Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, March 16, 2005

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For IMMEDIATE Release

UN Commission on Human Rights Reform
Smith Schedules Tuesday Hearing Featuring Bob Fu, Chinese Activist Booted from UN Human Rights Convention for Exposing Chinese Torture Methods 

BACKGROUND:  In recent years, the UN Commission on Human Rights has come under scrutiny for allegations of misconduct and ineffectiveness.  Two years ago, the Commission removed Sudan from a list of countries under special monitoring of human rights violations.  A year later, the Sudanese Government – repeatedly accused of human rights abuses in Darfur - was reelected as a Commission member in good standing.  Recent allegations against UN employees in the Congo region underscore the need for greater oversight and fundamental reform of peacekeeping operations.  Among the witnesses scheduled to testify will be Bob Fu, a former Chinese prisoner of conscience who was removed from the 61st session of the UN Human Rights Commission earlier this month, after he made a presentation showing how China tortures religious prisoners with specially designed electro-shock devices.  The Chinese delegation complained that the equipment ‘made them feel threatened’, and insisted that Mr. Fu be removed from the conference, his credentials seized, and his Chinese torture device confiscated.  Mr. Fu’s credentials were issued by a non-governmental organization (NGO), A Woman’s Voice International (AWVI).  Two weeks ago, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan recognized the declining credibility of the Commission and proposed widespread reform by making the Commission a permanent standing body elected by a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly.  He has repeatedly suggested that human rights must be incorporated into the decision-making process throughout the work of the UN.  Critics argue, however, that as long as non-democratic states have equal voting power and there are no criteria for membership on the Commission for Human Rights, it will continue to be dominated by oppressive states.  Other options for reform include strengthening the work of the UN High Commissioner and a stronger focus on spreading democratic ideals of protecting human rights.

                                                                                            

WHAT:                 Subcommittee Oversight Hearing:  The UN Commission on Human Rights:  Protector or Accomplice?
                  Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations,
                 
U.S. Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), Chairman

WHEN:                 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, April 19, 2005

WHERE:               Room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES:       Mark P. Lagon, Ph.D., Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, U.S. Department of State;
                  Bob Fu,
President, China Aid Association;
                  Richard Williamson,
Partner, Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, LLP (Former United States Ambassador and Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs to the             United Nations);
                  Joseph Loconte,
William E. Simon Fellow, The Heritage Foundation; and
                  Jennifer Windsor,
Executive Director, Freedom House.

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