U.S., Britain Call For Russia's Suspension From UN Rights Council
By RFE/RL April 04, 2022
The United States and Britain say they are seeking the removal of Russia from the UN Human Rights Council, following reports that Russian forces killed dozens of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.
"Russia's participation on the Human Rights Council is a farce," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on April 4 while in the Romanian capital, Bucharest, to see how the country, which shares a border with Ukraine, is handling a massive influx of refugees.
"And it is wrong, which is why we believe it is time the UN General Assembly vote to remove them," she added.
Removing Russia from the council, which is based in Geneva, would need the support of at least two-thirds of the UN General Assembly's 193 members. A motion for removal can be based made if a country is found to be persistently committing gross and systematic violations of human rights during its membership.
Russia, which is currently in the second year of its three-year term on the council, invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Since then, the General Assembly has adopted two resolutions denouncing Russia with at least 140 votes in favor.
"My message to those 140 countries who have courageously stood together is: the images out of Bucha and devastation across Ukraine require us to now match our words with action," Thomas-Greenfield told reporters in Romania.
In New York, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzia called the attempt to exclude Russia from the Human Rights Council "unbelievable," adding that it will not be helpful to peace talks.
"This is again unprecedented and this will not facilitate or encourage or be helpful to what is happening between Russia and the Ukrainian peace talks," Nebenzia said at a news conference.
He repeated Russian denials of the accusations of atrocities in Bucha, saying the footage presented was "staged." Russia will present more evidence on the issue at a UN Security Council meeting on April 5, he said.
Russian troops recently pulled out of Bucha, which lies on the northwest outskirts of Kyiv, and in their wake dozens of bodies were found.
Photographs showing the bodies of some of the dead civilians with their hands bound have shocked many and prompted calls for stepped-up sanctions against Russia and the criminal prosecution of the perpetrators.
"The images out of Bucha and devastation across Ukraine require us to now match our words with action," Thomas-Greenfield said.
Hours after Thomas-Greenfield made her comments, Britain joined the call for Moscow's ouster from the council.
"Given strong evidence of war crimes, including reports of mass graves and heinous butchery in Bucha, Russia cannot remain a member of the UN Human Rights Council," U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a tweet.
"Russia must be suspended."
Bucha Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk said on April 2 that about 300 locals had been killed during the Russian occupation of the town and that some 280 bodies had been discovered in a mass grave.
Russia has denied allegations that its forces were involved in the killings, calling the reports a "provocation."
With reporting by Reuters and AP
Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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