Relatórios Apresentados por Portugal aos Órgãos
de Controlo da Aplicação dos Tratados das Nações
Unidas em Matéria de Direitos Humanos
Summary Record on the 1312th meeting : Portugal.
03/05/99. CERD/C/SR.1312. (Summary Record)
COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, Fifty-fourth
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 1312th MEETING, Held
at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, on Friday, 5 March 1999, at 10
Chairman: Mr. ABOUL-NASR
later: Mr. DIACONU
CONTENTS: CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS,
COMMENTS AND INFORMATION SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE
9 OF THE CONVENTION (continued)
Fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth periodic reports of Portugal (continued)
PREVENTION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, INCLUDING
EARLY WARNING MEASURES AND URGENT ACTION PROCEDURES
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS, COMMENTS AND INFORMATION SUBMITTED
BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION (agenda item
Fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth periodic reports of Portugal (continued)
1. At the invitation of the Chairman, the members of the Portuguese
delegation took places at the Committee table.
2. The CHAIRMAN invited the Portuguese delegation to reply to the
questions asked by the members of the Committee.
3. Mr. LEITÃO (Portugal) thanked the members of the Committee
for their comments and questions to which his delegation would endeavour
to respond and which would be transmitted to his Government.
4. Mr. MARRECAS FERREIRA (Portugal), reverting to the criticisms
by the Country Rapporteur of the fact that the Constitution of Portugal
did not expressly prohibit racial discrimination, recalled that
article 13 of the Constitution, even if it was worded in less explicit
terms than article 1 of the Convention, did establish the general
principle of non-discrimination and equality by providing that "no
one may be privileged, favoured, disadvantaged, deprived of a right
or exempted from a duty on account [inter alia] of his ancestry,
race, language, territory of origin ...". Moreover, since article
16.1 of the Constitution prescribed that fundamental rights arising
from all instruments of international law had constitutional value,
the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination
of all Forms of Racial Discrimination had been automatically incorporated
into Portuguese fundamental law.
5. As for the absence of any reference to race in the analysis of
the demographic composition of the population of Portugal, he recalled
that such a reference was optional according to United Nations criteria.
Because of the country's multiracial tradition and the absence of
racial prejudices - which explained, for instance, how the Portuguese
had been so easily able to settle in Brazil - it would be deemed
improper to establish statistics in terms of the race, religion
or, indeed, the politics of the persons concerned. That was the
reason why Portugal did not possess any quantified data for those
6. The concept of a minority was another sensitive one, and even
the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
of the Council of Europe did not expressly define it. The various
foreigners living in Portugal were not regarded as forming minorities,
even if there might be some occasional friction with the population
of Portuguese stock. On the whole, it could be said that Portuguese
society was homogeneous, apart from the Gypsy community which had
deliberately remained isolated from the rest of the population for
several centuries in order to protect its culture and traditions
and, consequently, was treated separately in the report.
7. The inhabitants of the Azores and Madeira were in no way ethnic
minorities, any more than the Corsicans were vis-à-vis the
French. They were Portuguese through and through to whom a certain
autonomy had been granted because of their residence on islands
and their geographical distance from the mainland.
8. The right to equal treatment before the courts was guaranteed
and, if case histories revealed that Gypsies or Blacks were often
victims of injustice, those phenomena were still marginal and could
not be attributed to a generalized racist attitude. The judges did
their utmost to redress the damage suffered and judicial decisions
often caused the law to evolve. Thus, a new law adopted in 1996
extended the right to legal aid to all foreigners, including asylum
seekers that had entered the country but had not yet been regularized,
who could henceforth make use of it for the purposes of their regularization
9. Judicial decisions contributed also to the application of the
international instruments, including the conventions on the elimination
of all forms of discrimination. The Constitutional Commission had,
for example, declared contrary to the Constitution a regulation
of the National Republican Guard which allowed nomads' caravans
to be searched. Such caravans were henceforth to be regarded as
homes rather than vehicles and could thus be inspected only with
a search warrant.
10. When Gypsies were involved in conflicts with town councils or
in law suits, there was a tendency for the general public and the
press to side with them. The decision by the Lamego District Court,
which had included in the reasons for its verdict in a drug-trafficking
case the statement that "Gypsies have a natural tendency to
drug trafficking" and had made it an aggravating circumstance,
aroused a veritable outcry in the press. The part of the decision
concerning the aggravating circumstance had been quashed by the
11. Likewise, some vigilantes who had attacked a community of Gypsies
suspected of trafficking in the Vila Verde area had been sentenced
for "terrorist association". That meant that there was
no segregation with respect to the Gypsy minority.
12. Incitement to racial hatred and violence, not to mention violent
acts themselves, were severely punished and the neo-fascist "National
Action Movement" (MAN), linked to the skinheads, had had to
cease its activities. Organized racist propaganda and participation,
including financial participation, in activities of that kind, as
well as the circulation of racist writings or statements by other
means of communication; the denial of war crimes and crimes against
peace and humanity and slander or insults of a racist character
were punishable by up to eight years' imprisonment under article
240, paragraphs 1 and 2, of the Criminal Code.
13. In addition, article 160, paragraph 1, of the Constitution of
Portugal made it possible to lift the parliamentary immunity of
deputies who made racist statements and to cancel their mandate.
14. Lastly, as far as the foreigners' vote was concerned, his delegation
wished to reply to the Committee's comments that there was discrimination
behind the fact that not all foreigners were able to vote or be
candidates in municipal elections. In fact, Portugal applied in
that regard the principle of reciprocity whereby it granted the
right to vote to citizens of countries which themselves granted
the right to vote to Portuguese citizens. That principle applied
to all the countries in the world and, far from being discriminatory,
gave evidence rather of an attitude of openness and generosity.
15. Lastly, he wished to add an explanatory comment concerning the
article with a "racist connotation" which had been written
by a Portuguese journalist after the murder of a taxi driver and
which was denounced in a document of the European Commission against
Racism and Intolerance. Although the tone of the article and the
situation resulting therefrom were unpleasant, it could not be said
that there had been incitement to racial hatred in that instance
and, moreover, the journalist in question had not been prosecuted.
16. Mrs. DIAS NOBRE (Portugal), speaking on the subject of the campaigns
for the extraordinary regularization of clandestine immigrants (para.
26 of the report), said that they had been undertaken, on the one
hand, to combat discrimination and the abuses to which it led and,
on the other, to integrate aliens who were in an irregular situation.
Carrying out those campaigns had necessitated much energy and the
collaboration of the Aliens and Frontiers Department, the High Commissioner
for Immigration and Ethnic Minorities, embassies, immigrants' associations
and local authorities.
17. From the organizational point of view, information and training
activities concerning the legislation and the necessary formalities
had been carried out, reception centres set up with due regard for
the districts in which the people concerned were concentrated and
flying squads created to go to those who could not visit the centres,
all such operations with the active participation of the immigrants'
18. Of the 35,082 applications submitted, 31,117 had been accepted
and had resulted in the issue of residence permits. Those decisions
had been taken by the National Commission for Extraordinary Regularization
(CNRE), made up of various representatives of ministries, of the
immigrants and of ethnic minorities. The persons whose applications
were rejected because of the criteria for exclusion provided for
in the legislation had a right of appeal.
19. No new regularization campaigns were envisaged but a recently
adopted decree-law incorporated the principle of family reunion
and of strengthening the guarantees given to aliens, facilitated
the procedure for acquiring a residence permit and included a provision
whereby residence permits could be granted, exceptionally, for humanitarian
reasons. That procedure came under the Ministry of the Interior.
20. Mrs. CARDOSO FERREIRA (Portugal) said, with regard to the question
of Gypsy mediators, that their duty was to facilitate the integration
of Gypsies by encouraging relationships between them and the rest
of the population. In order to do so, they had to have a good knowledge
of the society into which they were fitting and a capacity for communication,
particularly with the various professional people working in education,
and be able to promote an intercultural dialogue. Within the framework
of their activities, they were required to participate in school
staff meetings and educational projects and to approach families
when certain pupils played truant in order to convince them of the
value of school attendance, etc. They were given a 1,000-hour training
course by the Ministry of Education.
21. Mr. LEITÃO (Portugal), supplying information concerning
the mandate of the High Commissioner for Immigration and Ethnic
Minorities (para. 29) - a post which had been entrusted to him,
said that the office had been established in January 1996 to harmonize
the policies of the various departments of State concerned with
questions relating to immigrants or ethnic minorities.
22. All action was based on dialogue with the people concerned -
immigrants, ethnic minorities, Gypsies and others - or with their
23. The office of the High Commissioner for Immigration and Ethnic
Minorities had given support in the following areas, among others:
adoption of new legislative measures, organization of the process
of regularizing immigrants, preparation of the report on Gypsy equality
and integration, creation of innovative projects such as, for example,
training young immigrants in computer science or helping them to
integrate through sport, which developed initiative and tolerance,
supplying information and advice to immigrants, organizing a Gypsy
national encounter and establishing an Advisory Council for immigration
questions. In addition, a new project had been launched, with the
cooperation of the Employment Institute, to stimulate the vocational
training of Gypsies, young immigrants or young nationals belonging
to ethnic minorities.
24. The High Commissioner for Immigration and Ethnic Minorities
had also the task of monitoring the activities of the various administrative
departments. For example, he had to be informed of any deportation
order or any refusal to renew a residence permit. In some cases,
he had succeeded in having a negative decision reviewed. He proposed
measures to the Government, such as the establishment of the Working
Group on the Equality and Insertion of the Gypsies, requested that
inquiries be opened, as in cases where vigilantes were involved,
and cooperated with the General Inspectorate of Home Administration.
25. Replying to other questions, he said that Mirandês was
a language that had been officially recognized since January 1999
as forming part of the cultural heritage of Portugal, that the decree-law
of March 1997 had been replaced in May 1998 by the Employment of
Aliens Act which no longer imposed any quota for the employment
of foreigners and that, as far as social housing was concerned,
although the decree-law of 1976 was still in force, foreigners could
currently receive housing assistance. The High Commissioner for
Immigration and Ethnic Minorities had, incidentally, requested a
review of that decree-law.
26. Mr. PEREIRA GOMES (Portugal) said, with respect to the declaration
provided for in article 14 of the Convention, that he could confirm
that the decision to make that declaration had already been taken
and that the formality would shortly be notified to the Secretary-General
of the United Nations. Portugal also intended to ratify the amendment
to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention.
27. With respect to the status of Macao and East Timor, he said
that, according to international law, the two territories were under
28. On 20 December 1999, Macao would become a special administrative
region of the People's Republic of China and would cease to be administered
by Portugal. The People's Republic of China had pledged itself to
respect the principles in force in Macao on 20 December 1999, particularly
the rights and freedoms of the citizens, included in the fundamental
law of the special administrative region of Macao, adopted in 1993.
In that connection, the International Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Racial Discrimination had not been applied in the
territory because of its special status. However, he had been informed
that his own country and the People's Republic of China had agreed
to apply the Convention to Macao and his Government was currently
preparing a declaration extending the scope of the Convention to
the territory. Moreover, the special status of Macao was not an
obstacle to the application in the territory of the Constitution
of Portugal in the matter of fundamental rights.
29. As for East Timor, despite the invasion and occupation of the
territory by the Indonesian army in December 1975 and the resultant
inability of his Government to exercise its administrative authority,
Portugal was still conscious of its duties towards the Timorese
people, and was doing its utmost to ensure that that people's right
to self-determination became a reality.
30. The CHAIRMAN invited the members of the Committee to conclude
their consideration of the report of Portugal.
31. First, however, speaking in his personal capacity on the subject
of the next three reports to be considered concerning African countries,
he stressed how regrettable it was that so little time had been
allotted to consideration of the situation in those countries as
compared with others, particularly European ones, when very serious
events, such as genocides or gross and systematic violations of
human rights, were occurring there. In fact, those countries were
not being given enough attention.
32. Mr. FERRERO COSTA said that situations of gross violations of
human rights in Africa, and in other regions such as Kosovo and
Kurdistan, undoubtedly deserved the Committee's full attention.
That did not mean however, that the Committee should ignore racist
and xenophobic actions occurring in Europe, in employment for instance
or against immigrants, on the grounds that they were less serious
than elsewhere. According to its mandate, it was obliged to examine
situations coming within its competence and occurring in any country
whatsoever, whatever the region it belonged to, taking carefully
into account circumstances connected with the level of development,
history and economy of each of them, whether it was a matter of
discrimination against indigenous people, genocide or much less
33. The CHAIRMAN said that there was no substantive disagreement
between himself and Mr. Ferrero Costa. He was not advocating a refusal
to give certain European countries the attention their situations
required but was concerned that regions other than Europe, and particularly
Africa, should receive equal attention from the Committee.
34. Mr. YUTZIS said he appreciated the analyses made by the delegation
of Portugal but he did not necessarily share the conclusions. He
noted a certain ambiguity: on the one hand, the authorities had
adopted dissuasive measures against attitudes leading to racist
acts or violence while, on the other, there was a certain increase
in the number of offences. Contrary to the views of the delegation,
he was inclined to see there the symptoms of a deep-seated malaise,
but only the following report would enable the Committee to know
what was really the situation.
35. He saw from the report (para. 166) that foreigners in an irregular
situation awaiting expulsion or return and asylum seekers were installed
in temporary reception centres. He wished to know where those centres
were located, how many of them there were and by what administrative
provisions they were governed. He would also like to know more about
the opinion polls that had been mentioned.
36. Mr. Diaconu, Vice-Chairman, took the Chair.
37. Mr. GARVALOV (Country Rapporteur for Portugal) thanked the delegation
of Portugal for the precise and detailed answers it had given to
the questions asked by the members of the Committee. He welcomed
the resumption of the dialogue with Portugal which, after a break
of about eight years, had been taken up again in a particularly
constructive way. In particular, the delegation had given the Committee
clarifications which had dispelled some misunderstandings regarding
matters of concern.
38. It had thus appeared that Portugal seemed to have accepted the
fact that it had a multiracial and multi-ethnic society. The delegation
had not denied the fact that acts of racist violence occurred in
Portugal, mainly affecting Gypsies and foreigners, but it had very
clearly indicated that the Convention could be invoked directly
before the Portuguese courts. Unlike the representatives of other
States parties who were also members of the European Union, the
delegation of Portugal had set out clearly its Government's views
on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities,
an instrument that Portugal had not ratified. The conclusions of
the Committee concerning the periodic report of Portugal would,
he was sure, reflect the constructive nature of the dialogue that
had taken place during its examination.
39. Mr. LEITÃO (Portugal) said that, at the time of the consideration
of Portugal's next periodic report, his authorities would deal with
the questions to which the delegation had not been able to supply
40. Mr. Aboul-Nasr resumed the Chair.
41. The CHAIRMAN thanked Mr. Garvalov for his comments and congratulated
the delegation of Portugal on the presentation of its report.
42. Mr. LEITÃO (Portugal) thanked the members of the Committee
for their questions and comments and said that the dialogue they
had begun with his delegation would certainly contribute to the
effective implementation of the Convention in the Portuguese legal
order and would assist the preparation of Portugal's next periodic
43. The CHAIRMAN said that the Committee had thus completed its
consideration of the fifth to eighth periodic reports of Portugal.
44. The Portuguese delegation withdrew.
PREVENTION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, INCLUDING EARLY WARNING MEASURES
AND URGENT ACTION PROCEDURES (continued)
[45.] Democratic Republic of the Congo
46. The CHAIRMAN said that the Committee would consider the situation
in the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the
absence of representatives of the State party. He invited the Secretary
of the Committee to give an account of the steps taken by the Office
of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to secure the
presence of such a representative.
47. Mr. HUSBANDS (Secretary of the Committee) said that the OHCHR
had sent many letters and made many telephone calls, all without
any response, to the Permanent Mission at Geneva of the Democratic
Republic of the Congo in order to invite that State to send a representative
to participate in the consideration of the situation in its territory
for the purposes of the Convention. Further approaches to the Permanent
Mission of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in New York, through
the United Nations Secretariat, had been no more successful.
48. Mr. VALENCIA RODRIGUEZ (Country Rapporteur for the Democratic
Republic of the Congo) said that the Committee, which had been keeping
the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo under review
for a number of years under the early warning measures and urgent
action procedures because of the serious and persistent violations
of the Convention occurring there, had come to the conclusion that
that situation was due inter alia to confrontations between ethnic
groups. On the occasion of the consideration in 1996 of the third
to ninth periodic reports of the Republic of Zaire, the predecessor
State of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it had expressed
its concern about discrimination against the Pygmies and the ethnic
cleansing policy that was apparently being implemented in Shaba.
49. In the light of the worsening of the situation in the country,
the Committee had adopted in 1997 and 1998 three decisions in which
it had inter alia expressed its deep concern at the serious violations
of human rights including massacres and acts constituting genocide.
In a communication addressed to the Security Council in 1998, the
Secretary-General had recalled that a United Nations Investigative
Team had been prevented by the Congolese Government from carrying
out its mission in full. On the basis of the report of the Investigative
Team, he had nevertheless concluded that serious violations of human
rights and of international humanitarian law had been perpetrated
on Congolese territory and that the murders committed by the Alliance
of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of the Congo (AFDL) and
its allies, including elements of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA),
constituted crimes against humanity.
50. In spite of the serious facts reported by the Investigative
Team - repeated massacres of civilians during the offensive which
had brought the AFDL of President Kabila to power in 1993, massacres
of unarmed civilians by ethnic militias in North and South Kivu
in 1993, massacres of many unarmed civilians by the Interahamwe
and Mai-Mai militias in October 1996, massacres of Rwandan Hutus
fleeing to Wendji and Mbandaka and the refusal of the Congolese
Government to authorize an investigation of all violations on its
territory before and after its accession to power - no action had
been taken by the Security Council other than the adoption of a
statement in which its President had requested the Congolese Government
to carry out an investigation itself, which the latter had refused
to do, deeming the allegations concerning it to be a tissue of lies
without any basis.
51. According to the report by the Special Rapporteur of the Commission
on Human Rights on the human rights situation in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (A/53/365), the situation was very complex
on the ground where various factions - Tutsis, Banyamulenges, Congolese
Armed Forces (FAC), the Rwandan Army (RPA) from a neighbouring country,
Mai-Mais and the former Rwandan Army (FAR) - confronted one another
against the background of a civilian population that wanted only
peace. The uprising of the former Rwandan and Banyamulenge allies
of President Kabila had brought about many confrontations and deaths
and the constitution by the rebels of the Congolese Movement for
Democracy. The Government had reacted by inciting the population
of the Congo to racial hatred against the Tutsis and to their physical
elimination. At the end of August, the armed forces of Zimbabwe
and Angola had entered the field on the side of the Congolese Government
forces while those of Rwanda and Uganda had strengthened the rebel
ranks, thus giving the conflict a regional dimension.
52. An ethnic cleansing policy had been put into effect and Tutsis
had been victims of summary executions. Many serious violations
of human rights and humanitarian law had occurred, such as the indiscriminate
bombing by military forces of the civilian population, arbitrary
arrests, rapes, torture, the recruitment of minors as soldiers and
the systematic application of the death penalty by the Military
53. Those facts were confirmed by information from the non-governmental
organizations (NGOs), Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International,
the latter having reported many cases of incitement of the general
public to eliminate rebels and Tutsis and the discovery of mass
graves containing hundreds of corpses of massacred persons.
54. In conclusion, he said that the Government applied a policy
of ethnic cleansing, particularly against the Tutsis, and regarded
NGOs, journalists and human rights defenders as enemies to be harassed,
intimidated and imprisoned. Violations of fundamental rights were
still legion according to ethnic and political considerations, in
violation of the most important provisions of article 5 of the Convention,
and foreign countries continued to interfere in the conflict to
an alarming extent by supplying the combatants with weapons and
resources of various kinds.
55. As for recommendations, the Committee should reaffirm the recommendations
contained in its decision no. 4 (53), particularly that calling
on the parties to the conflict to stop the fighting and ethnic attacks
and inviting the Congolese Government to cooperate with the OHCHR.
In addition, it should repeat the recommendation whereby the Special
Rapporteur had invited the Congolese Government to carry out an
investigation into the facts reported and had requested the Congolese
Government to cooperate in good faith with the international investigators.
The Governments involved in the conflicts in the Democratic Republic
of the Congo should also be urged to cease their interference forthwith.
Lastly, the Secretary-General of the United Nations should draw
the attention of the Security Council to the situation in that country
with a view to settling the conflicts and ensuring that fundamental
rights, including those protected by the Convention, were respected
56. The CHAIRMAN, speaking in his personal capacity, welcomed the
analysis by the Country Rapporteur but regretted that he had not
mentioned the efforts made by the Organization of African Unity
(OAU) to settle the conflict. The Country Rapporteur had listed
five items which deserved to form the subject of recommendations
but it should, perhaps, also be mentioned that the Committee regretted
that the discussion had taken place in the absence of a representative
of the country and that it deplored the foreign intervention in
the Congo. The Country Rapporteur had rightly mentioned the implication
of Rwanda in the conflict but other neighbours of the Democratic
Republic of the Congo were also involved. Indeed, it was extremely
difficult to consider the situation in the Democratic Republic of
the Congo without considering that of the neighbouring countries
which were also interested parties.
57. The Committee should roundly condemn the flow of weapons into
the country and emphasize the need to find a peaceful solution to
the conflict. It would be useful to know, incidentally, whether
the OHCHR had made any attempts in that area.
58. The Committee should be seized very rapidly of a text, whether
in the form of a statement or a decision, whereby it would indicate
that the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Racial Discrimination was being seriously violated in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo and that genocide was being perpetrated in
that part of Africa.
59. Mr. FERRERO COSTA said that the information that had just been
presented was very disturbing. The Committee really did not have
enough time to consider serious cases of genocide and violations
of fundamental rights. He hoped that the Committee's programme of
work would be reconsidered so as to devote more time to situations
of that kind without diminishing thereby the time allotted to the
consideration of the reports submitted by States parties.
60. It would have been desirable for the Special Rapporteur on the
situation of human rights in the former Zaire, Mr. Garretón,
and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, or her
deputy, to have attended the meeting since they could have conducted
a dialogue with the experts of the Committee and have explained
to them what measures could be envisaged in the current state of
61. The conflict was a dual one: on the one hand, and that was an
extremely important factor which explained why it was repetitive,
it was of an ethnic character and, on the other, it was regional
or subregional. Consequently, it could not be resolved by the Congolese
authorities alone. The solution to the problem depended to a major
extent on the will of the neighbouring countries involved in it.
62. He fully supported the Country Rapporteur's five recommendations
but would also like a reference included to the efforts made by
the OAU to find a solution to the conflict. The Country Rapporteur
had indicated that the President of the Security Council had recently
made a statement on the situation in the Democratic Republic of
the Congo and he wondered why the Council had not adopted a resolution
on the subject. Was the case of Kosovo more serious than that of
the Congo? Was genocide worse in Kosovo than in the Democratic Republic
of the Congo? It was to say the least strange that everyone knew
what was happening in Kosovo while the tragedy of the Great Lakes
region was forgotten.
63. The Committee should thus make some very firm and very specific
recommendations on the subject and explain clearly that the seriousness
of the situation deserved a resolution by the Security Council and
an intervention by the international community, through its peacekeeping
organs. In order to draw the international community's attention
to that forgotten tragedy, it might perhaps be advisable to take
up the idea, which had already been suggested, of a press conference
in the course of which the Committee would express its deep concern
about the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
64. He also hoped that the Committee would be more explicit about
impunity and that the Country Rapporteur's third recommendation
would place greater emphasis on the persons responsible for violations
of human rights in the country.
65. The CHAIRMAN said it was necessary for the High Commissioner
on Human Rights or her deputy to explain to the members of the Committee
what was currently happening in the field and to set out the steps
that the OHCHR intended to take in that regard, the more so as the
Deputy High Commissioner, Mr. Ramcharan, had formerly been responsible
for African affairs in the United Nations Department for Political
66. Mr. de GOUTTES, having thanked the Country Rapporteur for his
remarkable report and expressed his full support for the statements
by the Chairman and Mr. Ferrero Costa, said he would like nevertheless
to stress two of the alarming elements contained in that report,
one of them being the resort to organized campaigns of incitement
to racial hatred and - to use the words of the report - to "campaigns
of incitement to hatred against the Tutsis, regarded as 'viruses',
'mosquitos' and 'rubbish' which must be eliminated". The Committee
must very firmly condemn the resort to such hate campaigns and to
the media use of hatred. Recalling that, in the past, the Committee
had already condemned the methods used by Radio Mille-Collines,
he noted that the situation still continued and said that the Committee
should adopt a clear position on that point.
67. The other extremely alarming fact was the classification of
human rights defenders, NGOs and journalists as enemies to be combated
who were, as the Country Rapporteur had explained to the Committee,
hunted down, arrested and imprisoned. Those two points should be
mentioned in the statement or communiqué that the Committee
would issue on the topic.
68. The CHAIRMAN said that the victims were not just Tutsis. It
should not be forgotten that both parties, Tutsis and Hutus, had
69. Mr. SHAHI, having welcomed the analysis made by the Country
Rapporteur of the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
said he was ready to support a Committee resolution or decision
on the topic but thought that, unless it obtained more precise information
on the situation, the Committee risked repeating what it had said
in its decisions of March and August 1998. It would be useful, for
example, to know the position recently taken up by the Security
Council and the contents of the statement made by its President.
70. He recalled that, in 1998, a Peace Conference had been held
in Zambia and that, despite the message sent by the Secretary-General
to the participants, the conflict still continued because the Congolese
rebels, supported by Rwanda and Uganda, had not been invited. The
situation was an extremely complex one, since Zimbabwe and Angola
were supporting the Laurent-Desiré Kabila regime while Uganda
and Rwanda supported the Congolese Tutsis. Meanwhile, the massacres
71. He was in favour of Mr. Garretón, or someone else familiar
with the situation, explaining to the Committee precisely what was
happening in the country and what the situation was with regard
to the OAU intervention force. As for Mr. Ferrero Costa's proposal
that emphasis should be placed on the problem of impunity, he recalled
that the Committee had recommended, in an earlier decision, that
the terms of reference of the Arusha International Tribunal should
be extended to cover crimes committed in the eastern part of the
Democratic Republic of the Congo.
72. The CHAIRMAN said that Mr. Garretón was currently in
Chile and his report was being translated but that the Committee
should not postpone to its next session making a public statement
on the topic or obtaining specific information on the situation
prevailing in that country.
73. Mr. SHERIFIS said that the situation in the Democratic Republic
of the Congo was very disturbing and he approved the idea of a public
statement on the topic, as soon as possible. It was not enough to
watch CNN or Euronews to be informed, since the members of the Committee
would then be able to do their work perfectly well without leaving
home. The United Nations had established a post of High Commissioner
for Human Rights, and all the members of the Committee had welcomed
that decision. It was regrettable, however, that a High Commissioner
should exist and never be seen. The OHCHR should express an opinion
on questions of serious, systematic and massive violations of human
rights and should, indeed, be the first to do so. It was unacceptable
to maintain that, if the the OHCHR took up a position on questions
of violations of human rights, that might risk wounding certain
States. The Committee should ask the staff members specializing
in those matters to attend its meetings and to inform its members.
The Committee could also obtain the relevant pages of the report
of the Investigative Team appointed by the Secretary-General to
look into the allegations of massacres in the former Zaire, of which
Mr. Chigovera, a former Committee expert, had been a member. The
Committee must express an opinion on the topic by adopting a statement
by the Chairman on behalf of the Committee, which would then be
released to the press.
74. The CHAIRMAN suggested that the Committee secretariat should
supply the members of the Committee with copies of the decisions
taken in that area by the OAU.
75. Mr. NOBEL said that the direct or indirect participation of
a number of countries neighbouring upon the Democratic Republic
of the Congo could well transform an already tragic situation into
a large-scale African war. Other States were also involved in the
conflict, non-African States that were supporting the belligerents
in one way or another. Nevertheless, there were NGOs working in
the region that were trying to prevent the conflict from becoming
worse. It was very important that the international community should
support those efforts.
76. Moreover, as Mr. Ferrero Costa had rightly said, it was true
that world public opinion was very familiar with what was happening
in Kosovo but unaware of the events in the Great Lakes region. It
would thus be desirable for the Committee to inform the journalists
of its desire to see an improved flow of information concerning
77. The CHAIRMAN said he took it that the Committee had decided
to remain seized of the question and to ask the Country Rapporteur
to submit to it, as soon as possible, a report based on his own
overview and on the various opinions expressed by the experts on
the topic. The Committee had also decided to request extra information
on the situation either from the OHCHR or the OAU.
78. Mr. FERRERO COSTA suggested that there should be added to those
three points the question of the means available to the Committee
to follow up the situation.
79. Mr. SHAHI said that the Committee should also find out about
Nelson Mandela's proposals to the 1998 OAU conference designed to
find a solution to the civil war in the Congo together with the
views of the Secretary-General.
80. The CHAIRMAN suggested that it should also obtain the proposals
made by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, which had been
criticized and rejected.
The meeting rose at 1.05 p.m.