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Resources updated between Monday, June 08, 2009 and Sunday, June 14, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

During the Annual Full-day Meeting on Women's Human Rights held last week at the Human Rights Council, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and member states expressed their opposition to the idea of setting up a new Special Rapporteur who would monitor laws that discriminate against women. According to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the establishment of this new mechanism has been under consideration since 2005 and is supported by both the Secretary-General and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Active OIC opposition - common on all human rights fronts at the UN - introduces a major impediment to realizing this idea for the better protection of women's rights.

Pakistan, speaking on behalf ofthe Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), "disagreed" with the proposal because "The solitary focus of this mandate would lead to more polemics that surround contemporary discussions on issues such as universality versus respect of cultural, legal and religious diversities. It would also lead to further polarization in the system as it may be perceived as against certain regional and religious groups...The OIC believes that the international community needs to be afforded ample time and opportunity with full respect to cultural diversity and better coordination of existing standards to graduate to universally-agreed standards."

Egypt "did not favor" this idea..."It will lead to unnecessary duplication and waste of resources...No single individual would be able to follow laws on all countries and have knowledge of different legal systems in the various parts of the world, let alone apply common yardstick to evaluate them...This might lead to polarization and politicization because some groups might feel specially targeted."

Algeria argued that "We shouldn't lose sight of the importance of taking into account national and regional special characteristics and historical and religious diversity...[W]e must insure there is no proliferation of mechanisms on the subject."

At the end of the debate,Iran suggested a "remedy" for violence against women:"National and regional particularities as well as various cultural historical and cultural background should be taken into account in an appropriate manner...I would like to...emphasize the role of chastity on strengthening crime prevention to eliminate violence against women and girl children..."

Why the opposition to close monitoring of laws that discriminate against women:

  • In Pakistan rape is frequent, prosecutions are rare and there is no specific legislation prohibiting domestic violence.
  • In Egypt spousal rape is not illegal and the law does not prohibit domestic violence or spousal abuse. The law requires any kind of assault victim to produce multiple eyewitnesses, a difficult condition for a domestic abuse victim to meet. The law does not specifically address honor crimes.
  • In Algeria spousal rape is not illegal and the penal code [which is applicable in domestic violence cases] states that a person must be incapacitated for 15 days or more and present a doctor's note certifying the injuries before filing charges for battery.
  • In Iran the constitution bars women from becoming president or serving as supreme leader or as certain types of judges. Adultery is a capital offense punishable by stoning. Spousal rape is not illegal and domestic violence is not specifically prohibited by law.

June 11, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

LIBYA - PRESIDENT OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY


Today, Libya was elected President of the UN General Assembly. Ali Abdussalam Treky of Libya, Libyan Minister for African Affairs, will assume the role of President in September. The General Assembly is supposed to assist "in the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion." Here is how Libya has "fulfilled" the General Assembly's mandate:
    US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2008, Libya:
    "Citizens did not have the right to change their government. Remaining problems included reported disappearances; torture; arbitrary arrest; lengthy pretrial and sometimes incommunicado detention; official impunity and poor prison conditions...denial of a fair public trial by an independent judiciary, political prisoners and detainees, and the lack of judicial recourse for alleged human rights violations...The government restricted civil liberties and freedoms of speech, press...assembly, and association...freedom of religion; corruption and lack of transparency; societal discrimination against women, ethnic minorities, and foreign workers; trafficking in persons; and restriction of labor rights."
Libya already holds a non-permanent seat on the Security Council - with the job of promoting "peace and security" - until the end of 2009. From this seat, Libya promotes the murder of Israelis or anyone it claims should be "resisted": "My delegation stresses the right of the Palestinian people to resist occupation. That right is recognized under all international norms and laws. My country completely rejects any linkage between resistance to occupation and terrorism." (July 22, 2008)

SUDAN - A VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY


Today, Sudan was elected a Vice-President of the UN General Assembly. Here is how Sudan has "fulfilled" the General Assembly mandate. Its President is currently evading an international arrest warrant on war crimes and crimes against humanity. And:
    US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2008, Sudan:
    "Civilians in Darfur continued to suffer from the effects of genocide. Government forces bombed villages, killed civilians including internally displaced persons (IDPs), and collaborated with janjaweed militias and tribal factions to raze villages and perpetrate violence against women...The government's human rights record...abridgement of citizens' right to change their government; extrajudicial and other unlawful killings by government forces and other government-aligned groups throughout the country; disappearances...torture, beatings, rape, and other cruel, inhumane treatment or punishment by security forces; harsh prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention, incommunicado detention of suspected government opponents, and prolonged pretrial detention; executive interference with the judiciary and denial of due process; obstruction of the delivery of humanitarian assistance; restrictions on privacy; restrictions on freedom of speech...on the press...on freedoms of assembly, association, religion, and movement...violence and discrimination against women, including female genital mutilation (FGM); child abuse, including sexual violence and recruitment of child soldiers..."

ALGERIA - CHAIR OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY'S LEGAL (SIXTH) COMMITTEE


Today Algeria was elected Chairperson of the UN's Legal Committee, known as the Sixth Committee. This body, composed of representatives of all 192 states, is the General Assembly's "primary forum for the consideration of legal questions." Here is how Algeria "fulfills" the Sixth Committee mandate:
    US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2008, Algeria:
    "[T]he president exercises supreme judicial authority, and executive branch decrees and influence limited judicial independence...[A]uthorities did not completely respect legal provisions regarding defendants' rights and denied due process. The High Judicial Council is responsible for judicial discipline and the appointment of all judges. President Bouteflika serves as the president of the council...Legal decisions regarding family matters are based on Shari'a (Islamic law) as well as civil law...The judiciary...lacked independence in human rights cases. Family connections and status of the parties involved reportedly influenced decisions."

IRAN - A VICE-CHAIR OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY'S LEGAL (SIXTH) COMMITTEE


Today Iran was elected a Vice-Chair of the of the UN's Legal Committee, known as the Sixth Committee. This body, composed of representatives of all 192 states, is the General Assembly's "primary forum for the consideration of legal questions." Here is how Iran "fulfills" the Sixth Committee mandate:
    US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2008, Iran:
    "[T]he court system was corrupt and subject to government and religious influence...[T]he head of the judiciary shall be a cleric chosen by the supreme leader. The head of the Supreme Court and prosecutor general also must be clerics. Women continued to be barred from serving as certain types of judges...Defendants did not have the right to confront their accusers, and were not granted access to government-held evidence...Revolutionary court judges were chosen in part due to their ideological commitment to the system. Authorities often charged individuals with undefined crimes, such as "antirevolutionary behavior," "moral corruption," and "siding with global arrogance."...Secret or summary trials of only five minutes' duration occurred frequently. Other trials were deliberately designed to publicize a coerced confession..."

THE UN'S IDEA OF AUTHORITY FIGURES:

CROOKS, DESPOTS AND HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSERS

June 9, 2009

Monday, June 08, 2009

This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in National Review Online.

President Obama's Cairo speech was nothing short of an earthquake - a distortion of history, an insult to the Jewish people, and an abandonment of very real human-rights victims in the Arab and Muslim worlds. It is not surprising that Arabs and Muslims in a position to speak were enthusiastic. It is more surprising that American commentators are praising the speech for its political craftiness, rather than decrying its treachery of historic proportions.

Obama equated the Holocaust to Palestinian "dislocation." In his words: "The Jewish people were persecuted...anti-Semitism...culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust...Six million Jews were killed...On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland." This parallelism amounts to the fictitious Arab narrative that the deliberate mass murder of six million Jews for the crime of being Jewish is analogous to a Jewish-driven violation of Palestinian rights.

Speaking in an Arab country to Arabs and Muslims, Obama pointedly singled out European responsibility for the Holocaust - "anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust." In other contexts, the European emphasis would be a curiosity. In Egypt, it was no accident. The Arab storyline has always been that Arabs have been forced to suffer the creation of Israel for a European crime.

In fact, Obama's Egyptian hosts would have been only too familiar with Arab anti-Semitism during World War II (and beyond). After all, Obama was speaking in the country that schooled and later welcomed back Grand Mufti Haj Muhammed Amin al-Husseini as a national hero. This was the man who spent the war years in Berlin as Hitler's guest facilitating the murder of Jews.

Obama thought he would prove his even-handedness towards Israel by boasting of Friday's trip to a concentration camp and rejecting Holocaust denial. In this context, however, the move of doing Jews these supposed favors appears to be cynical political opportunism, especially having just set the Holocaust side-by-side with the "suffering" and "pain" of Palestinians "for more than 60 years." After all, the president made no emotive references to the "intolerable" "suffering" of Israeli victims of Arab terror "for more than 60 years." The word "terrorism" never left his lips. Far from bolstering the fight against terror and the anti-Semitism driving it, such maneuvers embolden more hate and violence against Israelis.

Instead, Obama sought Arab and Muslim approbation by drawing a moral equivalence between those who have rejected Israel from the outset (and still seek its outright destruction or a "right of return" intended to terminate a Jewish majority) and the Jews who have kept them at bay since May 14, 1948. In his words: "There has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history...It's easy to point fingers - for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks." Calling the Israeli-Arab conflict a "stalemate" represents an abysmal failure to acknowledge historical reality. The modern state of Israel emerged after an internationally approved partition plan of November 1947 that would have created two states, one Jewish and one Arab; this plan was accepted by Jews and rejected by Arabs. One people has always been prepared to live in peace, and the other has chosen war in 1948 and 1956 and 1967 and 1973 and 1982, and renewed terrorism after its every loss.

Bereft of the most basic understanding of Judaism and Jewish history, Obama claimed that "the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied," for "around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries." A Jewish homeland in Israel is not rooted in tragedy or in centuries of persecution around the world. It is rooted in a wondrous, unbroken, and spiritual relationship to the land of Israel and to Jerusalem for thousands of years. Coupled with the president's stress on "European responsibility" for the Holocaust, his words reinforced the lethal belief that Israel is the creature of transplanted, alien Jews.

Obama's stunning offense to Israel and the Jewish people went farther. Israelis have come to occupy territory in response to Arab-initiated wars of intended annihilation, but Obama analogized Palestinian "daily humiliations...that come with occupation" to the "humiliation of segregation" of black slaves in America and the "moral authority" of "people from South Africa." His Arab audience understood that the president of the United States had just given a nod to the single most potent defamation of the Jewish state today - the allegation that Israel is a racist, apartheid state.

After expressing his belief in a moral equivalence between the claims of Palestinians and the claims of the victims of slavery and apartheid, Obama juxtaposed his admission of Israel's "right to exist" with his assertion that "the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements." Every word of this speech was carefully weighed. It was therefore no mishap that for the first time a U.S. president has denied the legitimacy of Israeli settlements, period. Such an assertion abrogates every agreement between Arabs and Israelis, which have always left the ultimate determination of which settlements will stay or go to a bilateral peace process and final status negotiations. Even the Roadmap reads: "Phase III: Permanent Status Agreement and End of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict...a final, permanent status resolution...on borders, Jerusalem, refugees, settlements."

Furthermore, the idea that Jews are not permitted to live in any territory that might become part of a future Palestinian state means only one thing: apartheid Palestine. Twenty percent of Israel's population,1.5 million people, are Arab (with more democratic rights than in any Arab state). But the notion of any Jewish presence in Palestinian territory is allegedly an abomination. Why should a future transfer of governmental authority mean "no Jews allowed"?

But judging by Obama's speech, only one "dislocation" counts. After placing the Holocaust side-by-side with the Palestinian "pain of dislocation," he ignored the dislocation of 800,000 Jewish refugees from all over the Arab Middle East in response to the creation of Israel.

Jewish refugees from Arab intolerance were not the only human-rights casualties the president chose to dismiss. Three different times Obama defended the right of Muslim women to cover up their bodies. Never once did he mention the right of Muslim women to refuse to cover up their bodies - a right denied on pain of arrest and death by many of the very communities he was addressing. In the name of "freedom of religion" he chose to "welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah's interfaith dialogue." The Saudi Arabian government criminalizes the public practice of any religion but Islam. This manufactured human-rights fantasy has done a tremendous disservice to the oppressed across the Arab and Muslim world.

President Obama's meticulously planned and executed Egyptian speech marks the lowest point in the U.S. presidency's understanding and appreciation of the Jewish state, its history, and its people's future. Added to his administration's evident infirmity on Iran, the speech of June 4, 2009, by the supposed leader of the free world will be remembered as a major decline in human history.

This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in National Review Online.

President Obama's Cairo speech was nothing short of an earthquake - a distortion of history, an insult to the Jewish people, and an abandonment of very real human-rights victims in the Arab and Muslim worlds. It is not surprising that Arabs and Muslims in a position to speak were enthusiastic. It is more surprising that American commentators are praising the speech for its political craftiness, rather than decrying its treachery of historic proportions.

Obama equated the Holocaust to Palestinian "dislocation." In his words: "The Jewish people were persecuted...anti-Semitism...culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust...Six million Jews were killed...On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland." This parallelism amounts to the fictitious Arab narrative that the deliberate mass murder of six million Jews for the crime of being Jewish is analogous to a Jewish-driven violation of Palestinian rights.

Speaking in an Arab country to Arabs and Muslims, Obama pointedly singled out European responsibility for the Holocaust - "anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust." In other contexts, the European emphasis would be a curiosity. In Egypt, it was no accident. The Arab storyline has always been that Arabs have been forced to suffer the creation of Israel for a European crime.

In fact, Obama's Egyptian hosts would have been only too familiar with Arab anti-Semitism during World War II (and beyond). After all, Obama was speaking in the country that schooled and later welcomed back Grand Mufti Haj Muhammed Amin al-Husseini as a national hero. This was the man who spent the war years in Berlin as Hitler's guest facilitating the murder of Jews.

Obama thought he would prove his even-handedness towards Israel by boasting of Friday's trip to a concentration camp and rejecting Holocaust denial. In this context, however, the move of doing Jews these supposed favors appears to be cynical political opportunism, especially having just set the Holocaust side-by-side with the "suffering" and "pain" of Palestinians "for more than 60 years." After all, the president made no emotive references to the "intolerable" "suffering" of Israeli victims of Arab terror "for more than 60 years." The word "terrorism" never left his lips. Far from bolstering the fight against terror and the anti-Semitism driving it, such maneuvers embolden more hate and violence against Israelis.

Instead, Obama sought Arab and Muslim approbation by drawing a moral equivalence between those who have rejected Israel from the outset (and still seek its outright destruction or a "right of return" intended to terminate a Jewish majority) and the Jews who have kept them at bay since May 14, 1948. In his words: "There has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history...It's easy to point fingers - for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks." Calling the Israeli-Arab conflict a "stalemate" represents an abysmal failure to acknowledge historical reality. The modern state of Israel emerged after an internationally approved partition plan of November 1947 that would have created two states, one Jewish and one Arab; this plan was accepted by Jews and rejected by Arabs. One people has always been prepared to live in peace, and the other has chosen war in 1948 and 1956 and 1967 and 1973 and 1982, and renewed terrorism after its every loss.

Bereft of the most basic understanding of Judaism and Jewish history, Obama claimed that "the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied," for "around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries." A Jewish homeland in Israel is not rooted in tragedy or in centuries of persecution around the world. It is rooted in a wondrous, unbroken, and spiritual relationship to the land of Israel and to Jerusalem for thousands of years. Coupled with the president's stress on "European responsibility" for the Holocaust, his words reinforced the lethal belief that Israel is the creature of transplanted, alien Jews.

Obama's stunning offense to Israel and the Jewish people went farther. Israelis have come to occupy territory in response to Arab-initiated wars of intended annihilation, but Obama analogized Palestinian "daily humiliations...that come with occupation" to the "humiliation of segregation" of black slaves in America and the "moral authority" of "people from South Africa." His Arab audience understood that the president of the United States had just given a nod to the single most potent defamation of the Jewish state today - the allegation that Israel is a racist, apartheid state.

After expressing his belief in a moral equivalence between the claims of Palestinians and the claims of the victims of slavery and apartheid, Obama juxtaposed his admission of Israel's "right to exist" with his assertion that "the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements." Every word of this speech was carefully weighed. It was therefore no mishap that for the first time a U.S. president has denied the legitimacy of Israeli settlements, period. Such an assertion abrogates every agreement between Arabs and Israelis, which have always left the ultimate determination of which settlements will stay or go to a bilateral peace process and final status negotiations. Even the Roadmap reads: "Phase III: Permanent Status Agreement and End of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict...a final, permanent status resolution...on borders, Jerusalem, refugees, settlements."

Furthermore, the idea that Jews are not permitted to live in any territory that might become part of a future Palestinian state means only one thing: apartheid Palestine. Twenty percent of Israel's population,1.5 million people, are Arab (with more democratic rights than in any Arab state). But the notion of any Jewish presence in Palestinian territory is allegedly an abomination. Why should a future transfer of governmental authority mean "no Jews allowed"?

But judging by Obama's speech, only one "dislocation" counts. After placing the Holocaust side-by-side with the Palestinian "pain of dislocation," he ignored the dislocation of 800,000 Jewish refugees from all over the Arab Middle East in response to the creation of Israel.

Jewish refugees from Arab intolerance were not the only human-rights casualties the president chose to dismiss. Three different times Obama defended the right of Muslim women to cover up their bodies. Never once did he mention the right of Muslim women to refuse to cover up their bodies - a right denied on pain of arrest and death by many of the very communities he was addressing. In the name of "freedom of religion" he chose to "welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah's interfaith dialogue." The Saudi Arabian government criminalizes the public practice of any religion but Islam. This manufactured human-rights fantasy has done a tremendous disservice to the oppressed across the Arab and Muslim world.

President Obama's meticulously planned and executed Egyptian speech marks the lowest point in the U.S. presidency's understanding and appreciation of the Jewish state, its history, and its people's future. Added to his administration's evident infirmity on Iran, the speech of June 4, 2009, by the supposed leader of the free world will be remembered as a major decline in human history.