U.S. outraged Cameroon, Eritrea, Philippines, other chronic human rights abusers elected to UN Human Rights Council

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The United States on Friday blasted the United Nations after the UN General Assembly elected chronic human rights abusers into its controversial Human Rights Council.

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“Today, the U.N. chose new members for the Human Rights Council. Yet again, countries with poor human rights records ran uncontested. This lack of standards continues to undermine the organization and demonstrates again why the United States was right to withdraw from it earlier this year,” outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said in a statement on Friday.

The 18 new members, selected from five regional blocs of countries, include six countries classified by U.N. Watch, a human rights watch group based in Switzerland, as human rights abusers.

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These six countries are Cameroon, Somalia, Eritrea, Bangladesh, Philippines and Bahrain.

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These six human rights abusers will join other countries with poor human rights records such as Cuba, China, Qatar and Saudi Arabia on the world’s top human rights body.

Haley cited the inclusion of these countries as evidence that the U.S. was right to withdraw from the body earlier this year.

“The United States will continue to support reforms that would make the Human Rights Council credible. More importantly, the United States will continue to be the world’s human rights leader regardless of the suspect composition and poor decisions of the Human Rights Council,” Haley, who is stepping down from her role in January after announcing her resignation this week, added in her statement published by multiple media outlets. 

In June this year, while announcing the United States’ departure from the UN Human Rights Council, Haley called for reforms, explaining that human rights abusers were being protected by the same body claiming to protect human rights.

“For too long the human rights council has been a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias,” she said back then.

Just before the vote, Human Rights Watch said the election risks undermining the council’s effectiveness and credibility.

“UN member countries should show their outrage at the Philippines and Eritrea by leaving two spots on the ballot sheet blank and keeping them off the council,” said Louis Charbonneau, U.N. director at Human Rights Watch. “Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s abusive ‘war on drugs’ has been a killing frenzy that has left thousands dead. In Eritrea, the authorities persecute and jail government critics and force citizens into indefinite national service.”

Eritrea has been widely condemned as one of the most repressive countries in the world”.

Fox News recalled that a report to the Human Rights Council last year by a U.N. special rapporteur condemned Eritrea for its “indefinite length of conscription” and said that the government had “an ongoing unwillingness to meet its obligations and commitments under regional and international human rights instruments.” 

Many would also be outraged that Cameroon was elevated to the Human Rights Council. 

Mr Biya’s regime has repeatedly violated human rights in various parts of the countries and sent many activists and journalists into exile. 

In the Anglophone region where armed separatists are in a running battle with security forces,  Mr Biya’s soldiers have been burning villages and killing many civilians. Tens of thousands have fled into neighboring Nigeria. 

In September, TODAY NEWS AFRICA’s Simon Ateba asked the United Nations why it was admitting countries such as Cameroon to its Human Rights Council while clear violations were being perpetrated every day there. There was no clear answer.

Farhan Haq, a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, told Fox News the matter was a question for the member states themselves, reported Fox News.

“Ultimately we don’t evaluate or second guess the decisions made by member states,” he said. “They are the ones who chose to run people for these seats and their the governments who vote for them”.

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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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