V. The months which have gone by since the Commission on Human Rights have brought encouraging signs for human rights. They must be translated into real progress.
Thus, the role of defenders of human rights and the need to respect their right to defend human freedoms and their safety, have been better taken into account, not only by our Organisation, with the appointment as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative of Ms Jilani, whose commitment to women’s rights and to human rights in general is well known, but also by a number of countries.
The reception by Algeria of a number of international human rights NGOs and the cooperation which they received during their visits should also be noted with satisfaction. Nevertheless, the European Union remains concerned by the persistence of violence and by the fate of missing persons.
The European Union welcomes the progress made, particularly at the Millennium Summit, in the signing and ratification of international instruments to protect human rights.
The European Union welcomes the signing of the Pacts by Turkey and hopes they will be ratified and implemented very soon. The European Union encourages the Turkish authorities to take all necessary steps to guarantee full respect for human rights, including freedom of expression. In this context, it reiterates its concern for the respect of the human rights of persons belonging to minorities in Turkey.
Cooperation with United Nations mechanisms has been subject to contrasting developments. It is regrettable that certain countries stubbornly refuse to receive the Rapporteurs or Special Representatives of the Commission on Human Rights.
It should be noted that some other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, have shown their willingness to receive Rapporteurs for the first time. The European Union expects such declarations to be given substance and to be accompanied by real progress in the field of human rights. The European Union remains concerned by the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia, and in particular by restrictions to fundamental freedoms, in particular freedom of expression, of assembly and of association, as well as by resort to inhuman treatment, and the lack of transparency and minimum guarantees in criminal trials. It hopes that the ratification by Saudi Arabia of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women heralds the major, urgent improvements which are essential.
The fight against impunity has recently seen some remarkable developments. The decision of the Supreme Court of Chile to lift the immunity of General Pinochet is historic, and should be greeted with respect.
The European Union welcomes the growing number of States which are parties to the Statute of the International Criminal Court and calls for its prompt ratification. It stresses its concern to preserve the integrity of the Court’s Statute. It welcomes the adoption by consensus of its rules of procedure and evidence and of the elements of crimes.
The European Union is pleased that an agreement has been found between the Government of Cambodia and the United Nations on the bringing to justice of the Khmer Rouge leaders. It hopes that the Parliament of Cambodia will quickly examine this text and draw up the legal framework for this trial so that justice can be done in compliance with international standards and leaders guilty of serious human rights violations can be convicted. It calls on the Cambodian authorities to continue their efforts to build a society based on the rule of law and full respect for human rights.
The European Union welcomes the steps taken by certain countries towards the abolition of the death penalty. It believes that this contributes to enhancing human dignity and to the progressive development of human rights. On the other hand, it is disturbed that in a number of countries the minimum standards relating to the application of the death penalty are not respected, in particular as regards persons who were minors at the time of commission of their crime, and persons who suffer from mental disorder. All persons suspected or accused of a crime for which the death penalty may be imposed must have access to appropriate legal assistance.
Recent months have also been marked by progress in democracy, which it is to be hoped heralds advances in respect for rights and freedoms.
The European Union welcomes the democratic change which has just taken place peacefully in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It pays tribute to the new President and applauds the courage of the Serbian people. The European Union has just lifted the economic sanctions which were imposed on the Federal republic of Yugoslavia during Mr Miloevic’s regime and has undertaken to contribute concretely to the consolidation of democracy and the reconstruction of the country. Coming as it does after the changeover in Croatia at the beginning of the year, this democratic change in Belgrade will be decisive for the country and for the region as a whole.
The European Union is observing the continuation of the democratisation process in Nigeria. It is worried by the difference in treatment between members of different religious groups introduced in many of the northern States, which may be in contradiction with federal laws.
The European Union welcomes the exemplary conduct of the presidential elections which confirms the strengthening of democracy in Mexico. It calls on Mexico to commit itself with even greater determination to eliminating the violence committed by the security forces and discrimination against indigenous people.
VI. Progress on human rights and democratisation processes are, unfortunately, not irreversible.
The European Union has condemned the taking of hostages and the violence which have led in Fiji to the overthrowing of the democratically elected government, the imposition of martial law and the repeal of the Constitution. It is extremely concerned by the breaches of the rule of law which have prevailed in Fiji since that time, and calls for a return to constitutional order.
The European Union also calls for the reestablishment of constitutional order in the Solomon Islands, and for the implementation of a process for the peaceful settlement of the crisis. It encourages the efforts which have been made to bring this about.
In Peru elections took place this year in unsatisfactory conditions. The European Union has taken careful note of President Fujimori’s decision to call a new general election as quickly as possible, in which he will not be a candidate. It hopes that all State institutions and all political sectors will contribute to maintaining the stability needed to overcome the present situation, and encourages the Peruvian authorities to take all necessary steps to consolidate the rule of law. In particular, it calls for a speedy implementation of the recommendations of the high-level OAS mission, whose role it applauds.
The European Union regrets that the wishes of the people of Haiti, the scale of whose participation in the first round of the parliamentary elections proved their attachment to the democratic process, were not respected in the choice of their representatives in Parliament. It calls once again for reform of the provisional Electoral Council, in cooperation with the opposition, to enable the presidential election to be held in free and fair conditions, which is the only way that it can be assured of international support.
Côte d’Ivoire: Seriously preoccupied by the latest developments in the situation in Côte d’Ivoire, the European Union appeals to the sense of responsibility of all the citizens, and particularly the country’s political leaders, to ensure that the fratricidal confrontations come to an end and that the return to constitutional legality takes place in an atmosphere of civil peace.
The conditions in which the latest local elections were held in Equatorial Guinea are a source of concern to the European Union. It calls upon the government to install a truly democratic system and in particular to guarantee freedom of expression and of the press and invites the government to resume its cooperation with the Special representative of the Commission of Human Rights.
The European Union was deeply disturbed by the events which led up to the June parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe. Although the ballot was conducted peacefully, the electoral campaign was marked by violence, large-scale acts of intimidation and procedural irregularities. The European Union remains concerned by the weakness of political dialogue and the harassment of opposition parties.
The European Union is also concerned by the slow pace of democratisation in a number of countries, such as Belarus where, despite some positive developments prior to the parliamentary elections, the authorities have not kept their promises to ensure their freedom and transparency, and where the opposition continues to experience difficulties in playing its role, while the question of missing persons remains wholly unanswered.
The European Union is worried by the deterioration in respect for human rights in Central Asia, including the absence of a democratic system in Turkmenistan, in particular the harassment of political opponents, and the detentions and arbitrary trials in Uzbekistan. It also calls on the authorities of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to respect human rights and the rules of the democratic process, in regard both to the opposition and to the press.
The European Union is convinced that the fragility of progress in the field of rights and freedoms demands constant vigilance and requires a reinforced capability for supporting positive developments in order to consolidate them. Its fervent wish is to contribute to such progress both by its own action and as part of the United Nations.