Concludes General Debate on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms
24 September 2015
The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Mongolia, Panama and Maldives. During an evening meeting, it concluded its general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms.
Vaanchig Purevdorj, Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, noted that the Government had considered all 164 recommendations jointly with national non-governmental organizations and other relevant stakeholders. In July 2015 Mongolia had ratified the Convention on Safety and Health in Mines of the International Labour Organization, and the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. It was expected that Parliament would hold a review of the draft of the revised Criminal Code with a view to decriminalize defamation laws. The death penalty would be abolished legally upon the enactment of the revised Criminal Code.
In the ensuing discussion, speakers appreciated the fact that Mongolian society had become more inclusive through the empowerment of women, and they welcomed the reform of Mongolia’s Criminal Code. However, they noted that it still needed to step up efforts to investigate and punish acts of torture by law enforcement agencies. They encouraged Mongolia to continue its progress to improve the protection and promotion of human rights, including gender equality and equality of women, and to deal with violence against children, child labour and rights of disabled children for inclusive education.
Speaking were: India, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Philippines, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Venezuela, Algeria, China, Djibouti, Estonia, and Ghana.
The National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia took the floor, as well as the following non-governmental organizations: Universal Periodic Review Info, COC Netherlands, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development – Forum Asia, Amnesty International, and International Service for Human Rights.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Mongolia.
Ramon Morales Quijano, Permanent Representative of Panama to the United Nations Office at Geneva, noted that Panama had made progress in implementing recommendations made during its last Universal Periodic Review, including those pertaining to reforming the judicial system and the ratification of international instruments. It had reformed the family code to comply with international standards relating to the rights of the child, and created a national mechanism for the prevention of torture. It had also accepted the jurisdiction of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and had ratified a regional convention on this issue. The national service for statistics on persons with disabilities allowed Panama to better address the needs of this vulnerable group, including persons with disabilities without a birth certificate.
Speakers welcomed Panama’s ratification of important international human rights instruments, including the Convention against Enforced Disappearances. They commended its achievement of the Millennium Development Goal on reducing extreme poverty, procedures aiming to determine refugee status, the creation of the institution for the promotion and protection of human rights, and the adoption of the law raising the minimum age for marriage. At the same time, they called on Panama to increase the participation of women in public and political life, to protect the rights of migrants, refugees and persons of different sexual orientation and identity, to repeal legislation that defined homosexuality as a serious crime, and to stop harmful mining activities.
Speaking were: Venezuela, Algeria, Benin, China, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ghana, Honduras, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone.
Also speaking were Defensoria del Pueblo de Panama as well as the following non-governmental organizations: COC Nederland, Franciscans International, and Action Canada for Population and Development.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Panama.
Ali Naseer Mohamed, Foreign Secretary of Maldives, explained that for over 800 years, Maldivians had embraced and maintained Islamic values, and any efforts to introduce practices contrary to the values of Islam would not be acceptable to the people of Maldives. Freedoms of religion, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and non-traditional forms of family had been rejected by the people. Non-Maldivians were nonetheless allowed by law to practice their own faith in private. Human rights were as much about cultivating respect, nurturing belief and making them a way of life. As a small island developing State, with numerous challenges such as lack of expertise, capacity, technical and financial limitations, Maldives remained constrained in its efforts to achieve the legislative reforms needed, at the pace it wanted. Change was only sustainable if locally owned, locally driven and locally shaped.
In the ensuing discussion, speakers welcomed the measures taken by Maldives on the freedom of the media, the right to health, combatting violence against women, educating children with special needs, and protecting migrant workers from trafficking and exploitation. However, they also criticized unlawful incarceration of the former President, who was kept on politicized and unsubstantiated charges. They urged the Government to strengthen the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, to guarantee the rule of law, and to reinstate the moratorium on the death penalty. They lamented the Government’s refusal to adopt a law against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Speaking were: Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, India, Iraq, and Kuwait.
Also speaking were United Nations Watch, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Action Canada for Population and Development, Amnesty International, International Commission of Jurists, and International Service for Human Rights.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Maldives.
During an evening meeting, the Council continued its general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms. The beginning of the general debate was held on 22 September and can be seen here.
Speakers expressed concern over a number of issues worldwide. They noted that indigenous peoples continued to face serious threats to their basic existence due to systematic discrimination and exploitation. As for the draft declaration on the rights of peasants, it was noted that it was essential for the Council to preserve its legitimacy by ensuring that all relevant stakeholders were involved. Other speakers expressed deep regret at the failure to achieve consensus on the declaration on the right to peace, and they condemned the disruptive attitude of a number of States in affirming that the right to peace did not exist in international law.
Taking the floor were the following civil society organizations: Canners International, United Schools International, Centre for Environmental and Management Studies, International Association for Democracy in Africa, World Muslim Congress, Pan African Union for Science and Technology, Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, CIVICUS, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, Alsalam Foundation, Iraqi Development Association, American Association of Jurists, European Union of Public Relations, World Barua Organization, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, World Environment and Resources Council, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, Liberation, Agence internationale pour le developpement, Arab Commission for Human Rights, International-Lawyers.org, Centre Europe – Tiers Monde, OCAPROCE, Rencontre Africaine pour la Defense les Droits de l’Homme, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungpolitik, Africa Culture International, Alliance Defending Freedom, Association of World Citizens, Prahar, Comite Permanente por la Defensa de Los Derechos Humanos, United Villages, Institut International pour la Paix la Justice et le Droit de l’Homme, Franciscans International, International Association of Schools of Social Work, and Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales.
The Council will reconvene on Friday, 25 September 2015, at 9 a.m. to consider the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Andorra, Bulgaria, Honduras, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Croatia, Jamaica and Libya.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Mongolia
VAANCHIG PUREVDORJ, Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the Government of Mongolia had carefully considered all 164 recommendations jointly with national non-governmental organizations and other relevant stakeholders. It accepted 150 recommendations and did not accept 14. In July 2015 Mongolia had ratified the Convention on Safety and Health in Mines of the International Labour Organization, and the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. It was expected that Parliament would hold a review of the draft of the revised Criminal Code with a view to decriminalize defamation laws. The death penalty would be abolished legally upon the enactment of the revised Criminal Code. The National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia successfully hosted the twentieth Annual General Meeting of the Asia Pacific Forum of the National Human Rights Institutions, and the Third Biennial Conference focusing on the prevention of torture and protection of the rights of detainees.
Mongolia was not in a position to accept the recommendation to lift the declaration of recognizing Article 14 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, but it would consider it. It also did not accept the recommendation to consider recognizing the competence of the Committee against Torture and make declarations under Articles 21 and 22 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. However, the Government would submit the proposal to recognize such competence in the future. As for the recommendation to consider ratifying the Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, the Government considered domestic work as a non-traditional form of employment. Nevertheless, it would study the possibility of ratifying the International Labour Organization’s Domestic Workers Convention. The Government would also study the possibility of introducing a specific regulation to provide working guidelines for relevant authorities on the issue of promoting and protecting the rights of asylum seekers, and it would continue to work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to ensure that their rights were in line with the principle of non-refoulement. Mongolia was also not in a position to accept the recommendations to consider ratifying the Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, which were governed by national laws. As for the recommendation to establish judicial and other mechanisms to investigate allegations of torture, police brutality and arbitrary detention, Mongolia noted that it was committed to strengthening relevant efforts.
BYAMBADORJ JAMSRAN, Chief Commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia, in a video message said that during its first cycle, Mongolia had accepted 126 recommendations, and said that even though some initiatives and efforts to implement those recommendation had been undertaken at the national level, they had not achieved substantive outcomes. Mr. Jamsran welcomed the recommendations Mongolia had received during its second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, including on torture, human trafficking, domestic violence, the right to a safe environment, promotion of gender equality and prevention of discrimination of vulnerable groups. The Commission would cooperate with the Government, civil society and other stakeholders to implement the recommendations from this cycle of the Universal Periodic Review and to improve the human rights situation in the country.
India commended Mongolia for its constructive participation in the Universal Periodic Review and welcomed the acceptance of 150 recommendations.
Kyrgyzstan appreciated the commitment of Mongolia to the promotion and protection of human rights, the efforts in promoting the right to education and strengthening institutional and legislative mechanisms, and the progress made in acceding to international human rights instruments.
Lao People’s Democratic Republic expressed appreciation that Mongolia had accepted the two recommendations it had made, on strengthening the educational system and ensuring equal access of disabled children to education, and on promoting the participation of women in public services.
Philippines was appreciative of the acceptance of 150 out of 164 recommendations by Mongolia, including one made by the Philippines to step up efforts to combat human trafficking, and its openness to consider the ratification of the International Labour Organization Convention 169 on domestic workers.
Rwanda said that the acceptance of many delegations’ recommendations, including on increasing women’s representation, reflected the clear commitment of Mongolia. Rwanda recommended that the Universal Periodic Review report be adopted.
Sierra Leone noted with appreciation that the Government had accepted 150 of the recommendations received, including most of those made by Sierra Leone, especially on the commitment to implement into national law the Optional Protocol of the Committee against Torture. It recommended that the Universal Periodic Review report be adopted.
Tajikistan commended Mongolia on the steps taken, including on health care, gender equality, and trafficking. Tajikistan wished Mongolia further success and recommended that the country’s Universal Periodic Review report be adopted.
Turkmenistan was pleased to note that the recommendations made by Turkmenistan had been accepted. It commended the National Committee on Gender Equality led by the Prime Minister, and recommended the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review outcome report.
Venezuela underscored the important progress made by Mongolia and was pleased to note the important poverty reduction efforts in the country and the decrease in the number of people facing food shortages. It commended the efforts of Mongolia and recommended the adoption of the report.
Algeria appreciated the quality of Mongolia’s cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review, and the acceptance of 150 recommendations. It encouraged Mongolia to work on the rights of migrant workers and recommended the adoption of the report.
China thanked Mongolia for having accepted its recommendation and for having committed to continue investing in the education of children, including inclusive education for disabled children, and eliminating discrimination in general.
Djibouti encouraged Mongolia to persist in its progress to improve the protection and promotion of human rights, including gender equality and equality of women. It also welcomed the reform of Mongolia’s Criminal Code.
Estonia noted with appreciation that the Mongolian society had become more inclusive through the empowerment of women, as the last election had tripled the number of women in Parliament. It encouraged Mongolia to continue efforts to deal with violence against children, child labour and rights of disabled children for inclusive education.
Ghana appreciated observations made by Mongolia regarding the shortcomings and progress with regard to steps taken to investigate and punish acts of torture by law enforcement agencies. It would also appreciate if Mongolia enacted appropriate amendments to align the definition of torture with international standards.
UPR Info said that the Mongolian review in Geneva must be accompanied by concrete action in the field and stressed that without the involvement of civil society there could be no successful implementation of the recommendations.
Federatie van Nederlandse Verenigingen tot Integratie Van Homoseksualiteit - COC Nederland said Mongolia had made huge strides in enabling all people to enjoy their human rights regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including criminalizing hate crime.
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development expressed hope that the next cycle of the Universal Periodic Review would scrutinize the implementation of already received recommendations and urged Mongolia to develop a concrete plan of action and budget adequate resources for its implementation.
Amnesty International welcomed the continued commitment of Mongolia towards the abolition of the death penalty, and that no executions had been carried out since 2009. Mongolia could provide leadership in the region by paving a clear path to the abolition of the death penalty, including by amending its legislation once and for all.
International Service for Human Rights was concerned about discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and encouraged the Government to continue to strengthen the independence of the national human rights institution, including through the provision of sufficient funds.
The President of the Council said that out of 164 recommendations received, 150 enjoyed the support of Mongolia and 14 were noted.
VAANCHIG PUREVDORJ, Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked the members of the Council for their comments and questions which were a valuable contribution to the improvement of the human rights situation in the country. The Universal Periodic Review gave a unique opportunity to all States to present their situations and discuss challenges, and Mongolia had been making efforts for the effective improvement of the enjoyment of human rights; more efforts were needed in the ratification of international human rights instruments. Mongolia was running, for the first time, for membership in the Human Rights Council for the 2016 term and hoped its bid would enjoy the support of States.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Mongolia.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Panama
RAMON MORALES QUIJANO, Permanent Representative of Panama to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Panama had made progress in implementing recommendations made during its last Universal Periodic Review, including those pertaining to reforming the judicial system and the ratification of international instruments. Panama cooperated with regional mechanisms. Panama had accepted 90 per cent of the recommendations made to it. It had reformed the family code to comply with international standards relating to the rights of the child, and created a national mechanism for the prevention of torture. Panama had accepted the jurisdiction of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and had ratified a regional convention on this issue. A national service for statistics on persons with disabilities allowed Panama to better address the needs of this vulnerable group, including persons with disabilities without a birth certificate.
A draft law was recently adopted to support blind persons’ accessibility to legislative texts. Measures had been taken to improve the situation of persons deprived of their liberty, and a draft law was being created to evaluate the performance of penitentiary personnel. Violence against women and trafficking in persons were priority issues that had to be tackled, and Panama would create a specialized police division to deal with these matters. The Ombudsman’s office was involved in programmes aimed at preventing juvenile criminality and violence in schools. These also included comprehensive measures to protect pregnant teenage girls and prevent discrimination against them. Despite a very tight budget, Panama had not stopped an ambitious programme on access to water, particularly targeting indigenous populations. The Government was also committed to ensure access to services in remote areas. The High Commissioner for Refugees and civil society had been consulted for the strengthening of Panama’s laws relating to the status of refugees and migrants. Panama was committed to upholding high human rights standards in view of its membership in the Human Rights Council.
LILIA HERRERA MOW, Defensoria del Pueblo de Panama, drew attention to the lack of funding envisaged for Defensoria as of 2016. She especially lamented that the recommendation made to Panama during its Universal Periodic Review in 2010, with respect to reinforcing Defensoria, was not observed. She warned of the discrimination and violence suffered by women, which required urgent attention. She called on the authorities of Panama to implement the relevant legislation to that end, to extend free legal assistance, as well as to implement the mechanism for the prevention of torture.
Venezuela recognized the importance that Panama accorded to the implementation of the Universal Periodic Review recommendations. It commended Panama for the achievement of its Millennium Development Goal on reducing extreme poverty and recommended the adoption of the report on Panama.
Algeria commended Panama for its excellent cooperation with the human rights mechanisms and the acceptance of the recommendations made by Algeria on legislative and political measures to combat racial discrimination against people of African descent, and the recommendation to guarantee education for all.
Benin commended the achievements of Panama in implementing its Universal Periodic Review recommendations and the procedures aiming to determine refugee status, and the creation of the institution for the promotion and protection of human rights. Panama should increase the participation of women in public and political life.
China welcomed Panama’s acceptance of its recommendations concerning the continuing protection of the rights of detainees, and the right to education for all, and welcomed its implementation of some of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly on reducing extreme poverty.
Cuba appreciated Panama’s acceptation of nearly 90 per cent of recommendations made to it, including those by Cuba pertaining to the reform of places of deprivation of liberty and to combatting poverty.
Ecuador reiterated its support to the Universal Periodic Review process, and welcomed Panama’s efforts to protect the rights of women, including indigenous women. It also commended Panama’s continued efforts to support persons with disabilities.
El Salvador commended Panama for its cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review, and underlined the importance of the Universal Periodic Review for the promotion and protection of human rights. It recommended the adoption of Panama’s report.
Ghana appreciated the excellent cooperation by Panama, and welcomed that Panama had accepted its recommendations to submit overdue reports to treaty bodies and to continue combatting racial discrimination. It encouraged Panama to increase the resources allocated to its national human rights institution.
Honduras welcomed Panama’s acceptance of recommendations relating to discrimination against indigenous people, and encouraged it to continue its efforts to protect the rights of persons with disabilities and to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of All Migrant Workers and Their Families.
Rwanda recommended the adoption of the report and welcomed Panama’s efforts in the area of the rights of the child.
Sierra Leone welcomed Panama’s cooperative spirit and its commitment to collaborate with United Nations human rights mechanisms. It looked forward to learning more about efforts by Panama to implement the recommendations it had accepted, and encouraged Panama to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of All Migrant Workers and their Families.
Federatie van Nederlandse Verenigingen tot Integratie Van Homoseksualiteit - COC Nederland recognized the commitment of Panama to accept the recommendations of the 2010 Universal Periodic Review. Nevertheless, the population of different sexual orientation and gender identity was still at risk, and the Government was called upon to guarantee them equal treatment.
Franciscans International drew attention to the mining exploitation activities in Panama, exploitation of persons, and the rights of migrants and refugees. The Government had to stop the ecological disaster that was caused by the mining activity, conducted by the company Minera Panamá in the declared reservation sites.
Action Canada for Population and Development, in a joint statement, appreciated Panama’s participation in the Universal Periodic Review. However, the Government had not accepted recommendations to repeal its legislation that defined homosexuality as a serious crime. There had to be legal equality for the same-sex couples.
The President said that out of the 125 recommendations, Panama had accepted 111 and noted 14.
RAMON MORALES QUIJANO, Permanent Representative of Panama to the United Nations Office at Geneva, took note of the comments and concerns raised in the discussions and would pass them on for action to the Government. An important challenge remained the protection of the environment and Panama had in place programmes to address this issue.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Panama.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Maldives
ALI NASEER MOHAMED, Foreign Secretary of Maldives, said that in July 2015, Maldives had celebrated 50 years of independence; three days ago, Maldives had celebrated 50 years of membership in the United Nations. The Universal Periodic Review process had become a key navigational instrument in Maldives’ drive for national progress and had received wide media coverage. Out of the 258 recommendations, the Government had accepted 198 and rejected 60 recommendations. The ambition of such a small country should be appreciated.
The Health Services Bill, the Sports Bill, the National Integrity Commission Bill and the Disaster Management Bill had been ratified, while the new Penal Code had come into effect in July 2015. The process of appointment of three new members of the Human Rights Commission had been publicly announced and transparently conducted. For over 800 years, Maldivians had embraced and maintained Islamic values, and any efforts to introduce practices contrary to the values of Islam would not be acceptable to the people of Maldives. Freedoms of religion, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons and non-traditional forms of family had been rejected by the people. Non-Maldivians were nonetheless allowed by law to practice their own faith in private. Human rights were as much about cultivating respect, nurturing belief and making them a way of life. As a small island developing State, with numerous challenges such as lack of expertise, capacity, and technical and financial limitations, Maldives remained constrained in its efforts to achieve the legislative reforms needed, at the pace it wanted. Change was only sustainable if locally owned, locally driven and locally shaped.
Algeria welcomed progress made by Maldives in the field of human rights, as well as its cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.
Azerbaijan welcomed the constructive approach of Maldives with the Universal Periodic Review and its efforts to promote and protect human rights.
Bahrain said Maldives’ cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism demonstrated its commitment to the protection of human rights, and welcomed that it had accepted the recommendation by Bahrain to establish specific education programmes for children with disabilities.
Belgium welcomed that Maldives had accepted its recommendations on the rights of the child and gender equality, and called on Maldives to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to abolishing it.
Benin commended Maldives’ progress in the fields of education, healthcare and women’s rights, and encouraged it to continue its efforts for the adoption of a draft law on gender equality.
Botswana welcomed the ratification by Maldives of the Rome Statute, as well as its cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms. It also welcomed Maldives’ positive steps to combat trafficking in persons.
China thanked Maldives for accepting China’s recommendations to actively tackle issues such as drug-related crimes and climate change and to achieve social and economic development. As a small island developing country, Maldives faced difficulties such as lack of human and financial resources.
Côte d’Ivoire encouraged the Government of Maldives for the steps undertaken to guarantee human rights on its territory and called on it to promote rights on freedom of expression and gender equality, and to build upon the measures to tackle violence.
Cuba reiterated its call upon the international community, including the United Nations mechanisms, to cooperate with the Government of Maldives so that they may attain all objectives. It wished Maldives success in the implementation of the recommendations that were accepted.
Djibouti commended Maldives on the steps taken in view of the promotion of human rights, and particularly on their national legislation and the promotion of the rights of their citizens in their right to health and housing, among other rights.
Egypt was especially appreciative that Maldives had accepted the recommendations of Egypt in relation to the rights of child, and acknowledged the success achieved, in spite of the impact of climate change on the small island. Egypt encouraged Maldives to continue its constructive engagement with the United Nations.
Ethiopia noted with satisfaction that Maldives had implemented a significant number of recommendations, and appreciated the steps taken in education, the provision of adequate and affordable housing, the attainment of Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, and achieving a system of sustainable development.
Ghana expressed understanding of the limitations faced by Maldives, which was a small developing country. Steps to strengthen the independence of the judiciary were welcomed and more information was sought on combatting violence against women.
Honduras welcomed positive measures adopted by Maldives, especially those connected to the protection of migrant workers from trafficking and exploitation. Honduras valued the establishment of infrastructure for promoting intra-religious dialogue.
India appreciated the constructive participation of Maldives in the Universal Periodic Review process. Maldives had gained much from its participation in the process, including regarding the treatment of migrant workers.
Iraq welcomed the measures taken by Maldives on freedom of the media, the right to health, combatting violence against women and the education of children with special needs.
Kuwait commended efforts made by Maldives. The majority of the recommendations had been accepted, including those made by Kuwait on comprehensive health services, which was why the report should be adopted.
United Nations Watch was gravely concerned about the human rights situation, including unlawful incarceration of former President Nasheed, who was kept on politicized and unsubstantiated charges and must be released. Rape victims were frequently punished for the abuse they suffered, with corporal punishment often employed as a penalty.
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, in a joint statement, expressed concern that violent attacks against journalists, media and political activists had increased significantly over the past three years. It urged the Government of Maldives to take all the necessary steps to implement relevant recommendations, and to reinstate the moratorium on the death penalty.
Action Canada for Population and Development, in a joint statement, welcomed Maldives’ acceptance to introduce a bill on gender equality, and to end early and forced marriage. It lamented the Government’s refusal to adopt a law against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Amnesty International welcomed the acceptance by Maldives to harmonize national legislation with international obligations. It was concerned that hundreds of people were charged and tried in grossly unfair trials in violation of their rights to freedom of assembly. It urged the Government to strengthen the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and to guarantee the rule of law.
International Commission of Jurists noted that the human rights crisis in Maldives would only be rectified if it accepted and immediately implemented all the recommendations. To date the Government had not taken any concrete steps to address the issue of judicial independence, attacks on journalists and civil society, arbitrary detentions and gross violations of the rights to fair trial and appeal.
International Service for Human Rights warned that the Maldivian Supreme Court had severely undermined the ability of the Maldivian Human Rights Commission to engage with the United Nations human rights system. Preventing relevant stakeholders from participating undermined the Universal Periodic Review process as a whole and constituted an act of reprisal.
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative shared the concerns of the High Commissioner in relation to former President Nasheed’s trial, and supported the calls for his immediate release. The international community’s repeated emphasis on due process through the rule of law reflected the importance of a just process in ensuring the validity of the trial’s merits.
Freedom Now, represented by the daughter of former President Nasheed, said that her father had been imprisoned based on charges of terrorism. He had been the first democratically elected president. The arrest was a travesty of justice. Two dozen other political prisoners were also in this situation. Freedom Now called for the release of Mr. Nasheed.
The President of the Council said that out of 258 recommendations, 198 enjoyed the support of Maldives, while 60 were noted.
ALI NASEER MOHAMED, Foreign Secretary of Maldives, thanked the delegations and civil society organizations which had participated in the discussion today. Maldives valued the Universal Periodic Review process, which was transparent, objective and non-politicized. Maldives was disappointed that some delegations and non-governmental organizations had chosen a different approach. The Government reminded the Council how much progress the country had made in only a decade.
Regarding the sentencing of the former President, it was explained that he had been sentenced for ordering the abduction of a judge. The Supreme Court was now on Mr. Nasheed’s case, following an appeal by the Prosecutor General. A preliminary hearing should be held in the coming weeks. The Human Rights Commission was an independent institution within the existing legal framework in Maldives, and could submit reports to the United Nations. The Government believed that the judiciary should be free and independent. The United Nations Development Programme was working with the Government on strengthening the judiciary and public confidence in it. As a small developing State, Maldives had limited financial and human resources, which ought to be borne in mind. The Government would nonetheless intensify its efforts to promote human rights and strengthen the rule of law. The Government would provide a mid-term report in 2017 and would continue to engage with the Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Maldives.
General Debate on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms
Canners International Permanent Committee drew attention to the fact that indigenous peoples throughout the world continued to suffer serious abuses of their human rights. They were experiencing heavy pressure on their lands from logging, mining, roads, conservation activities, dams, agribusiness and colonization. In Pakistan the indigenous Shia community, Ismailis, and moderate Sunnis were under threat in Gilgit Balistan as ethnic cleansing was being carried out systematically by radical elements in Pakistani society.
United Schools International was concerned about the forced displacement of indigenous peoples from their traditional lands in many parts of the world, and that the right of indigenous peoples to participate in the use, management and conservation of natural resources had not been protected. In Pakistan, indigenous peoples were direct victims of climate change.
Center for Environmental and Management Studies was concerned by the denial of the rights of indigenous peoples by the Pakistani authorities in Baluchistan, which used disproportionate force and failed to address honour killings.
International Association for Democracy in Africa was concerned that people of Baluchistan suffered ethnic cleansing, extrajudicial killings and torture by the Pakistani authorities, which had systematically repressed indigenous peoples there. Social structures capable of addressing the rise of extremism had been blocked.
World Muslim Congress said that the Special Rapporteur on extra judicial and arbitrary executions had presented a follow-up report on his country visit in India, which exposed the Indian arrogance and its non-seriousness towards the United Nations human rights mandate holders. India had failed to implement the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review calling for the ratification of the Convention against Torture.
Pan African Union for Science and Technology said that the right to food was of particular importance to indigenous peoples who made up 5 per cent of the world’s population but 15 per cent of the world’s poor. A key reason of poor conditions for indigenous peoples was the continuing depletion of their natural resources, mainly through the expropriation of their lands. Nearly 50 per cent of the population of Pakistan was reported to be food insecure. Human rights violations in Pakistan had reached alarming levels.
Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture applauded the statement made by 33 States regarding the situation in Bahrain and called on the Bahraini authorities to respond positively to the recommendation for an inclusive national dialogue. Reports showed that there was racial and religious discrimination in Bahrain – the Shia were not present in any of the three segments of government. No one had been held responsible for the 49 Bahraini children who had been deliberately murdered.
CIVICUS: Alliance mondiale pour la participation des citoyens stated that States urgently had to devise a coordinated response to reprisals against human rights defenders and civil society organizations which ranged from threats, harassment, smear campaigns, fines, travel bans, the forced closure of organizations, politically motivated prosecutions, arbitrary imprisonment, torture and assassinations. CIVICUS drew attention to such occurrences in Viet Nam and China.
Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain Inc, in a joint statement, drew the Council’s attention to the plight of migrant workers in Qatar and their lack of access to justice. It also called on the Governments of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to refrain from carrying out reprisals against those who cooperated with the Special Procedures, to allow visits by the Special Rapporteurs, and to increase cooperation with United Nations mechanisms.
Alsalam Foundation stated that the Government of Bahrain continued to reject constructive engagement with the Special Procedures. It arbitrarily detained persons and continued to carry out torture. The Foundation called on Bahrain to actively engage with the Special Procedures, and to act constructively upon case information supplied to them by procedures to correct ongoing abuses.
Iraqi Development Organization, in a joint statement, was concerned at the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Yemen as a result of the aggression by the international coalition led by Saudi Arabia’s crimes against humanity and war crimes. It highlighted violations of human rights in Saudi Arabia.
American Association of Jurists expressed deepest regrets at the failure to achieve consensus on the declaration on the right to peace. It condemned the disruptive attitude of a number States, including the United States and the United Kingdom, in affirming that the right to peace did not exist in international law. This attitude undermined the very core principles of the United Nations.
European Union of Public Relations said indigenous peoples continued to face serious threats to their basic existence due to systematic discrimination and exploitation. Sacred lands were stolen from them, and governments continued to deny their basic rights. Governments had even forced their assimilation and eradicated indigenous people’s identity and cultures. The situation of indigenous peoples in Baluchistan demanded immediate attention from the international community.
World Barua Organization said that at the initiation of army and border guards, through a directive of the Ministry of Home Affairs on 7 January 2015, restrictions had been imposed upon indigenous peoples to meet national/foreign organizations and individuals without the mandatory presence of local administration, army, or border guards. No such restrictions were placed upon non-indigenous inhabitants of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh, thereby clearly demonstrating the racist decision.
Commission to Study the Organization of Peace said the United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations recognized that minority rights were essential to protect those who wished to preserve and develop values and practices which they shared with other members of their community. The rights of ethnic minority groups were well protected in China, and the Government spared no effort to promote the common development and progress of all ethnic groups.
World Environment and Resources Council drew attention towards the worsening trend of threats and attacks on civil society actors and human rights defenders who coordinated and cooperated with the United Nations system. It also condemned labelling of rights defenders as foreign agents, traitors and terrorists. In the past few months, Pakistan had tried several rights defenders of Gilgit Baltistan as terrorists, subjecting many to preventive detention, solitary confinements, travel ban and torture.
Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association drew attention to the issue of indigenous people in north east India, where the Armed Forces Special Powers Act had been in force since 1958. Due to the protracted conflict, violence against indigenous women persisted. Those militarized areas were also targeted by resource extraction, particularly mining and oil extraction.
Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy brought to the Council’s attention religious discrimination in India. Indigenous Christians had increasingly been the target of attacks and conversions, fuelling fears about religious freedom in India. That minority had felt insecure for a long time and in 2015 had experienced at least one violent episode every week. It called on the Government of India to “protect not only cows but human beings also.”
Liberation criticized oil drilling in Manipur in India. The contracts were awarded without informing the people of Manipur and the villagers were duped to sign no objection letters for seismic surveys. That constituted a violation of the right to free, prior and informed consent of communities under international law, especially the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Agence Internationale pour le Développement was deeply concerned by the many incidents of reprisals against individuals and organizations cooperating with United Nations human rights mechanisms, and raised the issue of human rights defenders in Indian-occupied Kashmir who were frequently harassed by the Indian authorities as a result of their advocacy. Their passports were confiscated and their right to travel restricted, making their cooperation with human rights bodies impossible.
Arab Commission for Human Rights regretted the lack of progress made on the right to development, and proposed to increase the number of sessions of the Working Group on the right to development, to seek synergy and harmony with other United Nations entities, and proposed that an evaluation of the work of Human Rights Council’s Working Groups was undertaken next year at the anniversary of the Council.
International-Lawyers.org welcomed progress made in relation to the declaration on the rights of peasants, and recommended more proactive initiatives to seek inputs by civil society organizations. It strongly supported the holding of a third session of the Working Group to continue negotiating on the basis of the draft declaration presented by the Chair-Rapporteur.
Centre Europe – Tiers Monde welcomed the work carried out by Bolivia and the presidency of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the rights of peasants in the past three years. It welcomed the draft resolution presented by Bolivia, which established a clear programme for the finalization of negotiations until September 2018, and envisaged to reinforce the participation of civil society from the global south representing peasants.
Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Coopération Économique Internationale - OCAPROCE Internationale noted that States failed to protect and guarantee the rights of peasants, in particular of women who worked in the agricultural sector and who lacked financing for their projects. Women were particularly disadvantaged because land titles were granted to men. Small farmers were disadvantaged in market competition vis-à-vis multinational companies, which should not be allowed to dictate markets under the guise of market liberalism.
Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme said many States had not yet established strategies to integrate indigenous peoples into their societies. Some States had adopted policies of assimilation to divide the indigenous peoples. The obstacles were in the lack of political will to respect the lands of indigenous peoples, and the absence of understanding of key legal terms in the Declaration and its legal interpretation.
Verein Südwind Entwicklungspolitik regretted that Iran did not respond to the two urgent joint appeals of the Special Rapporteurs on Ms. Narges Mohammadi and Mr. Younes Asakerah mentioned in the previous report. Due to repeated harassment from local authorities and extreme poverty, Mr. Asakerah set himself on fire and died from his severe injuries on the 22 March 2015. He had been a street vender selling fruits before his belongings were destroyed by the mayor officials.
Africa Culture Internationale said that Baluchistan was the largest province of Pakistan in terms of area but the smallest in terms of population. It was the richest in terms of natural resources but the poorest in terms of development. Baluchistan was also suffering from the worst human rights violations, including “Kill and Dump” operations by the armed forces, which abducted, tortured and killed Baloch political activists.
Alliance Defending Freedom underlined the importance of education in achieving gender equality, and stressed the importance of taking active steps to allow girls’ access to education, and to combat extremist convictions.
Association of World Citizens was concerned that migrants in Geneva faced de facto restrictions in their access to healthcare, which required enormous amounts of money. It was an absolute necessity that States addressed the emergency medical needs of these people.
Prahar was concerned about cases of sexual violence in India, and at India’s failure to protect women from rape and mistreatment. The Council and other human rights mechanisms should act to address the needs of women in India.
Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos said it was a committee representing organized peasant communities in Colombia who had been victims of armed conflict, forced displacement and extrajudicial killings in an atmosphere of inequality, inequity and exclusion by the Colombian State. It saluted the recent agreements following the dialogue between the National Government and the FARC - EP in Cuba as a step forward towards the desired peace.
United Villages said there was a need to improve the situation of peasants and others who were working in rural areas. The draft declaration would better protect rights and improve livelihoods of peasants and other people working in rural areas. It was essential that the text must be easy to understand for peasants and other people working in rural areas. Land rights, access to land and security of tenure were essential elements and had to be recognized.
Institut international pour la paix, la justice et les droits de l'Homme, commended the work of the Working Group on the rights of peasants for its in-depth analysis. Though most States had provisions for equal treatment of men and women, in reality this was not the case. Rural women in particular were deprived of the right to identity and the right to property. The draft declaration on the rights of peasants should include the rights of women.
Franciscans International emphasized strong protection for the right to water, which for many countryside communities had physical, cultural and spiritual dimensions. It was concerned over the structural barriers to water resource management and the fact that indigenous peoples could not participate in relevant decision-making, such as for example in the case of Laguna Paron in Peru.
International Association of Schools of Social Work strongly supported the rights of peasants and their participation in legislative bodies. A case in point was the constitution in Pakistan where peasants had reserved places in parliament. In the United States such a provision did not exist. There was a need to introduce affirmative action in order to protect the interests of those living in rural areas who faced poverty.
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) Asociación Civil had been observing the process of the draft declaration on the rights of peasants. It was essential for the Council to preserve its legitimacy by ensuring that the rights enshrined could be extended to peasant communities. The serious challenges faced by peasants worldwide required urgent attention. The Working Group had to be accorded time and necessary resources in order to advance its agenda, and to involve all relevant stakeholders.
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