UNITED NATIONS, N. Y (Jan. 21)
Seven international organizations representing Jewish, Catholic, women’s peace and general human rights interests urged the United Nations today to adopt a pending report calling upon all governments to grant the right to any of their nationals to leave their country or to return thereto.
The report, written by Judge Jose D. Ingles, of the Philippines, is the subject of ardent debate before the current session of the Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. Since Judge Ingles presented his lengthy report last week, it has been interpreted by many speakers as being aimed, in part, against the Soviet Union’s restrictions on Jews wishing to emigrate from the USSR, to Israel or any other place.
Calling Judge Ingles’ report “a vitally significant contribution to the cause of human rights, ” the seven organizations, all of which have consultative status at the UN with the right to intervene in the debate but not to vote, told the Sub-Commission in a memorandum submitted today that “the study’s disclosures of regrettable retrogressive trends in an area affecting a basic human right serves to focus attention on the need for the kind of national and international action” proposed by Judge Ingles.
The memorandum also endorsed a suggestion by Judge Ingles that, in cases where a person believes his rights to leave his country have been violated by his own government, he could appeal his case “before an independent and impartial body.”
The signers of the memorandum included the Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations-a group representing here B’nai B’rith and the British Board of Jewish Deputies-the International Catholic Migration Commission, the International League for the Rights of Man, Pax Romana (Catholic), Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations and the International Humanist and Ethical Union.
The memorandum called attention to a statement in the Ingles report which noted that refusal by a country to let its nationals leave “inevitably infringes on other basic rights. It listed some of these rights as the freedom “to practice religion” or to “associate with relatives.” The CBJO’s documents, introduced last week, had spelled out the denials to Russian Jews of the right to reunite with their families in Israel or to practice their religion freely inside the USSR.
ORTHODOX JEWISH ORGANIZATION PRESENTS VIEWS BEFORE U.N. BODY
Another criticism of the Soviet Union’s anti-Jewish restrictions-but without mentioning the USSR by name, in accordance with the Sub-Commission’s rules-was voiced today at the UN Sub-Commission by Dr. Isaac Lewin, representative here of the Agudas Israel World Organization. The latter, like the other non-governmental organizations that submitted the memorandum, also has consultative status.
Dr. Lewin’s statement directed itself particularly against the USSR’s claims that it keeps Jews from emigrating as a matter of preserving “public order.” Obviously referring to the wish of Russian Jews to emigrate to Israel, he told the Sub-Commission: “If, for example, a person wants to join the family abroad, practically no restrictions should be stipulated. It is a matter of pure humanitarianism, and all restrictions should be waived in this case.”
Indicating that Jews find it difficult to practice their religion freely in the Soviet Union, the Agudah representative argued: “If a person has no possibility to live in accordance with the religion one professes, how could such a person be forced to continue to live in the country? How could a Jew be forced to stay in a country where the synagogues are being closed, or where he cannot bake matzoh? Is it not an act of simple righteousness to open the doors of the country for such persons, and let them go?”
To help wipe out restrictions, Dr. Lewin suggested the inclusion in the Ingles report of a “restrictive” clause which would read: “If such restrictions are imposed on emigration, full freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the right of religious practice, must be safeguarded in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”