• Short Summary

    The United States working groups on missing and disappeared persons have received more than 2,000 reports of new cases in 22 countries last year.

  • Description

    GV UN Commission.

    SV Working Party spokesman, Viscount Colville of Culross and delegates. (3 SHOTS)

    SV Amnesty International spokesman Nigel Rodley speaking in English. (3 SHOTS)

    SV Swedish spokesman Hans Ewerlof speaking in English. (3 SHOTS)

    SV United States spokesman, Michael Novak speaking.

    TRANSCRIPT: COLVILLE: (SEQ 2) "What I suggest as being worthy of serious consideration is that this working group is actually in the process of an amicable and productive exercise in the pursuit of human rights including the right to life, which is certainly neither abstract nor distant from reality. We are dealing at first with human beings, their fears and aspirations. That is exactly the business of this Commission. Given the evidence we have, which is that the disappearances are a threat to life, swift intervention is sometimes sufficiently effective actually to save lives. The ability of the group to react with expedition in conjunction with appeals from other non-governmental bodies and publicity of different sorts, seems to have some deterrent effect, that too is a valuable factor. Perhaps it is our efforts which have in some cases, now induced government to give families official explanations as to what happened to their relatives. Of course, there still is much unfinished business and there remains the problem of those governments that have not responded at all, while the co-operation of others is still tentative."

    RODLEY: (SEQ 3) "In Iran more than 4,200 are known to have been executed since the 1979 revolution, more than 2,700 of those executions having taken place since June 1981. Political cases in Iraq which are mentioned not for the sake of artificial balance but because more than 300 known executions took place there in 1981, are tried by tribunals which meet in camera, and are composed of representatives of the executives arms of government, including members of the armed forces. No defence counsel are permitted and no appeal to an ordinary court at law is possible. In some cases death sentences are carried out within 24 hours which leaves little or no time to petition for pardon or commutation of sentence. Mr. Chairman, the judicial process is everywhere inherently fallible leading to inevitable miscarriages of justice, and it is vulnerable to misuse especially in political cases. As long as the death penalty is retained in law there is a danger it will be used for political motives. Amnesty International suggest therefore, that the Commission consider the political use of the death penalty within the framework already established by the United Nations, namely the desirability of the abolition of the death penalty. That Mr. Chairman would be the only complete solution to the problem."

    EWERLOF: (SEQ 4) "Raoul Wallemberg was engaged in important humanitarian activities in Budapest at the end of the Second World War. It may be well be said that through his efforts that thousands of Jews were saved from a certain death. Raoul Wallemberg was taken into Soviet custody. He has not been heard from since. The Swedish government has since 1945 repeatedly brought up the case of Raoul Wallenberg in bilateral contacts with the Soviet government. No satisfactory explanation however has ever been given"

    NOVAK: "What our delegation hopes for, Mr. Chairman, is solely a humanitarian gesture which would contribute to universal good feeling. Namely a renewed search and full report which may lay questions to rest or else in the best of all possible outcomes result in the discovery of the whereabouts of a man who stands among the heroes of our time."

    Initials JS

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: The United States working groups on missing and disappeared persons have received more than 2,000 reports of new cases in 22 countries last year. The Commission is holding six weeks of wide-ranging hearings on the subject in Geneva. On Friday (26 February) several delegates addressed the working party.

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