China, Russia among 14 nations elected to UNHRC
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Last Updated: Wednesday, November 13, 2013, 00:40
  
United Nations: China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Cuba today won an election to the UN Human Rights Council amid protests by various rights groups that these nations "systematically violate" the human rights of their own citizens and should not be allowed to serve on the body.

The UN General Assembly voted here through a secret ballot to elect 14 new members to the 47-member Geneva-based Council for a three-year term.

The other countries that won the election are Algeria, Britain, France, the Maldives, Macedonia, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, South Africa and Vietnam.

The new members will begin their terms on January 1 2014.

Among the current members of the Council are Argentina, India, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Brazil, Germany, Japan, Kazakhstan, Italy, Kuwait, United States, Pakistan, the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates.

Ahead of the election, rights groups like UN Watch and Human Rights Foundation said 12 of the 16 candidates in fray to sit on the UN rights watchdog "fail" to meet the UN's own basic criteria for membership on the council.

"China, Cuba, Russia, and Saudi Arabia systematically violate the human rights of their own citizens," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch.

"And they consistently vote the wrong way on UN initiatives to protect the human rights of others."

"For the UN to elect Saudi Arabia as a world judge on human rights would be like making a pyromaniac the fire chief."

Neuer said it is regrettable that neither the US nor the EU have said anything about the "hypocritical candidacies" that will "undermine the credibility and?effectiveness of the UN human rights system."

" By turning a blind eye as human rights violators easily join and subvert the council, leading democracies will be complicit in the world body's moral decline," Neuer said

"It will be an insult to their political prisoners and many other victims and a defeat for the global cause of human rights ? if the UN helps gross abusers act as champions and global judges of human rights. When the UN's highest human rights body becomes a case of the foxes guarding the henhouse, the world's victims suffer," said Neuer.

Dissidents from some of the countries have also voiced concern over their election to the Human Rights Council.

Chen Guangcheng, Chinese rights activist and former political prisoner said ahead of the vote that China wants to join the UNHRC "not to promote human rights, but rather to prevent democracies from questioning their human rights record."

Another Chinese dissident, Yang Jianli, who is a former political prisoner and president of Initiatives for China questioned as to how democracies could "vote with a straight face" to place China "the world's leading human rights violator" on the UN body charged with protecting human rights.

Saudi scholar Ali Al-Ahmed who founded the Gulf Institute and was once the Saudi Kingdom's youngest political prisoner at age of 14 said the Saudi Monarchy is?"at war with its people" leading to the continued arrest of more than 20,000 political prisoners in Saudi jails, some for more than 10 years.

"Torture is common and has lead to the death of few dozen over the years. Any government that supports the Saudi Monarchy membership to the UN Human Rights Council also supports racism and xenophobia," Al-Ahmed said.

Rosa Maria Paya, a Cuban dissident heading a global campaign to investigate the mysterious death of her father legendary Cuban democracy leader Oswaldo Paya, said the presence in the Human Rights Council of the Chinese, the Russian, the Saudi and the Cuban regimes, is "disappointing" for the victims of repression, and sends a "message of complicity" from the international community.

PTI

First Published: Wednesday, November 13, 2013, 00:40


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