Monday, January 20, 2003

April Fool's Already?

I woke up this morning to this headline: Libya has been elected to chair the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Here is just a sample of what the State Department's 2001 Human Rights Report had to say about the new champion of human rights:

Libya maintains an extensive security apparatus, consisting of several elite military units, including Qadhafi's personal bodyguards, local Revolutionary Committees, and People's Committees, as well as "Purification" Committees. The result is a multilayered, pervasive surveillance system that monitors and controls the activities of individuals. The various security forces committed numerous serious human rights abuses..

Or this:

Qadhafi uses summary judicial proceedings to suppress domestic opposition. Security forces torture prisoners during interrogations and as punishment. Prison conditions are poor. Security forces arbitrarily arrest and detain persons, and many prisoners are held incommunicado. Many political detainees are held for years without charge. The Government controls the judiciary, and citizens do not have the right to a fair public trial or to be represented by legal counsel. The Government infringes on citizens' privacy rights, and citizens do not have the right to be secure in their homes or persons, or to own private property. The Government restricts freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, and religion. The Government imposes some limits on freedom of movement. The Government prohibits the establishment of independent human rights organizations. Violence against women is a problem. Traditional attitudes and practices continue to discriminate against women, and female genital mutilation (FGM) is practiced in remote areas of the country. The Government discriminates against and represses tribal groups. The Government continues to repress banned Islamic groups and exercises tight control over ethnic and tribal minorities, such as Amazighs (Berbers), Tuaregs, and the Warfalla tribe. The Government restricts basic worker rights, uses forced labor, and discriminates against foreign workers. In October Libyan mobs killed at least 150 African workers. Government authorities put down the violence, but then expelled hundreds of thousands of African migrants. There have been reports of slavery and trafficking in persons..

It gets even better, though. Guess who's being criticized for its conduct during the selection process in Geneva? That's right, the Great Satan. It seems the United States, rather than acquiescing in this abomination, forced a vote of the 53-nation commission, which goes against its genteel tradition of awarding the post by consensus. The tally: 33 in favor, 3 opposed (the US obviously being one of the three), and 17 abstentions. If the United Nations continues on the path it has taken these last , oh, thirty years or so, I see two consequences: The Onion will have to go out of business, simply linking directly to the UN's site and conceding that they can't do better than reality, after all; and the United States will kick the bums out of New York, and take back some prime riverfront real estate in mid-Manhattan.