Qaddafi rep panics and cuts off torture victim testimony

United Nations Durban Review Conference
Preparatory Committee, Third Substantive Session
17 April 2009, Geneva

Statement by United Nations Watch
Delivered by Ashraf Ahmed El-Hojouj

Thank you, Madame Chair.

I don’t know if you recognize me. I am the Palestinian medical intern who was scapegoated by your country, Libya, in the HIV case in the Benghazi hospital, together with the five Bulgarian nurses.

LIBYAN CHAIR NAJJAT AL-HAJJAJI, BANGING ON GAVEL: The speaker… please be kind enough to be committed to the principle and the objective of the conference when you take the floor… The event that you have mentioned is not one of the principles and objectives of the conference and is not related to it at all. Please only confine yourself to the objective of the conference.

[Victim resumes testimony]

Section 1 of the draft declaration for this conference speaks about victims of racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance. Based on my own suffering, I wish to offer some proposals.

Starting in 1999, as you know, the five nurses and I were falsely arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned, brutally tortured, convicted, and sentenced to death.

LIBYAN CHAIR NAJJAT AL-HAJJAJI, AGAIN BANGING ON GAVEL: Distinguished speaker… either you commit yourself to the subject matter of racism, racial discrimination, intolerance, xenophobia, and I will give you a chance and an opportunity to take the floor, only in the framework of the objectives and principles of the conference… however, if you include any other events outside the framework of the objectives of the conference, you will be interrupted again, and you will not be given the floor again. This is the last time I give you the floor. You have the floor now. You have the floor, sir.

[Victim resumes testimony]

All of this, which lasted for nearly a decade, was for only one reason: because the Libyan government was looking to scapegoat foreigners. Madame Chair, if that is not discrimination, then what is?

On the basis of my personal experience, I would like to propose the following amendments regarding remedies, redress, and compensatory measures:

One: The United Nations should condemn countries that scapegoat, falsely arrest, and torture vulnerable minorities.

Two: Countries that have committed such crimes must recognize their past, and issue an official, public, and unequivocal apology to the victims.

Three: In accordance with Article 2, paragraph 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, such countries must provide victims of discrimination with an appropriate remedy, including adequate compensation for material and immaterial damage.

Madame Chair, Libya told this conference that it practices no inequality or discrimination.

But then how do you account for what was done to me, to my colleagues, and to my family, who gave over thirty years serving your country, only to be kicked out from their home, threatened with death, and subjected to state terrorism?

LIBYAN CHAIR NAJJAT AL-HAJJAJI, AGAIN BANGING ON GAVEL: I apologize to the speaker for this interruption, there is a point of order by Libya, you have the floor, sir.

LIBYAN DIPLOMAT: I thank you very much, Madame President. I hope to stop this speaker because he is taking the floor outside the framework of the outcome document that is under discussion. Thank you very much.

LIBYAN CHAIR NAJJAT AL-HAJJAJI: I thank you sir, I thank the distinguished representative of Libya. Now I give the floor to the distinguished representative of the Arab Commission for Human Rights. You have the floor, sir.

[Due to the unjustified cut-off by the Chair, the following portions were unable to be read.]

How can your government chair the planning committee for a world conference on discrimination, when it is on the list of the world’s worst of the worst, when it comes to discrimination and human rights violations?

When will your government recognize their crimes, apologize to me, to my colleagues, and to our families?

This week, at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, the five nurses and I will present our complaint and compensation claim against Libya, filed with the UN Human Rights Committee, the highest international tribunal for individual petitions.

The slogan for this Conference is “Dignity and justice for all.” Does this include your own country’s victims of discrimination?

Thank you, Madame Chair.

UN Watch