Ngawang C. Drakmargyapon
Phayul Special Correspondent
United Nations, Geneva, 28 October – Last Friday, the website of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) linking to the 41st session of the UN Committee Against Torture
suddenly withdrew a Tibetan report after it was released on the site almost 10 days ago.
The report "The Continuing Use of Torture against the Tibetan Peoples" was withdrawn from the UN website last Friday
"It seems this UN decision was taken at the highest level of the administration which also involved the office of the UN Secretary-General," one reliable source in New York told Phayul
. "I guess China exerted more pressure when the High Commissioner for Human Rights was here to address the General Assembly," the source added.
This Tibetan report titled: "The Continuing Use of Torture against the Tibetan Peoples," was submitted to the Committee Against Torture (CAT) in September by the Central Tibetan Administration's (Tibetan Government in Exile) Department of Information and International Relations through its office in Geneva.
"We regret this decision but remain confident that our report will be in the dossier of the 10 independent Members of the Committee," said Mr. Tseten Samdup Chhoekyapa, the Representative of H. H. the Dalai Lama at Tibet Bureau in Geneva.
However, the report by the International Campaign for Tibet and that of Human Rights in China remained on the website despite the demands from China for their withdrawal. A report submitted by the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress is yet to appear on the UN website.
Sources also reveal that since early August, the Chinese authorities through its Missions in Geneva and New York, has been putting unprecedented pressure on the Committee Against Torture over the submission of reports by NGOs without UN Consultative Status. China wanted the Committee not to accept or publish reports from such NGOs in relation to China's Fourth Periodic Report which the Committee is scheduled to consider on 7 and 10 November.
More specifically, China was challenging the working method of the Committee which states: "Under rule 62 of its Rules of Procedure, the Committee invites NGOs to submit information relevant to its activities. The information is usually submitted in writing. Copy of it is brought to the attention of the State concerned unless the authors object. This practice allows the State party to be better prepared to respond to questions that may be posed by the Committee on the basis of such information. NGOs may also brief Committee members orally during the session. Such briefings, devoted to one country at the time, are organized outside the formal meetings of the Committee and are limited to the attendance of Committee members only."
The Committee, as expected, remained firm to safeguard its independent working methods and refused to comply with China's demands, according to one NGO representative in Geneva. "What is at stake here is the attempt by governments to undermine the Treaty Body mechanism's working methods when it comes to interaction with NGOs and other stakeholders."
The last report submitted by the Central Tibetan Administration to the Committee Against Torture was in April 2000 while in July 2001, the exiled Tibetan Government submitted another report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).