Do not support Sudan’s candidacy to UN rights council, HRW tells AU members
July 12, 2012 (WASHINGTON) – Sudan and Ethiopia, which are known for their poor human rights records, do not deserve to occupy two uncontested seats on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the African Union (AU), says Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Overview of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneve (Reuters)
HRW disclosed, on Friday, a letter it sent to the foreign ministers of AU member states urging them to reconsider a recent decision of the African Group in New York to endorse the candidacies of Sudan and Ethiopia in the upcoming United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) elections for membership of the UNHCR.
The decision implies that all other AU member states are not allowed to compete for the seats of the African group, but they should all back during the Sudan and Ethiopia candidacies besides other three countries the next UNGA elections
“Given the poor performance of their governments on protecting human rights, we believe it would be contrary to the provisions of this resolution for countries such as Ethiopia and Sudan to be endorsed as unchallenged candidates to serve on the Human Rights Council,” said HRW letter to the foreign ministers.
UN General Assembly resolution 60/251, which established the Human Rights Council, provides that: “Members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”.
“By endorsing their questionable candidacies, the AU would undermine the work of the council by tarnishing its membership, and turn its back on victims of abuses in these countries,” said Hassan Shire Sheikh, director of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project.
Yesterday HRW and Amnesty International (AI) condemned the arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture and ill-treatment of peaceful protesters and urged Sudan to respect the freedom of expression. Khartoum is criticised for the severe censorship on the press and repeated arrest of national or foreign journalists.
The human rights groups also pointed out Sudan refusal to allow humanitarian access to the rebel held areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The letter also underscored Sudan’s refusal to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) over crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Darfur.
Next November, the UNHRC will renew 18 of it 47 seats . The African group which has 5 of the 18 agreed to back the candidatures of Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Sierra Leone, and Sudan.
Addis Ababa also is criticised for restricting the operating environment for human rights defenders, and using repressive legislation, including its 2009 Anti-Terrorism law, to convict, intimidate, and silence dissenting voices in the independent media, political opposition, and civil society.