Magazine article UN Chronicle , Vol. 22
Imprisonment of children, slavery, racial discrimination acted on by human rights body
The imprisonment of children, slavery, genocide, and racial discrimination in South Africa and Namibia were among the topics acted upon by the Commission on Human Rights Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities at its meeting in Geneva (5-30 August).
The Sub-Commission strongly condemned South Africa for "brutal acts of terrorism" carried out to suppress the black majority's realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms. It demanded the "immediate lifting? of the state of emergency and called upon the international community to continue its efforts towards total economic, cultural and political isolation of South Africa until that country abandoned its policy of apartheid and its illegal occupation of Namibia.
Specific recommendations were made relating to the human rights situations in Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, Paraguay, Pakistan, Albania, Iran, Afghanistan and Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied by Israel.
Other action covered a broad range of issues, including human rights and scientific and technological developments and protection of the human rights of vulnerable groups.
The Sub-Commission, composed of 26 human rights experts serving in their personal capacities, studies various aspects of human rights problems and makes recommendations to the Commission on Human Rights so that the United Nations may assist in resolving situations in any country revealing a consistent pattern of gross violations.
Southern Africa: The Sub-Commission invited Ahmed Khalifa, the Special Rapporteur on the Adverse Consequences for the Enjoyment of Human Rights of Assistance Given to the Racist Regime in South Africa, to continue to update, subject to annual review, the list of banks, transnational corporations and other organizations assisting the racist regime of South Africa, and to submit it to the Commission on Human Rights.
The Sub-Commission also reaffirmed the inalienable rights of the Namibian people to self-determination and independence in a united Namibia with complete territorial integrity, including Walvis Bay, the Penguin Islands and other islands of the Namibian shore. The importance of urgently implementing Security Council resolution 435 (1978), containing the United Nations plan for Namibian independence, was stressed.
The immediate and unconditional release of all Namibian political prisoners was demanded, as was according prisoner-of-war status to all captured freedom-fighters. Member States were asked to take measures against South Africa in order to isolate it effectively in the political, economic, military and cultural fields.
Middle East: The Sub-Commission strongly affirmed that the perpetuation of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories, including Jerusalem, could only be a source of increasing violations of the human rights of the populations of those territories and of increasing tension in the region.
The Commission on Human Rights should condemn Israel for its continued occupation of the Palestianian territories, including Jerusalem, and of other Arab territories, the Sub-Commission said. Israeli terrorist actions against Palestinian inhabitants of the occupied territories should also be condemned.
Human rights situations: The Sub-Commission expressed alarm at reports of gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Iran, in particular at evidence of persecution of the Baha'i religious minority and of political, ethnic and national minority groups such as the Kurds.
Iran said that Baha'is had never been recognized in Iran or in any other Islamic country as a religion, even at the time of the deposed Shah. Baha'is were not persecuted. Some had been executed in Iran, but that was not due to a State policy of extermination but because of the direct involvement of those individuals in activities contrary to the security of the State. …