UN Human Rights Council Debates Violations in Cuba, Somalia, Palestinian Territories
Geneva, Sept. 26, 2006 — Today the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva debated reports delivered by its human rights envoys for Somalia, Cuba and the Palestinian territories. UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization that monitors the world body’s human rights activities, welcomed the reports and issued the following statement.
Report on Cuba: UN Watch applauds Ms. Christine Chanet, the Council expert on Cuba, for her persistent work under difficult circumstances, given the Cuban government’s refusal to allow her to visit the country or to otherwise cooperate. We fully endorse her call on the Cuban government to stop prosecuting citizens, and to free those already imprisoned, for exercising their basic civil and political rights—such as the 60 pro-democracy activists still sitting in jail from the government’s March 2003 crackdown. UN Watch also endorses Ms. Chanet’s calls for the Castro regime to end restrictions against non-governmental organizations, to allow for dissenting views in trade unions, press, and political parties, and to lift the travel ban that prevents Cubans from leaving the island without permission.
UN Watch condemned the Cuban ambassador for resorting to personal insults against Chanet. “We will send your report to the same place as your previous reports, i.e., to the circular file," he said. "Among your many occupations, Ms. Chanet, this is not one of your honorable jobs. No one will remember your illegitimate mandate. There is a significant contribution that you might make—by quitting.” Referring to the U.S., Cuba said “we struggle for survival as a nation against the most powerful and aggressive empire in history, this fascist clique trying to destroy us.”
“That Fidel Castro’s Cuba, one of the world’s most repressive regimes, is a member of the Human Rights Council is an outrage,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer. “Cuba uses its Council seat not to promote human rights, but to shield itself and fellow dictatorships from criticism. For months, council delegates have been subjected to Castro-style political theater, with Havana’s ambassador lambasting its political enemies, such as the U.S. and the E.U., and standing in the way of needed reforms. Cuba’s refusal to cooperate with Ms. Chanet is just another example of its obstructionist policy vis-à-vis the Council.”