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Shaheed Says UN Too Soft in Maldives, "Backsliding for Radical Islamic Groups"

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, October 24 -- When Ahmed Shaheed came to the UN on Wednesday it was, at least initially, to speak about his mandate of Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran.

  Inner City Press asked him questions on that -- on the effect of sanctions and Iran's position atop the Non-Aligned Movement -- and then asked Shaheed what the UN should be doing in his native Maldives, where he previously served as foreign minister.

   Shaheed said it would not be appropriate to answer the question during his Iran press conference -- all of the other questions seemed to come from Iranian journalists -- but said he'd be happy to answer afterward.

   Once the press conference ended, Inner City Press asked him, as it asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman, what the UN would or should do about for example the recent arrest of the Maldives' former president.

   Shaheed gave the following answer to Inner City Press: "Well, I think the UN should draw certain red lines to what a country can or cannot do. We are party to the ICCPR [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights] and other conventions we seem to be backsliding on a number of these things, at the behest of emerging radical Islamic groups."

   He continued, "The UN should play a far more active role. The UN is very discredited as being too soft on whoever is in power. They need to stand up for the principles the UN believes in."

This is rare at the UN, a country's former foreign minister saying the UN should be more active in his country, which he says is "backsliding... at the behest of emerging radical Islamic groups."

   In fact, other sources say that some such groups may be seeking to undermine Mr. Shaheed's mandate. But that's another story. Watch this site.

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