Sat, Dec 22, 2012 - Page 7 News List

UN slams rights violations in Syria, Iran and N Korea

AP, UNITED NATIONS

The UN General Assembly condemned human rights violations in Syria, Iran and North Korea on Thursday, and demanded an immediate halt to actions ranging from attacks on civilians to torture and restrictions on freedom of movement.

The 193-member world body voted 135-12 with 36 abstentions in favor of a resolution demanding an immediate end to “widespread and systematic” gross human rights violations by Syrian authorities. It approved a resolution calling for an end to Iran’s continuing use of torture, the death penalty and execution of minors by a vote of 86-32 with 65 abstentions.

FIRST TIME

For the first time, the 193-member world body approved a resolution targeting human rights violations in North Korea by consensus. It expressed serious concern at continuing reports of “systematic, widespread and grave violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights” in the east Asian nation.

The Syria resolution called on the government to protect civilians and immediately release all people who have been arbitrarily detained. It expressed grave concern at the increasing number of people fleeing their homes to escape the escalating violence in the 21-month war.

Syria’s delegate said the resolution hindered the search for peaceful solutions and accused co-sponsors Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Morocco of escalating the violence by their intervention in Syria’s internal affairs which has led to the deaths of thousands of Syrians.

The Iran resolution expressed deep concern at the country’s continuing use of torture, the death penalty and execution of minors, and the increasing and systematic targeting of human rights defenders, including lawyers and journalists. It urged the government to immediately release all those detained for exercising their right to peaceful assembly and to ensure “free, fair, transparent and inclusive presidential elections in 2013.”

CRITICISM

Iranian Ambassador to the UN Mohammed Khazaee singled out Canada and the US, which have been major backers of the annual resolution, for criticism saying the measure was introduced “for political purposes” and did not reflect conditions in Iran.

“We have a choice of whether to advance the promotion and protection of human rights through serious engagement, or to set it back with politicized and unbalanced resolutions,” Khazaee said.

The North Korea resolution also accused the government of committing “systematic, widespread and grave” violations of human rights, including against vulnerable groups including women, children, the disabled and the elderly. It criticized the government’s use of torture and prison camps, as well as severe restriction on movement and persecution of those who attempt to travel abroad.

A diplomat from North Korea’s UN mission who refused to be named dismissed the resolution as propaganda for a fabricated human rights situation, saying it created confrontation and blocked dialogue and cooperation.

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