Sri Lanka, Pakistan, unfit for Human Rights Council: rights bodies

UNITED NATIONS , May 6, 2008 (AFP) – Gabon, Bahrain, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zambia do not deserve a seat on the Human Rights Council, the United Nations’ top rights body, two non-governmental organizations said Tuesday. In a joint report, UN Watch and Freedom House, which champion human rights worldwide, lamented that Gabon and Zambia were guaranteed seats on the council because of a lack of competition from more democratic countries in their African group.

Their report was unveiled here as the UN General Assembly is set to elect 15 new members of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council (HRC) — one third of its membership — on May 21.

“Democratic countries are squandering a golden opportunity to promote human rights through this important UN body,” Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, told reporters.

“Instead they lend international credibility to repressive governments that routinely violate the rights of their own citizens.”

Paula Schriefer, the advocacy director of Freedom House, noted the HRC already includes three countries — China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia — listed on her organization’s “Worst of the Worst” 2008 report on the world’s most repressive societies.

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