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Cuba blasts US rights record at Human Rights Council meeting

[JURIST] Cuba and the United States exchanged barbs Tuesday over the US human rights record on the second day [press release] of the inaugural session [opening ceremony statements; JURIST report] of the UN Human Rights Council official website; JURIST news archive] in Geneva, Switzerland. Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Rogue accused [transcript] the US of running a "concentration camp" at the US detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and claimed that Cuba needed to represent the rights of American people because the US does not have a seat on the 47-member Council. Velia De Pirro, a member of the US observer delegation, called Cuba's attacks on the US "gratuitous and unfounded," adding that the US delegation can adequately speak for the American people. The US chose not to seek a seat [JURIST report] in the first year of the Human Rights Council, after opposing its creation [JURIST report] as an insufficient corrective to the problematic UN Commission on Human Rights [official website]. The US has said it may run for a position next year.

The Council's first meeting is focused on establishing new operating procedures, particularly the format of a universal periodic review to evaluate the human rights records of all countries. The Council then plans to move onto passing two "vital documents" that will guarantee the rights of indigenous peoples and another that will oppose enforced disappearances. Reuters has more. Cuban news agency Prensa Latina has additional coverage, in Spanish.

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