16 April 1998


Press Release
HR/CN/856



SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS BRIEF COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS ON SITUATIONS IN IRAQ, BURUNDI AND RWANDA

19980416
Annual Discussion Begins on Status Of Rights and Freedoms in Specific Countries

(Reissued as received.)

GENEVA, 14 April (UN Information Service) -- Special Rapporteurs on situations in Iraq, Burundi and Rwanda spoke this morning as the Commission on Human Rights began its review of the state of fundamental rights and freedoms in specific countries -- annually the Commission's most contentious agenda item.

Max van der Stoel of the Netherlands, Special Rapporteur on Iraq, said it was his "sad duty" to announce that the situation in that country remained as bad as ever, violations included those against personal security and integrity of individuals, freedom of opinion and expression, and food and health. In addition there were numerous and serious allegations of arbitrary arrest, mistreatment in detention, and arbitrary and extrajudicial executions, Mr. van der Stoel said. He contended that under Iraqi law, such violations were not only possible but officially sanctioned.

A representative of Iraq charged that Mr. Van Der Stoel's report was a repetition of allegations and false accusations from the past, carried out in harmony with a hostile campaign against Iraq led by the United States and the United Kingdom.

Paulo Pinhero of Brazil, Special Rapporteur on Burundi, said there were numerous grave violations of human rights by the army and the rebels in the country. In areas where rebels passed through, the civilian population was harassed, and following confrontations between the Government and the rebels, usually in the west of the country, there were massacres, involuntary disappearances, and ill-treatment during interrogation by both sides. It was regrettable that the international community had not provided more human rights observers for Burundi, the Special Rapporteur said, adding that there were only 15 of them to cover many human rights violations.


- 2 - Press Release HR/CN/856 16 April 1998

Eugene Nindorera, Minister of Human Rights, Institutional Reforms, and Relations with the National Assembly of Burundi, said Governmental changes in July 1996 had altered the regime with the intent of stopping the deteriorating situation in his country. Armed bands continued to roam the countryside, killing and kidnapping, destroying schools and health centres, he charged, and it was the armed bands who now were responsible for most of the human rights abuses, while the Government was struggling to carry out national reconciliation and to establish respect for human rights.

Michel Moussalli, Special Representative on the human rights situation in Rwanda, told the Commission that he had been impressed by the commitment of the Rwandan Government to promote and respect of human rights. Urgent priority in matters of international technical assistance to Rwanda should be directed towards the administration of justice and conditions of detention. Despite all the efforts employed by the authorities to improve prison conditions and to reconstitute the judicial system, which had been totally destroyed, the prison population continued to increase, detention conditions were inhuman, and the pace of trials was very slow.

The Secretary-General of the Ministry of Justice of Rwanda, Gerald Gehima, said in response that it was important to remember that there had been a genocide in his country. The new Government had been forced to rebuild its institutions from scratch, to repatriate millions of refugees, and to battle against possible resumption of genocide. If its armed forces were accused of human rights violations in the course of fighting perpetrators of the genocide, he said, the task was difficult and the Government was duty bound to ensure that those evil forces would not turn the country into a sea of blood again. Accusations against its troops were always investigated and those responsible prosecuted if there was valid cause.

In addition, the Commission heard an address by the Minister of Justice of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mweze Nkongoto, who said the new regime should not be asked to immediately eradicate human rights violations only a few months after liberating the country. Rather, the international community should support the ongoing efforts of the Government to promote and protect human rights.

Also speaking were representatives of Chile, United Kingdom (on behalf of the European Union), and the United States.

Violation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms around World

This morning the Commission began consideration of item 10 of its agenda, "Question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world, with particular reference to colonial and other dependent countries and territories", under which it looks at specific country


- 3 - Press Release HR/CN/856 16 April 1998

situations. It had before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iraq, Max van der Stoel, which states that the situation of human rights in Iraq did not improve in 1997 (document E/CN.4/1998/67). To the contrary, based on the numerous and serious allegations of human rights violations received throughout last year, the Special Rapporteur concludes that the situation of human rights has rather deteriorated. Summary and extrajudicial executions continue to take place in Iraqi prisons at a reportedly increased pace. The policy of forced displacements of civilians of Turkoman and Kurdish origins continues to be implemented in the cities of Kirkuk, Khanakin and Douz. Basic civil and political rights such as freedom of assembly, expression and movement are severely restricted when not forbidden.

The Special Rapporteur recommends that the Government of Iraq act immediately to bring to an end summary or arbitrary executions, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture and ill-treatment by members of security and military forces, disappearances of many named individuals and of thousands of people in northern Iraq and in the southern marsh area, together with forced relocations. With regard to the rights of food and health care, the Government of Iraq should take all necessary measures, to the maximum extent of its available resources, to address the needs of the population, and in particular the most vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly.

The Commission is also considering the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burundi, Paulo SÚrgio Pinheiro, which contains recommendations to the national authorities, the rebels and the international community (document E/CN.4/1998/72). The Special Rapporteur reiterates his urgent appeal to the national authorities to defer the 71 death sentences and 40 sentences of life imprisonment handed down by the country's three criminal chambers for 1997 alone, at least until the peace negotiations have been completed and a reformed judicial system has been established.

He asks that the conditions of detention of persons sentenced to death should be improved without delay. Authorities should improve and expedite investigation procedures in cases of summary execution, sexual abuse, torture or excessive use of force by the Burundian army and by the police, and to initiate proceedings against the offenders.

He reminds the rebel leaders that all attacks on civilian populations or facilities such as schools, and that all behaviour leading to sexual abuse or to torture or the pillage or destruction of civilian property are strictly prohibited by human rights standards. He also reminds that it is forbidden to make use of forced labour, to abduct children or young people, or to resort to coercion to force civilian populations to remain within the limits of territories temporarily under their control. He appeals to rebel groups to cease using mines.


- 4 - Press Release HR/CN/856 16 April 1998

To the international community, the Special Rapporteur asks the United Nations to pursue the quest for a peaceful solution to the Burundian conflict. He calls on the international community to make a serious evaluation of the utility of maintaining the economic sanctions against Burundi. The international community must help the Government of Burundi to institute a genuine policy of social rehabilitation of the affected populations. He also recommends that until a cease-fire is established, an international embargo should be decreed on sales of arms, military material and services to all parties in the Burundian conflict.

A report by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Gaspar Biro, recalls that there are continuing reports and information on the violation of human rights in that country (document E/CN.4/1998/66). The reports indicate that the agents of the Government of Sudan, including members of security forces, the Popular Defense Forces and others, are responsible for a broad range of human rights violations in the areas controlled by them. Reports indicate indiscriminate and deliberate aerial bombardments by Government aircraft and rockets fired from gunships at civilians gathered around airstrips awaiting the distribution of relief or fleeing their villages after the outbreak of fighting between government troops and rebels. Although the Special Committee on Allegations of Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and Reported Cases of Slavery did its best to identify as many persons as possible from the initial list provided, the whereabout of numerous individuals was not yet known.

The Special Rapporteur takes note of the denials of reports on slavery and slavery-like practices in the Nuba Mountains area, but adds that in previous years, most of the reported cases of slavery were received from areas of southern Sudan and not the Nuba Mountains area. The Special Committee said that heavy rainfall and presence of rebels prevented it from investigating these allegations in parts of southern Sudan. Regarding the Juba report, the Special Rapporteur is of the opinion that it does not answer in a satisfactory manner the problems raised by the reports of gross and mass violations of human rights allegedly committed in Juba in the summer of 1992.

The Commission also had before it the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights field operation in Rwanda (document E/CN.4/1998/61). The High Commissioner remains seriously concerned about the security and human rights situation in Gisenyi and Ruhengeri prefectures related to escalating attacks by armed groups operating there. The international community is called upon to strengthen its multilateral and bilateral efforts in assisting the Government to protect the civilian population of north-west Rwanda and to put an end to the ongoing violence whose frequency, intensity and extent have increased. The Government is encouraged to take steps to prevent the excessive use of force by the security forces and police, particularly to ensure that there is full respect for the fundamental rights to life, security and personal integrity. The Government


- 5 - Press Release HR/CN/856 16 April 1998

should investigate and take appropriate disciplinary and legal action regarding all credible allegations that members of the security forces and other State agents have violated domestic law and international humanitarian standards, particularly regarding the right to life. The High Commissioner welcomes the continuation of genocide trials and notes the progress made during the reporting period. The Government has also taken steps to improve detention conditions in a number of central prisons and communal detention centres. However, the High Commissioner remains concerned about extreme overcrowding and poor conditions still noted in many placed of detention.

In his report, the Special Representative on the situation of human rights in Rwanda, Michel Moussalli, recommends that the Government of Rwanda and the international community enhance their close cooperation to maintain and develop the most suitable conditions for the promotion and protection of human rights in that country (document E/CN.4/1998/60). Greater effort should be devoted by the various humanitarian and human rights actors and members of the international community involved in human rights activities in Rwanda. He recommends that States and international donors provide adequate financial support to enable the timely realization of priority projects in Rwanda and the effective functioning of the High Commissioner's human rights field operation there. The Special Representative recommends that in light of the conditions of detention, the international community concentrate immediately on providing all necessary technical assistance to enable the Government to establish urgently a dossier for every detainee. Efforts by the Government to prosecute violations committed by some elements of its armed forces should be strongly encouraged and supported.

Statements

MAX VAN DER STOEL, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iraq, said his seventh report to the Commission was a continuation of a sad duty. He was impressed by the seriousness and extent of the allegations of violations in the country and increasingly struck by the conspicuous inadequacy of responses to the allegations on the part of the Government. The Government remained content simply to deny the facts or to seek excuses for its responsibility. With increasing frequency, and in a leap of logic, it also blamed the international community for its own oppressive regime, and blamed him for carrying out his mandate and drawing attention to Iraq's record. In sum, the situation of human rights in Iraq remained as bad as ever and there was no sign that the Government intended to take meaningful steps to improve matters.

There were violations of the rights to personal security and integrity of individuals and to freedom of opinion and expression,he said. There were numerous and serious allegations of arbitrary arrest, mistreatment in detention and arbitrary and extrajudicial executions; under Iraqi law, such violations were not only possible but officially sanctioned. Equally


- 6 - Press Release HR/CN/856 16 April 1998

disturbing were many reports alleging mass executions in the last two months of 1997 in Iraqi prisons; some persons were executed for having committed petty theft or other minor offenses. Many violations were directly related to the Government's insistence upon conformity with Baathist ideology or, at least, the stamping out of any oppositional sentiments, whether real or suspected. The Government continued forcibly to displace persons belonging to non-Arab communities, and persistently chose to jeopardize the welfare of the Iraqi people by failing to comply with Security Council resolutions and then by refusing for several years to cooperate with the United Nations in the "oil-for-food" arrangement. Since finally accepting the arrangement, the Government had several times interrupted oil sales and caused various delays by contesting choices of bank accounts or transit routes. In addition, the country had the largest number of forced or involuntary disappearances in the world -- some 20,000 officially recorded, which was only a fraction of the total disappeared and believed killed, and including over 600 Kuwaiti and other third-country nationals as a result of Iraq's occupation of Kuwait.

The Government argued that he was mistaken in his assessments and ill-willed in his intentions, the Special Rapporteur said. He rejected those attacks on his work and integrity, and drew attention to recent reports of other United Nations bodies whose conclusions were very similar to his own. He repeated his call for the stationing of human rights monitors throughout Iraq.

MOHAMMAD SALMAN (Iraq) said the report of the Special Rapporteur on Iraq merely repeated the same allegations and false accusations that he had included in his previous reports. The falsifications disseminated by the Rapporteur did not improve the human rights situation, which was what Iraq was aiming for in cooperation with the international community. But most regretfully, the report had become a tool to offend the national regime of Iraq. That behaviour went in hand in hand with the hostile campaign led by the United States and United Kingdom.

The sources of information on which the Rapporteur relied were well-known for their hostility towards Iraq's national regime, he continued. Their aim was to overthrow the legitimate regime in Iraq -- that was a flagrant violation of the right of the Iraqi people to self-determination.

The Special Rapporteur ignored deliberately the real cause of the human rights problem in Iraq, namely the ongoing comprehensive blockade of the country, he said. The Special Rapporteur should have called for the immediate lifting of the blockade as the only way to promote and ensure the full enjoyment of all rights of the Iraqi people.

PAULO SERGIO PINHEIRO, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi, said Burundi continued to be affected by the civil war which persisted in several parts of the country.


- 7 - Press Release HR/CN/856 16 April 1998

There were numerous grave violations of human rights by the army and the rebels, he said. For example, civilians in areas where rebels passed through were harassed. Following confrontations between the Government and the rebels, usually in the west of the country, there were massacres, involuntary disappearances and ill-treatment during interrogation by both sides. Most of the victims were unarmed civilians who were unable to escape from the army or the rebels. It was regrettable that the international community had not reacted more massively to the crisis, sending only 15 human rights observers to Burundi.

He said the economic sanctions imposed on Burundi should not be designed to punish the people. Burundi suffered from dangerous isolation; he appealed to the international community to cease that isolation immediately.

EUGENE NINDORERA, Minister of Human Rights, Institutional Reforms, and Relations with the National Assembly of Burundi, said his country had experienced the most tragic and bloody period of its history. Changes in July 1996 had altered the regime, and while it was extralegal, its intent was to stop the deteriorating situation. Armed bands continued to roam the countryside, killing and kidnapping, destroying schools and health centres. It was the armed bands who now were responsible for most of the human rights abuses.

Trust in the Government was slowly being established, and people were returning to their homes, he said. Meanwhile, the embargo imposed on Burundi by neighbouring countries was illegal and extremely damaging to human rights; it was having catastrophic effects; it was killing innocent people. Burundians did not want a superficial peace obtained by such constraints but a lasting peace built by Burundians themselves. The Government was making progress none the less, and continued to pursue a programme of national reconciliation while battling impunity. Human rights were being stressed, and greater help from the international community towards that end would be greatly appreciated. Anyone who wished to come to Burundi to see the situation was welcome; further support certainly was needed for such matters as reform of the judicial system and assistance to the population. The Government, meanwhile, hoped the international community would reconsider its inconsistent positions on the country. What was needed was a condemnation by the Commission of the embargo imposed against Burundi, support for the peace process, and formation of an international criminal tribunal to address massive human rights violations committed there.

MICHEL MOUSSALLI, Special Representative of the Commission on the situation of human rights in Rwanda, presenting his first report since his appointment a year ago, said any consideration of situation in Rwanda required that one be fully aware of the 1994 genocide and of the incapacity of the international community to confront it. The principal political leaders of the international community had been informed, but despite the efforts of some


- 8 - Press Release HR/CN/856 16 April 1998

of them, nothing was done to prevent or stop the genocide. To the contrary, during the crucial period from April to July 1994, the United Nations presence in Rwanda was totally incapacitated.

He said he had been impressed by the commitment of the Rwandan Government to promote and respect human rights in accordance with its international obligations, and to implement them to favour reconstruction and national reconciliation. The return of some 2 million Rwandan refugees, including those made to flee the country by the former regime in 1959 and by the genocide of 1994, was exceptional testimony of that commitment. The agreement signed between the Government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was another sign of the Government's commitment in that direction. It was to be recalled that the agreement had allowed the deployment in Rwanda of one of the important human rights operations in the world. The presence in Rwanda of the human rights mission remained indispensable; it was particularly important to increase its capacity to provide technical assistance to Government programmes for the promotion of dialogue among different elements of Rwandan society. Areas of priority included the administration of military and civilian justice and the improvement of conditions of detention. Despite all the efforts deployed by the authorities to improve prison conditions and to rebuild the judicial system, the prison population continued to increase; detention conditions were inhuman and the pace of trials was very slow.

He said a human rights culture could not really take root in any country if its population did not have the economic means and the necessary physical security to lead a peaceful and normal life. In order to help Rwanda to develop that human rights culture, the international community should assist it in its undertakings to implement various development programmes.

GERALD GAHIMA, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Justice of Rwanda, said the current Government had taken office in July 1994 following mass violence that had claimed at least a million lives. The problems facing the new Government seemed insurmountable -- stopping violence, restoring internal security, defending the country against destabilization by the defeated rump Government and allied militia, resettling enormous masses of refugees, rebuilding institutions from scratch, and mobilizing resources. Despite these obstacles, tremendous progress had been made in many fields -- genocide and massacres had ended, saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people; the gendarmerie and local Governments had been reestablished; between 2 and 3 million refugees had been repatriated; the system of justice had been rebuilt from ground zero, and was independent. An independent national human rights commission also had been established.

Many problems remained, he said. Detention centres were badly overcrowded, but it was important to keep persons imprisoned who had participated in committing terrible atrocities, as justice for their victims


- 9 - Press Release HR/CN/856 16 April 1998

was a prerequisite for reconciliation and lasting stability. When dealing with the country's prison problem, it was important to remember that there had been a genocide in the country. Delays in trials also had received much criticism, which was unfair and unfortunate, as many delays were related to granting suspects' their rights to prepare for defend themselves and to grant all aspects of due process. Insecurity continued in the northwest of the country, in part because the international community had abdicated its responsibility and ceded control of Zairean refugee camps to the members of the former Rwandan Government responsible for the genocide. These forces had come back to Rwanda with the refugees, targeting genocide survivors and witnesses, along with those believed to be Tutsis. Indeed, they continued their campaign of genocide.

It had been alleged that the current Government's armed forces had committed widespread violations in the course of fighting perpetrators of the genocide, he continued. But the task was difficult, and the Government was dutybound to ensure that those evil forces would not turn the country into a sea of blood again. Wherever it appeared that human rights were violated in the course of security operations, the Government always investigated and prosecuted those responsible if there was valid cause to do so.

GERMAN MOLINA VALDIVIESO (Chile) said item 10 was one of the most crucial and sensitive on the agenda of the Commission. It was necessary to reiterate that the concern of the international community in the situation of human rights in individual countries was legitimate. Frequently, there were attempts to discredit the Commission, maintaining that it operated for exclusively political reasons and that it interfered in the internal affairs of States. But the Commission's work could not be interpreted as a breach of sovereignty or interference in internal affairs. Thematic and country procedures could, as any other mechanism, be further improved; but they were important and had been essential in ending serious human rights violations. It was imperative to preserve the Commission's competence and duties as the sole mean to safeguard its effective functioning. At the same time, Chile was concerned about the trend to use the Commission for political purposes alien to its mandate; it was such situations which infringed on the credibility of the Commission. There should be more dialogue and less confrontation.

AUDREY GLOVER (United Kingdom) speaking on behalf of the European Union and the Central and Eastern European Countries associated with the Union, said the promotion and protection of human rights required a twin track approach. Governments themselves should take primary responsibility for the protection of the rights of all those within their jurisdiction. At the same time, they should recognize the legitimate role of the international community to take a stand on those issues and to address shortcomings through cooperation or, where necessary, though criticism. The European Union recognizes the need to put its own house in order. One problem Europe had faced recently was the failure adequately to promote the right to work for all citizens of the


- 10 - Press Release HR/CN/856 16 April 1998

European Union. The Union also remained committed to combating the scourge of racism, which still existed within its boundaries.

The Union, she said, noted improvements in the human rights situation in Chad, but remained concerned by the continued reports of arbitrary arrests, torture and ill-treatment, including rape, deaths in detention and extra-judicial executions. The Union was seeking to encourage a process of transition to pluralist democracy and lasting improvement in the standard of living of the Cuban people. It was concerned by the human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, including holding of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners and restriction of freedom of expression. Although it noted improvement in human rights situation in Niger, it remained concerned by continued problems, such as harassment of members of the opposition. It was concerned over the situation in Saudi Arabia, including with regard to practices in places of detention, shortcomings in the administration of justice, violations of women's rights and the many barriers to freedom of expression, assembly and association and freedom of religion.

Further, she continued, the Union regretted that the human rights situation in Sudan continued to cause concern; most violations occurred in the war zones, but problems also existed in other areas of the country including continued reports of widespread of human rights violations.

Despite the progress made in the past two years, the Union remained concerned about the human rights situation in Syria, particularly as it related to arrest and detention procedures, prison conditions and the lack of freedom of expression.

None the less, there were many countries in the world working towards democracy, or in which democracy was incomplete, she said. She welcomed the considerable progress made in implementing peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The European Union had welcomed the contributions made by the Government of Croatia and by the local community in Eastern Slavonia to the peaceful reintegration of the region, but it remained concerned about progress on reconciliation at the local level there. It reaffirmed its call to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for the full implementation of all the recommendations of the personal representative of the Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The European Union unreservedly condemned the violent repression of non-violent expressions of political views and called on the Serbian law enforcement agencies to respect fully human rights; the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia should investigate recent events which fell within its jurisdiction.

She added that the European Union was also concerned about human rights violations in Burundi, Rwanda, Belarus, Cambodia, Russian Republic of Chechnya, Colombia, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia,


- 11 - Press Release HR/CN/856 16 April 1998

Kashmir, Liberia, Turkey, Afghanistan and Algeria, among others, and it was concerned by the persistent political stalemate in Haiti. It called on the Kenyan Government to take effective action to prevent torture and ill treatment by the police; called on the Mexican Government to ensure that those responsible for the 22 December 1997 massacre in Chiapas were brought to trial, and remained concerned about impunity of security forces in Peru.

MWEZE NKONGOLO, Minister of Justice of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said the problem of the Rwandan refugees had preoccupied the international community to the point that it had forgotten its responsibility in the murderous catastrophes in the Great Lakes region -- the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the consequent refugee crisis in the east of the Congo.

After organizing the genocide, the former leaders of Rwanda, with the complicity of certain United Nations Member States, organized a massive population displacement towards the east of the Congo, Mr. Mwenze said. In a number of weeks, the Congolese provinces of North and South Kivu received almost 2 million refugees, including former members of the Rwandan Armed Forces and the genocidal militia, the Interahamwe. Those forces, which were never disarmed, continued the Rwandan genocide on Congolese soil and aggravated the region's ethnic conflicts while destroying its social and economic fabric. During the war of liberation, Laurent Desire Kabila, now President of the Congo, proposed to the Kinshasa authorities periods of cease-fire in order to allow humanitarian agencies to aid the refugees and ensure their repatriation. It was proven that the then Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire helped to care for the Rwandan refugees.

The fight for the liberation of the country found its justification in the massive violation, even negation, of the human rights of the Congolese people, he continued. That was why the Government of National Salvation worked tirelessly for the promotion and protection of fundamental rights and freedoms. Among the measures taken by the Government in that direction were the accreditation of a United Nations human rights office in Kinshasa and a number of institutional steps aimed at reinforcing the State's capacity to promote human rights, including the creation of a Constitutional Commission. Still, and for a number of reasons, including ill will, there had been criticism of the leaders of the Alliance. Recently, the United Nations Children's Fund, the United States Department of State, the Special Rapporteur for the Congo and other national and international groups had alerted public opinion regarding abuses in the country. Although not wishing to engage in polemics with human rights groups or friendly governments, it was clear that the Congo could not accept without verification that sort of accusation.


- 12 - Press Release HR/CN/856 16 April 1998

Regarding the banning of a human rights non-governmental organization, he said, the Government had seen that the group refused to conform to the new name of the country and contributed to the waging of a political campaign alien to its stated goals. Its banning was an isolated case, not evidence of a will to prohibit human rights groups. As for the case of Christopher Harland, member of the Secretary-General's investigative team, he had been turned back at the Rwandan border due to his suspicious and clumsy behaviour. He had violated Congolese law by using two travel documents alternatively. Also, he had wanted to leave the Congo without previously informing the authorities, in violation of the agreement between the team and the Government. He had been sent from Goma to Kinshasa, where authorities let him go after verifying his situation. Such an incident could not be considered as evidence of a willingness to attack the team.

He said his country should not, only a few months after the war of liberation, be asked to eradicate immediately and totally human rights violations. Instead, the efforts made by a young regime to improve the human rights situation should be appreciated. The international community should assist those efforts.

NANCY RUBIN (United States) said the United States was concerned about the situation in Kosovo. There was no justification for shelling villages, burning houses, and murdering innocent civilians; authorities in Belgrade needed to end repression and find a way to live in peace with Kosovo Albanians. The international community needed to do more to help in Algeria, and the United States welcomed recent indications of greater Algerian Government openness to foreign parliamentary delegations and journalists, but there remained a need for greater transparency. All felt outrage at brutal massacres of civilians in the country. The United States was not pursuing a resolution on China this year, but still was concerned that 2,000 Chinese citizens remained in prison for "counter-revolution" and thousands of others were detained without trial in "re-education through labour" camps. Furthermore, freedom of religion was still restricted and repressive controls limited the freedoms of Tibetans. The United States also was concerned with the human rights situations in Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Burma, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Belarus.

* *** *