Archive for the 'Human Rights Council (UNHRC)' Category

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UN reviews Iran’s record

The UN Human Rights Council adopted today the report on Iran’s human rights record. Iran tried to portray a rosy and unreal picture of the situation in the country, supported by several friendly governments. Western democracies and civil society groups made very strong statements to set the record straight.

Human rights violations remain widespread in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Abuses of freedom of expression, women’s rights, the incarceration of human rights defenders and political prisoners, misuse of the death penalty, as well as the poor treatment of religious and national minorities remain flagrant.

Addressing the Council on behalf of Iran, Mr. Kazem Gharib Abadi proclaimed, as inspired by the religious democracy that is founded in Islamic principles rooted in Iran’s religious and cultural heritage, that Iran is “firmly committed to the promotion of human rights,” that “Iran’s approach to human rights is comprehensive,” and “that all citizens, men and women, equally enjoy the protection of the law.”

Multiple countries took the floor to praise Iran offering congratulations on their progress on human rights. Examples include:

  • Nicaragua: “We wish to congratulate Iran for their commitment at the international level for the protection and promotion of human rights.”
  • Pakistan: “We commend the government’s acceptance to many of the recommendations.”
  • Russia: “We commend their interaction with treaty bodies and openness to dialogue, and recommend adopting the report.”
  • Sudan: “We commend that they have accepted the majority of the recommendations.”
  • Sri Lanka: “The progress made is commendable.”
  • Venezuela: “We wish to express satisfaction of the government’s implementation of the MDG’s, evidence of their commitment to fundamental rights.” They also highlighted that, “The implementation of sanctions is a violation of the basic rights of the people of Iran.”

However, The United Kingdom expressed concern with “the sharp increase in the use of the death penalty,” and other ongoing violations.  Similarly, The United States renewed their “call on Iran to end the harassment and persecution of journalists and demonstrate its commitment to freedom of expression,” and to “uphold its religious freedom commitments and obligations and to release those imprisoned for religious beliefs.”

Finally, civil society organizations painted a grave picture; highlighting that same sex relations are still punishable by death, that Baha’i’s remain without basic citizenship rights let alone religious freedom, that legislative change has not been upheld in practice, that there is continued denial of due process, and that the death penalty remains a common prescription for political dissidents and religious minorities.

 

 

UN Watch empowers North Korean defectors

This week, UN Watch hosted a delegation of NK Watch, a South Korean NGO which was created by survivors of North Korean prison camps and their families.

The delegation comprised of Ahn Myeong Cheol, NK’s Watch Executive Director and a former prison guard in the North Korean regime’s brutal gulag; Gim Gyumin, a North Korean defector and film director who has integrated the abuses he witnessed into his movies; Mr. Kim, a former North Korean overseas worker in Russia who escaped and defected to South Korea; and Dasun Kim, manager of International Affairs at NK Watch.

During their stay in Geneva, NK Watch members addressed the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights on the issue of the North Korean overseas workers, as well as the Special Rapporteur on Slavery and the Working Groups on Arbitrary Detention and Enforced Disappearances. They also addressed the Human Rights Council plenary during the report of the Special Rapporteur on North Korea. The Rapporteur pledged to look into the issue of the workers and coordinate with other UN mechanisms.

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UN Watch and NK Watch held a film screening at the Palais des Nations, attended by more than 80 people, showing the movie “Winter Butterfly,” which describes the famine and the abuse of ordinary citizens of North Korea. Following the screening, a Q&A session with film director Gim Gyumin followed, as well as a testimony of Mr. Kim on his experiences as a North Korean Overseas worker.

Lastly, UN Watch facilitated a press conference for the NK Watch delegation, as well as individual interviews, getting worldwide coverage, including Reuters, Agence France Presse, Press Trust India, Deutsche Welle and Vice.

 

Minutes of UNHRC Bureau: Gaza probe deferral to be decided on Monday

Below is an excerpt from the minutes of the Bureau of the UN Human Rights Council, which met today, Friday, March 13, and refers to the request to postpone the report of the Gaza COI. For the full document in pdf, click here.

The request by the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict to postpone the presentation of its report to the Council at a later session

With regard to the request by the COI on the 2014 Gaza conflict, the President informed the Bureau that, after consultations with concerned parties, he intends to propose on Monday 16 March, that the Council request the Commissioners to present a short oral update on the status of the report to the Council on 23 March 2015 without any interactive dialogue as no report will be presented at this session. The consideration of the report of the COI, as mandated in Council resolution A/HRC/RES/S-21/1, will be postponed to the 29th session, in June 2015. The President also informed the Bureau that the secretariat will be requested to make a statement to the Council on the programme budgetary implications, if any, of the postponement of the consideration of the report of the COI to the next session with the aim of ensuring that the necessary funds are indeed available to the COI.

BREAKING: UN Gaza Commissioners seek deferral of report to June

GENEVA, March 9 – UN Watch welcomes the news that the United Nations commission of inquiry on Gaza is seeking to defer its report to June.

“This is what I proposed to the commissioners when I met them in September,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer. “A serious report needs more time and must reflect material that has come to light from all parties.”

“Moreover,” said Neuer, “the resignation of William Schabas under a cloud of bias accusations requires a complete rewriting of the report.”
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“Finally, UN Watch’s recent revelation that the Goldstone Report was drafted with the help of an anarchist law professor who devoted her life to prosecuting Israelis for war crimes (photo of Grietje Baars) requires a careful review of the staffers now drafting this report, who were hired by the same UN agency.”

Continue reading ‘BREAKING: UN Gaza Commissioners seek deferral of report to June’

UNHRC chief schools “Qatada QC” Ben Emmerson for late report

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UK lawyer Ben Emmerson, known as “Qatada QC” for his defense of hate preacher Abu Qatada, just got schooled by the president of the U.N. Human Rights Council for failing to submit his report as the expert on counterterrorism and human rights, and for failing to inform the Council in time. Continue reading ‘UNHRC chief schools “Qatada QC” Ben Emmerson for late report’

UNHRC member Saudi Arabia: lashing of blogger is justified under Sharia and human rights law

 

badawi award thumbnailFollowing is today’s despicable statement by Saudi Arabia, an elected member of the U.N. Human Rights Council, concerning jailed blogger Raif Badawi, who recently won our 2015 Geneva Summit Courage Award.

Source: Saudi Press Agency

Official Source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The Kingdom cannot believe the interest some media have taken in the case of Citizen Rai’ef Badowi and the judicial sentence he has received

Riyadh, Mar 7, 2015, SPA — An official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “The Kingdom cannot believe and strongly disapproves what has been addressed in some media outlets about the case of Citizen Rai’ef Mohammed Badowi and the judicial sentence he has received. Continue reading ‘UNHRC member Saudi Arabia: lashing of blogger is justified under Sharia and human rights law’

UNHRC taps Algerian for new post to oppose U.S. sanctions, a Cuban-backed mandate


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The UN Human Rights Council has shortlisted the 79-year-old Idriss Jazairy, Algeria’s  former representative to the 47-nation body, to head a new post backed by Cuba and designed to classify U.S. sanctions against rogue regimes as violations of human rights.

The new “Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights” will be appointed at the end of March during the current month-long session of the UNHRC. Continue reading ‘UNHRC taps Algerian for new post to oppose U.S. sanctions, a Cuban-backed mandate’

Kerry Makes the Case for the U.N. Human Rights Council


kerry at UNHRCSecretary Kerry’s Intervention, Human Rights Council – Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, March 2, 2015

(Source: UN Human Rights Council Extranet)

 Let me start by thanking the Council’s president, Joachim Rücker , for convening this session. I appreciate the opportunity to be here at such an important time – not only for the future of this body, but for human rights around the globe.

President Obama believes deeply in the mission of the Human Rights Council and recognizes the importance of US engagement and leadership within the organization. He made the decision to re-engage shortly after he became President because he knew it is vital for the United States – and for our allies –to have a seat at the table as the HRC sets its priorities and implements its agenda.

Continue reading ‘Kerry Makes the Case for the U.N. Human Rights Council’

Geneva Summit 2015

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How the UN’s highest officials demonized cartoonists

For the past decade, the U.N. has demonized cartoonists:

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“They should not attack people who are not responsible for the publication of the cartoons.” — KOFI ANNAN, 2006

“We deeply regret the offence given by the caricatures…” KOFI ANNAN, 2006

“We appeal to everyone to exercise [freedom of expression] responsibly, and not to use it as a pretext for incitement to hatred or insult to the deeply held belief of any community…” KOFI ANNAN, 2006

Media and publications should not “be used for incitement, or to spread hatred.” KOFI ANNAN, 2006

 

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“Charlie Hebdo is doubly irresponsible to publish these cartoons.” NAVI PILLAY, 2012

 

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The Charlie Hebdo cartoons are “malicious and deliberately provocative,” only the latest in a string of “deliberately provocative acts or products targeting particular religions and their followers.” — RUPERT COLVILLE, Spokesman of UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2012

 

 

Schabas: I didn’t know non-disclosure of conflict of interest was wrong, no one asked

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In his resignation letter, Schabas defends his failure to disclose his paid legal work for the PLO by saying, “I was not requested to provide any details on any of my past statements and other activities concerning Palestine and Israel.”

Well, when he applied last year for a related post, to replace Richard Falk as the UNHRC’s Palestine investigator, Schabas was asked about conflicts of interest. And he denied everything.

 

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UN rights council: Schabas’ resignation “preserves integrity of the process”

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Their Gaza probe was run for half a year by a law professor who did paid work for the PLO, but the UN is insisting that Schabas’ sudden resignation under a cloud of bias “preserves the integrity of the process.” See UN press release below.

The truth is that Schabas made clear in his resignation letter that he “devoted several months of work” to the project.

As the top expert on the issues, Schabas in those several months of work would have played a leading role in conceiving of the entire project: the scope, framework, methodology, selection of incidents to examine, choice of witnesses, and legal standards to apply.

Schabas would also have had a say in the influential choice of staffers, who do a lion’s share of the work. Finally, Schabas chaired all of the hearings where testimony was delivered and impacted the entire process. He ran the game until the 9th inning.

This is a mistrial. And if Schabas is tainted — because of his ties to the PLO and because of his long record of biased statements and actions — then the taint attaches to the entire commission and report.  Continue reading ‘UN rights council: Schabas’ resignation “preserves integrity of the process”’

The List of William Schabas’ Biased Statements and Actions

The List of William Schabas’ Biased Statements and Actions, from UN Watch’s legal brief requesting him to step down: click here for PDF

UN rights chief who ignored anti-Semitism to address Holocaust Museum

SWITZERLAND-UN-RIGHTIs UN rights chief Zeid the right person to address the Holocaust Museum this week?

Last week he issued a statement on the Holocaust that — unlike the remarks of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon — noticeably refused to mention the word anti-Semitism once, neither in relation to the Nazi genocide, nor in relation to the continuing attacks and incitement against Jews today in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere.

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Today’s UN press release follows below.

High Commissioner’s visit to the US

High Commissioner Zeid today begins the first official visit by a UN Human Rights Chief to Washington D.C. to meet senior  U.S administration officials and Members of Congress since 2007, when former High Commissioner Louise Arbour made a similar visit.

Zeid, who took up his position as the fifth UN High Commissioner for Human Rights last September, will hold meetings with State Department and other U.S. Government officials, including National Security Adviser Susan Rice, to discuss a wide range of overseas and domestic issues. He will also meet with around eight senior members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

On Thursday, at 10:00 a.m., Zeid will deliver an address entitled “Can Atrocities be Prevented? Living in the Shadow of the Holocaust” at a public event at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington.  He will also attend two round-table events with Civil Society organisations.

The visit ends on Friday, February 6, when the High Commissioner will give a Press Conference at 10:00 a.m. at the Georgetown Law Center, located at 600 New Jersey Ave NW, Washington, DC.

UN Watch Seeks Administrative Assistant for Geneva Office

UN Watch, a non-governmental organization, seeks an Administrative Assistant for our Geneva office. Responsibilities include correspondence, calendar management, travel planning, donation processing, data entry, event management and a range of other office administration matters.

Requirements:

– Bilingual English/French
– Excellent command of IT
– Experience in administration
– Organized, reliable, friendly, good at teamwork
– Committed to the work of UN Watch
– Swiss citizenship or holder of valid permit

Qualified candidates should please email CV to employment [at] unwatch.org

UN Watch Seeks Director of Development in New York

UN Watch is a unique non-governmental human rights organization that monitors the United Nations by the yardstick of its own Charter, protects universal human rights, and combats anti-Semitism and anti-Israel prejudice. UN Watch defends democracy dissidents and fights dictatorships and double standards.

UN Watch is seeking to recruit an ambitious, creative, experienced, dynamic, and highly organized Director of Development who will successfully grow fundraising initiatives in support of our multi-year strategic vision for growth and expansion. This full-time position will report directly to the Executive Director. Continue reading ‘UN Watch Seeks Director of Development in New York’

UN Anti-Semitism Session is Welcome, but World Body Must Examine Own Actions

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UNGA must examine own record; this year has condemned Israel 20 times compared to only 3 on rest of world

GENEVA, Jan. 22, 2015 – The Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch lauded the United Nations General Assembly for holding a rare special meeting today on the rise of anti-Semitism, yet urged the world body to examine its own actions that, said Executive Director Hillel Neuer, “aid and abet a global culture of demonizing the Jewish state, pouring fuel on the fires of hatred.”

Click here for chart of resolutions of UNGA 69th Session.

At the last special UN session on anti-Semitism, held in 2004, Kofi Annan criticized the UNGA’s negative role in “equating Zionism with racism,” acknowledging that “the United Nations’ record on anti-Semitism has at times fallen short of our ideals.”

Yet according to new data released today exclusively by UN Watch, the UN General Assembly this year has continued to demonize Israel, subjecting it to 20 condemnatory resolutions, compared to only three on the rest of the world combined, being one each on Iran, Syria and North Korea.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said last week, in a special address to the National Assembly in Paris, that a new anti-Semitism has arisen in the world which, based in part on the “loathing of the State of Israel,” advocates hatred of Jews.

“If the UN is truly serious about combating anti-Semitism, then it must internalize the French Prime Minister’s warning about how the demonization of the Jewish state leads to hatred and violence against Jews,” said Neuer.  Continue reading ‘UN Anti-Semitism Session is Welcome, but World Body Must Examine Own Actions’

UN to hold special meeting on anti-Semitism on Jan. 22

The UN daily journal has announced that the rise in anti-Semitism will be addressed by an informal meeting of the UN General Assembly on January 22, 2015. The meeting was initiated two months ago:

UN General Assembly,  Sixty-ninth session: An informal meeting of the plenary to address concerns of a rise in anti-semitic violence worldwide, will be held on Thursday, 22 January 2015. A letter from the President of the General Assembly, dated 12 November 2014, was sent to all permanent representatives and permanent observers.

From Israel’s No. 2 diplomat at the UN in New York:

 

Human Rights Watch chief flip-flops on PLO’s ICC gambit

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While Human Rights Watch director Ken Roth has emerged this week as the most prominent backer of the PLO’s controversial new bid to join the International Criminal Court in order to launch criminal complaints against Israel, it was not so long ago that Roth’s organization promised Americans that precisely this scenario would never happen.

The flip-flop seriously undermines Roth’s credibility on the subject of the ICC, and will only strengthen the cause of the court’s skeptics in the United States.

In a flurry of tweets over the past few days, Roth has sharply criticized statements of the U.S., France, and Canada that described the PLO’s ICC gambit as unilateral, counter-productive and provocative. Continue reading ‘Human Rights Watch chief flip-flops on PLO’s ICC gambit’

Top 10 Biggest UN Watch Moments of 2014

Now trending on BuzzFeed: The past year’s most compelling, dramatic and impactful moments in UN Watch’s battle against dictatorships and double standards, in defense of the true principles of human rights.

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Can you guess which was the No. 1 biggest UN Watch moment of 2014? Click here for the BuzzFeed full list.

BuzzFeed: Top 10 Worst U.N. Decisions of 2014

Now trending on BuzzFeed: UN Watch’s list of the “Top 10 Worst U.N. Decisions of 2014”

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10. U.N. Elects Iran to Women’s Rights Commission

9. U.N. Elects Elects China, Russia, Cuba and Saudi Arabia to Human Rights Council

8.  U.N. Creates Biased Inquiry into Hamas-Israel War, Declares Israel Guilty in Advance

For more, click here.

William Schabas was early proponent of targeting Israel with Geneva Conventions

Schabas-330x390For only the third time in history, the States Parties to the Geneva Conventions met yesterday to condemn a country for violating the law of war. As on the previous two occasions, the country condemned was Israel.

After the Holocaust, the world gathered in Geneva to affirm the laws of war and enshrine the prohibition against targeting civilians.

One of the early champions of activating these legal conventions for the first time to single out Israel — while ignoring war crimes by Saddam, Qaddafi, and Arafat — was law professor William Schabas, who now chairs the UNHRC’s Commission of Inquiry on Gaza.

In 1999, before the International Criminal Court was even in operation, Schabas was an early campaigner for the indictment of Israeli leaders.

At a June 1999 Cairo meeting of the UN’s “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,” Schabas embraced an extraordinary session on Israel — the first time the treaty was enforced against any state or non-state actor — to be held by the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Schabas called the targeting of Israelis an “exciting opportunity.”

Speaking before opponents of Israel gathered from around the world, Schabas told the Cairo forum that member states were “under an obligation to prosecute” Israelis “suspected of committing grave breaches.” States are required to seek extradition of those whom Israel refuses to try, said Schabas.

If the result of threats of prosecution under article 146 would be “only to restrain the travel plans of Israeli civilian and military officials,” said Schabas, this may still constitute a “useful means of pressure.”

At a time when Islamic extremists are slaughtering men, women and children from Nigeria to Syria to Pakistan, and when Russia has swallowed Crimea and plunged eastern Ukraine into war, killing 4,700 and wounding 10,000 more, the world yesterday decided, as it did in 1999 and in 2001, to single out Israel alone for censure.

There was no condemnation of Hamas for firing thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians, or of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for inciting murderous terrorist attacks on the streets of Jerusalem, and against worshippers in  a synagogue, all in gross breach of the Geneva Conventions, which the Palestinians signed earlier this year.

As NYU law professor Joseph Weiler noted in the European Journal of International Law, Schabas’ prior record of partisanship on this subject makes his a “self-evident case” where “the appearance of justice is compromised.”

Schabas is scheduled to present his report before the UN Human Rights Council in March 2015. Legally, however, he is obliged to recuse himself on account of his prior statements and actions which objectively create the appearance of bias.

UN Watch letter to Samantha Power urges condemnation of UNRWA boycott call

Letter from UN Watch to U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power  |  Click here for PDF
Click here to sign the petition

10 December 2014

Dear Ambassador Power,

We are shocked by UNRWA’s call to boycott one of Israel’s oldest newspapers and appeal to you to speak out and hold the organization to account. With the U.S. being the largest donor to UNRWA—giving $398 million this year alone—your clear voice on this matter can play a vital role in upholding the principles of the UN Charter.

Barely has the ink dried on the 2015 UNRWA-U.S. Framework for Cooperation—in which Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl solemnly promised that UNRWA would respect impartiality—and its top spokesman Chris Gunness, tweeting on Thursday from his official account, called to “Boycott the Jerusalem Post!”  The statement remains there and has not been renounced in any way by UNRWA, nor by the DC-based representatives of UNRWA USA whom we approached on this matter.

What so outraged Mr. Gunness was an op-ed by Palestinian human rights activist Bassam Eid that called for an audit of all allocated funds to UNRWA and the dismissal of its Hamas-affiliated employees. (“Proud Palestinians must lead the fight to reform UNRWA,” Dec. 1, 2014.) Rather than respond rationally, UNRWA lashed out. Never before has a UN humanitarian organization called to boycott a newspaper.

This was a political act inconsistent with the neutrality requirements applicable to all humanitarian agencies. Moreover, it violates the Framework agreement with the U.S., under which the agency is obliged to ensure “adherence to principles of neutrality,” and, specifically, “the neutrality of UNRWA’s staff.”

Mr. Gunness is a repeat offender. In July, to name one of numerous examples, he urged reporters to interview Dr. Mads Gilbert, a pro-Hamas Norwegian activist who in September 2001 supported the “moral right” of Al Qaeda to perpetrate the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Mr. Gunness is flagrantly abusing his humanitarian mandate for political advocacy. If you don’t hold him and UNRWA to account, I fear, no one will.

Sincerely,
Hillel C. Neuer
Executive Director

Germany to head HRC in 2015, pledges reforms

This morning, the Human Rights Council elected its President and four Vice-Presidents for the year 2015. What was also interesting was that we have geared up for new reform process for the Council, ahead of its 10 year anniversary in 2016.

Germany was chosen from the WEOG group to be the Council’s President for 2015, while Albania, Botswana, Kazakhstan and Paraguay were chosen as Vice-Presidents, representing the other regions.

The Council has no scheduled reform up ahead, other than the GA to consider the status of the Council (subsidiary to the GA or on an equal level as a principal body) “at an appropriate moment and at a time no sooner than ten years and no later than fifteen years.” Yet, today’s organization meeting may have kicked off a new round of reforms for the HRC, which still has not been able to full implement its mandate and efficiently assist  human rights victims around the world.

The outgoing President, Ambassador Baudelaire Ndong Ella, outlined a long list of suggested reforms, including “the agenda of the Council, the number of resolutions, the number of panels, the functioning of certain groups related to activities of the Council, such as the advisory group […] and the Group on Situations, the role of special procedures, the participation of NGOs in the work of the Council, and the Treaty bodies.” The President said that this process should be completed by 2016  and concluded his remarks by saying “we should always bear in mind the reasons the led to the disappearance of the Human Rights Commission.”

Ambassador Joachim Rucker of Germany, the HRC’s President-elect, went a step further and proposed a first round of informal discussions in Berlin, on May 21-23, on the role of the Council and how to further improve its efficiency and effectiveness.

The reform process for the HRC in 2016 has been officially inaugurated. UN Watch will of course be present throughout this process and advocate for what is right.

ICC examining U.S. military for war crimes in Afghanistan

The International Criminal Court is examining the U.S. for possible war crimes committed in Afghanistan, a move that some experts believe is unjustified and could undermine the tribunal’s work.

The ICC prosecutor’s latest annual report alleges that “members of the US military in Afghanistan used so-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ against conflict-related detainees,” which could amount to the war crimes of “cruel treatment, torture or outrages upon personal dignity as defined under international jurisprudence.” (See full excerpts below.)

According to NYU law professor Ryan Goodman, writing in Just Security, the ICC’s examination of U.S. detention operations appears to have reached an advanced phase and “crossed over the important threshold of a finding that there is a reasonable basis to believe U.S. forces committed war crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court.”

The court is now at the stage of weighing the gravity of the alleged U.S. war crimes, and whether America’s own system of investigations and willingness to prosecute (“national proceedings”) are genuine.

“Whatever one’s views regarding U.S. detention policy in Afghanistan from 2003-2008,” writes Ryan Vogel, professor at the Chicago-Kent College of Law, “the alleged U.S. conduct is surely not what the world had in mind when it established the ICC to address ‘the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole.'”

The ICC, argues Vogel, who formerly served in the office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, was “designed to end impunity for the most egregious and shocking breaches of the law,” and “it is hard to see how alleged detainee abuse by U.S. forces meets that standard.”

“The Prosecutor appears to have spent valuable and finite resources pushing an examination of the United States,” writes Vogel. The prosecutor “risks irreparably harming the ICC’s important relationship with the United States, while accomplishing virtually nothing in return, aside from (hollowly) demonstrating that the ICC intends to take cases outside of Africa.”

Excerpts from the prosecutor’s 2014 annual report, released this week:

94. The Office has been assessing available information relating to the alleged abuse of detainees by international forces within the temporal jurisdiction of the Court. In particular, the alleged torture or ill-treatment of conflict-related detainees by US armed forces in Afghanistan in the period 2003-2008 forms another potential case identified by the Office. In accordance with the Presidential Directive of 7 February 2002, Taliban detainees were denied the status of prisoner of war under article 4 of the Third Geneva Convention but were required to be treated humanely. In this context, the information available suggests that between May 2003 and June 2004, members of the US military in Afghanistan used so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” against conflict-related detainees in an effort to improve the level of actionable intelligence obtained from interrogations. The development and implementation of such techniques is documented inter alia in declassified US Government documents released to the public, including Department of Defense reports as well as the US Senate Armed Services Committee’s inquiry. These reports describe interrogation techniques approved for use as including food deprivation, deprivation of clothing, environmental manipulation, sleep adjustment, use of individual fears, use of stress positions, sensory deprivation (deprivation of light and sound), and sensory overstimulation.

95. Certain of the enhanced interrogation techniques apparently approved by US senior commanders in Afghanistan in the period from February 2003 through June 2004, could, depending on the severity and duration of their use, amount to cruel treatment, torture or outrages upon personal dignity as defined under international jurisprudence. In addition, there is information available that interrogators allegedly committed abuses that were outside the scope of any approved techniques, such as severe beating, especially beating on the soles of the feet, suspension by the wrists, and threats to shoot or kill.

96. While continuing to assess the seriousness and reliability of such allegations, the Office is analysing the relevance and genuineness of national proceedings by the competent national authorities for the alleged conduct described above as well as the gravity of the alleged crimes.

102. The Office will continue to analyse allegations of crimes committed in Afghanistan, and to assess the admissibility of the potential cases identified above in order to reach a decision on whether to seek authorization from the Pre-Trial Chamber to open an investigation of the situation in Afghanistan pursuant to article 15(3) of the Statute.

 

Lawyers and rights activists question Schabas’ tenure on UN Gaza probe

A sample of the lawyers and human rights activist who have questioned the tenure of William Schabas as chair of the UN commission of inquiry on Gaza, in light of his prior prejudicial statements.


Swiss president tells UN Watch: no action on North Korean bank accounts

GENEVA – As reported by the Wall Street Journal, UN Watch has received a letter from the president of Switzerland, responding to the group’s call to freeze Swiss bank accounts held by North Korean regime figures,  indicating the government will not take any action unless “new developments take place at the Security Council.”

The initial UN Watch letter, signed by 20 North Korean defectors, emphasized that “Switzerland has no legal or moral reason to wait before proceeding with these vital targeted sanctions. ”

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Letter from Swiss President Didier Burkhalter to UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer, dated 29 October 2014 — Click for PDF

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your open letter signed by 20 North Korean defectors of September, 19, 2014 regarding the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and in particular regarding your request to Switzerland to immediately freeze all assets of the North Korean leadership within its territory.

As you know, the universal protection and promotion of human rights are a top priority of Swiss foreign policy provided for by the Federal Constitution. Hence, human rights issues are incorporated into its overall foreign policy and are regularly addressed at governmental level and in multilateral forums.

The serious and systematic violations of human rights and crimes against humanity that are being committed on a large scale in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — as established by the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in its detailed, well-documented and comprehensive findings — are a source of grave concern to Switzerland. As stated in the open letter, these serious violations of human rights need to be treated with the greatest urgency. Therefore, Switzerland supports in particular the Commission’s recommendation to refer this situation to the International Criminal Court.

The situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea already led Switzerland to take action, including legal steps. On 25 October 2006, the Confederation enacted a range of coercive measures in order to implement sanctions that had been ordered by the United Nations Security Council: the Ordinance instituting Measures against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea entails a list of 12 individuals and 20 organisations that are subject to such coercive measures, including a freeze of their assets. Regarding coercive measures, resolute and concerted action at the United Nations are key to improve the situation and Switzerland stands ready to adapt its own legal measures should new developments take place at the Security Council.

Switzerland will also continue to express its grave concern related to the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea within the framework of its bilateral relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, such as during the political dialogue which will take place in November 2014, and will continue to be actively engaged regarding efforts in the UN General Assembly and in the Human Rights Council to improve the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Yours sincerely,

Didier Burkhalter

Continue reading ‘Swiss president tells UN Watch: no action on North Korean bank accounts’

What turned Ken Roth into a Swiss reporter

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With a little help from his 275 staff members, Human Rights Watch director Ken Roth voices moral outrage on his Twitter feed once every hour, 24 times a day, seven days a week.

Yet when a Hamas terrorist today rammed his car into a crowd of Israelis in Jerusalem, and then got out to attack them further with an iron bar, Ken Roth’s voice suddenly turned into that of a neutral Swiss reporter. Continue reading ‘What turned Ken Roth into a Swiss reporter’

Iran blames Western “media blitz” for execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari

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Iran’s representative just told the UN Human Rights Council that the West and its “media blitz” and “propaganda” is the real one to blame for its execution on Saturday of 26-year-old Reyhaneh Jabbari.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, chief of human rights in Iran’s government, said:

One issue was about a  recent execution. Let me explain. Reyhaneh Jabbari had numerous judges, numerous lawyers. The lawyers defended her. Court came back with an indictment that it was first degree murder with intention, with capital punishment.

It is considered Qesas, the right of the victim. The judiciary not in position to execute. We tried and lobbied a lot to solicit forgiveness from relatives of victims. We unfortunately were not able. One reason was because of huge propaganda created in this case. In my last meeting with sons, I urged him to “let not even others also not lose a beloved one; forgive.”

He replied: “We had the intention to forgive, but because of the media blitz — they accused our father of forced rape — we cannot deal with this humiliation.”

So this execution went ahead. We’re very sorry that two nationals lost their life. Western countries should look into it. This idea of  “the West and the rest, only the west has good things,” this is wrong. Please accept the idea that others have a good way of life. Westrn lifestyle isn’t only way of doing things.

Christian priest to UN: “Israel only Mideast country not persecuting Christians”

Mr. President, I am speaking to you on behalf of UN Watch.

Standing before you is Father Gabriel Naddaf, a Christian citizen from Nazareth, the city in which Christ was raised and where he proselytized.

Dear Sirs, while I stand before you today, the earth of the Middle East is soaked with the blood of Christians being killed daily.

Do you know that at the start of the 20th century, Christians comprised 20% of the population of the Middle East? Continue reading ‘Christian priest to UN: “Israel only Mideast country not persecuting Christians”’




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