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FIACAT at the Commission on Human Rights’ 61st session

FIACAT’s priorities
for the UN Commission on Human Rights
61st Session

14 March – 22 April 2005

Since its resources are limited, the FIACAT UN group decided some years ago to focus on certain priorities, while tracking certain subjects from year to year.

Priorities for 2005

• The human rights situation in Togo

Why ?

-  To respond to a request from ACAT Togo and support its work in the field.
-  Because FIACAT is part of a coalition of NGOs that is monitoring the situation in that country and is thus involved in lobbying on this issue.

How ?

-  By submitting a written statement together with the coalition of NGOs under item 9 of the agenda.
-  By encouraging the ACAT associations to bring this statement to the attention of their Ministries of Foreign Affairs and their countries’ Missions to the United Nations.
-  By informing the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the experts of the Committee against Torture who will consider Togo’s report in June. Aim : to help ensure that the situation in Togo remains under scrutiny.

• Abolition of the death penalty

Why ?

-  Because this issue is on the Commission’s agenda and a resolution was adopted at the last session.
-  Because FIACAT is a member of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty and is thus involved in lobbying on this issue.

How ?

-  By submitting a written statement under item 17 of the agenda, together with the members of the World Coalition’s steering committee who have expressed the wish to associate themselves with it.
-  By asking the ACAT associations whose countries did not support last year’s resolution to urge their governments to sign it this year.
-  By meeting the papal representative at the Commission on Human Rights session (in connection with the reference to the death penalty in the Universal Catechism).
-  By taking part in the World Coalition’s lobbying activities at the session, especially as regards the countries that have resumed executions in 2004–05. Aim : adoption of a resolution co-sponsored by up to 80 States on abolition of the death penalty.

• The absolute ban on torture

Why ?

-  Because this issue is on the Commission’s agenda and a resolution was adopted at the last session.
-  Because FIACAT is a member of the Coalition of international NGOs against torture (CINAT) and is thus involved in lobbying on this issue.

How ?

-  By co-signing a document setting out the CINAT’s recommendations.
-  By encouraging the ACAT associations to bring this statement to the attention of their Ministries of Foreign Affairs and their countries’ Missions to the United Nations.
-  By monitoring the drafting of the resolution on torture (e.g. by taking part in the weekly meetings of the NGOs of the LAT ’Lobby Against Torture’ and informing the States of our recommendations).
-  By meeting the new Special Rapporteur on Torture (Manfred Nowak) and/or his representative. Aim : adoption by consensus of a resolution on torture which covers the recommendations drawn up by the CINAT.

Other concerns :

• Protection against enforced disappearances

Since September 2003, FIACAT, along with other NGOs, has been attending the meetings of the Inter-sessional Open-ended Working Group on a draft legally binding normative instrument for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearances. This year, it will take part in this group’s session scheduled for 31 January to 11 February.

The group’s Chair hopes to achieve a consensus on a text to be adopted at the next session of the Commission, and then by the General Assembly of the United Nations at the end of the year. The aim is to establish a mechanism that can trigger emergency procedures to force the State to reveal the whereabouts of a person who has disappeared from view and to prosecute any persons engaging in the practice of enforced disappearances.

• Standing invitations

As last year, FIACAT has co-signed a written statement (with the Quakers, Amnesty, APT, HRW, ICJ and IFHR) to urge States to issue standing invitations to the UN special mechanisms – such as the Special Rapporteur on torture or on extrajudicial executions – to investigate conditions in their countries. Such invitations have the major advantage that there is no need to request special authorisation before making an on-the-spot visit.

In general, and as in previous years, FIACAT will keep the ACAT associations informed of any reference to the human rights situation in their countries. The written statements are available at FIACAT’s website.


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