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US: Cuba Does Not Deserve Seat on UN Human Rights Commission - 2003-04-29


The White House has denounced Cuba's re-election to the U.N.'s human rights commission. Bush administration officials say it is like choosing a robber to protect a bank.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says the vote to seat Cuba on the panel was an inappropriate action that does not serve the cause of human rights.

"Cuba does not deserve a seat on the human rights commission," he said. "Cuba deserves to be investigated by the human rights commission."

He says America is making its displeasure known at the U.N., but acknowledges the vote cannot be reversed.

"We deplore the action," he added. "We will speak out against the action. But this is an action that is taken by the United Nations through their economic and social committee. That is where the vote took place to re-elect Cuba to the commission. The action has been taken."

Mr. Fleischer was asked if the Bush administration would consider withdrawing from the human rights commission in protest.

"We believe by being a part of the human rights commission we can work from the inside as well as from the outside to effect positive change," he added. "But it certainly does raise eyebrows and raise questions about the United Nations human rights commission's commitment to human rights!"

Mr. Fleischer noted the U.N. action followed a Cuban crackdown on dissent. At least 75 prominent political activists were rounded up in March and sentenced to up to 28 years in prison, on charges including subversion and treason. Earlier this month, the Cuban government executed three men who tried to hijack a ferry to the United States.

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