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United Nations30.03.2007

Disappointing results from Human Rights Council’s fourth session, especially decision to ignore Iran and Uzbekistan

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the United Nations Human Rights Council’s performance during its latest session in Geneva, in particular, its decision not to examine the human rights situation in Iran and Uzbekistan.

Once again the UN Human Rights Council has not been up to the job,” the press freedom organisation said. “Like all human rights organisations, we are deeply disappointed that this body is still not managing to fulfill the role for which it was created. The countries that voted to abandon consideration of the human rights situation in Iran and Uzbekistan should be ashamed that the thousands of complaints addressed to the council by victims have thereby be consigned to oblivion.”

“After the ‘non-action motions’ that were used at the start of this decade by countries such as China, procedure 1503 now seems to be the way for certain countries to escape condemnation,” Reporters Without Borders continued. “This outrageous situation must be quickly remedied.”

Procedure 1503 concerns the examination of confidential messages sent to the council, for the most part by victims, their families or friends, or by NGOs. In the cases of Iran and Uzbekistan, thousands of complaints had been addressed to the council.

But 25 for the council’s 47 member states voted on 26 March in favour of abandoning any consideration of the situation in Iran and Uzbekistan, thereby ignoring the complaints from victims. Most of the African countries voted in favour. Brazil, Ecuador, Japan and South Korea abstained. Mexico and Switzerland abstained on Iran. The vote was on the basis of the Situations Working Group’s recommendation to end examination of the situation in these two countries. Three of the working group’s members (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe) supported the recommendation. Two (Argentine and France) were opposed.

Iran and Uzbekistan are constantly being denounced by human rights NGOs. Both countries violate the rights of journalists on a massive scale and their leaders are on the Reporters Without Borders list of “press freedom predators.”