COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS TAKES UP INTEGRATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS OF WOMEN AND GENDER PERSPECTIVE

HR/CN/909
13 April 1999

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS TAKES UP INTEGRATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS OF WOMEN AND GENDER PERSPECTIVE

13 April 1999


Press Release
HR/CN/909


COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS TAKES UP INTEGRATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS OF WOMEN AND GENDER PERSPECTIVE

19990413 Chairperson of Commission on Status of Women, Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women Address Meeting

(Reissued as received.)

GENEVA, 13 April (UN Information Service) -- The Commission on Human Rights this morning began its debate on the integration of the human rights of women and the gender perspective and heard statements from the Chairperson of the Commission on the Status of Women and the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women.

Patricia Flor, Chairperson of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, said she was deeply satisfied by the Commission on Human Rights' establishment of a separate agenda item on the integration of the rights of women and a gender perspective. The Commission on the Status of Women had a major accomplishment to report: an optional protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) had been adopted that would allow women to file complaints specifically under the Convention. She appealed to all States to ratify the CEDAW.

Angela King, the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, said that a sharpened focus on the forms of human rights violations suffered by women had revealed that women's equality and non-discrimination were not automatic results of the overall protection and promotion of human rights. Explicit and systematic attention needed to be paid to the gender dimension of human rights and their violations. She urged the Commission to continue to expand its attention to these gender issues.

A number of country delegates spoke on the question of the integration of the human rights of women and the gender issue including Japan, Germany (on behalf of the European Union), Canada, Botswana, El Salvador (on behalf of the Central American Group) and Cuba.

Earlier, the Commission concluded its debate on civil and political rights. The Special Rapporteurs on torture and religious intolerance addressed the meeting, as did a number of non-governmental organizations including the Commission for the Defence of Human Rights in Central America, United Methodist Church/General Board of Church Society, Liberation, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, Consultative Council of Jewish Organizations, Women's International Democratic Federation, Survival International, Centro de Estudios Europeos, AGIR Ensemble, International Indian Treaty Council, Jeunes Medecins sans Frontieres Tunisie, and the Organization for the Solidarity of the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

A number of country delegates exercised their right of reply including Iraq, Congo, Egypt, Burundi, Turkey, Cuba, Ethiopia, Belarus and Cyprus.

The Commission will continue its discussion on the integration of the human rights of women and the gender perspective at 3 p.m. this afternoon.

Integration of Human Rights of Women and Gender Perspective

The Commission under this agenda item is considering a report on the integration of the human rights of women and the gender perspective (E/CN.4/1999/67) by the Secretary-General which deals with the question of integrating the human rights of women throughout the United Nations system and presents steps taken by human rights treaty bodies and by human rights mechanisms and procedures and action taken by the Commission.

The report recommends numerous measures to be taken including among others: that all Governments should ratify, without reservation, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child; cooperation should be encouraged between treaty bodies; and data and information disaggregated by sex and other gender categories should be presented through a mainstreaming approach. The report presents the recommendations of the expert group on the development of guidelines for the integration of gender perspectives held in 1995.

Also before the Commission under this agenda item is a note on the integration of the human rights of women and the gender perspective (E/CN.4/1999/67/Add.1) from the Secretariat which deals with the question of integrating the human rights of women throughout the United Nations system and draws attention to the joint work plan prepared by the Division for the Advancement of Women and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (E/CN.6/1999/2).

Statements

PATRICIA FLOR, Chairperson of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, said she was deeply satisfied by the Commission's

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establishment of a separate agenda item on the integration of the rights of women and a gender perspective. Whether one looked at disregard for economic, social and cultural rights such as the right to education, political repression, torture, or discrimination, women fell victim to such violations in specific ways; yet their faces, their fates, and their ordeals too often were invisible in reports because there was an automatic assumption that such violations were gender-neutral. It should be the duty of all Special Rapporteurs, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights observer missions, and the United Nations as a whole to disclose the gender dimension of human rights and to address it actively.

Ms. Flor said the Commission on the Status of Women had a major accomplishment to report: an optional protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) had been adopted that would allow women to file complaints specifically under the Convention. The optional protocol was not a weak instrument -- it allowed no reservations, for example. She wished to appeal to all States that had not yet done so to ratify the CEDAW.

Other topics should be mentioned, Ms. Flor said, among them a much higher rate of HIV/AIDS infection among young women in Africa than among young men. This was due to an appalling epidemic of sexual violence against girls between 14 and 20, who were infected with the deadly virus because of a misguided belief that sexual intercourse with virgins would cure men of the disease. Speedy action was necessary to halt this catastrophe. Also needing concerted action was the horrific situation of women in Afghanistan under the brutal Taliban regime.

ANGELA KING, Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, said that the round table on women's human rights organized last year at this Commission had been instrumental in the inclusion of this specific item in the Commission's agenda. A sharpened focus on the forms of human rights violations suffered by women had revealed that women's equality and non-discrimination were not automatic results of the overall protection and promotion of human rights. Explicit and systematic attention needed to be paid to the gender dimension of human rights and their violations. The Commission must continue to expand its attention to these gender issues.

Ms. King noted the second workshop on the integration of a gender perspective into United Nations human rights activities and programmes. She emphasized continuing cooperation in the area of training, capacity building and technical and advisory services which had set the framework to ensure that all activities were informed by a gender perspective at all stages.

The Special Adviser said that the workshop on a rights-based approach to gender equality was a vivid example of the United Nations system-wide cooperation on women and gender issues which encompassed all sectoral areas

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including the human rights of women. A multifaced network of mechanisms and bodies was in place and she called on the Commission to ensure the systematic, effective and efficient deployment of these mechanisms for women worldwide.

CELIA SANJUR PALACIOS, of the Commission for Defence for Human Rights in Central America, said the problem of justice continued in this region. There were many shortcomings in the judiciary system. Justice was slow and there were many cases that were undermined by the judicial system. There was a lack of independence of judicial powers, and delays in the application of justice. In Honduras, for example, there were cases of corruption and lack of health care. Large numbers of people were kept in prison without trial. Negligence in legislature to promote progress in human law was a shortcoming. Justice must be speeded up to do away with impunity and redress prison sentences. Systems of regular visits to detention centres must be restored. Impunity continued through judicial errors for all these reasons. Summary executions must be stopped.

LIBERATO BAUTISTA/PEGGY FRANCIS SCOTT, of the United Methodist Church/ General Board of Church and Society, said the Dineh people, living in a remote region of Arizona in the United States, practised a religion intimately connected with their traditional lands; but as the Special Rapporteur on religious intolerance had pointed out after his visit to the United States, the Supreme Court there allowed "no enforceable safeguards for worship at sacred sites". So far 12,000 Dineh already had been relocated from their homes and had been plucked away from their livelihoods and their sacred ritual and burial sites. Destruction of the burial sites and the negative environmental impacts of runaway multinational mining operations compounded these human rights violations.

The speakers said legal constructs presented an insurmountable obstacle to native Americans who would challenge federal Indian policy or practices. The United States Government must recognize that no territorial settlement should ever deprive native Americans of their ancestral lands and their inherent property rights, let alone sever their sacred ties to the land.

ELIZA MANN, of Liberation, said that torture and arbitrary detention remained endemic in many areas such as Yemen, India, East Timor, Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Bangladesh among others. Liberation welcomed the report of the Working Group on arbitrary detention in Indonesia and the release of Sri Suharjo and Buyung Kenek after 33 years imprisonment. There was also concern for the safety of Jasper Singh Dhillon, a human rights activist who had been in detention for over eight months. The Government in Yemen had proposed a law to outlaw public demonstrations, thus restricting freedom of expression. Liberation was also concerned about other violations of civil and political liberties. Liberation called on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to continue examination of countries brought to their attention and to take appropriate measures.

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MIREILLE HECTOR, of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, said the organization remained concerned about the harassment and abuse of lawyers who worked to promote human rights, or represented victims of human rights abuses or politically unpopular causes. Such was the case on 15 March 1999 when a leading human rights lawyer, Rosemary Nelson, was murdered in a car bomb outside her home. Mrs. Nelson had been involved in a number of politically sensitive cases. Her murder was a chilling reminder of the continued risks to human rights lawyers in Northern Ireland. In Malaysia, the attorney representing Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim was recently sentenced to three months imprisonment. In Belarus, Ms. Stremkovskaya was issued a stern reprimand and decision to revoke her law license in her work as human rights lawyer. The Lawyers Committee called upon the Commission to strongly condemn retaliatory sanctions against human rights lawyers and to highlight and reinforce the crucial role of lawyers in upholding human rights standards.

LOUIS BLOCH, of the Consultative Council of Jewish Organizations, said it was better to talk of "acceptance" of different religions rather than "tolerance", which in English and French could have ambiguous meanings, such as a willingness to put up with pain. The Commission also should pay attention to forceful religious proselytizing -- in some parts of the world it was almost compulsory to change one's religion; such coercion should not be allowed.

Mr. Bloch said States should not, furthermore, claim dominant religions, regardless of the inclinations of the majority of their populations. The establishment of "State" religions or dominant religions could lead to abuses or lack of acceptance of minority religions.

LEYLA AGDAS, of the Women's International Democratic Federation (FDIF), said that the Special Rapporteur's report on systematic torture and detention based on political or ethnic grounds had identified Turkey as one of the most serious violators. Kurds continued to be systematically denied their rights and there were numerous violations including disappearances, arbitrary arrests and torture perpetrated by the Government of Turkey. The FDIF requested that the Commission take into consideration the case of Abdullah Ocalan and the recommendation of the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances.

LEONIE TANGGAHMA, of Survival International, said that up to December 1998, a series of pro-independence demonstrations had taken place throughout West Papua. These had led to the shooting of demonstrators in the provincial capital Jayapura and in the district of Biak; two arrests in Sorong and Jayawijaya; and rioting by angry crowds in Manokwari. Filip Karm who led the flag-raising ceremony in Biak had been taken from his cell and transferred to a prison in Jayapura. The response of the military to these demonstrations and flag raisings was in some cases of utmost brutality and many persons had died. People who took part in the raising of the national flag in West Papua were still being penalized under the same laws as during the Suharto regime.

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The Indonesian authorities were now spreading fear and frustration in the minds of the West Papuan people in order to incite riots and to delay the real dialogue between the people and President Habibie.

Mr. Tanggahma said the organization called on the Commission and its mechanisms to fully investigate these cases of arbitrary and summary detentions and other violations of civil and political rights in West Papua. Regarding the national dialogue, the Commission should put pressure on the Indonesian Government so that freedom of expression is respected during the whole process. It was important that the people of West Papua be allowed their fundamental right to choose their own future freely without fear and intimidation from the Indonesian Government and army.

LAZARO MORA SECADE, of Centro des Estudios Europeos, said the Working Group on arbitrary disappearances had sent communications to Governments about over 40,000 cases of disappearances and had received no replies to the overwhelming majority of those requests for information. It was clear that there was a lack of political will to investigate this very great violation of human rights, which in many cases amounted to violation of the right to life; impunity of perpetrators of these offences led to further human rights violations.

Mr. Secade said impunity extended as well to laws and other provisions that excused public servants, soldiers, police, and others from responsibility for actions that amounted to crimes against humanity, including disappearances, torture, and extra-judicial executions. Such laws and amnesties simply could not be tolerated. Authorities should be protecting citizens, not committing grave human rights violations and then hiding behind legal protections. This matter deserved the utmost attention of the Commission.

BEATRIZ GOMEZ PEREANEZ, of AGIR Ensemble, said that prison conditions and violations of civil and political rights by paramilitary groups were critical in Colombia and Mexico. A number of peasant farmers in Paz allegedly were executed by a paramilitary group because they were believed to have collaborated with the Colombian guerillas. Similar paramilitary violations had also occurred in Mexico. AGIR called on the Commission to maintain a permanent observation of these countries and to implement the relevant recommendations of the Special Rapporteurs on human rights.

ROSEANNE OLGUIN/KEE WATCHMAN, of the International Indian Treaty Council, noted the case of Leonard Peltrier, unjustly convicted because of perjured governmental testimony and fabricated and false evidence. The Commission, the European Parliament and numerous international non-governmental organizations had long been concerned about this political prisoner in the United States who was held for defending his people. There was also a denial of religious freedom rights for indigenous peoples in the

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United States, in particular the urgent human rights situation at Big Mountain, Arizona. The Indian Treaty Council recognized the report of the Special Rapporteur on religious intolerance on his mission to the United States, especially his call for the observance of international law on freedom of religion. The Commission should appoint a Special Rapporteur on indigenous human rights in order to closely monitor this situation.

MOHAMED ELYES BEN MARZOUK, of Jeunes Medecins sans Frontieres Tunisie, said the right to information was fundamental and imposed on States clear obligations. Freedom of expression was vital; when Governments limited it, there could soon be situations of unrest. People in difficulty especially needed good information; it helped to reduce marginalization. This Tunisian organization put great effort into helping victims of human rights violations and violence, working in an atmosphere of transparency and solidarity. Charity organizations, both from the north and south, should join hands to provide humanitarian aid that was more efficient and effective.

LOURDES CERVANTES, of the Organization for Solidarity of the Peoples of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, said education would lead the way to a culture of creating religious intolerance. In view of the complexity of modern life, this needed to be attended to. Social, political and economic tensions arose when there were restrictions, especially in the south where there were attempts to measure them by Western standards. Dissemination of rights of all persons was a major powerful means of communication. Compensation and rehabilitation of victims of human rights were still in a preliminary phase according to the report by the Independent Expert.

MOHAMMAD ANWAR, of the World Federation of Democratic Youth, said that there continued to be a series of persistent and systematic gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms perpetrated by the Pakistani law enforcement agents in urban areas of Sindh province including Karachi. The prime atrocities had been perpetrated against the Mohajir Nations and their sympathizers.

Mr. Anwar said the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions had documented a number of such cases committed last year in this area by Pakistan. The Commission should adopt a resolution on the situation of human rights in Pakistan and appoint a country Special Rapporteur to investigate the situation. The organization called on the Pakistani Government to take concrete measures to fully implement the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur on torture, Nigel Rodley, in his 1966 mission report concerning Pakistan.

NIGEL RODLEY, Special Rapporteur on torture, said the representatives of Venezuela, Argentina and Mexico had underlined the importance of information submitted by Governments in response to information he had transmitted to them; he shared the frustration provoked by the absence of resources needed to

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take into account a number of communications from Hispanophone countries. As for Algeria's statement, all but the last paragraph of his report represented summaries of allegations, both general and specific, received from various non-governmental organizations of proven reliability -- as he had said. Also taking into account the concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee, he remained convinced that there was substantial reason for him to visit the country -- a visit that Algeria still would not allow.

Mr. Rodley said the representative of Turkey had, on the basis of a manifest misreading of a relatively insignificant passage in the Special Rapporteur's report, comprehensively dismissed the entire document. He hoped that on mature reflection the Turkish authorities would not continue to seek to escape into a state of denial from what, despite some improvements, remained a grave problem in their country. He urged Turkey to study carefully the recommendations he had made, which, if complied with, would go far towards eliminating the problem and protecting the country's often hard-pressed security forces from ill-founded accusations of abuse.

ABDELFATTAH AMOR, Special Rapporteur on religious intolerance, said he was speaking after an extensive debate on religious intolerance and the acceptable and not acceptable use of the term. Tolerance was more the right to respect differences. The obstacles he had encountered were not placed by States as Governments generally wished to distance themselves. The role of the Special Rapporteur required total independence from everybody, including the State, laws and structures.

Mr. Amor said the terminology on freedom of religion and conviction needed to be clarified in order to continue with problems of intolerance. There was also a need to strengthen working methods and to have more scientific working methods, data banks on women with regard to religion, sex, extremism education and its role regarding intolerance. And lastly to tackle religious intolerance there was need to ensure proper access, particularly with regard to education, which would improve chances of combatting religious intolerance which was spreading daily.

LOUIS JOINET, Member of the Working Group on arbitrary detentions, addressed numerous questions raised by Government representatives and non-governmental organizations and responded to each one. In response to the question on why the mandate of the Working Group did not include non-political prisoners, he said that the Group's mandate was silent on this point and that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) mandate was essentially humanitarian and was not concerned with questions of the legality of detention. He stated that a few non-governmental organizations had foreseen this to be part of their mandate but the Working Group's concern was legal and not political on the issue of prisoners.

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In response to how the Working Group planned to fulfil its mandate on the detention of immigrants and asylum seekers, Mr. Joinet said it had been considering a specific approach based on this year's experiences.

Mr. Joinet said that there had been no duplication of efforts with ICRC and that the Working Group saw its activity as complementary. The Working Group planned to next visit Bahrain. It had to be selective within the regions of Asia, Africa, Western Europe and Eastern Europe. He called for Governments' assistance in assuring that the Working Group could fulfil its mandate on an equitable geographical basis. He concluded that the results of the Group's follow-up inquiries on its study recommendations had so far been encouraging.

RYUICHIRO YAMAKAZI (Japan) said his country welcomed the establishment of the integration of the human rights of women and the gender perspective since it deserved wider and more serious attention. The Office of Gender Equality in the Japanese Prime Minister's Office had been releasing annual reports on the status of women and on progress in implementing the plan for gender equality in the year 2000 since 1996. At the international level, Japan believed that one of the important aspects of promoting and protecting human rights of women and girls was assistance of the efforts of developing countries towards achieving full enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights by women and girls. As part of women's development, Japan was addressing girls' rights to education, accessible and adequate health care and the widest range of family planning services.

Mr. Yamakazi said Japan considered that the importance of eliminating violence against women in public and private life could not be overstated. Japan was the largest donor to the Trust Fund to eliminate violence against women and it called on other countries to contribute to the Fund. In December 1998, the National Committee of Japan for Women 2000 was established to facilitate the exchange of information and cooperation with civil society in preparation for the special session of the General Assembly on women in the year 2000. In addition Japan facilitated cooperation with the neighbouring Asian countries and had hosted, every year since 1996, the meeting of senior officials of national machineries for the advancement of women in east and south east Asian Countries.

ELTJE ADERHOLD (Germany), speaking on behalf of the European Union and Central and Eastern European countries associated with the Union, said the European Union remained deeply concerned about persisting gender-based discrimination, the entrenched inferior status of women in many societies, and the far-reaching effects that structural inequality for women created. These included such phenomena as violence against women, trafficking in women and girls, harmful traditional practices and the feminization of poverty. The path to equality was full of obstacles, but there were many practical steps, large and small, that could be taken to move in the right direction.

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Ms. Aderhold said in its action-oriented and focused approach, the Platform for Action of the Beijing World Conference on Women had laid out hundreds of practical measures to guide Governments, the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, the media, and all other relevant actors towards the objective of equality; it was an important foundation that should be used. Violence against women continued to occur on a daunting scale, mostly in the private sphere; the European Union was pleased that the Statute of the new International Criminal Court incorporated crimes against women, including rape, forced pregnancy, and sexual slavery. Additional attention needed to be paid to trafficking in women and children and to human rights education that fostered respect and equality for women.

CHRISTINE SIMINOWSKI (Canada) said the creation of this agenda item confirmed the Commission's commitment to women's human rights. It was a clear mandate for the Commission to reinforce and intensify ongoing efforts to ensure that proposals and discussions under other agenda items, including reporting and the work of the special procedures, reflected the impact that gender could have on the enjoyment of human rights. The United Nations had taken significant steps to implement commitments concerning the human rights of women and the girl child made in the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. The Commission was further reinforced by the agreed conclusions adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its 1998 coordination segment, where actions were aimed at ensuring equal status and human rights of women.

Ms. Siminowski said Canada was pleased that the Statute of the International Criminal Court was adopted in Rome last July. The Statute integrated gender perspective through inclusion of sexual and gender-related violence within the definition of crimes; the provisions ensuring protection of victims and witnesses; and assurance of relevant expertise in the composition and administration of the court.

T. R. DITLAHABI OLIPHANT (Botswana) said the Government of Botswana had introduced a comprehensive gender-based programme stating the vision, objectives, strategies, and actions the country intended to follow over the next 20 years to promote the rights of women. Six critical areas of concern had been identified: elimination of poverty among women; empowerment of women and fostering of their representation in Parliament and other political institutions; education and training of women; improvement of women's health; education and protection of the girl child; and elimination of violence against women.

Ms. Oliphant said domestic violence and rising levels of rape remained a serious concern for the Government of Botswana and civil society in general, and women rights organizations had taken steps to educate women about these insidious forms of violence. A task force had also recommended that a policy be established on the behaviour of the police in cases of domestic violence, and various NGOs were involved in development of this policy.

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GABRIELA VELASQUEZ (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Central American Group, said that through the Salvadorian Institute for the Development of Women, the Government had comprehensively taken up the challenges set by the Fourth World Conference on Women; the intent was to achieve equality of opportunity and rights between men and women; to fight poverty; and to support sustainable human development in keeping with Central American policies on sustainable development.

Ms. Velasquez said universal legal mechanisms had to be strengthened, along with the participation of civil society, especially women's organizations. The increase in criminal activity connected with trafficking in women and children for purposes of prostitution and other forms of commerce needed to be addressed urgently; it also was necessary to treat the victims of this trafficking with concern and care. A vicious circle of impunity, violence, and organized crime surrounded the trafficking issue which made it extremely difficult to confront. Domestic violence against women also had to be confronted; in El Salvador, legislative and social support measures had been developed to help reduce incidences of domestic violence.

MERCEDES DE ARMAS GARCIA (Cuba) said that globalization and neo-liberal policies had contributed significantly to the impoverishment of women and that women had become disproportionately discriminated against economically, educationally and in terms of physical and mental health. Cuba took exception to the reports before the Commission which were interesting but were not that helpful and did not treat the important issues. Access to resources at the national level as well as the international level had been the key issue underscored in Beijing, yet they had not been successfully dealt with. The representative cited numerous statistics concerning the status of women in Cuba illustrating the country's success in integrating women in society. Cuba had also applied a focused effort at the continued improvement of the status of women. Cuba had invited the Special Rapporteur on violence against women who would visit the country this year.

Rights of Reply

The representative of Iraq, speaking in right of reply, said a non-governmental organization had criticized Iraq, but that organization was a biased political entity made up of components known for their hostility to the Iraqi regime. Complaints that the Shi'a could not practice their religion in Iraq merely served to strengthen assaults on the country carried out by its enemies. In fact Iraq allowed full freedom of religion to all, and holy sites were fully protected by the Iraqi Government. Money even was granted for the restoration of holy places.

The representative of Congo, speaking in right of reply, said regarding the Special Rapporteur on torture that Congo had adopted numerous recommendations which would be undertaken by the current transition Government

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and would be specifically dealt with in April 1999. The recent military action had been an extension of the civil war. Congo after that war wanted to turn back to the way of peace and numerous measures were being carried out toward that end. Many of these measures which had started had been slowed down by rebel groups. The armed bands sometimes used human shields. The Government of Congo, he said, could not allow these terrorist attacks to persist and had taken measures against them. In response to the non-governmental organization that alleged people were being displaced because of measures taken to create a corridor south of Brazzaville, the Government had already taken steps toward their reinstallation in other locations.

The representative of Egypt, speaking in right of reply, said the two non-governmental organizations Freedom House and the International Commission of Jurists had referred to the situation in Egypt. He wanted to correct the content of their statements. Egypt undertook to ensure the fundamental responsibility of freedom of rights of individuals. It had always asked the NGOs to be objective and neutral when they made their statements. In Egypt, the social fabric had always been very harmonious. The terrorist attacks had always been against the Government in order to undermine Egypt's progress and reform measures.

The representative of Burundi, speaking in right of reply, said the reports provided to the Commission on torture, detentions, and disappearances deserved some clarification. Investigations were under way into such problems in Burundi, although unfortunately the Commission involved had slowed down its work. In the matter of disappearances, many cases had occurred in 1991, with more occurring in 1993; several Burundian Governments had come and gone since then, and it was hard to investigate offences occurring so long ago. It also had been charged that some had been convicted in unfair trials, but great efforts had been made to provide fair trials, and lawyers investigating the process had termed it fair.

The representative of Turkey, speaking in right of reply, noted that the Greek Cypriot representative had conveniently forgotten that the question of missing persons in Cyprus did not start in 1974 but way back in 1963. Hundreds of Turkish Cypriots went missing during the Greek Cypriot armed attacks between 1963 and 1974. Most of the Greek Cypriots listed as missing by the Greek Cypriot side were those killed by the Greeks themselves in the internecine war during the coup d'état or those killed in the events that the coup had triggered off. He called on the Greek Cypriot side to adhere to existing international mechanisms aimed at solving the Cyprus question such as the Committee on Missing Persons. Allegations on cultural heritage which alleged looting and desecration had already been found unfounded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and others. The Greek Cypriot side had tried and continued to attempt to eradicate all traces of the Turkish-Muslim heritage of Cyprus, especially during the years 1963-1974.

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The representative of Cuba, speaking in right of reply, said the Assistant Secretary of State of the United States had criticized Cuba. Cuba was far more democratic than the United States which was under the system of market democracy. In Cuba, you did not have to be a millionaire to be elected. The United States spent over $100,000 million each year to finance democracy. Microeconomic figures provided by the World Bank showed the gradual impoverishment of the world today and the fact that the world today was poorer than before.

The representative of Ethiopia, speaking in right of reply, said the country had been subjected to vilification by a person purporting to represent the African Association of Education for Development, who had unleashed a stream of abusive allegations against Ethiopia. But the speaker had played a leading role in the previous dictatorial regime of Ethiopia where he had served the infamous internal security apparatus. He had no business speaking before a credible United Nations human rights body.

The representative of Belarus, speaking in right of reply, took exception to statements made by the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights regarding a lawyer in Belarus, Ms. Stremkovskaya, who had allegedly been denied her professional rights. She was continuing to pursue her professional and human rights.

The representative of Cyprus, speaking in right of reply, said with regard to the allegations of the representative of Turkey on the issue of missing persons, he reminded the Commission of a statement made by Mr. Denktash in which he had said that Greek Cypriot prisoners of war had been handed over by the advancing Turkish troops to Turkish Cypriot paramilitary forces who had executed them. The representative of Cyprus said that in his statement on this strictly humanitarian issue, the Commission was apprised of the most tragic aspect of the Cyprus problem, the continuing drama of the relatives of the missing persons. He had extended a call for everybody's assistance in the efforts to resolve this drama. The Turkish representative chose to take affront which frankly the delegation found baffling and disturbing. Cyprus reiterated its call to the Turkish side to show even at this late moment that it could rise above political expediency and exhibit at least a modicum of humanity by cooperating in the effort to put an end to this human drama.

As for Turkey's allegations on the issue of the destruction of Cyprus' cultural heritage, he reminded the Commission, among other things, that prior to the 1974 Turkish invasion, there were more than 520 Greek Orthodox and Armenian churches in the occupied area. Of those, 100 were looted or vandalized, 68 were converted to mosques, 14 were used by the Turkish military, five were used as sheep pens and one as a barn.

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For information media. Not an official record.