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2 October 2008

COMMITTEE ON RELATIONS WITH THE HOST COUNTRY ELECTS CHAIRMAN; TAKES UP ISSUE CONCERNING IMMIGRATION, CUSTOMS PROCEDURES

2 October 2008
General Assembly
HQ/666
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Committee on Relations

with Host Country

239th Meeting (AM)


COMMITTEE ON RELATIONS WITH THE HOST COUNTRY ELECTS CHAIRMAN;


TAKES UP ISSUE CONCERNING IMMIGRATION, CUSTOMS PROCEDURES

 


The Committee on Relations with the Host Country met this morning to elect its new Chairman and take up an issue under its agenda item on “acceleration of immigration and customs procedures”.


Concerning those procedures, Cuba’s representative expressed concern about a 20 September incident at the Trudeau Airport in Montreal, Canada, where the head of his country’s delegation to a high-level event at the United Nations in New York, Vice-President of the Councils of State and Ministers, José Machado Ventura, had been subjected to a rigorous check and personal inspection.  All the requirements in connection with Mr. Machado’s visit had been met, and the incident demonstrated disrespect to his country’s representative, he said.


It was a violation of relevant agreements, including the Convention on Privileges and Immunities and article 29 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and all appropriate measures should be taken to prevent such incidents in the future, he added.  In that connection, he urged the host country to take the matter up with customs and other officials involved and conduct a thorough investigation of the situation.


In response, the representative of the United States recalled that, on 20 August, his country had set forth procedures for the passage to and from the United States for high-level General Assembly delegates at a Host Country Committee meeting.  In particular, he had described the Courtesies of the Port Programme that had been put in place.  Cuba had, indeed, complied with the requirement under that programme, sending, by e-mail, the courtesies of the port request for Mr. Machado.


Since Mr. Machado was to arrive at LaGuardia Airport, which does not have customs and immigration offices in place, the Vice-President was to pass through customs and immigration in Canada, he continued.  The State Department had asked that the courtesies of the port be extended to Mr. Machado there, and the supervisor of the United States customs and border protection at Trudeau had confirmed that it had been done.  He did not have any information as to what happened after Mr. Machado had passed customs.  Pre-boarding security at Trudeau was not subject to control of the United States, and the host country had no involvement in the incident described.


Taking note of that statement, Cuba’s representative said that he had been under the impression that the incident had occurred under United States jurisdiction.  Now, it appeared that it had happened in another part of the airport.  He wanted the situation clarified and requested a thorough investigation of the incident.  In particular, he wanted to know what measures would be taken to prevent such incidents in the future.


Also this morning, the Committee elected Minas Hadjimichael ( Cyprus) as its Chairman.  Following the elections, Mr. Hadjimichael, on behalf of the Committee, welcomed the new Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Peter Taksoe-Jensen, and the incoming Legal Counsel, Patricia O’Brien, wishing them success in their new positions.  Mr. Taksoe-Jensen, also speaking on behalf of Ms. O’Brien, congratulated the Chairman on his election and assured the Committee that the Legal Office would continue to support its efforts to find practical solutions to the challenges before it.


Also congratulating the Chair on his election, the United States representative stressed the importance of the Committee to the Host country, particularly in the light of the need to find solutions to the problems faced by the Permanent Missions in New York.  He also extended his welcome to the new Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and the Legal Counsel.


The Committee will meet on 31 October to consider and adopt its annual report for submission to the Sixth Committee (Legal).


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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.