HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS OUTCOMES OF THE UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW OF PAKISTAN, ZAMBIA AND JAPAN
14 March 2013
The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan, Zambia and Japan.
Zamir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Pakistan received 166 recommendations of which it supported 126 and noted 34. In regard to the seven recommendations that were not accepted, there was no national consensus on the repeal of blasphemy laws and the repeal of the death penalty was a matter for Parliament. The ascension to international human rights instruments was examined under a constant and gradual process, where implementation was considered in terms of consistency with national law and financial implications.
During the discussion on Pakistan, speakers appreciated efforts to ensure the economic and social rights of the population, including the reduction of poverty and improvement of education. Pakistan had made efforts to ensure the realization of women’s rights and the rights of persons with disabilities. Speakers took note of the efforts to eradicate terrorism, guarantee rights of religious minorities and ensure access to education. The Government should take steps to prosecute those taking part in religious acts of violence and step up efforts to fight discrimination and violence against minorities.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan.
Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Morocco, Myanmar, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela spoke on Pakistan.
The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Human Rights Watch, International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, Amnesty International, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, United Nations Watch, World Environment and Resources Council, International Commission of Jurists, Action Canada for Population and Development, Fondazione Marista per la Solidarietà Internazionale ONLUS and Jubilee Campaign.
Musa Mwene, Solicitor General of Zambia, said that Zambia had received 125 recommendations and had immediately accepted 70 and rejected one. Fifty-four recommendations had been deferred and after the consultation at the highest level of the Government, 33 of those had been rejected. Recommendations that would interfere with the ongoing process of constitutional review were rejected and those included abolition of the death penalty, decriminalization of same-sex relations among consenting adults and recognition of marital rape as a criminal offence.
Regarding the Universal Periodic Review of Zambia, speakers noted with satisfaction the many efforts to promote and protect human rights and congratulated Zambia on its protection of persons with disabilities and the eradication of sexual violence. They invited the international community to provide Zambia with the necessary resources and technical assistance to assist it in the implementation of the recommendations it had accepted in its Universal Periodic Review process. Zambia should review the definition of the child and the minimum age of criminal responsibility and ensure access to easy and effective birth registration.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Zambia.
Speaking in the discussion on Zambia were Burkina Faso, Cuba, Gabon, Morocco, South Africa, Philippines, Sudan, Thailand, Togo, Algeria and Botswana. Association of the Community of Pope John XXIII, Save the Children, Edmund Rice International, Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme and Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection also took the floor.
Takashi Okada, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that out of the 174 recommendations it had received, Japan had agreed to follow up or partially follow up on 125 of them, including those promoting the protection of the rights of women, children, and persons with disabilities, but was unable to accept 26 of the recommendations. Regarding the remaining 23 recommendations, Japan already had sufficient measures in place to address the issues raised by those.
Speakers said that Japan had made significant achievements in disaster reduction policies, upholding rights of the child and persons with disabilities and combating human trafficking. Japan should take sincere measures to address the issue of “comfort women” and accept the responsibility for Japan’s military sexual slavery system. Speakers deeply regretted that Japan rejected the recommendation to establish a moratorium on executions.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Japan.
Participating in the discussion on Japan were Iran, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Thailand, Viet Nam, Algeria, Botswana and China. The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Amnesty International, Save the Children International, International Lesbian and Gay Association,Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco,Reporters Without Borders International, International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, Human Rights Now and Japanese Association for the Right to Freedom of Speech.
The Council will meet at 10 a.m. on Friday, 15 March to consider the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Peru and Sri Lanka, followed by a general debate on the Universal Periodic Review.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan
ZAMIR AKRAM, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Pakistan attached great importance to the Universal Periodic Review and the interactive dialogue allowed for highlighting significant strides made to promote and protect human rights as well as taking stock of challenges. In total, Pakistan had received 166 recommendations and following consideration, 126 had the support of the Government. Of these 73 were either implemented or on the road to implementation, and 34 had been noted, subject to the outcome of consultations. In regard to the seven recommendations that were not accepted, there was no national consensus on the repeal of blasphemy laws and the repeal of the death penalty was a matter for Parliament. It was important to note that Pakistan’s ascension to international human rights instruments, as recommended, was examined under a constant and gradual process, where implementation was considered in terms of consistency with national law and financial implications. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women had acknowledged the resolve of the Pakistani Government on the issue of women’s rights and the new Free and Compulsory Education Bill allowed for education for all children. There was no organized intolerance of minority groups and acts that had taken place were on the basis of personal animosity. Steps had been taken to strengthen democracy and ensure free and fair elections.
Indonesia said that Pakistan’s genuine commitment to human rights was commendable and that the acceptance of 126 recommendations was solid evidence of this. The Universal Periodic Review had been a catalyst to bring about positive changes in policy, legislation and practice in Pakistan. Indonesia strongly believed that a process of consultation and dissemination with various stakeholders should be carried out to follow-up on recommendations.
Iran commended the active participation of Pakistan in the Universal Periodic Review process and welcomed its constructive engagement with the Council. It appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to ensure the economic and social rights of its people, including the reduction of poverty and improvement of education by extending financial and human resources for literacy programmes.
Malaysia commended Pakistan for its transparent and forthcoming engagement and its willingness to accept a large number of recommendations, including a recommendation made by Malaysia. It recognised that challenges still remained, and in this regard encouraged Pakistan to strengthen its efforts at ensuring the enjoyment of human rights for all its citizens.
Morocco said that Pakistan had accepted most of the recommendations addressed to it, demonstrating its commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process. Pakistan had made efforts to bring its legislation in line with its international obligations, particularly in terms of helping women and persons with disabilities realize their rights. Morocco encouraged Pakistan to persevere in implementing its recommendations.
Myanmar expressed its appreciation to Pakistan for its constructive and active participation in the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review process. Myanmar was pleased to note that Pakistan had accepted a large number of recommendations made by countries, including Myanmar.
Philippines said that it encouraged Pakistan to continue its transparent and constructive engagement with the Council, and welcomed Pakistan’s continued adherence to the protection of human rights for its own people and for the three million refugees it was hosting.
Qatar said Pakistan was committed to taking on recommendations and cooperating with human rights mechanisms and praised its efforts to protect human rights despite immense challenges encountered in its country. Pakistan’s role as Coordinator of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Group was also appreciated.
Russian Federation noted with satisfaction that Pakistan had adopted most of the recommendations, including those recommended by Russia, showing its commitment to human rights.
Saudi Arabia said Pakistan had shown its position to be very positive in relation to the Human Rights Council and had proven its willingness to cooperate on an ongoing basis. The country had attempted to develop its human rights legislation, including work on its constitution, and the role played by Pakistan regionally on human rights was appreciated. Efforts to ensure that children were not subjected to corporal punishment were also noted.
Sri Lanka appreciated Pakistan’s constructive, transparent and productive engagement in the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review. Sri Lanka congratulated Pakistan for accepting many of the recommendations made and understood some of them were already under implementation. Sri Lanka took particular note of Pakistan’s efforts to eradicate terrorism.
Sudan welcomed Pakistan’s commitment to the work of the Universal Periodic Review and the acceptance of a recommendation it had put forward. Sudan paid tribute to efforts made and a number of laws enacted by Pakistan to promote human rights in the country, in particular the national mechanism responsible for human rights in accordance with the Paris Principles.
Thailand welcomed that Pakistan had accepted both of the recommendations that Thailand had made. Thailand recognised that the Government had given importance to guaranteeing the rights of religious minorities. It also appreciated Pakistan’s committed efforts to ensure access to education and to give priority to education as a means of improving social and economic development in the country.
United Kingdom welcomed Pakistan’s clear commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process. The tragic recent attacks on Shia Muslims and this weekend’s anti-Christian riots were a reminder of the challenges which Pakistan faced. The United Kingdom encouraged Pakistan to do all it could to protect minority communities.
United Arab Emirates thanked Pakistan for the efforts it had made to strengthen its human rights record and commended Pakistan on the measures it had adopted to ensure equality of opportunities for all. The United Arab Emirates also expressed satisfaction about steps taken to reinforce social justice and encouraged Pakistan to continue to implement its recommendations.
Venezuela said that Pakistan had demonstrated its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights. Venezuela pointed out that despite natural disasters, Pakistan had made significant progress in all spheres, particularly in relation to women’s rights and the rights of the child.
Human Rights Watch said Pakistan’s Government should take steps to prosecute those taking part in religious acts of violence. It should also look at allegations of collusion between military forces and those taking part in these actions. Abuses under the country’s blasphemy laws continued, and members of the Ahmadi groups had been particularly vulnerable. Recently hundreds of Christians had to flee their homes in Lahore and police did not intervene and the blasphemy laws facilitated such abuse.
International Federation of Human Rights Leagues urged the Government of Pakistan to step up efforts to fight discrimination and violence against minorities. For example, allowing members of the Ahmadi minority to call their places of worship mosques, and their religion Islamic. It was also noted that Pakistan had shown itself to be the most dangerous place in the world for journalists and cases of persons on death row were now running at 7,000. A moratorium on the death penalty needed to be put in place.
Amnesty International acknowledged the substantive exchanges that took place during the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan and encouraged the Government to provide regular updates to civil society. Amnesty International strongly urged the Government to include crimes involving enforced disappearances in the criminal code. Vilification on the basis of religion needed to be tackled by bringing to justice those accused of acts of violence and reforming blasphemy laws. A national policy for the protection of human rights defenders was also needed.
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development reiterated its call for Pakistan to address violations of human rights under the blasphemy law, and expressed distress over the number of attacks on human rights defenders. Comprehensive legislation should be developed with regards to the rights of human rights defenders.
United Nations Watch asked whether Pakistan was living up to its promises. If so why were they still hearing about extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances, and why did they almost daily hear of attacks against Christians, Shia, Ahmadis, and other minorities? While Malala’s shooters were condemned, 96 attacks on schools had taken place in 2012 alone.
World Environment and Resources Council said that Pakistan was heading for its next general elections. The speaker referred to quotes from several eminent Pakistanis, one such quote saying that four years of democratic rule had given little for the people to rejoice about.
International Commission of Jurists expressed regret at recent events reversing a de facto moratorium on the imposition of the death penalty in Pakistan. In November 2012 Pakistan executed a former army service person convicted of murder. There were now more than 7,000 persons on death row in Pakistan and capital punishment was prescribed for 27 different offences, including blasphemy, sexual intercourse outside marriage, and the stripping of a woman’s clothes.
Action Canada for Population and Development welcomed Pakistan’s support for recommendations on early and forced marriage and its commitment to take measures to end harmful traditional practices against women. Pakistan still had one of the highest infant mortality and under five mortality rates in South Asia, which was a result of early and forced marriages. Also, the minimum age for marriage was 18 years for men but 16 years for girls.
Fondazione Marista per la Solidarietà Internazionale ONLUS, in a joint statement, said that Pakistan had only taken note of some recommendations and there was still no legislation in place to protect children working on the streets or in factories. Pakistan should take action to counter slavery and child labour as well as violence used by employers on children. Women in Pakistan continued to face many challenges regarding their human rights. Pakistan should increase funding to provide free and inclusive education for all.
Jubilee Campaign had ongoing concerns over the marginalization of minorities, including the idea that non-Muslims were not Pakistani citizens. Blasphemy laws lacked defined terms and allegations against minorities could cause attacks on their entire communities. Violence against minorities had increased in the last three years and the lack of repercussions made them seem to be soft targets. Children’s textbooks needed to be non-discriminatory and more efforts should be made to fight hate speech and violence against minorities.
ZAMIR AKRAM, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Pakistan had taken careful note of the comments made and offered the following responses; Pakistan was the first to recognise that there were tremendous human rights challenges and whatever was being done was meant for their own people, not out of obligation. The Government of Pakistan and its organs should not be confused with the actions of radical elements in its society. There was no officially sanctioned discrimination of any type and it was deeply regretted and deplored that some members of minority communities had been targeted by extremists. This was intended to create disharmony and it was due to the courage of the Pakistani people that they had not allowed these numerous acts to sow seeds of dissent. The provincial government covering Lahore had arrested 35 people in relation to acts of violence against Christians and members of the police force had been removed for their failure to act. Families had been compensated and homes rebuilt. Judicial proceedings to affix responsibility had begun. Attacks on human rights defenders were also laid at the door of those against the State of Pakistan. Efforts had been made to protect society and despite challenges a democratically elected government was about to take office.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Zambia
MUSA MWENE, Solicitor General of Zambia, said that its Universal Periodic Review process had served not only to highlight the tremendous progress made in the promotion and protection of human rights, but had also helped the Government to reflect on shortcomings in certain areas. Zambia had received 125 recommendations and had immediately accepted 70 and rejected one. Fifty-four recommendations had been deferred and after the consultation at the highest level of the Government, 33 of those had been rejected. Zambia rejected recommendations to ratify a number of international instruments, remove from the draft Constitution all references to traditions or customary law that might be conducive to human rights violations, abolish the death penalty, decriminalize same-sex relations among consenting adults and recognize marital rape as a criminal offence. Because of historical reasons the Zambian people were adverse to their Government pre-determining the process of constitutional review and prescribing the content of the constitution. The review was a people-drive process in which the Government had a strictly facilitative role and for this reason, Zambia was compelled to reject all recommendations that would have the effect of pre-empting the outcome of the current constitution making process. It was possible that a lot of the recommendations which touched on the process of constitution reform and content of the constitution would be implemented once the process was completed. The final draft constitution would be ready by June 2013 after which it would be subject to the approval by the people of Zambia.
Burkina Faso said that it was a member of the Troika and noticed the great interest attached by Zambia to the Universal Periodic Review. Burkina Faso encouraged Zambia in continue with its momentum in the implementation of the recommendations. The Zambian resolve to improve various human rights mechanisms should continue.
Cuba said that Zambia was a developing nation confronted with inadequacies and financial difficulties but this had not been an obstacle to its endeavour to prioritise the promotion and protection of the human rights of its people, and its commitment had been noted. Cuba was grateful for the acceptance of its recommendation with regards to access to health services.
Gabon noted with satisfaction that many efforts were made to promote and protect human rights in Zambia. Gabon welcomed Zambia’s cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review and encouraged it to hold fast to the reforms embarked upon both constitutionally and in other areas relating to human rights. This would strengthen the rule of law in Zambia, which was becoming an unquestionable role model on the African continent.
Morocco welcomed the commitment of Zambia to human rights in the face of many challenges and its decision to accept most of the recommendations offered. Morocco particularly welcomed that Morocco’s recommendations to protect the rights of those in society with specific needs were accepted. It also reiterated its appreciation of mechanisms reinforcing the fight against corruption and promoting good governance.
South Africa commended Zambia’s cooperation in the Universal Periodic Review process and the additional information provided on conclusions and recommendations. Zambia had identified priorities in education, healthcare, agriculture, development and housing and South Africa encouraged the country to continue to focus on these areas during the implementation of accepted recommendations.
Philippines said it was glad that its recommendation to Zambia to continue cooperating with its development partners to improve its financial and technical capacity to implement anti-trafficking law had been accepted, as had its recommendation to use human rights training to mainstream the rights of women and children.
Sudan saluted the commitment of Zambia to the Universal Periodic Review process and its efforts to strengthen the human rights of its population. Zambia had received 125 recommendations of which only one had been rejected. Sudan stressed that recommendations should be given on the basis of priorities of the country under review and recommended that the Council adopt the outcome of Zambia.
Thailand recognized the high priority Zambia had accorded to the Universal Periodic Review process and the measures taken to enhance the human rights situation in the country, particularly those to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS. Thailand stood ready to exchange lessons learned and best practices with Zambia.
Togo congratulated Zambia on its protection of persons with disabilities and the eradication of sexual violence and invited the international community to provide Zambia with the necessary resources and technical assistance to assist it in the implementation of the recommendations it had accepted in its Universal Periodic Review process.
Algeria said that the additional information provided by Zambia bore witness once more to its attachment to the Universal Periodic Review. It appreciated Zambia’s acceptance of a large number of recommendations, including some which Algeria had made. It wished Zambia every success in implementing the recommendations made.
Botswana said that as a neighbour and one with good ties to Zambia, Botswana commended Zambia for its acceptance of the majority of the recommendations; this demonstrated its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights. Botswana commended the legislative reforms taken by the Government, including the anti-corruption act. Botswana thus recommended the adoption of the outcome.
Association of the Community of Pope John XXIII said that it was concerned with regards to the situation of children with disabilities in Zambia. It recommended the full eradication of corporal punishment and other degrading treatment and any act of violence against children in school. It was also concerned by the lack of tools and skills necessary to prevent and treat malnutrition.
Save the Children said it was concerned that Zambia had not clearly expressed its position on the recommendations on the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child’s Optional Protocols 1, 2 and 3, the definition of the child and the minimum age of criminal responsibility, and measures to guarantee access to easy and effective access to birth registration.
Edmund Rice International called on Zambia to review inequalities in educational outcomes for children to ensure that all children’s right to education was respected, implement laws that addressed alcohol abuse among underage drinkers, draw up a national action plan to respect the rights of street children using a rights-based approach, and assess the extent of environmental degradation.
La Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme said it encouraged democratic openness, and welcomed steps in education and children’s rights. Corruption efforts needed to be transposed to national law in Zambia. Constitutional reform was welcomed and it was hoped that through this the death penalty would be abolished. The deterioration of detention conditions and restrictions on the press remained a concern.
Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection welcomed Zambia’s commitment to enact the Access to Information Bill. It also appreciated efforts to conduct education and sensitization to enable as many stakeholders to understand the importance of this Bill. However, it noted with concern the repeated postponement of the presentation of the Bill to Parliament.
MUSA MWENE, Solicitor General of Zambia, in concluding remarks, noted that the rejection of a number of recommendations was largely because of the ongoing constitutional reform process. On the plea to abolish corporal punishment in all schools, the Supreme Court had already decided over five years ago that corporal punishment was unconstitutional and constituted inhuman and degrading treatment, and this was therefore illegal in Zambia. It appreciated the plea to take measures for the reduction of malnutrition and it was committed to all efforts that would lead to the improvement of the living standards of its people. This was constrained only by budgetary aspects. On the Access to Information Bill, it was reiterated that the Vice-President of Zambia had publicly indicated that the Bill would be taken to Parliament this year, and Zambia reiterated its commitment in this regard. On freedom of the press, Zambia was committed to this and in recent months it had seen increased freedom in this area. The Government was committed to addressing these issues within the remit of the current constitution reform process.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Zambia.
Consideration of the Outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Japan
TAKASHI OKADA, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Japan had been making an active contribution to the activities of the Council since its establishment, and stressed that it saw the Universal Periodic Review as a vital mechanism to review the human right situation of all United Nations Member States through dialogue and cooperation. The Constitution of Japan was based on the fundamental principles of the sovereignty of its people and respect for human rights. Japan had developed a democratic political system and implemented a policy which promoted and protected human rights and fundamental freedoms as universal values. Out of the 174 recommendations it had received, Japan had agreed to follow up or partially follow up on 125 of them, including those promoting the protection of the rights of women, children, and persons with disabilities, but was unable to accept 26 of the recommendations. Regarding the remaining 23 recommendations, Japan already had sufficient measures in place to address the issues raised by those. Increasing citizens’ awareness of the results of its Universal Periodic Review was important to Japan from a human rights education perspective. Mr. Okada said that Japan would continue to actively contribute as a member of the Council and would work to improve the human rights situation in the country.
Iran took note of the number of recommendations provided to Japan during its Universal Periodic Review and encouraged Japan to accelerate efforts to eliminate discrimination against children of ethnic minorities, non-Japanese nationality and children with disabilities.
Lao People’s Democratic Republic said that Japan had made significant achievements in disaster reduction policies, upholding rights of the child and combating human trafficking. Also, Japan had made progress in promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, women’s rights, socio-economic development and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Malaysia expressed its appreciation to Japan for its commitment and constructive engagement with the Universal Periodic Review process and was encouraged to hear about significant progress being made in the country. Malaysia was pleased that Japan had accepted its recommendations and said that the acceptance of other recommendations by Japan reaffirmed its commitment to the process.
Myanmar said that as a fellow Asian country, it commended Japan’s constructive participation in the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review process, and noted with satisfaction that Japan had accepted a great number of recommendations made by Member States, including Myanmar.
Philippines welcomed the recognition by Japan that the issue of “comfort women” was a grave insult to the honour of a large number of women, many of whom were from the Philippines, and appreciated Japan’s apology. The Philippines awaited further action from Japan to overcome all legal impediments to the full ratification of the Palermo Protocol on trafficking in persons, and hoped that Japan would soon conclude its review of the legal implications of ratifying the Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families.
Republic of Korea said that it had raised concerns about the issue of “comfort women” but Japan had not taken sincere measures and had not accepted the recommendations made by the Republic of Korea. Japan should urgently take appropriate measures in that respect.
Republic of Moldova welcomed the efforts of Japan to improve its domestic human rights situation and contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights at the international level. The Republic of Moldova acknowledged Japan’s commitment to address domestic and sexual violence against women and the efforts to combat sexual exploitation of children, child pornography and prostitution and to protect the victims.
Romania commended Japan’s acceptance of the majority of its Universal Periodic Review recommendations which could only contribute to compliance with the human rights standards and the commitments Japan undertook when running for a seat in the Human Rights Council.
Thailand commended Japan’s continuing efforts on the promotion and protection of women’s rights, elimination of violence against women and promoting gender equality. Thailand also appreciated Japan’s support for its recommendations to further eliminate gender stereotypes against women and to ensure adequate and timely assistance to victims of sexual exploitation.
Viet Nam highly commended Japan’s seriousness in providing detailed feedback on the recommendations received. Despite remaining challenges, Japan had made efforts to strengthen the full enjoyment of human rights without any distinction.
Algeria was pleased to note that Japan had accepted Algeria’s recommendations to increase efforts to prevent the sexual exploitation of children and to ensure greater political representation and participation of women in public life.
Botswana commended Japan on the achievements made in the promotion and protection of human rights, which included disaster reduction policies and measures to uphold the rights of the child and to combat trafficking in persons. Botswana appreciated Japan’s commitment to continue to improve its domestic human rights situation.
China expressed regret that Japan rejected some important recommendations and said that until now, Japan had not treated honestly the recruitment of comfort women in World War II. China called on Japan to fully implement the recommendations it had accepted and apologize. China had no objections to the adoption of the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review report of Japan.
International Federation for Human Rights Leagues deeply regretted that Japan rejected the recommendation to abolish and reform substitute detention in police stations. In 2012, seven inmates had been executed and despite the low homicide rate in the country, the number of death penalty sentences had increased. This was an issue of concern, particularly in the absence of a mandatory appeal system.
Amnesty International welcomed Japan’s acceptance of the recommendation to establish a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles and regretted that it rejected the recommendation made by more than 20 States regarding the death penalty, including introducing a moratorium on executions with a view to full abolition. It was deplorable that Japan rejected the recommendation to accept responsibility for Japan’s military sexual slavery system.
Save the Children International appreciated the acceptance by Japan of recommendations relating to the ratification of the third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to the adoption of measures to protect the right to health of Fukushima residents. Japan should facilitate and encourage democratic deliberations to implement the act on the protection and support for the children and other victims of the TEPCO disaster.
International Lesbian and Gay Association appreciated that Japan had taken positive steps towards protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons by changing relevant policies. The lack of anti-discrimination legislation on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity was one of the remaining challenges facing Japan.
Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco said that it remained concerned about the high competitiveness of the Japanese educational system, which placed an enormous amount of pressure on students. The lack of implementation in the family environment of the law prohibiting corporal punishment in education was a matter of concern.
Reporters Without Borders International said that Japan, which could be proud about the freedom of press, had experienced a free fall in the ranking compiled by Reporters Without Borders, due to lack of information available about the accident at Fukushima. It was hoped that Japan would respect the right of its citizens to information.
International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism said that many of the recommendations from the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review had not been implemented and Japan had failed to establish a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles. The reality on the ground called for anti-discriminatory legislation, and a prohibition of discrimination on any grounds.
Human Rights Now urged Japan to implement the recommendation concerning the protection of the right to life and health of the people affected by the nuclear accident in Fukushima. The response of the Government was not sufficient and Japan should provide sufficient compensation and support for the relocation of people living in contaminated areas.
Japanese Association for the Right to Freedom of Speech said that during the consideration of its Universal Periodic Review report in October 2012, Japan had made a deceptive reply regarding the issue of political tract distribution. This type of detention violated the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
TAKASHI OKADA, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the Universal Periodic Review was an extremely valuable mechanism. Japan was pleased by the great interest shown in its human rights situation by the delegations and civil society. Regarding the issue of “comfort women”, Mr. Okada said that it should not develop into a political and diplomatic issue. He expressed once again Japan’s regret, and said that Japan had set up a reparations fund. Concerning the death penalty, Japan did not think that it would be appropriate to abolish it. With regard to the Fukushima disaster, the Government had provided financial and medical support to Fukushima residents. Japan would spare no effort in making further improvements in its situation of human rights.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Japan.
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