreement has had this result. In the past nine months, 28 children have been returned. It's not even absolutely certain that they were all abductees. There are somewhere between 3,000 and 6,000 who remain, [living] in a state of ruin. I don't trust them even now with further negotiations going on behind the scenes because the government of Sudan artfully and brilliantly toys with the international community. And everyday, every single day that we pretend that moral persuasion is the answer is another day carved out of the life of a child."

  Human Rights Watch urges the EU to:

    —  Pledge EU member states' commitment to ratify without reservations the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict;

    —  Urge all states to sign and ratify without reservation the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict and to stipulate a minimum age of eighteen years for voluntary recruitment into the armed forces;

    —  Urge all states to sign and ratify without reservation, the ILO Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour;

    —  Urge all states to sign and ratify the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court;

    —  Support the announced mission of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to northern Uganda to investigate the abduction of children by the LRA, including its effective follow-up, and call upon the government of Sudan to: (a) facilitate a visit by the OHCHR to LRA camps, and (b) comply with all the terms of the October 2000 agreement, whereby the Ugandan children in LRA custody in Sudan are to be returned immediately to Uganda.

4.  VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: HONOR CRIMES

  Human Rights Watch is deeply concerned that states have failed to investigate, prosecute and punish cases of co-called "honour killings". Men who murder female family members to restore "family honour" enjoy impunity because states fail to prioritise the investigation and prosecution of these killings. In the rare cases in which the perpetrator is prosecuted and convicted, the perpetrator rarely receives a significant sentence because restoring family honour is considered a mitigating factor. State tolerance of these killings violates women's right to life and security of person.

  In September 2000, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimated that as many as 5,000 women and girls are murdered each year in "honour killings" by members of their own families. In many countries, communities place a high value on women's chastity and tie the behaviour of women to family "honour". Some of these communities sanction murders in which women are killed by male relatives for bringing "dishonour" upon their families. A family's belief that a women or girl has dishonoured the family can be based on reasons such as marrying someone her family disapproves of, seeking a divorce, being raped, being suspected of committing adultery, or for being the subject of a rumour. The perpetrators of such crimes escape accountability in countries where such violence is treated as an accepted means of controlling women's behaviour rather than a serious crime.

  Women who are the victims of sexual and domestic violence may be particularly vulnerable to being targeted for "honour killings". Despite the prevalence of both sexual and domestic violence, Human Rights Watch has documented how discriminatory laws against women, biased officials, inefficient collection or analysis of medico-legal evidence and lack of forensic competence, compound the barriers to justice faced by women. Thus women who are victims of sexual violence are discredited and disbelieved. Women who are victims of domestic violence are blamed for the violence and viewed as incompetent wives. Such attitudes in the criminal justice system both place women at risk of further violence from family members and create the excuse used to justify impunity for male perpetrators.

  For example, according to the Criminal Code of Pakistan, if a women reports being raped, her testimony does not carry the same legal weight as that of a man. If she fails to convince the court of the veracity of her claim, she may be prosecuted for adultery or fornication. Under both Jordanian and Pakistani law, women can only prove allegations of rape by meeting excessive requirements of corroborating evidence. Even if a woman can meet these requirements, evidence of previous sexual activity may be admitted in the proceedings and lead to charges that she is "immoral". In both countries, being raped, being deemed immoral or committing adultery are all considered ways of "dishonouring" the family.

  In Jordan, an estimated 25 to 30 women are killed every year in the name of family honour. Under the Jordanian Penal Code, "honour" is a mitigating defence in charges of assault and murder, and a man is not liable for prosecution under murder charges if he kills his wife or any close female blood relative in the act of adultery. The Jordanian Lower House has twice failed to abolish legislation revoking Article 340 of the Jordanian Penal Code, although the Upper House had agreed twice to repeal it. Women who are killed in Jordan in the name of honour are denied a funeral and buried in unmarked graves.

  It is believed that more than a thousand women and girls are killed each year by family members in Pakistan. Pakistani courts hand down disproportionately light sentences in the rare cases of "honour killings" that are actually prosecuted. Most cases are never brought to trial because police are easily persuaded by the victim's families to dismiss the complaints as "domestic accidents". The laws dealing with serious crimes, known as Qisas (retribution) and Diyat (compensation), conceptualise the crimes of murder and aggravated assault as crimes against the individual rather than the state, thus allowing the heirs of a victim of murder to forgive the murderer. This has exposed many such heirs to familial and societal pressure and intimidation to pardon family members for the murder of female relatives.

  Under international human rights law, governments are obligated not only to provide redress to victims of gender-based violence, but also to ensure protection of women from violence. Most states have failed to take the necessary steps to provide redress and have failed to implement measures to protect women from so-called "honour killings". In Jordan, women who are perceived to be at risk of being killed are placed into the protective custody of prisons or correction facilities for periods ranging from a few months to over three years. Ironically, they are only allowed to leave the facility with the approval of a male guardian who may very well be the person who has determined that she has "dishonoured" the family. Women are not permitted to make the choice to leave the correction facilities, effectively making them prisoners of the state. Thus women are deprived of liberty and suffer a wide range of violations even as the potential perpetrators enjoy complete freedom. In Pakistan, shelters set up by women's rights activists to provide an alternative from the state run version cannot fully guarantee safety. Such shelters have been the targets of harassment and intimidation from various individuals and groups.

  At the Beijing +5 review session held in New York in June (UNGASS 2000), states agreed to develop, adapt and fully implement laws to eradicate harmful customary or traditional practices including 'honour crimes' and recognised such crimes as a violation of women's human rights.

  Human Rights Watch urges the EU to:

    —  Condemn "honour killings" and call on governments to take immediate action to repeal discriminatory laws and end discriminatory practices that result in impunity for violence against women;

    —  Call on states to ratify, without reservation, the CEDAW.

5.  DEATH PENALTY

  The death penalty has continued to be applied in many countries despite its inherent cruelty. The situation in the United Stated is of particular concern to Human Rights Watch.

  In the United States, the death penalty has been applied in an arbitrary and racially discriminatory manner. Foreign nationals, the mentally ill or retarded, and juvenile offenders are executed in defiance of international standards. Defendants facing a death sentence are often poor and provided with inadequate legal representation. The threat of executing innocent persons is now evident—since 1973, 92 people in 22 states have been released from death row due to evidence of their innocence. In January 2000, after the execution of thirteen death-row inmates, Governor George Ryan issued an open-ended moratorium on executions in Illinois, and other states are considering moratoriums.

  Between January and October 2000, four juvenile offenders were executed in the United States; two were executed in Texas, two in Virginia. In August, a fifth juvenile offender—who is also mentally ill—came within a day of his death sentence being carried out when Georgia' Supreme Court decided to consider his appeal. Of the 38 US states that retain the death penalty, 23 allow its imposition for crimes committed under the age of 18. Seventy-one juvenile offenders were on death row in the US as of October 2000.

  At the same time, the Justice Department continues its study of the federal death penalty. In its interim report, it noted significant racial and geographic disparities in the way the death penalty is applied. While there has been a de facto moratorium on federal executions for 36 years, several executions are now scheduled during 2001.

  Human Rights Watch opposes capital punishment in all circumstances because of its inherent cruelty and because executions are inevitably carried out in an arbitrary manner, inflicted primarily on the most vulnerable—the poor, minorities, and mentally ill or retarded persons. Moreover, the intrinsic fallibility of all criminal justice systems assures that even when full due process of law is respected, innocent persons may be executed.

  Human Rights Watch welcomes the EU's active engagement over the past years on behalf unconditional worldwide abolition of the death penalty.

  In the EU sponsored resolution of the death penalty the EU should:

    —  Urge those countries that have not abolished the practice to invoke a moratorium on executions and engage in legal efforts to completely outlaw death penalty;

    —  Condemn, and mention by name, those countries where capital punishment is practised;

    —  Express strong concern about developments in countries where current moratoriums appear to be in jeopardy;

    —  Reiterate that the imposition of death penalty against persons under 18 years of age violates obligations under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as customary international law as affirmed by the Sub-commission on Human Rights in resolution 2000/17;

    —  Reiterate that the imposition of death penalty against persons with mental retardation violates international human rights principles affirmed in International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

    —  In the strongest terms condemn the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran and the United States for their continued practice of imposing death penalty on under 18 year old criminal offenders during 2000.

6.  PROTECTION FOR REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS

  Fifty years after the establishment of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Refugee Convention), many governments primarily responsible for setting up the international refugee protection regime are now trying to dismantle it. In particular, European Union (EU) governments have led the charge to weaken international refugee protection, erecting barriers that obstruct the right to seek and enjoy asylum and diminish the quality of protection for those who reach Western Europe.

  Barriers include visa requirements and carrier sanctions that make it difficult for asylum seekers to freely leave their countries and seek asylum elsewhere, and increasing use of detention as a deterrent and also as a punitive measure for asylum seekers who arrive without valid documents. Many EU governments have interpreted their obligations under the Refugee Convention in an extremely restrictive manner, often resulting in the exclusion from refugee protection of those most in need. Asylum seekers fleeing persecution by non-state actors, such as in Algeria, or situations of generalised violence or civil conflict, such as in Colombia, have been excluded from refugee protection in some Western European states. In an especially worrying development, in the last couple of years some EU states, including Austria and the United Kingdom, have argued that the Refugee Convention is outdated and ill-equipped to deal with modern migration movements. The United Kingdom has proposed that asylum applications from individuals from countries that EU governments consider to be "safe" should not be considered.

  The restrictive and punitive measures have not been limited to Western Europe. Other industrialised countries, including the United States and Australia, have adopted many of the same polices, including mandatory detention for asylum seekers who arrive without valid documents, often for long periods of time under inappropriate conditions. In the United States, asylum seekers may be detained in remote local jails alongside criminal inmates. Detention in jails around the country makes obtaining crucial legal assistance more difficult and contact with family or friends nearly impossible. No matter where they are held, asylum seekers often face overcrowding, poor health care, and little time out of doors while detained for long periods.

  Restrictive immigration and asylum policies are taking place within a climate of increasing hostility and xenophobia, particularly in Western Europe and Australia. Such attitudes are fuelled by the inflammatory anti-immigrant rhetoric of politicians and the media. There has also been an alarming rise in xenophobic and racist violence across Western Europe, without effective sanctions against the perpetrators.

  Human Rights Watch calls on the EU to:

    —  Urge member states to use the opportunity of the fiftieth anniversary of UNHCR and the 1951 Refugee Convention to reaffirm their commitment to protecting refugees and upholding their obligations under the Refugee Convention and to reverse the negative trends in asylum and immigration policy of the past years;

    —  Urge all states that have not yet acceded to the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees to do so;

    —  Express commitment to accede to the 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families;

    —  In this year of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, encourage member states to take active measures to combat xenophobia and racism against refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants.

7.  COUNTRY CONCERNS

Algeria

  We wish to call the attention of the Commission to the disturbing fact that no progress has been achieved in locating or determining the fate of the thousands of Algerians who have "disappeared" at the hands of security forces since 1992. Despite President Bouteflika's welcome acknowledgement of the problem, government officials have disclosed little beyond often conflicting statistics that downplay the scope of the problem and attempt to portray the "disappeared" as persons who, for the most part, joined or were abducted by armed groups. Organisations composed of families of the "disappeared" have documented well over 4,000 cases where there is evidence of security force involvement; some human rights lawyers believe the actual number of cases exceeds 10,000 most dating from the period 1993 to 1997. The government has consistently declined requests from independent human rights organisations to provide the names of individuals whose cases it claims to have elucidated, making it impossible to check this information against cases compiled by Algerian lawyers and rights organisations, or to check with families whether the government has provided them with the same information concerning their loved ones. Organisations representing families of "disappeared" persons insist that, with very few exceptions, their relatives have not been found and the government has no furnished credible information about their status.

  We also wish to express our concern regarding the continued refusal of Algeria to respond to longstanding requests to visit the country by the UN special rapporteurs on torture and on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions. Government officials have contended that Algeria's official reports to the Human Rights Committee and other treaty bodies adequately fulfil the government's requirements in this regard, and that it is under no obligation to co-operate with what it has termed "secondary mechanisms" such as the special rapporteurs and working groups.

    —  The EU should urge the government of Algeria to disclose all information at its disposal regarding the status and whereabouts by name of all persons who went missing after being taken into state custody. The EU should also urge the government of Algeria (especially considering its status as a new member of the Commission) to respond positively to requests of the special mechanisms of the Commission to conduct official visits to the country.

Burma

  The Burmese government has taken no steps to improve its disastrous human rights record. The ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has pursued a strategy of marginalising the democratic opposition through detention, intimidation, and restrictions on basic civil liberties. The government has begun direct discussions with Aung San Suu Kyi, as the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy, Ambassador Ismail Razali announced in January. But she remains under de facto house arrest. It is unclear at this point how the dialogue process will evolve, and whether or not it will result in concrete confidence building measures such as lifting of restrictions on NLD members and the release of large numbers of political prisoners. The Burmese government continues to deny its citizens freedom of expression, association, assembly, and movement. Members of the democratic opposition National League for Democracy have been intimidated into resigning from the party and encouraged crowds to denounce NLD members elected to parliament in the May 1990 election but not permitted to take their seats. However, over the past weeks, the SPDC has made some positive gestures including allowing the re-opening of the NLD headquarters and the dismissal from court of a claim to part of Aung San Suu Kyi's home property. Several high-profile political prisoners have also been released during the past year, but the SPDC continues to arrest individuals engaged in peaceful political activities. It also has been depriving ethnic minority Muslim Rohingya of full citizenship rights, restricting their freedom of movement, imposing arbitrary taxation and extorting them. Despite international condemnation, the system of forced labour remains intact. In 2000 a delegation from the ILO, visited Rangoon and other areas at the SPDC's invitation. Its report called for the SPDC to cease the use of forced labour, repeal or amend legal provisions for forced labour in the Village and Towns acts, monitor compliance, and penalise those who employ forced labour. On a positive note many universities in the countries have been reopened after having been closed since 1996.

  In areas still affected by armed conflict in eastern Burma, gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law continue. Tens of thousands of villagers in the conflict areas remain in forced relocation sites or internally displaced within the region facing curfews, looting, and restrictions on movement at the hands of the Burmese army.

  No human rights organisations have been allowed to operate in the country and for the fifth year in a row, the SPDC has refused to admit, UN Special Rapporteur to Burma. A new Special Rapporteur, Paulo Pinheiro, has just been appointed and plans to visit the region in February.

  Human Rights Watch calls on the EU to sponsor a Burma resolution:

    —  In which the Commission urges the SPDC to implement the ILO's recommendations regarding forced labour and to co-operate fully with both the UN Special Rapporteur and the Secretary General's Special Envoy;

    —  In which the Commission extends the Special Rapporteur's mandate for another year.

Burundi

  The civil war continued in Burundi, with both the government and rebel forces responsible for atrocities against civilians. Members of the armed forces have abused civilians without being held accountable by their superiors or the government as a whole. They have also failed to protect civilians, permitting attacks even within the city of Bujumbura without any reaction. Rebels have continued to kill civilians and to loot their property.

  The field office of the High Commission of Human Rights, which cut its staff in late 1999 following a security alert, operated in 2000 with reduced staff and resources. Thus handicapped, it limited its work mostly to improving the judicial system and did not report publicly on human rights abuses. It even stopped circulating confidential reports to the diplomatic community.

  More than 100,000 civilians have been slain in Burundi, both by Hutu and by Tutsi. Many of these killings are crimes against humanity and some have been described as genocide by a UN commission of inquiry. They must be prosecuted promptly by an international tribunal and by Burundian courts, which meet international fair trial standards.

    —  The EU should urge the Commission to take bold steps to strengthen the field office with the mandate and resources necessary for rigorous monitoring and public reporting, particularly during this transition period following the Arusha Accords when establishing respect for human rights will be crucial for ensuring peace;

    —  The Special Rapporteur on Burundi, Marie-Therese A. Keita Boucoum, has been able to visit Burundi only briefly, but spoke out clearly against killings and other abuses by both military and rebels. The EU should support an effort to renew her mandate;

    —  In order to end impunity, the EU should reaffirm that leaders on all sides who were responsible for war crimes or crimes against humanity must be brought to justice, using Burundian national courts as well as an international tribunal;

    —  The EU should express its support to the Arusha Agreement's provisions to establish an international commission of inquiry and subsequently an international tribunal to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, as well as the provision to establish a national truth and reconciliation commission;

    —  The majority of cases now pending would be judged in Burundian courts. Given the current limitations in number and resources of these courts, the EU should commit resources, and urge other UN member states to join in providing the assistance necessary for the courts to function effectively and with due process, including training new judicial personnel.

China

  In October 1997, China signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); a year later it signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Human Rights Watch welcomed these positive steps and urged prompt action to ratify and fully implement the treaties. However, in October 2000, members of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), postponed ratifications of the ICESCR until "every article ... is in harmony with China's real situation and relevant laws and regulations". The ICCPR has yet to be submitted to the NPC for consideration.

  In the years since China signed the covenants, Human Rights Watch has documented serious violations of human rights, raising questions about the Chinese government's willingness to adhere to basic international standards. Throughout 2000, the Chinese government suppressed efforts to form independent trade unions or to strike for better working conditions. It also suppressed those trying to express their political opinions via the Internet and other media, to worship outside officially sanctioned religious congregations, to form an opposition political party, or to meet with others to meditate and exercise. Government officials continue to interfere in the judicial process. Thousands of Chinese citizens were arbitrarily held for as long as three years in re-education through labour camps. Human Rights watch continued to receive reports of torture and prison deaths in Tibet and Xinjiang and increasing numbers of executions in Xinjiang.

  Freedom of expression via the Internet has been threatened by new regulations banning all information that promulgates heretical ideas, goes against the constitution, endangered state security or threatens national unity. Additional bans limited the use of news from other than official sources.

  Freedom of religion remained restricted. In November and December 2000, hundreds of non-state-controlled religious sites in Zhejiang Province were destroyed or converted to secular uses. Worshippers in several provinces who refused to join official churches were in custody. New regulations tightened limits on proselytising, and the official campaign, begun in July 1999, against the quasi-religious Falun Gong, continued and intensified last year. In Tibet, the government controlled selection of Buddhist religious leaders and closed monasteries and nunneries at will.

  Human Rights Watch calls on the EU to sponsor or co-sponsor a resolution in which the Commission:

    —  Deplores ongoing human rights violation in China;

    —  Calls on China to invite the appropriate UN Special Rapporteur and Working Groups to visit. In particular there is an urgent need for visits by the Special Rapporteur on Torture under conditions that apply to all member states, a return visit by the Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, and visits by the Special Rapporteurs on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the independence of judges and lawyers.

  Human Rights Watch welcomed China's decision last November to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights on the development and implementation of technical co-operation programmes. However, we question whether these programs will lead to any significant human rights improvements.

  China has a poor record of compliance with UN human rights standards, and of co-operation with its human rights mechanisms. China has circumvented provisions of the UN treaties it has signed, used the rubric of "the rule of law" to justify laws and regulations that clearly violate international human rights standards, and failed to implement the recommendations of the Commission's thematic mechanism. Mr Abdelfattah Amor, the Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, visited China in November 1994, as did the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in October 1997. However, Chinese authorities have yet to implement their reasonable and modest recommendations.

  Despite the fact that China became a party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1988, allegations of torture in detention centres and prisons—particularly in Tibet and Xinjiang—have not diminished. Negotiations for a first visit to China by Sir Nigel Rodley, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, have thus far produced no agreement as China insists upon special conditions.

    —  While the EU should welcome the signing of the MOU, it should also regret that the semi-annual progress reports by the OHCHR senior official on programme implementation are to be available only to the country concerned and to the Office of the High Commissioner;

    —  The EU should urge the High Commissioner to be rigorous in providing a detailed assessment of progress, paying particular attention to China's co-operation with the Commission's thematic mechanisms. Indeed the High Commissioner should not hesitate to cancel the agreement, as provided for in Article VII of the MOU, should China's full cooperation not be forthcoming.

Colombia

  This year's session of the Commission on Human Rights takes place at an extremely difficult moment for Colombia and its people, and demands the increased attention and resources of the Commission. Continuing a disturbing trend from 1999, the average number of victims of political violence and deaths in combat has risen from 12 to 14 per day. Over 228,000 people were displaced in 2000. Of that number, 93,000 were forced to flee between July and September alone, the result of a record 53 massacres, most committed by paramilitary groups operating with the tolerance or open support of the armed forces.

  Guerrillas also committed a rising number of violations of international humanitarian law, among them killings, the taking of hostages, and the recruitment of children. In dozens of attacks, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia employed methods that caused avoidable civilian casualties in violation of international humanitarian law. For their part, Camilist Union-National Liberation Army guerrillas continued attacks on oil pipelines and power pylons, and for prolonged periods prevented transit on vital roads, converting thousands of detained travellers into human shields.

  Human rights defenders, community leaders, trade unionists and journalists continued to face threats and attacks. During the first ten months of 2000, four human rights defenders were killed and three "disappeared". Association of Family Members of the Detained and Disappeared members Angel Quintero and Claudia Patricia Monsalve were "disappeared" in Medellin, Antioquia, on October 6. Since, the group reports constant telephone threats, among them one where a women could be heard weeping and begging for help as if she were being tortured. The Barrancabermeja-based Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights also received dozens of telephone death threats from August through September. In key areas of the country, human rights monitoring has virtually stopped due to these kind of threats.

  During her December visit, High Commissioner for Human Rights made a point of calling on the government to do more against paramilitary groups, which continue to operate virtually unimpeded and often count of the co-operation and direct collaboration of the Colombian military.

  High ranking officers against whom there is credible evidence of ties to paramilitary groups not only remain in command, but have been promoted. Our evidence strongly suggests that in fact, military officers remain on active duty despite formal charges as a matter of course, and these cases are not the exception, but the rule. The number of state agents named in human rights related cases remains significant. Of the 1,419 people currently under investigation by the Attorney General, over 20 per cent are members of the armed forces. This is only slightly less than the number of guerrillas investigated for international humanitarian law violations.

  By the Colombian government's own admission, most of the 388 individuals dismissed in October 2000 were let go for reasons unrelated to human rights. To our knowledge, none of the soldiers dismissed has since been arrested or is facing trial.

  Many paramilitary bases remained fixed and well known, yet authorities did little or nothing to dismantle the bases, prevent them from being used to commit crimes, or arrest those responsible. One of the most well-known paramilitary bases in Colombia is less than 10 minutes drive from the centre of Puerto Asis, Putumayo. Although this base has been active for almost one year, local authorities said there has been no attempt by the government to shut it down.

  Paramilitary activity increased in 2000 and paramilitary groups were considered responsible for 93 massacres in the first five months of the year. In Nueva Venecia, Magdalena, paramilitaries are believed to have killed at least 38 people on November 22, 2000. In areas of long-standing paramilitary presence, reliable and abundant information shows that the security forces continued to allow paramilitary operations with little or no evidence of actions taken to curtail such activity. In the Uraba region, for example, paramilitary groups continue to operate openly in heavily militarised zones.

  There has been virtually no attempt on the part of the Colombian government to implement recommendations made by the UN. Among them, the government has failed to enforce laws governing jurisdiction over human rights crimes and continues to allow the armed forces to adjudicate cases involving allegations of serious human rights violations, in defiance of the clear intent of the Constitutional Court Sentence No. C-358/97 to exclude these cases from the military tribunals.

  In a welcome decision, on July 21, 2000, the Superior Judicial Council returned a case involving the forced disappearance of Nydia Erika Bautista to civilian courts for trial. For the first time, the CSJ fully embraced Sentence No. C358/97 and established a crucial precedent. Unfortunately, this precedent has yet to be acted upon by the armed forces. So far, military judges have refused to transfer key cases back to civilian courts for trial.

  A military penal code reform gave the military new powers to dismiss officers against whom there is credible evidence of crimes against humanity, including genocide, torture, and forced disappearance. However, the reform left out the crimes most often alleged to have been committed by members of Colombia's Armed Forces are not specifically excluded from military jurisdiction by the Military Penal Code, among them extrajudicial execution, rape and aiding and abetting the atrocities carried out by paramilitary groups.

  The Ministry of Defence has reported that 80 per cent of the arrest warrants issued by the Attorney General against paramilitaries have not been enforced. This is largely due to inaction by the military. At this writing, there are at least 22 outstanding arrest warrants against Carlos Castaño, the main paramilitary leader.

  Since the Attorney General's Human Rights Unit began work in 1995, dozens of prosecutors have been forced to either abandon these cases, leave the institution, or go into exile because of threats from active-duty officers and paramilitaries. Far from demonstrating greater willingness to co-operate with civilian judicial officials, we continue to receive evidence that these investigators are routinely prevented from gaining access to relevant information, implicated military personnel and official records. Moreover, the Attorney General reported in September that budget cuts implemented by President Pastrana are "dramatic" and threaten to "paralyse" the work of the Human Rights Unit.

  In December 2000, President Pastrana announced that he intends to propose constitutional changes which would reinstate powers previously granted to the armed forces, but abolished by the 1991 Constitution. Of particular concern is that, in conjunction with these increased powers, Pastrana proposes by constitutional reform to introduce a "special procedure" in the Procuradur-«a for investigations of armed forces' personnel for acts, which take place during anti-kidnapping and anti-terrorism operations. The "special procedure" would relax Procuradur-«a oversight and disciplinary function. Human Rights Watch interprets Pastrana's proposal as a disturbing sign that civilian investigators will receive fewer, not greater guarantees for their work even as the armed forces, which have yet to reform, may gain dangerous new powers.

  Human Rights Watch urges the EU to sponsor a resolution in which the Commission:

    —  Deplores Colombia's failure to implement recommendations made by the High Commissioner and urge Colombia to do so;

    —  Press for a dramatic expansion of the work in Colombia of the Office of the High Commissioner by increasing the number of permanent staff in the country and establishing satellite offices in areas where Colombian defenders can no longer operate, including the departments of Putumayo, Cauca, Valle, Boli«var, Norte de Santander, Magdalena, Meta and Cesar.

  The EU should also:

    —  Pledge increased financial support to the Colombia office of the High Commissioner and urge others to do the same;

    —  Urge the High Commissioner to renegotiate the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner in Colombia to include the power to transmit information on cases to international and non-governmental organisations and the press as appropriate. The Office should have the power to release statements summarising its investigations of the available evidence on a case-by-case basis.

Cuba

  Another country of concern is Cuba, whose government has not moderated its arbitrary and repressive human rights practices. In Cuba, human rights defenders, independent journalists, peaceful opponents of the government, and members of unofficial non-governmental organisations are frequently subject to short-term detentions, house arrest, surveillance, arbitrary searches, evictions, travel restrictions, politically-motivated dismissals from employment, threats, and other forms of harassment. Some are prosecuted under provisions of the Cuban Criminal Code that restrict basic rights of freedom of expression, association, assembly, movement, and of the press.

  Among those currently incarcerated are Vladimiro Roca and Oscar Eli«as Biscet Gonza«lez. Roca, a member of the Internal Dissidents Working Group (Grupo de Trabajo de la Disidencia Interna, GTDI), was sentenced in March 1999 to five years' imprisonment for "acts against the security of the state". His prosecution stemmed from the views the GTDI expressed in "The Homeland Belongs to All" (La Patria es de Todos), an analytical paper on the Cuban economy, human rights, and democracy. Biscet, the president of the Lawton Human Rights Foundation, received a three-year prison sentence on February 25, 2000, for dishonouring patriotic symbols, public disorder, and instigating delinquency. He had carried out public protests that included turning the Cuban flag upside-down and carrying anti-abortion placards.

  The 25 day detention in January and February 2001 of two Czech citizens, Jan Bubenik and Ivan Pilip, further typifies the arbitrary and political nature of the Cuban criminal justice system. Detained after meeting with Cuban dissidents, the two Czechs were threatened with criminal prosecution and potentially long terms of imprisonment.

  The prosecution's apparent link to the Czech Republic's sponsorship of a resolution on Cuba should be of particular note to the Commission. In its first coverage of the arrests, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, made note of "the infamous accusations [made] against Cuba in the Human Rights Commission," asserting that the Czech government should offer its apologies to Cuba.

  Human Rights Watch calls on the EU to support a resolution on Cuba so as to maintain public pressure on Cuba to remedy its human rights problems.

The Democratic Republic of Congo

  Laurent-Desire Kabila took control of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1997 after a bloody war in which his supporters and Rwanda and Ugandan allies killed tens of thousands of civilians. He defended his regime in a second war after his erstwhile allies, Rwanda and Uganda, invaded the country in 1998. In this second war, Kabila's forces, like those of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Congolese rebels allied with them, have all engaged in indiscriminate attacks on civilians, extrajudicial executions, rape, and destruction of property, with the result of massive displacement of population. During his nearly four years in power, Kabila regularly and ruthlessly violated the human rights of the Congolese people, killing, torturing, imprisoning, and causing the "disappearance" of any who he thought threatened him or his regime. Among those who suffered most were political opponents, leaders of civil society, human rights activists, and journalists.

  Kabila handed out rights to exploit the vast mineral riches of the country to his commercial and military cronies while the economy as a whole disintegrated and ordinary people lacked food, medicine, and other basic needs of life, particularly in Kinshasa and other urban areas.

  Despite his abuses, Kabila held on to some support by portraying himself as a symbol of national resistance against the foreign forces that occupied eastern DRC. He profited from and his supporters encouraged hatred of the Tutsi, who were held responsible for the misconduct of the Rwandan army and its Congolese allies. He enjoyed the support of troops from his home region of Katanga, whom he in turn favoured with regular pay and supplies. But other units, ordinarily left unpaid, preyed on citizens to support themselves.

  With Kabila's death, a new government inherits a nation wracked by a war that has pulled in six neighbouring nations and spawned three major rebel movements as well as numerous smaller armed opposition bands. International businessmen, many of them based outside the region, have milked the wealth of the DRC while their governments exert no effective pressure for peace. Only an end to hostilities, the interdiction of incursions into neighbouring countries, and the withdrawal of foreign forces offers the possibility of averting worsening ethnic-based conflict, like that now flaring in the Rwandan-dominated region of South Kivu and in the Ugandan-dominated region of Ituri.

  According to international humanitarian sources, more than 1.7 million Congolese have died as a result of the war. Kabila's death cannot guarantee an end to this carnage; that requires commitment by all belligerents as well as by the international community.

  Kabila's death does not clear the record but rather creates the opportunity to insist on accountability for the crimes committed under his authority. In 1997 the UN Secretary-General sent a team to investigate war crimes committed by all parties during the first DRC war. Kabila blocked their work, but the investigators returned with enough information to conclude that combatants in the first DRC war had committed crimes against humanity and perhaps genocide. The Security Council asked the Congolese and Rwandan governments to continue the inquiry, but they did nothing. After the start of the second war, Kabila's government alleged that its former ally Rwanda was responsible for obstructing the UN investigation and pledged cooperation with future UN inquiries. The UN did nothing.

  In conclusion, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continues to be wracked by a devastating war, with all sides responsible for abuses against civilians. The mainstream Rwanda backed RCD-Goma rebel faction has been responsible for extrajudicial executions often conducted in retaliation for raids by its opponents, who also committed atrocities against civilians. In towns, RCD soldiers routinely arrested and tortured dissidents and civil society leaders. Uganda trained tens of thousands of young Congolese to raise armies for its local allies, the Liberation Movement for the Congo (MLC), and the Congolese Rally for Democracy-Liberation Movement (RCD-ML). Frequent leadership disputes in the RCD-ML exacerbated ethnic tensions and reignited a deadly war in areas under its control between the pastoralist Hema and the agriculturalist Lendu people in which thousands of villagers were killed, and tens of thousands were displaced. Rwandan and Ugandan forces fought particularly destructive battles for the control of Kisangani in mid 2000.

  Of the 5,537 peacekeepers the UN planned to send to the DRC under a United Nations Observer Mission in the DRC (MONUC) to support a peace agreement the warring parties signed in August 1999, only 224 unarmed military observers were deployed by this writing. The Security Council on 14 December extended MONUC's mandate to 15 June 2001, and called for the strengthening of its human rights' component.

  Roberto Garreton, the UN special rapporteur on the DRC, visited the country in August at the invitation of the government, the mainstream RCD-Goma faction, and the MLC. The High Commissioner's Field Office, and its branch office in Goma, played active roles in promoting and protecting human rights in government and rebel areas.

Human Rights Watch urges the EU to sponsor a resolution in which the Commission:

    —  Strongly endorses the call for the strengthening of the MONUC, and urges closer co-operation between MONUC and the High Commissioner for Human Rights' Field Office in the DRC;

    —  Renews the mandate of the special rapporteur and provides him, as well as the Field Office, with the necessary resources for meaningful interventions;

    —  Calls on the government of the DRC to:

      —  1.  End all interference with basic human rights, as provided for by international and national law, including freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly.

      —  2.  Order a review of persons currently detained in prison and release those held without charge or credible suspicion of guilt.

      —  3.  Investigate and prosecute crimes against humanity as well as murders, "disappearances" and other acts of state terrorism against citizens.

      —  4.  Declare and enforce respect for all Congolese regardless of ethnic or regional origin.

      —  5.  End harassment of human rights groups and obstruction of human rights investigations.

    —  Sends a clear message to the governments of Uganda and Rwanda that they are responsible for the security of the population and humanitarian workers in areas under their respective control in the DRC;

    —  Calls on the Security Council to address the urgent question of impunity for atrocities in the DRC.

  Specifically, the EU should press for the establishment of a UN Commission of Experts to investigate and determine responsibility for grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law in the DRC. This would implement a key 1998 recommendation of the Secretary-General's Investigative Team in the DRC (SGIT) but also serve to address and perhaps help halt on-going atrocities. The temporal mandate of the Commission of Experts should thus reach back to 1993 to complete the work the SGIT was prevented from doing and continue to the present. The Commission of Experts could also recommend to the Security Council an appropriate mechanism to bring to justice persons responsible for violations.

East Timor

  There is an urgent need for serious reconsideration of an international criminal tribunal for East Timor. Creation of such a tribunal, recommended by the International Commission of Inquiry on East Timor (ICIET) in its report of 31 January 2000, was put on hold at the request of the Indonesian government while it pursued justice in its own courts. More than one year after the violence, however, Indonesia has done virtually nothing to show that it is serious about prosecuting the most senior culpable military and police officers. As of January 2001, even lower level suspects have not yet been indicted by Indonesian authorities.

  The United Nations and its member states have a particular obligation to see that justice is done for the crimes committed in East Timor in 1999. The UN's own investigation documented a pattern of systematic and widespread intimidation and terror, destruction of property, violence against women, forced displacement, and attempts to destroy evidence. UN personnel, dependent on Indonesia to provide security, themselves became targets of the violence and helpless witnesses to the crimes.

  Human Rights Watch has welcomed the first successful prosecution by an East Timorese court of a militia member. A court set up the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) sentenced Joao Fernades, 22, to 12 years in prison in late January. The three judges on the panel were from East Timor, Italy, and Burundi. Fernandes, a member of the Dadurus Merah Putih militia, admitted to having murdered a village chief who had sought refuge in the police station in Maliana, near the West Timor border, in early September 1999. Some 40 people were subsequently massacred in the police station. This trial is important because it means the courts are finally functioning, and the backlog of cases is finally being cleared, but all the key perpetrators of the 1999 violence remain in Indonesia, and prosecutions there are, as already mentioned, totally stalled. In East Timor, some 50 mostly low-ranking militia members have been detained, some for more than a year. It has been a source of great frustration inside East Timor that justice has proceeded so slowly. The courts had to be created from scratch last year, and the investigation process has been plagued by inadequate training of investigators, changes in administrative structure, and lack of resources and personnel.

  Fernandes was sentenced on ordinary murder charges, not crimes against humanity. In order to make a case for the latter, Dili-based investigators need to prove that the 1999 violence was part of a larger plan or policy, and critical evidence rests with witnesses on the Indonesian side of the border.

  Still major obstacles remain to justice in Indonesian courts. While it announced a list of suspects on 1 September 1999, the Indonesian government has made no move to issue indictments against them, let alone arrest warrants. A key militia leader, Eurico Gutteres, is on trial in Jakarta, but on charges that have nothing to do with the 1999 violence. He has been embraced as a hero of national unity by several leading Jakarta politicians.

  Moreover, the Indonesian Attorney-General's office has said that it will not proceed with indictments until an "ad hoc" human rights court is set up under legislation passed last November. For those courts to be established, the Indonesian parliament must make a formal request to the president, and it shows no inclination to do so.

    —  Accordingly, the EU should call for the creation of an international tribunal and urge the Commission to lay out a timetable for its formation, absent clear progress in Indonesian and East Timorese courts. In his cover letter accompanying release of the International inquiry report in January 2000, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced that he would "closely monitor progress" of the response to the crimes in East Timor to see that it is a "credible response in accordance with international human rights principles." Indonesia has fallen far short of this standard and it is time for a more determined, direct international role in ensuring accountability. Otherwise, the credibility of the UN system will be seriously compromised.

Indonesia

  Indonesia has made further strides in protecting human rights in 2000, but serious regional conflicts, a weak legal system, and delicate civil-military relations pose ongoing obstacles. Three areas wracked by conflict—Aceh, Irian Jaya (Papua), and the Moluccas—experience widespread violations. Conditions for hundreds of thousands of people displaced by communal conflict in the Moluccas as well as East Timorese refugees in West Timor remain precarious. Accountability for current and past abuses is essential to long-term peace, but Indonesia has done little to bring perpetrators to justice.

  In dealing with the democratically elected government of Indonesia and its serious human rights problems, the biggest mistake is to stay silent. Sometimes, the argument for silence stems from a belief that once a democratic election has taken place, human rights problems will sort themselves out, or as in Indonesia now, on assumption that military-civilian relations are so fragile that human rights pressure could undermine the civilian government.

  But the human rights problems in Indonesia are symptomatic of larger problems that go to the core of economic and political security, and the international community does no favours to anyone by keeping quiet. Indeed human rights should not be the only issue on the policy agenda with Indonesia, but at the same time, it should not be seen as a fringe issue. Failure to address human rights problems can lead to the kind of political unrest that discourages investment, and Aceh is only the most obvious example of where the central government's failure to heed calls for justice has drastically worsened the security situation.

Aceh

  Widespread violations took place despite the "humanitarian pause" agreed to by rebels and government representatives in May 2000, with scores of new civilian casualties. Peaceful advocates of a referendum on Aceh's political future became the target of security forces; human rights activists and humanitarian aid providers were frequently harassed and in several cases were killed. Eyewitness testimony pointed to military involvement in the murder of three humanitarian aid workers in December; the brutal murder of human rights lawyer Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, whose body was found in September, remains unsolved. In a letter sent on 22 November 2000, five CHR experts noted a "pattern of serious human rights violations" in Aceh.

  The mishandling of Aceh by successive Indonesian governments has been colossal. Helping resolve the conflict there should be a top priority of the EU at the upcoming Human Rights Commission, for economic and political reasons, as well as in the interests of protecting human rights. Several EU member states have provided support to the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD) there, the organisation that brokered the "humanitarian pause" between the government and GAM, the Free Aceh movement. For all the violence taking place in Aceh, there are some extraordinary efforts going on in the field, out of the public eye, in terms of dialogue and training that could have a major impact if CHD's work is allowed to continue and expand. Support for CHD needs to continue and in co-ordination with other donors, the EU should work with Indonesian officials, particularly in the defence ministry, to persuade them that continued dialogue is vital.

Moluccas

  The EU must tread very carefully in the extremely delicate area of Christian-Muslim relations. The Moluccan conflict, with 4,000 dead and about a half million displaced, has already helped spark or exacerbate conflicts elsewhere, including in Sulawesi. The distributing failure of the Wahid government to deal with Laskar Jihad forces in Ambon and incidents like the highly co-ordinated string of 18 bombings of churches across the country on Christmas Eve will undoubtedly serve to reinforce the impression of beleaguered Christians under siege from an implacable fundamentalist Muslin foe. Had there not been hundreds of thousands of Muslim victims of this conflict as well; had there not been a disastrously wrongheaded approach by security forces, and had there not been complex local factors rooted not in religion but in political and historical factors, the conflict would not have reached the level it has. While pressing the cause of prosecuted Christians the international community must give due recognition to other dimensions of the conflict. Any efforts to ensure accurate and impartial monitoring and reporting of this communal conflict are critically important.

Papua

  Use of lethal force against protestors, arbitrary arrests and torture of suspects have exacerbated anti-Jakarta sentiment. In late 2000, the government began to take a hard line against activists, temporarily detaining Johannes Bonay, head of Elsham, Papua's leading human rights organisation and resurrecting discredited Soeharto-era laws to arrest peaceful advocates of independence. There were also new reports of severe torture of suspects in policy custody.

  Increasing the capacity of civilian administration, in consultation with local NGOs and church figures is important. Accountability for the past in important, especially with regard to the Mapduma operations in 1996 and the Biak killings of 1999. The international community has an interest in seeing that the flawed decentralisation programme works—it has the potential to go badly awry, not just in terms of corruption but in the breakdown of services or in competition of local elites that could exacerbate communal violence. Technical assistance in this area is going to be critical.

West Timor

  The Indonesian government must disarm former militia members in West Timor, punish those responsible for the terror in East Timor last year and for criminal acts committed in West Timor, and provide protection and assistance such that all refugees are able to choose free from coercion whether to return to East Timor or be resettled in Indonesia. Under international pressure, Indonesia has taken some steps to address the crisis, but as of the start of 2001 many refugees continued to be effectively trapped by the same forces responsible for the 1999 carnage in East Timor.

  Human Rights Watch urges the EU to sponsor a resolution calling on Indonesia to:

    —  Prosecute past atrocities in Aceh, East Timor, the Moluccas, Papua and West Timor as well as other crimes that occurred during the Soeharto era.

    —  Continue the dialogue process in Aceh and extend support to the monitoring and security teams operating there under terms of the "humanitarian pause".

    —  Remove outside militias from Moluccas but take steps to ensure that full security is guaranteed to members of both Muslim and Christian communities there.

    —  Invite the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the Special Rapporteur on Torture, the Special Rapporteur on violence against Women, the Special Representative on human rights defenders and the Working Group on enforced involuntary disappearances.

    —  Remove restrictions on access by journalists to Aceh, Papua and the Moluccas and facilitate efforts by outside organisations to assist internally displaced persons in these areas and elsewhere in Indonesia.

    —  Comply fully with UN Security Council Resolution 1319 calling for "immediate and effective action" to resolve the ongoing crisis in West Timor.

  Finally, the Commission should recommend the re-establishment of an office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Jakarta that includes a clear monitoring function.

Israel/Palestinian Authorities/Occupied Territories

  Clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since late September have worsened an already serious human rights crisis in the territories controlled by Israel and by the Palestinian Authority. Israel, moreover, has rejected any co-operation, as mandated by the resolution of the October 2000 special session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, with the mechanisms of the Commission and has refused to co-operate with the special panel established by the High Commissioner to investigate serious human rights violations. The following represent the areas of most pressing immediate concern.

Excessive or Indiscriminate Use of Force

  The most serious abuses have been committed by Israeli security forces. Israeli police and security forces frequently have used excessive lethal force against unarmed demonstrators. Research by Israeli and international human rights investigators as well as comments by Israeli officials suggest that in many instances Israeli forces were pursuing a policy of shooting to maim or kill. As the mass demonstrations and confrontations have given way to attacks by armed Palestinians on Israeli military and settler targets, Israeli security forces have responded with indiscriminate, often massive force against populated Palestinian neighbourhoods, resulting in civilian casualties and destruction.

Targeted, Extrajudicial, Arbitrary, or Summary Killings

  Human Rights Watch has investigated a number of suspicious killings of Palestinian civilians by Israeli security forces. In several instances the testimony we have obtained from eye witnesses suggests that these may have been arbitrary killings. IDF officials have repeatedly stated that as a matter of policy they do not investigate killings that take place during "warlike situations". Israel has also proclaimed and implemented a policy of "liquidation" against Palestinians it alleges to have been responsible for planning or carrying out attacks on Israeli soldiers or civilian settlers; at least nine such killings have been carried out since November, and some six Palestinians who were not intended targets have also been killed in such attacks. Israeli officials have argued that during periods of armed conflict individuals engaged in such activities are legitimate military targets. However, Israel's lack of transparency regarding the process by which it determines that a specific individual constitutes a legitimate military target raises serious concern that civilians are among those being targeted for death. These concerns are heightened by the fact that in several cases in areas under direct Israeli control, Israeli forces have not attempted to arrest suspected militants but have simply killed them. In at least one other case in which Israeli forces claim that they were seeking to arrest a suspect, the person sought was killed in suspicious circumstances.

Capital Punishment

  The Palestinian Authority has continued to impose and inflict capital punishment following summary and unfair trials, most recently against Palestinians accused of "collaboration" with Israeli intelligence services in carrying out Israel's "liquidation" of Palestinian suspects. Allam Bani Oda and Madji Mikkawi were executed on 13 January 2001, after being convicted of collaboration, and at least two other men, including 18 year-old Hussamaddin Moussa Hmaeid Eslini, who is described by his family as "simpleminded", have also been sentenced to death and are awaiting execution.

Collective Punishment against the Civilian Population:

  Since early October Israel has vastly increased restrictions on Palestinian movement within the West Bank and Gaza as well as into Israel and Israeli-controlled East Jerusalem. These closures, curfews, and other restrictions have resulted in massive losses of income and impeded Palestinian access to civilian necessities including medical care, education, and basic foodstuffs. In areas adjacent to settlements, such as Hebron in the West Bank and the al-Mawasi area of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, more severe and unrelenting restrictions are in place to facilitate settler movement, resulting in a state of protracted siege on the Palestinian population.

Palestinian attacks on Settlements and Settlers:

  The current unrest has included regular armed attacks by Palestinians on settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, and on settlers travelling in those areas. Palestinian fire on settlements has caused little physical damage and few casualties, but attacks on settlers travelling outside the settlements have become more numerous and more lethal. The Palestinian Authority appears to have failed to investigate or prosecute cases of attacks by armed Palestinians that have led to deaths or serious injuries among Israeli civilians.

Attacks by Israeli settlers on unarmed Palestinians

  Israeli settlers have attached Palestinians and Palestinian property with virtual impunity, even in cases that have resulted in death or serious injury. In a number of cases investigated by Human Rights Watch, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) did not intervene to stop settler attacks, and in one case responded to the settler assaults by themselves attacking the Palestinian victims. Human Rights Watch is concerned by the degree and kinds of co-ordinations between the IDF and militant settlers, many of whom are reservists, have access to IDF-supplied automatic weapons and ammunition stored in settlements, and perform their IDF service in the areas where they live.

Settlement-related destruction and confiscation of property:

  Land confiscation for settlement expansion and bypass roads and punitive destruction of Palestinian property adjacent to settlements appears to be increasing. In some instances, individual settlers have destroyed Palestinian property on an apparently ad hoc basis. In other cases the destruction and confiscation is carried out by the IDF, ostensibly in order to prevent access to lands or facilities in which demonstrators or militants might hide. According to a study by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza, between 29 September 2000 and 15 January 2001, Israeli forces razed more than 6,290 dunun of Palestinian lands in Gaza Strip alone. Three-fourths of the land razed was agricultural land, much of it planted with fruit-bearing trees that take years to mature. Eighty-eight Palestinian homes on the razed land were demolished in the process, as were numerous other structures, including income-generating greenhouses and livestock facilities.

Arbitrary arrests and detention:

  Since November Israeli has arrested increasing numbers of Palestinians in areas under its control. Information received by Human Rights Watch indicates that these arrests follow earlier patterns of night-time raids by undercover units. Where individuals and their families are frequently beaten or humiliated and their property destroyed. There are also reports that some of those detained have been subjected to position abuse-ie, forced to spend long periods of time in painful positions—during interrogation.

  The Palestinian Authority has reportedly released a number of Palestinian activists who had been detained without charge or trial, apparently as a result of Israeli/PA security co-operation agreements.

  Human Rights Watch urges the EU to:

    —  Be actively engaged on behalf of a Commission resolution that seriously addresses these human rights and humanitarian law violations and concerns:

    —  Insist that Israel as well as the Palestinian Authority co-operate with the mechanisms of the Commission and with the special panel established by the Commission at its special session of October 2000;

    —  Promote a request from the Commission to the UN Security Council to authorise the establishment of an international observer mission to monitor and report on human rights and humanitarian law violations in Gaza and the West Bank;

    —  Deplore Israel's systematic resort to excessive use of lethal force, collective punishment, and apparent policy of "liquidations";

    —  Deplore the Palestinian Authority's continued imposition of the death penalty and trials before military and state security courts that do not meet international fair trial standards, as well as its failure to prevent attacks by armed Palestinians against Israeli civilians and civilian targets.

Iran

  Despite the victory of reformist supporters of President Khatami in parliamentary elections in February 2000, the past year was marked by severe setbacks in the human rights field. Independent newspapers and magazines, a leading force for the reform movement and the most visible sign of human rights progress, have been closed down en masse. Leading writers, journalists, editors and publishers are among the dissident thinkers and reform leaders imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression. The arbitrary and unjust sentences imposed by a revolutionary court on 13 January against participants at a civil forum in Berlin underscores the seriousness of the human rights crisis in Iran. Conservatives remain in control of the judiciary and the armed forces, and they have been able to block efforts to promote reform and respect for the rule of law. Religious minorities, notably Christians, Jews and Sunni Muslims, remain subject to discrimination and persecution. Iran's Jewish community was severely shaken by the prosecution of ten Jews from Shiaz on unsubstantiated charges of having illegal contacts with a hostile foreign power. The trial took place behind closed doors in April and May 2000. Iran's Baha'is continue to be the target of intense persecution.

    —  The EU should sponsor a resolution in which the Commission stresses that the deterioration in the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic over the period since the previous session of the Commission warrants the continuation of the mandate of the Commission's Special Representative on human rights in Iran.

Russia/Chechnya

  At its 56th session the Commission adopted an EU sponsored resolution deploring abuses in Chechnya calling on Russia to take specific action to investigate violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The Commission urged Russia to invite five UN thematic mechanisms to visit Chechnya and instructed these mechanisms to report to the Commission and to the General Assembly. The centrepiece of the resolution was a requirement that Russia establish "a national, broad-based and independent commission of inquiry to investigate promptly alleged violations of human rights and breaches of international humanitarian law committed in the Republic of Chechnya in order to establish the truth and identify those responsible, with a view to bringing them to justice and preventing impunity." The resolution also urged Russian co-operation with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Council for Europe, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and other international and regional organisations.

  Human Rights Watch maintained a continuous research presence in Ingushetia from November 1999 through May 2000 and we have conducted research missions to the region and monitored the conflict from our Moscow office since then. We have exhaustively documented war crimes and other violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by both parties to the conflict, but overwhelmingly by Russian forces. These include the mass, summary execution of civilians, arbitrary detention and subsequent beating and torture of detainees, the indiscriminate bombardment of densely populated areas, systematic looting, and rape. Chechen forces have violated humanitarian law by using civilians as human shields, hostage taking, summarily executing servicemen they have captured, physically abusing civilians and violating civilian immunity.

  In October 2000, we released a report detailing the ongoing cycle of torture and extortion faced by thousands of Chechens whom Russian forces had detained in Chechnya. The report documents how Russian troops have arbitrarily detained thousands of Chechens on suspicion of collaboration with rebel fighters. "Welcome to hell" is how guards at eg the Chernokozovo detention facility would greet detainees, before forcing them to undergo a hail of blows by baton-wielding guards. Most detainees were released only after their families managed to pay large bribes to Russian officials. Others never came back.

  Resolution 2000/58 represented perhaps the broadest consensus among international actors that impunity would not be countenanced in Chechnya. However, Russia has rejected the resolution and refused to implement its chief requirements in a transparent manner. While the Council of Europe has three staff in the region, their mandate is limited and the OSCE remains blocked. Russia has invited only two thematic mechanisms to visit Chechnya and neighbouring regions (the Special Rapporteur on violence against women and Special Representative of the Secretary General for children and armed conflict). These thematic mechanisms have been informed that their visits can only take place "in general exercise" of their mandates and not in connection with the resolution. The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Special Rapporteur on torture and Special Representative of the Secretary-General on internally displaced persons are still waiting for an invitation. The invitation to the High Commissioner following her first visit to Russia/Chechnya has never been honoured. But most significantly, Russia has failed to establish a national commission of inquiry or to pursue any other serious investigation of alleged atrocities committed in Chechnya, including more than 125 summary executions and the arbitrary detention and torture of hundreds. These violations continue; in Chechnya today, civilians no longer hide from bombs, but from men in black masks. Russian troops continue, in the course of their duties, to engage in widespread looting and burning of homes, arbitrary detentions, torture, extortion, and disappearances.

  The Russian government has established mechanisms by which victims may report abuses; while welcome this is no substitute for the accountability demanded by the Commission. The procuracy has undertaken a few investigations, but has neglected the worst crimes, failing to interview witnesses, exhume bodies, or gather other crucial evidence. Russian authorities clearly have no intention of holding accountable those responsible for these crimes.

  The EU sponsored a resolution on Chechnya last year. It is therefore critically important that it follows up with another critical resolution in which the Commission:

    —  Expresses grave concern about continued human rights and humanitarian law violations committed by Russian forces and Chechen rebels to Chechnya;

    —  Condemns Russia's failure to co-operate with UN mechanisms, the failure to establish an independent commission of inquiry and the failure to undertake sincere efforts to hold accountable those responsible for crimes committed in the context of the Chechen conflict, as called for in last year's resolution;

    —  Calls for the establishment of an international commission of inquiry, mandated to investigate and document atrocities committed by both sides to the conflict in Chechnya. Such an international commission should be impartial and independent and operate in a manner consistent with the general principles outlined by the High Commissioner in her April 2000 background note on national commissions of inquiry.

Sudan

  Over the past year, the government of Sudan, under the leadership of President (Lt Gen) Omar El Bashir, intensified the 18 year-old war against the south and other marginal areas. It doubled its number of bombings hitting civilian targets in the war against the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and other rebel groups; prevented relief food from reaching needy civilians; denied free assembly and speech to its citizens; continued to arbitrarily hold people in prolonged detention and torture them; and abused children's rights, particularly through its military and logistical support for the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which held an estimated 6,000 Ugandan children captive on government-controlled Sudanese territory. The SPLA's forces continued to loot food (including relief provisions) from the civilian population—sometimes with civilian casualties—recruit child soldiers, and abuse some civilians. On both sides, impunity for human rights and humanitarian law violations remained the rule.

  Fighting spread further into the southern area of Western Upper Nile, inhabited mainly by the African Nuer. The government continued its campaign of creating a cordon sanitaire around new oil fields by forcibly displacing the Nuer population. In addition to aerial bombardment and scorched-earth attacks by government troops, the government armed Nuer proxies to fight against anti-government Nuer. The government routinely banned UN relief aircraft from Western Upper Nile and other areas on security grounds, although its military campaigns have produced tens of thousands of displaced civilians, who have been burned and looted out of their homes by pro-government Nuer militia and government forces.

  In the rebel-held Nuba mountains, the government of Sudan promised access to the UN for humanitarian needs in 1999, but for more than a decade the government has, through disingenuous excuses, impeded the provision of aid on a regular basis. The government of Sudan pursued an even harsher war of displacement of 2000 in an effort to squeeze civilians out of their homes in rebel areas and thus declare that none were left to receive UN aid all while "negotiating" access with the UN. The need of the civilians has only increased on account of these government of Sudan human rights abuses.

  Oil revenues are admittedly being used by the government of Sudan to build munitions factories making oil at once a motivation and a means for expanding the conflict into new potential oil fields in the south.

  The civil war in Sudan has put an enormous strain on the country's civilian population, particularly women an children. Unfortunately, no credible prospects for peace are on the horizon. In fact, the latest round of talks has failed to bring the parties to the conflict any closer to agreement on basic issues such as the question of state and religion. Both parties to the conflict have openly violated their respective unilateral declarations of cease-fire.

  In resolution 2000/27, the Commission on Human Rights expressed deep concern regarding the impact of the current armed conflict on the situation of human rights and its adverse effect on the civilian people, in particular women and children. The Commission called on Sudan to respect and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to respect fully international law, thereby facilitating the voluntary return, repatriation and reintegration of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes. The Commission also extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan. However, Sudan has clearly rejected the resolution and refused to comply with its obligations under international law.

    —  Human Rights Watch call on the EU to sponsor a resolution extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for another year and addressing all the principal abuses in Sudan, with deadlines for the government of Sudan to comply with.

Rwanda

  Since late 1996, the Rwandan government has ordered tens of thousands of persons to leave their homes and take up residence in officially-designated "villages" known as imidugudu. In some cases homeowners have been obliged to destroy their own homes before moving to the imidugudu; in others landholders have been obliged to cede their fields to serve as building sites. Persons unwilling to move and those critical of the policy have been subject to harassment, imprisonment, and fines by government officials.

  Established without any form of popular consultation or act of law, this policy of rural resettlement decreed a drastic change in the way of life of approximately 94 per cent of the population who had previously lived in dispersed homesteads, near the fields they cultivated and where they pastured their livestock. Households headed by women, children, and the elderly appear to have suffered most from this policy because they are least able to provide the resources needed to build new houses in the imidugudu. Thousands of persons who once lived in solid homes surrounded by their fields now live in temporary shelters made of leaves, wood, and bits of plastic. Many of them have to walk further each day to get to their fields, to fetch water or firewood, or to go to school.

  The Special Representative of the High Commissioner, Mr Michael Moussalli, drew attention to the controversial nature of this rural resettlement policy in his February 2000 report. He described having visited a resettlement site where 20 families complained that they had been forced to destroy their houses and move against their will.

  The government originally envisioned rural resettlement as part of a larger economic development policy to concentrate landholding in the hands of a smaller part of the population. Under this plan, many former landholders would become salaried labourers on the land of others or would work in some other occupation.

  When hundreds of thousands of refugees returned to Rwanda in late 1996 and early 1997, the government linked rural resettlement to the housing crisis precipitated by their return. Officials often mentioned the Arusha Accord on the return of refugees as justification for rural resettlement when in fact the relevant provisions of the Accord refer only to resettlement of returned refugees in imidugudu and say nothing about enforcing this living pattern on other Rwandans.

  Following an insurgency in northwestern Rwanda in 1997-98, the government implemented rural resettlement in that region, justifying it in part on the grounds of "national security". A similar justification has since been used in other parts of Rwanda where insurgents never threatened the population. Even in 1997-1998 in the northwest, such a justification had little merit and any semblance of need for such measures in the interest of national security has long since ended. The Rwandan government itself has repeatedly stressed the complete security, which now prevails in the country. Any restriction of freedom to choose one's residence because of national security is permissible only for the duration of the crisis and so is necessarily temporary but the Rwandan government has stated clearly that relocation to imidugudu is meant to be permanent.

  Speaking of the right to housing as specified in the ICESCR, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights held that "instances of forced eviction are prima facie incompatible with the requirements of the Covenant and can only be justified in the most exceptional circumstances, and in accordance with international law." [1]According to article 12 of the ICCPR, the state may interfere with the freedom of movement and choice of housing only on the grounds of "national security, public order (ordre public), public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others." None of these justifications is relevant in this case.

  A state may restrict the right to freedom of movement and of choice of residence, but only as provided by law. [2]The requirement that all rural dwellers live in imidugudu resulted from a simple decision by the Council of Ministers and was implemented by ministerial instructions. It was never formalised in law or examined as required by the Constitutional Court.

  In addition, the Arusha Accords guaranteed refugees who returned to Rwanda the right to settle in a place of their choice, provided they did not violate the rights of others. By compelling those who would prefer to live elsewhere to live in imidugudu, the government violates its own law as provided in protocol V, article 2, of the Accords.

  Tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of homeless persons moved voluntarily to imidugudu in order to benefit from houses which have been built or housing materials that have been provided for them there. But satisfying their needs did not require dispossessing tens of thousands of others from their homes nor does it excuse the violation of the rights of those forced to move against their will.

    —  The EU should ensure that the Commission addresses the persistent violations of human rights and rule of law in Rwanda and call for enhanced engagement by appropriate UN mechanisms.

Sierra Leone

  Sierra Leone continues to be plagued by widespread human rights abuses and the pervasive climate of impunity. While the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) continues to commit the overwhelming majority of atrocities—including rape, murder, abduction, forced conscription, and amputation, as well as attacks on Guinean villages and civilians—serious abuses are also committed by the Civil Defence Forces (CDF, primarily the Kamajors and Gbithis) including rape, systematic extortion, looting of villages, commandeering of vehicles, recruitment of children, and torture and summary execution of suspected rebels.

  The United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) is currently over 12,000 members strong, yet, despite the provisions in its current mandate, its role in protecting civilians has been extremely limited.

    —  The EU should ensure that the Commission focuses attention on the need for UNAMSIL to protect civilians;

    —  Specifically, the Commission should reaffirm UNAMSIL's obligation under its current mandate to protect civilians and to ensure that this be established as an immediate and primary concern of troops on the ground. UNAMSIL should be required to take all necessary measures to protect civilians within its areas of deployment, and to use its best efforts to expand the zone within which it is able to protect civilians.

  The human rights component of UNAMSIL has been set by the Security Council at 14. Yet, the unit has not reached its full deployment.

    —  The EU should urge that the UNAMSIL human rights component is fully staffed and deployed. UNAMSIL's efforts to promote protection for civilians would also be greatly improved if the work of the human rights unit were better integrated into the larger UNAMSIL mission;

    —  The EU should thus press the Commission to ensure that the human rights unit is strengthened with the necessary mandate and resources to enable it to investigate and publicly report on human rights abuses by all sides to the conflict, and that its findings and recommendations are given due weight by UNAMSIL's military and political component.

  The establishment of the Special Court for Sierra Leone remains an urgent priority, yet progress toward establishing the court has been extremely slow.

    —  The EU should support the expeditious establishment of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and reaffirm that there can be no impunity for perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity by any side to this conflict.

Uzbekistan

  Three years ago, the government of President Islam Karimov unleashed an unrelenting campaign against pious Muslims who practised their religion outside state controls. State authorities arrested thousands of independent Muslims on arbitrary grounds, often solely on the basis of outward acts of piety, such as regular prayer at home or Koranic study. The campaign unfolded in an environment in which the government had for years denied basic rights—to freedom of association, assembly, speech, conscience—in most sectors of society. It intensified following the February 1999 bombings in Tashkent.

  Two years of Human Rights Watch field research has documented the torture and violation of basic rights—to due process rights and to freedom of conscience—suffered by hundreds of Muslim detainees. State authorities hold them in incommunicado detention and deny them access to counsel. Police torture is a standard feature of Uzbekistan's criminal justice system; those arrested in the crackdown have been tortured by police or security agents to coerce confessions or to incriminate those with whom they have prayed or studied the Koran. In the past two years alone, at least 15 people have died in custody due to torture. Judges use coerced testimony in patently unfair trials to convict independent Muslims on charges of distributing religious literature, membership of illegal religious organisations, or "anti-constitutional activity." Independent Muslims who pray in prison are punished with beatings and solitary confinement.

  Under a publicly announced policy, families are held accountable for the actions of relatives suspected of illegal religious activity; consequently, they are often detained, held as hostages, threatened with torture, or are themselves tortured. Local governments mobilise their communities in "hate rallies," reminiscent of the Stalin era, to intimidate and ostracise those suspected of affiliation with independent Muslims.

  Last Summer's armed clashes between the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Uzbek and Kyrgz military brought closer international attention to the region's security problems. But international institutions largely failed to take into account the human rights crisis as a factor that further endangers the security of Uzbekistan and other countries in the region.

  Because the government does not tolerate free media of any kind, genuine opposition political parties, or most independent human rights organisations, accountability for these massive violations and hope for improvements, however incremental, rest solely with the international community. Human Rights Watch commends the interest in Uzbekistan shown by the High Commissioner's office, manifested in part by requests from two special mechanisms for invitations from the government of Uzbekistan for visits. Broader Commission engagement would hold the promise of more comprehensive and concerted effort toward improvements in a disastrous situation.

  Human Rights Watch calls on the EU to:

    —  Sponsor a resolution in which the Commission takes note of the severe and intransigent deterioration of human rights in Uzbekistan, and establishes the mandate for a Special Rapporteur to investigate abuses in that country;

Former Yugoslavia

  The stated commitments of the new governments in Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to abide by the terms of the Dayton-Paris Peace Accords have raised new hope that peace may take permanent hold in this volatile region. Nonetheless, five years after the accords were signed, the mark of ethnic cleaning remains, with more than one million people still displaced. With each year, their return to their homes of origin—the promise held out in the peace accords—becomes more difficult. Last year saw the first large movements of displaced persons back to their pre-war communities in which they now make up a minority population. To ensure further significant returns in 2001 a concerted effort is needed not only to provide the necessary financial resources, but also to monitor and guarantee the rights of returnees throughout the region.

  Human Rights Watch calls on the EU to support the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the former Yugoslavia and to emphasis the importance of his monitoring and facilitating the returns process. Because the displacement in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is inextricably interconnected, Human Rights Watch believes that in order to maximise the role to be played by the Rapporteur in facilitating return, the geographical scope of the mandate should remain unaltered.


1   United Nations, Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment No. 4 (1991) of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on the right to adequate housing (article 11(1) of the Covenant), 12 December 1991, paragraph 18. Back

2   ICCPR, article 12(3). Back


 
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