18 April 2000
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS ADOPTS RESOLUTIONS ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN MYANMAR, SIERRA LEONE, CUBA, THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA, SUDAN AND IRAN
The Commission on Human Rights this afternoon adopted resolutions on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Sierra Leone, Cuba, the former Yugoslavia, Sudan, and Iran, as well as a decision on Cyprus.
In a resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar which was accepted without a vote, the Commission expressed its grave concern at the increased repression of any form of public political activity; the arbitrary detention, imprisonment, and systematic surveillance of those exercising their rights to freedom of thought, expression, assembly and association; and deplored the continuing pattern of gross and systematic violations of human rights in Myanmar.
Concerning human rights in Sierra Leone, the Commission adopted by consensus a resolution which expressed grave concern at the continuing abuses of human rights and humanitarian law committed in Sierra Leone, generally with impunity, in particular atrocities against civilians being perpetrated by the Revolutionary United Front Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and the ex-Sierra Leone Army.
With regards to the situation of human rights in Cuba, approved by a roll-call vote of 21 in favour to 18 against and 14 abstentions, the Commission called upon the Government of Cuba to ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and to provide the appropriate framework to guarantee the rule of law through democratic institutions and the independence of the judicial system.
In a resolution on the situation of human rights in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), the Republic of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, approved by a roll-call vote of 44 in favour to 1 against and 8 abstentions, the Commission expressed grave concern at the ongoing serious violations of human rights and the deteriorating situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro); condemned all acts of ethnic violence and intimidation by all parties in Kosovo; called upon the new Government of Croatia to ensure full compliance with international norms and standards of human rights and fundamental freedoms; and condemned in the strongest possible terms the intimidation and perpetuation of violence against minority refugees and internally displaced persons returning to their homes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
As for the situation of human rights in Sudan, the Commission adopted a resolution by show of hands vote of 28 in favour to none against and 24 abstentions which welcomed the expressed commitment of the Government to respect and promote human rights and the rule of law while expressing concern about continuing violations of human rights in areas under control of the Government. The Commission urged all parties to the conflict to respect and protect human rights.
Concerning the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, adopted by a roll-call vote of 22 in favour to 20 against and 11 abstentions, the Commission welcomed the progress made in that country in the area of freedom of expression and the status of women in some areas; and expressed concern about the discrimination against religious minorities, in particular the unabated pattern of persecution against the Baha'is, including death sentences and arrests.
In a decision submitted by the Chairperson of the Commission on the question of human rights in Cyprus, adopted with a vote, the Commission decided to retain on its agenda sub-item (a), entitled "Question of human rights in Cyprus", of the item entitled "Question of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world" and to give it due priority at its fifty-seventh session.
The Commission also adopted a resolution on cooperation with representatives of United Nations human rights bodies.
The following delegations spoke during the afternoon meeting: Myanmar, Japan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Cuba, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Venezuela, Chile, China, Mexico, Argentina, Croatia, Peru, India, Brazil, the United States, Sudan, Indonesia, Qatar and Nigeria.
The Commission is scheduled to hold an extended evening meeting from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. during which it will continue to take action on draft resolutions.
Action on draft resolutions
In a resolution on the cooperation with representatives of United Nations human rights bodies (E/CN.4/2000/L.31), adopted without a vote, the Commission urged Governments to refrain from all acts of intimidation or reprisal against those who sought to cooperate with representatives of United Nations human rights bodies, or who had provided testimony or information to them; those who availed or had availed themselves of procedures established under the United Nations auspices for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and all those who had provided legal assistance to them for that purpose; those who submitted or had submitted communications under procedures established by human-rights instruments; and those who were relatives of victims of human-rights violations.
The Commission requested all representatives of United Nations human rights bodies, as well as treaty bodies monitoring the observance of human rights, to continue to take urgent steps; and to include in their respective reports to the United Nations bodies a reference to allegations of intimidation or reprisal and of hampering of access to United Nations human rights procedures.
In a resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (E/CN.4/2000/L.33), accepted without a vote, the Commission expressed its grave concern at the increased repression of any form of public political activity; the arbitrary detention, imprisonment, and systematic surveillance of those exercising their rights to freedom of thought, expression, assembly and association; and deplored the continuing pattern of gross and systematic violations of human rights in Myanmar, including extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, particularly in areas of ethnic tension, and enforced disappearances, torture, harsh prison conditions, and abuse of women and children by government agents, among other things. It also deplored the lack of independence of the judiciary; the continued violations of the human rights of, and widespread discriminatory practices against, persons belonging to minorities; the continuing violations of the human rights of women; and the escalation in the persecution of democratic groups activists.
It called upon the Government of Myanmar to establish a constructive dialogue with the United Nations system, including human rights mechanisms, for the effective promotion and protection of human rights in the country; to continue to cooperate with the Secretary-General to broaden the dialogue; and to become a party to the various international conventions on human rights. It urged the Government of Myanmar to cooperate fully with all United Nations representatives, in particular with the Special Rapporteur, to allow him urgently to conduct a field mission and to establish direct contacts with the Government and all other relevant sectors of society; strongly urged the Government to implement fully the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur; and release immediately and unconditionally those detained or imprisoned for political reasons; and to take all appropriate measures to allow all citizens to participate freely in the political process.
U MYA THAN (Myanmar) said that draft resolution L33 was a repeat of last year's resolution with all the defects to the letter. Moreover, L33 had an additional demerit of prejudging a future outcome before it took place. The draft resolution was so thoroughly flawed that it could be refuted paragraph by paragraph. The representative cited a few instances of what he termed as the politicized nature and the dubious intent of the draft resolution to undermine and undo the concrete achievements of the Myanmar Government. The practice of forced labour was non-existent in Myanmar and any violations of the rights of workers had been effectively prohibited by tradition, culture, practice and law.
The draft resolution turned a blind eye to the undeniable and concrete achievements accomplished by the State Peace and Development Council, including the prevalence of peace and tranquillity throughout the country, the unprecedented degree of national unity and reconsolidation, the significant economic progress, the infrastructure building on an unprecedented scale as well as border area development on an unprecedented scale. The National Convention was taking progressive and systematic steps to establish a modern, peaceful and developed democratic State in accordance with the aspiration of the people of Myanmar. The National Convention was a truly representative body, encompassing representatives from various political parties legally existing in the country, representatives of national groups and representatives from different social strata.
KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) said that his country agreed with the international community that it was in the interest of Myanmar to invite a Special Rapporteur so there could be a clear and objective account of the human rights situation. There had been clear but subtle developments in Myanmar which should be taken into account for future smooth cooperation with
the Government of Myanmar. The ILO outcome should not be speculated upon. Even though the draft made reference to the generosity of Thailand in receiving refugees, no acknowledgement was made of the equally important contribution made by Bangladesh.
IFTEKHAR CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that it had given sanctuary to 260,000 refugees from Myanmar. Bangladesh hosted this enormous influx of refugees despite its tremendous resource constraints. A large number had returned to Myanmar but to date over 20,000 remained. Bangladesh did not seek praise for the humanitarian contribution it had made but said that an acknowledgement was not too much to ask for. All it asked was to be mentioned alongside others as having provided shelter to refugees from Myanmar.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) joined the consensus on L33 but wished to make it clear that Pakistan continued to entertain a reservation to the preamble paragraph 9 on the ILO. Pakistan did not support this measure and could not endorse it in the draft resolution.
In a resolution on the situation of human rights in Sierra Leone (E/CN.4/2000/L.34), adopted by consensus, the Commission welcomed the steps taken by the Government of Sierra Leone and Sierra Leonean civil society to create a human rights infrastructure in the country, in particular the efforts to establish and effectively function the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a National Human Rights Commission and a Commission for the Consolidation of Peace, and reiterated the continued need to promote peace and national reconciliation and to foster accountability and respect for human rights; the recent adoption of a statute establishing the Truth Reconciliation Commission and the recent establishment of a new National Electoral Commission; and the adoption of the Human Rights Manifesto by the Government of Sierra Leone.
The Commission expressed its grave concern at the continuing abuses of human rights and humanitarian law committed in Sierra Leone, generally with impunity, in particular atrocities against civilians being perpetrated by the Revolutionary United Front Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and the ex-Sierra Leone Army, including rapes, abductions, hostage-taking, summary executions, mutilations, forced labour and the targeting and abuse of women and children, the recruitment and use of child soldiers contrary to international law and the continued detention of abductees; at the slow pace of the disarmament, demobilizing and reintegration programme; at continued trafficking in small arms and the continued retention by certain ex-combatants of heavy weapons; and the dire humanitarian situation affecting the population, including refugees and internationally displaced persons, caused by the limited humanitarian access to the population particularly in the most affected areas of the north and east of the country.
It deplored the ongoing atrocities committed by the rebels, including murders, rapes and abductions, and called for an end to all such acts; urged all parties to the Lome Peace Agreement to fulfil all their commitments under the Agreement; to respect human rights and international humanitarian law, including the human rights and welfare of women and children; to release all abductees, to stop the recruitment and use of children as soldiers contrary to international law; and to cease all attacks on civilians; and called the Government of Sierra Leone to continue to comply with its obligations to promote and protect human rights; to continue to work closely and strengthen
further its cooperation in the areas of human rights with the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; and decided to request the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the international community to continue to assist the Government of Sierra Leone to establish and maintain an effectively functioning Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Human Rights Commission.
Concerning a resolution on the situation on human rights in Cuba (E/CN.4/2000/L.35), approved by a roll-call vote of 21 in favour to 18 against and 14 abstentions, the Commission called upon the Government of Cuba to ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and to provide the appropriate framework to guarantee the rule of law through democratic institutions and the independence of the judicial system; expressed the hope that further positive steps would be taken with regard to all human rights and fundamental freedoms; noted certain measures taken by Cuba to enhance freedom of religion and called upon Cuban authorities to continue taking appropriate measures in that regard; and called upon the Government of Cuba to consider acceding to human rights instruments to which it was not yet a party, in particular the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
It reiterated its concern about the continued repression of members of the political opposition and about the detention of dissidents, including the members of the Grupo de Trabajo de la Disidencia Interna, and called upon the Government of Cuba to release all the persons detained or imprisoned for peacefully expressing their views. It further called upon the Government to open a dialogue with the political opposition, as already requested by several groups.
The outcome of the result was as follows:
In favour: Argentina, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Morocco, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Spain, the United Kingdom and
the United States.
Against: Bhutan, Botswana, Burundi, China, Congo, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Liberia, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Russian Federation, Sudan, Tunisia, Venezuela and Zambia.
Abstentions: Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Senegal, Sri Lanka and Swaziland.
CARLOS AMAT FORES (Cuba) said the traditional hostility of the United States against the Cuban nation had included direct military interventions, mercenary invasions, the imposition of a genocidal economic, commercial and financial blockade against the island, the introduction of germs to propagate disease among the civilian population and harm the crops, encouragement of illegal immigration by according Cuban immigrants special status, financing and abetting actions against public order and security in Cuba and assasination attempts against Cuban leaders. The United States Government had not given up on its interest to manipulate the Commission. Once again, the Czech Republic had been recruited to submit a resolution against Cuba. It was well known that the true author of the draft resolution was the United
States. Public pressure had been put on representatives of sovereign States to induce them to vote against Cuba. The selectivity, politicization and double standards in respect of Cuba questioned the credibility of the Commission's mechanisms and objectivity. It was not genuine concern for human rights that prompted the US to act against Cuba.
The true reasons behind the US action were its desire to discredit and slander the Cuban revolution to justify its dirty war and genocidal blockade against the country. The true reasons were also to satisfy the geopolitical and internal interests of the United States and to keep happy a small ultra-right group of Cuban immigrants who financed American political parties in a year of elections. With this resolution, the US attempted to impose a supposedly paradigmatic model of human rights which ran contrary to the true democratic ideals that the US claimed to defend. How could it be justified that human rights concerns were not expressed with regard to the US where flagrant violations of human rights were committed against Afro Americans, indigenous peoples, immigrants and millions of US citizens who lived in poverty. Cuba was proud of its human rights record , the high values of its people, its solid unity, resistence, dedication to work, its spirit of solidarity and its decision to defend the revolution which gave it its independence, social justice and national dignity.
ALVARO MENDONCA E MOURA (Portugal) said the European Union opposed the systematic denial of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba and the continued oppression of dissidents. It was noted that the draft resolution did not mention the negative impact of the United States economic embargo on the people in Cuba. The European Union reiterated that the objective was to encourage the process of transition in Cuba. It was emphasized that it was not the practice of the European Union to bring about change through coercive methods, such as the embargo, bringing about the suffering of the Cuban people.
VLADIMIR PARSHIKOV (the Russian Federation) said that the draft resolution before the Commission was politically motivated and had nothing to do with the work of the Commission, and for that reason Russia would vote against it.
VICTOR RODRIGUEZ CEDENO (Venezuela) expressed concern about the imbalances in international action which was reflected in selectivity concerning countries scrutinized. Cuba was making efforts to respect the rights of its citizens despite the illegal and unilateral sanctions against it. Concern was expressed at the politicization of the debate on human rights in the Commission.
ALEJANDRO SALINAS (Chile) said it was not easy for Chile to take a stance on the situation as it had been created as a consequence of many events, many of them external. The Commission should not intervene in bilateral matters. The delegation of Chile did not approve of the manipulation of third parties through economic and political pressurizing and did not approve of any policy to isolate Cuba. However the inappropriate isolation did not justify the restriction of expression in Cuba, much less the persecution of political dissidents. The economic embargo had affected the Cuban society in many ways. Last year Chile had voted in favour of the resolution and this year, there had been new regression in the situation and Chile would support the draft resolution. The draft resolution would only be useful if it led to cooperation in human rights and contributed to the respect of human rights in Cuba.
QIOA ZONGHUAI (China) said the draft resolution was instigated by the United States and it was that country which was violating the human rights of Cuban people. The resolution was politically motivated. It was the United States that had been obstructing the development of the people of Cuba. China would vote against the resolution.
ANTONIO DE ICAZA (Mexico) condemned the arbitrary blockade against Cuba and expressed support for the integration of Cuba in the society of nations. An arbitrary blockade could not facilitate the development of any nation.
LEANDRO DESPOUY (Argentina) endorsed the explanation of the vote made by Chile. The basic objective of the draft resolution was to promote greater cooperation with Cuba through the international monitoring bodies established by the Commission. Argentina was concerned that there was no mention in the draft resolution to the coercive bilateral measures taken against Cuba. Argentina had repeatedly expressed its objection to this practice.
In a resolution on the situation of human rights in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), the Republic of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovia (E/CN.4/2000/L.36/Rev.1), approved by roll-call vote of 44 in favour to 1 against and 8 abstentions, the Commission expressed grave concern at the ongoing serious violations of human rights and the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) caused by the repressive policies and measures of the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and of Serbia; condemned the continued repression of the independent media, political opposition and non-governmental organizations, the seizing and destruction of the assets of independent media, the use of police intimidation, the use of technical means against independent media, among other things; and it also condemned the arbitrary administration of justice and application of the law, as evidenced by the detention, trial and sentencing of Dr. Flora Brovina and actions taken against other human rights activists.
It expressed grave concern that discrimination and violence against ethnic minorities had worsened during the year; and regretted that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had not complied with the recommendations of the Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe regarding fostering democracy and the rule of law.
The Commission condemned all acts of ethnic violence and intimidation by all parties in Kosovo; urged all political leaders in Kosovo to cooperate fully with the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo and the International Security Force in Kosovo in their efforts to strengthen law and security, to firmly reject violence, to reject those who advocated violence measures, to take action at the community level to prevent violence, in particular ethnic violence, and to engage in and support only peaceful and democratic civil or political activity.
It welcomed the democratic election of a reform-oriented new Government in Croatia; and called upon the new Government to sustain that progress and the concrete measures under way to ensure full compliance with international norms and standards of human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular the rights of persons belonging to all minority groups ensuring, among other things, the non-discriminatory application of the general amnesty law.
The Commission condemned in the strongest possible terms the intimidation of and perpetuation of violence against minority refugees and internally displaced persons returning to their homes in Bosnia and Herzegovina; condemned all forms of discrimination against refugees and displaced persons concerning their labour rights and requested the International Labour Organization, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as the Special Rapporteur, to pay attention to the implementation of international standards and recommendations in that area.
With regard to International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the Commission called upon all parties to the Peace Agreement, especially the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to meet their obligations to cooperate fully with the Tribunal.
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour: Argentina, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Niger, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Rwanda, Senegal, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Venezuela.
Against: Russian Federation.
Abstentions: China, Congo, Cuba, India, Madagascar, Nepal, Nigeria and Zambia.
SPOMENKA CEK (Croatia) reiterated its dissatisfaction at being included in draft resolution L36, adding that the mandate of the Special Rapporteur should be terminated for Croatia as soon as possible. Croatia welcomed the fact that the draft resolution recognized the many positive developments that had taken place in the country, which were based on the clear commitments and obligations undertaken by the Government. Among other things, the Government had initiated a campaign to abolish a number of discriminatory provisions in laws dealing with property, minority rights and the media. The Government had also initiated a revision of the Law on Reconstruction, the Law on the Status of Displaced Persons and Refugees, as well as other regulations and rules dealing with the return and reconstruction process. Croatia had also fulfilled the requests of the International Criminal Tribunal.
GRIGORY LUKIYANTSEV (the Russian Federation) said his delegation would vote against the draft resolution because it was unbalanced and one-sided and did not reflect the human rights situation in the country. This drawback affected all without exception. On the section on Kosovo, the report put the blame on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and kept quiet about the Kosovo militias. Furthermore, Kosovo did not have the status of a sovereign State. The Russian Federation called for a roll-call vote.
ALEJANDRO SALINAS (Chile) said that his country had voted in favour of the resolution L36. However, Chile wished to positively single out the situation in Croatia where democracy was being consolidated, and respect for human rights and good governance were being promoted and strengthened.
LI BAODONG (China) said his country had carefully studied the draft resolution, however it had found that it did not reflect the reality and was unbalanced. It had also failed to recognize that Kosovo was an inseparable part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and hence undermined its sovereignty.
JORGE VOTO-BERNALES (Peru) said that his delegation had voted in favour of L36. Peru shared the concern of the international community concerning the situation of human rights in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Republic of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
NORMA NASCIMBENE DE DUMONT (Argentina) said that some aspects of the draft resolution were technically inappropriate as they gave Kosovo the status of a sovereign State. Argentina was maintaining its principles as demonstrated in 1999 in resolution 1244 on the principle on sovereignty and the territorial integrity of States.
VICTOR RODRIGUEZ CEDENO (Venezuela) said his country would vote in favour of the text, but did not consider any part thereof as affecting the territorial integrity of States. Venezuela was concerned about anything that would imply that the status of Kosovo was similar to that of Bosnia Herzegovina or Croatia.
ANTONIO DE ICAZA (Mexico) said his country was in favour of L36. However, it expressed several reservations concerning specific paragraphs such as their excessiveness.
SAVITRI KUNADI (India) said her country had been concerned about the violation of human rights of all people in the Kosovo region; India called for the full protection of all human rights of all people there. However, the consideration of the Kosovo region separately, in section 3 of the resolution, tended to give the impressions that Kosovo was not part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In view of that and other inconsistencies, India had abstained on the resolution.
ADHEMAR BAHADIAN (Brazil) said that international multilateral pressure must be brought to bear upon those who showed disrespect for diversity of opinion, cultural background or religious belief in a region where these ills had assumed some of the most brutal manifestations since World War II. This is why Brazil decided to vote in favour of resolutions L36.
In a resolution (E/CN.4/2000/L.52) on the situation of human rights in Sudan, adopted by show of hands vote of 28 in favour to none against and 24 abstentions, the Commission welcomed the visits by the Special Rapporteur to the Sudan in February 1999 and in February-March 2000 and the full cooperation extended by the Government as well as the stated willingness of the Government to continue to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur; the visit by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict in March 1999, and the cooperation extended by the Government; the expressed commitment of the Government to respect and promote human rights and the rule of law; the stipulation of basic human rights in the Constitution which entered into force on 1 July 1998; the establishment of a Constitutional Court; the creation of the Committee for the Eradication of Abduction of Women and Children; and recent efforts to improve freedom of expression, association, press, assembly, and the right to education, to address the problem of internally displaced persons, and the release of political detainees by the Government.
The Commission also expressed its deep concern at the impact of the armed conflict on the situation of human rights and its adverse impact on civilians; the occurrence of summary or arbitrary executions; the occurrence in southern Sudan of cases of enforced or involuntary disappearance, forced displacement, arbitrary detention, torture, and the ill-treatment of civilians; abduction of women and children to be subjected to forced labour or similar conditions; conditions imposed by the Sudanese People's Liberation Army on humanitarian organizations working in southern Sudan which have seriously affected their safety and led to the withdrawal of many of them; the murder of, attacks on, and use of force against United Nations as well as humanitarian personnel, in particular by the Sudanese People's Liberation Army; at continuing violations of human rights in areas under control of the Government, in particular severe restrictions on the freedoms of religion, expression, association and peaceful assembly; the widespread use of torture and arbitrary arrest and detention without trial, particularly of political opponents, human-rights defenders and journalists, as well as acts of intimidation and harassment against the population by the security organs; and arbitrary detentions, interrogations and violations committed by security and intelligence services.
The Commission urged all parties to the conflict to respect and protect human rights. The Commission called upon the Government of Sudan to comply fully with its obligations under international human-rights instruments; to continue efforts to ensure the rule of law; to continue efforts to bring national legislation into conformity with those instruments; to take all effective measures to end and prevent all acts of torture; to take all possible measures to improve the appeal procedures in the judicial system; to make sure that all means were fully utilized to avoid the execution of severe, inhuman punishments; to continue to investigate reports of the abduction of women and children taking place within the framework of the conflict in southern Sudan; to make further efforts to address the problem of internally displaced persons; to create the conditions necessary for the Committee for the Eradication of Abduction and Women and Children to fully carry out its work; to stop immediately the aerial bombardment of the civilian population and civilian objects, including schools and hospitals; and decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Sudan for a further year.
GEORGE MOOSE (the United States) said his country was deeply concerned about the situation in Sudan; however, it was disappointed by the failure of the current draft resolution to address a number of egregious violations. The United States felt that all sides to the conflict had committed egregious human-rights abuses. It did not feel, however, that the Sudanese Government had made serious efforts to end certain serious human-rights problems, such as slavery, the banning of humanitarian flights into some southern areas of Sudan, forced population movements, and the bombardment of civilian areas. In particular the United States condemned the continued practice of slavery in Sudan. The Sudanese Government also continued to persecute religious minorities, harassing and detaining Christians, Animists, and Muslims who did not adhere to its particular brand of Islam. The US could not, in the end, support this resolution, and would call for a vote, in which it would abstain.
MIRGHANI IBRAHIM (Sudan) expressed his country’s reservations regarding the scope and magnitude of the negative references in connection with the Government of the Sudan in parts of the draft resolution. Nevertheless, Sudan reaffirmed its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and to effectively address all genuine concerns. Sudan was fully committed to pursue a constructive dialogue with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Government also looked forward to see a positive response from the international community to the call to expand its support for the Government’s activities, in particular those of the Committee for Eradication of Abduction of Women and Children, aimed at improving respect for human rights and humanitarian law during the conflict. Moreover, the international community was urged to put more pressure on the rebels to accept a comprehensive cease-fire, to grant full, safe and unhindered access to all international agencies and humanitarian organizations in order to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all civilians. The Government condemned all the gross and consistent human rights violations committed by the rebels.
LI BAODONG (China) said his delegation had studied the draft resolution carefully. The Sudanese Government had tried and had made much progress in promoting human rights, and had cooperated with UN mechanisms. The Commission should do more to appreciate these efforts and to support them, and less finger-pointing at States. China would therefore abstain in the vote on the draft resolution.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said the current situation put his country in a difficult situation. Pakistan had been told to expect a consensus draft resolution, and had been prepared to join the consensus. The delegation did not have instructions with regard to a vote on the resolution. If a vote was taken, Pakistan would be constrained to abstain on the draft resolution.
In a resolution on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (E/CN.4/2000/L.16), adopted by a roll-call vote of 22 in favour to 20 against and 11 abstentions, the Commission welcomed the progress made in that country in the area of freedom of expression, in particular towards a more open debate on issues of government and human rights, while remaining concerned at restrictions on the freedom of the press and cases of harassment and intimidation of journalists; the progress made with regard to the status of women in some areas such as eduction and training, health and integration of a gender dimension into governmental planning; expressed its concern at the fact that since 1996 no invitation had been extended by the Government to the Special Representative to visit the country; and at the continuing violations of human rights in the country, in particular executions in the apparent absence of respect for internationally recognized safeguards, cases of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the failure to comply fully with international standards in the administration of justice and at the absence of due process of the law.
The Commission was also concerned about the discrimination against religious minorities, in particular the unabated pattern of persecution against the Baha'is, including death sentences and arrests; and at the continued lack of full and equal enjoyment by women of their human rights as reported by the Special Rapporteur. The Commission called on the Government of Iran to invite the Special Representative to visit the country and to resume its full cooperation with him; to continue its positive efforts to consolidate respect for human rights and the rule of law; to make further efforts to ensure for all the application of due process of law by the judiciary; to ensure that capital punishment would not be imposed other than for the most serious crimes; and to take additional measures to promote full and equal enjoyment by women of their human rights.
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour: Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Against: Bangladesh, Bhutan , China, Congo, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Liberia, Madagascar, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia and Venezuela.
Abstentions: Argentina, Botswana, Burundi, Colombia, Nigeria, Peru, Republic of Korea, Swaziland, and Zambia.
DENNIS LEPATAN (the Phillippines) said it was against the resolution on Iran in light of the manifest improvement in the human rights situation in the country.
IFTEKHAR CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said Iran was in the midst of profound transformation; the situation was evolving. Now there was an opportunity to weave Iran into the international fabric of respect for human rights. Iran had said it was committed to reforms. One must be patient with the pace of change; the thing to do now was to show understanding, empathy, and encouragement. Finger-pointing was out of order. Bangladesh would vote against the resolution.
LIU XINSHENG (China) said that the Government of Iran had adopted effective measures to promote human rights. China noted that progress had been achieved. The international community should allow every country to choose its own path to development. Country resolutions could only be counter- productive.
VICTOR RODRIGUEZ CEDENO (Venezuela) said his country was concerned about the situation of human rights in all countries and supported resolutions that promoted those rights. But it was also essential to do the utmost to promote the respect of human rights by recognizing progress made and recognizing where situations were evolving. In Iran, positive efforts were being made. However, Venezuela must express concern at some continued problems in Iran, such as religious persecution. It hoped improvements would come soon. Venezuela had hoped the draft resolution might promote human rights in Iran, but did not think it would do so, and so would vote against the resolution.
KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) said the draft resolution on the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran was well-balanced. While it welcomed the recent positive developments in the field of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the draft resolution expressed concern at specific human rights issues and called on Iran to make improvements. The concern expressed should be interpreted as an encouragement for the Government of Iran to further improve the human rights situation in the country. Japan expressed the hope that the Government of Iran would continue to take positive steps and that the day would come when the international community need not discuss this issue under item 9.
SUSANTO SUTOYO (Indonesia) said the way the draft resolution was worded was inappropriate considering the recent, more open stance of the Government of Iran and considering recent developments in the country. Indonesia believed pressure of this sort was not appropriate and that Iran would better benefit from encouragement. Indonesia would vote against the resolution.
ABDULLA JABER (Qatar) noted the positive developments that had occurred in the Republic of Iran in the past year that had crystallised in the parliamentary elections. The Special Rapporteur had also noted the serious progress achieved in the country with regard to human rights. Iran had committed itself to undertaking reforms in accordance with international law.
ADHEMAR BAHADIAN (Brazil) said the draft resolution on Iran deserved attention in view of the many positive developments. Brazil had been encouraged by these steps. The progress made in terms of freedom of expression and in respect of the rights of women had been impressive, along with Iran's willingness to receive an assessment visit from the Office of the High Commissioner. Brazil remained concerned about some continuing problems and urged the Government to cooperate with the Commission. Given present positive trends, Brazil hoped it would no longer be necessary for the Commission to consider the situation in Iran as of the next session of the Commission.
EDUARDO TAPIA (Chile) said that Iran had made progress in the field of human rights, including the elimination of arbitrary arrests, progress in the status of women and greater tolerance. However, serious problems remained, including in the area of due process. Chile hoped that its vote in favour of the draft resolution would contribute to promote respect for human rights.
OLAWALE MAIYEGUN (Nigeria) said the resolution just adopted on Iran noted progress made recently. Nigeria felt that the tone of the resolution, however, was condemnatory and that the acknowledgements made in the measure were not likely to encourage the Government to further progress and dialogue. The criticisms in the resolution had the potential to incite certain elements in Iran. Nigeria felt Iran had already "got the message" and that voting in favour of the resolution accomplished nothing.
In decision submitted by the Chairperson of the Commission on the question of human rights in Cyprus, adopted with a vote, the Commission decided to retain on its agenda sub-item (a), entitled "Question of human rights in Cyprus", of the item entitled "Question of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world" and to give it due priority at its fifty-seventh session, it being understood that action required by previous resolutions of the Commission on the subject would continue to remain operative, including the request to the Secretary-General to provide a report to the Commission regarding their implementation.