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FIACAT at the Commission on Human Rights’ 57th session

Priorities of the FI.ACAT for 2001

Paris, 25 January 2001

In view of its limited resources, the FI.ACAT UN group decided a few years ago to concentrate its efforts on one or two priorities whilst continuing to monitor certain topics over the years.

Reminder :

In 2000, the FI.ACAT’s priorities were :
-  the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo ;
-  the question of the death penalty. At its 2000 session, the Commission on Human Rights adopted resolutions on these two points.

Priorities for 2001

The question of torture

Why ?

-  Because this is one of the points on which the United Nations is focusing at the moment. The Human Rights Commission will this year renew the mandate of the rapporteur on torture. The working group responsible for drafting the optional protocol to the Convention against torture (cf. paper attached) has been asked to reach a consensus as a matter of urgency.
-  Because the FI.ACAT and the ACATs are this year taking part in the world campaign against torture launched by Amnesty International, and it is important for this issue to be taken up at the United Nations.

How ?

-  By lodging a written statement on the subject at the session of the Commission on Human Rights, asking for the rapporteur’s mandate to be renewed and drawing attention to the optional protocol.
-  By continuing to monitor closely the work of the group responsible for the optional protocol (Jean-Marie Mariotte, who has been following the drafting of this text for many years on behalf of the FI.ACAT, will attend the group’s meeting in February).
-  By taking part in a public conference on the optional protocol, organised by the CINAT (the Coalition of international NGOs against torture) at the Commission session.

The human rights situation in Brazil

Why ?

-  Because the rapporteur to the United Nations on torture, Nigel Rodley, visited Brazil in August 2000 and his report will be examined at the Commission session in March 2001. The focus is therefore likely to be on this country.
-  Because ACAT Brazil, together with local partners, helped with the smooth running of Nigel Rodley’s visit to Sao Paolo and brought prison conditions in its country to the attention of the whole ACAT network (FI.ACAT campaign for the year 2000).

How ?

-  Perhaps by accrediting a representative from ACAT Brazil to attend the next session of the Commission on Human Rights.
-  By an oral statement on the human rights situation in that country.
-  By publicising Nigel Rodley’s report on Brazil in a press release and passing on to him information on the follow-up to his mission.
-  By lobbying the Brazilian authorities during the year, to remind them of Nigel Rodley’s recommendations.

N.B : The FI.ACAT will keep a special watching brief on the way in which certain situations are monitored by the United Nations (e.g. Chechnya, the Moluccas, the DRC and Colombia).

Other points which have been FI.ACAT priorities over the past few years :

-  The question of the death penalty

Although a resolution on this subject was adopted at the last Commission session, it was not taken up by the UN General Assembly. The FI.ACAT will consult its partners on how it should best go about achieving a moratorium on the death penalty.

-  The protection of human rights defenders

As in previous years, the FI.ACAT plans to cosign with other international NGOs a joint declaration to strengthen the protection of human rights defenders : an increase will be sought in the funding available to the Secretary-General’s special representative on human rights defenders, Ms Hina Jilani.

-  The human rights situation in Mexico

ACAT Mexico has asked the FI.ACAT to continue monitoring UN technical assistance to Mexico. Juan Antonio Vega Baez, Head of ACAT Mexico, will be going to Geneva for the next meeting of the International Bureau of the FI.ACAT and will therefore be able to follow up this issue.

N.B : The NGOs feel there is a need to work together in order to give their efforts greater impact.

The FI.ACAT is therefore planning to cosign declarations it considers important (such as asking various countries to extend a standing invitation to UN bodies, rapporteurs and working groups - cf. the attached statement).

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