The UN has denied as false reports by Algeria’s state-run news agency Algerie Presse Service (APS) that Morocco “failed” to become a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
The strongly-worded denial inflicted another blow to the official news outlet, known for circulating “fake news” on sensitive topics.
In its report, APS claimed that Morocco was in contention for a seat on the UNHRC for the 2021-2023 term that will start on January 1.
Elections took place on October 13, with APS falsely reporting that Rabat filed its candidacy but failed to win the seat as its bid only received one vote—“Morocco’s own.”
The report imputed the alleged “failure” to Morocco’s supposedly grim record on human rights, as well as to waning support from its African and international allies.
In its rebuttal of APS’ fake news, the UN revealed that only four African countries — Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Malawi, and Senegal — were in contention for UNHRC seats.
“Morocco was not one of the candidates,” the UN said in a statement. The list of the contenders vying for a seat on the council did not include Morocco and only Saudi Arabia failed to secure enough votes. A total of 15 seats were open for the 16 candidates.
The UN also revealed that Morocco received one vote in the final count because one member state mistakenly cast its ballot for the North African Kingdom.
This country that voted for Morocco may have prematurely indicated its eagerness to see the North African kingdom in the council. Morocco has already announced its candidacy for the 2023-2025 term, with elections set to take place in 2022.
The mistaken vote is apparently the reason APS’s report jumped to the conclusion that Morocco was indeed a UNHRC seat contender but only succeeded in securing its own vote.
APS is no stranger to such controversies. Last month, the Geneva-based Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) denounced the “complete fabrication” by APS of a news report, claiming that the UN Dispute Tribunal in Geneva had rejected a complaint from Algerian activists in a record time of 24 hours.
In response, OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville lashed out at APS’ “false information” in a fiery statement.
“The information contained in the article, which has been widely picked up by other media in Algeria and elsewhere, is a complete fabrication from start to finish,” he said.