April 21, 2014 – Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar Ja’afari, has prepared a UN report on Puerto Rico’s political relationship with the United States and the various self-determination options available to the island’s citizens.
His report also discusses excessive use of force by Puerto Rican police against political activists, the harsh sentences handed down to members of pro-independence groups, the application of the death penalty against Puerto Ricans, despite its abolition in 1929, and the effect on the health and human rights of the island’s citizens as a result of US military activities in Vieques.
Ja’afari, whose government the UN human rights office last week said had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, including torture and rape of its own citizens, was re-appointed as special rapporteur for the Committee on Decolonization last year.
The committee was formed in 1960 declaring that “the subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights.”
Puerto Rico was removed from the UN’s list of non-self-governing territories in 1953 but a number of countries, including Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, are pushing for the General Assembly to take up the issue of the island’s political status.
Positions in UN bodies are rotated on a regional basis, and regional groups often vote for colleagues in exchange for support later.
– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz
Image: UN Photo/Violaine Martin