NEW YORK, May 18 — Three days before the UN chooses 15 new member states to its Human Rights Council, human rights groups today said Congo, Kuwait and Nicaragua failed to meet the membership criteria, while the qualifications of India, Indonesia, Philippines and Burkina Faso were “questionable.” Click here for full report PDF — and here for Executive Summary.

The voting recommendations were submitted yesterday to the New York missions of UN member states by the Geneva-based UN Watch, the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, Directorio, and Initiatives for China, which is headed by former Chinese prisoner of conscience Yang Jianli. The rights groups will be appearing at a UN briefing on Thursday, together with dissidents, to lobby for an improved council membership. Current members of concern include China, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Russia, Bahrain and Pakistan. 

“Congo, Kuwait and Nicaragua have poor records in respecting the basic human rights of their own citizens,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer, “and have consistently voted the wrong way on UN initiatives to promote and protect the human rights of others.”

“As an observer state in recent UN human rights council sessions, Nicaragua strongly praised the governments of Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi and Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, attempting to shield them from scrutiny. It will be an insult to their victims — and a defeat for the global cause of human rights — if the UN now elects Nicaragua as one of the council’s 47 voting members.”

The report also called on India, Indonesia, Philippines and Burkina Faso to pledge improvements prior to the Friday vote. The report documents how India last year refused to support UN resolutions for human rights victims in Iran, Burma, and North Korea, and failed to join other democracies and human rights groups in opposing a UN resolution prohibiting criticism of Islam, which experts said restricted freedom of speech.

The report found that 10 of the 17 candidates are qualified: Austria, Benin, Botswana, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Georgia, Italy, Peru, and Romania.

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