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Middle east

UN to investigate human rights abuses

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-03-24

The UN Human Rights Council voted to step up international scrutiny of Iran Thursday by appointing a special investigator to monitor the country’s alleged human rights abuses, including an increase in executions since the disputed June 2009 election.

AP – The United Nations’ top human rights body appointed a special investigator to look into human rights abuses in Iran, overcoming resistance from nations that considered it meddling with that country’s internal affairs.

 The vote marks the first time since it was formed five years ago that the U.N. Human Rights Council has created a new such investigative position for a U.N. member nation, rather than merely extend the mandate of a previously existing one.
All of the previous country-specific investigators were created by the former U.N. Commission on Human Rights, a body long criticized for being dominated by countries with dubious rights records that the new council replaced.
Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, the U.S. representative at the council, told members before the voting that the U.S. and other countries “are gravely concerned about the situation in Iran, where respect for fundamental human rights has deteriorated dramatically in recent years.”
The proposal championed by the United States and Sweden won approval in a 22-7 vote at the council. As many as 14 nations abstained, and four of the council’s 47 nations did not participate.
Iran and Pakistan echoed what has been a widely held view on the council that such posts are an unnecessary intrusion into their internal affairs. But with the uprisings in North Africa and the Arab world, some of these governments have been persuaded to take action against dictators like Moammar Gadhafi.
The vote came after diplomats and observers said the council gained fresh legitimacy last month when it voted for the first time to ostracize one of its members - Libya - because of the regime’s abuse of its people. Iran, on the other hand, is not a member.
Donahoe also said that a new human rights investigator could help the council figure out how to respond to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s report last September that concluded that Iranian authorities had engaged in “an intensified crackdown on human rights defenders, women’s rights activists, journalists, and government opponents.”
She noted that the report also cited amputations, floggings and acts of torture carried out by the Iranian government including sentencing men and women to death by stoning.
Iran’s U.N. mission disagreed, saying that the United States has committed human rights abuses against Palestinians by supporting Israel, against Afghan civilians and against secretly-held detainees who also have been tortured.
The United States joined the council only last year after the Obama administration reversed the previous Bush administration’s stance that there was nothing to be gained by taking part in an organization long dominated by adversarial developing nations and powers opposed to Israel.
The council also voted separately 30-3 to extend the mandate of its special human rights investigator on North Korea for another year. Eleven nations abstained from that vote, and three did not participate.


Date created : 2011-03-24

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