Libya Must Not Chair UN Human Rights Commission | Freedom House

Libya Must Not Chair UN Human Rights Commission

New York

The United Nations should vote against Libya's candidacy for chairmanship of the upcoming session of the Commission on Human Rights, Freedom House said today.

On January 20, members of the commission vote for a new country to chair the proceedings of its next session, scheduled to begin in March. The Africa regional group was tasked with nominating a candidate. So far, Libya is the only candidate to be put forward.

"Mu'ammar Qadhafi's regime simply should not sit in judgment of those countries with decent human rights records," said Freedom House President, Adrian Karatnycky. "A country with such a gross record of human rights abuses should not direct the proceedings of the UN's main human rights monitoring body. This will undermine the UN's moral authority and send a strong and clear message to fellow rights violators that they are in the clear,"he said.

In a letter sent to UN ambassadors of democratic countries represented on the commission, Freedom House urged that they vote together to defeat the motion and force the Africa group to nominate a new candidate.

As the letter states:

"The United Nations itself has voiced concern over Libya's human rights practices including extra judicial and summary executions perpetrated by state agents, arbitrary arrest and long-term detention without trial, systematic use of torture and other ill-treatment or punishment, imposition of the death penalty for "political and economic offences," and numerous restrictions on freedom of expression and, in particular, the right to express opposition or criticism of the government."

The full text of the letter is available online.

The letter urges the ambassador's to honor their country's commitment to the Warsaw Declaration of the Community of Democracies (COD). The Declaration, which was reaffirmed in November 2002 in Seoul, calls upon democratic nations to uphold the principles of democracy, freedom, good governance, and accountability in international organizations, foremost among them, the United Nations.

"Out of the 53 member states of the Human Rights Commission, 32--a majority--are participants in the COD process. Libya's candidacy can be defeated if the democracies vote together," said Mr. Karatnycky.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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