Libya's "UN-Human" Rights Record
By: Tommy Calvert
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, January 31, 2003
Most people are shocked to learn that there are as many as 30 million people enslaved in virtually every region of the world. Defined as "forced work for no pay under the threat of violence," contemporary slavery includes chattel slavery, sex slavery, and debt bondage.
Unfortunately, slaves around the world received a collective slap in the face on Monday, January 20, 2003, as Libya was elected to chair the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. This commission is one of the few international forums for confronting human rights violators and sets the tone and agenda for global human rights accountability.
Many of you are aware of the plight of southern Sudanese who are enslaved in Sudan. Most of you are probably not aware that some of these slaves end up in Libya and are sold into bondage. The Libyan government has not put a stop to these practices and, with Libya's dismal human rights record, we are hardly surprised.
Not only does Libya have a long record of supporting international terrorism but Libya has also terrorized its own people through torture, persecution of political opposition, suppression of workers rights, and arbitrary prison detainment of innocent people considered a threat to the state.
How can a nation that does not actively prevent the sale of slaves be permitted to chair the UN Commission on Human Rights? This cannot stand. Make your voice heard by going to the American Anti-Slavery Group's website at www.iabolish.com and email a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan with two easy clicks from your mouse.
How can a nation that will not ratify the treaty on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography be the chair of this important committee? This cannot stand - Call the UN at (212) 963-7162 to voice your concerns to Mr. Annan.
How can a nation that has not signed the UN treaty to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons begin to credibly determine human rights violations? This cannot stand, and we ask you to join our cause by calling the UN Representative from Libya Ahmed Own at (212) 752-5775 and demand that Libya enforce Anti-Slavery laws.
Libya does not allow United Nations human rights monitors into its borders. Does the election of this atrocious violator of human rights mean that the UN simply abandons victims who have powerful allies? Could it be that Libya's prohibition against UN human rights monitors affirms a new policy of "hear no evil, see no evil" at the UN?
The New York Times reports that Libyan Leader Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi used oil revenues to "finance a new body of African fellowship called the African Union. In exchange, he wanted his country to be selected by fellow Africans as their next nominee to be chairman of the rights commission. In the regional rotation of the chairmanship, it was Africa's turn to select." As a result, oil money trumped Africa's human rights concerns.
The African nations that elected Libya to this leadership position should stand up for African slaves and ignore Libya's financial contributions to their coffers. They ought to demand that the UN send human rights monitors to Libya to identify and emancipate Libya's slaves. They ought to demand that the UN human rights monitors investigate the shameful treatment of the over one million African migrant workers in Libya.
The American Anti-Slavery Group calls on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to:
· Call on Libya to enforce its own anti-slavery laws and ensure that Sudanese and others are not held or transported as slaves in Libya
· Call on Libya to open its borders to UN human rights monitors and international human rights organizations to monitor and combat slavery and human trafficking
· Publicly pressure Libya to ratify all treaties condemning slavery and trafficking
· Denounce governments that practice or tolerate slavery within their own borders
For the credibility of he UN Commission on Human Rights, this outrage must be rectified.
Those of you who are members and contributors to major human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch should earnestly encourage them to bring the human rights community together to restore the integrity of the UN Commission on Human Rights. Please ask that they allocate resources towards organizing a stronger grassroots response complete with non-violent protest to this decision and any future election that is as atrocious.
My friends please keep the pressure on and send a message right now-slaves of the world are depending on it.
Tommy Calvert, Jr. is Chief of External Operations for American Anti-Slavery Group
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