UPR 10th Session: 24 January - 4 February 2011
Australia | Austria | Estonia | Georgia | Mozambique | Myanmar | Namibia | Nauru | Nepal | Niger | Oman | Paraguay | Rwanda | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Sao Tome and Principe
Troika: Djibouti, France, Slovakia
Delegation headed by: Senator the Hon Kate Lundy, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister
Australia has ratified most international human rights conventions and has established a NHRI in line with Paris Principles and a Human Rights Commission. The government has also extended a formal apology to the First Peoples of Australia, starting a reconciliation process. In addition to this, a representation body has been established, the National Congress for Australia’s First Peoples. However, Australia still has areas that need improvement in order to advance its human rights record.
Marginalized and indigenous people must be more included in the Australian society, especially in economic and cultural life. Australia was recommended to end all discriminatory laws and increase services to all groups equally within society instead. Rural and indigenous people need more opportunities such as education, health care and work prospects, and racial and ethnic discrimination should be combated with programs and awareness raising campaigns. An additional of concern for many delegations was the increase in racially motivated crimes. Many immigrants are treated with suspicion and not accepted into the Australian society. It was therefore recommended that Australia establish an Inclusive Integration Plan, revise terrorism laws and increase human rights education in schools. Asylum seekers should also be informed of their rights and treated in a more humane manner, with less time spent in detention centers and all forms of police brutality should be investigated. Finally, Australia was asked to end all forms of violence and sexual abuse against women by giving more legal support to victims. Inequality in the labour market, especially in the private sector, continues to be a problem, thus it was suggested that Australia create programs and policies to increase the percentage of women in positions of leadership and ensure equal pay for equal work.
Positive achievements include the combat of trafficking and smuggling in the Asian-Pacific region. The increase in budget allocation to education, health care and opportunities for marginalized groups such as the poor, rural, indigenous and immigrants was highly praised during the UPR Working Group. A further notable achievement was the Close the Gap Campaign, which sets out to close the life expectancy gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians within one generation.
Troika: Argentina, Bahrain, Mauritania
Delegation headed by: H.E. Mr. Michael Spindelegger, Head of Delegation, Minister, Ministry for European and International Affairs
Austria has ratified almost all of the international human rights treaties and is providing human rights education to the population, including one week’s worth of training for police on human rights and racism. A law on equal treatment is also underway. Despite the fact that Austria is making great progress in human rights, there remains a lot that needs to be improved. A more inclusive society is required for Austria to fill the gaps in its human rights agenda.
The Roma, Muslim and Jewish communities are still faced with discrimination racism in their daily lives. The tolerance towards non-European groups has declined however hate speeches and other forms of xenophobic rhetoric are used in the media and by political parties. It was recommended that Austria combat this development, especially all cases of xenophobia, islamophobia and anti-Semitism. Austria should work harder to integrate all new migrants into society and make them feel welcomed in economic, social and cultural life, while also protecting their linguistic rights. A National Plan on fighting racism and xenophobia was recommended along with awareness raising campaigns to increase tolerance and end racial stereotyping and stigmatizing. Austria should also end institutionalized racism and discrimination by changing laws and regulations. It was recommended that police brutality of all forms be investigated. An additional area of concern centred on gender inequality, especially in the labour market, where women are paid less. Sexual and domestic violence is also still too high, thus, Austria needs to develop an Action Plan on equality. The country should also do more to combat trafficking and sex tourism by Austrian citizens. Homosexuals are being discriminated against and the high costs for legal services make people less inclined to use the system. Finally, Austria was recommended to establish a NHRI in line with Paris Principles and harmonize domestic laws with international ratified treaties.
Positive achievements include the establishment of an Office of the Ombudsman and the 2010 National Plan on Integration. People, especially women, who are victims of domestic law are also supported and protected by the Austrian law. A 24 hour hotline, shelters and centers have been set up to protect victims and help them get back on their feet again.
Troika: Zambia, Belgium, Ecuador
Delegation headed by: H.E. Mr Alar Streimann, Secretary General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Since achieving independence in 1991, Estonia has demonstrated a strong commitment to improving Human Rights and has taken important measures to guarantee economic, social, cultural and political rights to its citizens. To date Estonia has acceded to most of the international and regional human rights agreements and is reviewing adhesion to those to which it is not party. Commendable recent achievements include the introduction in 2009 of the Equal Treatment Act, guaranteeing the protection of persons against discrimination on the basis of nationality, race, colour, religion, age, disability or sexual orientation, and the establishment of a Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner. Estonia has additionally taken several measures to reduce the number of stateless persons on its territory, reducing the number of aliens from 500,000 in 1992 to less than 100,000 today. Regarding the integration of aliens as an issue of national importance, Estonia’s integration policy has achieved positive results; free language courses are offered to immigrants and an individual approach has been adopted to deal with citizenship applications. In April 2010 the Government adopted the Development Plan for the Reduction of Violence for 2010-2014, a development plan which also contains family violence and violence against women.
Despite these positive steps, many common concerns were raised by member states. One notable concern was repeatedly raised with respect to reported incidents of brutality and excessive force used by law enforcement personnel. It was advised that this issue be investigated thoroughly. Although significant progress has been made regarding the naturalization of stateless persons, concern was raised that the number of remaining aliens remains high. It was encouraged that Estonia continue to work on this issue and consider relaxing its language requirements to enable more citizens to acquire citizenship. The issue of prejudice and discrimination towards Roma children was raised, expressing concern that Roma children continue to experience discrimination in education and employment. Although Estonia has shown a strong commitment to furthering women’s rights, concerns about persistent gender disparity were raised. These concerns involved the large pay gap between salaries and female representation in the public and political sphere. Recommendations were made to include gender discrimination in the equal treatment act to help rectify this.
Recommendations to improve the situation of human rights in Estonia also addressed the need to establish a national Human Rights institution in line with the Paris Principles and reinforce legislation to combat human trafficking and punish perpetrators, developing a comprehensive strategy to ensure support for victims. Although notable improvements have been made to prisons in recent years, efforts need to be made to safeguard rights for prisoners, notably access to health care and legal services. Improvements still need to be made to living conditions for detainees. Finally, a common recommendation was raised to legalize same sex relationships.
Troika: Cameroon, Mexico, Ukraine
Delegation headed by: H.E. Mr. Sergi Kapanadze, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
Georgia has made great progress in its fulfilment of human rights and a 2010 law on gender equality has been introduced. It is also combating gender stereotypes of women by the help of awareness raising campaigns. The police have been trained on how to handle domestic violence and human rights law enforcers have been put in place. More legislative and administrational reforms are underway to strengthen the human rights framework of Georgia but more work is still needed to be done for Georgia to fulfill its human rights obligations, including improving its domestic legislation to comply with international standards.
During the UPR Working Group, Georgia was recommended to revise its judicial and legal system and work on its overcrowded prison system and detention centers. Police brutality, torture and other forms of ill-treatment should be punished and investigated at all times to combat impunity and increase trust in law enforcers. Furthermore, the practice of forcefully evicting and deporting IDPs must stop. It was recommended that Georgia develop a Social Reintegration Plan for IDPs to give them employment, education and other opportunities which they lack today. Intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders, along with members of government opposition parties and journalists is a common occurrence. To combat this Georgia was asked to revise its election system, ensure freedom of the press and make the media ownership transparent and independent. Women, children, national minorities and migrants are also discriminated against and sexual and domestic violence is a great problem. These vulnerable groups need both legislative support and protection and many delegations recommended Georgia to increase their rights, while combating stereotyping, discrimination and trafficking. It also needs to create a National Action Plan on the Integration of Minorities into the Cultural, Political and Social Life of Georgia. Moreover, xenophobia, racism and intolerance towards other religions are another area of concern and Georgia was asked to combat poverty, ensure religious freedoms and create an inclusive society. Finally, Georgia was recommended to make health reforms, ensure that its entire population received services equally and disabled individuals, especially children are supported.
Positive achievements include the establishment of a NHRI in line with the Paris Principles, a Child Rights Centre and an Office of the Ombudsman. Georgia has also extended an open and standing invitation to Special Procedures. During the UPR Working Group, Georgia’s programs in combating corruption were also highly praised.
Troika: Poland, Bangladesh, Uganda
Delegation headed by: H.E. Mrs. Benvinda Levi, Minister of Justice
Mozambique held broad national consultations during the creation of the UPR report and have taken many great strides towards meeting its human rights obligations. However, Mozambique still has difficulties meeting deadlines and handing in reports in time to the UN, making it hard for the HRC to carry out its work. Nevertheless, an institution for women’s rights has been created along with care centres for victims. Laws combating trafficking and gender policies are also new measures Mozambique has taken to combat gender discrimination and empower women.
Mozambique still needs to improve the situation of human rights for its people. During the UPR working group the country was recommended to improve schooling and provide further opportunities and services to its people, especially to marginalized and minority groups. Many individuals remain illiterate, thus many delegations asked for a National Action Plan to reduce illiteracy. In addition to this women and children, especially girls, are being discriminated against and sexual and domestic violence is common and not yet a criminal act. Women’s rights need to be secured in legislation and girls should be promoted to attend school without fear of sexual abuse, prostitution, trafficking or forced labour. Labour laws were also recommended to be revised to secure equality between men and women, especially when it comes to equal pay for equal work. Furthermore, the police are using excessive force, torture and other forms of ill-treatment towards prisoners without fear of being punished. Thus, Mozambique was asked to fight impunity, investigate all cases of human rights violations and improve the prison system. Anti-corruption laws, socio-economic plans and food security plans are also needed to secure a better standard of living. During the UPR Working Group, many delegations were concerned about the situation of LGBT people, recommending therefore that Mozambique legalize same-sex relationships and create awareness raising campaigns. Finally, Mozambique was asked to secure safe drinking water and sanitation for its population, combat HIV/AIDS, extend an open and standing invitation to Special Procedures and create a NHRI along Paris Principles.
Positive achievements include extending free legal aid and HIV/AIDS treatment to all Mozambique citizens and making the judiciary independent. Torture and capital punishment has also been made illegal. Furthermore, Mozambique has established a Stigmatization Act and a Plan of Action on Orphans. Children’s rights have been increased with the establishment of the Social Action Plan and the National Action Plan on Children.
Recommended to ratify: ICCPR, ICESCR, OP-ICCPR, OP-CAT, ICRMW, ICRPD, ICPPED, Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, the Rome Statute of the ICC
Troika: Lybian Arab Jamahiriya, Republic of Korea, United States of America
Delegation headed by: H.E. Dr. Tun Shin, Deputy Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General
Myanmar has just changed its political system towards democracy with multiparty elections which is a very positive step forward for the country in advancing their human rights agenda. The 7-Step Road-map towards Peace and Democracy, the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and the broad consultations held during the creation of the UPR report with civil society were welcomed by the working group. The increase in rights for the people, especially for women and children, shows Myanmar’s desire to improve its human rights records. However, a lot of work still needs to be carried out for the country to fulfil its obligations towards the UN and reconcile with its own people.
Myanmar still has 2,200 political prisoners who all need to be released and the newly democratic country must end all forms of torture, arbitrary detentions and violence committed by the police. All cases of impunity for human rights violations need to be resolved and investigated in an independent and transparent manner. Many delegations were worried about the use of forced labour, child labour and the poor conditions in prison facilities. By allowing the Red Cross to visit its detention centres, abolishing the death penalty and ending forced disappearances and arrests, the international community would have more belief in the “democratic” reforms the government has made. Myanmar was additionally recommended to combat all forms of discriminations based on religious or ethnic belonging and give national citizenship and legislative support to all minority groups instead. It was also recommended that Myanmar distribute services and education equally among all citizens. In a democratic state, all political actors must be represented on the political scene without fear of imprisonment and torture. The rights of women should also be strengthened and all forms of rape be criminalized, even in the case of rape committed by armed forces and within the marriage. It is essential that Myanmar establish awareness raising campaigns to target all groups of society so that the population understand their rights and inequalities and injustices to be highlighted. Finally, Myanmar was recommended to establish a NHRI in line with the Paris Principles, harmonize domestic laws with international standards, end censorship and extend an open and standing invitation to all Special Procedures.
Positive achievements include the National plan of action on women 2011-2015 and the 5 year National Plan on Combating Trafficking. The increase in the number of human rights institutions is also welcomed as a step forward for Myanmar to uphold its human rights obligations. Finally, Myanmar has also increased its budget allocation on health care and education and has ensured more services, support and freedoms to its people.
Recommended to ratify: ICCPR, ICESCR, CAT, OP-CAT, ICERD, CRPD, OP-CRC, ICPPED, Rome Statute of the ICC, Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness
Troika: Pakistan, Brazil, Mauritius
Delegation headed by: Hon. Pendukeni Livula-Ithana, MP, Minister of Justice
Namibia has made great progress in advancing human rights, especially in promoting and protecting women and children with the establishment of the Combating of Violence Act, the Combating of Immoral Practices Act and the Combating of Rape Act. It has also created a Zero-Tolerance Campaign against gender violence, which shows Namibia’s desire to work with the UN and its human rights framework. However, women still have a hard time accessing the services available to them, such as health care, education and employment. Many do not have any knowledge about their rights.
Namibia still needs to increase women’s rights and combat all forms of sexual and domestic violence. Discrimination of women is also widespread and trafficking should be made illegal according to international standards. Women should be allowed to own, buy, inherent and cultivate land and be represented at all levels of society. Children are another vulnerable group that needs increased institutional and legal support offered to them. To further secure the rights of children, it was recommended that child labour be eliminated. Another area of concern during the UPR Working Group was the excessive use of force by law enforcers and the frequency of impunity concerning these types of ill-treatments. It was recommended that Namibia criminalize torture, investigate all forms of harassment and human rights violations, and modernize its prison system to combat overcrowding. Discrimination against LGBT persons is common, homosexuality is prohibited in public life and same-sex marriages are not recognized. Thus, Namibia was asked to legalize same-sex conducts and produce awareness raising campaigns to increase acceptance of homosexuality. Social inequalities are high in Namibia and poverty allocation by the help of micro-credits should be a main priority for the country in order to reduce the large difference between incomes. It was also recommended during the UPR Working Group that Namibia establish sex education and awareness raising campaigns to combat the spread of HIV/Aids. Finally, many delegations asked Namibia to bring domestic legislation in line with international standards, improve the judicial system and extend an open and standing invitation to all Special Procedures.
Positive achievements include programs giving people rights to resources, including rights of fishery, and farming. Namibia has also extended free access to health care and HIV/Aids medicine for everyone. Labour laws have been increased and strengthened to ensure workers have the right to strike. National documentation documents have been handed out to all indigenous communities to make sure they are included as Namibian citizens. Finally, a bill criminalizing torture is in the preparation stages and Namibia has established an Office of the Ombudsman along with a NHRI conforming to the Paris Principles.
Troika: Switzerland, Hungary, Malaysia
Delegation headed by: H.E. Mr Mathew Batsiua, Minister for Health, Justice and Sports
Whilst human rights in the country of Nauru, the world’s smallest independent republic with a population of approximately 10,000 people, is not a new concept, there remains a number of areas today in which protection of certain human rights requires considerable improvement. Violence against women, domestic violence, discrimination based on sexual orientation, limited access to information, poverty, food security and poor health are all prevalent issues which need ongoing commitment.
The challenges faced by the people and the government of Nauru span many sectors and encompass difficulties attendant upon the small size of the country, its geographical isolation, limited capacity and limited human and financial resources. Emerging from a period of economic crisis and faced with extreme vulnerability to the effects of climate change, the country has notable preoccupations in other areas outside of the sphere of human rights. Somewhat bound and limited by its current situation, Nauru was however keen to reiterate its commitment to improving human rights in the small republic. A recent significant obstacle to progress was noted to be the fact that a new Bill detailing constitutional amendments adding new right protections concerning the right to information, access to education and children’s rights was refused by voters in a referendum held in February 2010. Research is currently being carried out to find out why the constitutional amendments only received one third’s support.
Despite the above challenges, tangible improvements to the human rights situation on the ground has however been made in recent years including the finalisation of the National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS) sharing responsibility between the Government, civil society and the private sector to improve quality of life. A Domestic Violence Unit has been established to better understand the issue of domestic violence and violence against women, together with the establishment of a Safe-House as a refuge for victims. An ongoing review is being undertaken by the criminal court into the issue of domestic violence. The National Youth Centre has been set up to further the interests of Youth and young offenders have been separated from women in prison to improve security. These efforts were all commended by the member states.
Recommendations were made to prioritize and improve measures to combat domestic violence and further rights for women, including increasing representation of women in the political sphere. It was suggested that a national action plan for rights for women should be set up to improve legal and policy instruments to deal with incidents against women involving violence, abuse and discrimination. It was commonly suggested that the country establish a National Human Rights Institution in line with the Paris principles, abolish the death penalty, criminalize torture and establish a climate change adaption strategy. Finally recommendations were made to decriminalise same gender relationships and advance the legislation on freedom of information.
Troika: Republic of Moldova, Cuba, Qatar
Delegation headed by: H.E. Madam Sujata Koirala, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Foreign Affairs
Nepal is currently facing great difficulties and challenges due to many years of armed conflicts and unrest in the country. It is also vulnerable to climate change and the melting of the Himalayan glaciers. Nevertheless, Nepal has succeeded over the last few years in stabilizing the country and establishing democracy. During the making of the UPR report, broad consultation was held with civil society. Nepal is a multi ethnic, religious and linguistic state however it is nonetheless making progress in providing equal rights for all its citizens. A bill stating the rights of indigenous people and Dalits is being finalized, which will also make cast-based discrimination illegal. Basic schooling is also available in the mother tongue for minority and indigenous groups.
Despite these positive measures, Nepal has many shortcomings when it comes to upholding its human rights obligations and should step up its effort in providing services such as education, health care and legal aid. The Nepalese society is still discriminating against women, minorities and indigenous people. During the UPR, the Working Group asked Nepal to combat all forms of ill-treatment towards these vulnerable groups. It was also recommended that Nepal fight trafficking and violence against women and illegalize child labour according to international regulations. Impunity for torture and excessive use of force by law enforcers is also a big problem in Nepal. To improve this, proper investigations and human rights education is required for the police. Laws should meet international standards and especially define and illegalize torture according to CAT. By investigating all the crimes against humanity that occurred during and after the conflict, and by forming a Truth and Reconciliation Committee, the Nepalese society can become a balanced, peaceful and inclusive society again. Finally, Nepal was recommended to reduce poverty, strengthen its judicial system, extend an open and standing invitation to Special Procedures and develop programs on women’s and children’s rights.
Positive achievements include the creation of a National Women’s Commission and the establishment of an Office of the Ombudsman. Nepal has also started making buildings accessible for people with disabilities and created campaigns and policies on gender related violence to make people aware of women’s rights. Finally, anti-corruption bodies have been created to fight the increase in black market and irregular economic activities.
Troika: Russian Federation, Angola, Saudi Arabia
Delegation Headed by: H.E Mr Abdoulaye Djibo, Minister of Justice and Human Rights
Since the reintroduction of democracy in 1991, Niger has made significant progress in the promotion and protection of human rights despite periods of major institutional and political upheaval. Niger’s commitment to advancing human rights can be seen by its extensive list of key national priorities, initiatives and commitments as outlined in its national report, and by its adhesion to a large number of human rights instruments. Notable recent progress has been made in the field of education, where in 1998 primary education was made compulsory and in 2007 the country developed a national policy of formal education, increasing levels of literacy, particularly in rural areas and for women. During this UPR session, the country was commended on its work on improving access to education, particularly for girls. Ranked among the world’s poorest countries according to the human development index, poverty is rife in Niger and in 2008 was estimated to be affecting almost 60% of the population. Although poverty, food scarcity and access to drinking water remain large problems, Niger was commended for the elaboration of its strategy for accelerated development and poverty reduction 2008-2012 aiming to reduce the poverty rate to 42%.
Niger faces enormous challenges and constraints including inadequate financial and human resources, the burden of external debt, isolation of certain areas of the country, and inadequate access to communications. Member states expressed their concerns regarding the existence of slavery in some communities and the existence of human trafficking. Calls were made to develop a national action plan to combat all forms of slavery, punish perpetrators and provide compensation and rehabilitation to victims. Recommendations were made to establish a referral mechanism for those affected by human trafficking. Whilst access to justice is free and without charge in Niger, difficulties in accessing the judicial system remain. Aid should be brought to the most vulnerable and isolated sections of the population and a training plan implemented to establish more legal partners per inhabitants. Recommendations were also made to strengthen the institutional framework to ensure the right of freedom of expression and right of freedom of the press to all citizens. It was suggested that torture should be criminalised and the death penalty abolished. Work on gender equality needs to be advanced however the establishment of the Quota Act was regarded as a positive step in this direction. Finally Niger should cooperate with the international community and other UN mechanisms to advance its human rights agenda, receiving technical assistance in education and health and sharing best practises.
Troika: Burkina Faso, Jordan, Spain
Delegation headed by: Mr Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs
Over the past few decades, Oman has made great strides in protecting and promoting human rights, making significant advancements in the fields of economic, social and cultural rights. During this UPR session, Oman was repeatedly commended for its advancements in the fields of education and health. In the field of health alone, the World Health Organisation has reported Oman among one of the top 10 countries for primary health services, and the country has seen the fastest decline in infant mortality in the last 5 years. Oman has been recently focussing on improving illiteracy rates and ensuring free education to all citizens. The country was equally commended for its work on increasing electoral representation as well as improving legal infrastructure. Significant advancements have been made in the sphere of the protection of women, including the establishment of consultative centres, and members commended the civil service law of 2004 as a positive development against gender discrimination.
Although Oman has demonstrated a strong commitment to furthering human rights, important challenges remain to be addressed. Concern was repeatedly raised over the rights of migrant workers, with member states maintaining that migrant workers are often subject to discrimination and abuse and do not experience favourable living or working conditions in Oman. Recent initiatives to combat human trafficking were seen as commendable however measures need to be maintained and supported with the help of development agencies and UN mechanisms. A separate section should be set up to investigate trafficking cases and public awareness campaigns are crucial. Additional concern was raised over freedom of expression; recommendations were made to remove current censorship of the internet and press restrictions, and to bring the law on press and publications in line with international standards. Domestic violence remains a reality in society which should be fought with awareness and information campaigns and adaptions to the penal code. A recurrent concern raised was that of gender discrimination, particularly with regards to transmission of citizenship. Citizenship in Oman is only passed on by a child’s father. Recommendations were made to step up action to eliminate this gender inequality.
Further recommendations were made to intensify efforts to guarantee and promote the rights of women, especially in the workplace, establish a national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles, continue to promote human rights education in schools, decriminalise same gender relationships and abolish capital punishment.
Troika: Thailand, Chile, Spain
Delegation headed by: H.E. Mr. Humberto Blasco, Minister of Justice and Labor
Paraguay has established a 2010-2011 National Action Plan on Human Rights, a Quality for Life Plan to provide universal and free health care and in 2009, a Human Rights Network was formed to promote human rights in all areas of society. During the financial crisis, the government created an Economic Recovery Plan to create more opportunities and increase employment. It has also established a National Plan on HIV/Aids, a Truth and Justice Commission and a National Institute for Indigenous Peoples. All of this shows Paraguay’s will to uphold and promote human rights to its population.
Many areas remain which prompt concern and need to be improved such as discrimination against women. Trafficking, prostitution and forced labor of women and children makes it hard for these vulnerable groups to enjoy their rights. It was recommended that Paraguay end the criminalization of abortion, create harder laws against child pornography, combat stereotyping of women, help street children and establish gender equality in the labor market. Indigenous people also face many challenges in the Paraguayan society. Illiteracy rates are high and access to their ancestral land is extremely difficult. It was therefore recommended that a mechanism to promote, protect and settle land disputes for indigenous people be established. Also, even if rights have been extended, indigenous individuals often lack the ability to access services such as schooling, health care and housing. During the UPR Working Group, many delegations asked for investigations into all cases of torture and human rights violations by the police and to modernize the prison system to combat overcrowding. Public security programs, social development programs and poverty allocation were also recommended to make the people feel more secure, to improve living conditions and to fight inequality. Paraguay needs awareness raising campaigns to increase acceptance of homosexuals and help migrants by giving them legislative protection. Finally, it was recommended that Paraguay increase legislation against corruption, bring domestic law in line with international standards and define torture in line with the CAT.
Positive achievements include free and compulsory primary education and bilingual schooling is also available. The government is also mainstreaming gender equality in all areas of political life and is working on eradicating domestic and sexual violence against women and children. The police are made accountable for their work according to international standards and money transfer programs to poor families have been established. Finally, an Office of the Ombudsman has been created and Paraguay has extended an open standing invitation to all Special Procedures.
Troika: Japan, Senegal, Guatemala
Delegation headed by: H.E. Mr. Tharicisse Karugarama, Minister of Justice, Attorney General
Rwanda has faced great humanitarian and human rights challenges during and since the genocide in 1994. It has, however, ratified most international conventions and lifted its reservations on many international instruments. Since 1994, the state has also implemented reconciliation programs and is making great progress in creating trust, forgiveness, hope, respect and social cohesion amongst its people again. With the creation of a NHRI along the lines of Paris Principles, a National Women’s Commission and Disability Commission, Rwanda has shown great effort to promote human rights. Today, all Rwandese citizens also have health insurance and free access to legal services, as well as nine years of compulsory education.
Nevertheless, Rwanda still faces many socioeconomic challenges and needs to change legislation to bring it in line with international standards. During the UPR Working Group, Rwanda was recommended to reduce poverty and combat domestic and sexual violence, as well as child labor and trafficking. Vulnerable groups, such as women and children need to be given more legislative and institutional support as women still face discrimination and stereotypes as second-class citizens. Violence and restrictions towards human rights defenders, political opponents and journalists are also extremely high. Thus, it was recommended that Rwanda remove restrictions and laws limiting media’s and civil society’s role. Rwanda should revise the 2009 media-restriction laws as well as the genocide-ideology law, which hinders independent, free and open media to flourish. Freedom of expression, association and participation must be strengthened as well, and the judiciary must be made completely independent. Many delegations were also concerned about the overcrowded prisons and excessive use of force by the law enforcers. By investigating these charges of ill-treatment, trust can be restored in the police force again. Finally, Rwanda was asked to extend an open and standing invitation to all Special Procedures and create national plans on empowering women.
Positive achievements include the steadily decrease in HIV/AIDS and maternal mortality as well as the great progress towards meeting the MDGs. Women are also playing a greater role in the political life and more than half of all members of Parliament are women. The establishment of an office of the Ombudsman and other forms of institutional buildings were very welcomed during the Working Group. Finally, Rwanda’s progress in peace building, reconciliation and reintegration of victims and prosecutors back in the society since 1994 is admirable and human rights education and training of the population as well as law enforcers is also under way.
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Troika: United Kingdom, Gabon, Kyrgyzstan
Delegation headed by: H.E. Mr. Delano Bart, Permanent Representative of Saint Kitts and Nevis to the United Nations
Saint Kitts and Nevis is a small island state, which is facing an increasing number of climate change challenges. For this reason, it is having difficulties participating with the UN system, and its resource constraints make it even harder to implement its human rights obligations. Nevertheless, Saint Kitts and Nevis has provided health services for all with the 2008-2012 National Health Plan and have developed School nutrition programs. In fact, children, women and the elderly are being prioritized but gang and youth crimes remain great challenges for Saint Kitts and Nevis.
Due to the great problems the state faces concerning the gang and youth crime, Saint Kitts and Nevis need to create more opportunities and socio-economic plans for young people to develop and let off steam in creative ways. The island state was also asked to raise the minimum age a person can be accountable for a crime above 8 years old. During the UPR Working Group, Saint Kitts and Nevis was recommended to end all forms of ill-treatment and brutality by the police and reform its judicial and legal system. Even if the death penalty is not commonly used, it was asked to declare a moratorium on the death penalty, and abolish it in the near future. Additionally, many delegations asked for the decriminalization of homosexual conduct and the discrimination and stigmatization of LGBT persons. Women are also discriminated against and receive less pay for the same work, thus, labour legislation and anti-discrimination laws are required. Awareness raising campaigns, programs and support infrastructure for women is essential in order for stereotypes and sexual and domestic violence to end. Finally, it was recommended that Saint Kitts and Nevis extend an open and standing invitation to Special Procedures, bring domestic legislation more in line with international standards and establish a NHRI in line with Paris Principles.
Positive achievements include the development of a HIV/Aids Protection Programs, the Domestic Violence Act and the establishment of a Human Rights Office. Further improvements have been made in consolidating democracy and extending freedoms to its population. However, Saint Kitts and Nevis stated during the UPR Working Group that it cannot legalize homosexuality nor remove the death penalty because society is not ready to make these changes. Awareness raising campaigns are, however, already underway.
Troika: Ghana, Maldives, Uruguay
Delegation headed by: H.E. Dr. Donatus Keith St. Aimee, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia to the United Nations in New York
Saint Lucia is a small and isolated state which has had a hard time cooperating with the UN system. It has also been facing great challenges as a result of climate change. Therefore it needs assistance from the international community in capacity building and technical support in order to strengthen its human rights. Saint Lucia has, however, extended an open and standing invitation to all Special Procedures and is using the few resources available to fulfill its human rights obligations.
During the UPR Working Group, Saint Lucia was recommended to end all forms of police brutality and torture and investigate all cases of ill-treatment. Domestic law needs to be brought in line with international standards and women and children need more institutional support and protection. Women are still being discriminated against and domestic and sexual violence is common, thus, it was recommended that Saint Lucia strengthen the rights of women and fight gender stereotypes and trafficking. Other vulnerable groups, such as minorities and homosexuals need to be included more in society and be given legal support. Saint Lucia was asked to legalize same-sex relationships, and by the help of awareness raising campaigns, be more welcoming towards accepting LGBT people. Furthermore, child labour should be made illegal in line with international standards and the government should improve its services to people living on the countryside. Finally, it was recommended that Saint Lucia establish a NHRI in line with Paris Principles, a Refugee Committee and extend human rights education to its population, especially its police forces.
Positive achievements include the de facto moratorium on the death penalty, with the intention of abolishing it in the near future. The reform of the constitution was also welcomed as Saint Lucia is trying to create an equal, balanced and inclusive society. Furthermore, Saint Lucia has made great progress in health and education and in protecting people with disabilities.
Recommended to ratify: ICCPR, OP-ICCPR, ICESCR, Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, CAT, OP-CAT, CRC, OP-CRC, ICPPED, CEDAW, the Rome Statute of the ICC
Sao Tome and Principe
Troika: China, Nigeria, Norway
Delegation headed by: H.E. Mr Elisio Osvaldo do Espirito Santo d’Alva Teixeira, Minsiter of Justice
During this UPR session, Sao Tome and Principe demonstrated its political will and commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights. Since political, legislative and institutional reforms in 1990 which paved the way to a multiparty democracy, there have been gradual moves towards significant human rights improvements in many fields. Considerable improvements have been made in health and educational institutions, including improving access to primary and secondary education for all children, and the adoption of measures to ensure mandatory education of at least 9 years. During this UPR session Sao Tome and Principe was also commended for its achievements in the Millennium Development Goals particularly in the areas of infant and child mortality, and for its ratification of CEDAW. Member states considered that the National Child Rights Committee to monitor domestic implementation of the CRC illustrates definite progress, as does the enactment of a national action plan promoting human rights in the education system.
Despite these positive advancements, many areas on the human rights agenda need improvement. A worrying increase in violence, particularly violence against women and violence against children has been noted recently in Sao Tome and Principe. It was recommended that the island state intensify efforts to protect children and strengthen the combat against violence, especially sexual violence. Concern was raised that prostitute children are considered as delinquents and criminals rather than victims. Mechanisms should be put in place to investigate sexual exploitation and a national strategy needs to be elaborated to combat this issue. The protection of children against trafficking needs to be strengthened, along with the criminalisation of corporal punishment, even at home to further improve the rights of the child. Recommendations were made to establish a juvenile court system and decriminalise sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex. Concerns were raised about women’s access to employment and political life; it was recommended that the existing legislation on this issue be revised. Finally calls were made for Sao Tome and Principe to establish a human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles, ensuring at the same time that adequate human and financial resources were provided for it to function effectively.