China escapes U.N. criticism at forum on human rights; Commission rebukes Russia for Chechnya

THE BALTIMORE SUN

GENEVA -- After six weeks of review, debate and bargaining at the annual session of the main United Nations human rights forum, which ended Friday, China emerged free of condemnation while Russia and others were chastised.

After it sidestepped bringing China to account for repression of political and spiritual dissenters, the U.N. Human Rights Commission voted to castigate Russia for its actions in Chechnya.

It was the first time, diplomats said, that the 53-country commission had taken such strong action against one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

The resolution was introduced by the European Union. The permanent council members are Russia, the United States, France, Britain and China.

Members voted 25-7, with 19 abstentions, to condemn "disproportionate and indiscriminate use of Russian military force, including attacks against civilians."

In lobbying European delegates for the vote against Russia, human rights groups had contended that after Europe moved last year against abuses in Yugoslavia with the NATO bombing campaign, it should not be any less concerned over alleged abuses in Russia.

Cuba, China, India, the Republic of Congo, Madagascar and Sri Lanka voted with Russia against the call for an investigation into alleged mass killings and other atrocities.

Cuba's rights practices were condemned for the second year in a row.

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