Repressive nations said to elude U.N. scrutiny

April 28, 2002|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

GENEVA - As the United Nations body charged with assessing human rights around the world ended its annual session last week, rights advocates complained that, increasingly, nations with repressive governments, including China and Iran, had managed to evade serious examination of their records.

Rory Mungoven, of Human Rights Watch, said the U.N. Commission on Human Rights had become "hostage to a group of human rights abusers who defended themselves and others from scrutiny," referring to voting alliances that blocked efforts to condemn nations such as Zimbabwe.

The high commissioner for human rights, Mary Robinson, said Friday that it was a "very worrying" session, and she was concerned that "bloc" voting was weakening the commission's role.

The commission's rotating roster of 53 member nations, which includes Algeria, China, Cuba, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Syria - all countries with questionable rights records - should reconsider their approach, she said. Increasingly, voting alliances are emerging to prevent the commission from singling out individual countries for criticism.

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