Issue 555: UN Watch Recent Media Impact

MEDIA IMPACT: In a report presented at a United Nations press conference last week, UN Watch exposed the election of even more non-democracies to the UN Human Rights Council. Out of 47 countries, the incoming 2016 membership of the UNHRC will have just 18 that qualify as free democracies – the lowest number in the council’s history. UN Watch’s report was covered worldwide, including in a major story in Newsweek, a video interview with Wall Street Journal TV, an editorial in the New York Daily News, and by Spain’s EFE, Switzerland’s ATS, and Radio Free Asia. Excerpts follow below.

 WORLD

Rights Group Criticizes Election of UAE, Venezuela and Kyrgyzstan to U.N. Human Rights Council

A number of countries criticized by rights groups for serious human rights abuses against their citizens were elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday, weeks after a Saudi Arabian representative was elected head of a key human rights panel amid international outcry.
Eighteen countries—Belgium, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Panama, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Switzerland, Togo, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela—were elected by the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday for three-year terms on the council, which begin on January 1, 2016. The Human Rights Council is “responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing the situations of human rights violations and making recommendations on them,” the U.N. said in a statement released Wednesday.

U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based group that monitors the U.N, said it considers only nine of the 21 countries that were candidates for election to the council as eligible, based on their human rights record. A number of the countries elected, including Burundi, Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates, have authoritarian regimes. Human rights records of other elected countries include violence against women, human trafficking and limits on freedom of expression and assembly, U.N. Watch said in a report published ahead of the elections on Wednesday.

The United Arab Emirates’s poor treatment of its migrant workers has made international headlines over the past few years, while men are legally allowed to beat their wives, according to U.N. Watch. In Venezuela, activists and students continued to be detained and jailed in overcrowded prisons and the media is heavily censored.
Domestic violence in the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan was the recent focus of a Human Rights Watch report. The country continues to carry out torture, while Kyrgyzstan’s LGBT population face violence and discrimination, according to Human Rights Watch. The U.S. State Department’s 2014 human rights country reports also says torture, arbitrary arrest and harassment of nongovernmental organizations, journalists and activists are persistent problems in the country.

In September, U.N. Watch similarly criticized the U.N.’s appointment of Faisal bin Hassan Trad of Saudi Arabia to the head of the panel that oversees the Human Rights Council. Saudi Arabia executed more than 90 people in 2014 and sentenced blogger Raif Badawi to more than 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam” earlier this year.

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Pakistan Loses UN Human Rights Council Election
NDTV – ‎Oct 29, 2015‎
According to a report by UN Watch, Human Rights Foundations, and the Lantos Foundation, Pakistan, UAE, Burundi and Ecuador were cited by human rights groups for having committed serious violations of numerous articles of the Universal Declaration of …

A closeup look at the UN Human Rights council explains its betrayal of rights
World Tribune
Hillel Neuer of UN Watch stated emphatically, “The election of even more rights abusing regimes on a body that already counts China, Russia, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia as members — marks another severe blow the credibility and efficacy of a body that is supposed to improve on its discredited predecessor, by taking action to protect victims. It’s a black day for human rights.”

Rogues’ gallery as UN elects a slew of human rights-abusing countries to Human Rights Council
New York Daily News
What do Burundi, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Togo, Kyrgyzstan and the United Arab Emirates have in common? Two things. First, they severely crimp freedom. A partial rundown, according to UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization

Escalade des attaques contre les opposants au Venezuela
Agence Télégraphique Suisse
“L’élection du Venezuela et d’autres régimes violant les droits de l’homme comme les Emirats, l’Equateur et l’Ethiopie est un nouveau coup sérieux pour la crédibilité et l’efficacité d’un Conseil qui compte déjà la Chine, la Russie, Cuba et l’Arabie saoudite parmi ses membres”, a déclaré le directeur d’UN Watch Hillel Neuer.
Venezuela y Ecuador estarán en el Consejo de DDHH de la ONU pese a críticas
EFE
“La elección de más regímenes que abusan los derechos humanos -en un órgano que ya tiene como miembros a China, Rusia, Cuba y Arabia Saudí- supone otro duro golpe a la credibilidad y eficacia de un órgano que debía mejorar a su desacreditado predecesor tomando medidas para proteger a las víctimas”, dijo en un comunicado el director ejecutivo de UN Watch, Hillel Neuer.

Radio Free Asia
The setback for Laos came after a report on the eve of the U.N. vote by three human rights groups – U.N. Watch, Human Rights Foundation and the Lantos Foundation – listed the Southeast Asian country among nine candidates whose records on human rights, press freedom, and other factors made them unsuitable for the council. Of the countries given black marks by the rights groups, however, Burundi, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, Togo, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela were elected to serve three years on the council.

Korea re-elected to United Nations Human Rights Council
Newzy – ‎Oct 29, 2015‎
“It’s a black day for human rights”, said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer. Other members elected were: (African States): Togo, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Burund; (Latin America/Caribbean States): Panama, Ecuador and Venezuela…
 

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