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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS OUTCOMES OF UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEWS OF RWANDA, NEPAL, AND AUSTRIA

16 March 2016

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Rwanda, Nepal, and Austria.

Johnston Busingye, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Rwanda, said that the Universal Periodic Review process presented an opportunity for Rwanda to conduct a self-assessment in its quest to continuously improve as a country.  The first step in implementation for the accepted recommendations had been the holding of consultations with stakeholders.  The second step had been the creation of a road map for implementation.  A further step taken had been the Government’s encouragement of more active civil society participation. 

The National Commission for Human Rights of Rwanda also spoke.

In the ensuing discussion speakers welcomed Rwanda’s ratification and accession of numerous important international conventions related to human rights.  The country’s positive steps toward investments in education were also noted.  Some delegations suggested the country could do more toward building inclusiveness for minorities, and additional efforts were needed to promote the work of civil society and the media.  

Speaking in the discussion were Pakistan, Paraguay, Senegal, Sierra Leone
South Africa, Sudan, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Albania, Angola, Armenia, Belgium, Botswana, Chad, China and Republic of Congo.

Also taking the floor were International Service for Human Rights, Franciscans International, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders, Action Canada for Population and Development, Article 19, Human Rights Watch, Canners International Permanent Committee, Rencontre africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme, and Africa Culture Internationale. 

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Rwanda.

Somlal Subedi, Chief Secretary in the Government of Nepal, shared his views on the recommendations received during the Universal Periodic Review Working Group session held in November 2015.  Of the total 195 recommendations received, Nepal accepted 152 and took note of the rest.  Nepal was engaged in creating legal infrastructure to give effect to its new Constitution of 2015, which was founded on inclusive democratic norms and values.  Within it, a comprehensive set of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights guaranteed equality and non-discrimination.   He noted developments on transitional justice and Nepal’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The National Human Rights Commission of Nepal also spoke.

In the ensuing discussion speakers encouraged Nepal to seek technical assistance to implement the recommendations.  They also welcomed Nepal’s acceptance of policies that would increase enrolment in schools, particularly of girls and indigenous children and minorities.  Nepal’s resilience in continuing work toward implementing human rights for all in spite of the huge challenge of natural disasters was noted by several delegations.


Speaking in the discussion were Maldives, Sri Lanka, Paraguay, Sierra Leone, Singapore,  Pakistan, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Botswana, China, Cuba, India, and Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

Also taking the floor were Lutheran World Federation, World Evangelical Alliance,
International Commission of Jurists,  Save the Children International, International Lesbian and Gay Association, World Organization against Torture, Jubilee Campaign, 
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, and Action Canada for Population and Development.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Nepal.

Thomas Hajnoczi, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that his country was facing a tremendous challenge to its human rights situation by the influx of refugees and migrants, yet remained fully committed to its obligations under the Refugee Convention.  The influx had to be restricted to a manageable size, in conformity with the country’s international obligations.  He enumerated Austria’s various responses to the recommendations received and provided an update on ratifications of international covenants.  Austria would submit a mid-term report giving an update on the implementation of the recommendations.

In the ensuing discussion speakers focused to a great extent on Austria’s situation as regards migrants and refugees, with some countries stating that taking unilateral measures and closing borders to refugees was not the answer.  Concern was also expressed about discrimination in law and practice against religious and ethnic minorities, in particular against Muslims.  Austria was urged to examine its laws relating to that matter. 

Speaking in the discussion were Sudan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Albania, Botswana, China, Council of Europe, Cuba, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and Sierra Leone.

Also taking the floor were Canners International Permanent Committee,  Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme, and Africa Culture Internationale.  

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Austria.

The Council will next meet on Thursday, 17 March, at 9 a.m. to consider the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Australia, Georgia, and Saint Lucia, and then from noon of Oman, Myanmar, and Saint Kitts and Nevis, followed by a panel discussion on preventing violent extremism.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Rwanda

The Council has before it the report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review –  Rwanda (A/HRC/31/8).

The Council has before it  an addendum to the report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review – Rwanda:  views on conclusions and/or recommendations, voluntary commitments and replies presented by the State under review (A/HRC/31/8/Add.1).

JOHNSTON BUSINGYE, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Rwanda, said that the Universal Periodic Review process presented an opportunity for Rwanda to conduct a self-assessment in its quest to continuously improve as a country.  Rwanda had reviewed 83 recommendations it had received from the November 2015 review.  In accordance with the country’s Constitution, national laws and international obligations, Rwanda would only accept those recommendations for which implementation was possible within the next four years.  Therefore, 50 recommendations had been accepted.  A further 26 recommendations had Rwanda’s support in principle but could not be accepted for implementation because it was not possible to guarantee implementation within the next reporting period.  Seven recommendations were not compatible with Rwanda’s domestic law and constitution.  The first step in implementation for the accepted recommendations had been the holding of consultations with stakeholders.  The second step had been the creation of a road map for implementation.  A further step taken had been the Government’s encouragement of more active civil society participation.  The Government wanted civil society as a partner not just in monitoring or evaluating Government efforts, but to “walk with us” from the beginning all the way through the implementation process.

National Commission for Human Rights of Rwanda welcomed positive developments since Rwanda’s first review in 2011, such as the implementation of recommendations pertaining to women’s rights, children’s rights, and many other groups’ rights.  Progress on laws pertaining to freedom of expression, among others, were also noteworthy.  Those reforms had had an important impact on the promotion and protection of human rights in their respective fields, and it was recommended that the Government continue its cooperation with all stakeholders in the follow-up to its second cycle review.

Pakistan appreciated Rwanda’s decision to accept a majority of the recommendations, including those made by Pakistan, and highly valued Rwanda’s cooperation during its Universal Periodic Review, illustrating its commitment to human rights.

Paraguay offered its support to Rwanda in establishing a national follow up system for the implementation of human rights recommendations, and welcomed that Rwanda had accepted recommendations pertaining to children affected by HIV/AIDS and children with disabilities. 

Senegal welcomed Rwanda’s progress in combatting poverty, and its adhesion to international human rights instruments.  The Council should continue to provide support to Rwanda with a view to implementing accepted recommendations.

Sierra Leone welcomed that Rwanda had committed to make efforts to combat trafficking, and encouraged further efforts to combat early marriage and the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances.

South Africa commended efforts by Rwanda to strengthen its institutional framework, as well as access to justice and education.  It encouraged the country to ensure the effective application of gender equality legislation and to take measures to reduce the high rate of maternal mortality. 

Sudan appreciated efforts by Rwanda for the promotion and protection of human rights, and its acceptation of recommendations made by Sudan. 

United Kingdom recognized and welcomed the substantial progress made by Rwanda in delivering economic and social rights for its people.  However, as the report highlighted, this progress was not yet matched by access to civil and political rights.

Venezuela welcomed the fact that Rwanda had implemented the majority of the accepted recommendations.  It drew attention to the major progress made in the field of access to education, and encouraged Rwanda to continue to promote its successful social policies.

Albania supported the aspiration of the Government of Rwanda to guarantee freedoms and rights for all its citizens.  However, Albania stated that it would like to see more action on the recommendations that had not received support, such as the one on reducing the infant mortality rate.

Angola appreciated Rwanda’s efforts to straighten human rights and implement policies to protect children from exploitation and abuse, provide affordable education, eradicate gender-based violence, foster gender equality and implement the Vision 2020. 

Armenia appreciated that Rwanda had accepted a vast number of recommendations, which was an indication of its ongoing commitment to the promotion of human rights.  It commended Rwanda’s active engagement and contribution to the prevention of genocide at both the national and international levels.

Belgium welcomed the commitment of Rwanda to the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, particularly in the field of gender equality and economic rights.  However, additional efforts were needed to promote the work of civil society and the media, whereas military detention centres should conform with Rwanda’s laws and international standards.

Botswana said it noted with appreciation that information had been shared with regard to Rwanda’s commitment to addressing human rights violations, including accountability and redress for victims.

Chad welcomed the outstanding efforts of the Rwandan Government to promote and protect human rights, including by ratifying protocols to major international conventions as well as regular reports to treaty bodies, among other methods of engagement.

China expressed hope that the Rwandan Government would continue to develop the economy and increase investment in education.  As a developing country, Rwanda was faced with difficulties it hoped the international community would assist in alleviating.

Republic of Congo welcomed progress made in the implementation of recommendations from the last periodic review, including on issues such as the rule of law and the improvement of places of detention, but noted that further efforts were needed on the social integration of minorities.

International Service for Human Rights said that human rights defenders in Rwanda were harassed, intimidated and even killed with impunity.  Activists and journalists were intimidated when criticizing the Government.  There had been cases of reprisals against defenders engaging with the Council during Rwanda’s previous Universal Periodic Review.

Franciscans International appreciated Rwanda’s acceptance of recommendations on education, and encouraged it to accept Latvia’s recommendation on the right to education of children with disabilities.  Franciscans International was concerned about the situation of children refugees, who lacked access to school. 

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, in a joint statement with CIVICUS, said that the Government had strengthened its systematic and long-term campaign to stifle freedom of association.  Many defenders had been put in prison or had to flee the country.  Rwanda should take serious steps to create a safe environment for civil society. 

Action Canada for Population and Development said that Rwanda should eliminate all barriers to access to safe abortion, ensure women’s freedom of opinion and expression, and address the issues of unfair trials, harassment and reprisals against human rights defenders.  
 
Article 19 welcomed Rwanda’s reform of its media law encouraging self-regulation, but noted that legislation still failed to meet international standards.  Rwanda should take measures to investigate and prosecute all cases of harassment of journalists. 

Human Rights Watch said that independent civil society, media and activists had been harassed or detained.  Rwanda should investigate and prosecute all cases of arbitrary detention, torture and enforced disappearances - all of which had been documented by Human Rights Watch – and accede to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances.  

Canners International Permanent Committee drew attention to the fact that in June 2015 Rwandan parliamentarians had voted to support a change in the Constitution that would allow the President to run for a third term.  It noted that Rwanda was on track to meet most of the Millennium Development Goals, and strong economic goals were accompanied by improvements in living standards. 

Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, in a joint statement with, Women's Federation for World Peace International welcomed Rwanda’s progress made in the socio-economic area.  However, it raised concern over the lack of freedom of expression and restrictions imposed on human rights defenders.  It called on the Government to create a climate of inclusive social dialogue in order to promote true democracy.

Africa Culture Internationale commended Rwanda for the substantial advancement in the transformation of the country and developing its infrastructure and economy since the genocide in 1994.  However, there was a continuous existence of breaches of freedom of expression, association and assembly.

The President said that out of 229 recommendations, Rwanda had accepted 152 and had noted 77.

JOHNSTON BUSINGYE, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Rwanda, explained that Rwanda’s approach to human rights was holistic and that there was no way to achieve what had been achieved in the past 22 years without civil and political rights.  He encouraged the United Kingdom to continue working with the Government of Rwanda in that area.  As for transit centres, Rwanda had attempted to give another chance to people living on the streets, which was a phenomenon in many other countries, too.  The Government had provided them with vocational training to give them another chance.  Any refugee camp maintained its civilian nature.  Mr. Busingye invited the United Kingdom to work together with Rwanda on that issue.  The Government would continue to observe the refugee convention and would not allow anyone to change the civilian nature of the camps.  As for civil society and media, Rwanda had expanded exponentially in terms of the number of non-governmental organizations and the issues they dealt with.  The compliance of the conditions in military detention centres and prisons was taking place.   Human rights defenders enjoyed the same rights and protection as all other citizens in Rwanda.  Responding to the question about the murder of Gustave Makonene, Mr. Busingye noted that the suspects had been apprehended and tried.  Finally, he stressed that economic, social and cultural rights were of the same status as civil and political rights.  The Government did not need any prompting to ensure the implementation of all rights.

The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review of Rwanda. 
 
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Nepal

The Council has before it the report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review –  Nepal (A/HRC/31/9).

The Council has before it  an addendum to the report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review – Nepal:  views on conclusions and/or recommendations, voluntary commitments and replies presented by the State under review (A/HRC/31/9/Add.1).

SOMLAL SUBEDI, Chief Secretary in the Government of Nepal, delivered a statement in which he shared his views on the recommendations received during the Universal Periodic Review Working Group session held in November 2015.  The Government of Nepal had held extensive discussions with the national human rights institutions, civil society organizations, and the media in respect of the recommendations received during the interactive dialogue.  Of the total of 195 recommendations received, Nepal accepted 152 and took note of the rest.  Nepal was engaged in creating legal infrastructure to give effect to its new Constitution of 2015, which was founded on inclusive democratic norms and values.  Within it, a comprehensive set of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights guaranteed equality and non-discrimination.  A preliminary assessment indicated that a number of federal, State and local laws should be enacted to give effect to the Constitution, something which called for expeditious legal reforms.  On transitional justice, he said that rules for its effective implementation included the fact that reconciliation between the victim and perpetrator could only be made with prior informed consent of the victim, among other rules.  Nepal’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission was in the process of receiving complaints regarding enforced disappearances and human rights violations committed during the conflict period.  Nepal underlined its commitment to the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, and to constructive engagement with the United Nations human rights system.

National Human Rights Commission of Nepal noted that the level of human rights was still insufficient in Nepal.  Common people were severely deprived of quality and regular supplies of necessary goods and services.  The feeling of threat and insecurity was common, and the rights of earthquake survivors were curtailed.  Another concern was a provision in the new Constitution that was widely viewed as curtailing women’s right to transfer their nationality to their children.  There was also need for proper investigation and prosecution of the excessive use of force.

Maldives appreciated the support of Nepal on both its recommendations and was encouraged by the country’s commitment to continue the improvement of health and education.  It encouraged Nepal to seek technical assistance to implement the recommendations.

Sri Lanka recognized the promulgation of a new constitution in 2015 and the enactment of the National Reconstruction Authority Act which aimed at providing the necessary legislative framework for the reconstruction of infrastructure and the rehabilitation of the victims of the 2015 earthquake.

Paraguay welcomed the recommendations accepted by Nepal, especially those on the possibility of establishing a national monitoring system for follow-up on recommendations.  It also welcomed the elaboration of national policies against caste-based discrimination. 

Sierra Leone noted that in spite of the major environmental catastrophe in 2015, Nepal had endeavoured to implement strategies which were best adapted to its national reconstruction needs. 

Singapore welcomed Nepal’s acceptance of the many recommendations, notably those on policy measures to ensure quality and accessible healthcare, and on policies that would increase enrolment in schools, particularly of girls and indigenous children and minorities.

Pakistan highly valued the constructive engagement of Nepal with the human rights mechanisms despite challenges posed by natural disasters.  It had made concerted efforts to promote and protect the rights of its citizens.

United Kingdom was concerned about the violence and deaths following the adoption of the Constitution.  Nepal was recommended to ensure an independent and impartial investigation of those incidents.  Statutory limitations on rape cases should be completely removed.

Venezuela said that Nepal had provided convincing evidence on its commitment to human rights.  Venezuela welcomed social indicators of the last five years, especially encouraging signs on decreasing poverty in both urban and rural areas.

Afghanistan appreciated the establishment of the National Human Rights Institution in Nepal.  It encouraged the Government of Nepal to continue its efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights. 

Botswana noted that a majority of the accepted recommendations were already in the implementation phase.  It was encouraging that measures had been taken to criminalise gender-based violence, child marriages and racial discrimination. 

China welcomed the constructive engagement of Nepal with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.  Poverty eradication in the national development plan ought to continue to be prioritized.  Nepal was facing multiple challenges in achieving sustainable development, and the international community should provide further assistance. 

Cuba thanked Nepal for accepting two of Cuba’s recommendations, focusing on reducing poverty and implementing the national human rights action plan.  The international community ought to support Nepal, so that it could continue its development and human rights policies.

India stressed that a climate of political stability, consensus and predictability was a prerequisite for Nepal’s socio-economic development, particularly in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake.  The two constitutional amendments passed in January 2016 were viewed as positive developments.  

Lao People’s Democratic Republic was pleased to note Nepal’s strong commitment towards the protection and promotion of human rights, including those on guaranteeing quality education to multi-ethnic peoples and protecting the rights of children, women and other vulnerable groups.

Lutheran World Federation commended Nepal for its constructive engagement with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, and offered to support the implementation of accepted recommendations, including those pertaining to strengthening the rule of law, women’s rights, the protection of minorities and access to food and water.  

World Evangelical Alliance, in a joint statement with Pax Romana, raised the issue of continued restriction on freedom of religion in Nepal, with the Constitution prohibiting freedom to choose a religion or voluntary conversion.  Nepal should amend this provision and form an inter-religious commission to deal with practical complexities on the ground with representatives of religious communities. 

International Commission of Jurists was concerned that the Government of Nepal had yet to implement many recommendations made during its first Universal Periodic Review, including those pertaining to accountability and transitional justice mechanisms.  More than 59 persons were killed during recent protests, but no investigation had been carried out.  

Save the Children International, speaking on behalf of Plan International and World Vision International, welcomed the acceptance by Nepal of recommendations related to children’s rights but regretted its refusal to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure.  It also called for the setting up of an independent human rights institution for children.

International Lesbian and Gay Association welcomed Nepal’s efforts towards the realization of the human rights of sexual and gender minorities, and its efforts towards achieving marriage equality.  Sexual and gender minorities however continued to face marginalization in law, and still faced violence in their daily life, which must be investigated. 

World Organization against Torture said that torture was still widespread in Nepal, and there was a lack of political will to ensure accountability for security forces.  Nepal should ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.  Nepal should start a consultative process to establish transitional justice mechanisms. 

Jubilee Campaign expressed concern that Nepal did not support the recommendation on freedom of religion.  The right to freedom of religion or belief was of particular importance in Nepal as the country made the transition from a Hindu monarchy to a secular democratic republic. 

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development regretted that Nepal had rejected recommendations on the pretext of the lack of adequate domestic infrastructure, and its failure to accept recommendations on setting up an independent mechanism to investigate and prosecute security forces. 

International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism voiced concern over the situation of Dalits in Nepal, especially of Dalit underprivileged women who were exploited and faced multiple discrimination.  That situation raised a critical question of future accountability of the State to eliminate caste-based discrimination. 

Action Canada for Population and Development, in a joint statement with Beyond Beijing Committee and the Sexual Rights Initiative, noted that while women in Nepal had a right to access safe abortion since 2012, that right remained unfulfilled due to a lack of knowledge about the law among the general populace.  It called on the Government to urgently eliminate unsafe abortion and stigma attached to it.

The President said that out of 195 received recommendations, 152 enjoyed Nepal’s support, while 43 were noted.

SOMLAL SUBEDI, Chief Secretary of the Government of Nepal, said that Nepal considered the Universal Periodic Review as a constructive mechanism to review the overall human rights situation of countries on an equal footing.  Nepal was committed to implementing the new Constitution, the process in which the Government was engaged in reviewing and revising the existing laws as well as framing new legislation.  Nepal’s efforts would be further concentrated to make development more sustained and people-oriented by empowering them to enjoy all human rights through maximum utilization of resources and enhancing the country’s existing capacity.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Nepal.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Austria

THOMAS HAJNOCZI, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations Office at Geneva, stated that Austria’s international human rights engagement had always been guided by a spirit of cooperation and dialogue.  Austria had a high standard of human rights protection, but the full realization of all human rights for all persons remained by definition a goal, an aspiration and a constant struggle.  Austria, which was facing a tremendous challenge to its human rights situation by the influx of refugees and migrants, was fully committed to its obligations under the Refugee Convention.  The influx had to be restricted to a manageable size, in conformity with the country’s international obligations.  It was hoped that the European Council would comprehensively address the ways on how to tackle the migration crisis.

The intensive process of preparation of Austria’s national Universal Periodic Review report had been conducted in great openness and transparency, with the involvement of numerous stakeholders.  Of the 229 recommendations received from the Working Group, Austria had accepted 135 recommendations, while 23 had had to be rejected.  On 71 recommendations, Austria had deferred the decision for more consultations, after which another 27 could be accepted.  Mr. Hajnoczi clarified that, regarding the four recommendations on Austrian reservations to international treaties, those reservations were in accordance with the object and purpose of the conventions, and, to a large extent, their purpose was to clarify the relationship to other international human rights instruments.  While Austria was not currently planning to ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, it would take a closer look at ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Austria would again, as in the first cycle, submit a mid-term report giving an update on the implementation of the recommendations. 

Sudan thanked Austria for having accepted two of its three recommendations, and thanked it for its comprehensive presentation and the additional information provided.

Tajikistan noted Austria’s establishment of the mechanism of cooperation with civil society and the adoption of a national plan for human rights, as well as efforts to fight discrimination and to integrate asylum seekers and refugees.

Afghanistan commended Austria’s acceptance of recommendations to ensure the full inclusion of minority children, asylum seekers and migrants by providing equal access to health, education and social services.

Albania, in view of the current influx of refugees from Syria and other countries from the region, expressed hope that Austria would contribute to the coordination efforts of European countries to face that important humanitarian, economic and security challenge.

Botswana commended Austria’s measures to address the challenges faced by the influx of refugees and asylum seekers from countries affected by conflicts.  It appreciated those measures in the areas of criminal responsibility and detention of minors, and in combatting racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

China took note of the report presented by the delegation of Austria and welcomed Austria’s acceptance of the majority of the recommendations, notably those concerning the  prevention of racism, xenophobia and all other forms of discrimination.

Council of Europe drew attention to some of the challenges faced by Austria, notably discrimination of minorities, curtailed rights of asylums seekers and racist rhetoric.  It called on Austria to ratify the Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime, which criminalized racist and xenophobic acts committed through computer systems.

Cuba thanked Austria for accepting the two recommendations made by Cuba on combatting violence against women and domestic violence.

Greece said that measures taken by Austria had resulted in refugees being stranded along the Western Balkans migratory route.  Taking unilateral measures and closing borders to refugees was not the answer.

Iran expressed concern about discrimination in law and practice against religious and ethnic minorities, in particular against Muslims.  There was an urgent need to improve the investigation into alleged human rights violations by law enforcement officials.

Iraq welcomed measures to harmonize national legislation with international commitments as well as Austria’s combatting of racial discrimination and all incitement to violence.

Libya commended Austria for its numerous important steps that would contribute to translating human rights concepts into other areas, and expressed hope that the country would enjoy further progress and prosperity.

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe encouraged the Government of Austria to engage in a constructive dialogue on its current “Law on Recognition of Adherents to Islam as a Religious Society”, which contained some discriminatory provisions.

Sierra Leone said it was laudable that Austria had revised and domesticated laws relating to the criminalisation of hate crimes, in line with international instruments.  It was hoped that the country would develop anti-trafficking strategies against trafficking in persons.

Canners International Permanent Committee said that Austria was one of the most successful democracies in the world.  The basic rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Federal Constitution had been first accorded more than a century ago.  Austria was one of the developed economic nations with impressive indicators. 

Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme noted that, faced with the intensification of the migratory influx, hatred, violence and racism had been on the increase in Austria.  Austria was encouraged to sign and ratify the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. 

Africa Culture International commended Austria for the progress made in the previous decade in closing the gender gap on the labour market and the diversification of opportunities.  Further efforts were needed on the elimination of discrimination based on migration.  Migrant children’s communication skills ought to be facilitated. 

The President said that out of 229 received recommendations, Austria had supported 158 and had noted 64.  Additional clarification on seven recommendations had been provided.

THOMAS HAJNOCZI, Permanent Representatives of Austria to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked participants in the discussion and particularly civil society for their comments, which would be closely considered in the follow-up process.  Austria took the Universal Periodic Review process very seriously and saw the recommendations as an important input for its future work related to the improvement of its human rights situation.  Although a lot had been achieved, many challenges remained, in particular taking into account the current refugee crisis.  Mr. Hajnoczi clarified that Austria was one of the countries that had accepted the highest number of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe, noting that it had not closed down its borders.  Austria intended to maintain a high human rights standard at the international level.

The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Austria.  



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HRC16/036E