For Immediate Release
UN: Rights Council Condemns Violations in Kyrgyzstan
Council Action Also Needed on Iran, Afghanistan, and Elsewhere
GENEVA - The United Nations Human Rights Council took positive steps to
respond to human rights emergencies in Kyrgyzstan and Somalia in its
session that ended on June 18, 2010, Human Rights Watch said today. But
the council's failure to act on Iran and its weak response to the
situation in Afghanistan indicate that the body is still taking a
piecemeal approach to fulfilling its mandate, Human Rights Watch said.
The council condemned the ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan and
called on its government to conduct a full and transparent
investigation into the events of April 7 that led to the ouster of the
previous government and the ongoing ethnic violence, while also
agreeing to examine the situation in Somalia during its next session.
The council also decided to send a fact-finding mission "to investigate
violations of international law resulting from Israeli attacks on the
flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance" on May 31.
"The council should show the same willingness to act in other
situations like Iran and Afghanistan as it has shown on Kyrgyzstan and
Gaza," said Julie de Rivero, Geneva advocacy director for Human Rights
Watch. "It's time for the council to stop being selective and recognize
that people facing human rights violations deserve the council's
attention no matter where they live."
The council did not take any action on Iran during its session
despite calls from Iranian civil society activists for a response to
the government's continuing crackdown on civil society. However, 56
states joined a statement made at the session expressing concern over
"the lack of progress in the protection of human rights in Iran,
particularly since the events surrounding the elections in Iran last
On Afghanistan, the council adopted a narrow resolution that
focused only on attacks on school children. While the council's belated
attention to the dire human rights situation in that country was a step
forward, the council's failure to address the full range of rights
violations in Afghanistan or even to call for accountability for the
attacks on the children was regrettable, Human Rights Watch said.
In other action during this council session, a group of UN experts
presented a report on secret detentions that revealed the use of that
practice by a number of countries in their counterterrorism
programs. In addition, the council-appointed expert on the right to
health, Anand Grover, called in his annual report for same-sex
practices among consenting adults to be decriminalized in all
countries, leading to the first discussion at the council on this issue.
The council also adopted by consensus a resolution on religious
freedom, after three years in which it had been strongly divided on
this issue. The resolution expressed concern at the overall rise in
intolerance and violence directed at members of religious communities.
The council also appointed a new expert on the right to freedom of
religion and belief with a three-year mandate.
The close of this council session was delayed for several hours
when some countries objected to two people nominated by the council
president for appointments to positions as experts on various aspects
of human rights. After a lengthy adjournment following the intervention
by those states, the council president's nominations were withdrawn,
and two other nominees were selected for these posts.
"The council's actions regarding selection of experts to fill these
positions call into question its commitment to put an expert's
qualifications ahead of politics in making appointments," de Rivero
A group of 108 states also took the positive step of coming together
to emphasize their concerns about high rates of maternal mortality,
Human Rights Watch said. They called for the UN high commissioner for
human rights to promote a human-rights-based approach to maternal
mortality by presenting her recent report about the issue at the
Millennium Development Goals Summit in September, aimed at accelerating
progress towards attainment of the goals.
"While the council's overall performance has improved in some ways,
much more needs to be done," de Rivero said. "There is a huge gap
between the council's actions and the real needs of people facing human
rights violations across the globe."
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