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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS OUTCOMES OF THE UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION, CAMEROON AND CUBA

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS OUTCOMES OF THE UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION, CAMEROON AND CUBA
20 September 2013

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of the Russian Federation, Cameroon and Cuba.

Georgy Matyushkin, Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights and Deputy Minister of Justice, said that a total of 231 recommendations had been submitted to the Russian Federation, out of which 48 were accepted, 15 were accepted in part and 68 recommendations were not accepted.  The Russian Federation accepted recommendations whose content and wording its Government supported and which could be implemented in practice.  The Russian Federation remained committed to the Universal Periodic Review process.   
         
In the discussion on Russia, speakers welcomed the Russian Federation’s constructive and active participation in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.  It was noted that the Russian Federation had received a high number of recommendations, of which a majority had been accepted.  Delegations took note of the diverse measures that had been undertaken by the Russian Federation in its efforts to safeguard human rights in the country.  Speakers welcomed Russia’s acceptance of recommendations to protect human rights defenders, but noted that human rights defenders, journalists and criminal defence lawyers continued to be harassed.

Speaking in the discussion were Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Cuba, Thailand, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Viet Nam.

Also speaking were the following non-governmental organizations: Centre for Reproduction Rights, Human Rights Watch, Action Canada for Population and Development, International Lesbian and Gay Association, International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, Amnesty International, International Commission of Jurists, Reporters without Borders and Freedom House Foundation.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of the Russian Federation.

Anatole Fabien Marie Nkou, Permanent Representative of Cameroon to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that of the 171 recommendations received, Cameroon had decided to accept 121.  Cameroon had to reject other recommendations not because it was opposed to them but because their implementation would be impossible within the appropriate time frame.  Cameroon also rejected recommendations on the death penalty, on homosexuality, and on decriminalization of press crimes.

In the discussion on Cameroon, delegations welcomed its cooperation with international mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights and its many actions taken to ensure various categories of fundamental rights.  Speakers appreciated the great importance attached by Cameroon to food security, the improvement of education and the promotion of gender equality. 

Speaking in the discussion were Angola, Benin, Botswana, China, Congo, Cuba, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Malaysia, Maldives and Morocco.  The National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms also spoke.

Also speaking were the following non-governmental organizations: Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Human Rights Watch, International Lesbian and Gay Association, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Franciscans International, Amnesty International, Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et la Promotion de la Cooperation Economique Internationale, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association and Defence for Children International.

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

Rafael Pino Becquer, Deputy Attorney General of Cuba, said Cuba had helped create the Universal Periodic Review and therefore it was more than committed to its principles and machinery.  Cuba followed the principles of the Universal Periodic Review responsibly and actively.  Of the 230 recommendations, the vast majority would be or had already been implemented.  Twenty recommendations were not accepted because they were politically motivated and based on false and hegemonic political motivations that Cuba considered unsuitable in the context of the Universal Periodic Review.  Some 42 recommendations remained under consideration.

In the discussion on Cuba, delegations said that Cuba had achieved significant progress in the promotion and protection of socio-economic rights, which was impressive, given the unilateral sanctions unfairly imposed on it.  Impressive strides had been made towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.  Speakers commended Cuba for its continued cooperation and interaction with the human rights mechanisms of the United Nations.  Some speakers expressed their disappointment that the recommendations to improve freedom of expression were rejected. 

Speaking in the discussion were Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Sudan, Russian Federation, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

Also speaking were the following non-governmental organizations: Jubilee Campaign, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Amnesty International, United Nations Watch, Liberation, International Buddhist Relief Organization, Fundacion de Ayuda y Promocion de las Culturas Indigenas Rosa Collelldevall, Federation of Cuban Women and National Union of Jurists of Cuba.

The Council will resume its work on Monday, 23 September at 10 a.m. to hold a general debate on the Universal Periodic Review.  The Council will then hold a general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Russian Federation

GEORGY MATYUSHKIN, Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights and Deputy Minister of Justice, said that a total of 231 recommendations had been submitted to the Russian Federation and expressed his gratitude to all delegations for the attention they had given to the country’s second Universal Periodic Review report.  All the recommendations received were carefully and constructively analyzed by the competent authorities.  Of those, 148 were accepted, 15 were accepted in part, while 68 recommendations were not accepted.  The Russian Federation accepted recommendations whose content and wording were supported by the Government and which could be implemented in practice.  The accepted recommendations were useful guidelines which the Russian Federation would use in its future work for the promotion and protection of human rights.  The accepted recommendations would also guide the cooperation between the Government and civil society.  The Russian Federation remained committed to the Universal Periodic Review process and said that the recommendations would continue to contribute to its development as a State built on the rule of law.   
Lao People’s Democratic Republic said it was pleased to note that the Russian Federation had taken up many of the recommendations made to it and welcomed the Russian Federation’s constructive and active participation in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.

Malaysia noted the high number of recommendations received by the Russian Federation during the review, of which a majority had been accepted.  In this regard Malaysia praised the Russian Federation for its frank and open engagement as well as its strong commitment toward implementing the accepted recommendations.

Morocco said it had noted the commitment of the Russian Federation to the Universal Periodic Review mechanism as demonstrated by the high number of recommendations it had taken up.  Morocco was pleased its recommendation about transparency in the judicial system had been accepted.

Nigeria noted with satisfaction Russia’s declaration of its commitment to implementing its obligations towards ensuring the protection and promotion of the human rights of its citizens in consonance with international law.  Nigeria urged Russia to maintain its efforts in ensuring the importance and improvement of the Universal Periodic Review process.

Pakistan said the Russian Government had taken a number of positive steps to ensure free legal assistance as well as to address grievances of people again security personnel.  These steps reflected the commitment of Russia to protect and promote the human rights of its peoples.  Pakistan recommended the adoption of the outcome report of Russia’s Universal Periodic Review.

Philippines noted with appreciation Russia’s establishment of a commissioner for children’s rights and was encouraged that it offered similar attention to the protection of women, particularly from domestic violence and abuse.  It was confident that Russia would continue to constructively engage the international community in looking for ways to provide for better social protection to migrants.

South Africa acknowledged with great appreciation the number of recommendations accepted by the Russian Federation and strongly commended it for its full commitment to the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.  South Africa appreciated the initiatives undertaken to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights, including the reform of the judicial system.

Sri Lanka took note of the diverse measures that had been undertaken by the Russian Federation in its efforts to safeguard human rights in the country, including the establishment of the regional commissioners for the rights of the child, efforts to develop a bill aimed at preventing domestic violence and the training of the personnel of law enforcement agencies.

Palestine appreciated the commitment, transparency and forthcoming engagement of the Russian Federation in the Universal Periodic Review process.  Palestine commended the Russian Federation for developing an inter-religious dialogue mechanism with a view to promoting tolerance and respect.

Cuba said that the Russian Federation had demonstrated its commitment to the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.  The Russian Federation had accepted a large number of recommendations in key areas such as international cooperation in human rights, free medical services, and cultural and ethnic development.  

Thailand said that it appreciated the importance attached to human rights by the Russian Federation and was pleased that the country had accepted its recommendation about women prisoners as part of a series of measures aimed at enhancing the condition of detainees.  Thailand urged the Council to adopt the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of the Russian Federation. 

United Kingdom said that it was disappointed that one of its recommendations was rejected by the Russian Federation and remained concerned about laws which restricted the work of non-governmental organizations in the country.  The United Kingdom urged the Russian Federation to pay close attention to all the recommendations it received, particularly those on freedom of expression.
Uzbekistan said it appreciated the exhaustive report the Russian Federation had given on the second cycle of its Universal Periodic Review process.  Uzbekistan was pleased that recommendations made to Russia concerning the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities, and reforms of the judicial system had been accepted.

Venezuela said that the contributions of all countries in the process demonstrated its inclusive nature and noted that the Russian Federation had raised the living standards of the needy, particularly the elderly, in its society.  The Russian Federation was to be congratulated.

Viet Nam congratulated the Russian Federation for its engagement in the Universal Periodic Review and noted the successes it had achieved in accepting the recommendations made to it, including two made by Viet Nam.  Russia’s remarkable contribution to international peace was also noted.

Centre for Reproductive Rights welcomed Russia’s acceptance of Slovenia’s recommendation on putting in place comprehensive and evidence-based sexual and reproductive health education programmes.  It urged Russia to ensure that this subject became a mandatory part of the school curriculum.  Marginalized women were particularly vulnerable to reproductive rights violations.

Human Rights Watch said many delegations at the Council had flagged concern about a law adopted in July 2012 requiring non-governmental organizations that received foreign funding and engaged in political activities to register as ‘foreign agents’, a term that in Russia was used to refer to ‘spies’ or ‘traitors’, and urged Russia to rescind or significantly amend it.

Action Canada for Population and Development said women’s reproductive rights were restricted, especially with regard to access to modern contraception and family planning services.  It called on the Government to include the issue of accessible and affordable contraception, as well as comprehensive family planning services, in national health policies.

International Lesbian and Gay Association said that 15 recommendations made during the Working Group review related to the rights of lesbian and gays.  Most of these recommendations mentioned the recent law prohibiting propaganda on homosexuality.  Two new draft laws were currently under consideration and they could further the discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

International Federation for Human Rights League regretted that Russia rejected key Universal Periodic Review recommendations based on its international obligations, in particular in relation to non-discrimination, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and freedom of peaceful assembly.  Russia was urged to ensure that non-governmental organizations and civil society could operate freely and without fear.

Amnesty International said it was disappointing that a range of important recommendations concerning the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association had been rejected by the Russian Federation.  Amnesty International welcomed Russia’s acceptance of recommendations to protect human rights defenders, but noted that human rights defenders, journalists and criminal defence lawyers continued to be harassed.

International Commission of Jurists condemned the arbitrary sanctioning of judges and said that the Russian Federation had not accepted a recommendation to establish an independent body for the removal of judges.  Lawyers faced intimidation and harassment for defending the rights of their clients, while detainees were denied access to lawyers. 

Reporters Without Borders International said that an independent journalist had recently been killed in the Russian Federation because of his investigation into the Khimki forest.  The Russian Federation should put an end to impunity, stop filtering the internet and other online sources, and respect its international obligations to guarantee the freedom of information. 

Freedom House said that the Russian Federation unfortunately had rejected the majority of the most meaningful recommendations to relax the harsh legislative restrictions on the exercise of fundamental human rights such as the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression.  The Russian Federation should respect the entire range of human rights obligations.

Mothers Legacy Project commended the Russian Federation on the appointment of a commissioner for the rights of the child, and a national action plan for children.  A similar plan for women would be welcomed.  The Russian Federation could do much more to empower women in the political arena and should adopt a better gender equality law.

GEORGY MATYUSHKIN, Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights and Deputy Minister of Justice, said in concluding remarks that the Russian delegation had listened closely to speakers’ contributions.  The protection and promotion of human rights was an important goal of the activities of the authorities in the Russian Federation.  The Russian Federation extended its thanks to its Universal Periodic Review partners. 

United States asked if the Russian Federation had accepted or refused the footnote page contained in Paragraph 141. The reference to this by Mr. Matyshkin in his statement was not entirely clear.

Georgia said that two Georgian provinces mentioned in the report remained under Russian occupation in violation of international law.  As the occupying power, the Russian Federation was responsible for violations of human rights committed in these areas.

REMIGIUSZ HENCZEL, Chairman of the Human Rights Council, asked Russia to provide a clarification.

GEORGY MATYUSHKIN, Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights and Deputy Minister of Justice, said that recommendations contained in Paragraph 141 could not be considered by the Russian Federation in its report on its Universal Periodic Review because they were not factually true and did not apply to the Russian Federation.

The Council then adopted the outcome report of the Universal Periodic Review of the Russian Federation.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Cameroon

ANATOLE FABIEN MARIE NKOU, Permanent Representative of Cameroon to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that when it appeared before the Working Group Cameroon had resolved to take no decision at the time on the various recommendations that had been made to it.  It wanted to grant each recommendation the benefit of a serious and in-depth consideration.  Therefore, broad based consultations were carried out.  Of the 171 recommendations received, Cameroon had decided to accept 121, focusing principally on the ratification of conventions whose principle of accession had been accepted during the first Review, including the conventions on the rights of women, children, and persons with disabilities, among others.  It was not in a position to accept 50 other recommendations.  Some of these did not meet the acceptance of Cameroon’s society as a whole, as reaffirmed by civil society following the aforementioned consultations held.  Cameroon had to reject other recommendations not because it was opposed to them but because their implementation would be impossible within the appropriate time frame.  Cameroon also rejected recommendations on the death penalty, on homosexuality, and on decriminalization of press crimes.

On homosexuality, it was underscored that its criminalization was not, according to Cameroon’s legal system, at odds with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  Attention was drawn to the risks of radicalization that these recurrent pressures would have on the society, giving rise to identity reactions, including that this practice was felt to be imposed from the outside, and provided a threat to social equilibrium.  Cameroon had spoken very eloquently on the strong freedom of opinion and expression enjoyed by the media.  Any journalist, press agency and broadcasting station had the right to collect, handle, process and publish information held at the time and place they wished and saw fit.  For every recommendation accepted or rejected, Cameroon had been careful to formulate clear and precise implementation commitments.  On press crimes, it had committed itself firmly to strengthen the professionalism of journalists and to continue to promote freedom of expression.  Cameroon would do its best within its power to implement its commitments in good faith.  

CHEMUTA D. BANDA, Chairperson of the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms of Cameroon, thanked the Government for organizing broad consultations with multiple stakeholders.  The Commission appreciated the recommendations on the adoption of the National Action Plan for the promotion and protection of human rights, on the generalization of human rights education, and on the strengthening of the National Commission.  The Commission urged the Government to improve detention conditions, to create a National Preventive Mechanism as required by the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, and to continue the fight against corruption.

Angola thanked the delegation of Cameroon for its constructive spirit during the Universal Periodic Review and for its commitment to promote and protect human rights.  Angola noted with satisfaction that Cameroon had accepted the recommendation of Angola on strengthening the capacity of staff in the penitentiary system.

Benin welcomed the ratification by Cameroon of several international human rights instruments.  Benin noted the improvement of the legal and institutional framework and the implementation of concrete actions to strengthen the independence of the judiciary, to alleviate poverty, to combat human trafficking and to protect vulnerable groups.

Botswana said that it appreciated Cameroon’s efforts in the fight against corruption, and praised the country for developing a national strategy against corruption, for creating a special criminal court, and for establishing a ministry in charge of public contracts.

China said that it appreciated the great importance attached by Cameroon to food security, the improvement of education and the promotion of gender equality.  China believed that the acceptance of recommendations by Cameroon would lay a safe foundation for future generations to enjoy their human rights.

Republic of Congo welcomed Cameroon’s commitment to human rights as seen in the ratification of several international and regional human rights instruments and the creation of an inter-ministerial committee.  The Republic of Congo encouraged Cameroon to draw up a plan of action and urged the international community to offer its support to Cameroon.

Cuba thanked Cameroon for its information and commended it for accepting the vast majority of the recommendations put to it, including the recommendation made by Cuba on the establishment of a national strategic plan against HIV/AIDS, and stronger health protection measures.

Djibouti welcomed the progress made by Cameroon such as ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other international instruments entered into either voluntarily or as a result of its continued and active engagement in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.

Equatorial Guinea said Cameroon’s policies in the area of human rights were to be commended.  The positive impact of the implementation of policies from the last cycle of the Universal Periodic Review showed that Cameroon had achieved the reorganisation of its institutions, a large degree of follow-up, and the strengthening of human rights norms.

Ethiopia was pleased with Cameroon’s positive progress in several areas since the first Review.  It noted with appreciation the decision to develop an action plan and roadmap for the implementation of the recommendations and the consultation of government and civil society’s stakeholders and urged Cameroon to continue its cooperation with the sub regional United Nations Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa.

Gabon welcomed Cameroon’s cooperation with international mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights and its many actions taken to ensure various categories of fundamental rights.  It recommended that Cameroon continue its efforts in implementing economic, social and cultural rights and guaranteeing the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples. 

Malaysia appreciated Cameroon’s commitment, transparency and forthcoming engagement in the Universal Periodic Review process.  Malaysia was also pleased with the updates and responses provided earlier and applauded Cameroon’s continued positive engagement and commitment to implement the accepted recommendations. 

Maldives was encouraged by the steps taken by Cameroon towards the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and the protection of the rights of women.  Maldives encouraged Cameroon to continue its efforts to ratify the relevant conventions on the prevention of torture and to implement appropriate measures to secure the rights of the child.

Morocco welcomed the concrete initiatives undertaken by Cameroon to improve the human rights situation and especially the efforts made to combat poverty and to ensure food security and job creation in all regions.  Morocco noted with satisfaction the willingness of Cameroon to implement the recommendations accepted.

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative noted that journalists, human rights defenders and political parties that criticised Government policies faced harassment.  Arbitrary arrests and detention based on sexual orientation and gender identity were common, often accompanied with abuse of due process safeguards.

Human Rights Watch said that it was disappointed that Cameroon had rejected all recommendations related to sexual orientation and gender identity.  It was pleased, nevertheless, that Cameroon had accepted Belgium’s recommendations to investigate incidents of police violence against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation.

International Lesbian and Gay Association said that the security situation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons was becoming increasingly worse, and human rights defenders were often subjected to intimidation and threats.  Cameroon should recognize members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.   

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues regretted that Cameroon had rejected all recommendations about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, who were regularly subjected to acts of intimidation, harassment, threats and torture.  Lawyers and human rights defenders were also being harassed but no investigations had been conducted or security measures taken by Cameroon.   

Franciscans International drew the attention of the Human Rights Council to the fact that child trafficking remained a problem in Cameroon.  Early forced marriage and child abduction remained a cause of concern on which the Government of Cameroon was urged to act.

Amnesty International said it had received reports of the harassment, arrest and un-investigated killing of human rights defenders and advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people such as Eric Ohena Lembembe in Cameroon.  Both the discriminatory legislative framework for sexual and gender minorities and the culture of impunity attached to violence against them must be reformed.

Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et Promotion de la Cooperation Economique Internationale welcomed the commitments made by Cameroon in the area of women’s education and engagement with the Universal Periodic Review.  The national plan of action on women’s rights, female genital mutilation and violence against women was welcomed, but more laws such as one criminalising marital rape should be adopted.

Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme commended Cameroon for regularly submitting its reports to treaty bodies.  It was also cognizant of the efforts exerted by Cameroon to combat poverty and appreciated the efforts to step up the fight against corruption.   

Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association said that the indigenous pastoralists in Cameroon suffered from various forms of discrimination and that the silence of the Government continued.  It appealed to the Council to urge Cameroon to review these findings.

Defense for Children International said that it welcomed Cameroon’s efforts to protect children’s rights and the acceptance of many Universal Periodic Review recommendations.  It strongly encouraged implementation of the recommendation on the ratification of the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  

ANATOLE FABIEN MARIE NKOU, Permanent Representative of Cameroon to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in concluding remarks, said that Cameroon had listened to all the comments which had been made and would do everything in its power to improve human rights in the country.  Cameroon was neither heaven nor paradise but was committed to doing everything possible to strengthen human rights.  The overall tone of comments about recommendations on homosexuality showed that certain countries had failed to understand that homosexuality was a very sensitive issue in certain societies and that the situation could not change overnight.  The rest of the statements made by States had been constructive.

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

Consideration of the Outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Cuba

RAFAEL PINO BECQUER, Deputy Attorney General of Cuba, said Cuba had helped create the Universal Periodic Review and therefore it was more than committed to its principles and machinery.  Cuba followed the principles of the Universal Periodic Review responsibly and actively.  Cuba valued the outcome of this cycle, as well as the chance for it to share good practice with its partners.  The Government had studied each and every recommendation that was made to it, and 16 ministries, as well as civil society organizations, had been involved in analysing them.  Of the 230 recommendations, the vast majority would be or had already been implemented.  Twenty recommendations were not accepted because they were politically motivated and based on false and hegemonic political motivations that Cuba considered unsuitable in the context of the Universal Periodic Review.  Some 42 recommendations remained under consideration.

Cuba was grateful to those States that noted the achievements of the Cuban health system and also to those that recognised that the economic blockade of Cuba by the United States was anathema to the promotion and protection of human rights.  Cuba would keep alive the institutional framework that arose as a result of the Universal Periodic Review exercise in order to keep alive its progressive activity.  Broad-based consultations and a meticulous analysis of the legal situation had to be undertaken to see if recommendations concerning international instruments were consistent with Cuban national laws.  Cuba was in principle against the death penalty.  It had also institutionalised a collegiate and independent judicial system with the full participation of the people: it was transparent, impartial and fair, and the accused had rights to free legal aid.  The right to freedom of expression and assembly were enshrined in the Cuban constitution.  The main obstacle to the extension of Internet services was the embargo of the United States.  Significant investment would be required in this area to bring Internet services closer to the population.  At a time when poverty and lack of housing were rife it was a pipe dream to talk about the Internet.  The political-military use of the network had to end.  Cuba remained open to constructive dialogue with the international community as long as it was carried out on a mutually respectful basis.  Cuba remained proud of its revolution.

Saudi Arabia said Cuba’s interest in human rights and its determination to achieve these rights had been seen in the adoption of initiatives at the legislative and institutional levels.  Cuba was also cooperating at the international level and cooperated with human rights procedures of the United Nations.  Saudi Arabia wished Cuba every success in achieving further progress and prosperity. 

Singapore understood the development challenge Cuba faced as a small island State.  Singapore commended Cuba’s constructive approach and high-level delegation at the Universal Periodic Review which underscored its commitment towards improving its policies to enhance the promotion and protection of the human rights of its people.  It also welcomed the acceptance by Cuba of two of its recommendations.

South Africa appreciated the continued strong commitment of Cuba to the Universal Periodic Review process.  It commended Cuba’s ongoing efforts for the realization of enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, and its continued cooperation and interaction with the human rights mechanisms of the United Nations. 

South Sudan noted that Cuba had accepted the recommendation made by South Sudan and was grateful for its cooperation with the Human Rights Council.  South Sudan paid tribute to Cuba for the progress made in the field of education and healthcare.  Cuba operated one of the best healthcare systems in the world.

Sri Lanka thanked Cuba for the comprehensive update, which provided detailed information on the various measures and initiatives undertaken by Cuba in its efforts to promote and protect human rights in the country.  The economic and social reforms had yielded positive results and impressive strides had been made towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

Thailand appreciated Cuba’s active role and participation in the Council, including the initiative on the right to development, as well as its efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  Thailand stood ready to share with Cuba its experiences and best practices in areas that could require the implementation of the accepted recommendations.

Sudan said that Cuba had accepted a large number of recommendations and had only rejected a small number of politicized recommendations.  Sudan encouraged Cuba to show openness and cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights, and wished it every success in its future endeavours.

Russian Federation said that the majority of the recommendations had been accepted by Cuba, which demonstrated that the country paid close attention to human rights issues.  Cuba had achieved significant progress in the promotion and protection of socio-economic rights, which was impressive, given the unilateral sanctions unfairly imposed on it.

United Arab Emirates welcomed Cuba’s determination to enshrine a culture of human rights and fundamental freedoms through its engagement with the Universal Periodic Review, particularly with respect to sustainable economic development, women's rights and social justice.

United Kingdom said it was disappointed that its recommendations to improve freedom of expression were rejected.  The United Kingdom was also discouraged that its recommendation to take steps to improve due process in the judicial system was not accepted, given the detention of suspects without trial or charge.  Despite the lack of support for the recommendations, the United Kingdom hoped Cuba could make progress in these areas.

United States regretted that the Cuban delegation distorted the United States’ policy toward Cuba.  The United States was a friend of the Cuban people as well as one of its principal trading partners.  During the Universal Periodic Review, several States recommended that Cuba halt extra-judicial harassment and other repressive measures, also a cause of concern to the United States.

Uzbekistan welcomed Cuba’s constructive participation in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism and the acceptance of the majority of the recommendations made.  It noted with satisfaction the acceptance of all the recommendations made by Uzbekistan.  Cuba was a State party to the basic international instruments in the area of human rights and implemented the provisions in national legislation.

Venezuela said that it recognized the great importance Cuba granted to the implementation of the recommendations accepted.  It was noted that Cuba encountered difficulties because of the inhuman embargo placed on its peoples.  Venezuela recommended the adoption of the outcome report of the Universal Periodic Review of Cuba.

Jubilee Campaign highlighted the substantial increase in the violations of freedom of religion and belief in Cuba.  For the first time in years, there were multiple reports of violent beating of church leaders in different parts of the country.  The Government employed frequent arbitrary detention without charge.

International Association of Democratic Lawyers commended Cuba’s efforts to promote and protect human rights in spite of the difficulties that it was facing and the illegal sanctions imposed by the United States.  The adoption of a de facto moratorium on the death penalty was a positive step.

Amnesty International was concerned that journalists and human rights defenders were harassed in Cuba.  Amnesty International was disappointed that Cuba could not accept the recommendations on the ratification of various international human rights instruments, as well as those on the death penalty. 

United Nations Watch said that human rights defenders and journalists were harassed and faced death threats in Cuba.  Cruelty was worse against black people and women.  Human rights defenders were held in arbitrary detention.

Liberation said that it congratulated Cuba on its second Universal Periodic Review and on implementing the recommendations it had accepted during the first cycle.  Cuba had ratified numerous international instruments demonstrating its commitment to the international system for the promotion and protection of human rights.

International Buddhist Relief Organization commended Cuba on its implementation of the recommendations accepted during the first cycle, and said it was pleased that Cuba had accepted a large number of recommendations during the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review.  Cuba’s economic and social reform had greatly benefited its people.  

Fundacion de Ayuda y Promocion de las Cultural Inidgenas Rosa Collelldevall said that Cuba promoted all human rights, despite the hard impact that the unilateral embargo against Cuba had on its people.  Cuba had high levels of human development, which was important for upholding the rights to peace and development. 

Federation of Cuban Women said the Cuban Government had a proven record of supporting human rights, especially in the face of the difficulties imposed by the blockade enforced by the United States.  Housing, political participation by women and the human rights of all were indicators of Cuba’s commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process.

National Union of Jurists of Cuba said the individual rights of Cubans had been strengthened in respect of the judicial system.  The Union of Jurists would continue to work with the Universal Periodic Review and this Council to improve the legal framework in Cuba.

RAFAEL PINO BECQUER, Deputy Attorney General of Cuba, said in concluding remarks that the Universal Periodic Review process had allowed Cuba to reaffirm the position that only mutually respectful dialogue could further the human rights agenda.  The political hijacking of the process based on manipulation and lack of information would not succeed in stopping the efforts of Cuba to perfect its system.  As for the claims that the United States was a friend of Cuba, these assertions were false.  In fact Cuba had made great achievements in spite of the economic embargo imposed on it by the United States.  Cuba’s socialist system was based on international cooperation which would help Cuba achieve its human rights objectives.

The Council then adopted the outcome report of the Universal Periodic Review of Cuba.


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC13/117E