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Abusers Join UN Body

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Abusers Join UN Body

National Post, Nov. 13, 2013

Six countries criticized as being among the world’s worst human rights abusers were elected to the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday.

“This is a black day for human rights,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based UN watchdog in a statement.

“The UN sent a message that politics trumps human rights, and it let down millions of victims worldwide who look to the world body for protection. The UN General Assembly elected egregious human rights abusers China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Cuba, and Vietnam to the UN Human Rights Council, dealing a severe blow to the credibility and efficacy of a body that was supposed to improve on its discredited predecessor.”

He said putting Saudi Arabia on the council was “like a town making a pyromaniac into chief of the fire department.” Human Rights Watch noted that five of the new council members — China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Algeria — have refused to let UN investigators visit to check alleged abuses. China, Russia and Algeria have 10 or more unfulfilled requests for visits by UN experts, some dating back to 2000. Saudi Arabia and Vietnam each have seven outstanding requests.

“Countries that haven’t allowed UN experts appointed by the council to visit have a lot of explaining to do,” said Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director of the New York-based group. “It’s like hiring someone, then not allowing them to enter the office.” A report by UN Watch showed how the six countries failed in three critical areas — freedom, government, and treatment of the press.

(For details comparing freedom in Algeria, China, Cuba, Russia, S. Arabia and Vietnam, see the National Post, Nov. 12, 2013, p. 11….Ed.)

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