Economic and Social
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Item 11 (b) of the provisional agenda
present report, which is submitted pursuant to Commission on Human Rights
resolution 2003/53, covers information received and communications sent by the
Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in the
Section I of the report provides a summary of the mandate entrusted to the Special Rapporteur. In section II the Special Rapporteur presents the main activities she has undertaken in the framework of her mandate during the period under review. Section III gives an overview of the various situations involving violations of the right to life relevant to the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, including observations regarding violations of the right to life of special groups and issues of special focus. Section IV provides an overview of developments, in follow‑up to the Special Rapporteur’s country visits. Finally, section V is devoted to the Special Rapporteur’s conclusions and recommendations.
This report should be read in conjunction with addendum 1 (E/CN.4/2004/7/Add.1), which presents a summary of all urgent appeals and letters of allegation sent during the reporting period, as well as summaries of replies from Governments.
The Special Rapporteur’s report briefly describes action taken in regard to various forms of violations of the right to life, including deaths in custody, deaths due to excessive use of force by law enforcement agents, killings by security forces or paramilitary groups, and death threats. The report also discusses the issue of capital punishment and makes reference to death penalty cases in which the Special Rapporteur has intervened in reaction to reports that the sentences concerned had been passed in violation of international restrictions and human rights standards. In her report, the Special Rapporteur also discusses the situation of a number of specific categories of victims, who are particularly vulnerable or have been directly targeted for extrajudicial execution. These groups include human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, demonstrators, members of national, ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities, internally displaced people, women, children, members of indigenous communities.
The report additionally includes a section devoted to follow-up in relation to missions undertaken by the Special Rapporteur.
The Special Rapporteur concludes her report by emphasizing that it will be her last report to the Commission on Human Rights. She expresses appreciation of Governments which cooperated with her while carrying out her mandate. She also highlights some disturbing trends identified during the reporting period, and presents recommendations, including the following (to be considered and read in conjunction with the recommendations previously issued in her report E/CN.4/2002/74):
- The United Nations is urged to strengthen early-warning mechanisms so that acts of genocide and crimes against humanity can be avoided;
- Governments must not resort to aerial bombing, use of snipers or pre-emptive strikes. The international community should take note of this growing tendency, and the use of excessive force;
- All orders to “shoot on sight” must only be given as a measure of very last resort to protect lives;
- Law enforcement personnel should receive in-depth training on human rights;
- Governments should respect the people’s right to freedom of association and expression. Force should not be used to silence those who raise their voices against the arbitrary use of power by Governments;
- Governments should maintain data banks with precise information on reports of extrajudicial killings;
- Governments must end systematic and institutional impunity for those who kill women in the name of honour and so-called morality; and
- Safeguards and restrictions contained in international guidelines and customary law must be respected in each and every case when imposing or executing the death penalty.
Introduction ................................................................................................ 1 - 4 6
I. THE MANDATE .......................................................................... 5 - 11 6
A. Terms of reference ............................................................. 5 - 6 6
B. Violations of the right to life upon
the Special Rapporteur takes action .................................... 7 7
C. Legal framework and methods of work ............................... 8 - 11 7
II. ACTIVITIES ................................................................................. 12 - 23 8
A. General remarks ................................................................. 12 8
B. Communications ................................................................. 13 - 19 8
C. Visits .................................................................................. 20 - 23 10
III. OVERVIEW OF SITUATIONS INVOLVING VIOLATIONS
OF THE RIGHT TO LIFE ............................................................. 24 - 83 10
H. Violations of the right to life of women ................................. 66 - 71 19
I. Violations of the right to life of children ................................ 72 - 73 21
J. Violations of the right to life of
persons belonging to
national, ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities .................... 74 - 76 21
K. Impunity, compensation and the rights of victims .................. 77 - 83 21
IV. FOLLOW-UP TO RECOMMENDATIONS ................................ 84 - 86 23
V. CONCLUDING REMARKS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ..... 87 - 96 23
1. This report is submitted pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution 2003/53. It is the sixth annual report submitted to the Commission by Asma Jahangir, and the twenty‑first submitted since the mandate on summary and arbitrary executions was established by Economic and Social Council resolution 1982/35.
otherwise stated, the present report covers information received and
communications sent in the period from
3. As in previous years the Special Rapporteur has presented the Commission with an addendum summarizing the information transmitted and received by the Special Rapporteur, as well as her observations where required and considered appropriate (E/CN.4/2004/7/Add.1). The Special Rapporteur notes with regret that due to cuts in the resources of the secretariat it has not been possible to issue the addendum in all official languages, but only as a “mixed” unedited document in English, French and Spanish.
addition, the Special Rapporteur has submitted two reports concerning country
visits which were carried out during 2003.
Addendum 2 to the present report relates to the mission to
5. In resolution 2003/53, the Commission on Human Rights encouraged the Special Rapporteur to continue to collect information from all concerned, to respond effectively to reliable information and to follow-up on communications and country visits as well as to seek the views and comments of Governments and to reflect them as appropriate in her report she was to work according to the definition of her mandate given in the Commission resolution 2001/45.
6. Her terms of reference therefore include the following:
(a) To continue to examine situations of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and to submit her findings on an annual basis, together with conclusions and recommendations, to the Commission, as well as such other reports as the Special Rapporteur deems necessary in order to keep the Commission informed about serious situations of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions that warrant its immediate attention;
(b) To respond effectively to information which comes before her, in particular when an extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution is imminent or seriously threatened or when such an execution has occurred;
(c) To enhance further her dialogue with Governments, as well as to follow-up recommendations made after visits to particular countries;
(d) To continue to pay special attention to extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions of children and to allegations concerning violations of the right to life in the context of violence against participants in demonstrations and other peaceful public manifestations or against persons belonging to minorities;
(e) To pay special attention to extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions where the victims are individuals carrying out peaceful activities in defence of human rights and fundamental freedoms;
(f) To continue monitoring the implementation of existing international standards on safeguards and restrictions relating to the imposition of capital punishment, bearing in mind the comments made by the Human Rights Committee in its interpretation of article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Second Optional Protocol thereto; and
(g) To apply a gender perspective in her work.
Special Rapporteur continues to follow the guidelines detailed in her general
report (E/CN.4/2002/74, para. 8) issued on
8. The main source of law under which the Special Rapporteur works is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 6, 14 and 15 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In addition the Special Rapporteur is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other treaties, resolutions, conventions and declarations adopted by competent United Nations bodies containing provisions relating to specific types of violations of the right to life.
9. The legal framework includes principles and guidelines specified in:
(a) Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, adopted by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution 1989/65 of 24 May 1989;
(b) Basic Principles on the Use of Force and
Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, adopted by the Eighth United Nations
Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held in
(c) The Rome Statute of the International
Criminal Court adopted on
(d) Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 40/43 of 29 November 1985.
10. The working methods of the Special Rapporteur are based on reliable information brought to her notice. She responds to individual complaints by communicating these to Governments. In cases of emergency “Urgent Appeals” are sent to Governments. Other allegations are communicated through letters giving a summary of the cases. The Special Rapporteur has prepared model forms for receiving precise information and only acts where there are sufficient details and the source is either well known or found to be credible. In extraordinary situations, she also issues press statements.
11. She continues to follow-up on replies received by Governments. These are particularly helpful in guiding the work of the mandate. The Special Rapporteur considers on-site visits to countries an essential component to her mandate. This allows her to work in a spirit of cooperation with Governments. She receives first-hand information and is able to capture the atmosphere of the situation.
the reporting period, the Special Rapporteur held a number of consultations
with OHCHR in
13. The information received by the Special Rapporteur is overwhelming. It has increased over the years. There appears to be more awareness of the United Nations special procedures system. During the visits, she noted that Governments and civil society paid more attention to the work of these procedures. At the same time, there is very little information from countries, where civil society is less organized and isolated. Thus lack of information on a country does not necessarily indicate that the situation of human rights is one of satisfaction.
14. A summary of all cases transmitted to Governments as well as summaries of replies received can be found in addendum 1 to this report.
the period under review, the Special Rapporteur transmitted 97 urgent appeals
on behalf of several hundred individuals to the following countries:
Bangladesh (2), Bolivia (3), Brazil (2), Colombia (9), Democratic Republic of the Congo (1), Ecuador (2), El Salvador (2), Guinea-Bissau (1), Guatemala (2), Haiti (5), Honduras (5), India (5), Indonesia (1), Iran (Islamic Republic of) (4), Jamaica (1), Kyrgyzstan (1), Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (1), Mexico (5), Nepal (2), Pakistan (1), Saudi Arabia (2), Peru (1), Singapore (1), Sri Lanka (3), Sudan (6), Thailand (1), Turkey (1), Turkmenistan (2), United States of America (10), Uzbekistan (6), Venezuela (3), Yemen (2) and Zimbabwe (1). She also sent a joint urgent appeal to the Palestinian Authority.
16. Among those urgent appeals a total of 45 were transmitted jointly with other mechanisms of the Commission on Human Rights, such as the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, the Chairman‑Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General on human rights defenders. As in previous years, the Special Rapporteur welcomes this development, which to a large extent is due to the enhanced coordination between the various mechanisms of the Commission as facilitated by the Quick Response Desk in OHCHR.
17. The Special Rapporteur further transmitted 61 letters of allegations, 35 of which were joint communications, regarding violations of the right to life of a large number of individuals and groups to the Governments of the following countries: Angola (2), Argentina (1), Azerbaijan (1), Belgium (1), Bolivia (3), Brazil (1), Bulgaria (1), Cambodia (2), Chad (1), China (2), Colombia (2), Côte d’Ivoire (2), Democratic Republic of the Congo (1), Egypt (1), Equatorial Guinea (1), Gambia (1), Guyana (1), Haiti (1), Honduras (1), India (3), Indonesia (2), Iran (Islamic Republic of) (2), Iraq (1), Israel (4), Jamaica (1), Kenya (1), Malaysia (1), Mexico (2), Myanmar (1), Nigeria (1), Pakistan (3), Russian Federation (1), Serbia and Montenegro (1), Sri Lanka (1), Sudan (1), Swaziland (1), Sweden (1), Uganda (1), Ukraine (1), United States of America (1), Viet Nam (2), Yemen (1) and Zimbabwe (3).
18. During the period under review, the following Governments sent replies to urgent appeals or communications addressed to them by the Special Rapporteur during or prior to the reporting period: Algeria, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, Pakistan, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United States of America, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen and Zimbabwe. The Special Rapporteur wishes to express her appreciation to those Governments which have provided comprehensive replies to her communications for their cooperation. Regrettably, some Governments have replied only in part or on an irregular basis to her enquiries.
is concerned that the Governments of Angola,
her appointment, the Special Rapporteur has written to a number of Governments
expressing her interest in visiting their countries. At the time of writing, the Government of
Sierra Leone had responded positively to her communication. She is planning to undertake a mission to
this country in the near future. The
Special Rapporteur has requests pending with the Governments of Algeria,
the invitation of the Government, the Special Rapporteur conducted a mission to
23. Field missions to specific countries are of crucial importance when analysing patterns of human rights abuses and the root causes which give rise to and perpetuate violations of the right to life. It gives the Special Rapporteur an opportunity to exchange views with Governments and lends support to the work of civil society. The decision to seek an invitation to visit a particular country is based on a variety of considerations, inter alia a thorough analysis of the human rights situation in the country concerned, the likely or expected impact of a visit, and practical factors determining the feasibility of a field mission.
66. In the period under review, the Special Rapporteur has continued to receive reports of so‑called “honour killings” of women. In this regard, the Special Rapporteur wishes to recall that she is monitoring incidents of “honour killings” where the State either approves of and supports these acts, or extends a form of impunity to the perpetrators by inaction. In this connection, she transmitted to the Government of Pakistan a communication relating to the murder of some 200 victims. It is worth mentioning that, although women and girls are the main targets of these brutal killings, men and boys - either relatives, alleged partners or considered as “accomplice” of the female victim - can sometimes be targeted by such killings. The perpetrators of these crimes are always male family members or persons acting at their behest. The rationale for killing is to preserve a misconceived notion of “family honour” allegedly put in jeopardy by the victim herself. In the great majority of cases sent by the Special Rapporteur to the Government of Pakistan, the information received indicates that the murderers remain unpunished either because no complaint was ever filed by relatives of the victims, or because the police investigation is allegedly ongoing without any concrete result. In some cases, it is reported that the police refused to file a complaint claiming that the victims’ relatives should forgive the perpetrator who is considered to have acted in all fairness. According to the information received, there are some cases where murderers reportedly surrender themselves to the police with the murder weapon. Nevertheless, no action was ever taken against them.
67. Information received indicates that “honour killings” can take many forms. The Special Rapporteur submitted to the Government of Pakistan horrifying cases where women and young girls are set ablaze, strangled, shot at, clubbed, stabbed, tortured, axed or stoned to death. Their bodies are found mutilated with their throat slit, or they are chopped into pieces and thrown in a ditch. The Special Rapporteur was particularly disturbed by the case of a 16‑year‑old girl who was reportedly electrocuted to death after being drugged with sleeping pills and being tied to a wooden bed with iron chains by members of the Rajput Toors, a powerful community in Duniyapur, allegedly for having married outside her community.
68. In November 2003, the President of Pakistan ordered an investigation into the murder of a young woman, Afsheen Musarat. Her body was exhumed after local human rights groups alleged that she was murdered for refusing to marry a cousin and eloped with another relative.
The post‑mortem indicated that she was strangled and the perpetrators were arrested. While the Special Rapporteur welcomes this step, she urges the Government to amend the law and to take steps which will bring about institutional reforms. Action in 1 case out of over 200 remains at best symbolic.
69. In this regard, the Special Rapporteur wishes to remind that Governments are obliged to protect the right to every individual to life, liberty and security by law and to adopt all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify and abolish existing law regulations, customs and practices that are in violation of the human rights of women. She further refers to article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which makes it obligatory for State parties to “condemn discrimination against women in all its forms, agree to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women” and, to this end, undertake to make legislative changes, including sanctions, prohibiting discrimination against women. State parties are obliged “to refrain from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against women and to ensure that public authorities and institutions shall act in conformity with this obligation”. They are required “to take all appropriate measures […] to modify or abolish […] customs and practices which constitute discrimination against women”.
Special Rapporteur welcomes the decision by the Shariah Court of Appeal of
issue of concern is the case of Afsnaneh Nozouri for whom the Special
Rapporteur intervened by sending an urgent appeal to the Government of the
Islamic Republic of Iran on
the period under review, the Special Rapporteur transmitted communications on
behalf of minors to the Governments of Indonesia, the Islamic Republic of Iran
Special Rapporteur has continued to receive reports of extrajudicial killings
of children dwelling in disadvantaged communities in
Special Rapporteur acted on behalf of a variety of persons belonging to
national, ethnic, religious and/or linguistic minorities in their respective
countries. Communications were sent to
the Governments of Bolivia,
cause for continuing concern is the situation of indigenous communities in
various parts of
Special Rapporteur is increasingly concerned about the situation of the Falun
77. For a more detailed discussion regarding the issue of impunity, compensation and the right of victims, the Special Rapporteur refers to her earlier reports, in which she addressed these questions at length (e.g. E/CN.4/2000/3, sect. V.E, and E/CN.4/2001/9, sect. V.C).
78. It is a cause of great concern that in some countries impunity for serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, has become systematic and institutionalized. This is particularly the case when impunity is the direct product of amnesty laws passed in the interest of national reconciliation, explicitly exempting public officials, parliamentarians, paramilitary groups tolerated by the State, or certain categories of State agents from accountability or prosecution for grave human rights abuses.
79. During the period under review, the
Special Rapporteur, jointly with the Special Rapporteur on the question of
torture, transmitted an urgent appeal to the Government of Bangladesh
concerning a “Joint Drive Indemnity Ordinance 2003”, which was to be approved
by the Parliament in the form of a bill on
29 July 2003, the Special Rapporteur, jointly with the Special Rapporteur on
the promotion of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the Special
Rapporteur on the question of torture, transmitted a communication to the
Government of Gambia in connection with information received according to which
at least 14 people, including minors as well as a Gambia Red Cross volunteer
wearing a Red Cross insignia, had been killed, and dozens injured, some
severely, by security forces. They
allegedly made excessive and indiscriminate use of force to break up
demonstrations organized by the Gambian Students Union held on 10 and
81. Another cause of concern is the situation
82. In this connection, the Special Rapporteur believes that there should and can be no impunity for serious human rights abuses, particularly violations of the right to life, regardless of the past or present status or position of the alleged perpetrator. At the same time, in order to be effective and meaningful in fostering accountability among State officials and rulers, measures taken to prosecute human rights offenders cannot be selective, but must be part of broader policies aimed at promoting peace, social stability and respect for the law.
83. Furthermore, the Special Rapporteur wishes to recall that the Human Rights Committee has in its general comment 6 on article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as in numerous decisions, reaffirmed that States are obliged to investigate all human rights violations, particularly those affecting the physical integrity of the victim, to bring to justice those responsible for such abuses, to pay adequate compensation to the victims or their families, and to prevent the reoccurrence of such violations. This obligation is confirmed in other international human rights instruments, including the Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions and the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
84. In its resolution 2002/36, the Commission on Human Rights requested the Special Rapporteur to follow up on recommendations made in her reports after visits to particular countries. Consistent and adequate follow-up to recommendations is indeed a crucial element in the discharge of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate. Some selected recommendations are followed and the Special Rapporteur keeps herself informed of the developments in the countries she visited.
13 to 23 October the Special Rapporteur visited
Special Rapporteur visited
87. This report will be the last report of the Special Rapporteur to the Commission. She would like to express her deep appreciation to Governments who cooperated with her by replying to her communications and extending invitations for visits.
88. Her two terms in the discharge of her mandate have been rewarding but sometimes also trying. There were occasions when timely action by her saved lives and she finds that there is a growing awareness in civil society of the work of the Special Rapporteurs.
89. The Special Rapporteur had the opportunity to witness some remarkable acts of courage of ordinary people and saw the extraordinary work of a number of NGOs working for the protection and promotion of human rights. She nevertheless remains concerned as the overall situation relating to her mandate has by no means improved. In the last 11 months she has noticed a trend where excessive use of force is being used by Governments on the justification of defending the “security” of the country. There are a number of reports of the use of aerial bombardments or “target shooting” by security forces.
90. There are increasing reports of alleged extrajudicial killings of persons who form associations and are active in demanding economic rights.
91. The bulk of the reports received or information collected by the Special Rapporteur present a pattern. A number of reports of alleged extrajudicial or summary executions are received from countries where there is an ongoing armed conflict or is a recent post‑conflict situation. Similar reports are received from countries with authoritarian regimes and during the transition from dictatorships to democracy.
92. The Special Rapporteur has also noticed that extrajudicial or summary executions are also carried out with impunity in countries where governance is weak combined with a high rate of crime or where corruption is rampant. There is also a direct link between impunity and the lack of independence of the judicial system of a country.
93. The information that the Special Rapporteur receives presents some patterns. Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions are carried out mainly:
- in conflict and post-conflict situations;
- under authoritarian regimes;
- in transition from dictatorship to democracy;
- where there are serious lapses in governance, particularly in countries with a high crime rate;
- rampant corruption in government institutions; and
- in countries with weak and inefficient judicial systems that lack independence.
94. There are increasing reports of alleged extrajudicial killings of persons who form associations and are active in demanding their economic rights.
95. The Special Rapporteur was pleased that over the past six years there has been a virtual consensus that the death penalty should not be applied to children who were under the age of 18 years at the time of commission of the offence. This year she was pleased to report that the death penalty was not implemented on children. She hopes that the sentences awarded in the three countries mentioned in her report will not be implemented.
96. The recommendations in the Special Rapporteur’s previous report (E/CN.4/2003/3) should be considered and be read as part of the present report. In addition the Special Rapporteur wishes to present the following recommendations:
1. The United Nations is urged to strengthen early-warning mechanisms so that acts of genocide and crimes against humanity can be avoided;
2. Governments must not resort to aerial bombing, use of snipers or pre‑emptive strikes. The international community should take note of this growing tendency to use excessive force;
3. All orders to “shoot on sight” must only be given as a measure of very last resort to protect lives. Governments should review their policies and withdraw all general orders to security forces to “shoot on sight”;
4. All deaths in custody should be thoroughly investigated including carrying out of a post-mortem. Family members of the deceased must be immediately informed and they should be present to inspect the dead body before burial;
5. Law enforcement officials should receive in-depth training on human rights. They should be exposed to case studies and local human rights groups should be associated in preparing the training manuals and materials;
6. Governments should respect the people’s right to freedom of association and expression. Force should not be used to silence those who raise their voices against the arbitrary use of power by Governments;
7. Governments should maintain a data bank with precise information on reports of extrajudicial killings. It should include the conclusion drawn in each case and the profile of the victim or deceased. These statistics should be made available to the public;
8. The main reason for the perpetuation of the practice of “honour” killings is the lack of political will by Governments to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice. Governments are urged to make legislative changes to ensure that such killings receive no discriminatory treatment under the law and to sensitize their judiciary to gender issues. Those threatening the life of a female victim should be brought to justice. Correctional and custody homes run by Governments should not be permitted to detain forcibly women whose lives are at risk. Prisons should never be used to detain potential victims of honour killings;
9. The Special Rapporteur notes that the safeguards and guarantees for the protection of those facing capital punishment are not being followed in a large number of cases brought to her attention. She is also concerned at the lack of transparency and information on capital punishment and execution of death sentences. She, therefore, calls upon all retentionist Governments to impose a moratorium on executions and set up national commissions to report on the situation in the light of international standards and resolutions before executions are resumed. The execution of persons who were children, under the age of 18, at the time of the crime should be completely abolished.