Commission on Human Rights
5 April 2000
The Commission on Human Rights carried on this evening with debate under its agenda item on civil and political rights, which includes such topics as torture and detention, disappearances, summary executions, freedom of expression, administration of justice, independence of the judiciary, religious intolerance, states of emergency, and conscientious objection to military service. A series of national representatives described Government efforts to protect human rights in these categories while numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs) pleaded for greater attention to such matters as inherent police and judicial bias against women, children, and homosexuals; the fates of missing persons; and reform of court and detention practices in various countries.
Representatives of Honduras, Singapore, Georgia, Egypt, Belarus, the Netherlands, Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNESCO, Kuwait, and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya spoke during the evening meeting, as did officials of the following NGOs: World Organization against Torture; Amnesty International; Association of World Citizens; International Association of Religious Freedom; War Resisters International; Arab Organization for Human Rights; International Rehabilitation Council for Victims of Torture; Human Rights Watch; International Association for the Defense of Religious Liberty; International Federation of Journalists; International Movement for Fraternal Union among Races and Peoples; International Save the Children Alliance; World Federation of United Nations Associations; International Federation of Human Rights Leagues; International Association of Democratic Lawyers; Asian Legal Resource Centre; Article XIX; World Evangelical Fellowship; International Council of Associations for Peace in the Continents; Asian Cultural Forum for Development; and Friends World Committee for Consultation.
SANJEEWA LIYANAGE, of the Asian Legal Resource Centre, said many Asian countries faced grave human-rights violations in the form of mass enforced disappearances. This was particularly true in Aceh, East Timor, Punjab, Kashmir and Sri Lanka. Relatives of those who disappeared would suffer for generations to come. It had been predicted that human-rights violations in the form of enforced disappearances would occur in Aceh and West Papua when there was an escalation of political activity in those areas.
In Sri Lanka, no significant action had been taken by the Government to address the issue of over 30,000 disappearances. The psychological wounds would not heal until justice had been served. Sri Lanka’s human-rights situation was at an all-time low. The Working Group on Enforced Disappearances’ recommendations had not been implemented. From a legal perspective there was no doubt these acts constituted a crime against humanity and a gross human-rights violation. These were not only disappearances but extra-judicial killings and the highest levels of Government were involved. The perpetrators were still free, and no effort had been made to address the issue. The Commission should deal with this matter by establishing an international tribunal.