Cablegate: Unga Third Committee: Torture, Idps,


DE RUCNDT #1090/01 3331929
P 291929Z NOV 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary: On October 29, the Third Committee of the UN
General Assembly heard reports on torture, on the human
rights of internally displaced persons, on the promotion and
protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while
countering terrorism, and on the situation of human rights in
the Sudan, as well as a presentation about the UN
Secretary-General's report on the human rights situation in

Burma. End Summary

Special Rapporteur on Torture

2. (U) Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on Torture,
emphasized the role of forensic medical expertise in
combating torture and stated that the absence of effective
investigations is the major reason for the continuing use of
torture. Overcrowding is one of the obstacles to preventing
torture and mistreatment, said Nowak, arguing overcrowding
could be avoided by reducing the length of pre-trial
detention and of imprisonment for minor crimes.

3. (U) Iran asked for more details on torture in relation to
counter-terrorism measures and secret detention centers.
Responding to the question, Nowak called on all countries
with secret detention centers to provide even high-level
terrorism suspects with due process. Also in response to
questions, he said that ideally there should be a central
registry of detainees in every country and that every form of
enforced disappearance and secret detention for an extended
period of time amounts to torture.

4. (U) South Africa asked about the legality of renditions
which lead to the death penalty and torture and wondered
whether renditions should be conducted in a way that leads to
criminal prosecution. Nowak said renditions to countries
with harsh interrogation methods constitute a serious
violation of human rights.

Human Rights of IDPs

5. (U) Walter Kalin, Representative of the Secretary-General
on the human rights of internally displaced persons, said
IDPs have three possible durable solutions: return to the
place of origin, local integration, or settlement in another
part of the country. Kalin argued that displacement only
ends when one of the three options occurs and the IDPs no
longer have needs relating to their displacement. He stated
that IDPs must participate in the peace process and issues
relating to IDPs must be addressed in order to create a
lasting solution.

6. (U) Kalin noted improvements in the situations of IDPs in
Nepal, Southern Sudan, and Northern Uganda, but he said the
situation in the Central African Republic is still troubling.
He noted that in Afghanistan displacement has the potential
to increase dramatically due to escalating hostilities,
return of refugees from Iran and Pakistan in an unsustainable
manner, and lack of humanitarian access. He expressed deep
concern for the situation in Iraq, noting "I fear that a
humanitarian crisis is in the making in Iraq that will haunt
us for a long time." He also expressed concern for the
situations in Somalia, East Timor, Sri Lanka, DRC and Sudan.

7. (U) Ambassador Grover Joseph Rees, speaking for the United
States, expressed support for the cluster approach in
addressing the issue of IDPs. He noted that it is the
primary responsibility of governments to protect civilians
and that the international community's role should be
complementary. (Full text can be found at 20071029_273.html).

Human Rights and Counterterrorism

8. (U) Martin Sheinin, Special Rappporteur on the Promotion
and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while
Countering Terrorism, focused on challenges to refugee law
and international protection posed by counter-terrorism
measures. He highlighted areas of concern including
exclusion of refugees, repatriation of persons detained for
reasons relating to terrorism, and global responsibility for
international protection. He also noted a trend toward
detention of asylum seekers and pre-entry interception,
particularly at sea. He stated that, despite diplomatic

assurances, states must independently assess the risk of
torture before sending an individual to a receiving state.

9. (U) Mr. Sheinin stated that he is encouraged by positive
signals that the United States plans to close down the
detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. He highlighted the
recommendation in his report to close down the facility and
either release detainees or put them on trial for their
alleged crimes. He said all states should be prepared to
receive prisoners detained for terrorism-related reasons but
against whom no charges have been initiated. He also noted
the recommendation that the UNCHR be involved in resettlement
of Guantanamo detainees.

10. (U) Sheinin expressed regret that he was not given the
opportunity to interview in private detainees from Guantanamo
or other places where the United States holds individuals
suspected of terrorist acts, but he noted that the U.S.
government has extended an invitation to observe proceedings
of military commissions. The United States intends to
include domestic and foreign observers in the proceedings,
said the U.S. delegate, noting that the hearings are
consistent with all applicable law. Switzerland asked about
the use of military courts to try civilians. Sheinin said
while there is no international law that would outlaw
civilian trials in military courts, the Human Rights Council
had determined that the situation should be avoided as it
will likely lead to violations of human rights. (Full text
of the U.S. statement at 20071029_285.html).

11. (U) In response to a question on best practices in
combating terrorism, Sheinin noted that in terms of support,
health care, and compensation for victims of terrorism, the
international community has a lot to learn from the United
States. He also stated that while both Israel and the United
States apply the notion of unlawful combatant, in Israel
there is judicial review of this classification at periodic

The Secretary General's Report on Burma

12. (U) Lynn Pascoe, UN Undersecretary-General for Political
Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General's Report on Burma.
He outlined the key areas of concern, including the situation
of political prisoners, the participation of the people of
Burma in the political process, the need for unhindered
humanitarian access, better cooperation with the UN and other
humanitarian agencies, cessation of hostilities in conflict
areas, and the need for cooperation with the ILO to address
forced labor complaints. He also described the main
objectives of the recent visit by Special Adviser Gambari.
These objectives included to assess the situation on the
ground, to demonstrate the high level of interest in the
situation,and to promote dialogue between the government and
the opposition in an effort to create national reunification
and end the conflict.

13. (U) The delegate of Burma said it was the first time an
Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs had introduced a
human rights report in the Third Committee. He said this
shows politically motivated "selectivity" and called for
constructive, cooperative deliberation rather than
politicization. He said the curfew in Burma had been lifted
and normalcy restored, 2,700 demonstrators called in briefly
for questioning had been released, and the minister appointed
as a liaison with Aung San Suu Kyi had met with her on
October 25. He outlined what he said were areas of progress,
including the establishment with the ILO of a mechanism to
address forced labor, the fight against narcotic drugs, and
government openness to UN agencies. He said events in Burma
were the result of rabble-rousers and political activists
manipulating a small protest over fuel prices, and the
international community must distinguish between the real
situation and the propaganda.

Ambassador Rees spoke briefly for the U.S. to thank U/S
Pascoe and to defend the appropriateness of his having
presented the report.

Human Rights in Sudan

14. (U) Sima Samar, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of
Human Rights in the Sudan, focused on areas outside of

Darfur. She outlined her recommendations for action by the
Government of National Unity, the warring factions, the
Government of Southern Sudan, the international community and
the UN.

15. (U) Sudan's delegate replied that the government of Sudan
has cooperated fully with the Special Rapporteur and numerous
regional and international human rights instruments and
alleged that her report contained inaccurate information and
does not serve the cause of human rights in Sudan. He called
for an end to her mandate.

16. (U) Ambassador Grover Joseph Rees delivered the U.S.
statement, expressing a desire for further information on the
implementation of the Joint Communiqu and the Comprehensive
Peace Agreement. He also expressed concern about escalating
violence and support for Security Council action against
parties undermining the peace process in Darfur. (The full
text of this statement is available at
www.usunnewyork.usmission/press_release/20071 029_283.html).

17. (U) In response to criticism by the EU, Canada and the
United States, the Sudanese delegate noted the "illegal
trafficking of children" involving a French NGO taking
Sudanese children to Chad. Libya said the high-level
conference in Tripoli demonstrated the Sudanese government's
desire to end the conflict and the human rights violations.
Syria called on the international community to exert pressure
on rebel groups to participate in negotiations in Tripoli,
rather than criticize the Sudanese government. The Egyptian
delegate said failure to implement a Security Council
resolution on Sudan was not Sudan's fault, but rather the
fault of those who pushed the draft resolution through
without securing agreement from the government of Sudan.

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