Extremist attacks no excuse for state terror

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The Human Rights Council meets in the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room at the UN in Geneva. Photo/Pierre Albouy

The UN human rights chief said Thursday that states must not let their fight against terrorism undermine human rights at what could be a "turning point" in world history.

In his speech to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein spoke out against "brutal" state defence measures which handed a propaganda tool to extremists intent on destruction.

Highlighting many flashpoints around the world, the High Commissioner condemned Islamic State and Boko Haram insurgents.

He also criticised the Syrian government for its handling of an originally peaceful protest four years ago that has since led to more than 200,000 deaths. Daniel Johnson has more.

Opening his remarks, High Commissioner Zeid said that the fight against terror should uphold human rights – not undermine them.

Insisting that counter-terrorism measures including torture did not make countries any safer, Mr Zeid described the "orange jumpsuits of Guantanamo" detention centre worn by US terror suspects as a recruitment tool for IS.

"They generate legitimate resentment, harm and undermine the essential values of the international community…as former (US) president George W Bush has conceded, Guantanamo has become, and I quote, "a propaganda tool for our enemies', end quote."

The High Commissioner condemned beheadings and other horrors committed by Islamic State, before rounding on Nigeria's Boko Haram separatists for using girls to carry bombs.

He also criticised the "vengeful" Syrian government as the conflict enters its fifth year, before expressing concern at unjust restrictions on freedom of speech implemented by states including Egypt, Myanmar, Thailand and Turkey in 2014.

Ending his address, Mr Zeid said a streamlining initiative which will create seven regional hubs around the world and beef up his office's presence in New York.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1″02

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