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NEWS UPDATES 12 May 2010

NGOs cry foul over UN rights forum election of 14 countries

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Fourteen countries were expected to be elected unanimously Thursday to the UN Human Rights Council, to the dismay of non-governmental groups that argue five of them - including Libya - have records that should keep them out, reported AFP.

In a joint statement, high-profile NGOs including Human Rights Watch which formed a "Coalition for an Effective Human Rights Council" said five candidates this year - Angola, Libya, Malaysia, Uganda and Thailand - should not be eligible to be members.

The Geneva-based body, the United Nations' main human rights venue, has been a persistent lightning-rod for controversy since it was set up in 2006 as part of a UN reform initiative.

It replaced a human rights commission that was seen as plagued with credibility woes; in 2003 Libya was selected to lead it.

"When a state seeks a seat on the council, the least it should do is open its doors to the council's own experts," said Peggy Hicks, Global Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch.

"But many of the candidates running this year have stalled on requests by council experts to visit. This is a problem that can and should be addressed before Thursday's election," Hicks said.


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