Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, UN.jpg
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein arrives for the opening of the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, 13 September 2016.

An increasing number of governments are denying access to UN human rights observers by claiming that no one should meddle in their internal affairs, UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said Tuesday.

The UN high commissioner for human rights called out a number of countries including Turkey, China and the Philippines for delaying or outright blocking independent UN monitoring.

"States may shut my office out – but they will not shut us up; neither will they blind us," Zeid said at the annual September session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

"On the contrary, efforts to duck or refuse legitimate scrutiny raise an obvious question: What, precisely, are you hiding from us?," the Jordanian UN diplomat said.

Zeid not only highlighted the problems of investigating dictatorships like North Korea or Syria.

He also criticized Turkey for refusing monitoring in restive Kurdish regions.

"We have received repeated and serious allegations of ongoing violations of international law as well as human rights concerns, including civilian deaths, extrajudicial killings and massive displacement," Zeid said.

Although the Ankara government had invited him to travel to the region, such a visit would be no substitute for a real mission of UN rights experts, he said.

Zeid also noted that Beijing has been holding discussions about a UN rights mission with his office for the past 11 years.

The UN rights office has been concerned about reported harassment of human rights activists in China, and about the persecution of ethnic and religious groups.

In addition, the UN rights chief demanded access to the Philippines, where hundreds of suspected drug criminals have been killed as part of President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs.

"Empowering police forces to shoot to kill any individual whom they claim to suspect of drug crimes, with or without evidence, undermines justice," Zeid said.

The UN rights chief also highlighted the US government's refusal to allow a UN investigation into reported serious violations at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

In Latin America, Zeid singled out the non-cooperation of Venezuela, despite alleged political repression and the sharp economic decline that has resulted in hunger and health-care problems.

Diplomats from these and other countries often protest that the UN is trying to meddle in their national affairs.

Zeid recalled that South Africa's apartheid regime had used similar arguments, but that "these efforts to shield serious human rights violations from outside scrutiny were conclusively and repeatedly rejected" by UN member countries.

Latest news

Reports: 12 injured as car runs into crowd at New Orleans parade

Twelve people were injured Saturday in the US city of New Orleans when a car struck a crowd watching a parade, local media reported.

"Moonlight" big winner at independent film awards

The coming-of-age drama "Moonlight" won six prizes including best feature at the 32nd Film Independent Spirit Awards Saturday, claiming the Hollywood spotlight on the eve of the Oscars.

Trump: I won't attend White House Correspondents' Association Dinner

US President Donald Trump said Saturday that he does not plan to attend the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year.

US Democratic Party chooses Tom Perez to be next party chief

The US Democratic Party elected former labour secretary Tom Perez as its next party chief at a meeting in Atlanta on Saturday.

73-year-old man dies after car ramming in Germany

A 73-year-old male pedestrian died from his injuries after being run over when a car rammed into people in the south-western town of Heidelberg, police said Saturday.

Syrian government vows retribution for Homs attacks that killed 42

The Syrian government vowed retribution for synchronized attacks on Saturday in Homs City that left 42 security personnel dead and reportedly involved up to six suicide bombers.

Between 250,000 and 300,000 Croatians suffer from rare diseases

Rare Disease Day, observed on February 28, was marked in Zagreb's Cvjetni Trg Square on Saturday.

German police shoot man who rammed car into pedestrians in Heidelberg

Police in Germany shot a man who rammed a car into pedestrians in the south-western town of Heidelberg on Saturday.

Egypt's al-Sissi orders cabinet to help Christians fleeing Sinai

Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sissi ordered the government on Saturday to take all necessary measures to help Christians who escaped northern Sinai after the Islamic State militia killed at least six of them over the past month.

SDP MP calls on citizens to raise their voice against restriction of women's rights

Josko Klisovic, a Social Democrat member of the Croatian parliament, on Saturday called on all Croatians to raise their voice against a policy turnaround on women's rights after Croatia took a conservative position in a discussion on human rights in the Council of the European Union.

Egypt court acquits Mubarak's aide of 22 years

An Egyptian court on Saturday acquitted one of ousted president Hosny Mubarak's closest aides, ruling he was not guilty of corruption and illicit profits.

EU ambassador to Albania Romana Vlahutin under 24-hour police protection

EU Ambassador to Albania Romana Vlahutin and her family have been given 24-hour armed police protection due to threats she has been receiving lately, the Austrian paper Der Standard said on Saturday, explaining that the threats were linked to Vlahutin's monitoring of a reform of Albania's judiciary designed to curb corruption in that country.