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Resources updated between Monday, October 27, 2014 and Friday, October 31, 2014
October 30, 2014
UN General Assembly holds an all-day American-bashing session at behest of Cuba
On October 28, 2014 the UN General Assembly held an all-day American-bashing session. For the twenty-third year in a row the UN adopted a resolution submitted by Cuba entitled "Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba". The text was adopted by an overwhelming majority of 188 votes in favor, 2 against (Israel, United States), and 3 abstentions (Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau).
Before and after the vote the worst human rights abusers lined up to condemn the United States and congratulate Cuba on its "achievements".
Bolivia, speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China (a total of 130 of the 193 UN states), complained about the 'inhumane" embargo which was "undermining public health" in Cuba. At the same time the "Group of 77" praised Cuba for "supplying medical assistance at an international level of highest quality."
Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, congratulated Cuba on its "fight against Ebola."
Nicaragua accused the U.S. of the "inhumane" embargo which was "the most prolonged and ruthless exercise in contemporary times."
Syria said the "inhumane" embargo has "deepened the suffering of the Cuban people" and "the fact that Israel has voted with the United States was proof that it was voting against international law."
Russia said the embargo "has a pernicious impact on the international system."
Mexico "applauded the actions of the Cuban Government."
India said the embargo "undermines multilateralism and the credibility of the United Nations itself".
Vietnam praised Cuba for "attaining significant achievements."
Venezuela said the US "has become the most isolated country in the world."
Zambia complained about "untold suffering of the Cuban people."
Belarus said the embargo "resulted in the violation of human rights" while Zimbabwe complained about "great suffering" of the Cuban people.
Sudan accused the United States of pursuing "illegal and aggressive policies" against Cuba and "expressed total solidarity with Cuba."
In the end the Cuban Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, said his country would never "give up its quest for a different international order, nor cease in its struggle for 'the equilibrium of the world'."
His words were carefully chosen. "Equality" and "equal rights" among its owns citizens is not part of this Cuban government's quest.
October 29, 2014
UN elects Mugabe's Zimbabwe, slave bastion Mauritania, to serve 3-year terms on a top human rights body
The UN has just elected several notorious human rights abusers to serve a 3-year term on its body charged with promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms - the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The ECOSOC is one of six principal UN organs and consists of 54 UN members elected by the General Assembly. Its job is to "make or initiate studies and reports with respect to international economic, social, cultural, educational, health, and related matters" as well as "make recommendations for the purpose of promoting respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all."
On October 29, 2014 the General Assembly held elections for 18 new members and chose such paragons of human rights as Zimbabwe (received 178 votes of 193 UN members, the same number as France and Germany), Mauritania (177 votes), Pakistan (181 votes) and Uganda (181 votes). Here are are some examples of how new ECOSOC members have been "promoting respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all" so far.
In Zimbabwe "Security forces committed human rights abuses. The most important human rights problems remained the government's targeting for torture, abuse, arrest, and harassment of members of non-ZANU-PF [Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front] parties and civil society activists ... Executive influence and interference in the judiciary continued, and the government infringed on citizens' privacy rights ... Authorities restricted freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and movement. The government continued to evict citizens, invade farms, private businesses and properties, and demolish informal marketplaces. The government impeded nongovernmental organization (NGO) efforts to assist those displaced and other vulnerable populations. The government arrested, detained, prosecuted, and harassed NGO members. Government corruption remained widespread, including at the local level. Violence and discrimination against women; child abuse; trafficking of women and children; and discrimination against persons with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons, and persons with HIV/AIDS were problems." (US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2013, Zimbabwe)
In Mauritania "The central human rights problems were the use of torture by police to extract confessions, continuing slavery and slavery-related practices, and trafficking in persons. Other reported human rights problems included harsh prison conditions, abusive treatment in detention facilities, arbitrary arrests, and lengthy pretrial detention. Government influence over the judiciary, limits on freedom of assembly, restrictions on religious freedom for non-Muslims, and public corruption were problems... Rape was considered a serious problem... Families of the victim commonly reached an agreement with the rapist for monetary compensation...Human rights activists and lawyers reported that rape victims were stigmatized, persecuted, and even imprisoned. Domestic violence was a serious problem ... Child abuse occurred...child marriage was widespread... FGM/C [female genital mutilation/cutting] was practiced by all ethnic groups." (US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2013, Mauritania)
In Pakistan "The most serious human rights problems were extrajudicial and targeted killings, sectarian violence, disappearances, and torture...Harassment of journalists, censorship, and self-censorship continued....Sectarian violence and discrimination against religious minorities continued. Corruption within the government and police was a persistent problem. Rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, "honor" crimes, other harmful traditional practices, abuse, and discrimination against women and girls continued to be serious problems. Child abuse and commercial sexual exploitation of children persisted. Widespread human trafficking – including forced and bonded labor – remained a serious problem. Societal discrimination against national, ethnic, and racial minorities persisted, as did discrimination based on caste, sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status... Lack of government accountability remained a problem, and abuses often went unpunished, fostering a culture of impunity." (US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2013, Pakistan)
In Uganda "the state security forces (SSF) committed human rights abuses. The three most serious human rights problems in the country were a lack of respect for the integrity of the person (including unlawful killings, torture, and other abuse of suspects and detainees); restrictions on civil liberties (including freedom of assembly, the media, and association); and violence and discrimination against marginalized groups, such as women (including female genital mutilation/cutting), children, persons with disabilities, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community....Officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity... Rape remained a serious problem throughout the country...authorities did not investigate most cases... Domestic violence against women remained widespread... Child abuse remained a serious problem, particularly rape and sexual abuse of girls... Corporal punishment remained a problem in some schools and sometimes resulted in death...There were numerous reports of ritual sacrifice of children during the year." (US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2013, Uganda)
October 27, 2014
"Dozens of girls and young women are being abducted by Islamic extremists in northeast Nigeria, raising doubts about an announced cease-fire and the hoped-for release of 219 schoolgirls held captive since April.
"Thirty teenage girls and boys have been kidnapped since Wednesday from villages around Mafa town, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, the local government chairman Shettima Maina told reporters.
"Escaping residents said Boko Haram insurgents abducted 80 girls and women from neighboring Adamawa state on Oct. 18.
"Older women in the group were released the following day and said the extremists kept about 40 younger women and girls, according to the residents. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation by the insurgents.
"On Oct. 17, Nigeria's military announced a cease-fire had been agreed with Boko Haram. He ordered his troops to immediately comply.
"But the insurgents have launched several attacks since then and on Friday a multinational force including troops from Nigeria and Niger wrested back control of a town held by Boko Haram on the western shores of Lake Chad."