UN Commission on Human Rights criticised for failing to protect human rights in Iraq

In this year's UNCHR session the draft resolution on Iraq has been continuously postponed in efforts to reach a compromise yet still it fails to include human rights monitors. It also limits the remit of the Special Rapporteur on Iraq to focussing on 'newly available material information about violations of human rights and international law by the government of Iraq over many years.'

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

'In a period of continued instability, now is the crucial time for human rights monitors to go into Iraq with their critical role both in preventing human rights abuses and investigating abuses by all. Originally recommended by the UN General Assembly in December 2002, human rights monitors have still not been deployed.

'Victims of human rights violations around the world expect this most important body to be outspoken on human rights abuses wherever they occur. But this failure on the part of the UNCHR coupled with a failure to adopt resolutions on Chechnya, Sudan and Zimbabwe undermines its credibility as a defender of human rights.'

Human rights abuses, by Russian security forces as well as Chechen fighters, continue to take place on a daily basis in Chechnya: Chechen civilians continue to 'disappear' during raids by Russian troops and many are later found in mass graves. Internally displaced persons are forced to leave camps in Ingushetia following their closure by the Russian authorities. Chechen fighters continue to commit serious human rights abuses including against members of the pro-Moscow administration.

Despite some positive changes in Sudan, there is still an urgent need for human rights monitoring by the UN in that country, especially as the peace protocol signed over eights months ago has not yet materialized into a peace agreement. Nevertheless, the Commission voted to terminate the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Sudan.

For the second year running the African Group presented a 'No-Action' motion to block discussion at the Commission of the human rights situation in Zimbabwe.

Amnesty International also criticised statements on Colombia and Timor-Leste (East Timor) as 'particularly disappointing' and pointed out weaknesses in resolutions on Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel and the Occupied Territories, Burma, North Korea, Sierra Leone and Turkmenistan.

The statement on Colombia fails to express concern at Decree 128 (of January 2003) which authorises the Minister of the Interior to give amnesties to members of illegal armed groups who have not previously been formally investigated or convicted. This represents a serious risk of impunity for grave human rights violations, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

A weakly worded Chairperson statement on Timor-Leste may hail the end of the UNCHR's consideration of Indonesia's legacy in Timor-Leste. As the flawed trials in Jakarta near an end, this was precisely the moment to condemn Indonesia for its failure to fulfil its commitment to bring perpetrators to justice and demand that alternatives measures should be initiated, including the possibility of an international tribunal. The Chairperson statement expresses 'disappointment' about the conduct of the trials in Jakarta but entirely fails to recognize that Indonesia has neither the capacity or will to carry out the substantial legal and institutional reform that is needed for fair and credible trials for crimes committed in Timor-Leste.

Human rights and sexual orientation

Amnesty International is also urging UNCHR members to support the ground-breaking resolution on human rights and sexual orientation - the first time that a resolution specifically focusing on sexual orientation has been brought to the UNCHR. The organisation believes that its adoption will be the only way to end the intolerable exclusion of LGBTI people from the full protection of the UN system.

Death penalty Amnesty International welcomes the UNCHR's decision to call again for a world-wide moratorium on all executions and for the death penalty not to be imposed on anyone who committed the crime when younger than eighteen years or who is suffering from any form of mental disorder or new mothers.

This year the text condemns cases of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights subjected to capital punishment on the basis of gender-discriminatory legislation and calls on states that maintain the death penalty to ensure that capital punishment be carried out so as to inflict the minimum possible suffering, that it not be carried out in public or in any other degrading manner, and to ensure that any application or particularly cruel or inhuman means of execution, such as stoning, be stopped immediately.

The UNCHR also called on states that maintain the death penalty not to extend its application to crimes to which it does not presently apply and that fair trial guarantees must apply to legal proceedings.

As the main human rights body of the UN, the Commission on Human Rights is charged with promoting and protecting human rights wherever these occur. Yet only a handful of countries are on the Commission's agenda despite ample evidence of gross and systematic human rights violation in many more countries in all regions of the world.

Further information about Amnesty International's campaign against the death penalty can be found online.

Further information about Amnesty International's campaign on behalf of those whose human rights are abused because of their sexual orientation is also available online. /p>

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