A questionable decision
SHEPPARTON MAN CONDEMNS APPOINTMENT OF THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO TO UN COUNCIL
Shepparton Congolese man Rashidi Sumaili stands with an increasing number of world leaders who have condemned the appointment of the Democratic Republic of Congo to an international human rights council, despite its decades of proven human rights abuse.
The DRC was among 15 countries elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council for a three-year term last week, alongside Australia.
British UN ambassador Matthew Rycroft and United States ambassador Nikki Haley spoke out about the move, branding the election as disappointing and potentially harmful to the credibility of the body.
The country will take its seat on January 1 and is an election Mr Sumaili cannot understand.
The DRC-born Shepparton man spent nine years in refugee camps with his family before he moved to Australia in 2005.
As a recipient of a Universal Peace Federation Award and now a member of the Global Network of Peace Building, Mr Sumaili said the acceptance of the DRC in such a position would ‘‘create a lack of trust and undermine the credibility and ability to promote human rights’’.
Mr Sumaili said political violence and government repression had intensified under president Joseph Kabila.
Violence in eastern and central Congo displaced 1.5 million in the past year and re-opened fears of civil war.
Conf lict between 1996 and 2003 resulted in millions of deaths and created an insurgence of dozens of armed groups.
‘‘The Congo itself, when you look at the history, does not portray a good standard with its treatment of people,’’ Mr Sumaili said.
‘‘There’s no chance for the government to change until the UN and western countries who understand the value of democracy push the government to change its agenda.’’
While Britain and the US criticised the appointment, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the ABC she believed it was beneficial for countries with records that were ‘‘questionable’’ to face the scrutiny of membership.
‘‘It is better for countries to be on the council, to be subject to scrutiny, to be accountable and more transparent,’’ Ms Bishop said.
THERE’S NO CHANCE FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO CHANGE UNTIL THE UN AND WESTERN COUNTRIES WHO UNDERSTAND THE VALUE OF DEMOCRACY PUSH THE GOVERNMENT TO CHANGE ITS AGENDA. —RASHIDI SUMAILI