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Published:November 26th, 2006 11:58 EST
U.S. Welcomes U.N. Call for Improved Human Rights in Four Nations

U.S. Welcomes U.N. Call for Improved Human Rights in Four Nations

By SOP newswire

Washington -- The State Department welcomes passage by the United Nations General Assembly’s Third Committee of draft resolutions calling on the governments of Burma, Belarus, Iran and North Korea to end human rights violations.

A statement issued November 24 by Tom Casey, the department’s deputy spokesman, also expressed disappointment that a similar U.S.-sponsored resolution on Uzbekistan was narrowly blocked by a "no-action" motion that effectively cut off debate in that case.

The Third Committee, which deals with social, economic and cultural issues, adopted its draft resolutions criticizing the human rights situation in Burma and Belarus on November 22.

The draft regarding Burma “would have the Assembly express grave concerns at ongoing systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar; the continuing use of torture; deaths in custody; political arrests and continuing imprisonment and other detentions, denial of freedom of assembly, association, expression and movement, and the prevailing culture of impunity," according to a U.N. press release.

The draft was adopted by a vote of 79 in favor to 28 against, with 63 abstentions.

BELARUS

The draft on the situation in Belarus listed a range of human rights violations, including failure to hold free and fair elections, and expressed concern about “continued reports of harassment, arbitrary arrest and detentions of up to 1,000 persons, including opposition candidates, before and after the 19 March 2006 election, as well as the continued and expanding criminal prosecutions, lack of due process and closed political trials of leading opposition figures and human rights defenders," the U.N. press release said.

It also cited “the continued harassment and detention of Belarusian journalists covering local opposition demonstrations" and actions against “non-governmental organizations, national minority organizations, independent media outlets, religious groups, opposition political parties and independent trade unions and youth and student organizations."

That draft was adopted by a vote of 70-31, with 67 abstentions.

IRAN

The committee approved the draft resolution on Iran on November 21.

Passed by a vote of 70-48, with 55 abstentions, it would have the General Assembly express “serious concern at the continuing harassment, intimidation and persecution of human rights defenders, political opponents, ethnic and religious minorities and other groups in Iran, as well as the country’s persistent failure to comply fully with international standards in the administration of justice," according to the release.

NORTH KOREA

The draft resolution on North Korea was approved November 17, by a 91-21 vote, with 60 members abstaining.

Expressing “very serious concern" at “continuing reports of systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights" in North Korea, it would have the General Assembly urge that country’s government to respect fully all human rights and fundamental freedoms and to grant full, free and unimpeded access to the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation there.

The State Department statement called on the governments of Burma, Belarus, Iran, North Korea -- and of Uzbekistan -- “to respect the human rights of all their citizens and to release all those unjustly imprisoned for trying to exercise their most basic civil liberties.

“The peoples of each of these countries deserve to live without fear of government repression, and be integrated into the community of free and open nations," the department spokesman said.

The full text of Casey's statement is available on the State Department Web site.

The texts of U.N. press releases regarding the draft resolutions on Burma and Belarus, Iran, North Korea and Uzbekistan are available on the organization's Web site.

For more information on U.S. policies, see Press Freedom, U.S. Support for Democracy in Burma and The U.S. and the Korean Peninsula.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

Source:DoS