|Economic and Social||Distr.|
|22 February 1996|
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Item 10 of the provisional agenda
Cooperation with representatives of United Nations human rights bodies
Report of the Secretary-General submitted in accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 1995/75
1. At its fifty-first session, the Commission on Human Rights adopted resolution 1995/75, entitled "Cooperation with representatives of United Nations human rights bodies". In this resolution, the Commission reiterating its concern at the continued reports of intimidation and reprisals against private individuals and groups who sought to cooperate with the United Nations and representatives of its human rights bodies and at reports about incidents where private individuals have been hampered in their efforts to avail themselves of procedures established under United Nations auspices for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, urged Governments to refrain from all acts of intimidation or reprisal against: (a) those who seek to cooperate or have cooperated with representatives of United Nations human rights bodies, or who have provided testimony or information to them; (b) those who avail or have availed themselves of procedures under United Nations auspices for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and all those who have provided legal assistance to them for this purpose; (c) those who submit or have submitted communications under procedures established by human rights instruments; and (d) those who are relatives of victims of human rights violations.
2. The Commission requested all representatives of United Nations human rights bodies, as well as treaty bodies monitoring the observance of human rights, to continue to take urgent steps, in conformity with their mandates, to help prevent the hampering of access to United Nations human rights procedures in any way and to help prevent the occurrence of such intimidation or reprisals, as well as to continue to include in their respective reports to the Commission on Human Rights, the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities or the General Assembly a reference to allegations of intimidation or reprisal and of hampering of access to United Nations human rights procedures, as well as an account of action taken by them in that regard.
3. The Commission requested the Secretary-General to draw the attention of such representatives and treaty bodies to the resolution and invited him to submit to the Commission at its fifty-second session a report containing a compilation and analysis of any available information, from all appropriate sources, on alleged reprisals against those referred to in the resolution.
4. This chapter contains a summary of the information received pursuant to resolution 1995/75. It covers a variety of situations in which persons have been intimidated or suffered reprisals for having: cooperated with United Nations human rights bodies; availed themselves of international procedures; provided legal assistance for this purpose; and/or been relatives of victims of human rights violations.
5. In cases in which the victims, whether individuals or organizations, had been in contact with one of the bodies or mechanisms of the Commission on Human Rights, action was taken, whenever requested, for their protection by the pertinent body or the representative in charge of the relevant mandate of the Commission. In the majority of cases urgent communications were addressed to the Government concerned. The prompt intervention procedure is described in a previous report to the Commission (see E/CN.4/1992/29, paras. 14-18). Where applicable, the replies received from the Governments to these communications have been included in the present report.
6. It must be noted that the summaries included in this report reflect urgent appeals and replies from Governments only to the extent that they have been included in the latest reports presented by each mechanism to the Commission on Human Rights.
7. During 1995, the Special Rapporteur continued to send urgent appeals, in accordance with resolution 1995/75, urging the Governments concerned to adopt protection measures, in cases in which victims of human rights violations, witnesses, relatives or their lawyers were being threatened or intimidated and were reportedly at risk of extrajudicial execution.
8. On 5 April 1995, the Special Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal to the Government of Argentina, in which he expressed concern for the safety of María Alejandra Bonafini, daughter of the President of the organization Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, after she had received death threats in relation to her mother's work.
9. By communication dated 27 September 1995, the Government of Argentina replied to the urgent appeal sent on behalf of María Alejandra Bonafini, stating that investigations into the case had been initiated by the competent authorities.
10. The Special Rapporteur refers, in the report of his mission to Burundi in April 1995 (E/CN.4/1996/4/Add.1), to the death threats received by the representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the commander of the Organization of African Unity Mission of Observation in Muyinga province. He also refers to threats against the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Burundi which were published in various local newspapers. All three had cooperated with United Nations human rights bodies and mechanisms, including the Special Rapporteur. The killing, in August 1994, allegedly by military personnel in Kirundo of a member of UNHCR, who reportedly had been investigating the massacre of more than 100 refugees in Kiri, Kirundo, is also mentioned in the Special Rapporteur's report.
11. Members of human rights organizations which had cooperated with the United Nations human rights procedures continued to be victims of intimidation and threats by the security forces. The Special Rapporteur sent two urgent appeals, dated 7 December 1994 and 20 January 1995, on behalf of Luis Guillermo Pérez Casas, Alirio Uribe Muñoz, Eduardo Carreño Wilches, Reinaldo Villalba Vargas, Pedro Julio Mahecha Avila, Rafael Barrios Mendívil and Katia Karina Niño Vargas, members of Corporación Colectivo de Abogados "José Alvear Restrepo" after they had received death threats because of their work as human rights lawyers. A third urgent appeal requesting their protection was sent on 22 June 1995, after one of the members of the organization, Javier Alberto Barriga Vergel had been killed.
12. By communications dated 2 February and 28 March 1995, the Government informed the Special Rapporteur that investigations had started and measures had been adopted to protect the life and physical integrity of the abovementioned persons. By a communication dated 22 August 1995, the Government further informed him that investigations into the killing of Javier Alberto Barriga Vergel were under way.
13. On 16 February 1995, the Special Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal on behalf of Senayda Cana Chanay, a member of the Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo por el Aparecimiento con Vida de Nuestro Familiares (GAM). Reportedly, she had been harassed by the same police officers who had been assigned to protect her after an attempted attack on her life.
14. On 13 March and 11 April 1995, the Special Rapporteur requested the authorities to adopt the necessary measures to protect the life of Miguel Sucuquí Mejía, Juana Tipás Gonzáles, Emilia García, Samuel Hernández, Daniel Pascual Hernández and Guillermo Fernández, representatives of Frente Nacional de Organizaciones de Derechos Humanos en Guatemala. Fears had been expressed that they could suffer acts of reprisal upon their arrival in Guatemala because of their attendance at the fiftyfirst session of the Commission on Human Rights.
15. According to a Government reply dated 6 June 1995, investigations were under way in the case of Senayda Cana Chanay.
16. On 30 June 1995, the Special Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal on behalf of: Antonia E. Saquicuray Sánchez (a judge); Ana Cecilia Magallanes (a prosecutor); relatives of the victims of the Barrios Altos massacre and of the La Cantuta massacre; General Rodolfo Robles Espinoza (a dissident army officer); and Tito Guido Gallegos Gallegos (a human rights lawyer). All of them had received death threats for having expressed their opposition to the amnesty law, promulgated in June 1995, which closed all investigations and judicial proceedings linked to past violations of human rights.
17. Two other urgent actions on behalf of Tito Guido Gallegos Gallegos were sent on 17 July and 11 September 1995, after the Special Rapporteur had been informed that he was continuing to receive death threats in connection with his work in defence of victims of human rights violations.
18. In a communication dated 14 July 1995, the Special Rapporteur expressed concern for the life of Gloria Cano Legua, the lawyer of a survivor of the Barrios Altos massacre, after she had received death threats because of her work.
19. Another urgent appeal was sent on 21 November 1995, on behalf of: Susana Villarán, Francisco Soberón and Ernesto de la Jara (human rights activists); Gisela Ortíz and Raida Condor (relatives of La Cantuta victims); Heriberto Benítez (a lawyer); General Rodolfo Robles (a dissident army officer); and Henry Pease, Javier Diez Canseco and Gustavo Mohme (Congressmen), after a wreath in the shape of a cross and a message threatening them with death was delivered at the offices of Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH).
20. This death threat was sent by members of a death squad allegedly linked to the Servicio de Inteligencia del Ejército. The aforementioned persons had been active for the revocation of the amnesty law which came into effect in Peru in June 1995.
21. It should be noted that on 2 August 1995, the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers and the Chairman of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances had issued a communication addressed to the Government expressing their deep concern over the adoption of such a law. They stressed the fact that the amnesty law favoured impunity, denied the right to an effective remedy for victims of human rights violations, and was contrary to the spirit of international human rights instruments.
22. According to the Government reply, dated 9 October 1995, measures to protect the life of Gloria Cano Legua had been adopted. The reply also stated that there were no indications that the armed forces were responsible for the death threats.
23. On 17 July 1995, the Special Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal to the Government of Swaziland, asking for protection for Jan Sithole, SecretaryGeneral of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unionists, who had been receiving death threats from members of the police, after an increase in tension between the Government and trade unionists. The information received by the Special Rapporteur indicated that, in June 1995, after Jan Sithole returned from attending an International Labour Organization (ILO) conference in Geneva, the Chief Immigration Officer had ordered him to surrender his passport. Mr. Sithole was threatened with deportation to Mozambique.
24. As in previous years, the Working Group sent urgent communications to Governments, in accordance with resolution 1995/75, urging the authorities to adopt protection measures in cases in which relatives of missing persons or other individuals or organizations which had cooperated with the Working Group, as well as their legal counsel, were being subjected to intimidation, persecution or reprisals. In such cases, the Working Group requested that it be informed of investigations carried out and protection measures adopted.
25. On 22 August 1995, the Working Group sent a "prompt intervention" cable to the Government of Colombia, after being informed that Mr. Italo Rodríguez Carvajal was receiving death threats because of the actions he was undertaking to clarify the disappearance and subsequent killing of his brother, Alvaro Rodriguez Carvajal. Another prompt intervention was sent on 14 September 1995, on behalf of Yanette Bautista, President of the Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos (ASFADDES) (Association of Relatives of Disappeared Detainees) after she had been intimidated and harassed because of her work. In the same cable the Working Group referred to Astrid Liliana González Jaramillo and Sandra del Pilar Ubate Monroy who had received death threats urging them to refrain from testifying before the Fiscalía Regional de Cali in the framework of the investigations into the disappearance of John Ricardo Ubate and Gloria Bogota. The threats came from men who identified themselves as belonging to the Fiscalía General de la Nación and the Servicio de Investigaciones Judiciales e Inteligencia (SIJIN). A second prompt intervention on their behalf was sent on 4 October 1995.
26. On 14 February 1995, a "prompt intervention" cable was sent to the Government of Ecuador on behalf of members of human rights organizations and relatives of missing persons who regularly meet to request official investigations into cases of disappearances, after they had been subjected to acts of intimidation and harassment, reportedly by members of the National Police. In the same communication, the Working Group referred to Hugo España Torres, a former National Police officer whose testimony had been crucial in the judicial investigation of the disappearance of Carlos Santiago and Pedro Andrés Restrepo. According to the information received, he was being threatened by members of the National Police after he had accused members of the National Police of being involved in the disappearance of the Restrepo brothers.
27. On 22 August 1995, the Working Group sent a "prompt intervention" cable to the Government of Guatemala requesting protection for the following persons: Dr. Eduardo Arango Escobar, the Fiscal (prosecutor) appointed to investigate the disappearance of Efrain Bamaca, a leader of the armed opposition; Jennifer Harbury (Mr. Bamaca's wife); and Angel Chizas García, a former soldier who testified that he had seen Bamaca in custody at a military base, after the army had reported his death in combat. Both the prosecutor and the former soldier had allegedly received continuing death threats. Mr. Bamaca's wife was reportedly confronted by approximately 40 people sent to the proposed exhumation site to intimidate her.
28. On 15 August 1995, the Working Group sent a "prompt intervention" cable to the Government of Honduras requesting protection for: Leonel Casco Gutierrez, a member of the Comité de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH) (Committee of Relatives of Disappeared Persons in Honduras) relatives of Juan Pablo Rivas Calderón, a retired army officer killed on 4 January 1995 after having accused a former high official of the armed forces of acts of corruption; his son, Juan Pablo Rivas Jeresano, who had suffered an attempted attack on his life; members of the Oficina del Comisionado Nacional de Protección de los Derechos Humanos (Office of the National Commissioner for the Protection of Human Rights), of COFADEH and of the Comité para la Defensa de Derechos Humanos en Honduras (CODEH), (Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Honduras, after they had received death threats urging them to refrain from investigating cases of disappearance; and journalists of the daily newspaper Tiempo, after they received death threats for having published news regarding investigations carried out to clarify the fate of missing persons in Honduras.
29. The Government of Mexico sent the Working Group a response, dated 11 January 1995, to its prompt intervention cable of 27 September 1994 concerning reports of alleged acts of intimidation, harassment and reprisal against members of the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared, "Eureka"; the Fray Francisco Vitoria Human Rights Centre; the National Independent Committee for the Defence of those Imprisoned, Persecuted, Disappeared and in Political Exile; and the Centre for Information on and Monitoring of Human Rights in Mexico (see E/CN.4/1995/53, para. 11). According to the Government, the authorities allegedly responsible had denied any involvement in the matter. In this context, the Mexican National Commission for Human Rights had sent an official communication to the non-governmental organizations concerned requiring them to provide stronger evidence in support of their complaints, so that the proper course to be followed in that respect could be determined.
30. On 31 August 1995, the Special Rapporteur sent a letter to the Government of China in which he referred to the fact that Mr. Yulo Dawa Tsering, a senior Tibetan monk released on 6 November 1994 who had met the special Rapporteur during his visit to China from 19 to 30 November 1994 (E/CN.4/1995/91), was being held incommunicado in a house in Rabses district of Lhassa. The Special Rapporteur reminded the authorities of their commitment, made during his visit, that Mr. Yulo Dawa Tsering would not incur any negative consequences as a result of meeting with the Special Rapporteur.
31. During 1995, the independent expert was informed about several cases of intimidation and threats against members of the judiciary working on human rights cases who had cooperated with United Nations human rights mechanisms. These include death threats received by: the Fiscal General de Guatemala, (General Prosecutor of Guatemala) Ramsés Cuestas, his wife and other relatives; Ramiro Contreras, Fiscal Especial appointed to investigate the Xaman massacre, in which 13 internally displaced persons had been killed; and Julio Arango Escobar, Fiscal appointed to investigate the disappearance of Efrain Bamaca. Julio Arango Escobar resigned from the case, claiming personal reasons, after an unidentified man reportedly fired at his office on 22 June 1995.
32. The Special Rapporteur was informed about the killing of an Iraqi woman and the serious injuries caused to two others, after they were run over by a car while crossing 14th Ramadhan Street in Baghdad on 15 August 1995. According to the information received by the Special Rapporteur, the attack was a reprisal for their brother's activities in the defence of human rights, including providing information to several international non-governmental organization, as well as to the Special Rapporteur.
33. On 15 January 1996, the Special Rapporteur sent a letter to the Government of Myanmar in which he expressed concern for the safety of Saw Naing Naing, a member of Parliament, Monywa Tin Shwe, a lawyer, U Win Tin, a prisoner of conscience, Myo Myint Nyein, a magazine editor and Myint Aung, also a member of Parliament, after receiving reports according to which prison officials had begun interrogating these five persons about letters which had been smuggled out of Insein Prison to the Special Rapporteur. As a result, they were being forced to sleep on concrete floors, and were denied access to their families. The Special Rapporteur recalled to the authorities of Myanmar the provisions of resolution 1995/75.
34. The Special Rapporteur was informed about several cases of intimidation of and reprisal against individuals who had been in contact with United Nations human rights mechanisms or who had provided information to the Special Rapporteur. The enforced disappearance of Manasse Mugabo, a 32yearold journalist in charge of the Kinyarwanda section at Radio UNAMIR, after leaving his house on 19 August 1995 to travel to Uganda through the border post at Gatuna, was brought to the Special Rapporteur's attention. He was also informed that on the morning of 11 December 1995, Jean Baptiste Barambirwa, President of the Collectif des Ligues et Associations de Défense des Droits de l'Homme au Rwanda (CLADHO), had been arrested by a group of four men, including an armed soldier, after giving a speech the evening before at the "Hotel des Diplomates" in Kigali, on the occasion of the closing ceremonies for Human Rights Week. Reportedly, in that speech he had criticized several aspects of the human rights situation in Rwanda, and, according to the information received by the Special Rapporteur, during his detention he was interrogated about several points in his speech.
35. The detention, on 18 November 1995, of Théobald Gakwaya Rwaka, ViceChairman of the Parti démocrate chrétien and member of the Ligue rwandaise pour la promotion et la défense des droits de l'homme, in Nyakabanda, commune of Nyarugenge, by a group of gendarmes was also brought to the Special Rapporteur's attention. While in detention he had been interrogated about a speech he had given in August during a workshop regarding arrest and detention procedures, in which he had taken a critical position regarding the human rights situation in the country. He was released on 14 December 1995.
36. The Special Rapporteur was also informed about the case of Andre Sibomana, editor of Kinyamateka and Chairman of the Association rwandaise pour la défense des droits de la personne et des libertés publiques, who had been threatened on various occasions. Reportedly he had been active denouncing human rights violations committed by the current and former Governments of Rwanda.
37. At the fiftieth session of the General Assembly, the representative of the Government of the Sudan provided a response to the statement made by the Special Rapporteur, in which reference was made, inter alia, to the reasons why the Special Rapporteur had been denied access to the Sudan. In this response, the representative of the Sudan stated "we don't want to speculate about his fate if he is to continue offending the feelings of Muslims worldwide ... as he did in his current interim report".
38. In addition, in its response to the interim report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, the representative of the Government of the Sudan stated the following:
"As for the substance of that indirect call by the Special Rapporteur for the abolition of Shariah laws contained in his interim report and summed up in paragraph 82 (a) of that report, we will explain how such a call is a violation of the freedom of religion when we respond to paragraph 26 of the interim report. In this respect, our call for the General Assembly is as follows: (a) ...; (b) Take the necessary remedial measures to comfort the feelings of Muslims worldwide for the unwarranted challenge to Islam posed by those references, otherwise no one would be in a position to guarantee that he would not face the fate of Mr. Salman Rushdie."
39. The Special Rapporteur was informed that lawyers, journalists and NGO activists active in the promotion and defence of human rights had been frequently subjected to anonymous phone or letter threats. Some had been subjected to police interrogation because of their human rights activities.
40. The following persons, who have been cooperating with United Nations mechanisms, were said to have been threatened and harassed because of their human rights activities: Tonci Majic, President of the Dalmatian Committee for Human Rights, Split; Miso Rogosic, member of the Dalmatian Committee for Human Rights; Ivan Ozic, President of the Dalmatian Committee of Solidarity, Split; Mirko Franceschi, a lawyer from Split; Ivan Yvonimir Cicak, Chairman of the Croatian Helsinki Committee; Slobodan Budak Deputy Chairman of the Croatian Helsinki Committee; Petar Mrkalj, a member of the Croatian Helsinki Committee; Ms. Branka Skansi, a lawyer from Dubrovnik; Srd Jaksic, a lawyer from Dubrovnik; Dusan Busic, a lawyer from Karlovac; Dejan Deajanovic, former President of Lawyers Chamber in Karlovac; Dorde Stojakoyic, a lawyer from Karlovac; Vaso Dobric, judge of the Municipal Court in Karlovac; Nikola Pavlovic, a lawyer from Karlovac. Some of them had met with the Special Rapporteur during their missions to the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
41. During 1995, the Special Rapporteur was informed that, on 13 July 1995, Mohamed Amr Razzak, a United States law student and member of the International Human Rights Law Group, doing an internship at the Centre des droits de l'homme et du droit humanitaire, in Lubumbashi, had been arrested and taken to the Service national d'intelligence et de protection for interrogation while being denied permission to contact the United States consulate. He was set free the following day without being charged, on the condition that he left the country within the next three days.
42. The Special Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal on 23 November 1995 to the Government of Zaire, reminding it of resolution 1995/75, after Muller Ruhimbika and five other persons of Banyamulenge origin had been arrested in Uvira, shortly after having met with the Special Rapporteur during his visit to Zaire. Muller Ruhimbika had made an appeal to the international community to put pressure on the Government to stop expulsion measures against the Banyamulenge population.
43. Another urgent appeal on behalf of human rights organizations was sent by the Special Rapporteur on 12 July 1995, after he had been informed about acts of intimidation and harassment against the Association Zaïroise de Défense des Droits de l'Homme (AZADHO). Reportedly, since February 1995 several members of AZADHO had been harassed and sometimes beaten by local administration agents and the offices of AZADHO in Kindu, Maniema, had been closed on 23 February 1995.
44. Information received by different United Nations human rights bodies and mechanisms indicates that acts of intimidation and reprisals against human rights activists and non-governmental organizations continue to occur in a number of countries. Violence against international humanitarian workers, including killings of, or death threats against, United Nations officials has also been recorded.
45. Alleged victims of reprisals included witnesses and victims of human rights violations and their relatives. They also included officials involved in the investigation of cases reported to United Nations human rights bodies, in particular members of the judiciary. Organizations and private individuals who regularly submit information to the United Nations on human rights matters, as well as individuals who had personally met with representatives of United Nations human rights bodies, were also subjected to intimidation and reprisals. United Nations officials who have cooperated with United Nations human rights mechanisms were another group targeted by acts of intimidation and reprisal.
46. The various United Nations human rights mechanisms have expressed concern at the fact that, in many cases, those allegedly responsible for acts of intimidation and reprisal appear to enjoy virtual impunity, thus encouraging the perpetuation of similar acts.
47. It is also disturbing to note that urgent appeals have been sent by the concerned Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups on repeated occasions for the same individuals and organizations, and that the Governments in question have either not answered these communications, or have provided unsatisfactory replies to the requests for investigations into the allegations. In some instances, despite appeals requesting protection for members of human rights organizations, some of them were killed shortly after.
48. A number of cases of violations of human rights affecting lawyers and members of the judiciary, who have been attacked, threatened and even killed, have not been included in this report for the reason that, although they were defending human rights in accordance with international human rights instruments, they utilized domestic remedies. An interpretation strictu sensu, of resolution 1995/75 does not allow the inclusion of these cases in the categories referred to in the resolution. In this context, the Commission may wish to consider whether an amplification of the mandate to include cases of persons who have been harassed and intimidated because of their efforts to avail themselves of any of the procedures aimed at protecting human rights, whether national or international, would not facilitate a more comprehensive analysis.