UN expert calls for counter-terror monitor
GENEVA: A United Nations expert called on the world body’s Human Rights Commission to appoint a permanent monitor to ensure that counter-terrorism measures do not harm civil liberties.
Robert Goldman, a US lawyer appointed to make recommendations on the issue, said in a report on Tuesday that “a broad range of human rights are being violated” by countries engaged in “counter terrorism initiatives”. Goldman said the 53-member commission should consider setting up “a special procedure to monitor states’ counter terrorism measures and their compatibility with international human rights law”. The monitor, a legal specialist, should have a broad mandate to give technical assistance to governments and make several visits a year to various countries, said the report.
The United States has refused to allow existing UN rights investigators to visit detentions centres for terror suspects and has bristled at criticism of its sweeping security powers. Other countries including Australia, Pakistan, Russia and Saudi Arabia, have also objected to the UN Commission’s involvement in the issue. Meanwhile, a UN human rights investigator Philip Alston urged countries to remove the “cloak of secrecy” surrounding the death penalty and disclose the number of executions and people on death row.
Alston said that secrecy undermined safeguards that could prevent errors or abuses and ensure fair and just procedures at all stages. “There is a need for every country that retains the death penalty to disclose publicly the number of executions, the crimes for which the people have been convicted and their identities,” said Alston.
“A country cannot say that we have the death penalty because a majority of its nationals majority of people want it and at the same time not tell the people what the situation is. It denies human dignity to those sentenced and denies the rights of family members to know the fate of their closest relatives,” he said. He also said he had sought an invitation to China and expected to visit Iran this year. afp