The U.S. withdrew from the Council in 2018.
Fifty-three countries at the U.N. Human Rights Council, led by Cuba, came out in support of China’s national security law this week — a law that has formed the basis of the communist regime’s latest crackdown on the people of Hong Kong.
Dueling statements were read out in the Council Tuesday in support and against the national security law. According to Axios, Cuba read out a statement in favor of the law backed by 52 other countries, while the U.K. read out a statement against it, representing itself and 26 other countries.
Chinese state media Xinhua reported that the Cuban statement said the law was beneficial for Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, and guarantees that Hong Kong residents can exercise their freedom in a “safe environment.”
The law criminalizes anti-government movements, and is targeted at pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong who have pushed back against Beijing’s incursions on freedoms in the territory — which is supposed to be ruled on the principle of “one country, two systems.”
The law punishes crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.
It also establishes a national security committee in Hong Kong under Beijing’s control and allows for those accused of offenses to be sent to the mainland for trial. Those who are not permanent residents of Hong Kong may be charged under the national security law as well, according to Chinese state media.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that “Free Hong Kong was one of the world’s most stable, prosperous and dynamic cities. Now it’s just another communist-run city where its people will be subject to the party elites wins.”
But at the Human Rights Council, where a number of countries with poor human rights records sit, those in favor of the draconian measure outnumbered those who opposed it. The Council came under renewed scrutiny over its membership this year, when Venezuela was among those with records of human rights abuse who took a seat.
The spectacle will be seen by the U.S. as further proof that it was right to pull out of the Council in 2018. Then-U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley in 2018 called it “a protector of human rights abusers, and a cesspool of political bias.”