UN RIGHTS CHIEF SLAMS CANADA WHILE HANDING PROPAGANDA COUP TO PAKISTAN AND ZIMBABWE

UN Watch Testimony before the 20th session of the UN Human Rights Council, delivered under Agenda Item 2 (High Commissioner’s Report), 18 June 2012. Audio.

Thank you, Madam President.

UN Watch welcomes the human rights documentation in the High Commissioner’s report, which only underscores the need for this council to address the world’s worst violators.

In Syria, President Assad is slaughtering his own people. The UN monitors, sent in to help stop the violence, have suspended their mission because, as they explained it, there was too much violence.

All UN agencies must now send a clear message that the Assad regime has no legitimacy. Yet the very opposite message was sent when UNESCO recently elected Syria to its human rights committee.

In protest, 55 MPs and human rights groups, led by UN Watch, have called for this shameful act to be reversed. We commend the U.S. and Britain for their support, and we call on the High Commissioner to speak out as well.

Zimbabwe is another dire situation, with extrajudicial killings of dissenters, enforced disappearances and torture.  When the High Commissioner visited the country last month, her call for the removal of sanctions became the top headline. With respect, we disagree on the merits, as well as on the timing.

Despite ZANU-PF misinformation, sanctions target specific individuals, not the whole country. That is why so many human rights activists and experts oppose granting Mugabe a propaganda coup.

Similarly, during the High Commissioner’s visit to Pakistan two weeks ago, her statement criticizing U.S. drone attacks against Al Qaeda was the top headline—and not Pakistan’s extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and violent attacks against Christians, Shia, Ahmadis, and other Muslim and non-Muslim minorities.

Finally, we were surprised by the reference in the High Commissioner’s report to a Canadian law on demonstrations. In the global context of massive, systematic and urgent human rights abuses, this is a marginal case—one that’s already being reviewed by a Quebec court—and in no way merits UN intervention at this time.

Thank you, Madam President.

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