‘Silence does not earn you any respect’, UN rights chief Al-Hussein says

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“Silence does not earn you any respect – none,” UN human rights chief Zeid  Al-Hussein said,  defending his reputation for frank criticism in his role weeks before he is due to depart.

Jordanian prince and diplomat Al-Hussein, who has provoked outrage from world leaders for comments including saying Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte needs a “psychiatric evaluation” and calling Poland and Hungary’s leaders “xenophobes and racists,” spoke to reporters in New York.

He said the role of the UN’s human rights office is to hold up a mirror to governments’ actions, which requires speaking up.

“We do not bring shame on governments – they shame themselves,” Al-Hussein added.

“They shame themselves when they deprive their people of the basic necessities for a dignified life, they shame themselves when they discriminate against parts of their communities, they shame themselves when they stoke fear and make people fear that they have to bend to the will of government or face consequences,” he said.

Al-Hussein acknowledged that he has burned some bridges with his sharp tongue, but said he has no regrets.

“If I’m going to make a mistake, I would rather make a mistake speaking out – and not regretting that I didn’t say anything when I should have said something,” he said.

Al-Hussein will leave his post at the end of August.

His replacement has not yet been announced.(dpa/NAN)

Biola Lawal

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