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FIACAT at the Commission on Human Rights ’60th session

FIACAT Priorities for 2004 at the Commission on Human Rights

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 year on year.

In brief :

In 2003, FIACAT chose as its priority areas :

-  The question of the death penalty

-  The human rights situation in Chechnya

-  Enforced disappearances and summary executions in Africa.

Priority areas for 2004

The human rights situation in Togo
Why ?

-  Because the local ACAT group has been harassed by the authorities, thus making this an absolute priority for FIACAT ;

-  Because FIACAT is a member of a coalition of NGOs working on this issue and in this capacity, is lobbying on this theme.
How ?

-  By submitting a written statement, jointly with the NGO coalition, under point 9 of the agenda ;

-  by encouraging the EU, USA and Canada delegations in particular to appeal to the Togolese government during the session ;

-  By prompting the UN’s Special Rapporteurs (on torture, particularly), Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to request an invitation to visit the country.

Objective : a mention of this question in the EU’s declaration and an invitation to the Special Rapporteurs to visit the country.

The question of the death penalty
Why ?

-  Because this question figures on the Commission’s agenda and a resolution was adopted at the last session (2003/67) ;

-  Because FIACAT is a member of the World Coalition against death penalty and, as such, lobbies on this issue.
How ?

-  By asking ACATs in those countries which are members of the Commission but which have not signed last year’s resolution, to ask their governements to sign it this year ;

Objective : to have the resolution on the death penalty adopted by a greater number of co-sponsor States.

The human rights situation in Chechnya
Why ?

-  To continue to monitor progress on this question at United Nations level, in conjunction with our NGO partners on this issue ;

-  To bring to international attention the efforts made by European ACATs on this matter, and in particular those of ACAT France which sent a follow-up mission to Russia from 17-24 December 2003.
How ?

-  By distributing ACAT France’s follow-up mission report ;

-  By submitting a written statement under point 9 of the agenda ;

-  By taking part in a side event.

Objective : ultimately, the adoption of a Resolution on the human rights situation in Chechnya, and an invitation from Russia to the Special Rapporteurs.

Other matters for your attention

Protection of the individual against enforced disappearance
Why ?

-  To ensure wider-ranging follow-up to action undertaken by FIACAT in 2003 on issues of enforced disappearances and summary executions in Africa ;

-  Because since September 2003, FIACAT and many other NGOs have been collaborating with the Intersessional open-ended Working Group mandated to elaborate a draft legally binding normative instrument for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance.

Participation in the Lobby Against Torture
Monitoring progress on the Resolution on torture, participation in weekly meetings between NGO members of CINAT.

The absolute prohibition of torture
CINAT has no plans to issue a joint written or oral statement this year. However, it does recommend that each NGO insert into its own statements the following paragraph : "We call on all members of the Commission on Human Rights to categorically re-affirm that torture is strictly prohibited under international human rights and humanitarian law and its prohibition is a norm of jus cogens. Norms of jus cogens cannot be altered by treaty or by a subsequent customary rule.

The 60th session of the Commission on Human Rights should take appropriate action and make clear statements that insist that torture cannot be derogated from and can never be justified under any circumstances. As a non-derogable right, freedom from torture must be actively defended, including in times of crisis."

Standing Invitations
FIACAT has co-signed, as it did last year, a written statement (together with the Quakers, Amnesty, APT, HRW, ICJ and FIDH) with the aim of prompting States to issue standing invitations to the thematic mechanisms of the United Nations - such as the Special Rapporteurs on torture or on extrajudicial executions - to examine the situation in their countries. Such standing invitations offer the considerable advantage to these mechanisms of not having to request special authorisation before sending a mission there.

As in previous years, FIACAT will keep ACATs informed on a general basis of any mention of the human rights situation in their countries. Written Statements can be viewed on FIACAT’s website.

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