Pledges of Human Rights Council Candidates vs. the Reality 2013

According to the UN General Assembly resolution that created the Council (A/RES/60/251, adopted March 15, 2006): "when electing members of the Council, Member States shall take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto;"


The Human Rights Pledge of China
    "The Chinese Government is committed to the promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Chinese people, and has worked unremittingly towards this goal...The past few years have witnessed new achievements in the promotion and protection of human rights..."

Some of what China neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the military and internal security forces. Repression and coercion, particularly against organizations and individuals involved in rights advocacy and public interest issues, were routine. Individuals and groups seen as politically sensitive by authorities continued to face tight restrictions on their freedom to assemble, practice religion, and travel. Efforts to silence and intimidate political activists and public interest lawyers continued to increase. Authorities resorted to extralegal measures such as enforced disappearance, "soft detention," and strict house arrest, including house arrest of family members, to prevent the public voicing of independent opinions. Public interest law firms that took on sensitive cases continued to face harassment, disbarment of legal staff, and closure...Numerous former prisoners and detainees reported that they were beaten, subjected to electric shock, forced to sit on stools for hours on end, deprived of sleep, and otherwise subjected to physical and psychological abuse...
    As in previous years, citizens did not have the right to change their government, and citizens had limited forms of redress against the government. Other human rights problems during the year included: extrajudicial killings, including executions without due process; enforced disappearance and incommunicado detention, including prolonged illegal detentions at unofficial holding facilities known as "black jails"; torture and coerced confessions of prisoners; detention and harassment of lawyers, journalists, writers, dissidents, petitioners, and others who sought to exercise peacefully their rights under the law; a lack of due process in judicial proceedings; political control of courts and judges; closed trials; the use of administrative detention; restrictions on freedom to assemble, practice religion, and travel; failure to protect refugees and asylum seekers; pressure on other countries to forcibly return PRC citizens to China; intense scrutiny of and restrictions on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); discrimination against women, minorities, and persons with disabilities; a coercive birth-limitation policy that in some cases resulted in forced abortion (sometimes at advanced stages of pregnancy) or forced sterilization; trafficking in persons; prohibitions on independent unions and a lack of protection for workers' right to strike; and the use of forced labor, including prison labor."


The Human Rights Pledge of Cuba
    "Cuba attaches the greatest importance to international cooperation for the promotion and protection of human rights within the United Nations and, to that end, aspires to be elected as a member of the Human Rights Council... Cuban women and men have made significant progress in the enjoyment of all their human rights...In Cuba, equality and non-discrimination are fully guaranteed...Institutional racism has been eradicated."

Some of what Cuba neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The principal human rights abuses were: abridgement of the right of citizens to change the government; government threats, intimidation, mobs, harassment, and detentions to prevent free expression and peaceful assembly; and a record number of politically motivated and at times violent short-term detentions. The following additional human rights abuses continued: unlawful use of force, harsh prison conditions, arbitrary arrests, selective prosecution, and denial of fair trial. Authorities interfered with privacy and engaged in pervasive monitoring of private communications. The government did not respect freedom of speech and the press; severely restricted Internet access and maintained a monopoly on media outlets; circumscribed academic freedoms; limited freedom of movement; and maintained significant restrictions on the ability of religious groups to meet and worship. The government refused to recognize independent human rights groups or permit them to function legally...Laws banning criticism of government leaders and distribution of antigovernment propaganda carry penalties ranging from three months' to 15 years' imprisonment...The law does not recognize domestic violence as a distinct category of violence...racial discrimination occurred frequently....Afro‑Cubans often suffered racial discrimination, including disproportionate stops for identity checks and searches...Afro‑Cubans were represented disproportionately in neighborhoods with the worst housing conditions and were economically disadvantaged...There was no known law prohibiting official discrimination against persons with disabilities."


The Human Rights Pledge of Algeria
    "Algeria also seeks to reaffirm its commitment to strengthening the Council's efforts to promote and protect human rights around the world...The promotion and integration of women in all areas of society is part of the legacy of the ideals of the Algerian Revolution...The Government of Algeria will redouble its efforts to achieve its goals of advancing the democratic process and diversifying the economy, both of which depend on the consolidation of the rule of law."

Some of what Algeria neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The three most significant continuing human rights problems were restrictions on freedom of assembly and association, lack of judicial independence, and reported overuse of pretrial detention. Other human rights concerns were limitations on the ability of citizens to change their government, excessive use of force by police, and poor prison conditions. Additionally, widespread corruption accompanied reports of limited government transparency. Women faced violence and discrimination...The penal code states that a person must be "incapacitated" for 15 days and a woman claiming domestic abuse must visit a "forensic physician" for an examination to document injuries...Child abuse...continued to be a problem...A December 2011 report from the National Foundation for Health Progress and Research Development, an NGO on children's issues funded by the EU, indicated that 5,500 children were victims of some form of abuse during the year... 1,500 cases of child abduction and disappearance were reported during the year throughout the country."


The Human Rights Pledge of Saudi Arabia
    "Saudi Arabia supported and complied with the resolutions of the Human Rights Council...Saudi Arabia has adopted several significant laws that protect human rights, including the Judiciary Law...The Shura Council approved the Child Protection Law, which ... is aimed at realizing the best interests of the child...Recent human rights efforts of Saudi Arabia at the national level...Promoting a culture of human rights...A national plan for human rights education has been adopted...In November 2012, the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue opened in Vienna...Saudi Arabia has established the National Commission for Human Rights Education...Saudi Arabia contributed $1 million in support of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women...Saudi Arabia pledged to contribute $10 million over a three-year period in order to establish the [United Nations Counter-Terrorism] Centre. This was followed by an additional contribution of $100 million...Should Saudi Arabia be selected as a member for the period 2014-2016, it pledges to continue to support tirelessly the work of the Human Rights Council... Saudi Arabia furthermore affirms its commitment to... support the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights by contributing $1 million over a period of five years."

Some of what Saudi Arabia neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The most important human rights problems reported included citizens' lack of the right and legal means to change their government; pervasive restrictions on universal rights such as freedom of expression, including on the Internet, and freedom of assembly, association, movement, and religion...Capital punishment is the prescribed penalty for sorcery...The country lacks a written penal code listing criminal offenses and the associated penalties for them...The courts continued to a judicial penalty floggings and amputation, public execution by beheading...The religious police has authority to monitor social behavior and enforce morality... In practice authorities held persons for...sometimes years and reportedly failed to advise them promptly of their rights, including their legal right to be represented by an attorney...The government charged those using the Internet to express dissent with subversion, blasphemy, and apostasy... There were no laws criminalizing violence specifically against women....The government did not clearly define domestic violence...The guardianship system requires that every woman have a close male relative as her "guardian" with the legal authority to approve her travel outside of the country ... A guardian also has authority to at a university or college....Most employers required women have their guardian's permission. A husband who "verbally"...divorces his wife or refuses to sign final divorce papers continues to be her legal guardian. Widespread societal exclusion...restricted women from using many public facilities...The testimony of one man equals that of two women. All judges are male...Sharia...suggests girls may marry after reaching puberty...Girls as young as age10 may be married. Most rape cases were unreported because victims faced societal reprisal, diminished marriage opportunities, criminal sanction up to imprisonment, or accusations of adultery...Consensual same-sex sexual conduct is punishable by death or flogging."


The Human Rights Pledge of Morocco
    "The Kingdom's commitments to human rights herewith presented are the logical international extension of the national momentum created for democracy, the rule of law and human rights. They establish Morocco's deep-rooted attachment to the universal values of gender equality, pluralism, moderation, tolerance, peaceful coexistence and dialogue between civilizations and cultures."

Some of what Morocco neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The most significant, continuing human rights problems were the lack of citizens' right to change the constitutional provisions establishing the country's monarchical form of government, corruption in all branches of government, and widespread disregard for the rule of law by security forces. A variety of sources reported other human rights problems. These included police use of excessive force to quell peaceful protests, resulting in hundreds of injuries; torture and other abuses by the security forces; incommunicado detention; poor prison and detention conditions; political prisoners and detainees; infringement of freedom of speech and the press; lack of freedom of assembly; restrictions on the right to practice one's religion; lack of independence of the judiciary...[P]rison staff beat prisoners with sticks and hoses, hung them on doors with handcuffs, beat the soles of their feet, slapped them, pricked them with needles, burned them, kicked them...
    Domestic violence was widespread...The law is lenient toward husbands who commit crimes against their wives. Police rarely became involved in domestic disputes...The penal code criminalizes "knowingly hiding or subverting the search for a married woman who is evading the authority to which she is legally subject," which has been used to involuntarily return women to abusive homes...The penal code criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity..."


The Human Rights Pledge of Russia
    "In international forums and in its domestic policy, the Russian Federation places a particular focus on countering racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance...Russian law prohibits any form of restriction on the rights of citizens on social, racial, gender, ethnic, linguistic, religious or any other grounds, which precludes the emergence of discriminatory policies against particular groups of citizens..."

Some of what Russia neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The most significant human rights problems during the year involved:
    1. Restrictions of Civil Liberties: Following increased mobilization of civil society and mass demonstrations in reaction to elections, the government introduced a series of measures limiting political pluralism. During the year Russia adopted laws that impose harsh fines for unsanctioned meetings; identify nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as "foreign agents" if they engage in "political activity" while receiving foreign funding; suspend NGOs that have U.S. citizen members or receive U.S. support and are engaged in "political activity" or "pose a threat to Russian interests"; recriminalize libel; allow authorities to block Web sites without a court order; and significantly expand the definition of treason. Media outlets were pressured to alter their coverage or to fire reporters and editors critical of the government.
    2. Violations of Electoral Processes: Domestic and international observers described the presidential campaign as skewed in favor of the ruling party's candidate, Vladimir Putin. Procedural irregularities marred voting, with reports of vote fraud, administrative measures disadvantaging the opposition, and pressure on election monitoring groups. Several gubernatorial elections in October were likewise criticized.
    3. Administration of Justice: Due process was denied during the detentions and trials of protesters arrested following the May 6 demonstration in Moscow in which a small group of the protestors engaged in violence; in the detention, trial, and sentencing of the members of the punk rock group Pussy Riot, who were charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred; and searches and criminal cases lodged against several political activists. Individuals responsible for the deaths of prominent journalists, activists, and whistleblowers, notably Sergey Magnitskiy, have yet to be brought to be brought to justice...
    Domestic violence remained a major problem. There is no significant domestic violence provision in the criminal code and no legal definition of domestic violence...The most recent statistics available from the Ministry of Internal Affairs were from 2008. According to this data, more than 14,000 women die each year due to violence by their husbands and relatives... Child abuse was a widespread problem. In 2011 Pavel Astakhov, federal ombudsman for children's rights, noted the rate of reported child abuse had grown "30-fold" since 2003 but that "most nonviolent offenders get off with a suspended sentence." November authorities in Zmiyevskaya Balka removed a memorial plaque that had referred to the Holocaust and the killing of 27,000 Jews by Nazis. The new plaque replaced the word "Holocaust" with "mass killing by the fascists of captured Soviet citizens" and did not mention Jews specifically as victims...St. Petersburg, Ryazan, Archangelsk, Kostroma, Bashkortostan, Samara, Krasnodar, Novosibirsk, and Magadansk had laws that criminalize the "propaganda of homosexuality" to minors, which limits the rights of free expression and assembly for citizens who wish to publicly advocate for LGBT rights."