UN warns states rejecting investigators
COUNTRIES are increasingly refusing to cooperate with the UN on human rights, the world body warned, voicing alarm at situations in dozens of states, including Syria, Iran and Venezuela.
“States may shut my office out, but they will not shut us up; neither will they blind us,” UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said, opening the 32nd session of the UN Human Rights Council.
He decried “an emerging pattern” in which a growing number of states were refusing access to his staff and other UN representatives tasked with investigating allegations of rights violations in their countries.
He voiced alarm at the situation in war-ravaged Syria, where no UN human rights monitors have been allowed in since the deadly conflict erupted in March 2011.
Mr Zeid also criticised Venezuela, which for the past two-and-a-half years has refused to even issue a visa to his representative in the region.
Among the concerns he listed were arbitrary arrests, excessive use of force against peaceful protests, and a dramatic decline in economic and social rights that has sparked widespread hunger.
Iran, meanwhile, had blocked all access to his staff since 2013, which he said was “particularly regrettable given the reports we continue to receive of fundamental problems with the administration of criminal justice” in the country.
Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea and Turkey have also flatly refused all access by UN rights monitors, while Israel has repeatedly refused to cooperate with probes into the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, he said.
Mr Zeid stressed that rights investigators would not turn a blind eye to situations simply because they were blocked from investigating them on the ground.
“If access is refused us, we will assume the worst,” he said. –
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein (left) and Ambassador Choi Kyong-lim, president of the Human Rights Council, at the opening of the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on September 13.