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UN Human Rights Council votes to investigate Russia

The United Nations Human Rights Council voted on Friday to appoint a special rapporteur to investigate the human rights situation in Russia.

The United Nations Human Rights Council voted on Friday to appoint a special rapporteur to investigate the human rights situation in Russia.

Seventeen countries voted in favour of the resolution, six voted against and 24 abstained.

“This step was overdue,” said German UN ambassador Katharina Stasch. “Russia has long trampled on human rights at home too.” Now victims of human rights violations, non-governmental organizations and Russian opposition could finally have a voice again, she noted.

More than 25 Western countries introduced the resolution, expressing concern about arbitrary arrests, pressure on civil society groups, unjust trials, restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly, and intimidation of journalists, lawyers and opposition groups. They called on Russia to guarantee people’s fundamental rights.

The rapporteur, who has yet to be appointed, will investigate the situation, report to the UN Human Rights Council in a year, and make recommendations on how to improve the situation.

Bolivia, China, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Cuba and Venezuela voted against the resolution.

Russia is not a member of the council, which currently consists of 47 countries elected by the UN General Assembly for three-year terms.

However, the Russian ambassador was present and condemned the resolution for politicizing the situation. The ambassador argued that instead, racism and police brutality should be investigated in the countries which introduced the resolution.

China too rejected the resolution as interference in internal affairs.

The Western nations behind the resolution had failed to pass a motion on China just the day before.

They had sought in vain to organize a debate about the UN High Commissioner’s report on the situation in the Chinese region of Xinjiang.

The report, issued in late August, addresses evidence of crimes against humanity in the oppression of Uighurs and other minorities.

However, 18 countries sided with China in the vote on a debate. The motion failed by a small margin, with 19 votes against and 17 votes in favour.

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