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SWC Urges OAS To Establish Terrorist Watchlist For Hemisphere

June 6, 2006


Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic -- Sergio Widder (SWC’s Latin American Representative and delegate of the Center at the General Assembly) urged delegates at the Santo Domingo meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS), that the OAS should establish a watchlist of terrorist organizations. The Center also urged that Hamas be declared a terrorist organization in the Americas, and that its members be barred from the Hemisphere unless and until it recognizes the right to exist of the State of Israel, abandons its terrorist violence, drop its antisemitic charter and commit to a peace process with the Jewish state.

"Argentina was targeted by international terrorism in 1992 and 1994, linked to the Iranian regime," Widder reminded delegates. Argentine Foreign Minister Taiana responded that “Argentina expressed to Venezuela, its reservations regarding Iran because of their (Iran's) lack of cooperation in the investigations of the terrorist attacks in Buenos Aires.”
Mr. Widder added that the “digital gap” between richer and poorer countries was one of the main issues addressed at the General Assembly. Regarding this matter, Widder said, “Initiatives to facilitate the access to modern information technologies must include measures to prevent the use of the Internet for recruiting young people for terrorist groups, something that our Center has exposed in its Digital Terror and Hate 2006 CD-ROM."

Photo: SWC South American Representative, Sergio Widder and Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jorge Taiana, at the 36th OAS General Assembly, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS and the Council of Europe.

Related Story:

Human Rights Focus of OAS Talks
By Brian Wagner (for Voice of America)

Santo Domingo
07 June 2006

Human rights concerns were the focus of talks on the final day of a meeting of the Organization of American States. Some human rights groups say the OAS should do more to address terrorist threats, racism and violence against women. There is also concern that a funding shortfall at the OAS may threaten its human rights activities.

OAS delegates gathered on the third and final day of the General Assembly for an assessment of human rights conditions in the Americas. The president of the group's Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Evelio Fernandez, noted several improvements in the region, including measures to prevent violence against women in Jamaica and Chile. And he praised Honduras and Colombia for ratifying a treaty to combat political killings.

But Fernandez told delegates there is still much room for improvement.

He says there are still serious obstacles to human rights in the hemisphere, especially because of weak legal systems in several countries. He adds that poor living conditions prevent residents of many nations from enjoying their social and economic rights. Fernandez also noted ongoing violence by leftist rebels in Colombia, lack of security in Haiti and the jailing of political dissidents in Cuba.

The United States Ambassador to OAS, John Maisto, took note of conditions in Cuba, such as as continued restrictions on freedom of expression and failures in the justice system.

"For 47 years, the people of Cuba have lived under a dictatorship that has shown time and again that beneath its rhetoric there is no respect for the fundamental rights of the individual," said John Maisto.

Maisto also drew comparisons between Cuba and the current government in Venezuela, which frequently has been at odds with Washington. He criticized Caracas for failing to respond to a request from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to visit the country.

Commission president Fernandez also called on Venezuela to respond to its request. And he expressed concern that the goal of human rights protection is being threatened by a lack of funding from the OAS.

Fernandez says with a staff of only 17 lawyers, the commission cannot fulfill its mandate to investigate cases, complete reports and visit countries throughout the region.

OAS Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza told delegates that funding problems remain a concern, and officials are studying a possible increase in dues from member states to avoid cuts in OAS activities.

Human rights groups at the OAS meeting have already accused the organization of failing to address their concerns. And Sergio Widder, Latin America representative for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told VOA that possible financial cuts are a serious worry.

He said funding for the commission should not be cut, because its human rights activities are the final guarantee for protections of civil rights and human rights.

Widder said his group was calling on the Organization of American States to create a list of terrorist groups for the Americas, and said the Palestinian group Hamas should be included. He said Venezuela's government has invited Hamas members to visit the South American nation.

He said allowing terrorist group members into Latin America is a threat, and should be opposed before it's too late, especially following terrorist attacks in Argentina, such as the bombing of a Jewish community center in 1994.

The final task for delegates from the 34 nations of the OAS was the signing of a declaration in support of expanding technology and communication systems across the region. The next General Assembly is set to take place in Panama next year.


Santo Domingo, 6 de junio de 2006
Solicitud del Centro Wiesenthal a la Asamblea General de la OEA:
“Las Américas deben establecer una lista de organizaciones terroristas e impedir el ingreso de delegados de Hamas al territorio hemisférico”

El Centro Simon Wiesenthal, como organización no gubernamental acreditada ante la OEA, participa en la 36a Asamblea General de la OEA que tiene lugar en Santo Domingo, República Dominicana.

Sergio Widder (Representante para América Latina del Centro Wiesenthal y delegado del mismo ante la Asamblea General), reclamó a los delegados gubernamentales presentes en Santo Domingo que la OEA establezca una lista de organizaciones consideradas como terroristas en las Américas. El Centro solicitó, asimismo, que Hamas sea catalogado como un grupo terrorista y que se impida el ingreso de delegados de dicho grupo a los respectivos territorios de los países miembros de la OEA, en tanto persista en su no reconocimiento del derecho a existir del Estado de Israel, no abandone las prácticas violentas y no se sume a un proceso de paz.

Durante un diálogo con el Canciller argentino Jorge Taiana, Widder transmitió la preocupación del Centro por el apoyo de Argentina a la candidatura de Venezuela para integrar el Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU. “Venezuela es el principal socio de Irán en la región y ha defendido el programa nuclear iraní. Argentina fue víctima del terrorismo internacional en 1992 y 1994, y hay firmes sospechas acerca de la posible participación de Irán en esos hechos”, señaló el Centro. Taiana respondió que, pese al apoyo a la candidatura de Venezuela, “Argentina ha hecho saber a ese país sus reservas acerca de Irán, debido a su falta de cooperación en las investigaciones de los ataques terroristas en Buenos Aires”.

Uno de los principales temas abordados en la Asamblea General es a “brecha digital” entre los países más ricos y los más pobres. Sobre este asunto, Widder señaló que “las iniciativas dirigidas a facilitar el acceso a las tecnologías modernas de comunicación deben tener en cuenta medidas para prevenir el uso de Internet para reclutar jóvenes para grupos terroristas, algo que nuestro Centro ha denunciado a través de sus informes acerca del odio digital que se editan anualmente”.

El Centro Simon Wiesenthal es una organización judía internacional de derechos humanos con más de 400.000 miembros en todo el mundo. Tiene status de ONG ante la ONU, la UNESCO, la OEA, la OSCE y el Consejo de Europa.