09192014Fri

U.N. condemns rights abuses in Iran, North Korea and Syria

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. General Assembly condemned North Korea, Iran and Syria on Thursday for widespread human rights abuses and all three countries rejected the separate resolutions adopted by the 193-member world body, slamming them as politicized.

The resolution on Syria, which was co-sponsored by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Britain, France and other Arab and Western states, received 135 votes in favor, 12 against and 36 abstentions.

The resolution on Iran, which was drafted by Canada and co-sponsored by other Western countries, passed in an 86-32 vote with 65 abstentions. The North Korea resolution was adopted by consensus.

Resolutions on Iran, North Korea and Myanmar - and, since last year, Syria - have become an annual ritual. A General Assembly vote on a draft resolution on Myanmar, which was passed by consensus by the U.N.'s Third Committee on human rights last month, has been delayed while budget implications are assessed.

The resolutions deepen international pressure and further isolate Iran, North Korea and Syria but have no legal consequences. All three countries lobby hard against the adoption of the resolutions.

"We wonder if any member of this universal body can claim perfection in human rights situation within its territory and should be beyond the international scrutiny," Iranian U.N. Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee told the General Assembly.

"It is a regret that the present system of human rights monitoring opens doors for a selective, arbitrary, partial and unproductive treatment," he said.

The resolution on Iran voiced "deep concern at serious ongoing and recurring human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran relating to, inter alia, torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including flogging and amputations."

HINDRANCE

The Syria resolution "strongly condemns the continued widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities and the Government-controlled 'shabiha' militia."

A representative of Syria's U.N. mission described the resolution as politicized and said it "hinders peaceful solutions the crisis in Syria." About 40,000 people have been killed during a 20-month civil war in Syria.

"The sponsors of this draft resolution, namely Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, are not renowned for their desire to protect and promote human rights in Syria," the Syrian diplomat said.

"Quite to the contrary they are a major part of the problem, they are the main instigator for ongoing violence and an escalation of violence in my country," she said.

Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Morocco have repeatedly denied the allegations.

The North Korea resolution voiced "very serious concern at the persistence of continuing reports of systematic, widespread and grave violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights."

It said such violations included torture, the existence of prison camps and limitations on the freedom of movement of North Korean citizens, including the punishment of those who attempt to travel abroad.

A representative of North Korea's U.N. mission rejected the resolution "as a document of political plot and fabrication (of the human rights situation)."

"This resolution has nothing to do with ... human rights, but rather it creates confrontation and blocks potential dialogue and cooperation," he said.

North Korea is under U.N. Security Council sanctions for nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

(Editing by Bill Trott)

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