Maputo — Mozambican Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario on Monday received a special envoy from the Australian government, Philip Ruddock, who was seeking Mozambican support for Australia's bid for membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
After the meeting, Ruddock, who is a former Attorney-General and former Minister for Immigration, told reporters he was hopeful.”I came to Mozambique to ask for support for my country's candidacy for the Human Rights Council. During my meetings here, I have had very positive discussions, and I am leaving Mozambique very encouraged”.
He said the visit has also been an opportunity to exchange experiences, and he praised Mozambican advances in human rights.
“I could witness the developments the country has been undergoing”, Ruddock claimed. “I could understand that there is respect for the laws, and an effort is being made to consolidate democratic institutions”.
“As members of the Commonwealth, Mozambique and Australia share common ideals”, he added. “We came to Mozambique to gather new experiences, and not to teach anything”.
The Human Rights Council has 47 members, elected by secret ballot by the UN General Assembly. Places are reserved for regions - 13 for Africa, 30 for Asia and the Pacific, eight for Latin America and the Caribbean, six for eastern Europe, and seven for western Europe “and other states”.
The Council is a controversial body, since countries that are notorious for their abuse of human rights have been elected to it, including Saudi Arabia.
But Australia itself has been accused of violating the rights of refugees, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull saying that asylum seekers who came by boat and are currently on the islands of Nauru and Manus will “never” be allowed to enter Australia.
Nonetheless, Australia stands a good chance of election to the council, since only three countries - Australia, France and Spain - are competing for two positions.