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1999 | 55th Regular Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (22 March - 30 April 1999)

Human rights violations in Mexico, Pakistan and Colombia

March 22 – April 28, 1999
Palais des Nations, Geneva
There is ample evidence to demonstrate that the situation of human rights in Mexico is constantly worsening. This has been confirmed in reports of various UN human rights bodies and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and reports from NGOs such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Francisco de Vitoria Human Rights Centre in Mexico City and the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre in Chiapas.
Militarization has increased particularly in indigenous regions such as Chiapas, Guerrero, and Oaxaca. The military controls the population, especially indigenous people, by arbitrarily assuming civilian functions that do not fall under its authority. These functions include control of immigration papers and setting up illegal checkpoints. The military also conducts programs, called social work programs, such as the ones in Chenalho, that are designed around military intelligence objectives. Also, there are indications that the military and members of the government of Mexico are involved in organizing paramilitary groups.
The resolution of the 50th Session of the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities (1998/4) asked that the government of Mexico attach the highest priority to combating the impunity of perpetrators of serious human rights violations, especially those suffered by numerous members of indigenous peoples and to promoting the action of human rights defenders and guaranteeing their safety.
We therefore request the 55th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights to take action on the human rights situation in Mexico by making use of existing thematic mechanisms of the UN and, furthermore, in the interest of prevention, to consider appointing a Special Rapporteur on Mexico.


We remain seriously concerned about the situation of religious minorities in Pakistan. Our joint background paper on the issue (document: EC/CN.4/1999/NGO/31) highlights three major problems which affect minorities in the country: the Separate Electorate System for the Religious Minorities in Pakistan, the Blasphemy Laws 295 B and C of the Pakistan Penal Code and the government of Pakistan’s attempt to adopt the 15th amendment (Sharia Law).
Our joint written paper contains six recommendations urging the government of Pakistan to promote and protect the rights of minorities in the country. These recommendations were formulated in conjunction with the following groups in Pakistan: the Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Justice and Peace, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the inter-religious group “The National Christian-Muslim Coordination Commission.”

The human rights situation in Colombia continued to deteriorate being the most serious in the continent and one of the most grave in the world. In 1998, 308,000 persons were forcibly internally displaced, there were 1,580 violations of human rights as the result of political persecution while 1,532 especially vulnerable persons (children, street people, homosexuals, etc.) were the victims of social intolerance and the brutality of state agents. Since the 54th Commission more than 20 human rights defenders have been killed. Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for human rights defenders. For every five labor union leaders that are killed throughout the world, three are from Colombia.
In our 1999 joint written statement with the Maryknoll Fathers and Sisters, the International Catholic Migration Commission, the Dominicans and the Jesuit Refugee Service on the topic of the Internally Displaced in Colombia we made clear our support for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Bogota. We welcome the recent changes in that office and ask that it publish a plan of action for the next year. Franciscans International also calls for the mobilization of other UN mechanisms to complement the already stretched work of the Bogota office. In particular we call for a joint visit to Colombia and a joint report to the 56th Commission by an appointed Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders together with the Special Rapporteurs on Torture, on Summary Executions, for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, and the Representative of the Secretary General for Internally Displaced. If this joint visit and report cannot be arranged we strongly recommend that the next session of the Commission call for a Special Rapporteur on Colombia to be appointed.

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