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Statement by Alfred de Zayas at the UN PANEL on CAMP LIBERTY 28 FEBRUARY 2013
Prevention and urgent action remain a responsibility of the Human Rights Council and of the international community.  As we see from the tragic events of 9 February 2013, a continuing grave threat against the residents of Camp Liberty persists.
I  would like to draw attention to the findings of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which in its report of 4 May 2012 concluded:  “The conditions in Camp Liberty are synonymous with those in a detention centre, as residents have no freedom of movement, nor interaction with the outside world, nor do they have freedom of movement and the semblance of a free life within the Camp.  The situation of the residents of Camp Liberty are tantamount to that of detainees of prisons. The Working Group considers that there is no legal justification for holding the above-mentioned persons and other individuals in Camp Liberty, and that such detention is not in conformity with the standards and principles of international human rights law, and more specifically violates articles 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 9 and 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
I also wish to recall the statement issued by ten members of the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council, alerting the international community to the inacceptable conditions of detention at Camp Liberty and invoking the doctrine of responsibility to protect on behalf of these persons, who are refugees under international law.  These Advisory Committee members indicated inter alia that Camp Liberty does not satisfy human rights standards for a refugee centre, that the refugees are denied freedom of movement, free access to lawyers and to medical services.  The transfer process from Camp Ashraf to Camp liberty has been inhuman and humiliating.  According to the members of the Advisory Committee, the Iraqi Government has deprived asylum seekers from access to potable water and electricity, open sewage tanks produce intolerable stench and pollution and threaten the health of the residents.
What consequences should be drawn from this continuing humanitarian crisis?  The Human Rights Council should condemn the rocket assault on Camp Liberty of 9 February 2013 and engage Special Procedures in urgent action.  It should call upon the Special Representative of the Secretary General to uphold the human rights of the asylum seekers and ensure their safety.  As it is today, Camp Liberty is not a refugee camp but an unhygienic and inhuman internment camp.  The international community must find a sustainable solution for the asylum seekers of Camps Ashraf and Liberty.  In this context I wish to recall the statement by the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navy Pillay on 15 April 2011, urging Governments to take the necessary pragmatic and generous steps to resolve what is an untenable situation.

In conclusion, as Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, I too call on Governments and civil society to take all necessary measures to protect the lives and property of these endangered human beings, who are entitled to a durable solution, human dignity, UNHCR refugee status and prompt resettlement in safety and dignity in countries of refuge.  I thank you.

 

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