UN rights council keeps Sudan under scrutiny

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The UN Human Rights Council on Friday voted to keep up its scrutiny of Sudan, shrugging off a strong bid by Khartoum to bring an expert's surveillance of the country to a halt.

Twenty-five countries including Western nations voted for a resolution that was amended to "renew for a period of one year" the mandate on the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Mohamed Chande Othman.

Nineteen countries, including including China, Cuba, Nigeria and Russia, voted against, while three abstained.

Othman, a Tanzanian judge, earlier this month warned that Sudan stood at a "critical juncture" in the run-up to a referendum on the self-determination of southern Sudan in January.

He urged Khartoum to uphold human rights to ensure a credible ballot.

US human rights ambassador Eileen Donahoe welcomed the Council's vote as "a demonstration of its resolve to remain constructively engaged in one of the burning political and human rights issues of the day."

The original resolution filed by African nations had not mentioned the expert's role and would have effectively ended his oversight after a one year term.

However, Japan, Norway, Switzerland and the United States successfully brought an amendment to prolong the expert's mandate for another year.

© 2010 AFP

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