GENEVA, March 7 – With the Libyan regime deploying hired guns to massacre its own people, the UN Human Rights Council was urged today to fire Najat Al-Hajjaji, a long-time mouthpiece of Col. Muammar Qaddafi, from her post as a council investigator on human rights violations by mercenaries.
“Every day she stays with the UN Human Rights Council is an insult to the victims of Qaddafi’s murderous regime,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights group that initiated the successful campaign to suspend Libya as a member of the 47-nation council.
“At a time when Qaddafi is using mercenaries to kill his own people, it is outrageous that one of his long-time representatives would sit on the world’s highest human rights body as a supposed defender of human rights — and, of all things, as a defender of victims of mercenaries,” said Neuer.
Since 2005, Ms. Al-Hajjaji has served on the council’s 5-person “Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights.” Click here for UN website listing Al-Hajjaji at bottom.
“For more than a decade, Al-Hajjaji whitewashed the crimes of the Qaddafi regime as its representative to UN human rights bodies in Geneva,” said Neuer. In 2003, human rights groups universally condemned her election as Chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights. Al-Hajjaji’s tenure was widely seen as the last straw in the decline of its credibility, with Kofi Annan saying soon afterward that member states had joined to shield their records of abuse.
In April 2009, when the Al-Hajjaji chaired the planning committee of the UN’s World Conference on Racism, she silenced testimony by a victim of the Qaddafi regime, who was tortured together with five Bulgarian nurses under trumped-up charges of infecting Benghazi children with HIV. (Click here for original video; click here for France 24 video.)
In a letter sent today to UN chief Ban Ki-moon, UN rights commissioner Navi Pillay, and UNHRC president Sihasak Phuangketkeow, UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer demanded that the officials take immediate action to expel Al-Hajjaji from the Human Rights Council. Neuer also urged action in letters sent to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and EU foreign minister Catherine Ashton.