GENEVA - Human rights values and freedoms are under attack throughout the world, according to U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein. In an opening speech to the 32nd session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, he outlined a number of pressing human rights concerns he said could have been prevented.
The “filthy abuse by politicians” of the vulnerable is leading to escalating violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, warned Zeid, adding that the laws, institutions and values which bind people together are buckling.
Zeid said hate is becoming mainstream, walls are being erected and barriers of suspicion are rising as clampdowns on public freedoms grow. He said the world is witness to every kind of horror imaginable on a daily basis.
“I also condemn with the greatest possible force the outrageous attacks by violent extremists on innocent people, chosen at random, or because of their presumed beliefs, or opinions, or as we saw yesterday, their sexual orientation,” Zeid said.
Around 50 people were killed and 53 wounded by a gunman Sunday in a nightclub frequented by LGBT people in Orlando, Florida.
Zeid said he is concerned about the high incidence of gun violence.
“The Americas have by far the highest rate of intentional homicide of any region in the world. Many of these crimes can be linked to organized criminal gangs, which also drive corruption of the judiciary and other institutions,” Zeid said.
The high commissioner highlighted numerous trouble spots.
Zeid lamented the deepening, continuing disaster in Syria, along with Iraq and Yemen, and noted many parts of the Middle East and North Africa are being crushed by repression, conflict, and violent anarchy. He chastised the European Union for its inability to find a solution to the teeming refugee and migration crisis.
He condemned new waves of attacks by violent extremist groups in Mali and raised concerns about the many ethnic-based killings in Burundi. He pinpointed other areas of enduring instability and conflict in African countries, including Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Zeid, however, says terrible situations can be reversed. He noted the formation of a transitional government of national unity in South Sudan and the peaceful transfer of power in Central African Republic offer hope to the people in these beleaguered countries.
Zeid said the denial of human rights can lead to war; whereas respect for human rights will maintain the peace. He said human rights are not costly; they are priceless.