This Day (Lagos)

8 July 2012

Africa: U.S. Hails Govt At Human Rights Session

Las Vegas — United States, on Saturday, hailed Nigeria's delegation and the nation's contributions to the 20th Session of the Human Rights Council which ended at the weekend.

"We are pleased by the strong leadership shown within the Africa Group, in particular the delegations of Nigeria, Somalia, and Djibouti, which took the lead in the creation of a special rapporteur on Eritrea," a statement signed by State Department's spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, said.

US also acknowledged that was the first time the council had unanimously created a special rapporteur that was actively opposed by the country in question. This, it said, attested to the increased credibility of the council, the leadership of the African Group, and the international community's concern over human rights violations in Eritrea.

US noted that Eritreans remained victimised by one of the world's most repressive governments, which inflicts them with arbitrary and indefinite detention, inhumane conditions of confinement, torture, restrictions on freedom of speech, movement and belief, and indefinite forced labour in national service.

Noting that countries at the session worked to make sure the international community addressed chronic human rights violators in their own regions, US said the special rapporteur would make crucial contributions by providing the international community with independent and credible accounts of the human rights situations on the ground.

It also applauded the creation of a special rapporteur on Belarus, a mandate, it said was eliminated in 2006 when US was not on the council.

In another statement issued on Saturday, US said it was proud to work closely with Nigeria and other countries at the session where it was affirmed unanimously that human rights apply on the internet just as they exist offline.

Describing it as a landmark resolution sponsored by Sweden and over 80 countries, it said the resolution underscored, "that all individuals are entitled to the same human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of expression, online as they are offline, and that all governments must protect those rights regardless of the medium."

It added that US would continue to work with its partners to address challenges to online freedom, and to ensure that human rights were protected in the public square of the 21st century.

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