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Human Rights Watch Blames U.S. for Robinson's Exit
Mon Mar 18, 1:10 PM ET

GENEVA (Reuters) - Human Rights Watch Monday blamed U.S. government hostility to U.N. rights chief Mary Robinson for her decision not to seek another term when her appointment ends in September.

"It is widely known that officials in Washington had pressed United Nations (news - web sites) Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news - web sites) not to ask her to serve out the last three years of her second term," the U.S. rights group said in a statement.

Robinson, the U.N.'s High Commissioner for Human Rights, once announced her intention to stand down last year, at the end of her first four-year term, but was persuaded by Annan to stay on for a further year.

In recent months, however, diplomats said that Robinson had given indications that she would be willing to carry on beyond September this year if Annan confirmed her in the job.

"Mary Robinson paid a price for her willingness to stand up to powerful governments that violate human rights," said Reed Brody, advocacy director of Human Rights Watch.

Robinson's outspoken views on issues ranging from Chechnya (news - web sites) to the treatment of al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners from the Afghan war have brought her into frequent conflict with both Washington and Moscow. Earlier, she told the opening session of the Human Rights Committee that this would be the last annual meeting that she would address as Commissioner.

At a subsequent news conference, she declined to comment on suggestions that she had been pushed into the decision by Washington's suspected opposition to her continuing in the job.

"I am aware that there is strong support (for me) in the human rights community. I am not going to comment on individual countries. They can be asked themselves," she said in answer to a question at a news conference.

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