Thu Apr 14, 2005 11:05 AM ET
The United Nations top human rights body on Thursday backed a call by the United States to keep pressure on Cuba by renewing the mandate of a special investigator into alleged abuse there.
The public vote, one of the most politically charged at the annual session of the 53-state U.N. Commission on Human Rights, was 21 in favor to 17 against, with 15 abstentions.
The European Union, which has been seeking to improve ties with Havana after a two-year rift over the jailing of dissidents, co-sponsored the U.S. resolution.
“The Cuban government has failed to take the steps that would guarantee its own people the most basic human rights,” said U.S. delegation member Lino Piedra.
“Instead they have persisted in imposing a totalitarian state that deprives the people of the right of expressing dissent without incurring a decades-long prison sentence,” he said.
But the Cuban delegate, whose name was not immediately available, blasted the resolution as “hypocrisy,” adding decisions of the Geneva-based Commission amounted to a “farce.”
Attacking Cuba at the commission was a “sick obsession of successive U.S. administrations,” he added.
The resolution called on Cuba to cooperate with the special U.N. envoy, French magistrate Christine Chanet, who recently urged the Communist state to free all political dissidents, grant freedom of expression and lift restrictions on travel.
Havana has yet to allow the official, first appointed in 2003, to visit the Caribbean island state where President Fidel Castro has governed since 1959.