Speakers Decry Human Rights Violations in Many Countries

Press Release

Commission on Human Rights
56th session
29 March 2000

Speakers Decry Human Rights Violations in Many Countries

The Commission on Human Rights was addressed this afternoon by the Foreign Minister of the Netherlands, who said that there could be no hiding behind the principle of sovereignty in cases where human rights or fundamental freedoms were being violated.

Jozias van Aartsen, Foreign Minister of the Netherlands, emphasized that the world had grown up and a mature and self-confident world community should be open and unafraid of taking the measure of itself; there could be no hiding
behind the principle of sovereignty in cases where human rights or fundamental freedoms were being violated; no Government had the right to terrorize its own people; the standards set forth together by the international community were universal and human rights were a legitimate concern for all.

The Commission also continued its debate on the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world by hearing statements by representatives of States and non-governmental organizations. Speakers decried human rights violations in many countries and urged the Commission to continue to adopt resolutions on countries which violated fundamental freedoms.

The representatives of the following countries delivered statements: Qatar, the Republic of Korea, Bahrain, Malaysia, Australia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nicaragua and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Also participating in the debate by providing statements were representatives from the following non-governmental organizations: the International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Asian Legal Resource Centre, the International Council of the Associations for Peace in the Continents, Centre Europe-Tiers Monde, Pax Romana, the World Evangelical Fellowship, Interfaith International, the Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, Liberation, the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization, Pax Christi International, the International Commission of Jurists, M�dicins du monde international, the International Union of Socialist Youth, Franscicans International, Federacion de Asociaciones de Defensa y Prmocion de los Derechos Humanos, and the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre.


TINA JOHANNESEN, of the Asian Legal Resource Centre, brought to the attention of the Commission the human rights violations suffered by the Daltis in India. Those, once called the ‘untouchables’, were one of the most oppressed groups that history had ever known. They comprised 17 per cent of the Indian population. After a thousand years of exclusion from society, they continued to be in limbo in India, despite the legal abolition of untouchability. The only employment they could freely enter into was scavenging. Dalit discrimination was maintained by keeping them landless. The fight against this discrimination could not make a significant breakthrough without a real attempt at land reform that would grant land to Dalits.


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The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) works towards the radical rethinking & fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in Asia, to ensure relief and redress for victims of human rights violations, as per Common Article 2 of the International Conventions. Sister organisation to the Asian Human Rights Commission, the ALRC is based in Hong Kong & holds general consultative status with the Economic & Social Council of the United Nations.

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