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UN RIGHTS EXPERTS CALL FOR RESPECT OF LIBERTIES IN ANTI-TERROR MEASURES



30 June 2003



The following is a joint statement by the Special rapporteurs/representatives, experts and chairpersons of the working groups of the special procedures of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights:

The special rapporteurs/representatives, experts and chairpersons of the working groups of the special procedures of the Commission on Human Rights, who met in Geneva from 23 to 27 June 2003, expressed alarm at the growing threats against human rights, threats that necessitate a renewed resolve to defend and promote these rights. They also noted the impact of this environment on the effectiveness and independence of special procedures.

Although they share in the unequivocal condemnation of terrorism, they voiced profound concern at the multiplication of policies, legislations and practices increasingly being adopted by many countries in the name of the fight against terrorism, which affect negatively the enjoyment of virtually all human rights -- civil, cultural, economic, political and social.

They draw attention to the dangers inherent in the indiscriminate use of the term “terrorism”, and the resulting new categories of discrimination. They recall that, in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and pursuant to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, certain rights are non-derogable and that any measures of derogation from the other rights guaranteed by the Covenant must be made in strict conformity with the provisions of its Article 4.

The special rapporteurs/representatives, experts and chairpersons of the working groups of the special procedures of the Commission and the chairpersons of human rights treaty bodies deplore the fact that, under the pretext of combating terrorism, human rights defenders are threatened and vulnerable groups are targeted and discriminated against on the basis of origin and socio-economic status, in particular migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, indigenous peoples and people fighting for their land rights or against the negative effects of economic globalization policies.

They strongly affirm that any measures taken by States to combat terrorism must be in accordance with their obligations under the international human rights instruments.

They are determined, in the framework of their respective mandates, to monitor and investigate developments in this area and call upon all those committed to respect for human rights, including the United Nations, to be vigilant to prevent any abuse of counter-terrorism measures.

A full list of the experts and procedures can be found at the following address: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/2/mechanisms.htm