Pledges of Human Rights Council Candidates vs. the Reality 2006

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

Some of what China neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "[T]he government's human rights record remained poor...There were an increased number of high-profile cases involving the monitoring, harassment, detention, arrest, and imprisonment of journalists, writers, activists, and defense lawyers, many of whom were seeking to exercise their rights under law. The government tightened restrictions on freedom of speech and the press, including stricter control and censorship of the Internet. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), both local and international, continued to face increased scrutiny and restrictions...[C]itizens did not have the right to change their government. Other serious human rights abuses included instances of extrajudicial killings; torture and coerced confessions of prisoners; and the use of forced labor, including prison labor...[T]he party and state exercised strict political control of courts and judges, and maintained closed trials and administrative detention. Executions often took place on the day of conviction or immediately after the denial of an appeal. A lack of due process and new restrictions on lawyers further limited progress toward rule of law. Individuals and groups, especially those considered politically sensitive, continued to face tight restrictions on their freedom to assemble; their freedom to practice religion, including strengthened enforcement of religious affairs regulations implemented in 2005; and their freedom to travel. The government continued its coercive birth limitation policy, in some cases resulting in forced abortion and sterilization."


The Human Rights Pledge of Tunisia
    "Tunisia is a party to all international and regional conventions on human rights" (including Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment)

Some of what Tunisia neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The government's human rights record remained poor, and the government persisted in committing serious abuses ... security forces reportedly tortured detainees to elicit confessions and discourage resistance. The forms of torture and other abuse included: electric shock; submersion of the head in water; beatings with hands, sticks, and police batons; suspension, sometimes manacled, from cell doors and rods resulting in loss of consciousness; and cigarette burns ... Lawyers and human rights organizations reported that courts routinely failed to investigate allegations of torture and mistreatment and accepted as evidence confessions extracted through torture...Government limited press freedom and intimidated journalists, editors, and publishers into practicing self censorship. Security forces closely monitored press activity. "


The Human Rights Pledge of Algeria
    "Algeria attaches great importance to the promotion and protection of human rights ... The Government has undertaken a reform of the justice sector to bring it progressively into conformity with international norms... Its adherence to all of the international legal instruments on human rights has enabled it to bring its national legislation gradually up to the level of international standards"

Some of what Algeria neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "Thousands of disappearances occurred in the mid-1990s, most of which were attributed to the security forces. The last known disappearance, according to local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), occurred in 2002 ... Nearly all of the disappearances remained unresolved ... No reported prosecutions of security force personnel stemmed from these cases ... the government has refused to investigate cases to avoid the possibility of criminal charges against security forces or other government officials. For courts to hear charges of disappearance, the law requires at least two eyewitnesses. Courts have therefore refused to consider cases where a family member, as a single eyewitness to an abduction, had identified specific policemen as the abductors ... Government pressure on the press markedly increased during the year. The government's use of defamation laws to harass and arrest journalists, its closure of two newspapers for debts to the state-owned printing house, and its continued grant of an advertising monopoly to the state-owned advertising agency intimidated papers into practicing self-censorship."


The Human Rights Pledge of Pakistan
    "Promotion of human dignity, fundamental freedoms and human rights, equal status and rights of the followers of all religions and prohibition of discrimination on account of religion, race, caste or creed etc are enshrined in Articles 9-29 of the Constitution of Pakistan."

Some of what Pakistan neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The government's human rights record remained poor. Major problems included restrictions on citizens' right to change their government, extrajudicial killings, torture, and rape. The country experienced an increase in disappearances of provincial activists and political opponents, especially in provinces experiencing internal turmoil and insurgencies. Poor prison conditions, arbitrary arrest, and lengthy pretrial detention remained problems, as did a lack of judicial independence. Harassment, intimidation, and arrests of journalists increased during the year. The government limited freedoms of association, religion, and movement, and imprisoned political leaders. Corruption was widespread in the government and police forces, and the government made little attempt to combat the problem. Domestic violence and abuse against women, such as honor crimes and discriminatory legislation that affected women and religious minorities remained serious problems. Widespread trafficking in persons and exploitation of indentured, bonded, and child labor were ongoing problems. Child abuse, commercial sexual exploitation of children, discrimination against persons with disabilities, and worker rights remained concerns."


The Human Rights Pledge of Saudi Arabia:

Some of what Saudi Arabia neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The following significant human rights problems were reported [in Saudi Arabia]: no right to peacefully change the government; infliction of severe pain by judicially sanctioned corporal punishments; beatings and other abuses; inadequate prison and detention center conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention, sometimes incommunicado; denial of fair public trials; exemption from the rule of law for some individuals and lack of judicial independence; arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, and correspondence; and significant restriction of civil liberties--freedoms of speech and press, including the Internet; assembly; association; and movement. The government committed severe violations of religious freedom. There was a widespread perception of serious corruption and a lack of government transparency, as well as legal and societal discrimination and violence against women. Other religious, ethnic, and minority groups faced discrimination. There were strict limitations on worker rights, especially for foreign workers."


The Human Rights Pledge of Azerbaijan
    "Azerbaijan is fully committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms....Particular attention is being attached to freedom of information and functioning of free and independent mass media..."

Some of what Azerbaijan neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The government's human rights record remained poor, and it continued to commit numerous abuses. The public's right to peacefully change the national legislature was restricted in the November 2005 parliamentary elections, although there were some improvements in the period leading up to the elections and in the May 13 parliamentary election reruns that took place in ten parliamentary constituencies. Torture and beating of persons in police custody resulted in three deaths, and police officials acted with impunity. Prison conditions--despite improvements in infrastructure--were generally harsh and life threatening. Arbitrary arrest and detention, particularly of individuals considered by the government to be political opponents, and lengthy pretrial detention continued. The government continued to imprison persons for politically motivated reasons. Pervasive corruption in the judiciary and in law enforcement continued. Restrictions on media freedom, freedom of assembly, and political participation worsened. "


The Human Rights Pledge of Russia
    "The Russian Federation attaches great importance to the development of constructive international cooperation in the field of the promotion and protection of human rights...."

Some of what Russia neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "...The contract-style killings of pro-reform Central Bank Deputy Chairman Andrei Kozlov and journalist Anna Politkovskaya, known for uncovering human rights abuses in Chechnya. Continuing centralization of power in the executive branch, a compliant State Duma, political pressure on the judiciary, intolerance of ethnic minorities, corruption and selectivity in enforcement of the law, continuing media restrictions and self censorship, and harassment of some nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) resulted in an erosion of the accountability of government leaders to the population. Security forces were involved in additional significant human rights problems, including alleged government involvement in politically motivated abductions, disappearances, and unlawful killings...[H]arsh and frequently life threatening prison conditions; corruption in law enforcement; and arbitrary arrest and detention. The executive branch allegedly exerted influence over judicial decisions in certain high profile cases. Government pressure continued to weaken freedom of expression and media independence, particularly of major national networks. Media freedom declined due to restrictions as well as harassment, intimidation, and killing of journalists. Local authorities continued to limit freedom of assembly and restrict religious groups in some regions...Xenophobic, racial and ethnic attacks, and hate crimes were on the rise. Violence against women and children, trafficking in persons, and instances of forced labor were also reported."


The Human Rights Pledge of Cuba
    "The Cuban women and men have achieved significant progress in the enjoinment of all their human rights. Either in the area of civil and political rights or in the realization of the so-called third-generation or solidarity rights, the Cuban people can show to the world, with deep modesty, but with full satisfaction and pride, its tremendous achievements."

Some of what Cuba neglected to mention in its pledge:
    "The government's human rights record remained poor, and the government continued to commit numerous, serious abuses. The government denied citizens the right to change their government...The following human rights problems were reported: beatings and abuse of detainees and prisoners, including human rights activists, carried out with impunity; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, including denial of medical care; frequent harassment, beatings, and threats against political opponents by government-recruited mobs, police, and state security officials; frequent arbitrary arrest and detention of human rights advocates and members of independent professional organizations; denial of fair trial, particularly to political prisoners; and interference with privacy, including pervasive monitoring of private communications. There were also severe limitations on freedom of speech and press; denial of peaceful assembly and association; restrictions on freedom of movement, including selective denial of exit permits to thousands of citizens; and refusal to recognize domestic human rights groups or permit them to function legally."