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FIACAT at the Commission on Human Rights’59th session, 2003

FIACAT priorities for 2003 at the UN

In view of its limited resources, FIACAT’s UN group decided a few years ago to concentrate its efforts on specific priority areas, while continuing to monitor certain issues from one year to the next.

In brief :

In 2002, FI.ACAT chose as its priority areas :

-  The question of impunity (Chechnya, Togo)

-  The human rights situations in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo

-  The issue of ‘terrorism and torture’ (within the framework of CINAT)

-  The protection of human rights defenders (Mexico). Great progress made at the last session of the Commission = adoption of the optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture.

Priorities for 2003

- The question of the death penalty

Why ?

-  Because this question is on the Commission’s agenda (point 17) and a resolution was adopted at the last session.

-  Because several ACATs were affected by this issue in 2002 (Philippines and Democratic Republic of Congo in particular) and others organised specific actions (eg : France, Switzerland....).

-  Because FIACAT, as a member of the International Coalition against the Death Penalty, is part of the pressure group lobbying on this issue.

How ?

-  By asking certain African ACATs (those in countries which are members of the Commission on Human Rights) to call on their governments to back the ‘death penalty’ resolution. Last year, few African states supported this resolution.

-  By submitting a written statement on the subject.

-  By monitoring debates on the issue (in conjunction with the World Coalition).

Objective : to have the new ‘death penalty’ resolution adopted by a greater number of States (75 instead of 68 last year).

- The human rights situation in Chechnya

Why ?

-  To follow up on action taken last year by FIACAT at the last session of the Commission on Human Rights (accreditation of a Chechen activist, participation in NGO pressure group, statements).

-  To voice the concerns of European ACATs before the UN, in particular those of ACAT France which sent a mission to Chechnya in August 2002 (report available and may be useful as briefing for lobbying).

How ?

-  By asking EU ACAT groups to petition their government so that the EU proposes a resolution on Chechnya.

-  By submitting a written statement.

-  By accrediting an activist from a human rights NGO in Chechnya, offering him/her FIACAT speaking time, assisting him/her in lobbying (arranging meetings with UN rapporteurs, member states, NGOs...).

Objective : At best : the adoption of a resolution on Chechnya... or, like last year, a statement by the President of the Commission on this country and a mention of Chechnya in the EU statement.

- Enforced disappearances and summary executions in Africa

Why ?

-  Because these two issues are specifically mentioned in the Commission’s agenda and are of current relevance (especially in view of the planned International Convention on Enforced Disappearances).

-  Because several African ACATs are affected by this issue and details have already been submitted by certain ACATs (eg : Cameroon, Togo) to the UN (rapporteurs, Committees...).

How ?

-  By submitting a written statement under point 11 of the agenda.

-  By taking advantage of a visit by ACAT activists from Africa to Geneva to introduce them to rapporteurs or delegates.

Objective : to keep up the pressure so that these issues are not overlooked but broached during the session.

- Partnership with other organisations

Like last year, FIACAT was a co-signatory of a written statement on ‘standing invitations to thematic human rights mechanisms’ (together with the Quakers, APT, HRW, ICJ and FIDH). This group seeks to prompt member states to issue standing invitations to all thematic human rights mechanisms of the Commission (eg : rapporteurs on torture, on extrajudicial executions, working group on enforced or involuntary disappearances…).

A standing invitation would be a time- and labour-saving device, dispensing with the need to seek special authorisation from a State before sending a mission onto its territory.

In conjunction with CINAT (Coalition of International NGOs Against Torture), FIACAT will once again participate this year in the Lobby Against Torture. Weekly meetings are planned during the session so that the theme of ‘torture’ is well and truly acknowledged (eg : lobbying towards the adoption of resolutions, such as those on ‘torture’, on ‘human rights and terrorism’, on ‘the right to redress, compensation and the rehabilitation of victims of grave human rights violations’ and on ‘impunity’).

An oral statement regarding the campaign for ratification of the Convention Against Torture is also planned.

In general, and as in previous years, FIACAT will keep ACATs informed of any specific mention of the situation in their countries.

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