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UN grills Canada over Gaza record

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(From PressTV) Canada’s staunch support for Israel during its 23-day war on Gaza has caused uproar at the United Nation’s Human Right’s body in Geneva.

During Canada’s first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council in Switzerland, Toronto was questioned on its unconditional sympathy for Israel.

“It is often asked why, in the Human Rights Council, Canada is the first and often the only country to ask for a vote and vote against issues that address the violations of human rights of the Palestinian people,” Pakistan’s Deputy Head of Mission to the UN, Tehmina Janjua, said on Tuesday.

The United Nations Human Rights Council in late January called on Israel to end its “grave violations” in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The UN body called for immediate international action to force Israel to allow fuel, food, medicine and other essential items to be sent into the Gaza Strip.

The statement passed 30 to 1, with 15 countries abstaining. Canada was the only country to object the call which also urged Tel Aviv to reopen the border-crossings, sealed since Hamas began governing Gaza in June 2007.

Iran’s mission also expressed dismay at Canada’s voting pattern in the Human Rights Council.

“Canada, regrettably, was the only country [that] voted against recent Human Rights Council resolutions which condemned massive violations of human rights in Gaza,” Farhad Mamdouhi, First Secretary of Iran’s mission to the UN in Geneva, pointed out at the session.

“Canada has turned its back on genocide of civilians in Gaza while [declaring] itself a leading global role on human rights advocacy,” he said.

Gaza was not the only area of concern, as Toronto was criticized by some of its traditional allies.

Britain, for instance, recommended that Canada give its “highest priority” to addressing “fundamental inequalities” between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people including through “resolution of land claims and reconciliation of governance and self-government.”

The three-hour review also included concern over the fact that domestic violence is not a criminal offence in Canada, the policy of not seeking clemency for all Canadians sentenced to death abroad, and even policies surrounding taser usage by police.

The Canadian delegation defended its record, explaining to the 47-member state forum “no country, including Canada, has a perfect human rights record.”

“It is important that every country open their human rights records to scrutiny, both domestically and internationally,” Canada’s Deputy Justice Minister John Sims told the session in Geneva.

MT/JG/MMN (Thanks for the link, John John.)

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