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Interim report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

A/57/138

          
          United Nations
          General Assembly Distr.: General
          2 July 2002
          Original: English
          Fifty-seventh session
          Item 111(b) of the preliminary list*
          fruman rights questions: human rights questions, including
          alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment
          of human rights and fundamental freedoms
          Extrajudicial, sumnoery or arbitrary executions
          Note by the Secretary-General
          The Secretary-General has the honour to transmit to the members of the
          General Assembly the interim report on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary
          executions submitted by Asma Jahangir, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on
          Human Rights, in accordance with paragraph 23 of General Assembly resolution
          55/111 of 4 December 2000.
          * A/5 7/5 0/Rev. 1
          02-46195(E) 010802
          *0246195 *
        
          
          A157/138
          Interim report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission
          on Human Rights on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary
          executions
          Summary
          The present report covers activities undertaken in the period from 1 August
          2000 to 1 June 2002, focusing on a number of issues that are of particular concern
          and that in the Special Rapporteur's view require special and urgent attention.
          During the period under review, the Special Rapporteur transmitted
          communications to Governments or took other forms of action in relation to the
          following situations involving violations of the right to life: (a) non-implementation
          of existing international standards on safeguards and restrictions relating to the
          imposition of capital punishment; (b) death threats; (c) deaths in custody; (d) deaths
          due to excessive use of force by law enforcement officials; (e) deaths due to attacks
          or killings by security forces; (f) extrajudicial killings attributed to paramilitary
          groups or private forces cooperating with or tolerated by the State; (g) violations of
          the right to life during armed conflicts; (h) expulsion, refoulement or return of
          persons to a country or place where their lives are in danger; (i) genocide; and
          (j) issues relating to the rights of victims.
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          Contents
          Paragraphs Page
          Introduction 1—2 4
          II. Mandate 3—5 4
          A. Terms of reference 3 4
          B. Violations of the right to life upon which the Special Rapporteur takes
          action 4 4
          C. Legal framework 5 4
          III. Activities 6—7 4
          Visits 7 4
          IV. Situations involving violations of the right to life 8—45 5
          A. Violations of the right to life during armed conflict, especially of the civilian
          population and other non-combatants, contrary to international humanitarian
          law 9—16 5
          B. Deaths due to the use of force by law enforcement officials or persons acting
          in direct or indirect compliance with the State, when the use of force is
          inconsistent with the criteria of absolute necessity and proportionality 17—21 7
          C. Impunity 22—27 8
          D. Violations of the right to life of children 28—30 9
          E. Violations of the right to life of women 31—36 9
          F. Violations of the right to life of sexual, ethnic, religious or linguistic
          minorities 37—40 11
          G. Capital punishment 41—45 12
          V. Conclusions and recommendations 46—52 12
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          I. Introduction
          1. On 26 August 1998, Asma Jahangir formally
          accepted her appointment as Special Rapporteur on
          extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. At its
          fifty-first session, the General Assembly adopted
          resolution 51/92, requesting the Special Rapporteur to
          present an interim report to the Assembly at its fifty-
          second session. However, as Ms. Jahangir was
          appointed Special Rapporteur as late as August 1 998,
          she was, unfortunately, not in a position to present a
          full report, but only an oral statement to the General
          Assembly at its fifty-second session. On 9 December
          1998 the General Assembly adopted resolution 53/1 47,
          in which it requested the Special Rapporteur to present
          an interim report to the Assembly at its fifty-fifth
          session. On 24 October 2000, the Special Rapporteur
          presented her report, document A/55/288, dated 11
          August 2000.
          2. The present report covers activities undertaken in
          the period from 1 August 2000 to 1 June 2002,
          focusing on a number of issues that are of particular
          concern and that in the Special Rapporteur's view
          require special and urgent attention. Due to limitations
          of space, and in order to avoid unnecessary duplication,
          reference will be made when appropriate to earlier
          reports of the Special Rapporteur in which more
          detailed discussions on the issues concerned can be
          found. The Special Rapporteur regrets that she was
          unable to include more current material in the present
          report, as the deadline for the draft report was set at 26
          June 2002.
          II. Mandate
          A. Terms of reference
          3. For a detailed presentation of the terms of
          reference of the Special Rapporteur's mandate, see her
          reports to the Commission on Human Rights
          (E/CN.4/1999/39, paras. 4-5, E/CN.4/2000/3, paras.
          4-5, E/CN.4/2001/9, paras. 5-6, and E/CN.4/2002/74,
          paras. 6-7).
          B. Violations of the right to life upon
          which the Special Rapporteur takes
          action
          4. For a more detailed discussion of the situations in
          which the Special Rapporteur has acted during the
          present reporting period, see her reports to the
          Commission (E/CN.4/2001/9, paras. 7-8, and
          E/CN.4/2002/74, paras. 8-9).
          C. Legal framework
          5. For an overview of the international standards by
          which the Special Rapporteur is guided in her work,
          see the report of her predecessor to the Commission on
          Human Rights at its forty-ninth session
          (E/CN.4/1993/46, paras. 42-68). The Special
          Rapporteur has largely followed the methods of work
          developed and applied by the previous Special
          Rapporteur, Bacre Waly Ndiaye, which are described in
          his report to the Commission at its fiftieth session
          (E/CN.4/1994/7, paras. 13-67), as well as his
          subsequent reports to the Commission
          (E/CN.4/1 995/61, paras. 9-11, and E/CN.4/1 996/4,
          paras. 11-12).
          III. Activities
          6. For a discussion of activities undertaken in the
          period under review, see the Special Rapporteur's last
          two reports to the Commission (E/CN.4/2001/9 and
          E/CN. 4/2002/7 4).
          Visits
          7. Field missions are crucial to all mandates. They
          give the relevant mechanism visibility and test its
          reliability. Interaction with Governments and people
          allows for better and more objective information. A
          close scrutiny of the situation on the ground gives the
          Special Rapporteur more confidence in reaching
          conclusions and in making recommendations. Field
          research in specific countries also yields valuable data
          that can contribute to an understanding of patterns of
          human rights abuses and the root causes that give rise
          to and perpetuate violations of the right to life. It also
          lends support to the work of civil society. The choice
          regarding field visits is based on a number of factors
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          and not exclusively upon the increasing violations of
          human rights reported in a given country. The keenness
          of Governments to improve the situation, the role of
          non-governmental organizations and emerging signs of
          deterioration or improvement are some of the criteria
          considered. The Special Rapporteur is concerned,
          however, that the resources currently placed at her
          disposal do not always allow her to submit her mission
          reports in a timely manner, or to respond effectively to
          the calls and the need for field missions to be carried
          out in various parts of the world. It should also be
          recalled that the Special Rapporteur can conduct field
          missions only to countries that have officially invited
          her to visit in her mandated capacity During the period
          under review, missions were carried out to Turkey and
          Honduras (see E/CN.4/2002/74/Add.1 and Corr.1 and
          E/CN. 4/2003/3/Add. 2) .
          11/. Situations involving violations of
          the right to life
          8. During the period under review, the Special
          Rapporteur transmitted communications to
          Governments or took other forms of action in relation
          to the following situations involving violations of the
          right to life: (a) non-implementation of existing
          international standards on safeguards and restrictions
          relating to the imposition of capital punishment;
          (b) death threats; (c) deaths in custody; (d) deaths due
          to excessive use of force by law enforcement officials;
          (e) deaths due to attacks or killings by security forces;
          (f) extrajudicial killings attributed to paramilitary
          groups or private forces cooperating with or tolerated
          by the State; (g) violations of the right to life during
          armed conflicts; (h) expulsion, refoulement or return of
          persons to a country or place where their lives are in
          danger; (i) genocide; and (j) issues relating to the rights
          of victims. Detailed accounts of correspondence and
          action taken by the Special Rapporteur in regard to
          these issues can be found in her reports to the
          Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/2001/9, paras.
          23-50, and E/CN.4/2002/74, paras. 27-65). The
          information brought to the Special Rapporteur's
          attention and material gathered during field missions
          reveal certain trends and developments that she wishes
          to bring to the General Assembly's attention. In order
          to produce a more comprehensive overview and
          analysis of these issues and patterns, in the present
          report she has chosen to draw upon material received
          since her appointment, particularly information
          gathered and observations made during the field
          missions she has carried out since her appointment,
          i.e., to Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of
          Macedonia (Kosovo situation, 1999), Mexico (1999),
          East Timor (1999), Nepal (2000), Turkey (2001) and
          Honduras (2001).
          A. Violations of the right to life during
          armed conflict, especially of the
          civilian population and other non-
          combatants, contrary to international
          humanitarian law
          9. A clearly discernible trend in recent years is the
          increasing number of civilians and persons hors de
          combat killed in situations of armed conflict and
          internal strife in various regions of the world. Many
          thousands of people not participating in hostilities have
          lost their lives in conflict situations. The Special
          Rapporteur is saddened by the fact that the majority of
          the victims of today's conflicts are civilians, including
          displaced persons and refugees, among them a large
          number of women and children. In some instances, the
          direct targeting of civilians has increasingly become a
          part of the tactics employed by the parties involved in
          order to spread terror among the larger public and
          cleanse an area of its population. There are also
          increasing reports of killings of journalists in areas of
          armed conflict.
          10. During the wave of violence that swept East
          Timor in 1999, civilians came under repeated attack
          from pro-integrationist militias and Government forces.
          They were subjected to serious human rights abuses,
          including violations of the right to life. During the
          conflict in Kosovo, the direct targeting and killing of
          activists, lawyers, intellectuals and other well-known
          personalities were apparently carried out with the aim
          of spreading terror and depriving the Kosovo Albanian
          community and political leadership of persons of high
          moral standing capable of forging alliances and leading
          society. In Colombia, groups of displaced civilians
          at times entire villages continue to be subjected to
          armed attacks and extrajudicial killings by the parties
          to the ongoing internal conflict. The Special
          Rapporteur sent communications regarding reports of
          killings of civilians in various other countries,
          including Rwanda, Sri Lanka, the Democratic Republic
          of the Congo, Nepal, Myanmar and Nigeria.
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          11. The Special Rapporteur notes that in a number of
          cases signs of a deteriorating situation were not read as
          early warnings or were not addressed effectively and
          promptly. She wishes to draw attention to prolonged
          situations of armed conflicts, which continue to take a
          toll on the lives of many iimocent people. The root
          cause is oifien the continued denial of human rights; but
          once conflict spirals upward the situation is exploited,
          and in many cases the leadership falls into the hands of
          disruptive forces that have little respect for human
          rights, thus perpetuating a cycle of violence that can
          linger on for years, or even decades, if not addressed at
          an early stage. The Special Rapporteur therefore feels a
          great obligation to report promptly on violations of
          extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, as the
          early stages are critical for debate and strategy. A case
          in point is Afghanistan, where the Special Rapporteur
          intervened on several occasions. Over the last two
          years, hundreds of people, including children,
          humanitarian workers and prisoners, have been killed
          by Taliban forces and other warring factions. The series
          of large-scale killings in Afghanistan must be
          investigated in order to bring the perpetrators to
          justice. Indeed, the Special Rapporteur is of the opinion
          that there will be no sustainable, just and stable peace
          in Afghanistan if there is impunity for the perpetrators
          of those widespread and systematic killings, which
          might amount to crimes against humanity.
          12. The Special Rapporteur has continued to follow
          the situation in the Chechen Republic of the Russian
          Federation, where Russian Government forces are
          reported to have committed grave human rights
          violations, including deliberate and targeted
          extrajudicial executions of unarmed civilians.
          13. The violence in the territories occupied by Israel
          is a disturbing cause for gravest concern, as reports
          indicate that one fourth of the victims of human rights
          abuses there, including violations of the right to life,
          are children and youths. During the reporting period,
          the Special Rapporteur urged the Government of Israel
          to ensure that Government security forces were
          immediately ordered to act with restraint and to respect
          international human rights standards when carrying out
          their duties. She also demanded that the Government
          investigate all incidents of alleged killings by
          Government forces without delay and ensure that
          persons responsible for such crimes are brought to
          justice.
          14. A cause for deepening concern for the Special
          Rapporteur is the increasing incidence of large-scale
          extrajudicial killings, the majority of the victims of
          which are reportedly civilians, carried out by security
          forces and armed groups reported to be sponsored,
          supported or tolerated by Governments. Atrocities
          against persons hors de combat committed by such
          elements have become particularly common in the
          context of internal disturbances and conflicts, but such
          incidents have also been reported in relation to
          conflicts with international dimensions. Such groups
          are usually supported or directed by the military or
          civilian intelligence services, which often results in
          systematic impunity for the perpetrators of grave
          human rights abuses. The Special Rapporteur fears that
          the increasing role of the intelligence agencies in many
          countries may lead to policies that could be detrimental
          to the security of civilians' lives. This apprehension
          has increased since the tragic incident of 11 September
          in the United States.
          15. The Special Rapporteur continues to receive a
          large number of reports of violence and extrajudicial
          killings, the victims of which are mostly civilians,
          attributed to armed opposition groups, militia elements
          and other non-State actors. It should be noted that the
          Special Rapporteur's mandate allows her to intervene
          only when the perpetrators are believed to be
          Government agents or have a direct or indirect link
          with the State. During the visits of the Special
          Rapporteur there have been serious allegations of
          Government-spawned groups indulging in violence,
          terrorism or militancy. Such allegations are often hard
          to confirm or disprove. However, the Special
          Rapporteur wishes to express her deep concern over
          atrocities committed by non-State actors, which
          constitute serious violations of basic humanitarian and
          human rights principles. She also remains concerned
          that some Governments have made use of excessive
          and indiscriminate force in their efforts to counter
          armed opposition groups, which in some cases has
          involved summary executions of captured combatants
          and has resulted in extensive civilian casualties and
          fatalities.
          16. The Special Rapporteur wishes to emphasize that
          the right to life allows for no derogations, not even in
          time of public emergency that threatens the life of the
          nation. This is particularly relevant at the present
          juncture, when Governments should not be tempted to
          misuse the international war against terrorism as a
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          justification for human rights abuses, including
          extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. The
          Special Rapporteur maintains that at such critical
          moments of history international society must show a
          firm commitment to human rights and a greater resolve
          to uphold the principles of justice without
          discrimination. In this context, she is equally
          convinced that as long as armed groups enjoy long-
          term virtual impunity, they will be able to continue
          brazenly to perpetrate widespread killings of innocent
          civilians.
          B. Deaths due to the use of force by law
          enforcement officials or persons acting
          in direct or indirect compliance with
          the State, when the use of force is
          inconsistent with the criteria of
          absolute necessity and proportionality
          17. A cause for continued and deepening concern for
          the Special Rapporteur is the incidence of extrajudicial
          executions attributed to the police, armed forces or
          public employees in cases of crimes committed in
          connection with their duties, when the use of force is
          inconsistent with the criteria of absolute necessity and
          proportionality. Such incidents are not uncommon in
          States that have a strong legacy of militarization or
          where the armed forces are granted far-reaching law
          enforcement responsibilities, such as, for example,
          Turkey, Mexico, Honduras, Myanmar and Indonesia.
          18. The Special Rapporteur noted that in a number of
          countries that she visited, including Turkey (see
          E/CN.4/2001/74/Add.1 and Corr.1), the bottlenecks
          within Government institutions gave rise to impunity
          for the offenders. Changes in governmental structures
          are therefore needed in order to reintroduce checks and
          balances and lighten the influence of the military over
          the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. Moving
          the law-enforcing agencies away from the influence of
          the armed forces could also help them develop their
          own expertise and acquaint themselves better with the
          international and domestic human rights standards
          pertaining to law enforcement. Finally, investigation
          agencies should be under the command of public
          prosecutors rather than under the authority of the
          Ministry of Interior.
          1 9. In Mexico, the Special Rapporteur was alerted to
          a number of cases relating to abuse by the police and
          excessive or arbitrary use of force by the military.
          Some of the reports received point towards an
          entrenched culture of violence among some elements
          of the law enforcement authorities, who continue to
          perpetrate grave human rights violations with impunity.
          The anti-crime operations undertaken by the Mexican
          police and military have reportedly at times involved
          excessive or indiscriminate use of force and have on
          occasion claimed the lives of im1ocent civilians. While
          the Special Rapporteur fully appreciated the need to
          curb criminality, she was concerned that some of the
          measures taken by the Government, especially the
          assignment of army persoimel to law enforcement
          duties, could work to the detriment of the overall rule
          of law and the enjoyment of human rights in Mexico.
          In this context, the Special Rapporteur encourages the
          demilitarization of society and discourages the
          deputation of the armed forces to maintain law and
          order or to eradicate crime.
          20. During her mission to Honduras, the Special
          Rapporteur heard accounts of excessive use of force by
          police and armed forces and extrajudicial executions,
          including of a large number of children. The Special
          Rapporteur deplores the fact that prosecutions of
          members of the armed forces for human rights
          violations are rare and that investigations into the
          military's role in human rights abuses have been
          obstructed by the army. In this regard, the legacy of the
          immense power of the military has limited the capacity
          of civil institutions and delayed the growth of civil
          society, thereby weakening the justice system. Civil
          society is unable to challenge this situation, and the
          judiciary is not independent enough to take decisions
          that involve or affect the interests of the military.
          21. Grave human rights violations committed by
          police or army personnel while performing law
          enforcement duties are also particularly common in the
          context of public demonstrations in countries facing
          internal disturbances and conflicts. During the period
          under review, the Special Rapporteur urged the
          Governments of several countries where she heard
          accounts of extrajudicial killings by such forces, such
          as Indonesia, India, Jamaica and Pakistan, to take
          immediate steps to ensure that the right to life of
          participants in demonstrations was protected and to
          provide the police with training and adequate
          equipment for non-lethal crowd control.
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          C. Impunity
          22. For a more detailed discussion regarding the issue
          of impunity, compensation and rights of victims, see
          the Special Rapporteur's earlier reports, in which she
          has addressed these questions at length (for example,
          E/CN.4/2000/3, section V.E, and E/CN.4/2001/9,
          section V.C).
          23. It is a cause for grave concern that in some
          countries impunity for serious human rights violations,
          including extrajudicial killings, has become systematic
          and institutionalized. The Special Rapporteur observes
          that justice is easily denied in societies where the
          perpetrators of human rights have acquired influence
          and power and the victims remain hopelessly
          disadvantaged. In many countries, impunity is the
          result of a weak and inadequate justice system that is
          either unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute
          cases of grave human rights violations, including
          violations of the right to life. In some instances, the
          judiciary may be strongly influenced or even coerced
          by the executive: judges are poorly trained and are
          often appointed on the basis of political merits and
          contacts rather than professional or academic
          competence. In others, military and security forces
          simply ignore or overrule court decisions. Impunity can
          also be the direct product of laws explicitly exempting
          public officials, parliamentarians or certain categories
          of State agents from accountability or prosecution for
          grave human rights abuses. During her visits to
          countries, the Special Rapporteur has noted that laws
          providing immunity to parliamentarians and other
          public officials have tempted many leaders of criminal
          gangs to enter politics simply to hide behind such laws.
          Impunity can also arise from amnesty laws passed in
          the interest of political stability and national
          reconciliation.
          24. The failure of the State to exercise due diligence
          in investigating and prosecuting human rights
          violations enables perpetrators to continue to commit
          grave human rights violations, including extrajudicial
          executions, in the knowledge that their crimes will not
          result in investigation or criminal prosecution. In some
          instances, Governments and the media even tend to
          build public opinion campaigns that support the
          cleansing of a particular group under the pretext of
          trying to create a climate for economic revival. The
          Special Rapporteur is concerned that such systematic
          impunity leads to an atmosphere of fear among the
          population and undermines citizens' trust in the law
          enforcement agencies and the justice system. It also
          widens the disparity between those who escape justice
          and the victimized who continue to suffer miscarriages
          of justice.
          25. In order to overcome impunity, Governments
          need to show both political will and moral courage to
          confront human rights abuses by ensuring that strong,
          independent and effective institutions and mechanisms
          are in place to bring perpetrators to justice. These
          reforms are partly under way in some of the countries
          recently visited by the Special Rapporteur. In Turkey,
          for instance, the Special Rapporteur noted with
          satisfaction that the Government has introduced
          training programmes for both members of the judiciary
          and officials of the law enforcement agencies, which
          will hopefully help in curbing impunity. Efforts are
          also being made to enact new legislation that will
          entrust entirely to an independent body investigations
          into extrajudicial executions attributed to the police. In
          Honduras, the Ministry of Public Security is currently
          trying to purge the police force of unsuitable staff,
          especially those responsible for abuses of authority or
          human rights violations, while providing human rights
          training to new recruits.
          26. The Special Rapporteur would like to stress that
          the international community has the important
          responsibility to combat systematic and widespread
          human rights violations, especially within regimes
          where democracy is still fragile. In this regard, the
          international community should support and assist
          Governments and members of civil society with the
          resources required, including funding and expertise, to
          continue their current process of democratization and
          protect the fundamental principles that the
          development of democracy depends upon. In this
          her reports the Special Rapporteur has
          inter alia, the setting up of technical
          programmes in Nepal and the
          of an ombudsperson for children in
          27. In addition, the international community has the
          responsibility to combat systematic and widespread
          human rights violations by strengthening institutions
          with universal jurisdiction. The Special Rapporteur
          welcomes the entry into force on 1 July 2002 of the
          Statute of the International Criminal Court, which will
          have the potential to serve as a powerful weapon in the
          fight against impunity for grave human rights
          connection, in
          recommended,
          cooperation
          establishment
          Honduras.
          8
        
          
          A157/138
          violations, including extrajudicial, summary or
          arbitrary executions. The Special Rapporteur wishes to
          encourage further ratifications in order to widen the
          scope of the International Criminal Court.
          D. Violations of the right to life
          of children
          28. Over the reporting period, the Special
          Rapporteur's attention was drawn to reports of
          extrajudicial killings of children in Honduras,
          Guatemala and Nicaragua. Many of these cases were
          reported in the context of OEocial cleansing”, in which
          street children are murdered or disappeared” with
          impunity. As the reported cases grew increasingly
          frequent, and because the situation of children is a
          matter of great concern to the Special Rapporteur, she
          decided to carry out a fact-finding mission to
          Honduras, where allegations of extrajudicial killings of
          children were received regularly. A more detailed
          account of her findings on this issue may be found in
          her mission report (E/CN.4/2003/3/Add.2).
          29. During the reporting period, the Special
          Rapporteur received documented reports of minors
          under the age of 18 who were killed as a result of
          excessive use of force or blatant neglect and denial of
          medical care by law enforcement officials. The
          majority of such acts are attributed to security officers,
          private vigilante groups or units of off-duty police and
          military, and are subsequently covered up by the
          authorities. These killings are symptoms of deeply
          rooted and complex social, economic and political
          problems coupled with surging crime rates, which
          continue to plague the human rights situation in these
          countries. Many such children, who constitute a large
          section of the world's population, have been orphaned
          by civil war or unrest or abused and rejected by
          disintegrated and poverty-stricken families.
          30. The Special Rapporteur observed that in many
          countries, the allotment of national resources for child-
          related matters is not commensurate with the number of
          children and is grossly inadequate to protect their
          rights. There is a need to reprioritize resource
          allocations so that children are placed at the centre of
          all budget planning and so that priority is given to the
          protection and promotion of the civil, political,
          economic, social and cultural rights of children. Lack
          of respect for the rights of children exposes them to
          exploitation. They are sucked into gang wars and
          organized crime, where they are exposed to abuse and
          violence. Juvenile delinquency is then used as a
          justification for the killing of children by security
          forces in the name of maintaining law and order.
          Indeed, numerous reports indicate that the police
          systematically and routinely fail to report killings of
          children to the judicial authorities, and often write
          these cases off as part of gang wars and organized
          crime. A cause for serious concern is the situation in
          Honduras, where the climate of impunity is further
          perpetuated by a lack of official condemnation of
          human rights offenders and a prejudiced attitude on the
          part of the media, which often refer to these killings as
          OEocial cleansing operations” and portray the victims as
          OEocial undesirables” impeding the economic revival of
          the country.
          E. Violations of the right to life of women
          31. The Special Rapporteur is deeply disturbed by
          increasing reports of women being deliberately targeted
          and exposed to extreme violence, including
          extrajudicial killings, while the perpetrators of those
          human rights violations enjoy impunity for such
          crimes.
          32. The Special Rapporteur is deeply concerned
          about the fact that social realities can compel many
          women to choose the path of violence if they find no
          alternative. It appears that in Nepal, the self-declared
          people's war” has attracted many women, especially
          among the young. This can be explained by the fact
          that the position of women is traditionally weak and
          subordinate in Nepalese society, rendering such
          programmes, with their strong emphasis on equality,
          attractive both among the growing cadre of educated
          women and those of the disadvantaged in rural areas.
          In this com1ection, it is worth noting that in Nepalese
          society, women, especially the young, who leave their
          homes find it very difficult to return and be accepted
          back by their families or society in general, which
          results in further marginalization and gender-based
          discrimination. The Nepalese Government must take
          measures to empower women so that they are not
          deprived of their role in political, economic and social
          life.
          33. During the period under review, the Special
          Rapporteur heard accounts of gender-based crimes that
          thrive on impunity For example, during her mission to
          Mexico she was able to observe that the deliberate
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          inaction of the Government to protect the lives of its
          citizens because of their sex, and to investigate crimes
          whose victims were only young girls with no particular
          social status, generates a sense of insecurity among
          many women. At the same time, it indirectly ensures
          that perpetrators enjoy impunity for such crimes.
          34. The Special Rapporteur has further received a
          considerable amount of information regarding
          traditional practices, particularly honour killings”,
          targeting women in many countries. In some countries,
          such as Sweden, the United Kingdom and Italy, the
          perpetrators are brought to justice, while in others
          impunity is the norm. The perpetrators of these crimes
          are mostly male family members of the murdered
          women, and they go unpunished or receive reduced
          sentences on the justification of having murdered to
          defend their misconceived notion of family honour”.
          The Special Rapporteur wishes to recall that she does
          not take up all cases of such killings, but has limited
          herself to acts approved or supported by Governments,
          or where perpetrators enjoy impunity by receiving the
          tacit support of States. In this regard, she wishes to
          remind Governments that they are obliged to protect
          the right of every individual to life, liberty and security
          by law and to adopt all appropriate measures, including
          legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws,
          regulations, customs and practices that are in violation
          of the human rights of women. She further refers to
          article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of All
          Forms of Discrimination against Women, which makes
          it obligatory for States parties to condemn
          discrimination against women in all its forms, agree to
          pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a
          policy of eliminating discrimination against women
          and, to this end, undertake ... (b) To adopt appropriate
          legislative and other measures, including sanctions ...,
          prohibiting all discrimination against women”. States
          parties are obliged (d) To refrain from engaging in any
          act or practice of discrimination against women and to
          ensure that public authorities and institutions shall act
          in conformity with this obligation”. They are required
          (e) To take all appropriate measures to eliminate
          discrimination against women by any person,
          organization or enterprise” and are expected (f) To
          take all appropriate measures ... to modify or abolish ...
          customs and practices which constitute discrimination
          against women”.
          35. During her mission to Turkey, the Special
          Rapporteur had the opportunity to gather information
          on honour killings” of women, mostly occurring in the
          east and south-east of the country Despite the
          involvement of a few women's rights organizations that
          reported that impunity for such cases was taken for
          granted, the Special Rapporteur noted with concern
          that all other non-governmental organizations dealing
          with human rights were of the opinion that honour
          killings” were not a human right but a social issue.
          Reports from women's rights groups confirm that only
          a few cases come to light, as the local authorities and
          society in general condone the crime. The Special
          Rapporteur welcomes the initiative of the Turkish
          Government, which, as a preventive measure, runs
          shelter homes; however, since existing shelters are
          insufficient and ineffective in guaranteeing the right to
          life of threatened women, she is dismayed that the
          Government does not, as a matter of policy, arrest
          family members threatening the lives of victimized
          women. In this regard, the Special Rapporteur is also
          concerned at the policy adopted by other Governments
          to protect” potential victims of honour killings”.
          While those threatening the lives of these women enjoy
          total freedom, the victims are placed in prisons or
          custodial and correctional homes, sometimes for years
          on end. They are not free to leave these institutions
          once confined to them. The Special Rapporteur
          therefore considers these so-called protected women
          under perpetual threat to their life.
          36. A comprehensive policy has to be drawn up to
          abolish practices that impinge upon the life of any
          person purely because of sexual distinction. The
          Special Rapporteur intends to continue to follow
          individual cases to assess the level of impunity
          extended to such crimes. In this connection, she would
          also like to acknowledge the efforts made by some
          Governments and judges in bringing the perpetrators of
          such violations to justice. Their endeavours to counter
          these gross violations of human rights must be
          supported by the international community. In this
          regard, the Special Rapporteur was particularly
          encouraged to follow the work undertaken by some
          leading international non-governmental organizations.
          Their campaigns, along with increased media exposure,
          have attracted much-needed international attention to
          the practice of honour killings”.
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          F. Violations of the right to life of sexual,
          ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities
          37. The Special Rapporteur wishes to note that the
          continuing prejudice against members of sexual
          minorities and, especially, the criminalization of
          matters of sexual orientation increase the social
          stigmatization of these persons. This in turn makes
          them more vulnerable to violence and human rights
          abuses, including death threats and violations of the
          right to life, which are often committed in a climate of
          impunity. The Special Rapporteur further notes that the
          often tendentious media coverage of this subject
          further contributes to creating an atmosphere of
          impunity and indifference in relation to crimes
          committed against members of sexual minorities.
          38. Furthermore, the Special Rapporteur has
          continued to receive serious reports of persons having
          been subjected to death threats or extrajudicially killed
          because of their sexual orientation. During the
          reporting period she sent urgent appeals in this
          connection to the Governments of Argentina, Ecuador,
          Mexico, Somalia, Jamaica, Brazil and El Salvador.
          During her visit to Honduras, the Special
          Representative had the opportunity to talk to
          representatives of sexual minorities and organizations
          working to protect and promote the human rights of
          these persons. Among the allegations brought to her
          attention, there were several reports of death threats
          against and killings of members of sexual minorities.
          In 1999, a young gay man was allegedly shot dead by
          private security guards close to a gas station in San
          Pedro Sula. When members of a non-governmental
          organization tried to report the case to the police, they
          were allegedly threatened and verbally abused at the
          police station. The Special Rapporteur was told that no
          investigation into this killing had been carried out.
          Similarly, in May 2001 a transsexual sex worker was
          reportedly murdered behind the San Pedro Sula
          Cathedral. While it is reported that the police removed
          the body from the scene, it is alleged that no
          investigations into the case have been initiated. Non-
          governmental sources alleged that some 200 gay and
          transsexual sex workers were killed in Honduras in the
          period from 1991 to 2001. Reportedly, few of these
          cases have ever been officially recorded, and fewer still
          investigated.
          39. The Special Rapporteur acted on behalf of a
          variety of persons considered to belong to national,
          ethnic, religious and/or linguistic minorities in their
          respective countries. Urgent appeals were sent to
          Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia and Pakistan.
          In addition, the Special Rapporteur sent allegations of
          violations of the right to life to the Government of the
          Democratic Republic of the Congo. A cause for
          concern is the situation of the Uighur community in
          China, which reportedly continues to be exposed to
          grave human rights abuses at the hands of the Chinese
          authorities. The Special Rapporteur is also concerned
          that members of indigenous communities in a number
          of Latin American countries continue to be exposed to
          violence and attacks, including extrajudicial killings.
          The Special Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal to the
          Government of Brazil expressing her concern over the
          safety of members of the Macuxi and Wapixana
          communities, as well as persons working directly with
          them. She also wrote to the Government of Colombia,
          following reports that police officers had forcibly
          evicted members of the U'wa community in Cedeno
          and La China, in the municipalities of Cubara and
          Toledo, north of Santander. Reports indicated that three
          minors had lost their lives as a result of this operation.
          It was further alleged that 11 adults and 4 children
          between 5 and 10 years of age had disappeared in
          connection with the incident.
          40. In this context, the Special Rapporteur wishes to
          express her particular alarm over reports from China
          describing a large number of cases in which detainees,
          many of whom were followers of the Falun Gong
          movement, had died as a result of severe ill-treatment,
          neglect or lack of medical attention. She takes
          particular note of allegations that 15 female prisoners,
          all reportedly members of the Falun Gong movement,
          died as a result of torture in June 2001 in Wanjia
          Labour Camp in Heilongjiang Province.
          G. Capital punishment
          41. In the discharge of her mandate, the Special
          Rapporteur takes action in cases of capital punishment
          in which there is reason to believe that international
          restrictions pertaining to the use of the death penalty
          are not respected. These provisions of international
          law, along with a number of resolutions adopted by
          United Nations bodies, stipulate that capital
          punishment shall be allowed only as an extreme
          measure for the most serious crimes and only in cases
          where the highest standards of fair trial are met.
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          Furthermore, under international law the death penalty
          shall not be applied to juvenile offenders, expectant or
          recent mothers or persons suffering from mental illness
          or handicap. The Special Rapporteur has discussed
          these issues at length in her reports to the Commission
          on Human Rights (most recently in E/CN.4/2001/9,
          section V.F, and E/CN.4/2002/74, section V.F).
          42. Capital punishment for juvenile offenders is
          prohibited under international law. The Convention on
          the Rights of the Child, which has been ratified by all
          States except the United States of America and
          Somalia, unequivocally excluded the use of the death
          penalty for persons accused of crimes committed
          before the age of 18. The same restriction is also found
          in article 6, paragraph 5, of the International Covenant
          on Civil and Political Rights. During the period under
          review, the Special Rapporteur has intervened in cases
          of juvenile offenders facing the death penalty in the
          Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, the Islamic
          Republic of Iran and the United States of America.
          43. During the present reporting period, the Special
          Rapporteur has also acted on cases in which persons
          suffering from mental handicap or illness have been
          sentenced to death in the United States and Yemen. She
          notes that in its resolution 1989/64 the Economic and
          Social Council recommended that States strengthen the
          protection of the rights of those facing the death
          penalty by, inter alia, eliminating the death penalty for
          persons suffering from mental retardation or extremely
          limited mental competence. Moreover, the Safeguards
          guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the
          death penalty” (Council resolution 1984/50, aimex)
          stipulate that the death penalty shall not be carried out
          on persons who have become insane.
          44. The death penalty should not be imposed for
          crimes that do not fall within the category of the most
          serious crimes”, as stipulated in article 6, paragraph 2,
          of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
          Rights. Moreover, paragraph 1 of the Safeguards
          guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the
          death penalty” states that the scope of crimes subject to
          the death penalty should not go beyond intentional
          crimes with lethal or other extremely grave
          consequences.
          45. Most countries with a mature legal system have
          removed the death penalty from their laws. Other
          States that retain it find it difficult to ensure that all
          restrictions and standards guaranteeing fair trial are
          met in each and every case. The Special Rapporteur
          and her predecessor have tried to draw attention to the
          fallibility of even the best of legal systems, and the
          lack of capacity in a number of retentionist countries
          for observing relevant safeguards and limitations when
          applying the death penalty. She notes that even in
          retentionist countries with an overall strong legal
          system, safeguards required to ensure a fair trial have
          sometimes been found missing on appeal, and even
          after the appeal stage. This raises the possibility that
          cases that have not been pursued vigorously escape the
          attention of the legal system. The Special Rapporteur
          urges Governments to provide comprehensive
          information on cases in which the death penalty has
          been imposed to national and international human
          rights organizations so that they are able to ensure that
          all safeguards and guarantees applicable in imposing
          the death penalty have indeed been observed. In the
          experience of the Special Rapporteur, some countries
          do not even give access to simple data on the death
          penalty. Information on the subject is not shared by
          many Governments, and there is a lack of transparency
          in the circumstances surrounding the imposition of
          death penalty.
          V. Conclusions and recommendations
          46. In addition to the concluding remarks and
          recommendations presented in her last two reports to
          the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/2001/9,
          section VII, and E/CN.4/2002/74, section VII), the
          Special Rapporteur wishes to draw attention to the
          following:
          Conclusions
          47. The root causes of extrajudicial killings and
          the need for their prevention have by now been
          repeated over and over again in the reports of the
          Special Rapporteur and her predecessor. These are
          being addressed by countries that are sincere in
          upholding the rule of law. Others pretend to follow
          the recipe but do not follow up with resolve.
          48. There is a growing expectation for the United
          Nations to intervene in situations of armed conflict
          and where extrajudicial killings persist. The high
          expectations are often unrealistic given the
          resources at the disposal of the United Nations.
          frowever, this call for United Nations action should
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          be seen as a clear indication of the desire of the
          people and the need for a neutral referee.
          Recommendations
          49. Governments are urged to demilitarize their
          societies and train law enforcement agencies in
          dealing with civilians, particularly during public
          demonstrations.
          50. The judicial system is key in controlling
          human rights abuses. The judiciary must be
          independent, and investigations in cases of
          extrajudicial killings must be carried out
          impartially and without influence.
          51. There is an urgent need to respect the lives of
          children. Governments must monitor the situation
          and devise comprehensive policies to end killings of
          children by the police or armed groups.
          52. Non-governmental organizations must have
          free access to data and related information on death
          penalty cases.
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Tagged as:

Discrimination, Gender Rights