Monday, February 6, 2017

The Scandal Of UN's HRC Chief Prince Zeid al-Hussein

On June 16, the 193 member states of the United Nations General Assembly unanimously approved Prince Zeid Raad Zeid al-Hussein of Jordan as the new High Commissioner for Human Rights, charged with spearheading the U.N.’s human rights activities.

The nomination of longtime career diplomat Ambassador Zeid has been largely met with approval from major human rights organizations. Human Rights Watch’s executive director Kenneth Roth tweeted that Zeid had "a strong rights record." Suzanne Nossel, former director of Amnesty International USA and current executive director of PEN America, also wrote a mostly positive piece on Ambassador Zeid in Foreign Policy.

These positive reactions are based on Ambassador Zeid’s role in advancing the International Criminal Court and seeking to hold U.N. peacekeeping personnel accountable for sexual violence. Diplomats from Western democracies also highlight Zeid’s Muslim and Arab background combined with his progressive credentials as crucial for bridging the gap between the U.N.’s Western states and Asian (particularly Islamic) countries.

But there are grounds for concern about how Ambassador Zeid will treat what is arguably the most consequential human right: the right to freedom of expression. Jordan’s voting record on the highly divisive attempt to force U.N. states to criminalize the "defamation of religion" leaves a huge question mark about how aggressively Ambassador Zeid will defend free speech in the sphere of religion, where this right is constantly under attack at both the national and international level.

From 1999-2010, member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) successfully tabled resolutions on "combating defamation of religion" as part of their campaign to implement a global blasphemy ban under human rights law, in the Human Rights Council (known as the U.N. Commission on Human Rights until 2006) and the General Assembly.

During both of Ambassador Zeid’s periods as Jordan’s ambassador to the U.N., Jordan voted in favor of these resolutions when they were introduced at the General Assembly. Both of the resolutions passed. The 2010 resolution commended "the recent steps taken by Member States to protect freedom of religion through the enactment or strengthening of domestic frameworks and legislation to prevent the vilification of religions and the negative stereotyping of religious groups" and urged the international community to follow suit.

Jordan’s voting record in the U.N. is consistent with the country’s domestic record on blasphemy. In 2006, two newspaper editors who reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad previously published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten were sentenced to two months of imprisonment.

In 2011, Jordan initiated a trial in absentia against Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, the creator of the offending cartoon, as well as 19 Danish journalists and editors who had published the cartoon in various news outlets.

In 2009, Jordanian poet Eslam Samhan was sentenced to imprisonment and a fine for blasphemy after having included Quranic verses in his poetry. It was developments such as these that the 2010 resolution on defamation of religion hailed and sought to enact at the international level, turning human rights into a weapon against religious dissent and nonconformism rather than principles protecting the freedom of conscience and pluralism.

In 2011, the United States and the OIC brokered a compromise, Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18, that aims to protect individuals, rather than religions, from religious discrimination and intolerance, and to promote "open, constructive and respectful debate."

While this uneasy truce stopped the parade of anti-defamation resolutions, it did not end efforts by OIC members to prosecute those deemed to have insulted Islam.

Only in 2013, the ministers of justice of the League of Arab States approved an extremely wide-ranging draft blasphemy law that not only aims at criminalizing allegedly blasphemous utterances (including miming!) but also envisaged extraterritorial jurisdiction, meaning that someone deemed to have blasphemed in the United States or Europe would be liable to prosecution in Arab League member states.

OIC member states like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Egypt continue to aggressively enforce blasphemy and religious insult laws, often targeting members of vulnerable religious minorities or free thinkers straying from state-sanctioned orthodoxy (most of whom are Muslims).

According to the 2013 Freedom of Thought Report, different forms of "blasphemy" are still a crime in 55 countries (including several European ones, only some of which enforce them). According to these laws, blasphemers can end up in prison in 39 of those countries; in six of them blasphemy qualifies as a capital offense. 

While it is hardly surprising that Jordan voted along with the OIC block on defamation of religion, it is fair to ask if Ambassador Zeid agreed with his government’s disdain for the freedom of expression or was simply toeing the line determined in Amman. Either way, the ability to stand firm on human rights principles in the face of overwhelming pressure is the quality most essential for a successful High Commissioner.

Ambassador Zeid’s record on freedom of expression suggests either too great a willingness to compromise on human rights principles or a lack of civil courage, neither of which would recommend him for the job.

To dispel these fears and pre-empt any OIC attempts to reintroduce the concept of defamation (or guises thereof), Ambassador Zeid should move swiftly to declare in no uncertain terms that freedom of expression includes the right to criticize religion even when offensive to religious feelings.

That would be in line with the efforts of his predecessor, Navi Pillay, as well as the U.N.’s Human Rights Committee and the U.N. Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Opinion and Expression and Freedom of Religion or Belief. Most importantly it would also be consistent with international human rights law. No other position should be acceptable for the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights.

GENEVA -- U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump would be “dangerous from an international point of view” if he is elected, the U.N. human rights chief said Wednesday.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein says some comments by the Republican nominee are “deeply unsettling and disturbing to me,” particularly on torture and about “vulnerable communities.” Zeid, a Jordanian prince, also told reporters he doesn’t plan to tone down his recent remarks decrying dangers posed by “populists and demagogues.”

Last month, Zeid said the rhetoric coming from Trump and other far-right populist leaders who have gained power recently in Europe served only to bolster extremist groups like ISIS.

“Make no mistake, I certainly do not equate the actions of nationalist demagogues with those of Daesh, which are monstrous, sickening; Daesh must be brought to justice,” Zeid said, using the Arabic-language acronym for ISIS and stubbornly refusing to call ISIS the Islamic State. “But in its mode of communication, its use of half-truths and oversimplification, the propaganda of Daesh uses tactics similar to those of the populists.”

“And both sides of this equation benefit from each other -- indeed would not expand in influence without each others’ actions,” Zeid added. Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations has said Zeid, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, shouldn’t criticize foreign heads of state and government.

On the U.S. election, Zeid said: “If Donald Trump is elected, on the basis of what he has said already and unless that changes, I think it’s without any doubt that he would be dangerous from an international point of view.”

“Clearly I am not keen or intent on interfering in any political campaign within any particular country, but where the comments point to a potential - depending on the results of the election - for an increase in, for instance, the use of torture, which is prohibited under the Convention against Torture, or the focus on vulnerable communities in a way that suggests that they may well be deprived of their rights, their human rights, then I think it is incumbent to say so,” Zeid said.

(Blogger’s Notes: Analysis of UK’s National Health Service (NHS) statistics has found that a case of female genital mutilation (FGM) is either treated or discovered every hour in England.

Though the practice of FGM, which is performed mainly in African and Middle Eastern nations, has been illegal in the UK since 1985, the problem was assessed by medics in England every 61 minutes between April 2015 and May 2016.

During this period, there were 8,656 occasions when women or girls attended hospitals or doctors’ surgeries and female circumcision was reported as being the problem. The figures show that, on average, brand new cases of FGM are discovered every 92 minutes.

The figures come as the world marks the awareness-raising, UN-sponsored international day of zero tolerance to FGM. The UN’s human rights chief, Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, has not yet commented on the practice and there are serious doubts that he will ever come out against the FGM the predominantly Muslim practice.

The Jordanian prince has, however, spoken out about U.S. gun laws, remarking that laws respecting Americans’ right to bear arms “lack rational justification” and in December he attacked President Donald J. Trump and British Eurosceptic Nigel Farage, calling the populist politicians “demagogues”, who are comparable to the hellish death-cult Islamic State, ISIS.

Recently he a Muslim prince from Jordan has wrongly accused our Burma of committing crimes against humanity for Burma Army’s alleged human-right abuses of so-called Rohingya - Bengali-Muslim illegals in Burma - based on flimsy evidence gathered by the Muslim staffers of UNHRC directly from the interviews with a few Bengali-Muslim refugees in Bangladesh.

The Rohingya refugee story is basically a gigantic psyops, which is intended to manipulate the emotions of ignorant mass media consumers, who do not understand the history and complex geopolitical context of Buddhist Myanmar and the crowded Muslim Bangladesh.

In spite of extensive research carried out on the ground in Myanmar by independent researchers such as Rick Heizman, which extensively and exhaustively document ethnic cleansing by Rohingya Muslims against poor Buddhist peasants, the UNHRC and other so-called human rights organisations which are shaping the international media narrative have simply relayed accusations of genocide made by the very organisations committing atrocities, namely the organised terrorist gangs of the Rohingya insurgency.)

Rioting Rohingya Muslims in Maungdaw of Burma's Arakan.

Related posts at following links:
1942 Genocide Of Buddhist Yakhines In Maungdaw District By Bengali-Muslims
1,000 Rohingya Terrorists Raided Burmese Border Posts & Killed 9 Policemen