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UN Human Rights Council led by dictators and leaders of repressive regimes

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(NaturalNews) Americans and other citizens of Western nations are constantly lectured by officials at the United Nations about our records of "human rights," but a closer examination of current member states of the world body's human rights council indicates that, as in the past, a great many are led by brutal authoritarian dictators and regimes, The Washington Free Beacon (WFB) reported.

In recent days, 18 countries were chosen to serve three-year terms on the council, beginning in January. But the Human Rights Foundation, a political action group, expressed concerns over several of the selectees, including Venezuela, Burundi, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, Togo and the United Arab Emirates.

"It is an outrage that the U.N. entrusted the world's human rights protection to some of the worst dictatorships and authoritarian regimes," Thor Halvorssen, president of the foundation, said in a statement. "A mere nine years after its foundation, the council today shows the same symptoms of hypocrisy and double standards displayed by the discredited Human Rights Commission that preceded it."

The council, which was created in 2006, is "responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and making recommendations on them," the UN says.

But, the foundation in a newly released report jointly prepared with other human rights groups, notes that there have been rampant abuses by the selected countries' governments, to include repression of political opponents and civil society, independent media censorship and corruption throughout state institutions.

Intimidation, detention, abuse

The report then provided examples. Ecuador under President Rafael Correa, for instance, has become "one of Latin America's most authoritarian countries," as a result of efforts to "scrap term limits" and to "expand state control of the media." New state media agencies have levied fines and sanctions, and have forced outlets to make corrections while quashing investigative reporting.

"The government removed Intag, Indefension, a documentary critical of Correa's government that was produced in 2012 and posted to YouTube in 2013," the report said.

Additionally, "journalist Manuela Picq was arbitrarily and violently arrested in August 2015 after taking part in protests against President Correa's government."

Meanwhile Nicolas Maduro, the successor to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, has implemented similar repressive reforms there, where prominent political opponents are regularly exposed to "persecution and arbitrary imprisonment," like Leopoldo Lopez, arrested recently for his pro-democracy activism and sentenced to almost 14 years in jail.

In recent days, the U.S. Department of State renewed a call for Lopez's release.

"One of the prosecutors in Mr. Leopoldo Lopez's case stated recently that he was pressured to pursue the case based on illegitimate charges and false evidence," said spokesman John Kirby. "If true, these statements highlight the lack of judicial independence and adherence to due process of law in Venezuela."

'They must use their seats responsibly'

The foundation noted further in its joint report that, in Venezuela, "police and military forces frequently use brutal and disproportionate force to suppress activists."

"More than 3,000 protesters, primarily university students, were detained during the pro-democracy demonstrations that took place between February and December 2014," said the report. "About 100 of them remain in prison, while the rest have been released on parole and banned from any political activism."

Critics of the UN council appointments note that allowing authoritarian regimes to become members in essence gives those regimes legitimacy and excuses the human rights abuses they mete out on their own people. Further, they say such hypocrisy undermines the otherwise good intentions of the panel.

"For example, both Ecuador and Venezuela have voted against resolutions at the U.N. that condemned rights violations in Syria, Iran, and North Korea," the WFB said, citing the joint report.

"Ideally, the world's democracies must use their U.N. seats responsibly and raise their voices against the authoritarian states who employ the council's bully pulpits to silence their human rights victims and distract attention," Halvorssen said.






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