Accessibility links

Critics Say UN Human Rights Council Creates Loophole For Violators

The United Nations Human Rights Council has been criticized for deciding this week to revise how it investigates human rights violations, with some saying the change could benefit government's like that of Zimbabwe often alleged to have violated rights.

The Human Rights Council, which last year replaced the Human Rights Commission, resolved to terminate mandates to rights experts to investigate human rights charges against Cuba and Belarus, while upholding a mandate regarding Israel.

The United States on Wednesday condemned the decision, saying the council failed to address serious violations in countries including Belarus, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Burma (Myanmar) and North Korea. All of those countries have been described by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as "outposts of tyranny."

"The Human Rights Council was intended to be the world's leading human rights protection mechanism," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, citing what he described as "procedural irregularities" in the decision. McCormack said the council's proceedings "should be a model of fairness and transparency."

Global Advocacy Director Peggy Hicks of Human Rights Watch said that although the council's decision created opportunities to address human rights violations, the latest decision, by introducing loopholes in the the council's “institution-building package" offered "leeway to countries that seek to weaken human rights protections."

But Hicks told told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that despite such shortcomings, human rights violators will still be brought to book.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 For Zimbabwe...