US, rights groups say United Nations rights council vote awards abusers

United Nations

The UN members took part in the election during the world body's annual general assembly in NY on Friday morning local time.

New members Bahrain, Cameroon, the Philippines, Somalia, Bangladesh and Eritrea were elected with between 160 and 178 votes - and immediately drew criticism from campaigners in Europe and North America dismissing them as "unqualified" due to their human rights records.

A minimum of 97 votes were needed by a country to get elected to the Council.

India was vying for a seat in the Asia Pacific category. Along with India, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Fiji and the Philippines also staked a claim in the same regional group.

"This (the UNHRC seat) signals the world has accepted India's credentials as a sentinel of human rights".

India received 188 votes in the Asia-Pacific category.

Few hours after India was elected to the United Nations' top human rights body on Friday, India's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, Syed Akbaruddin, said that New Delhi would continue its balance and moderate approach towards the protection of human rights across the world.

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Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the country's reelection to the council for another three-year term is "a recognition that our government respects human rights and will not tolerate abuse by those in authority".

Earlier in July, the United Nations Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued its first-ever report documenting human rights abuse by Indian occupation forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IOK).

The African region has 13 seats, Latin American and Caribbean region has 8, the East European region 6, and the West Europen and others group 7.

"UN member countries should show their outrage at the Philippines and Eritrea by leaving two spots on the ballot sheet blank and keeping them off the council", said Louis Charbonneau, U.N. director at Human Rights Watch.

Campaigners had urged United Nations member states to oppose the candidacy of the Philippines and Eritrea and said the choice of Bahrain and Cameroon raised "significant concerns".

All five of the General Assembly's regional groups had submitted competition-free slates, meaning that all candidates, regardless of their rights records, were virtually assured seats on the council. India has been appointed for a period of three years from 2019 to 2022. It said Human Rights Council member states should seek to neutralise any attempts by its "worst members to shield themselves and other serial rights abusers & keep doing good work on #Yemen, #Myanmar, #Syria, #Burundi & other crises".

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