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    UN Rights Official Blames Trump, Assad, Venezuela, Turkey, jihadists

    Top U.N. Rights Official Denounces Growing Efforts to Block His Monitoring


    Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the high commissioner for human rights at the United Nations, in Geneva, in August. He said on Tuesday that some member states often invoked what he described as spurious arguments that human rights inquiries violated national sovereignty. Credit Pierre Albouy/Reuters

    GENEVA — The top human rights official at the United Nations denounced a range of countries on Tuesday for what he called their escalating efforts to stop the Human Rights Council from monitoring abuses.

    In a scathing appraisal, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the high commissioner for human rights, said he was appalled at what he called attempts to “block or evade human rights scrutiny” by the United Nations member states that created the Human Rights Council a decade ago.

    Mr. al-Hussein said these states often invoke what he described as spurious arguments that human rights inquiries violate national sovereignty.

    The trend toward obstruction, he said, has been accompanied by efforts to discredit global institutions like the United Nations and repudiate human rights protections that grew out of the two world wars. Those who have provoked these efforts, he said, include jihadist militant groups and “dangerous xenophobes and bigots running for office” in well-established democracies.

    Mr. al-Hussein’s comments, delivered at the opening of the rights council’s 32nd session in Geneva, echoed themes from his speech in The Hague last week, when he denounced politicians he described as populist and racist demagogues. He identified the Republican presidential candidate, Donald J. Trump, as among these politicians whom he accused of peddling fear to exploit economic hardship and social tension.

    Mr. al-Hussein reserved his harshest comments on Tuesday for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. He said Mr. Assad’s government was responsible for some of the gravest violations in the council’s history, including attacking civilians and bombing hospitals.

    He also rebuked Venezuela, which he said had refused to issue visas for officials from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at a time of deepening political tension and economic decline, and Turkey, which had not allowed investigators to follow up reports of civilian deaths and extrajudicial killings in the southeast, home to a resilient Kurdish insurgency.

    Mr. al-Hussein urged India to accept his request to let an international team look into the long-running violence in Kashmir, where the Indian authorities have resisted external scrutiny. Pakistan, which controls parts of Kashmir, has already agreed, he said.

    He also criticized global powers for blocking access. China has yet to let his investigators visit, Russia-controlled Crimea has refused to allow a monitoring office, and the United States has denied access to the Guantánamo Bay detention facility for confidential interviews with prisoners.

    “Efforts to duck or refuse legitimate scrutiny raise an obvious question: What, precisely, are you hiding from us?” Mr. al-Hussein said. “States may shut my office out, but they will not shut us up. Neither will they blind us.”

    None of the requests for a country visit made by his office in recent months have been accepted, he said in remarks outside the council. By speaking out on the issue, “you want to show member states there is a price to be paid if you deny us access.”

    Mr. al-Hussein’s remarks began a session in which the council’s credibility will be tested by members’ responses to his request for an independent international inquiry into allegations of war crimes in Yemen. His request has been fiercely resisted by Saudi Arabia and the Arab coalition it leads in fighting Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
    Last edited by artist; 09-19-2016 at 02:30 PM.

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