CubaBrief: Cuban independent journalists and international human rights organizations reveal the moral hazard of Cuba on the UN Human Rights Council

The Cuban government is running for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council while the dictatorship continues to systematically violate human rights repressing journalists and human rights defenders. In our last CubaBrief we highlighted the case of Cuban independent journalist Abraham Jimenez Enoa who on Thursday, October 1, 2020 in a series of tweets described being detained, strip searched, physically mistreated and threatened by the Castro dictatorship’s secret police.

Cuban independent journalist Abraham Jimenez Enoa targeted by secret police.

Cuban independent journalist Abraham Jimenez Enoa targeted by secret police.

Today, his column titled “The Cuban regime wants to put me in jail for writing this column” appeared in The Washington Post and in it the author presents the moral hazard to the international community that voting the Castro dictatorship onto the UN Human Rights Council represents.

“I suffered a very serious act of violence on Thursday, but what happened to me was not even the worst of the arbitrary detentions that political dissidents, activists, artists and other independent journalists frequently suffer in Cuba. It is a fact that many fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression, press and association, don’t exist in Cuba, because the regime is incapable of coexisting with people who think differently. But the Cuban government not only systematically commits flagrant violations of human rights, it also has the nerve of seeking a seat on the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.

Castro’s secret police also do this to female independent journalists. Human Rights Watch on September 24, 2020 reported on Cubanet’s Camila Acosta and a year of harassment, arrest, and forced relocation that she suffered and a stip search was also involved:

Earlier this summer, Acosta was waiting for friends in a park in Havana when two officers asked for her ID, arrested her, and took her to a police station. Inside her bag, they found several facemasks reading, “No to Decree 370,” an abusive 2019 law forbidding the dissemination of information “contrary to the social interest.” The officers forced Acosta to strip her clothes and searched her further, she told Human Rights Watch. The police fined her and threatened further prosecution for protesting the decree.

The Geneva based NGO, UN Watch, fact checked candidates for the October 2020 round of elections to the UN Human Rights Council, and found that Cuba had misrepresented a number of claims about its human rights record in its candidate statement including that “Cuba has barred entry to the Council’s human rights experts on torture, free assembly, free expression, and arbitrary detention, rejecting their requests to visit the island and report on the situation of human rights.”

Cubanet's Camila Acosta #NoTo370

Cubanet’s Camila Acosta #NoTo370

The Castro regime’s representatives, presently with observer status on the Un Human Rights Council, came to the defense of the Maduro regime on September 24, 2020 when Hillel Neuer, of UN Watch, asked the United Nations Human Rights Council: “Given that your experts just found that Venezuelan President Maduro’s agents committed widespread and systematic killings, torture and sexual violence, by what logic and by what morality can a convicted murderer, torturer and rapist stay a member of this Human Rights Council?“ Both Cuba and Venezuela tried to shut down his intervention before the human rights body arguing that NGOs cannot question the appropriateness of abusive states sitting on the UN Rights Council.

The Washington Post, October 5, 2020

Global Opinions

The Cuban regime wants to put me in jail for writing this column

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel speaks during the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 22. (Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg)

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel speaks during the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 22. (Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg)

Opinion by Abraham Jiménez Enoa

Columnista, Post Opinión

Oct. 5, 2020 at 4:13 p.m. EDT

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HAVANA — As I felt the cold metal of the handcuffs dig into my wrists and tried to adjust my body after being forced to hunch forward, I looked at my shoes and wondered how a government can be so afraid of reality that it tramples with impunity over someone willing to show the world that reality. Shortly before, three state security agents dressed as civilians had strip-searched me and made me face a wall to handcuff me, and now I was being taken in a car to their headquarters for interrogation. One of the agents had his right arm pressing over my body during part of the trip to keep my head down.

I suffered a very serious act of violence on Thursday, but what happened to me was not even the worst of the arbitrary detentions that political dissidents, activists, artists and other independent journalists frequently suffer in Cuba. It is a fact that many fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression, press and association, don’t exist in Cuba, because the regime is incapable of coexisting with people who think differently. But the Cuban government not only systematically commits flagrant violations of human rights, it also has the nerve of seeking a seat on the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.

In Cuba, the only journalists authorized by the state to practice the profession are those who decide to do so in the Communist Party media, which is the only party recognized by the state. This is what the constitution dictates. Therefore, the regime has the power to harass and repress journalists who work outside that legal umbrella, in the ecosystem of independent media.

State security is the agency tasked with making our lives difficult, the one in charge of hijacking the reality of Cuba. State security can have your mother fired from her job. State security can summon your father for questioning. State security can write slanderous messages to your pregnant partner. State security can put a neighbor in jail and then question that neighbor just because he’s your friend. State security can detain you at your own home whenever they please. State security can prohibit you from leaving the country. State security can tap your phones and cut off your Internet.

State security can do all this, which is more or less the summary of what it has done to me in recent years, but I say, once again, that I have fared better than other victims.

Now, state security doesn’t want me to write this column. They don’t want me to write what I write here. The accounts of life in Cuba that I publish every month are part of what the Cuban government wants to keep under lock to protect the progressive image that it tries to cultivate worldwide. Part of the essence of totalitarian regimes is to silence the voices that narrate the most subversive aspects of daily life.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/10/05/cuban-regime-wants-put-me-jail-writing-this-column/

Human Rights Watch, September 24, 2020

Cuba’s Government Throws Its Repressive Playbook at a Journalist

Camila Acosta Endures a Year of Harassment, Arrest, and Forced Relocation

Juan Pappier

Americas Researcher

Journalist Camila Acosta wears a facemask saying “no to Decree 370,” a 2019 law curtailing free speech in Cuba, on August 1, 2020. © Camila Acosta

Journalist Camila Acosta wears a facemask saying “no to Decree 370,” a 2019 law curtailing free speech in Cuba, on August 1, 2020. © Camila Acosta

The Cuban government’s brutal restrictions on free speech fall particularly hard on journalists. Camila Acosta has learned this from experience. In just the one year since August 2019, when she began working as an independent journalist for the news website CubaNet, Acosta has endured multiple instances of targeted abuse.

Earlier this summer, Acosta was waiting for friends in a park in Havana when two officers asked for her ID, arrested her, and took her to a police station. Inside her bag, they found several facemasks reading, “No to Decree 370,” an abusive 2019 law forbidding the dissemination of information “contrary to the social interest.” The officers forced Acosta to strip her clothes and searched her further, she told Human Rights Watch. The police fined her and threatened further prosecution for protesting the decree.

But this was only the most recent in a string of multiple incidents of harassment against Acosta.

In November 2019, an immigration official stopped Acosta as she was trying to board a plane for a human rights event in Argentina. He said she was forbidden to leave the country, Acosta told Human Rights Watch.

Since February, Acosta has been forced to move houses in Havana at least six times. Each time she rented a new house, the owners soon told her she had to leave. Some said police had chastised them for hosting a “dissident.”

In March, police arbitrarily detained Acosta as she was covering a demonstration in Havana. During a two-hour interrogation, one officer threatened to prosecute her for allegedly “usurping public functions” by reporting the news.

The police eventually let her go. But two weeks later, she was summoned back to a police station, where an officer showed her three of her recent Facebook posts, including a meme of Fidel Castro. The officer invoked Decree 370 and imposed a fine of 3,000 Cuban pesos (roughly US$120), several times the average salary in Cuba.

This repeated weaponizing of Cuba’s free speech restrictions against Acosta leads to the question: Why are authorities so afraid to let a journalist do her job?

https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/09/24/cubas-government-throws-its-repressive-playbook-journalist

UN Watch, April 29, 2020

DICTATORSHIPS VYING FOR UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL SEATS FOR 2021-2023 TERM

Elections for the Human Rights Council will be held at the UN General Assembly in October 2020.

Elections for the Human Rights Council will be held at the UN General Assembly in October 2020.

Report by UN Watch
29 April 2020

Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia are running for seats on the UN Human Rights Council for the 2021-2023 term, as revealed today by UN Watch. This report evaluates their candidacies based on the membership criteria laid down in UNGA Resolution 60/251, and examines the claims of the candidates.

The report finds that while each of these governments has submitted pledges or reports to the United Nations claiming to protect and promote universal human rights, their candidacies should be rejected as they fail to meet the basic criteria for UNHRC membership.

The presence of gross and systematic abusers of human rights on the UN Human Rights Council contradicts its own charter. According to UNGA Resolution 60/251, which established the Council in 2006, General Assembly members are obliged to elect states to the Council by considering “the candidates’ contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto.” The resolution further provides the consideration ought to be given to whether the candidate can meet membership obligations “to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” and to “fully cooperate with the Council.”

Our evaluations applied these membership criteria to evaluate the candidacies of Cuba, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.

In Part I of the report, UN Watch performed a fact-check on five of each country’s claims.

In Part II,  UN Watch examined each candidate’s record of domestic human rights protection, and its U.N. voting record.

[ Excerpts of the report below related to Cuba]

I. Fact-checking Candidate Countries’ Pledges & Claims

FACT-CHECKING THE CANDIDACY OF CUBA

Cuba’s pledge to the UNHRC includes the following claims:

Cuba’s UN Pledge #1: “Cuba remains committed to promoting consideration of the just historical demands of the peoples of the South and the rest of the world on such issues as…combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance…”

Fact-CheckFALSE. The U.S. State Department reports that Afro-Cubans suffer racial discrimination and have been subject to racial epithets and beatings by security agents in response to political activism. State agents threatened antiracist activist Norberto Mesa Carbonel after he published an open letter to the government on structural racism in Cuba.

Cuba’s UN Pledge #2: “As part of its policy of cooperation with the human rights treaty bodies, Cuba systematically complies with requests for information from the special procedure mandate holders of the Human Rights Council.”

Fact-Check: FALSE. According to a U.N. special procedures database, Cuba has barred entry to the Council’s human rights experts on torture, free assembly, free expression, and arbitrary detention, rejecting their requests to visit the island and report on the situation of human rights.

Cuba’s UN Pledge #3: Cuba commits to promoting democracy by highlighting “the exercise of power by the people” and “the participatory and democratic nature of the Cuban political system.”

Fact-Check: FALSE. Freedom House reports that Cuba is an authoritarian one-party system that  excludes the public from any genuine and autonomous political participation. Cuba arbitrarily detained leading rights activist and anti-government opposition figure Jose Daniel Ferrer in October 2019 on false charges and subjected him to brutal torture in prison, from which he was just released after six months.

Cuba’s UN Pledge #4: “Cuba will continue to promote its traditional initiatives on such vital issues as the right to food and the promotion of cultural rights as essential requirements for the enjoyment of all human rights.”

Fact-Check: FALSE. Cuba institutionalized censorship of independent art and culture by passing Decree 349 in December 2019, which established violations for art that was not regulated or recognized by official cultural institutions. Because of Cuba’s failed policies, including centralized control, its citizens lack basic foods.

Cuba’s UN Pledge #5: “Cuba seeks to…prevent the Council’s work from being tainted by the political manipulation that discredited and put paid to the Commission on Human Rights.”

Fact-Check: FALSE. Cuba is more responsible than any other country in the world for the political manipulation of the UNHRC, sponsoring resolutions that seek to erode the meaning of individual human rights and to empower dictatorships. When Cuba came up for mandatory Council review in 2013, the regime committed a massive fraud on the Council by orchestrating 454 front groups to officially register 93 statements falsely praising Havana’s policies and practices. In addition, Cuba systematically opposes UN resolutions that speak out for human rights victims in Iran, North Korea and Syria. Cuba has backed human rights abusers through a resolution denying the right to sanction such regimes.

The Cuban dictatorship has now launched a campaign to promote its UNHRC candidacy in state-backed media, saying “Cuba has morality and the right to be a member of the UN Human Rights Council.” (We have morality to be a member of the Human Rights Council, Cuban President affirmsJuventud Rebelde, February 29, 2020.)

The regime added: “If we talk about true commitment in the matter of promotion and protection of all human rights for all people and peoples of the world — without double standards, manipulation, politicization and selectivity of the subject — our country proudly exhibits important achievements at international level.” (The undeniable endorsement of Cuba to integrate the Human Rights CouncilRadio Cadena Agromonte, March 2, 2020).

[…]

II. Examining Candidates’ Human Rights & UN Voting Records 

HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD OF CUBA

Cuba commits serious human rights violations, including:

  • Neither free nor fair elections

  • Systematic political arrests

  • Government threats, arrest and violence against dissent

  • Severe violations of freedom of association

  • Arbitrary arrest of civil society members and independent journalists

  • Continuous and systematic violations of freedom of expression

  • Gross limitations of the right of free media

  • Circumscribed academic freedom

  • Severely restricted worker rights, including a ban on labor unions

  • Lack of independent judiciary

Discussion

The Cuban people have no ability to select their political representatives, under a one-party system. Any political organization outside the Cuban Communist Party (CCP) is prohibited. The people can only cast a ballot in municipal elections — where the candidates must be approved by political commissions.[1]

The Cuban Constitution establishes a system of subordination and a lack of independence within the powers of the State, which legally subordinates the entire judicial system and the exercise of any fundamental right to the will of the Communist Party secretary-general. The Cuban Constitution does not recognize the judiciary as an independent organ separate from the executive and the legislative branches of government, nor as the organ responsible for interpreting the Constitution in an objective, independent, and impartial manner, or even for conducting the constitutional review of laws or the acts of the executive.[2]

The Cuban judiciary is entirely subordinate to the CCP. The law deprives judges of the guarantee of stability and tenure by stating that the “professional judges and their professional permanent substitutes are elected without being subject to an end of term.”  This provision allows the judges to be appointed and removed arbitrarily by the authorities.

Additionally, all Cuban attorneys must be registered with the National Organization of Collective Law Offices (ONBC) as a condition for practicing their profession. The only attorneys authorized to practice law in Cuba are those admitted within the ONBC. However, the ONBC’s Code of Ethics provides that attorneys, in the exercise of the profession, must “consciously assume and contribute — within their duties — to defend, preserve and be faithful to the principles comprised in the nation, the Revolution and Socialism,” and this should be done “imbued with the righteous, noble and humane ideas of Socialism and inspired by the example set by the Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz.”

For decades, the Cuban State has restricted and systematically violated the human rights of the individuals within its territory. The systematic nature of these violations is evidenced by the continuous attacks and harassment carried out by the Cuban government against any opposition group or individual critical of the regime.[3] Cuba uses arbitrary detention to maintain political control over civil society and to deter dissent. In 2015 the authorities conducted more than 8,600 politically-motivated detentions.[4]

Political prisoners in Cuba are deprived of basic amenities, and regularly beaten, and tortured. On July 22, 2016, political dissident Guillermo Farinas went on a hunger strike to protest the conditions of imprisonment of political prisoners.[5]

It should be noted that, although different Cuban civil society groups often call themselves “political parties” (e.g. Arco Progressive Party, Christian Democratic Party, National Liberal Party of Cuba, Social Democratic Party of Cuba), they do not have the legal status to operate as such or to compete for public office within the institutions of the Cuban State. These are civil associations of people whose will to participate in the civic and political life in Cuba is legitimate from the standpoint of a democratic society, but that are considered and treated as illegal — even as enemies of the State — under the totalitarian legal system guaranteed by the Cuban Constitution. Individuals who disagree with or are critical of any of the government’s branches, regardless of whether they are organized or not, are not allowed to express their views through the media, which are—as mentioned above—subject to the State’s complete control.  On the contrary: when the totalitarian State’s media refer to dissenting individuals, they do so with the disqualifying and dehumanizing adjectives of “worms,” “wormholes,” and “scum,” or with the criminalizing labels of “antisocial elements,” “mercenaries,” “subversives,” “terrorists,” and “counterrevolutionaries.”[6]

Before President Obama’s visit to Cuba in March 2016, the Cuban authorities intensified the crackdown on dissent. A weekly march by the group “Ladies in White,” mothers of jailed dissenters, was violently disrupted a few days before Obama’s visit, and some 30 activists were detained.[7]

Oswaldo Payá, one of the most prominent Cuban dissidents, died under mysterious circumstances in 2012. On July 22, 2015, the third anniversary of the death of Payá, Human Rights Foundation (HRF) published a legal report highlighting the inconsistencies of the official government investigation following his death. HRF documented numerous due process violations, including damning witness accounts, a grossly inadequate autopsy examination, and other key pieces of evidence that were overlooked by the Cuban judicial system. HRF’s report concluded that the “evidence, which was deliberately ignored, strongly suggests that the events of July 22, 2012, were not an accident, but instead the result of a car crash directly caused by agents of the state.”[8] An international independent inquiry into the events has been demanded by leading world figures. The daughter of Oswaldo Payá, Rosa María Payá, still fights for the truth.[9]

U.N. Voting Record

Negative: Cuba voted against resolutions in the General Assembly that spoke out for human rights victims in Iran, North Korea and Syria. Cuba backed human rights abusers through a resolution denying the right to sanction such regimes. At the Human Rights Council, Cuba voted against resolutions in support of human rights victims in Belarus and Ukraine.

[1] Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2016 Index, Cuba country report, available at www.freedomhouse.org.

[2] On September 16, 2012, Calixto Ramón Martínez, a journalist for the independent news agency Hablemos Press (a Cuban civil society organization — not recognized by the State — formed by self-taught journalists who work to expose the conditions in Cuba and circumvent the State’s monopoly over media) was arrested at José Martí International Airport in Havana. He had been investigating allegations that medicine provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) to fight the cholera outbreak (which the Cuban government had allegedly tried to downplay since it began in mid-2012) was being kept at the airport instead of being distributed to the Cuban people. Calixto Ramón endured almost seven months of arbitrary imprisonment. He was never officially charged for a crime. See news report from Pen International, Cuba: Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias released; two other writers remain imprisoned, Apr. 11, 2013, available at http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/cuba-calixto-ramon-martinez-arias-released-two-other-writers-remain-imprisoned/See also press release from the Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ welcomes release of Cuban journalist, Apr. 10, 2013, available at https://cpj.org/2013/04/cpj-welcomes-release-of-cuban-journalist.php#more; press release from Reporters Without Borders, Independent reporter released after seven months in detention, Apr. 10, 2013, available at http://en.rsf.org/cuba-independent-reporter-released-10-04-2013,44361.html

[3] See Néstor Almendros, Nobody Listened (Cuban Human Rights Film Project) (1987), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Me-5wryFDQ. In the documentary, poets, writers, lawyers, ex-members of the PCC, and ex-commanders of the Cuban Revolution military share their experiences as protagonists and witnesses of the abuses and crimes of the judicial system and prisons in Cuba. Jorge Valles (arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison in 1964); Huber Matos (a commander of the Cuban Revolution, accused of “sedition” and sentenced to 20 years in prison); Raúl Carmenate (detained at 16 years old in March of 1965, liberated 14 years later in 1979); Manuel del Valle; Sergio Bravo (a Protestant pastor who preached on the streets and was detained three times, spending a total of 18 years in prison until September 1979); Alcides Martínez and Miguel Torres Calero (detained and sentenced to 20 years for “conspiring against the powers of the State,” released after 12 years); among others, denounced the threats, beatings, torture, mutilations, summary trials, executions, and murders that they witnessed or endured during the decades they spent in prison.

[4] Human Rights Watch, World Report 2016, Cuba Chapter, available at https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2016/country-chapters/cuba and Amnesty International, Cuba country report, available at https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/americas/cuba/report-cuba.

[5] “Leading Cuban dissident begins hunger strike,” AFP, July 2, 2016, available at http://www.france24.com/en/20160722-leading-cuban-dissident-begins-hunger-strike.

[6] See, e.g., videos and press releases from different sources exposing this practice, available at (some videos and releases are in Spanish only) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiJpfSpCOmk;

http://www.cubadebate.cu/opinion/2013/11/10/obama-habla-de-cuba-entre-gusanos/http://www.cubadebate.cu/opinion/2014/01/23/la-patria-grande-un-verdadero-dolor-de-cabeza-para-ee-uu/http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQ5Hp5G_dDo (last visited Sept. 2, 2014).

[7] “Protesting wives of political prisoners arrested before Obama’s arrival in Cuba”, New York Times, March 21 2016, available at http://nytlive.nytimes.com/womenintheworld/2016/03/21/protesting-wives-of-political-prisoners-arrested-before-obamas-arrival-in-cuba.

[8] The Case of Oswaldo Payá, Human Rights Foundation (2015), available at http://humanrightsfoundation.org/uploads/The_Case_of_Oswaldo_Pay%C3%A1-ENG.pdf.

[9] Randall C. Archibold, “Inquiry Is Sought Into Death of Castro Critic,” The New York Times, April 4, 2013, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/05/world/americas/inquiry-is-sought-into-death-of-oswaldo-paya-cuban-dissident.html

https://unwatch.org/cubarussiasaudi/

CNS News, September 25, 2020

Cuba: Don’t Question the Appropriateness of Abusive States Sitting on UN Human Rights Council

By Patrick Goodenough | September 25, 2020

Maduro’s foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, addresses the Council in Geneva.(Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

Maduro’s foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, addresses the Council in Geneva.

(Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – A Cuban U.N. diplomat on Thursday tried to shut down a non-governmental organization speaker for pointing to the incongruity of Venezuela’s Maduro regime being a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The representative of the communist government in Havana, itself a perennial member of the U.N.’s top human rights body, said that questioning the appropriateness of countries holding seats was off-limits.

“We cannot question the candidacies of member-states. It is a lack of respect for the council,” said Cuba’s Jairo Rodríguez Hernández, after interrupting a statement by Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based NGO U.N. Watch.

He urged the HRC president, Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger of Austria, to “prevent the speaker from abusing the council.”

Neuer had taken the floor to question the suitability of the Maduro regime remaining a member of the HRC when an HRC-mandated fact-finding mission has just reported on severe human rights abuses in Venezuela, including torture, sexual violence, and extrajudicial executions – some amounting to “crimes against humanity.”

“By what logic, and by what morality, can a convicted murderer, torturer, and rapist, convicted by this council’s own investigators, remain a member of this Human Rights Council?” he asked.

Neuer had already been interrupted once by the Maduro regime’s delegate, who called him “out of order,” but this time Rodríguez of Cuba started banging on the desk to get the president’s attention.

“Once again, this NGO is politicizing the council and he is using abusive language,” he said, recalling that HRC’s founding resolution in 2006 (resolution 60/251) called for “universality, non-selectivity, [and] impartiality.”

“We cannot question the candidacies of member states,” Rodríguez continued. “It is a lack of respect for the council. We agree with what Venezuela is saying, and we call upon you to prevent the speaker from abusing the council.”

Tichy-Fisslberger called for “appropriate language and appropriate dealing with each other” before allowing Neuer to complete his statement.

As he did so, he invoked article eight of the same HRC founding resolution 60/251, which says, “when electing members of the council, member-states shall take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights.”

“When will the United Nations remove the Maduro government from this Human Rights Council?” Neuer asked.

Widely considered a major weakness of resolution 60/251 is the absence of any enforceable criteria for membership. That was one the key reason given by the George W. Bush administration for voting against it – and for shunning the council altogether until the Obama administration reversed that policy in 2009.

Questioning the candidacies of HRC member-states was also, in part, what prompted the Trump administration to withdraw from the council in 2018 after unsuccessful efforts to bring about reforms, including preventing rights-abusing autocracies from becoming members.

Then-U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, who led the reform push, afterwards expressed disappointment that some democracies agreed with the U.S. in private on the need to improve membership standards but “refused to take a stand in public.” She said, “It’s difficult to say which was worse: the tolerance we encountered for human-rights violators or the hypocrisy of the countries that should have known better.”

The Democratic Party’s 2020 platform includes a pledge to “rejoin and reform” the HRC.

The lack of mandatory membership criteria has allowed some of the world’s most egregious rights violators to be elected onto the 47-seat council, sometimes repeatedly. China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan have held seats on the HRC for virtually its entire existence, serving four three-year terms each. Russia, Libya, Venezuela, Qatar, Egypt, Sudan, and Somalia are among other autocratic regimes that have been members.

A U.N. Watch petition calling for the Maduro regime’s expulsion from the HRC has more than 160,000 signatories. The campaign is chaired by Diego Arria, Venezuela’s former U.N. ambassador and an opponent of the Maduro regime.

https://cnsnews.com/article/international/patrick-goodenough/cuba-dont-question-appropriateness-abusive-states-sitting