On 17 March 2003, at the resumption in Geneva of the 59th session of the Commission on Human Rights, Reporters Without Borders denounced, at the Palais des Nations, the farce represented by Libya holding the chair. Six members of the organisation threw leaflets in the Salle des Assemblées while the new Libyan chairperson, Najat Al-Hajjaji, pronounced her inaugural speech. ’At last the UN has appointed someone who knows what she is talking about!’ was the ironic message of the leaflet thrown in thousands on the participants.
Disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrests, detention without charge or trial, pervasive censorship, harassment of opponents’ families... Libya, elected to head the UN Commission on Human Rights on 20 January past, knows a thing or two about the infringement of freedoms. Reporters Without Borders wonders today what credibility remains in a body directed by the representative of a country which abuses human rights every day.
With Libya at the helm, the Commission has just shown itself ready to cover up for the brutalities of some of its members through dirty deals. Libya’s holding of the chair is therefore the last straw. Without neglecting the high-quality work done by many special rapporteurs on the Commission, Reporters Without Borders nevertheless feels it is high time today to cease this fool’s game. This year, the organisation has therefore decided, for the first time, not to supply written and oral statements to the Commission by way of protestation. Don’t the victims of acts of violence deserve a bit more consideration and respect?