Human Rights Abusers Poised to Take Seats on UN Council
Gabon, Bahrain, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zambia do not deserve a seat on the Human Rights Council, the United Nations’ top rights body, the non-governmental organizations UN Watch and Freedom House said May 6. In a joint report, the two NGOS, which champion human rights worldwide, lamented that Gabon and Zambia were guaranteed seats on the council because of a lack of competition from more democratic countries in their African group. Their report was unveiled here as the UN General Assembly is set to elect 15 new members of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council (HRC) – one third of its membership – on May 21. “Democratic countries are squandering a golden opportunity to promote human rights through this important UN body,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch. “Instead they lend international credibility to repressive governments that routinely violate the rights of their own citizens.” In addition to the council report, Freedom House released Worst of the Worst: The World’s Most Repressive Societies 2008, and UN Watch launched 2007-2008 Scorecard: How HRC Members Voted. Freedom House Advocacy Director Paula Schriefer said the council’s membership already includes three countries?China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia?listed on Freedom House’s Worst of the Worst report, a reality that has so far prevented the council from carrying out its stated work.
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