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International11 September 2006

Cuba reminded of goals of Non-aligned Movement as it takes over presidency and hosts summit

Reporters Without Borders said today that it hoped UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will remind Cuba of the goals of the Non-aligned Movement in relation to human rights and fundamental liberties as the country took over the Movement’s three-year rotating presidency and began hosting its five-day summit.

Fifty heads of state and government, 3,000 delegates from 116 member countries (soon to be 118 with the forthcoming membership of Haiti and St. Kitts and Nevis) and representatives of several observers countries, such as China are expected in Havana for the movement’s 14th summit from 11-16 September, in the presence of the UN Secretary General.

The worldwide press freedom organisation said it was determined to point out that several heads of state who hold press freedom and pluralism in contempt, such as Iran’s, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf and Vietnam’s Nguyen Minh Triet, will be greeted in the Cuban capital by another predator of free expression in the person of Fidel Castro.

“This summit should not be used as a screen for governments for whom the imbalance between North and South justifies dictatorship, oppression and the absence of a state of law”, said the organisation, stressing that, “The protection and promotion of human rights are among the objectives in the draft final document which will be submitted to member countries for approval during the summit.”

“The Ministers reaffirmed the significant importance attached by the Movement to the promotion and protection of human rights and commitment to fulfil obligations to promote universal respect for, and observance and protection of, all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all in accordance to the UN Charter, other instruments relating to human rights as appropriate and international law”, says paragraph 193-1, ratified on 30 May 2006 in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

We can unfortunately expect that countries such as Iran, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe, Libya and Belarus will sign a promise that they have no intention of honouring, not forgetting Cuba, which as president of the Movement, is supposed to see that it is respected. References to the UN Charter and International laws with which these countries adorn themselves, logically obliges them vis-à-vis the UN and the international community. We hope that the Secretary General Kofi Annan will remind them of this.

The Cuban authorities have already shown signs of bad faith on the eve of the summit, of which it is doing its utmost to limit coverage, by expelling foreign journalists. Cuba is the second biggest prison in the world for journalists, after China, with 23 journalists behind bars.

The Non-aligned Movement was founded in Belgrade in September 1961 under the auspices of Yugoslav President Marshal Tito, whose objective at the time was to gather countries refusing to take either the US or Soviet side in the cold war.



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