CHR weakening commitment to its own Procedures
1. The Association for the Prevention of Torture, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists, the International Federation for Human Rights, the International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, the International Service for Human Rights, Redress Trust and the World Organisation Against Torture, are seriously concerned by the exaggerated criticisms directed against several Special Procedures and related efforts to diminish their mandates during the 60th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
Such actions are not consistent with the Commission’s own acknowledgment that the Special Procedures are crucial to its functioning.
2. The negotiations of the Resolution on Special Procedures (E/CN.4/2004/L.91) showed that some governments appear to seriously challenge the importance of constructive cooperation and dialogue between States and the Special Procedures. This appears to reflect resistance of some governments to effective scrutiny by the Special Procedures and their apparent willingness to limit the independence and effectiveness of these essential mechanisms.
3. We were also deeply alarmed by the disparaging remarks made in connection with the report of a recent country visit by the Special Rapporteur on Torture and by the silence of many governments in face of the harsh criticism of the Rapporteur. We stress, that any criticism of the work of the Rapporteur should be constructive and be aimed at improving and strengthening this vital mechanism and not at weakening its mandate or attacking the mandate holder.
4. We strongly believe that, as underlined by the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, in his report on the Agenda for Further Change (A/57/387 (2002)), the Commission’s Special Procedures play a vital role and there is a need to strengthen them.
They should enjoy the full support of UN Member States, the OHCHR and civil society, and their mandates should be vigorously defended and reinforced, in particular by their founding body, the CHR.
Geneva, 21 April 2004