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Secretary-General's Representative on Internally Displaced Persons addresses Commission

News and Press Release
Originally published

Commission on Human Rights

AFTERNOON 11 April 2005

Commission Starts Debate on Specific Groups and Individuals after
Concluding Discussion on Child Rights and Indigenous Issues

The Commission on Human Rights this afternoon began its consideration of the situation of specific groups and individuals, hearing a presentation from the Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons. It also concluded its general debate on children's rights and indigenous issues.

Walter Kalin, Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), said the human rights situation of IDPs in the world today continued to be of concern to all. The year 2004 had been overshadowed by the dramatic escalation of the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region, where nearly two million persons had been uprooted since the beginning of the conflict; some 1.7 million of those individuals were internally displaced. Among other efforts, the Government of Sudan should give serious consideration to the recommendations of the previous Representative on internally displaced persons, and to cooperation with the international community to address the plight of the displaced.

Also expressing concern for the more than one million persons displaced by the earthquake and tsunami in South Asia, Mr. Kalin said his report outlined ways to meet the specific needs of those displaced internally, and to improve protection of their human rights. In that process, the mainstreaming of the human rights of internally displaced persons into all relevant parts of the United Nations system constituted a crucial element. For his part, he intended to undertake country visits to Nepal, Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Responding as a concerned country to the report of the former Representative of the Secretary-General, Francis Deng, Sudan noted that the complex national situation, including drought and other calamities, had worsened the situation of internally displaced persons. The Government had dispatched trained personnel to care for the internally displaced, and had shown a positive attitude to the involvement of the African Union, and the international community. He also stated that there was no discrimination against people of African origin in the country, adding that the problem in Darfur was not an ethnic problem.

Also this afternoon, the Commission concluded its general debate on indigenous issues and on the rights of the child. Representatives of non-governmental organizations addressed the topic of indigenous rights, stressing the importance of finalizing the draft United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Rights, including by affirming indigenous peoples' rights to self-determination, to control over their land and resources, and to collective rights, and of ensuring the success of the second International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply on indigenous issues were the Representatives of Chile and Mauritius.

Within the debate on children's rights, the non-governmental organizations addressing the Commission raised concerns related to the scourges of child labour, sexual abuse and rape, child prostitution and trafficking, lack of access to adequate standards of living, and lack of realization of the rights to health, food, and educations, as well as to specific discriminations and mistreatment suffered by the girl child such as female genital mutilation and early marriage. They also raised situations of concern in specific countries.

China, Colombia, and Sri Lanka exercised their right of reply on the rights of the child.

Addressing the Commission on indigenous issues were Representatives of the following non-governmental organizations: Latin American Federation of Associations of Relatives of Disappeared Detainees; International Association against Torture; Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network; International Indian Treaty Council; Anti-Racism Information Service; Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development; Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches; Indian Council of South America - CISA; Association of World Citizens; National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; Netherlands Centre for Indigenous Peoples; International Volunteerism Organization for Women, Education and Development; Indian Law Resource Centre; Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action; Innu Council of Nitassinan (Innu Nation); International Organization of Indigenous Resources Development; Inuit Circumpolar Conference; Indian Council of South America, speaking in a joint statement with of International Educational Development; Assembly of First Nations - National Indian Brotherhood; International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs; France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand; Global Rights; Saami Council; International Committee for the Indians of the Americas (Incomindios Switzerland); American Indian Law Allliance; Liberation; and Indigenous World Association.

Representatives of the following non-governmental organizations addressed the Commission on children's rights: International Educational Development; Society for Threatened Peoples; International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies; Consultative Council of Jewish Organizations; International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations; International Young Catholic Students; MADRE; Netherlands Organization for International Development Cooperation; Human Rights Council of Australia; Japanese Workers Committee for Human Rights; International Human Rights Association of American Minorities; Asia-Japan Women's Resource Center; United Nations Association of San Diego; World Young Women's Christian Association, in a joint statement with Women's International League for Peace and Freedom; Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions; Liberal International; and United Nations Watch.

The Commission's next formal meeting will be held tomorrow, 12 April, at noon when it will take action on draft resolutions on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination, and on the right to development. The Commission will then continue its consideration of the situation of specific groups and individuals. From 9 a.m. to noon, the Commission will hold an informal session on the human rights sections of the report of the Secretary-General on reform in Room XVIII. A press release will be issued on the informal session.

Documents on Specific Groups and Individuals

Under its agenda item on specific groups and individuals, the Commission has several reports before it for its consideration.

There is a report of the Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Walter Kalin, (E/CN.4/2005/84). The Representative notes that important progress has been made at the international level in conceptualizing protection for IDPs, including through the growing acceptance of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and the adoption of a new IDP policy by the United Nations Inter-Agency Standing Committee in September 2004. However, he states that there is a lack of appreciation of the particular protection needs of IDPs and the role of United Nations agencies and human rights mechanisms in addressing them remains. The Representative reviews the particular protection needs of IDPs that national and international efforts should anticipate and address. He then analyses the definition of protection adopted by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee IDP Policy and its three categories of protection activity: "responsive action", "environment building", and "remedial action". He proposes a complementary categorization of protection activities that takes into account the primary role and responsibility of States: actions to prevent violations of rights of IDPs under human rights and humanitarian law; actions to stop existing or ongoing violations of rights of IDPs under human rights and humanitarian law; actions to prevent the recurrence of human rights and humanitarian law violations; and actions to ensure remedies (including rehabilitation, restitution, compensation and satisfaction) for those whose rights have been violated.

The first addendum (Add.1) to the report of Mr. Kalin indicates that he had planned to undertake a mission to Nepal prior to the current session of the Commission although the Government only recently accepted the mission. The document expresses the Representative's intent to undertake this mission as soon as possible, after which he will submit a report to the next session of the Commission.

There is also the report of the former Representative of the Secretary-General on internally displaced persons, Francis Deng, on his mission to the Sudan in July-August 2004 (E/CN.4/2005/8). The report, which was published in September 2004, notes that 1.2 million people have been displaced as a result of the crisis in the Darfur region and 200,000 have fled across the border into Chad as refugees, and an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 are reported to have been killed or died due to war related causes. In total, some 2.2 million people have been affected by the conflict. Among the issues needing urgent attention are the security and protection of the civilian population, especially IDPs. While the authorities claimed that it was safe for the displaced to return to their villages, it was reported that the Government was using various tactics, including pressure and material inducements, for IDPs to return "voluntarily" to their villages; however, people were resisting because of insecurity. Access to displaced persons was reported to have improved, with the Government cooperating in facilitating access for humanitarian aid workers. However, access was still said to be constrained by insecurity, and donor funding was reported to be at 50 per cent of the United Nations appeal for Darfur. The need for the Government to break all links to and disarm the Janjaweed and other armed groups remains the greatest challenge in the Darfur crisis, the report states.

There is another report from the former Representative of the Secretary-General on internally displaced persons, Francis Deng, on the Regional Seminar on Internal Displacement in the Americas (E/CN.4/2005/124), which took place in Mexico City in February 2004. The seminar, which was attended by more than 60 persons, produced a Framework for Action, which sets forth points for improved national response as well as steps that could be taken at the regional and international levels to reinforce national responsibility.

There is a report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on human rights and mass exoduses (E/CN.4/2005/80) which notes that States continue to accede to the relevant international instruments in this regard, yet gaps of ratification and restrictive reservations and declarations remain. Important steps at the national and international levels have been taken to prevent displacement, but ongoing outflows indicate that more can and should be done. States around the world have hosted millions of refugees and millions of IDPs have found some degree of safety and support in their own countries, but the fear of terrorism, resource constraints, institutional problems and issues of access and safety of humanitarian personnel continued to hamper needed assistance and protection. Large-scale returns continued throughout the period in many areas thanks to important efforts by States and international actors, notably the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, but problems of forcible return, lack of resources, and insufficient attention to other potential solutions were obstacles in others, the report states.

The first addendum to the report of the High Commissioner (Add.1) provides a thematic compilation of relevant reports and resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights and the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. It covers resolutions and reports over a 10-year period (1994-2004) that specifically refers to refugees and/or internally displaced persons and is divided into 20 themes derived from the major issues raised in the resolutions and reports themselves.

There is also a report of the High Commissioner on the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities (E/CN.4/2005/81). The report provides a summary of information presented by Governments and non-governmental organizations; views contained in the High Commissioner's report to the sixtieth session of the Commission on Human Rights; analysis of options for the timely identification of minority issues; and recent developments with respect to minority issues. The report concludes by inviting the Commission on Human Rights to consider proposals aimed at strengthening minority protection at the international level.

There is another report of the High Commissioner on progress in the implementation of the recommendations contained in the study on the human rights of persons with disabilities (E/CN.4/2005/82). It notes that since the publication of the study in November 2002, several developments have contributed to raise the visibility of the disability issue in international forums. The report provides an overview of the progress made by the different stakeholders in implementing the recommendations addressed to them in the study.

There is the report of the Secretary-General on missing persons (E/CN.4/2005/83), which contains a summary of the replies received from Governments and an international humanitarian organization pursuant to resolution 2002/60 of the Commission. In response to a note verbale dated 6 December 2004, the report notes, information was received from the Governments of Azerbaijan, Lebanon and the Philippines. In response to a letter sent to various organizations on the same date, the International Committee of the Red Cross provided comments.

There is the report of the Secretary-General on the protection of human rights in the context of HIV and AIDS (E/CN.4/2005/79). The report provides an overview of actions taken by Governments, specialized agencies, international and non-governmental organizations, and national human rights institutions on the implementation of the Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights (see E/CN.4/1997/37, annex I).

There is also the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery (E/CN.4/2005/86). It contains the recommendations of the ninth session of the Board of Trustees of the Fund, which were approved by the High Commissioner on behalf of the Secretary-General in February 2003, including the list of project and travel grants recommended, the new guidelines adopted by the Board at that session and relevant statistics on the number of applications received and approved as well as on contributions received. Relevant information is also included on the implementation of those recommendations.

There is the written submission by the World Health Organization (E/CN.4/2005/63) on its initiatives and activities on a number of issues being discussed by the Commission, including specific groups and individuals. In particular, it notes the Organization's work in the area of migrant workers, vulnerable groups, persons with disabilities and people living with HIV/AIDS.

There is also the written by the United Nations Development Programme (E/CN.4/2005/133), which outlines, in particular, the Programme's work in the areas of internally displaced persons and minorities and the importance they place on these groups of people and the impact of human development on them.

Presentation by the Representative of the Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons

WALTER KALIN, Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), said IDPs were distinguished from other persons by the common types of vulnerability that displacement exposed them to, as well as by their need for a durable solution to that displacement. Studies on IDPs in recent years had shown that losing one's home meant more than a simple loss of poverty and shelter - it frequently entailed consequences such as increased vulnerability to violence, lack of the basic necessities of life, as well as the threats of disease and impoverishment and other difficulties. The human rights situation of IDPs in the world today continued to be of concern to all. Most IDPs were trapped in protracted situations of displacement; neither able to return to their homes nor effectively to put down new roots elsewhere.

The year 2004 had been overshadowed by the dramatic escalation of the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region, which had uprooted close to two million persons, among them some 1.7 million IDPs since the beginning of the conflict. The Government of the Sudan should give serious consideration to the report of the previous Representative on this, and his recommendations, to implement the norms contained in the Guiding Principles, cooperate with the international community in addressing the plight of the displaced, and end the climate of impunity in Darfur as well as cooperate with the international community in bringing those responsible for arbitrary displacement to justice. There was also concern for the more than one million persons displaced by the earthquake and tsunami in South Asia. A visit, while not an official country mission, was held shortly after to the region. Now, the main recommendation was that in the reconstruction and recovery phase, it was essential to take a human rights-based approach to the response so as to prevent future possible problems or violations.

The report before the Commission outlined ways in which the specific needs of those displaced could be addressed, and how the protection of the human rights of IDPs could be improved. Mainstreaming of human rights of the internally displaced into all relevant parts of the United Nations system was also a crucial element. States had the primary responsibility to provide protection and assistance to IDPs. Country missions would therefore be a central part of the activities of the Special Rapporteur in the future, and he would visit Nepal very shortly, and intended to visit Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina over the course of the year.

Response by Concerned Country

HASABU M. ABDULRAHMAN (Sudan), speaking as a concerned country, said Sudan had studied the report of the former Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Francis Deng, and appreciated the positive aspects of the report. The complex situation, including drought and other calamities, had added to the worsening conditions of the displaced persons. The Government had dispatched trained people to take care of the displaced persons in Sudan. The African Union had also been involved in the situation in Darfur. The Government had continued to demonstrate positive attitudes to international organizations and the African Union. Some of the recommendations had been for the disarmament of the militia. There was no discrimination against the people of African origin. The report had said that Arabism and Islamism had been the main causes of the problem in the region, which was not true. A national commission of inquiry had been set up by the Government to investigate the violations committed in the region and a number of people had been assigned to protect displaced persons in their camps. It was not true that the problem in Darfur was an ethnic issue. The Government had signed an agreement with UNHCR with regard to returnees.

The Government had a framework policy concerning refugees and displaced persons. Those peoples enjoyed all rights upon their return to their places of origin. They were well received upon their return without any discrimination. The international community should help the Government of Sudan in its efforts to resolve the problem and carry out a process of reconciliation.

General Debate on Indigenous Issues

JENNY BETTANCOURT, of Latin American Federation of Associations of Relatives of Disappeared Detainees, said the globalization of the economic model established by international companies had resulted in high indicators of poverty, leading to an exclusion from food, health, and housing; this was particularly obvious when observing populations settled on lands that had been theirs for millennia. These were lands that were viewed as rich by international companies, and were territories in which transnational companies carried out their exploitation without caring about the indigenous peoples. Led by economic and political power, they had obtained concessions from Governments of enormous stretches of territory in order to use the subsoil, which led to applying taxes on minorities who were being dispossessed from their traditional and ancestral lands. Mechanisms should be adopted to protect these disputed territories and to protect the structures of bio-diversity.

ENRIQUE ANTILEO, of International Association against Torture, said he wished to address the situation of the Mapuche people of Chile. The Chilean Government had responded with violence and repression to their calls for respect of their political rights, such as self-determination, autonomy and territorial rights. The needs of these people had not been met, and the Government continued to use violent methods in response to their demands. The Government had not implemented the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples, nor the recommendations of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The Mapuche had been accused of being terrorists, even though there was no proof of that accusation. Just five days ago, the Supreme Court of Justice had once more overturned a lower court's decision, which had found Mapuche individuals innocent of charges of terrorism. Bodies with jurisdiction on human rights should be established in South America, as they had been elsewhere. Moreover, to achieve justice, indigenous peoples like the Mapuche should have access to international organizations such as the Organization of American States and the United Nations.

SANCHAY CHAKMA, of Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network, said he welcomed the adoption of the Second Decade for the World's Indigenous Peoples by the General Assembly. However, it should not be another excuse to seek extension of the mandate of the Working Group charged to draft a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for another decade. Regrettably, one decade had been wasted while approximations of positions were being made without any adoption of substantive articles to the draft Declaration. There were many Governments that did not want to accord any rights to indigenous peoples to address their uniqueness. Countries, such as the United Kingdom, had sought to block the process by insisting on individual rights. It was also true that a number of individuals representing indigenous peoples had also contributed to the lack of progress in the draft Declaration.

SAUL VICENTE VASQUEZ, of International Indian Treaty Council, said the current text of the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples represented the minimum standard required to uphold, defend, and protect the rights and dignity of indigenous peoples. The process that had been implemented to date openly encouraged discriminatory proposals for changes by States, which weakened the Declaration. The best response at this time was to support the Commission in calling for a recess in the Working Group, not to stop it or prevent it from continuing, but to seek more effective steps to guarantee its success with new, dynamic, viable mechanisms for the voices of the great numbers of indigenous peoples from around the world that were affected by these discussions to be heard.

LEGBORSI SARO PIYAGBARA, of Anti-Racism Information Service, said the issue at stake in Nigeria concerned how the Government implemented the human rights standards to which it acceded to, especially those concerning vulnerable groups such as the indigenous Ogoni people, and other groups of the Niger Delta, who continued to face discriminatory practices. The right to redress was central to international human rights law; it stood as a key preventive measure against cycles of further conflict and violations of human rights. Redress would provide the grounds for necessary reconciliation, and would allow the protection of human rights to progress. Recalling the Government's execution of nine Ogoni environmental activists, which had been condemned by a United Nations mission, he said that the Government had failed to address the plight of the Ogoni people in the decade since the incident, in spite of the mission's recommendation that redress be made to the Ogoni, including financial relief to the survivors and assistance in improving their socio-economic conditions. The Commission should ask the Secretary-General to report on the Government's progress in implementing the recommendations of the mission, and the related decisions of the African Commission.

NAN HTAY HTAY WIN, of Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, drew attention to the policies of the military junta in Myanmar, which led to thousands of deaths of women, particularly indigenous women, each year. Statistics gathered by the Back Pack Health Worker Team, which operated in the States of Karen, Karenni and Mon in Myanmar, revealed maternal mortality rates greater than 1,000 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. The official figure of UNICEF for Myanmar was 180, while neighbouring Thailand had a rate of 36 per 100,000 live births. The high maternal mortality rate was attributed to a lack of access to health services. Skilled birth attendants attended only four per cent of births. The regime was not only failing to provide services in those areas, but was regularly hindering the ability of indigenous health providers to have access to women.

ROSALINA TUYUC, of Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches, said the individual and collective violation of rights in Guatemala and of Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization were flagrant, as the Government confiscated the land of indigenous peoples, destroying society and peaceful coexistence, as well as their cultural and spiritual heritage. Indigenous peoples had been victims of many crimes including systematic persecution, arbitrary detention and extra-judicial killings. The Commission should call for the respect of the rights of indigenous peoples in Guatemala and their rights to legitimate defence, dignity and to their traditional land, and should take a resolution on this topic and recognize the systematic violation of the human rights of the indigenous peoples, not just in Guatemala, but in other Latin American countries as well.

TOMAS CONDORI, of Indian Council of South America - CISA, said the Council had been working for the past 25 years to elaborate a document on the rights of indigenous peoples. At the end of the first International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples and at the dawn of the second, the situation of indigenous peoples had improved in many countries as people now recognized their existence. However, in South America, indigenous leaders continued to be killed, and the situations of indigenous communities continued to be a matter of concern, especially in Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Bolivia. A major problem throughout the continent was environmental pollution for the purpose of natural resource exploitation. Aware of the serious threats facing many indigenous peoples, the Council supported the immediate adoption of the original 1994 draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

FRANCOISE JASNIEWICZ-JAFFIOL, of Association of World Citizens, said most indigenous people in Latin America needed equitable access to education in order to transmit their knowledge and culture to their children. The education they received should correspond to their needs. A number of indigenous organizations in Latin America were working with indigenous peoples to enable them to receive education, which would be able to strengthen their cultural identity and develop bilingual and intercultural education. They also made efforts to guarantee the provision of qualitative education to the indigenous peoples. The other aspect that needed further attention was the protection and promotion of indigenous languages. Although bilingual education was essential, it was also necessary to develop the indigenous languages, written and spoken, by giving them legal protection.

MIKE SUTTON, of National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said the Government of the United Kingdom had, between 1965 and 1973, intentionally and systematically displaced the established indigenous inhabitants of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean. Their forced removal was done to facilitate the leasing of the islands to the United States for use as a strategic military base. Since then the displaced Chagossians had been abandoned to a life of poverty and social marginalization, and had never been adequately compensated for their losses; nor had their efforts to regain control and resettlement of their islands been realized. The United Kingdom had in effect a pocket of colonialism inoculated from international human rights scrutiny, and was selectively dismissing international law and human rights. The Commission should instruct the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous peoples to investigate this issue.

MILILANI TRASK, of Netherlands Centre for Indigenous Peoples, said she wished to call attention to the new global platform for indigenous peoples' issues -- the Speaking4Earth campaign. The campaign had been launched on 9 December 2004, in The Hague, to mark the end of the first International Decade for the World's Indigenous People. At the same time, the website , had been launched, with an urgent action campaign -- a petition directed at the members of the Commission on Human Rights, which called for an extension of the mandate of the Working Group drafting a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As of this morning, the petition had been signed by 1,293 indigenous peoples, nations, non-governmental organizations and other organizations, institutions and individuals.

SEZIN RAJANDRAN, of International Volunteerism Organization for Women, Education and Development, asked that the Commission vote for the adoption of the Sub-Commission's approved Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The people of the Great Sioux Nation were rapidly becoming extinct due to the forced assimilation tactics of the United States which occupied their territory. Their homelands lay in the middle of the United States and Canada. They lived in extreme poverty in prisoner of war camps, which were referred to as American Indian Reservations. They did not have proper food and died at early ages from diseases such as diabetes. They did not have work and their employment rate ranged from 50 to 85 per cent of the working population. Their places for prayer and burial had been and were still being destroyed for mining, logging and housing development by American corporations. This was all being done in violation of the Constitution and laws of the United States through which they had no recourse.

DARWIN HILL, of Indian Law Resource Centre, said the important and historic standard-setting process that started in the period following the first session of the Commission was still continuing, and it remained an unfinished task for the indigenous peoples of the world and for the United Nations, as they still did not have the legal instruments needed to protect their basic rights and freedoms. A strong declaration was urgently needed to protect the health and well-being of the world's indigenous peoples. Correcting the wrongs of the past and securing justice for indigenous peoples could be achieved if a strong declaration was achieved soon. If the mandate of the Working Group were extended, the drafting of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples could be achieved in a very short time frame.

LES MALEZER, of Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action, said the Foundation supported the continuation of the work to elaborate a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and requested the Commission to take steps to ensure a successful outcome, to have it include the affirmation to the right to self-determination; the right to own, control and use indigenous land and resources; and collective rights. The Commission should also affirm the weight, acuity and accuracy of the draft Declaration text supported by the Sub-Commission, and should establish a methodology and reporting framework to ensure that it remained fully aware of the willingness of all parties to conclude the task. The Commission should also confirm the important role to be played by the High Commissioner for Human Rights in ensuring the success of the second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People, including by participating in the development and implementation of human rights strategies in the Programme of Action, and by ensuring that human rights bodies and mechanisms continued to cooperate on indigenous issues to end human rights abuses. Also welcoming the report of the Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples, he said the Rapporteur should meet with indigenous representatives early in the Commission's next session to facilitate appropriate resolutions on matters arising from his report.

ARMAND MCKENZIE, of Innu Council of Nitassinan (Innu Nation), said the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples had recommended that Canada do more to close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. While emphasizing the obligations of the federal, provincial and territorial authorities of Canada, the Special Rapporteur had recognized the number of programmes and projects, as well as the financial availability, put in place with regard to the economic and social developments of the indigenous peoples. However, he had stressed their incapacity to discharge their obligations towards the indigenous peoples. With regard to the human rights of the indigenous peoples, the Rapporteur had requested Canada to close the gap existing between the indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.

WILLIE LITTLECHILD, of International Organization of Indigenous Resources Development, said the lack of substantial progress in adopting a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples during the first International Decade as called for by the United Nations General Assembly was very much regretted, and there was concern about the progress to date, thus a pause was required to reflect on how to improve more direct and meaningful participation of indigenous peoples. The Working Group should adopt new and dynamic methods of work, with a particular focus on the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples. The United Nations should hold a seminar on the prevention and protection of indigenous people's permanent sovereignty over natural resources.

DALEE SAMBO DOROUGH, of Inuit Circumpolar Conference, delivering a joint statement, said the Conference strongly supported extending the mandate of the inter-sessional Working Group entrusted with drafting a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but wished to bring to the Commission's attention the racial discrimination that was systematically practiced against indigenous peoples within the Organization by Member States. It seemed that all draft resolutions related to indigenous issues were being infected with the virus of racism. Indigenous peoples were being told that such odious language must be kept to ensure consensus among States. Those States, which claimed to support policies of equality and non-discrimination, were assisting to create an environment within the Organization in which it was perpetuating discrimination against indigenous peoples. It was also highly disturbing that no State had shown the courage to speak publicly to oppose this situation. United Nations resolutions regularly referred to indigenous peoples as "people", with a view to denying them their human rights as "peoples", yet it was clear that the draft Declaration largely addressed inherent collective rights. These prejudiced and hypocritical actions by the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands, among others, must be opposed.

ROLNALD BARNES, of Indian Council of South America, speaking in a joint statement with of International Educational Development, said the tremendous failure to adopt a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples within the fist Decade on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples was an act of barefaced discrimination in the United Nations system. That was a denial of basic principles for the recognition and protection of human rights and therefore a denial of the acknowledgement by the international community of the existence of the humanity of indigenous peoples; that should shock the conscience of humankind. Some States that continued to exploit indigenous peoples remained obstructionist by demanding changes to the 1994 draft Declaration adopted by the Sub-Commission. The concerns of those States were not genuine, but on the most part, so were the attempts to lower the standard of international law specifically for indigenous peoples by continuing to propose discriminating changes and deletions to the text.

SHAWN ATLEO, of Assembly of First Nations - National Indian Brotherhood, said the existing Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was the result of approximately 20 years of efforts, and the result of extensive work by a group of experts and Government representatives. It could be possible to make expeditious progress if the Commission were to take a much more active and supervisory role in the process. Any change, addition or amendment should only be to clarify, strengthen and improve the text, and should not set lower standards. Canada should completely eliminate its extinguishment and/or modification of Aboriginal rights policy. Canada should acknowledge and honour its fiduciary obligations to First Nations, which were historically and constitutionally based.

ABADIO GREEN, of International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, said there was a serious humanitarian crisis being experienced by the indigenous peoples of Colombia. The State's social programmes had been unsuccessful due to the lack of trained personnel, and violence against indigenous people continued unabated. Of all the crimes committed by armed groups against indigenous peoples, more than 40 per cent had occurred recently. Thus, instead of reducing the humanitarian crisis afflicting indigenous peoples, the Government's current security policy had exacerbated the crisis. The indigenous peoples organization continued to seek out ways and means for peaceful dialogue with civil society and other sectors, yet the Government considered them terrorists, due to their activities to establish dialogue and oppose armed conflict. The international community should support the indigenous peoples in their struggle against genocide in the context of the conflict, and the Commission should recommend that the Government of Colombia implement the recommendations of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples without delay.

LUIS LLANQUILLEF RENEQUEO, of France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, drew attention to the difficult situation in which the Mapuche indigenous people were living in Chile. At present, there were 500 Mapuches in Chilean prisons only for demanding the right to their ancestral lands. The detained Mapuches were suffering from ill-treatment and brutality, including torture. The Mapuche indigenous people were also struggling against the deforestation of their territories and the occupation of part of their ancestral lands. The Chilean Government had applied a law intended for the fight against terrorist organizations against the Mapuches. Mapuche organizations were being considered as terrorist organizations, and some of them had to operate undercover, as had been the case during the Chilean military dictatorship of Pinochet.

CELESTE MCKAY, of Global Rights, said the Commission should ensure the full and effective participation of indigenous women and the mainstreaming of indigenous gender issues at every opportunity. The human rights of indigenous women had yet to be realized on many levels. Indigenous women suffered from high rates of poverty and related ill health, low education and employment levels and homelessness. The Commission should make concerted efforts to improve the human rights of indigenous women by mainstreaming an indigenous gender perspective throughout its work. It was only with the full and effective participation of indigenous women that their human rights would be fully realized.

MATHIAS AHERN, of Saami Council, delivering a joint statement on behalf of more than 200 indigenous organizations and indigenous support organizations, noted that the inter-sessional Working Group had been authorized to elaborate a draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Although its original mandate had come to an end without the conclusion of a draft Declaration, that task could still, and must, be achieved. It was critical for indigenous peoples worldwide that the mandate of the Working Group be extended. The indigenous organizations and support organizations called on the Commission not to suspend the work of the Working Group, which would be detrimental to the finalization of the draft Declaration. The Commission should instead adopt a resolution extending its mandate, which would allow it to present a finalized draft to the General Assembly as soon as possible. Finally, he wished to note that the Saami Council supported the report on the sovereignty of indigenous peoples over natural resources, presented by the Special Rapporteur, and said that a seminar should be organized on that topic.

MARCELINO DIAZ DE JESUS, of International Committee for the Indians of the Americas (Incomindios Switzerland), drew attention to the situation of indigenous peoples in Mexico, stating that, as acknowledged by the International Labour Organization in its document GB.289/17/3, there had been sufficient elements affirming the existence of a situation of human rights violations of the indigenous peoples having a grave character. There had been a systematic violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the indigenous people throughout Mexico. Violations included torture, forced disappearances, involuntary sterilization of indigenous women, persecution, and militarization of the indigenous territories. The grave violations committed against the indigenous peoples had not been a subject to judicial decisions. The Commission, while adopting a resolution on the drafting of the Declaration on the Protection of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, should take into account aspects with regard to the Sub-Commission's discussions on the issue, among other things.

PATRICK LIGHTNING, of American Indian Law Alliance, said treaties had been entered into by Canadian ancestors and the European powers that came to their lands and were welcomed there. These treaties were still the supreme law and were the foundation for the relations between indigenous peoples with non-indigenous people that had come to live in their territory. The indigenous peoples of Canada were very disappointed with the report submitted by the Special Rapporteur, as nowhere did he mention that the ill health and dire situation of the majority of the First Nation Peoples could be directly linked to the indisputable fact that Canada continued to deny care for the Indigenous Treaty Nations as a right. The Special Rapporteur and officials of the WHO should come to Canada and visit the Indigenous Treaty Nations of Western Canada and see first hand the deplorable conditions of health care that were further marginalizing the already-marginalized peoples.

AUDREY BRASIER, of Liberation, stated that the British Government denied the applicability of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to the Chagossian islanders, a dispossessed people who had been deceitfully removed from their island homes to make way for an American military base. The depopulation of the Chagos islands had occurred 30 years ago, and every effort had been made since then to cover up the ugly realities surrounding the dispossession. Today, the British Government claimed that Chagossians did not have human rights, as the British Indian Ocean Territory was not covered by the State's ratification of the Covenant. The British Government had also issued "Orders in Council" in 2004, which undermined the Chagossians' right to return to their islands. The British Government had justified their decision their decision on the grounds of infeasibility, claiming that resettlement would be too expensive and was not physically feasible due to climate change, flooding and other environmental considerations. The Commission should probe the British claims of infeasibility, and help ensure the Chagossians their right to self-determination. The dispossessed islanders had suffered too many miscarriages of justice; it was time for the international community to hold the British Government to account for the plight of the Chagossian people.

KENNETH DEER, of Indigenous World Association, said the Association supported the work of the Working Group charged with the drafting of a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He also supported the work done by the Special Rapporteur on indigenous issues. The United Nations system - a composition of States - should act properly in assisting the indigenous peoples. The fate of the indigenous should not wait until the United Nations system was overhauled. If the United Nations was to be the greatest of world bodies, it should espouse the best that humankind had to offer. The reorganization of the United Nations had to be more than just the moving around of bodies and offices. If the reorganization was to succeed, the United Nations should change its attitude and approach to the issues that faced all of humankind.

Right of Reply on Indigenous Issues

JAIME ANDRADE GUENCHOCOY (Chile), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said he wished to address issues raised by a number of non-governmental organization representatives regarding compliance with the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur. The first recommendation had concerned raising the issue of constitutional recognition for indigenous peoples in the National Congress, and ratifying ILO Convention No. 169. Such actions required a quorum, which had not been achieved in the current conservative Parliament. Regarding the situation of Rapa Nui and its inhabitants, the President had established a Group of Experts to elaborate a special statute. That work had recently been concluded and would soon be proposed as legislation. Work had also been done, in conjunction with the Lafkenche leadership, to legally recognize this group of people.

Within the implementation of the Chilean Solidarity Social Protection System, special coverage would be given to indigenous communities, amounting to more than three million pesos for 11,264 indigenous families. Regarding land rights, he recalled that the indigenous law, adopted in 1993, had recognized the community rights to the land, and had transferred 230,000 hectares to indigenous peoples; 30,000 more hectares would be transferred to indigenous peoples in the next year. And regarding education, he noted that five million pesos had been dedicated to provide 33,600 indigenous scholarships in 2005. The Intercultural Bilingual Education Programme had increased its budget by 40 per cent.

The country was trying to reconcile a society fractured by suffering and injustice, he stressed, and had opted for the path to peace through resolution of differences. Chile could not accept the use of violence for any purpose, or by any member of society, indigenous or non-indigenous. Institutional mechanisms and channels had been created in order to provide answers in all sectors of society. The anti-terrorism legislation had been invoked in response to a situation of extreme gravity, and did not target the indigenous movement.

IQBAL LATONA (Mauritius), speaking in a right of reply in reference to the statement made by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said that the Chagossians were full-fledged citizens of Mauritius and derived their status as citizens from the Constitution. The Chagos Archipelago had always been an integral part of the territory of Mauritius, and it had never relinquished its sovereignty over the Archipelago. It reaffirmed that there were no indigenous peoples on the islands, and all those who had gone to inhabit and work there came from Mauritius. The Government had always expressed concern about the manner in which the Chagossians were displaced from the Archipelago, and had taken numerous initiatives to safeguard the welfare of the Chagossians whilst supporting their right to return to the Chagos Archipelago. The Government had always and would continue in its endeavour to pursue all actions within its possibility to exercise the enjoyment of its sovereignty over the Chagos Islands.

General Debate on the Rights of the Child

KAREN PARKER, of International Educational Development, said many insurgent armed groups functioned in the context of self-determination, and could not recruit anybody under the age of 18, even if recruitment was voluntary; this contravened the right to equality under the law, and had a negative effect under the right to self-determination, as national Governments were allowed to recruit from the age of 16. Most accusers were silent about child recruitment by Government forces, for example in Sri Lanka.

CORINE TROXLER, of Society for Threatened Peoples, said the situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo was the biggest, most neglected, humanitarian situation in the world; half the deaths that occurred there were children younger than six years. Children suffered the most, both as victims and perpetrators of human rights abuses. They were used as child soldiers, forced to commit violations of human rights. They were also among the most vulnerable to forced displacements. Girls had been raped, many were gang raped, or violated with sticks and knives. The country had become the battleground for six nations, yet despite regional and Congolese peace agreements, clashes and conflict continued to undermine international stabilizing efforts. Children continued to suffer from internal displacement, and lacked access to basic services. Child prostitution was also on the rise. The Commission should condemn violence and abuses by all parties in the country, and should appoint a Special Rapporteur for the Great Lakes region to monitor the situation, and to admonish all the parties involved, especially Rwanda, to refrain from inciting conflict in the region.

PRAMILA SRIVASTAVA, of International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, said one of the most important challenges to addressing a child's deprivation of their rights dealt with the issue of child labour. Child labour was not only a new phenomenon, but had stimulated discussion due to contemporary debate on globalization and international labour standards. Furthermore, it was being seen as one of the worst forms of violations of child rights. The ILO estimated that the number of children aged between five and 14 years in 2000 who were in the labour force was 200 million. Of those, 120 million were estimated to be engaged in full time work. Child labour was highest in Africa and Asia; the rate of child labour, as recorded by the ILO, was 41 per cent for Sub-Saharan African, 21 per cent for Asia and 17 per cent for Latin America. Asia, being the most densely populated area, had the overall highest number of child labourers.

DANIEL GERON, of Consultative Council of Jewish Organizations, said in recent times tensions had arisen in several areas of the world by restrictions placed by States parties on the wearing of distinctive dress or the display of what had been called religious symbols. Such restrictions within educational establishments could impinge upon the religious rights of children and could have severe repercussions for their right to education. The purpose of any such limitations should be proportionate and strictly necessary. Sweeping restrictions on all religious dress and symbols were not likely to be strictly necessary and were likely to constitute unlawful restrictions of human rights. The Commission should reaffirm its commitment to the fundamental right to freedom of religion with particular regard to the rights of the child, and the Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Education and on Freedom of Religion or Belief should investigate in detail the issue of restrictions in this context.

ATIA ANWAR, of International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations, said that guaranteeing the rights of the child constituted an investment in the collective future of the human race; children's rights constituted the foundation of the entire human rights structure. Like all people, children were entitled to all the rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and all other major instruments. However, children also required special protection for their defence, and to enable them to realize their potential. Despite vast networks to ensure children's rights, the world continued to witness widespread violations of children's rights in many parts of the world, including forced labour and denial of the rights to health and education. For example, in India, more than 120 million children were forced to work under difficult and inhuman conditions. Although India had enacted many legislative measures to fight the phenomenon of child labour, there was a complete lack of political will to implement them. The international community should take note of these extremely grave violations and appoint a special mechanism to submit a report for effective remedial action to the Commission.

SYLVIA ANDRIANASOLO, of International Young Catholic Students, said a number of children today required State and public support. Efforts had been deployed to that end but the problems still persisted, and many students who had been deprived of education were living on the streets. They lacked medical treatment, parental affection and attention from the society. There were also children who were forcefully separated from their parents and families and children from Western Sahara being deported to Cuba, and who were separated from their parents without their consent. The children were sent to Cuba for indoctrination and to receive military instructions, and to work in fields and tobacco factories, without any contacts with their parents. This situation was contrary to the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

MAURO CABRAL, of MADRE, said there was a secret but daily occurring horror – inter-sex infant gender mutilation. Fear of difference, sexism and homophobia persistently justified the practice of clitoridectomies, vaginoplasties and other treatments, which produced in many cases an experience similar to castration and/or repeated rape. These procedures created another kind of monstrosity, that of a differentiated ethical standard, that prescribed and justified inhuman means of so-called bodily normalization. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other conventions demanded an urgent and radical change in the way that bodies were being harmed. It was the right of inter-sex children to live in a world where each human life was valuable and respected daily. It was an ethical and political imperative to stop inter-sex infant genital mutilation.

EPI NARTI ZAIN, of Netherlands Organization for International Development Cooperation, said the tsunami that had occurred in Aceh made the situation for the children in that region more difficult, and the human rights violations related to the armed conflict had continued. The children of Aceh had faced various problems including inadequate protection, health care, lack of attention on education, sanitation and nutrition. Children separated from their families during the tsunami were victims of trafficking, as there was no control, protection or recognition of responsibility from the State. The Commission should urge the Government of Indonesia to revoke the civil emergency in Aceh, which had resulted in the loss of life and rights, and follow up on the concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and investigate thoroughly all crimes against humanity and against the rights of the child.

HOWARD GLENN, of Human Rights Council of Australia, said on the Pacific Island of Nauru, there were six children whose situation was instructive. With their parents, they left Afghanistan and tired to reach refuge in Australia by boat. They were picked by the Australian Navy in late 2001 before reaching Australia, and had spent their lives since in detention. Those children had been in detention now since 2001, as part of the Australian Government's "Pacific Solution" - a programme to deter others from seeking asylum in Australia. The three girls were now aged 14, 8 and 7, the boys were 15 and 9, and a third boy was born in detention and was two years of age. The children were among the last 54 of 1,200 people who were detained in Nauru in the detention camp set up following the interception of the Norwegian ship, Tampa. Remaining with the children were four women and 44 men.

AKIRA MAEDA, of Japanese Workers Committee for Human Rights, said there was an increase in the number of incidents of abuse towards Korean children, including life-threatening ones. The Government of Japan did not appear to have taken so far any effective measures to prevent these violations. The Government of Japan should fulfil its obligations to disclose every possible true fact regarding the issue of sexual-slavery during the Second World War, to record these experiences as a part of history, and as a lesson for the next generation. Astonishingly, the Government said that the number of victims was groundless, and had rejected the demand to investigate the truth and to disclose most documents to avoid its legal responsibility for State-Sponsored Genocidal Rape.

SALMA AKBAR BUKHARI, of International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, said children were the future of humankind and the ultimate symbol of hope. In Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the future generation was being brought up in an atmosphere charged with State terrorism and a society of repression. The future of children there was being held hostage at gunpoint by the 700,000-strong Indian occupation forces. It was an affront to all principles that inspired the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and affected all aspects of child development, physical, mental and emotional. It was a basic need of children to be protected when armed conflicts were threatening, and such protection required a fulfilment of their rights through the implementation of international human rights and humanitarian law. The international community should act and play its role and prevent India from committing atrocities against the innocent faces in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir

AKIRA MAEDA, of Asia-Japan Women's Resource Center, said children and young people had a right to learn about the history of their own society without lies and secretes. In Japan, however, the Government not only kept closed many of its documents dating back to the Second World War, but also condoned or supported the efforts to keep away from the eyes of children the facts of its past aggression, including its military sexual slavery. Whitewashing in Japanese history textbooks had been an issue since the 1950s, both domestically and regionally. Only a few days ago the Government of Japan had passed another set of textbooks evoking strong criticism from its closest neighbours in Asia. The reference to the so-called "comfort women", was now gone from most of the textbooks. The new dedication of particular textbooks was passed again, despite the strong criticism against the passing of the old education three years ago.

YING CHEN, of United Nations Association of San Diego, said China had enlisted many laws and rules to safeguard the rights of the child, but these did not come alive and apply themselves on their own. When law enforcement was instructed to ignore and violate these laws and rules, they became only masks, and a defence to deflect international criticisms, rather than a genuine move towards the rule of law. In the context of the violent persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, children had become direct targets of police violence, subjected to incarceration, torture, and forced labour. The Commission should act within its power to take action on this grave situation and assign a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in China.

ALICE MIRINO, of World Young Women's Christian Association, in a joint statement with Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, said that violations of children's human rights continued; 640 million children were condemned to live in inadequate housing, 500 million without sufficient care, 400 million without access to drinking water, and 90 million suffering from malnutrition. Children continued to live below the standards necessary to provide for their physical, mental, spiritual, and social development. Children born into poverty continued to suffer deprivation throughout their lives. Children were abused as soldiers, for sexual abuse and rape, and as cheap labour. Moreover, many countries had not yet abolished the death penalty for children. The Association held that education and instruction in children's rights should be carried out by parents and societal actors; that all should have access to adequate living standards; that child soldiers should be demobilized and reintegrated into society; that education budgets should be larger than military budgets, and that all States should establish mechanisms to punish violations of children's rights.

BIRTE SCHOLZ, of Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, said under the Sharia law, a Jordanian girl was entitled to a percentage of her father's property. However, her brothers tried to convince her that to claim such inheritance would be shameful under their religion, and would hurt the family honour. She refused and was threatened with death. She gave in and was forced to leave her parental home with nothing. Denial of inheritance rights was a denial of human rights to women and girl children each year, which increased their vulnerability to poverty, homelessness and violence. COHRE's research on the inheritance rights of women and girls in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East documented the tragic reality that, under statuary, customary and religious law, the overwhelming majority of women regardless of their age or marital status, could not own or inherit land, housing and other property in their own right.

FRANK CALZON, of Liberal International, said children were the future of the world, and their mistreatment was a crime against them and the future of humanity. In China, a cultural preference for boys had led to infanticide against baby girls, resulting in a surplus of boys, with a resulting shortage of girls, leading to trafficking in women. In Sudan, slavery raids took place, with girls and women being the prized booty, and consequently suffering greatly. In Cuba, adolescents were sent to the fields to pay for their education, despite the Government's claim to provide free education. A Cuban mother or father with a sick child could not provide medicine for their child, and child prostitution was also a problem in that country. The Governments of China, Sudan and Cuba should be held accountable.

HILLEL C. NEUER, of United Nations Watch, said the latest figures showed that Arab militias, aided by the Sudanese Government, had killed as many as 300,000 Black Africans over the past two years. An estimated 2.4 million had been displaced from their homes. Among the most vulnerable were children; severe violations against them included killing, attacks, sexual violence including rape, killing of family members, abduction of children and recruitment into armed groups, burning of houses and crops, poisoning of wells, looting of property and animals, humiliation of relatives, and harassment and intimidation. Moreover, thousands of girls had been raped. The prosecution of Sudanese war criminals at the International Criminal Court was welcomed, but it was not enough. There must be action for prevention. Some questioned whether this Commission could help prevent these unspeakable crimes against children. The Commission could apply the moral weight of world opinion, by enacting a sharp and unequivocal condemnation of Sudan's crimes. Last year, the Commission had signalled indifference, and Khartoum had continued its crimes.

Right of Reply on Rights of the Child

XIA JINGGE (China), speaking in a right of reply in reference to Japan's statement concerning the history textbooks, said Japan should understand that it should not use textbooks that did not reflect the reality of what happened during the war. The measure to introduce new history textbooks could hurt the victims of the Japanese military aggression, including China. Although the textbooks were prepared by the private sector, they could not be introduced into the classrooms without the approval of the Government. All the victims of the war of aggression deserved a sincere apology.

CLEMENCIA FORERO UCROS (Colombia), speaking in a right of reply, said without claiming to ignore the fact that minors were recruited by paramilitary groups, in some statements information was not given regarding the enlistment of minors by guerrillas. The Government of Colombia wished to make it quite clear that this was a very serious case. Involving children in violent activities was very serious, and the Government did not enlist them, unless it was done by the Family Welfare Institute with the aim of social re-inclusion. Before the Congress was a Bill imposing penalties of up to 15 years in prison for the enlistment of minors. It did not contemplate the penalty of deprivation of liberty for those minors who had been victims of violence and enlistment. Specific measures had not yet been taken to remove the right to voluntarily enlist children below the age of 18 years in the armed forces. The Government was therefore working very hard to strengthen preventive measures in this regard.

SUGEESHWARA GUNARATNA (Sri Lanka), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, asked why the non-governmental organization International Educational Development tried to whitewash the issue of the recruitment by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) of child soldiers, which was under scrutiny in the Security Council. That organization would do well to review the statistics and figures available, which showed that 60 per cent of ceasefire violations by the LTTE concerned child soldiers. That organization would do well to avoid slander in the future, and to stop using this forum to whitewash the activities of some.

For use of information only; not an official record