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Geneva-based UN body

Rights council session suspended over investigators

The Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council suspended its 32nd session on Friday evening after diplomatic arm-wrestling over the appointment of rights investigators.

“The session will resume at a time and date to be announced in order to conclude pending business,” declared a UN statement late on Friday at the end of the two-week session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The suspension followed council president Choi Kyong-lim’s proposal to appoint five special rapporteurs: Agnes Callamard from France as special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Ahmed Shaheed from the Maldives as special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; Koumbou Boly from Burkina Faso as special rapporteur on the right to education; Tomás Ojea Quintana from Argentina as special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Anita Ramasastry from the United States as expert on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

After long debates the president believed the appointment of the five specialists was adopted. But Russia’s representative complained about the legality of the decision and the session was suspended.

Beforehand, the council denounced “arbitrary detention, forced disappearances, slavery, acts of torture, killings and sexual violence” in Eritrea. The council urged the Eritrean government to apply recommendations by a commission of enquiry. UN human rights investigators have accused Eritrea’s leaders of crimes against humanity, including torture, rape and murder, over the past 25 years and called for the case to be referred to the International Criminal Court.

Eritrea has rejected all the allegations. An official said 200,000 people had signed a petition supporting the government. Thousands more protested outside the UN.

In another resolution adopted by 27 states, the council denounced systematic human rights violations perpetrated by the Syrian government and the armed groups it supports. It also condemned violence by the Islamic State and the Front al-Nosra.

During the 32nd session, the council also expressed its concerns about laws adopted by certain countries against migrants.

Last Thursday the council narrowly agreed to appoint an independent investigator to help protect homosexuals and transgender people worldwide from violence and discrimination.

On Friday the council also adopted resolutions condemning measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access or dissemination of information on the Internet in violation of international human rights law.  

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swissinfo.ch with agencies


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