System of impunity making mockery of Special Procedures: Special Rapporteur tells United Nations’ Third Committee

October 30, 2007
Singapore Democrats

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The Human Rights of Migrants

Jorge Bustamante, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, said that despite general agreement on the positive aspects of migration for development, the focus of States had largely been on controlling the movements of migrants, rather than on protecting their rights. There was a trend towards seeing migrants as commodities, rather than as people with rights afforded to them through the international human rights framework. He urged States to incorporate a human rights perspective into their discussions, whether they were countries of origin, transit or destination. Human rights could be part of the agenda at the regional, bilateral or global level.

At the national level, migrants were increasingly the subject of political considerations and portrayed as “black sheep”, he explained. State concerns about trafficking and smuggling had bred hostility towards foreigners among domestic populations. He urged countries to hold national debates on adopting the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and to fully integrate migrants into their societies.

More than ever, migrants were increasingly subjected to discrimination and violence in both destination and transit countries, he continued. He had received numerous reports of non-citizens who had been detained for unlawfully long periods and who often lacked access to medical services or justice. Raids in migrant neighbourhoods, another trend among States, had led to the separation of children from their arrested parents, including children born in such countries. Moreover, he was concerned at the alarming number of migrants who had fallen prey to trafficking and smuggling networks. Irregular border crossings had produced a type of “debt bondage” which only expanded those networks. Ironically, restrictive migration policies were a fundamental cause of such patterns. He called on the global community to support countries of origin in creating favourable conditions for their nationals, and to allocate as many funds to development projects as were being spent for “building walls without success”. States should also cooperate with a view to fostering regular migration.

The representative of Portugal asked which activities the Special Rapporteur would focus on in the future.

The representative of the United States gave a brief statement about the situation of migration into the United States, and listed legal efforts to eliminate any discrimination against migrants. He also enumerated how many migrants had immigrated to the country, and how many refugees had been resettled.

The representative of the Philippines commented on the vicious circle of illegal migration, and asked if there was a risk that efforts by countries to prevent trafficking could negatively affect migrants. He wanted to know what could be done to make sure anti-trafficking did not affect migration.

The representative of Indonesia said her delegation supported the Special Rapporteur”s work, and asked if the Special Rapporteur had responded to issues such as discrimination and violence against migrants in his mandate.

The representative of Sri Lanka commented on how the rights of migrants were getting less and less attention, and how migrants contributed to economic benefit. There was a lack of focus on migrants’ rights, he said. Only a few countries had ratified the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and the countries which had ratified it were all origin countries with the exception of Libya. He asked how the Special Rapporteur proposed to get more focus on rules-based and rights-based approaches to migration, not only in human rights forums but elsewhere as well. At a time when goods and services were passing borders freely, people were being treated worse than commodities. The international community needed to develop rules. Dialogue was not taking place, but instead rights were being “relativized”, which was of grave concern to countries that sent people abroad. He asked the Special Rapporteur what efforts he was making to get the Convention ratified more widely.

The representative of Mexico agreed with the Special Rapporteur that there was a need for development rather than walls, and that bridges for cooperation and mutual understanding had to be built.

The representative of Egypt said he joined voices in commending the Special Rapporteur’s work, and added his observation that there was a need for a comprehensive approach to assure protection for migrants. Only 37 countries had ratified the Convention addressing the rights of migrant workers, which had been adopted by the Assembly by consensus nearly two decades ago. How could more countries be convinced to ratify the Convention?

The representative of Nigeria said the Special Rapporteur’s report was one of the most important ones before the Committee. The human rights of migrants should be respected. He called for memorandums of understanding between sending and receiving countries, and increased funding for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and others that dealt with human trafficking.

The representative of China wanted to know what kind of steps Mr. Bustamante could take to cooperate with other Special Rapporteurs of the Human Rights Council to promote and protect the human rights of migrants.

The representative of Cuba said his country was in favour of legal migration, and said his delegation agreed in full with the Special Rapporteur’s commentary.

The representative of Libya praised the efforts of the Special Rapporteur in the interest of migrants and said his delegation was taking a keen interest in the matter, and emphasized the need to protect the needs of migrant workers.

Mr. Bustamante said that the world was divided over the issue of States that had ratified the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families; that sad phenomenon was not an act of nature, but an act of power that the United Nations could address. There was a false belief in many countries that undocumented or irregular migrants had no rights. They did indeed have rights and all Member States should be obliged to make that fact public.

Many countries with de facto demand for migrant labour, both documented and undocumented, had been silent about the scale of the demand for such labour, he said. A consensus was needed on developing an objective measure of such demand. Such information would be a weapon against xenophobia, as it would respond to those who had been provoking racism and discrimination against migrants. It would be in the interest of everyone, except those who wanted to take advantage of the vulnerability of undocumented workers in order to maximize profits.

He said that children – “little girls and little boys” – used for the sex market in many countries was one of the worst cases of violation of human rights. Such a market was not an abstraction; it had a supply and a demand, but that demand had not been recognized. To recognize that demand, action on the part of the United Nations was needed. It would otherwise be hard to advance the overall defence of the human rights of migrants.

The representative of Mongolia then introduced, with oral amendments, a draft resolution titled Cooperatives in social development (A/C.3/62/L.6). If approved for adoption by the Assembly, the text would urge Governments and relevant international organizations as well as the specialized agencies to give due consideration to the role and contributions of cooperatives in the implementation of the World Summit for Social Development and other major conference outcomes.

Mongolia’s representative said cooperatives had proven to be effective in generating employment opportunities, including to marginalized people who might be underserved by other businesses. Through participation in fair-trade arrangements, cooperatives had tapped into niche global markets. Due to the positive impact of cooperatives on economic and social development, the international community should promote their formation in new areas, she said. She then named the amendments to the text.

The Chairman then announced he had been informed by its main sponsor that the draft resolution entitled Improvement of the situation of women in rural areas (A/C.3/62/L.19) would be introduced on Monday.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Vitit Muntarbhorn, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said it was regrettable that, to date, the authorities in that country had declined to cooperate with him. But on a constructive note, the Democratic People”s Republic of Korea was party to human rights treaties; the Six-Party Talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, had made welcome progress; the October 2007 summit between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea was also welcome. Yet the human rights situation remained grave. The country was under a non-democratic regime that adhered to a “military first” policy that depleted resources and created budgetary distortions in favour of the ruling elite and militarization.

The country had been suffering from a serious food shortage since the 1990s, caused by natural disasters and mismanagement on the part of the authorities, he said. A two-year operation to reach 1.9 million people was started by the World Food Programme in 2006. However, outside aid had been less than forthcoming as a reaction to missile and nuclear tests, while severe flooding in August 2007 had aggravated the situation, with nearly one million people affected by deprivations. There had been some legislative improvements affecting the security of the human person, but there were also a large number of provisions concerning anti-State activities, some of which gave rise to the death penalty. Reports on the use of torture, public executions, persecution of political dissidents and substandard prison conditions continued to come in. Addressing the abduction of foreigners, he said five individuals had been returned to Japan, but other cases remained unsolved.

Turning to asylum, the Special Rapporteur said that many who left the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea due to hunger or economic reasons, could be seen as “refugees sur place” as there was a threat of persecution or prosecution if they were sent back, on the basis of their having left without an exit visa. Those who sought refuge should not be treated as illegal immigrants; nor should they be detained. The international community should help countries of first asylum in finding durable solutions to the refugee problem. Many of those who had sought refuge were women, including those who had been subjected to human smuggling and/or human trafficking. For children, there had been a decline in school facilities while the elderly and disabled faced mounting deprivations.

The responsibility of the authorities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had been raised by many sources, he said. Various missile and nuclear tests which led to Security Council sanctions had rendered the scenario more vulnerable. Ideas to address the responsibility of the country of origin had been put forward by the non-governmental sector. One study said that the misdeeds of the authorities had been tantamount to crimes against humanity. For the future, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should take a number of measures. Those would include abiding by international human rights obligations; eliminating violence against the human person; not punishing those who left the country without permission; tackling the root causes behind refugee outflows and “criminalizing” those involved in human smuggling and human trafficking; protecting the rights of women, children and other vulnerable groups; carrying out substantive implementation of human rights in practice; enabling the Special Rapporteur to visit; engaging with human rights monitoring bodies; and seeking technical assistance from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to promote and protect human rights.

He also outlined several recommendations for the international community. They included the continuation of food aid and other humanitarian aid; respect for the rights of refugees; engaging with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea through dialogue; mobilizing the United Nations system to promote and protect human rights in the country; and supporting processes that would concretise the responsibility and accountability for human rights violations and end impunity.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his country rejected the resolution establishing the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, and did not recognize the Special Rapporteur. The report was totally fabricated and hostile towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, human rights were not issues just to protect the rights and freedoms of its people, but they were part of the struggle to defend the sovereignty of the nation. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would strengthen its people-centred socialism which guaranteed the rights of the country.

Had the professor ever thought it would be more effective to address human rights issues in individual countries through normal procedures, he asked, instead of singling out a specific country to put pressure on it through a number of years, which added to mistrust between countries? He said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had had a wide range of experience regarding human rights, with visits from, among others, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, and Amnesty International. But since the adoption of the resolution on the Special Rapporteur”s mandate, all these efforts had been stopped.

The representative of Portugal asked the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fully cooperate with the Special Rapporteur. In his report, the Special Rapporteur had said that North Korean authorities had allowed the presence of a number of United Nations agencies, but the human rights situation remained grave in a number of key areas, such as access to food. Could the Special Rapporteur tell the Committee how he expected the situation to improve? Had the trend changed since the Six-Party Talks, and in regard to third countries, what role could the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees play?

The representative of the United States asked if the Special Rapporteur could tell the Committee more about detention centres for political dissidents and others. He also expressed concern about the presence of what the Special Rapporteur had referred to as “intermediaries exploiting those who seek refuge”, particularly with regard to women and children.

The representative of Japan said his country welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s report, which was balanced and contained many valuable suggestions. He said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should abide by its international obligations, and allow the Special Rapporteur into the country. He referred to “abductions” by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and said that was a serious violation of human rights. As described in the report, five persons had returned to Japan and other cases remained unsolved. The Secretary-General’s report included the recommendation that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should address the issue of abductions.

He said Japan would work to normalize relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The international community had been making efforts to improve the human rights situation there, but not enough progress had been made. In his report, the Special Rapporteur recommended that the international community should mobilize the whole system. The representative of Japan, continuing, asked what measures the international community should take, and – “as the European Union had also asked”- what the new situation was after the Six-Party Talks with regard to the human rights situation, and in particular relative to the abductions.

The representative of Canada said they regretted that the Special Rapporteur was still being denied access to the country, and wanted to know more about the policy options to support human rights work in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The representative of the Republic of Korea asked about recent developments on the Korean peninsula, and expressed hope that the Six-Party Talks would produce further progress. She asked what the Special Rapporteur’s views were on the terms “refugee surplus” and “non-refoulement principle”. Another question was: what was the needed dimension of regional involvement? In the area of human rights, all priorities should be to make a real change in the quality of life in the regions concerned. What was the Special Rapporteur’s suggestion for the most needed intervention?

Noting that it was the first time that he had heard from a representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the Committee since assuming his position, Mr. Muntarbhorn stated that he had not lobbied for the resolution that had created his position. He had wanted to approach his mandate in a spirit of fairness and balance, and he had always tried to be polite and constructive with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Responding to the European Union questions, he recognized that there had been good cooperation, especially on anti-flood measures. The Six-Party Talks offered opportunities to discuss human rights, as well as other matters such as abductions, family reunions and missing persons – issues that sometimes went back to the Korean War.

Regarding refugees, he said that “we are in a state of flux” with a bigger number of arrivals having been seen in Southeast Asia, and urged strong support to OHCHR.

Turning to prison conditions, he encouraged contact with OHCHR. Regarding children, he said that those who were a part of the elite had been doing well, but others did not get food or protection against violence. That had been a factor in the exit of people from the country. Detentions had been an issue of some magnitude; those who were part of the “wavering class” or “hostile” had suffered the consequences of not being in the elite and could be classified as dissidents.

He said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had laws against human smuggling and human trafficking, and that there had been some implementation, but it was a problem that involved criminal elements. In that regard, protocols to the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime should be considered.

Commenting on the general situation this year, he said that developments had indicated a more auspicious situation. There had been more multilateral cooperation, with the presence of United Nations agencies in the country. The recent Inter-Korean Summit had been a welcome development and it had produced a declaration that made reference to the rights of overseas Koreans. Regarding food aid, he said it was also a matter of food security; in that context, environmental conservation such as watershed management and land management had to be looked into.

He recalled that the historic definition of a refugee had been someone who had left a home country out of a well-founded fear of persecution. What was in question now concerned those who left out of hunger; they could be classified as refugees if they faced persecution if they were sent back.

Regarding countries of first asylum, he said their concerns were best addressed by an expression of international solidarity and burden-sharing.

Akich Okola, the Independent Expert to provide backing for the Government of Burundi in its efforts to improve the human rights situation, said his visit to the country had only one agenda item, namely solidarity with the people of Burundi in pursuit of their economic and social rights. Therefore, he had timed his visit to coincide with the round-table donor conference the Government had convened. That way, he could lobby Burundi’s development partners to assist the country in getting back on its feet, after a decade of conflict in which 300,000 people perished. The conference had been a success, and US$650 million had been pledged.

In the political context, during his visit, frequent strikes and growing discontent of civil servants were often motivated by widespread poverty, he said. But the overall human rights situation seemed to have improved, with the media able to report on a wide range of matters without Government interference. “Few cases of human rights violations had been committed by military personnel,” he said. Most human rights violations related to cases of ill-treatment, and sometimes torture, of suspects by police officials and procedure violations by judicial and police officials.

With regard to summary executions, he said that following an outcry by the international community and by Burundians, the Government had established four separate commissions to carry out investigations into the circumstances of the massacre of civilians in the province of Muyinga. But no report had been made public. All those involved in the massacre had to be brought to justice in order to stem the culture of impunity which had been so deeply ingrained in the politics of Burundi. With regard to sexual violence, he said the recent figures represented a “steady trend” in the number of cases reported.

Food security had worsened during the first five months of the year, and the country required international humanitarian assistance until it recovered from cyclical famine. As for the implementation of the ceasefire agreement, he said the Government and the Front National pour la Libration (PALIPEHUTU-FNL) were deadlocked on the issues of power-sharing and demobilization, which in turn had led to deterioration of security in parts of the country.

The Independent Expert had, during his visit, brought the issue of delays in the implementation of transitional justice mechanisms to the attention of the authorities. They informed him that the High Commissioner on Human Rights and the Burundian Government had agreed that the national consultations process would be led by a Steering Committee. There would be no amnesty for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed during the conflict. However, the question of the relationship between a truth and reconciliation commission and the special tribunal had yet to be resolved, though.

In conclusion, he urged the Government to speed up the process of establishing a truth and reconciliation commission and a special tribunal, and also that it should release the reports of its investigation into the Muyinga massacre and bring to justice all those implicated. The authorities should also fully investigate incidents of sexual violence and bring to justice those responsible.

The representative of Burundi said it had been the subject of an Independent Expert’s report because it had needed special attention. In its 45 years since independence, it had lived through despair, hatred, suffering and bloodshed. For years, no one had raised a finger; hundreds of thousands had been shot, others killed with other kinds of weapons; people had been made to lie down on the road where military trucks rolled over them. In some places, the dead had just been dumped.

The generation in power in Burundi had survived that period, he said. Only two years after the Government took power, enormous progress had been made vis-“-vis human rights. What now was needed was assistance; feeding the people was part and parcel of human rights.

The representative of Portugal said the European Union had been following developments in Burundi very closely. It welcomed the commitment of the President not to grant amnesty to those who had been involved in serious crimes during the armed conflict. She asked questions regarding the Steering Committee, what the international community could do to encourage the Government to act in the case of two serious massacres, progress on judicial reform, laws regarding sexual violence, and to address unwillingness to deal with perpetrators of human rights violations.

The representative of Guinea-Bissau said that to better understand the situation, appreciation had to be given to what had been done so far. He added that Independent Experts should stay longer in the countries they monitored, and return more often. It was suggested that they go twice a year before preparing their report. The authorities in Burundi needed to be helped, so as to improve what remained an imperfect situation.

The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania asked the Independent Expert what, in his view, was the role that had been played by regional groups in the peace process, and what role could they play in the future.

The representative of the United States expressed concern that a paragraph in the Independent Expert’s report stating that a “few human rights violations have been committed by military personnel” downplayed the situation.

The representative of Cameroon voiced support for the statement made by his counterpart from Guinea-Bissau, and also his counterpart from Burundi for the clear explanation of the situation in that country. The generation in power in Burundi had come from a situation of ongoing human rights violations; they were committed to the promotion of human rights. More help needed to be given to countries emerging from conflict; help had to be extended to Burundi so that it could rebuild.

The Independent Expert thanked the representative of Burundi for his comment, and said it was true that the current Burundi had to be seen in context of what the country used to be like. Only two years ago, no institutions necessary for a modern State could be seen. In 2005, the country had managed to stage elections that had led to institutions being put in place. The country had also managed to comply with the requirements set out in the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi, where recognition had to be given to ethnic groups and the role of women in Government.

Two years ago, his report had been concerned with child soldiers, demobilization and other things that were no longer on the agenda. The international community had to show its support for Burundi for the measures it had taken to restore a state of normality. The country had come a long way in a short period of time, and relative peace now existed in the country. Although the Government sometimes faltered, one could see a sense of commitment on its part to do things well, he said. Looking at Burundi now, there were fewer violations than there had been two years ago.

Responding to the question by the United States about a possible contradiction, he said there was no contradiction, so he was not downplaying the problems of military forces. Addressing Portugal’s questions about the Steering Committee, he said the mere establishment of the Committee was still under discussion, so it did not have a timetable or terms of reference. Its main objective would be to bring reconciliation to the Burundian community. There was a problem in terms of whether or not the matter would begin and end with the establishment of a truth and reconciliation council, or if there would be other tribunals.

More dialogue had to take place between the international community and Burundi to bring out the truth. The criminal court was still under review. Regarding reform of a law to address sexual offences, the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, had recently made a public announcement that the law had to take its course. The system of forgiveness could not be substituted.

Addressing Guinea Bissau’s comment about how some rights could not cancel other rights, he said as far as he was concerned, they were all important. Burundi had to be helped to reconstruct itself, so he was grateful for the international community’s pledges.

The Steering Committee would lead to national consultations on the truth and reconciliation commission and the tribunal. There was a clear division of opinion between Burundi and the United Nations on the need for a special tribunal. That was something that Burundi ought to recognize as something important for reconciliation, he concluded.

The Chairman of the Committee, Raymond Wolfe (Jamaica), noting his country’s membership in the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, recalled a mission that that Commission had made to Bujumbura, in which he had participated. He was conscious of the efforts that Burundi had been making. The Committee had heard a stirring presentation.

Titinga Frederic Pacere, Independent Expert to provide assistance to the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the field of human rights, said the human rights situation in the country remained worrying. Serious violations included arbitrary executions, rape and inhuman and degrading treatment. Those were still being committed, particularly by the armed forces and the police, in a climate of impunity.

Following the country’s first democratic elections in 2006, political violence – characterized by massive human rights violations – escalated in southern Congo and Kinshasa, he said. During the first half of 2007, the situation worsened in the east, particularly in northern Kivu province, which was the scene of serious violations including the massacre of 15 people in Buramba in March by a mixed Bravo Brigade. The Government’s “mixing” process had allowed senior officers loyal to former dissident General Laurent Knunda, who was responsible for serious human rights violations, to be incorporated into the army. In southern Kivu, much of the province was still controlled by armed Rwandan Hutu armies, he continued. In the most serious incident on 26 to 27 May, 17 civilians were knifed to death; some 27 people were wounded and at least seven women were taken by a militia group to Kanyola. The assailants left a note stating that the violence was retaliation for the operations by the Forces Armees de la Republic Democratique du Congo ( FARDC ) against them.

Sexual violence continued throughout the country, he said, adding that less than 1 per cent of the cases recorded in the 2005 to 2007 period had been brought before a court. The prison system was characterized by overpopulation and a lack of hygiene. Further, most serious human rights violations were not being investigated, mainly because of interference by political and military actors in the administration of justice. Such impunity was the focus of a visit in May by Louise Arbour, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

He said authorities must demonstrate zero tolerance for human rights violations. To combat impunity, they should give priority to issues such as: endowing the judiciary system with the sufficient means and budget to guarantee its efficiency; ensuring no amnesty for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity; adopting a law to apply the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; giving support to the mapping team; and establishing a “vetting” process for defence and security forces. Moreover, the massacre at Buramba must be investigated, and the disarmament process in southern Kivu accelerated. He called for independent judiciary investigations into incidents in Bas Congo and Kinshasa in the January to March 2007 period.

The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo commented that the Independent Expert’s report was the same as last year. But this year, it seemed to be one-sided, and did not place things in context. His President, Joseph Kabila, in his statement to the General Assembly, had talked about the path to end the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and said that it was laden with obstacles. Efforts were under way to remove insurrection, and in the President’s statement, he had called for voluntary disarmament. The current Assembly was not like the last, because there was rule of law emerging, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had held its first free democratic elections after 40 years. The country was now headed towards reconstruction and development.

He said the international community had to be aware of the momentum in place to deal with sexual exploitation, adding that strengthening the rule of law continued to be a major challenge. No State could address the challenges in a post-conflict society alone, which explained his country’s commitment to international justice and to the International Criminal Court. The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s faith in international criminal justice would never make the country lose sight of its own justice system. Beyond the speeches heard in this room, the Democratic Republic of the Congo needed specific actions that would restore the country after years of war. With the setting up of the universal periodic review mechanism, his country could be reviewed like others.

The representative of Rwanda said that the report before the Committee deserved to be more complete by dealing with the root causes of the situation, particularly the actions of the Forces Armees de la Republic Democratique du Congo, which were forces made up of those responsible for the Rwanda massacre in 1994. They continued, with impunity, to commit murder in the Democratic Republic of the Congo while preparing to return to Rwanda. The lack of depth in the report could be seen in its recommendations, the Independent Expert had not issued any recommendation addressing those forces. For the report to be useful, it should tackle the root causes of human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The representative of Guinea-Bissau expressed his regret at the descriptive nature of the Independent Expert’s report. He said he knew that in legal analysis, one had to make all the elements in question available to those who were expected to judge. He said he did not hear any reference in the statement to the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He said he wanted to know if the Independent Expert had talked to the Mission about the deplorable conditions he was describing.

The representative of Canada said the Democratic Republic of the Congo had recently ratified a pact on stability in the Great Lakes region. How could regional and international support for the implementation of that pact impact the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?

The representative of the United States said he shared the Expert’s concern about the state of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; a more proactive approach had to be taken to end the high incidence of unlawful killings, disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions. The resurgence of violence and lawlessness in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo had destabilized the Great Lakes region. The United States had noted “with dismay” that, according to the report of the Independent Expert, in 2007, 86 per cent of human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were committed by the Congolese army and police.

The representative of Portugal asked for the Independent Expert’s assessment of the current situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and wanted know how it was impacting on the human rights situation. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had learned of very serious sexual violence problems. She asked how much of an issue did the Independent Expert assess sexual violence to be in the region, and had his recommendation for a special tribunal been discussed with the Government?

The representative of Burundi said the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a neighbouring country, and a very large and in some ways wealthy one, with a very difficult past and a dubious form of governance. The report should have mentioned the most recent successful elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “With respect to our region”, he said, “we are making progress to recover security.”

Responding to the questions that had been put to him, Mr. Pacere underlined that the Democratic Republic of Congo was a big country that was roughly the size of Western Europe. It would be difficult to tackle every field in a single report. His report had focused this year on crimes by the police and ot

Published by: UNITED NATIONS

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