Press Release


Sub-Commission on the Promotion
and Protection of Human Rights
53rd session
14 August 2001

    Terrorism, Transnational Corporations, Traditional Practices Discussed

    The Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights began consideration this morning of the remaining topics on its agenda, hearing the introduction of reports on terrorism, the activities and working methods of transnational corporations, and traditional practices affecting the health of women and the girl child.

    Subcommission Alternate Expert Kalliopi Koufa, Special Rapporteur on human rights and terrorism, told the meeting among other things that it was essential to avoid falling prey to alarmist predictions which potentially justified counter-terrorist machinery which might freeze or violate human rights. Counter-terrorist action often ran the risk of being out of step with respect for human rights, she said.

    Subcommission members commenting on the report pointed to the continuing lack of a precise definition of "terrorism". Expert El-Hadji Guisse, among others, said certain acts were considered acts of "national liberation" while others were called violations of national or international law and labelled "terrorism". According to where one found oneself, Mr. Guisse said, one termed an act as terrorist or legal, and it was very difficult to come up with a standard that was acceptable to all.

    Mr. Guisse, as Chairman-Rapporteur of the Subcommission's Working Group on transnational corporations, said the Working Group was seeking extension of its mandate for a further three years to enable it to expand discussions with Governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The Working Group's objective was to carry out consideration of all aspects of transnational corporations affecting human rights, Mr. Guisse said, with the hope that such research efforts would lead to preparation of an instrument that would contain guidelines or binding standards for these corporations.

    Subcommission Expert Halima Embarek Warzazi, introducing her annual report on traditional practices affecting the health of women and the girl child, said that while such problems continued, most countries had been courageous enough to recognize the harmful effects of such practices and to face the underlying causes hidden behind the veils of culture and religion. She said public information programmes carried out by Governments and NGOs had contributed to a slow but certain change of mentalities, but that a respectful approach had to be taken in these matters, and young people had to be the focus when efforts were made to change customs; dialogue, patience, and conciliation were the route to follow.

    Earlier in the meeting, the Subcommission completed its debate on matters related to the prevention of discrimination.

    Contributing to the morning's discussion were representatives of the following NGOs: Amnesty International; the Asian Women's Human Rights Council; the International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations; Pax Romana; International Educational Development; and the International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples.

    Subcommission Experts or Alternates Iulia-Antoanella Motoc, Asbjorn Eide, Rajendra Kalidas Wimala Goonesekere, Alonso Gomez-Robledo Verduzco, Leila Zerrougui, Louis Joinet, and Soli Jehangir Sorabjee delivered statements, as did representatives of Romania, Belarus, Turkey, and Pakistan.

    Turkey, Mauritius, and Hungary spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

    The Subcommission will reconvene at 3 p.m. to continue its discussion on the remaining human rights issues on its agenda. The Subcommission intends to complete its general debate for this year's session at an extended meeting until 9 p.m. Likely to be discussed are such matters as the situation of women and girls in territories controlled by Afghan armed groups; contemporary forms of slavery; systematic rape and sexual slavery; the right to seek and enjoy asylum; smuggling and trafficking in persons; the right of return of displaced persons; reservations to human rights treaties; and human rights and human responsibilities.

    Other human rights issues

    Under this agenda item, the Subcommission has before it several documents.

    A report of the Secretary-General (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2001/4) on the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Prevention of the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography is the biennial progress report on the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Prevention of the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, which was adopted by the Commission on Human Rights in 1992. The report features updates on the situation in Guatemala, Japan, and the Russian Federation.

    A note by the Secretary-General (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2001/23) on developments in fields with which the Subcommission has been or may be concerned addresses matters concerning the international covenants on human rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the effective implementation of international instruments on human rights including reporting obligations of States parties to the United Nations instruments in the field of human rights, and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

    A memorandum submitted by the International Labour Office (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2001/24) on the prevention of discrimination and protection of indigenous peoples and minorities addresses how indigenous groups are covered by various International Labour Organization conventions, including the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. The report also contains a description of how indigenous peoples enjoy economic, social and cultural rights within the realm of globalization, the right to social security and multinational enterprises.

    A note by the Secretary-General (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2001/26) on smuggling and trafficking in persons and the protection of human rights reveals that today one in every 50 human beings is a migrant worker, refugee, asylum seeker or an immigrant living in another country. Migrations were increasing because of globalization, and as they increased, the incidence and severity of abusive forms of migration, such as trafficking and migrant smuggling had increased too. The report concludes that the human rights community has a special responsibility to ensure that the trafficking and migrant smuggling issues are not simply reduced to problems of public order and organized crime.

    A report submitted by Subcommission Expert Halima Embarek Warzazi (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2001/27) on traditional practices affecting the health of women and the girl child concludes that it is necessary to continue dialogue and education to end the practice of honour killings. The report also states that female genital mutilation is a real public-health problem considering its extent and its harmful consequences for the health of women and girls, and that it is not a practice prescribed by Islam.

    A report of the Secretary-General (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2001/28) on the situation of women and girls in the territories occupied by Afghan armed groups concludes that in order to prevent the occurrence of further atrocities, an effective international initiative is needed to expose and hold to account those responsible for war crimes, breaches of international humanitarian law and gross violations of human rights.

    A report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2001/29) on systematic rape, sexual slavery and slavery-like practices during armed conflicts concludes that conventional and extra-conventional human rights mechanisms should continue and strengthen their consideration of all gender-based violations of human rights. It also calls for an end to impunity for acts of sexual violence and sexual slavery during armed conflict; the international community, Governments and non-governmental actors should exercise political will and undertake concerted actions.

    A report of the Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery on its twenty-sixth session (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2001/30) recommends that all States which are not parties to the Slavery Convention of 1926, or other related conventions, become parties as soon as possible. The report also expresses the hope that the Working Group will receive cooperation from all States, particularly the States most concerned, with regard to the annual issue selected by the Working Group, and invites non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations to provide information and testimonies with regard to the particular issue selected for consideration at the annual session of the Working Group.

    A report by Subcommission Alternate Expert Kalliopi K. Koufa (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2001/31) on terrorism and human rights concludes that the full realization of human rights involves, among other things, the achievement of economic balance among States, including the right to development. In similar fashion, the report continues, better efforts should be made to achieve improved relations between States because it is viewed as essential to the global realization of human rights as indicated in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

    Statements under the Prevention of Discrimination

    MELINDA CHINE, of Amnesty International, said the right to be free from torture was absolute, yet torture and ill-treatment continued to be reported in over 150 countries at the dawn of the twenty-first century. This right should not be denied to anyone under any circumstances. Discrimination played a central role in the persistence of torture today. Previous Amnesty International campaigns against torture had highlighted the plight of prisoners of conscience and other political dissidents persecuted for their beliefs. Victims of torture also included people targeted simply because of their identity and for reasons of discrimination on grounds such as race, gender, or sexual orientation. Torture fed off discrimination. Racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of prejudice meant that certain people were particularly vulnerable to ill-treatment in police or prison custody. Discrimination also left certain people less protected against violence by non-State actors in the street or in the home, such as racist attacks, domestic violence or homophobic hate crimes. Discrimination in the criminal justice system could also mean that victims of torture or ill-treatment were denied equal protection of law, reinforcing impunity for the perpetrators.

    While noble efforts had been made within the United Nations system to address discrimination on grounds such as race and gender, there was concern that other related forms of discrimination had received less attention by the human rights community. The torture of lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans-gender people was a widespread and worldwide problem, but one which appeared to provoke little outrage. The stigma and prejudice surrounding homosexuality in many parts of the world meant that such cases were rarely documented or denounced. Where official complaints were made, they were frequently met with official indifference. The human rights movement was urged to guard against colluding with this conspiracy of silence.

    IULIA-ANTOANELLA MOTOC, Subcommission Expert, said the Working Group on indigenous populations agreed with the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that had urged that the work of the Group should continue. She felt this wish of the NGOs should be respected. She hoped that the Working Group would be able to deal with matters related to minorities in a less academic manner. There had been a very moving ceremony at the last session when Mrs. Daes had announced that the gathering would be her last with the Working Group.

    AKIRA MAEDA and FANG CHA SON, of the Asian Women's Human Rights Council, said that in the past, Japan had deprived Koreans' of their name and their language since the beginning of their colonial rule over Korea. This systematic discrimination continued to exist. For instance, Korean residents had been prohibited from wearing their national costume. Korean school girls wearing their national costumes had been the targets of discriminatory actions like violence by Japanese people. Such intolerable cases were still continuing. Recently, after strong protests and denunciations started coming out of the Korean Peninsula, China and other Asian countries against the distortion of Japanese history books, violent words and violations against Korean school girls had started to increase again.

    The Japanese Government did not take any effective measures to prevent this discrimination. The Government put up enlightenment posters and argued that it worked for the prevention of such instances, but the content of those posters said to cherish all children, and did not speak of discrimination. Japan did not look squarely at the history and the reality and was not willing to acknowledge its responsibility for the past and current wrongdoing. This should not be tolerated. It was an indispensable issue to protect the dignity of ethnic minorities for the international protection of human rights.

    SAFI GHULAM MUHAMMAD, of the International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations, said the Federation believed that internal self-determination and autonomy met the demands of all those minorities which wanted redress for their grievances within the Constitutional frameworks of their countries, while external self-determination met the demands of people of disputed or occupied territories and even territories where autonomy had been eroded and forced integration legitimized. It was unfortunate that the Dalits were meeting the same fate as those who resisted an occupying power in a disputed or occupied territory such as Kashmir or Palestine. History testified to the fact that people and territories forcibly separated on whatever grounds were finally reunited -- Germany was a classic example -- while forced integration of people or territories resulted in disintegration.

    Hatred fuelled by India between the minority and majority communities in Jammu and Kashmir through planned migration of Pandits and through the killings of Hindus and Sikhs was a matter of grave concern, as was the plight of Indian Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Dalits. The Working Group on minorities should consider the Human Rights Watch report "India's Secret Army". Mr. Kartashkin, for his part, should broaden the scope of his study so that States learned from the experiences of the Cold War era.

    CHRISTOPHER NORWOOD, of Pax Romana, said Article 2.3 of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities stated that persons belonging to minorities had the right to participate effectively in decisions on the national and regional level concerning the minority to which they belonged. More than half of the 180,000 rejected ballots in the State of Florida in the 2000 Presidential election were African-American votes. The Florida election was decided by less than 500 votes; Florida was the decisive and last state in the closest election in American history. This election was achieved in the old-fashioned way in Unites States electoral politics -- on the backs of black folk. This huge disparity in discarded votes was a poignant reminder that there were indeed two Americas -- not only with regards to education, health-care, housing, access to jobs and the much-talked about prosperity, but most importantly with regards to voting. The African-American turnout in Florida was an astounding 65 per cent higher than the last presidential election in 1996. African-Americans were mobilized for this election. Unfortunately, this mobilization was thwarted.

    Black voters were 10 times more likely than non-black voters to have their ballots rejected. Over 14 per cent of Florida's black voters cast ballots that were rejected, as compared with approximately 1.6 per cent of non-black Florida voters. The Subcommission was asked to prepare a working paper to study the effective participation of peoples of African descent in all parts of the world. The Subcommission was also asked to continue its work on discrimination based on work and descent. Pax Romana also urged the Working Group on minorities to continue its study of the effective participation of minorities in national and regional decision-making.

    ASBJORN EIDE, Subcommission Expert, said the Working Group on minorities was studying the effective participation of minorities in such matters as politics; while the Working Group could not prepare a working paper, he would encourage the development of a conference room paper on the topic by a non-governmental organization concerned with the situation of African-Americans for presentation to the next session of the Working Group.

    IOAN MAXIM (Romania) said a law adopted by the Hungarian Parliament concerned Hungarians living in neighbouring countries. The persons to which it applied would receive the benefits guaranteed by Hungary -- education, social and medical services, and grants and scholarships, for example. This assistance was subject to prior recommendation from ethnic minority organizations. The Government of Romania said this law was discriminatory against all the citizens living in the affected States. These benefits were only meant for a certain minority group. Romania and the Republic of Hungary were bound in their bilateral treaties, which held both Governments to the highest international standards. The observations of the Romania side was not taken into account when the Hungarian Government was adopting the law. The provisions of the law went far beyond the standards of national minorities. It was possible that the standards were not considered sufficient, but this law was not a way to improve them.

    SERGEI ANOSHKO (Belarus) said his country was keenly aware of the unfairness of discrimination on any grounds whatsoever; one of the crucial tasks of the United Nations was the development of the full respect of the rights of all persons without distinction. Belarus was a multi-national State with Ukrainians, Russians, Jews, and other groups of varying proportions among the majority of Belarussians. There was an absence of tension and a continuous harmonious co-existence between all components of society. The national policy, backed by legislation and implementation, was to guarantee full effectiveness and equality for all members of society on the basis of equality before the law and respect for human rights.

    Belarussian legislation prohibited activities that promoted racial enmity or hatred; over 80 social organizations and 19 societies pursued cultural and other objectives of various social groups. The upcoming World Conference against Racism would, it was hoped, become a landmark in the continuing battle against discrimination. Belarus, which had suffered greatly from Nazism, regarded with concern the development of neo-Nazi groups in Western Europe and North America; Governments should take serious measures to block the development of such groups and their unacceptable philosophies.

    Rights of Reply

    The representative of Turkey, speaking in a right of reply, said there needed to be some clarifications of the statement made by Mrs. Hampson. It was interesting to see her interest, and it was thought she had to have well-informed sources. But it had to be ensured that her sources were accurate and not biased. Mrs. Hampson said that all the victims in cases where Turkey had been found guilty of killings and torture by the European Court of Human Rights were of Kurdish origin. That was not accurate. Kurds were recognized by the Government. When the facts were not correct, the judgement reached based on these facts was also not correct. Turkey was made up of a multitude of ethnic, religious and cultural elements. Different ethnic identities, including the Kurdish, were acknowledged and accepted. The State did not categorize its citizens along ethnic lines.

    The representative of Mauritius, speaking in right of reply, said the intervention by Liberation last Friday had been inaccurate. The archipelago referred to was unlawfully excised from Mauritius by the United Kingdom prior to Mauritius's achievement of independence. Ever since Mauritius had sought its return. It was an integral part of the country, yet its occupants, who were Mauritian citizens, had been forcibly evicted from that territory. Mauritius had consistently called -- including last year in the General Assembly -- for the return of the archipelago and the return to their homes of those evicted. It would continue to do so.

    The representative of Hungary, speaking in a right of reply, said the law adopted by the Hungarian Parliament was forward-looking. Hungary's neighbours were informed as the law was being implemented. Its goal was to contribute to the linguistic and cultural identity of Hungarians. The act did not contain any discriminatory provisions at all. It aimed to compensate those who were suffering from disadvantages rising from minority status in other countries. This was in full harmony with international norms. By this act, Hungary was not taking anything from its neighbours.

    Statements under Other Human Rights Issues

    . KALLIOPI KOUFA, Subcommission Expert and Special Rapporteur on terrorism, presenting a progress report on terrorism and human rights (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2001/31), said one of the major difficulties of the report was balancing all the issues involved with terrorism with all the questions that were posed by the Commission on Human Rights. There was an overwhelming amount of information. The documents made available for the report required careful attention, and there were still papers and documents that needed more attention. In addition, there was only a limited amount of information received from Governments, including some that came in after the deadline. It was believed that the Subcommission should authorize a second progress report so more information could be included before a final report was drafted.

    The report updated international action on terrorism, and not just United Nations action. There was also information about action taken by regional organizations, including the European Union and the Organization of African Unity. The report also defined terrorism, and set standards about who could be considered a terrorist. The study considered not only the historical genesis of terrorism, but also current trends in terrorism, including the gradually blurring lines between terrorism and criminality. Another critical area that stood in the way of a definition of terrorism was the question of distinguishing between terrorism and armed conflict.

    Referring to contemporary forms of terrorism, the report addressed cyber-terrorism, and the possible of the exploitation of new technologies by terrorist groups. It was essential to avoid falling prey to alarmist predictions, which potentially justified counter-terrorist machinery which might freeze or violate human rights. Counter-terrorist action may not only be in sync with the respect for human rights. The report attempted to address many questions about the impact of terrorism, including on judicial process rights, the question of impunity and extradition.

    KAREN PARKER, of International Educational Development, said State terrorism in the form of Government terror against its own people produced far more gross violations of human rights than any other form of terrorism; an example was China's treatment of the Falun Gong. The Government had sought to justify its terrorism against Falun Gong by calling it an evil cult that had caused deaths and the break-up of families, but the organization's investigation showed that the only deaths and resulting family breakups had been at the hands of Chinese authorities, who had resorted to extreme torture and unacceptable detention of thousands of people. International Educational Development had discovered that a self-immolation cited by the Chinese Government as proof that the Falun Gong was an evil cult in fact had been staged. The international community and the Subcommission should urgently address this situation.

    International Educational Development also agreed with the Special Rapporteur that Governments in armed conflicts with opposition groups too often unfairly termed the opposition "terrorism" when the true issue was self-determination, as in Kashmir; or used the term "ethnic conflict" as a way of casting certain conflicts as a kind of terrorism; the Sri Lanka-Tamil, Turkey-Kurdish, Indonesia-Acheh and Indonesia-Molucca conflicts were examples. Domestic legislation should be considered in any review of matters of terrorism.

    LUDOVICA VERZEGNASSI, of the European Union of Public Relations, said militant groups in Pakistan held annual congregations attended by senior government dignitaries of Pakistan. These congregations were marked by calls for jihads against Jews and Hindus. A daily newspaper in Pakistan reported last April that the groups operated six private military training camps in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir where several thousand persons were given both military and religious education. With more than 2,200 unit offices across the country and over two dozen launching camps, these groups had one of the biggest Jihadi networks in Pakistan. Their followers came from all walks of life. In past sessions of the Subcommission, and the Commission on Human Rights, many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had talked about the horrific impact of terrorism on the human rights of civilians. Pakistan's magazines were replete with colour photographs of the dead and wounded. It was imperative that the entire world community and particularly the human rights activists take note. Terrorism was now no longer confined to distant lands. Was the international community to remain sleeping, or would it battle this evil?

    VERENA GRAF, of the International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples, said terrorism affected many human rights and was often linked to narcotics traffic and other criminal activities. The report of Mrs. Koufa would contribute to combatting terrorism. However, it was hoped that under Chapter 2 of her report, she would in the future come up with a definition of terrorism. A precise definition was a must, so that terrorists could be identified. It also was necessary because non-State terrorists could not currently be so identified under international law.

    Also needed was a list of States that financed and supported terrorism. Some States supported a culture of war, as was the case in Turkey in relation to the Kurds and in Sri Lanka in relation to the Tamils. Positive initiatives on the part of the Kurds, through the PKK, some years ago to establish a culture of peace and mutual existence with the rest of Turkey had been rejected by the Government, leading in time to violent struggle. The same pattern had occurred in Sri Lanka, where a cease-fire proposed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam had been rejected by the Government. Who was the terrorist? In general, States had been reluctant to support the Subcommission's study on terrorism, which raised concerns about their true motivations.

    HUSREV UNLER (Turkey) said as a country that suffered from terrorism for many years, it combatted terrorism in any form. Terrorism was a danger for democratic society. It threatened not only life, but also threatened the idea of human rights norms, including freedom of the press and freedom of expression. The drug trade was used to fund terrorist acts. The report was a courageous one -- and the author should be commended. Non-State players caused serious harm to people and their human rights, and it was hoped that Mrs. Koufa would study this issue in a follow-up report. In the report, the word "sub-State" was not clear, and it was thought that the term "non-State player" could be used instead. The need for more effective international cooperation in combatting terrorism needed to be studied more in depth. Battles against drug trafficking had to be stepped up, using existing international instruments.

    EL HADJI GUISSE, Subcommission Expert, said the report on terrorism dealt with a complex matter and all its difficulties; one had to define what a terrorist act was. Defining a terrorist act, in his view, was first to place it in a given context. Context was important. Certain acts were considered acts of national liberation, others as violations of national or international law. According to where one found oneself, one termed the act as terrorist or legal. It was very difficult to come up with a standard that was acceptable to everyone. The line between a legitimate struggle for self-determination and terrorism could be a blurry one, depending on the point of view of the person looking at it.

    Mrs. Koufa had made great efforts, but he had to say that he was waiting for something more specific. He was still waiting for a specific definition of terrorism. He still thought one had to look at specific contexts to find it. In his view, this was the most difficult study the Subcommission had ever undertaken. He really did not know how far the study could go, there were such huge differences in perception and context, although the efforts already made were valuable and appreciated.

    HALIMA EMBAREK WARZAZI, Subcommission Expert, said the Special Rapporteur had done excellent work, and she should be congratulated for her courage, impartiality, and objectivity. The subject of terrorism was emotional and loaded. The General Assembly had never arrived at a precise definition of who was a terrorist. Perhaps it would be done one day. Thanks to the report, it was known that there were two types of terrorism -- State terrorism, or terrorism by individuals or groups of individuals. What the Special Rapporteur had said about there having to be a distinction between armed conflict and terrorism was welcomed. The report also stated that it was important not to fall prey to alarmist predictions that could lead the State to crack down on human rights. The life and security of those within a jurisdiction should be protected always. In the cases of occupation, it was regrettable that innocent people got in the way of people committing State terrorism.

    RAJENDRA KALIDAS WIMALA GOONESEKERE, Subcommission Expert, said the report on terrorism was an impressive undertaking that provided a wealth of information; the analysis, significantly, was without reference to any country situation, although unfortunately terrorism was present in many countries. The deliberate avoidance of examples was a benefit -- in its place was a careful conceptual framework on such matters as State-supported or State-sponsored terrorism. He agreed with Mrs. Koufa that this kind of approach made a definition not so important, although he thought there should be a definition. Of course a definition was difficult, as had been noted in the report.

    One question was whether ordinary criminal laws were adequate to deal with terrorism; many countries thought not, but it should be pointed out that whatever efforts were made by States should not go beyond international standards for human rights.

    ASBJORN EIDE, Subcommission Expert, said it was an excellent report. And the discussion on the impact of terrorism was appreciated. The States with the best human rights records were the States least likely to be affected by international terrorism. It had to be remembered that sometimes acts of violence were indiscriminate. Was it justified to exclude acts of terror -- acts meant to spread terror -- from armed conflicts? Was an armed conflict a civil war, or was it when a group was fighting for liberation and self-determination? Self-determination was important, but inflating claims of it was a dangerous precedent. In Sri Lanka, the Tamil Tigers, were fighting, and there were concerns that fell within the humanitarian field. But the group also committed acts that were in no way related to the issue of armed conflicts -- for example, the use of suicide bombers.

    Some acts could be considered terroristic in nature, even during armed conflicts. Not all authors of acts of terror were terrorists. Another observation concerned the scope of sub-State terrorism. It was important to note when sub-State terrorists acted with the acquiescence of the State, as opposed to actions carried out by opposition to the leaders of the Government. There was also an increasing problem with militarization, that could lead to security areas which had an over-reliance of military actions that could come close to acts of terror.

    ALONSO GOMEZ-ROBLEDO VERDUZC0, Subcommission Alternate Expert, said the report on terrorism was an example of how a politically explosive topic could be addressed successfully, dealing with controversial matters in a way that contributed to international law. Among other things, extradition matters related to "terrorists" were complicated and controversial. An international agreement on this subject could go beyond the treaty level to the level of international customary law. Reactions involved in combatting terrorism should be preventive; actions taken after terrorist acts should be as effective and satisfactory as possible. He agreed with Mrs. Koufa that today it was better to refrain from a strict definition of terrorism. But that was not an obstacle to undertaking rigorous analyses that might lead to a good definition in the future.

    Did Mrs. Koufa think the extradition mechanism should be improved upon? Did she think the so-called principle of universal jurisdiction should be increasingly strengthened internationally as well as in national legislation? And did she think the international legal framework and the struggle against terrorism constituted the right context for each other, or were the many treaties and conventions involved too plagued with ambiguities?

    LEILA ZERROUGUI, Subcommission Expert, said Mrs. Koufa should be commended for her courageous and objective report. This was not easy work. It was an explosive subject. Extradition could be a worrisome topic. It was an ambiguous area, and the area deserved to be addressed in the future work of the Subcommission. It was difficult to describe a political crime. And another problem was that for humanitarian reasons, States, when they considered reasons for a fair trial, refused to extradite. When there was no treaty, some Anglo-Saxon countries demanded extradition. Nothing compelled the requested State to extradite. In many cases, terrorists claiming responsibility for crimes could be expelled to a country that would allow them to continue their criminal activity. With crimes against mankind, States should cooperate so terrorists could not escape punishment.

    IULIA-ANTOANELLA MOTOC, Subcommission Expert, said the report was impressive and made it clear that the legal framework relating to terrorism was still ambiguous. Before proceeding to a definition of terrorism, the whole area around the topic had to be organized. The difference between a "terrorist" and a "freedom fighter", given international conceptions and perspectives even within the Subcommission, seemed to indicate that a definition that was widely acceptable was some time off. She thought references in the report to the United Nations Charter and when and how the United Nations might intervene in national affairs were not perhaps accurate, and wondered if the strict legal standards mentioned could be looked into more closely.

    LOUIS JOINET, Subcommission Expert, said certain terrorists had become recognized Heads of State. This was a difficult, complex issue. It was interesting to see what happened to the concept of terrorism when there was a process of democratization. What happened when a degree of political violence was used to establish democracy? Was it justified? Human rights had to be respected at every step. It was interesting to look at the ETA in Spain. Many activists supported the Basque cause during Franco's regime. But Francoism died with Franco, and the situation changed. Was political violence legitimate if it battled tyranny? It was known that civilian populations could never be targets of political violence. It could never be justified.

    MUMTAZ BALOUCH (Pakistan) said his country condemned terrorism in all its forms; it was a victim of terrorism often sponsored from across the border by certain hostile forces. Mrs. Koufa's report dealt with a complex and sensitive subject. The Subcommission's role was to address root causes comprehensively, and these included oppression, poverty, and absence of freedoms that provoked people to resort to non-peaceful means. Pakistan agreed with the way the Special Rapporteur avoided the controversy that often surrounded the issue of terrorism.

    The absence of a definition had been used by some States as an excuse to carry out certain cross border acts or to block legitimate efforts at self-determination. The issue of a definition had to be urgently addressed. Legitimate self-determination and self-defense should be allowed under a concept of terrorism. Circumstances which often led to the use of non-peaceful means should be taken into account. There was a need to incorporate and penalize "State terrorism", which was the most pervasive form. In her future work, the Special Rapporteur should draw a clear distinction between the diplomatic and moral support given by a State to oppressed or occupied peoples and State-sponsored terrorism which was directed to create anarchy or to overthrow legitimately constituted States.

    SOLI JEHANGIR SORABJEE, Subcommission Expert, said it was important not to get lost in semantics in definitions. A United States Supreme Court Justice said he could not define obscenity, but he knew it when he saw it. Whatever the conditions and circumstances, use of violence against innocent civilians could not be defensible. And when people were seen celebrating the death of innocent civilians, it was not known what was happening with humanity.

    MRS. WARZAZI, Subcommission Expert, presenting her report on traditional practices affecting the health of women and girls, said that since 1996, 44 countries had provided useful information to her on the question; most countries had been courageous enough to recognize the harmful effects of such practices and to face the underlying causes hidden behind the veils of culture and religion. Public information programmes carried out by Governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had contributed to a slow but certain change of mentalities. A respectful approach had to be taken in these matters, and young people had to be the focus when efforts were made to change customs. Dialogue, patience, and conciliation were the route to follow.

    Contempt, exploitation, violence against, and confinement of women continued to be a problem and efforts had to continue to eradicate traditional practices, Mrs. Warzazi said; a number of United Nations agencies had become involved in efforts to end such abuses. She remained dependent on the help of NGOs and reliable press reports, and she still was obligated to report to the Subcommission news that was sad. She recently had learned that a number of women had been executed in Baghdad, without anything like sufficient respect for their rights, because it was felt that society had to be freed from the scourge of prostitution. "Honour" had been cited, furthermore, for the assassinations of various women in Iran. Crimes of honour were punished in the hundreds in Turkey; the phenomenon seemed to be becoming more widespread and she hoped the Government would continue efforts to end such crimes and to amend the Turkish penal code to ensure greater protection and more certain punishment of perpetrators. Crimes of honour also had been reported in Brazil, Italy, Uganda and Great Britain. Fear of scandal in India seriously limited the number of complaints about tradition-based killings of women and violence against women.

    Efforts continued to combat female genital mutilation, including through the adoption of laws in some European countries, Mrs. Warzazi said. However, adoption of such laws always should be accompanied by efforts to educate relevant populations. It was vital in trying to end traditional practices to proceed with caution and constant supervision. It was essential to gain the sympathy of the Governments and populations concerned; a false step could cause harm to the cause everyone wanted to defend.

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