2017 United Nations “Human Rights” Council

Here’s the 2017 UNHRC membership:

  • Albania
  • Bangladesh
  • Belgium
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Burundi
  • China
  • Congo
  • Côte d’Ivoire
  • Croatia
  • Cuba
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Ethiopia
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Ghana
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iraq
  • Japan
  • Kenya
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Latvia
  • Mongolia
  • Netherlands
  • Nigeria
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Philippines
  • Portugal
  • Qatar
  • Republic of Korea
  • Rwanda
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • Switzerland
  • Togo
  • Tunisia
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • United States of America
  • Venezuela

designates a country that retains the death penalty

It’s absurd that some of these countries are on the human rights council.

13/48 countries still retain the death penalty. That’s over a quarter.

Let’s have a look at some of the countries on the council. This is the council which is supposed to defend, protect, and promote human rights globally. Unfortunately, at least a third refuse to do that in their own countries.

Bangladesh

  • Retains and frequently uses the death penalty
  • Killed anti-gov protestors with petrol bombs
  • Detained hundreds of opposition supporters
  • Freedom of expression restricted
  • At least 40 people were subjected to enforced disappearance in 2015

Burundi

  • Freedom of expression, assembly, and association are all restricted
  • Opposition protests were violently repressed by the police and national intelligence services
  • Security forces attacked and destroyed independent media premises
  • Journalists targeted and threatened by authorities
  • Many cases of unlawful killings of opposition

China

Where to start?

  • Retains and excessively uses the death penalty: 1634+ executed in 2015 alone
  • Government crackdown on human rights lawyers
  • Activists and human rights defenders subjected to systematic harassment and intimidation
  • Extreme government control over internet, mass media, and academia
  • Televised ‘confessions’ of government critics increased in the last year
  • Freedom of religion continually under systematic attack- an actual war on Christianity

Cuba

  • Retains the death penalty
  • Extreme restrictions on freedom of expression, association, and movement.
  • Thousands of reports of harrassment of government critics and arbitrary arrests & detentions

El Salvador

  • State violence and intimidation towards defenders and supporters of  LGBTI human rights and sexual & reproductive rights

Ethiopia

  • Retains the death penalty
  • Protestors and members- even leaders- of opposition parties were extra-judicially executed
  • Police and military conducted mass arrests of protestors, journalists, and opposition party members

India

  • Retains the death penalty
  • Authorities responded harshly to organisations critical of official policies
  • Religious tensions have intensified
  • Extra-judicial executions and torture are still active

Indonesia

  • Retains the death penalty
  • Security forces facing allegations of human rights violations, such as the use of unnecessary or excessive force
  • Arbitrary arrests of peaceful protestors
  • October saw introduction of new criminal code, expanding the use of corporal punishment to include consensual sexual relations.
  • 14 executions in 2015

Iraq

Absolute mess.

  • Um, ISIS
  • Retains the death penalty
  • Government security forces and allied militias committed numerous war crimes and human rights abuses
  • Govt forces conducted extra-judicial killings
  • Govt authorities held thousands of detainees without trial
  • Many criminal trials didn’t meet international standards of fairness

kenya

  • Increased counter-terrorism operations resulted in an increase of extra-judicial executions, enforced disappearances, and numerous other human rights violations
  • Human rights orgs reporting on these violations were increasingly harrassed
  • Some civil society orgs were shut down or threatened with closue

Nigeria

  • Retains the death penalty
  • Widespread torture and ill-treatment by police and security forces
  • Death sentences continued to be imposed

Qatar

  • Retains the death penalty
  • Freedom of expression, association, and peaceful association all arbitrarily restricted
  • Migrant workers, including domestic workers and those employed in high-profile construction projects face extreme exploitation and abuse
  • Extreme discrimination against women entrenched in law and practice

Rwanda

  • Journalists, human rights defenders, and members of the opposition face a repressive environment, with freedom of expression further restricted

I would take note of the drastic improvement compared to pre-genocide Rwanda, however it’s sad Kagame hasn’t continued progressing Rwanda in it’s political liberty.

Saudi Arabia

  • Retains the death penalty
  • Freedom of expression, association, and assembly are all severely restricted by the government
  • Authorities prosecuted and imprisoned human rights defenders and government critics, often after utterly unfair trials
  • Torture of detainees is common
  • Discrimination strongly remains against the Shi’a religious minority, with many Shi’a activists on death row waiting for their execution
  • Women face extreme discrimination in law and in practice, along with totally inadequate protection against sexual and other violence
  • Carried out more than 150 executions in 2015

United Arab Emirates

  • Retains the death penalty
  • Freedom of expression is arbitrarily restricted, with the government arresting and prosecuting government critics
  • Laws combating discrimination and hatred further restrict freedom of expression and association
  • Security forces subjected dozens to enforced disappearance
  • Torture of detainees is common
  • Women are discriminated against both in law and in practice
  • Migrant workers are inadequately protected by law and are exploited and abused

United States of America

“Make America Great Again”

  • Retains the death penalty.
  • No accountability for crimes under international law committed in the secret detention programme operated by the CIA
  • A large number of detainees remain in indefinite military detention at the Guantanamo Bay naval base
  • Concerning use of isolation in state and federal prisons
  • Concerning use of excessive force and the militarisation of US police forces
  • 28 people were executed in 2015, more than Iraq, Somalia, or Egypt.

Venezuela

  • Human rights defenders and journalists face attacks and intimidation
  • Political opponents face unfair trials and imprisonment
  • Excessive force of police resulting in dozens of deaths in 2015, with some likely to be unlawful killings
  • Those responsible for human rights violations in the 2014 protests were not brought to justice, and faced a biased judiciary
  • Refugees and asylum seekers were deported and forcibly evicted
  • Prisons are overcrowded and prison violence is common
  • Survivors of gender based violence face significant obstacles in accessing justice

I can’t see any way to justify having over a third of the UN Human Rights Council members being guilty of breaching so many of the human rights they are supposed to be protecting and promoting.

Let’s not forget the UNHRC’s Consultative Group is chaired by Faisal bin Hassan Trad, Saudi Arabia‘s ambassador to the UN.

The UN needs serious reform to actually promote human rights, amongst many other things.

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