UN human rights body agrees to appoint expert to examine Russia

GENEVA (AP) — The United Nations’ top human rights body voted Friday to appoint an independent expert to step up scrutiny of Russia’s record of rights at home, including arbitrary arrests, repression of opposition Restrictions on freedom of speech were further exacerbated during the Ukrainian war.

The 47-member Human Rights Council voted 17 to 6, with 24 abstentions, on a proposal put forward by all EU member states except Hungary last week.Russian human rights group Memorial nominated as co-winner for 2022 shortly before Geneva vote Nobel Peace Prize.

The original proposal expressed concern about a “massive forced shutdown” of independent media, NGOs and opposition groups in Russia.

The Human Rights Council majority agreed to appoint a “special rapporteur” to keep tabs on human rights abuses in Russia, in part with help from Russian groups and activists still at home and abroad.

The commission had previously appointed a commission of inquiry — the highest form of scrutiny at a UN-backed agency — to look into human rights abuses related to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The Russian government has taken a series of measures to limit domestic dissent over the war, including passing a law making it a crime to spread “fake” news about the Russian military.

Russia has been a member of the Human Rights Council until earlier this year, when the U.N. General Assembly would strip the country of its membership due to Ukraine’s invasion, and Russia suspended its participation.

Friday is the last day of the council’s fall meeting. A day earlier, member states rejected a proposal first brought up by the United States and several other Western countries to debate alleged human rights abuses in China’s western Xinjiang region.

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