POLAND’S PRIME Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MICHAELA REHLE)
(Tribune News Service) - The top human rights official for the United Nations chose unusually tough language Monday to criticize what he sees as a sharp erosion in civil liberties in Poland and Hungary.
"Xenophobes and racists in Europe are casting off any sense of embarrassment,” said the UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Hussein, singling out Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
While Hungary and Poland have drawn criticism for antidemocratic actions for some time, two recent statements from their leaders seemed to have provoked Hussein to speak out. Orban, in a speech on February 6, said his country did not want its “color” to be diluted by immigrants. Morawiecki, commenting on a controversial Polish law that criminalizes some language about the Holocaust, spoke of Jewish “perpetrators” along with Nazis — “a disgraceful calumny,” Hussein said.
“Today, oppression is fashionable again,” Hussein said at the opening of a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. “The security state is back and fundamental freedoms are in retreat in every region of the world. Shame is also in retreat.”
Hussein decried a surge in right-wing, anti-immigrant politics in Europe and elsewhere and the lack of international condemnation.
Both Poland and Hungary are US allies as members of NATO and joined the European Union in 2004. Hungary reacted angrily to Hussein’s comments, demanding he resign. The high commissioner has said that he will not run for reelection when his term expires later this year.©2018 the Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.