• Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    Report on the situation of human rights in Darfur

    An Interim report on the situation of human rights in Darfur prepared by a group of experts, including the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, has been released and is available below.

  • Wednesday, December 31, 1969

    News: “Gov’ts Routinely Dodge U.N. Human Rights Investigators”

    Thalif Deen, “Gov’ts Routinely Dodge U.N. Human Rights Investigators” (IPS) (22 September 2007):

    The United Nations is disappointed that an increasingly large number of member states are either refusing to respond to charges of extra-judicial killings or have turned down requests for visits by U.N. special envoys mandated to monitor arbitrary and summary executions in these countries.

    The 27 states that have so far failed to agree to visits range from Security Council members, such as China, Russia and the United States, to countries like El Salvador, Kenya, Thailand, Israel, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

    “The fact that 90 percent of countries identified as warranting a country visit have failed to cooperate with the system — and that the (Human Rights) Council has done nothing in response — is a major indictment of the system,” said Philip Alston, the U.N. special rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

    “No matter how grave the issue and how blatant or compromised the conduct of the relevant government,” the Geneva-based Human Rights Council “remains entirely unmoved,” Alston said in a 21-page report to the 62nd session of the General Assembly, which opened last week and concludes in December.

    . . .

    Tania Baldwin-Pask, adviser on International Organizations, International Law, and Organizations Programme at the London-based Amnesty International (AI), says this is a “chronic problem” for all U.N. human rights investigators.

    “AI has consistently raised (this issue) because it is so fundamental to the functioning of the system that all member states cooperate with the special procedures. It goes to the heart of universality and non-selectivity, which so many states are keen to stress in other contexts,” she told IPS.

    . . .

    Alston, she pointed out, has been the most persistent in seeking to draw the attention of the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly to this issue.

    Regrettably, Baldwin-Pask said, the unwillingness of states to facilitate visit requests is quite common, although they have different ways in which they approach this.

    She said few take the approach of Singapore (and as highlighted in the report) whereby they flatly refuse a mission request. Many take a considerable amount of time to “discuss with their capitals” and put in place the necessary arrangements for the visit to go ahead.

    But because the Human Rights Council has no mechanism at this time to check — state by state — the status of mission requests, it is easy for states to simply ignore these requests.

    Consequently, she said, you have states such as Turkmenistan which has never received a visit by human rights monitors, despite 11 different mandate-holders over the course of the past few years seeking to go on mission there.

    And the Council, she complained, “as yet not taking action in response”.

    . . .

    Some member states like to use the opportunity of the Council or the General Assembly to announce that they have invited a particular U.N. rapporteur to visit, which on the face of it looks as if they are willing to cooperate with the special rapporteurs, or even the Council itself — only to postpone the mission, she added. Of course, states rarely make a public announcement about the postponement.

    Philip Alston’s full report is available below.

  • Monday, September 24, 2007

    Human Rights Council and General Assembly have failed to respond to crisis in Sri Lanka

    Diplomatic Editor, “President faces HR fire at UN", Sunday Times (Colombo), 23 September 2007:

    On the eve of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s address to the United Nations General Assembly, the world body has expressed serious concerns over ”a spate of extrajudicial executions” by the military, paramilitary forces and insurgent groups in Sri Lanka.

    A damning report by Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on Summary and Arbitrary Executions, states that in presenting the report to the General Assembly last year, Mr. Alston warned that “Sri Lanka was on the brink of a crisis of major proportions.”

    “Since that time, the situation has indeed erupted into crisis and neither the Human Rights Council (in Geneva) nor the General Assembly (in New York) has seen fit to take any action to address the spate of extra-judicial executions being reported out of that country,” he says in a new report to the 192-member General Assembly, which began its 62nd sessions last week. Mr. Alston has implicitly urged both the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly to penalize the government for its human rights abuses.

    The report castigating Sri Lanka comes on the eve of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s address to the General Assembly. He is due to speak on Tuesday afternoon, and is scheduled to meet Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday.

    Philip Alston’s full report is available below.

  • Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    Report to the General Assembly

    The report of Philip Alston as Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, to the UN General Assembly has been released and is available below.

    This report discusses his mission to the Philippines, his aborted mission to Guinea, and his work on the situation in Darfur.

    The report also reviews the mandate’s development over its first 25 years. In this context, it surveys the mandate’s contributions in four specific areas:

    * Confronting problematic innovations in counter-terrorism tactics
    * Assisting in the protection of refugees and internally displaced persons
    * Holding armed groups and other non-State actors to account for human rights abuses
    * Developing effective working methods to fulfil the mandate

    This report will be presented to the General Assembly in late October.