ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS OUTCOMES OF THE UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW OF TUVALU, COLOMBIA AND UZBEKISTAN

19 September 2013

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Tuvalu, Colombia and Uzbekistan.

Ese Apinelu, Attorney General of Tuvalu, speaking via video conferencing, said that a lot had happened in Tuvalu since its last Universal Periodic Review.  The country was engaging in a high-level dialogue on the new Government’s road map, which outlined key priority measures to be implemented.  Tuvalu called upon the international community to provide the necessary assistance so that it would continue to implement the approved recommendations.  Assistance was needed for the provision of citizen training on human rights and in combating the severe effects of climate change.  Legal and technical assistance with the amendment of citizenship and statelessness laws was also needed.  

In the discussion on Tuvalu, delegates noted the capacity constraints of Tuvalu, which was a small State that faced various challenges related to climate change.  Speakers encouraged Tuvalu to request technical assistance if needed to uphold its national efforts to improve the protection of human rights.  Delegations called upon Tuvalu to create awareness and advocate the promotion of human rights, particularly on the rights of women.

Speaking in the discussion were Algeria, Cuba, Djibouti, Estonia, Maldives, Morocco, New-Zealand, Philippines and Viet Nam.  Franciscans International also spoke.

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

Alicia Victoria Arango Olmos, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Colombia was totally committed to its Universal Periodic Review mechanism.  Some of the reforms on which Colombia was able to elucidate were: the furtherance of the rights of victims of conflict and land restitution, as well as the rights to truth, justice and non-occurrence, as befits a nation heading toward peace; the involvement of indigenous people in the allocation of protected lands; the creation of a culture of human rights in which its defenders were protected; and the promotion of women’s rights and the elimination of violence against them through an inter-institutional strategy that sought to reduce the impunity levels of perpetrators.
 
Jorge Armando Otalora, Defensor del Pueblo, Ombudsman of Colombia, in a video address, said that over the last few years progress had been made with efforts focused on fighting against illegal armed groups.  These groups systematically violated human rights across the country.  It was hoped that strong measures would be adopted to improve prison infrastructure.   

In the discussion on Colombia, speakers welcomed Colombia’s efforts to carefully and responsibly study the recommendations made, most of which had been accepted.  Colombia was congratulated on the positive results in preserving gender equality and protecting the elderly and persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.  A speaker remained concerned about the effects of Colombian mining activity on the country’s ecosystem, which, in turn, would impact negatively on the rights of at least two million persons.   

Speaking in the discussion were China, Algeria, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, Morocco, Maldives, Gabon, South Africa, Philippines, Nigeria, Viet Nam, Venezuela, United Kingdom.  The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: Plan International, Jubilee Campaign, Association for the Prevention of Torture, Colombian Commission of Jurists, Action Canada for Population and Development, and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

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

Akmal Saidov, Chairman of the National Human Rights Centre of Uzbekistan, said that 203 recommendations were made during the discussion on the report of Uzbekistan, of which 115 were accepted, 30 were being implemented and 58 were not accepted.  After extensive consultations, a draft National Action Plan on the implementation of the recommendations was being prepared.  It would provide a platform for constructive cooperation with both national and international partners.  Uzbekistan would continue to improve institutional arrangements for the implementation of all human rights.

In the discussion on Uzbekistan, speakers welcomed efforts undertaken by Uzbekistan to improve human rights, including political, legal and judicial reforms, the provision of education and human rights training, reform of the public health system and various other measures to enhance the living conditions of its population.  Other speakers said that Uzbekistan currently held well over a dozen human rights activists in prison for no other reason than their legitimate and civic activism.  The Council should establish a country-specific mechanism on Uzbekistan.
 
Speaking in the discussion were Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Maldives, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar and Russian Federation.

The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: Human Rights Watch, Action Canada for Population and Development, International Lesbian and Gay Association, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Amnesty International, International Fellowship of Reconciliation and CIVICUS.

At noon, the Council will conclude its general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Review of Tuvalu

Tuvalu, speaking via video conferencing, said that a lot had happened in Tuvalu since its last Universal Periodic Review.  The country was engaging in a high-level dialogue on the new Government’s road map, which outlined key priority measures to be implemented.  Eighteen of the recommendations which had not been accepted by Tuvalu were now part of the new Government’s road map.  The two recommendations concerning Tuvaluan nationality and measures to eliminate statelessness had also been accepted.  Meanwhile, implementation of all recommendations accepted was already underway:  a by-election for Nukufetau was held on 28 June and the successful candidate had been sworn into office; the Department of Women had held its first community consultation in the capital on the family protection and domestic violence bill, while consultations in the outer islands had also been held; the Police Department had progressed to implement the Police Powers and Duties Act, with the assistance of the New Zealand Police force; and Tuvalu had arranged for a high-level dialogue with its donor partners to fulfill its goals under the National Strategy for Sustainable Development.  Tuvalu called upon the international community to provide the necessary assistance so that it would continue to implement the approved recommendations.  Assistance was needed for the provision of citizen training on human rights and in combating the severe effects of climate change.  Legal and technical assistance with the amendment of citizenship and statelessness laws was also needed.  

Algeria thanked Tuvalu for the additional information it had provided in the second cycle of its Universal Periodic Review.  Algeria was pleased that the majority of recommendations had been taken up, particularly those pertaining to the rights of women and children.

Cuba said Tuvalu was a developing country which faced economic challenges but this had not proved a barrier for the implementation of its human rights programme.  Cuba noted the progress made in the promotion of the rights of people with HIV/AIDS and persons with disabilities.

Djibouti commended Tuvalu for utilising the means available to it in implementing human rights reforms.  Despite the challenges created by climate change, Tuvalu’s participation in the Universal Periodic Review was exemplary.

Estonia commended Tuvalu for its active and constructive participation in the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review process.  Estonia noted with satisfaction Tuvalu’s strong commitment to justice and the rule of law.  Estonia encouraged Tuvalu to request technical assistance if needed to uphold its national efforts to improve the protection of human rights.

Maldives took positive note of Tuvalu’s acceptance to increase efforts to ratify core human rights instruments.  Given the capacity constraints of a small State, the Maldives understood the challenges faced in treaty reporting obligations.  The Maldives encouraged Tuvalu to create awareness and advocate the promotion of human rights, particularly on the rights of women.

Morocco said that despite the difficulties faced by Tuvalu with regard to climate change, Tuvalu continued to take steps to ensure that its legislation was in line with international standards.  Morocco was pleased that Tuvalu had accepted the three recommendations made by Morocco concerning awareness-raising on human rights and human rights training.

New Zealand said that it encouraged Tuvalu to continue efforts to extend public awareness about the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Bill to the Outer Islands.  It also encouraged Tuvalu to continue to make progress in the area of financial governance and to manage effectively public expenditure. 

Philippines said that it recognized that Tuvalu was facing significant resource constraints and was vulnerable to natural, geographic and climate challenges, and called on the international community to respond to Tuvalu’s appeal for concrete technical and financial assistance to help it implement its programmes.

Viet Nam commended Tuvalu’s engagement with the Universal Periodic Review process despite facing significant challenges, and said Tuvalu was committed to implementing accepted recommendations, including the two recommendations made by Viet Nam on strengthening national priorities for vulnerable groups.  

Franciscans International commended Tuvalu for establishing an action plan on climate change.  While the negative consequences of global warming would not be felt so much in the developed countries that caused it, human rights in small island states such as Tuvalu were under threat from the natural catastrophes climate change would wreak.

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

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Review of Colombia

ALICIA VICTORIA ARANGO OLMOS, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Colombia was pleased to report on its second Universal Periodic Review cycle, which took place in April 2013.  It was grateful to its partners, including its Troika partners.  Colombia was totally committed to its Universal Periodic Review mechanism, and grateful for the recommendations made to it.  Colombia continued to follow-up on recommendations, some of which were grouped together under sub-theme headings.  This would make it possible for the Government to publish an annual follow-up report to facilitate the measurement of progress made.

Presented in a holistic manner, some of the reforms on which Colombia was able to elucidate were: the furtherance of the rights of victims of conflict and land restitution, as well as the rights to truth, justice and non-occurrence, as befits a nation heading toward peace; the involvement of indigenous people in the allocation of protected lands; the creation of a culture of human rights in which its defenders were protected; the promotion of women’s rights and the elimination of violence against them through an inter-institutional strategy that sought to reduce the impunity levels of perpetrators; tackling the forced recruitment of children into the armed forces or armed groups through prosecutorial measures; the promotion and protection of children’s rights with a strategic inter-sectoral committee; a number of programmes, such as saving schemes, established in order to reduce poverty (Colombia ranked second in Latin America in terms of poverty reduction); action to promote and protect Colombia’s African diaspora; funding for free access to compulsory primary education covering 8.5 million children; and human-rights training for law enforcement personnel.

Colombia thanked the 20 or so States that had helped it in its ongoing peace process; negotiations with FARC rebels were taking place and the peace plan was entering its third phase.  The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights had been instrumental in this effort.

JORGE ARMANDO OTALORA, Defensor del Pueblo, Ombudsman of Colombia, in a video address, said that the human rights situation in Colombia was extremely complicated.  Over the last few years progress had been made with efforts focused on fighting the illegal armed groups.  These groups systematically violated human rights across the country.  The State had reacted through the State armed forces and judicial bodies.  Systematic violations of human rights regarding the penitentiary systems continued to be registered and this was an issue that had to be addressed.  It was hoped that strong measures would be adopted to improve prison infrastructure.   

Algeria said that the commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights expressed by Colombia could only be welcomed and encouraged, and Algeria welcomed the adoption of the majority of the recommendations made, in particular two recommendations Algeria had made regarding the rights of children and persons with disabilities. 

China appreciated Colombia’s efforts to carefully and responsibly study the recommendations made, most of which had been accepted.  Colombia was congratulated on the positive results in preserving gender equality and protecting the elderly, persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.  China supported the adoption of the outcome report of Colombia’s Universal Periodic Review.

Cuba said that it noted with satisfaction the progress Colombia had made to combat poverty and to create an equitable society, and praised Colombia for having accepted the great majority of the recommendations it received during its Universal Periodic Review.  Cuba hoped that Colombia would continue to make progress in achieving peace.

Djibouti said that it was pleased that Colombia had accepted most of the recommendations put to it, and encouraged it to continue its efforts to improve the human rights situation through dialogue and a process of national reconciliation.  Djibouti also encouraged Colombia to continue to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner in the country.

Ecuador said that it recognized efforts made by Colombia to follow up on its Universal Periodic Review recommendations, and congratulated Colombia on meeting many of the challenges it had been facing.  Ecuador wished Colombia well in its efforts to achieve lasting peace in the country. 

Gabon welcomed the full cooperation of Colombia in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism and recommended that the full administration of restorative justice was carried out as part of the establishment of peace.

Maldives acknowledged that the security situation in Colombia had improved remarkably in the last decade and this in turn had contributed heavily to the promotion and protection of human rights there.

Morocco welcomed the administrative and political reforms that had taken place as part of the second cycle of Colombia’s Universal Periodic Review.  These reforms were all the more praiseworthy as they were taking place in a post-conflict context.
Nigeria noted with admiration the numerous voluntary pledges and commitments made by Colombia.  Nigeria was pleased to see that Colombia had accepted a recommendation it had made and welcomed its determination to continue to promote and protect the human rights of its citizens. 

Philippines appreciated the ready acceptance of a recommendation it had made to provide additional resources to anti-trafficking programmes.  It also welcomed Colombia’s voluntary commitment to advance the design of a public policy for human rights education and culture encompassing all State agencies and the general public.

South Africa appreciated the explanation on the Government’s position regarding recommendations received and the acceptance of South Africa’s recommendation.  It encouraged Colombia to continue to exert all efforts towards the protection, promotion and fulfillment of all human rights for its citizens and to continue taking necessary steps to realize voluntary pledges and commitments.

United Kingdom welcomed the work Colombia had undertaken to address human rights concerns.  The United Kingdom remained concerned about the situation facing human rights defenders, particularly reports showing an increase in the number of human rights defenders recently killed in the country.

Venezuela said that Colombia had made significant achievements in the promotion and protection of human rights, including the provision of free education in State institutions, poverty reduction, and advancement of the peace process.  Venezuela hoped that the people of Colombia would find a way to achieve their desires and aspirations.  

Viet Nam said that it was encouraging to see the efforts Colombia had made since its last Universal Periodic Review in April, particularly with regard to improving the situation of vulnerable groups in the country.  Viet Nam wished Colombia every success in its future endeavours to strengthen human rights.
 
Association for the Prevention of Torture said it was a matter of regret that the recommendation that Colombia establish a national oversight mechanism for detention had not been taken up, nor had Colombia signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

Jubilee Campaign said that Colombian Christians were targeted for their faith, churches were closed and leaders were marked for assassination by armed groups.  Colombia should add church leaders to the protected category of human rights defenders. 

Plan International, on behalf of an alliance of Colombian children’s groups, said that the rights of children affected by the conflict had to be re-established and reparations made.  Prosecutions for child recruitment into military organizations had to be stepped up.

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom said there were still no women at the negotiating table and Colombia had not offered to enact change.  The League urged the Colombian Government to ensure fair and timely trials for displaced survivors of sexual violence as well as to ensure the effective protection of women defenders.

Action Canada for Population and Development welcomed Colombia’s attention to sexual rights.  However, it drew attention to legal restrictions on abortion and cases of sexual violence and murder against women, especially lesbians and trans women.  These crimes should be thoroughly investigated, the perpetrators brought to justice, and reparations made.

Colombian Commission of Jurists said that according to the report, out of 160 recommendations, 120 had been or were being applied.  This meant that Colombia only accepted six recommendations unconditionally.  This added to the fact that it considered that 75 per cent were already in effect, meant that Colombia was not being serious enough.

Franciscans International welcomed the acceptance by Colombia of many of the recommendations put to it, but said it remained concerned about the effects of Colombian mining activity on the country’s ecosystem, which, in turn, would impact negatively on the rights of at least two million persons.   

Amnesty International welcomed Colombia’s support of recommendations to fight impunity, but expressed concern about legislative measures designed to ensure that those responsible for human rights abuses evaded justice.  Colombia failed to protect civilians caught up in conflict situations from human rights abuses.  

International Commission of Jurists welcomed the acceptance by Colombia of recommendations for the better protection of indigenous people’s rights, including their prior consultation on public policies which affected them.  Colombia should ratify the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention against Torture and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

International Fellowship of Reconciliation said Colombia had come a long way but there were scant signs that a legislative basis for conscientious objection to military service was being established in Colombia.

ALICIA VICTORIA ARANGO OLMOS, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Colombia was encouraged by the warm words of delegates and would continue to seek the most progressive way forward on the path to peace.  The Human Rights Council could count on Colombia to implement the recommendations it had accepted as a result of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, and its continued commitment to human rights.

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

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Review of Uzbekistan

AKMAL SAIDOV, Chairman of the National Human Rights Centre of Uzbekistan, said that 203 recommendations were made during the discussion on the report of Uzbekistan, of which 115 were accepted, 30 were being implemented and 58 were not accepted due to the fact that they either did not comply with the international obligations of Uzbekistan or did not correspond to the reality.  After extensive consultations, a draft National Action Plan on the implementation of the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review was being prepared and it would include specific measures.  It would provide a platform for constructive cooperation with both national and international partners.

Uzbekistan was closely cooperating with the United Nations human rights mechanisms.  In May 2013, Ivan Simonovic, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, visited the country and met with the heads of the judiciary, national human rights institutions and representatives of civil society.  Thirty-two reports had been submitted to the treaty bodies.  Uzbekistan implemented international standards in the field of the prevention and prohibition of child labour.  Reliable mechanisms to protect the rights of the child were secured.  The country had carried out systematic measures to further reform the judicial system.  The issues of the right to a fair trial and the fight against crime were key priorities.  A large-scale work was being carried out to establish the legal framework necessary for the effective prevention of trafficking in persons.  A number of acts were being adopted to strengthen the independence of the judiciary and to improve the system of selection of judges.  Uzbekistan would continue to improve institutional arrangements for the implementation of all human rights.

Ecuador said that it recognized the work carried out by Uzbekistan and considered that the ratification of several international instruments since the first Review had contributed to the strengthening of the promotion and protection of human rights.  Ecuador welcomed Uzbekistan’s efforts to fight discrimination on any grounds. 

India commended the candid and receptive manner in which Uzbekistan approached and participated in the Universal Periodic Review.  It welcomed steps undertaken to implement recommendations made.  India recommended that the Council adopt the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Uzbekistan by consensus.

Indonesia, as one of the Troika, said it took note of the consistent and genuine commitment of Uzbekistan to human rights, reflected in the commitment to accept and implement the recommendations made.  Uzbekistan continued to strengthen the institutional framework of human rights, including by considering the establishment of an independent national human rights institution. 

Iran welcomed efforts undertaken by Uzbekistan to improve human rights, including political, legal and judicial reforms, the provision of education and human rights training, reform of the public health system, and various other measures to enhance the living conditions of its population.  

Kazakhstan said that the active participation of Uzbekistan during the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review process was a testament to Uzbekistan’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.  Kazakhstan expected Uzbekistan to take all necessary measures to implement the accepted recommendations.

Kuwait said that Uzbekistan had actively demonstrated its commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process, and commended efforts undertaken by Uzbekistan to improve human rights, including measures taken to ensure the implementation of recommendations and to strengthen stability, security and competitiveness.

Lao People’s Democratic Republic thanked Uzbekistan for the comprehensive report on the latest developments on the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.  It was pleased to note that Uzbekistan had accepted a large number of recommendations and had taken the necessary steps and actions to implement them.

Malaysia commended the active participation of Uzbekistan in the Universal Periodic Review process and appreciated its commitment and transparency in this regard. Malaysia was pleased with the updates provided by Uzbekistan and applauded them for the continued positive engagement in their commitment to implement the accepted recommendations.

Maldives took positive note of the consideration and acceptance of recommendations on various areas, including socio-economic issues, and appreciated Uzbekistan’s commitment to strengthen the institutional framework of human rights promotion and protection.  The Maldives hoped that the Universal Periodic Review mechanism would continue to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights in Uzbekistan.

Morocco thanked Uzbekistan for the additional information provided.  It welcomed Uzbekistan’s efforts in the promotion of civil and political rights and noted with satisfaction the implementation of a national strategy on democratic reforms to guarantee primacy of the law and respect the rights and freedoms of persons.  Morocco recommended the adoption of the outcome of Uzbekistan’s Universal Periodic Review. 

Nigeria was pleased that Uzbekistan had accepted a recommendation that it had made, and commended its efforts to strengthen the rule of law.  Nigeria urged Uzbekistan to maintain its cooperation with its international partners on human rights protection and continue to build on the considerable progress that it had made in the field of human rights.

Oman welcomed Uzbekistan’s acceptance of recommendations made.  Oman appreciated efforts made to promote human rights and to guarantee dignified lives for the Uzbek people, and thanked Uzbekistan for the acceptance of recommendations Oman had made.  This showed Uzbekistan was firmly committed to ensuring that human rights became a reality. 

Pakistan said that it highly valued the constructive engagement of Uzbekistan with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, which reflected Uzbekistan’s ongoing commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights.

Philippines said that Uzbekistan had formulated several national action plans in accordance with its human rights treaty obligations, and was pleased with Uzbekistan’s relentless pursuit to improve the quality of life and standard of living of its people.

Qatar commended Uzbekistan on accepting many of the recommendations put to it, including two recommendations made by Qatar.  The measures taken by Uzbekistan to reform its legal framework reflected the great importance attached by its Government to the promotion and protection of human rights.   

Russian Federation thanked Uzbekistan for providing information on the implementation of the recommendations.  The Russian Federation was pleased that Uzbekistan had accepted a large majority of the recommendations made during its Universal Periodic Review.  The Russian Federation recommended the adoption of Uzbekistan’s report by consensus.

Human Rights Watch regretted that Uzbekistan rejected the most relevant and urgent recommendations relating to its atrocious human rights record.  Uzbekistan currently held well over a dozen human rights activists in prison for no other reason than their legitimate and civic activism.  The Council should establish a country-specific mechanism on Uzbekistan.

Action Canada for Population and Development urged Uzbekistan to undertake efforts to prevent the infringement on the sexual and reproductive rights of women.  Many cases of involuntary and coerced sterilization of women in furtherance of the Government’s coercive population policy, the “two child norm”, were being reported.  Uzbekistan should revise its policies that violated women’s rights.

International Lesbian and Gay Association urged the Government of Uzbekistan to take measures to address discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and take measures to investigate violence against them, punish those responsible and prevent further violence by publicly condemning it. 

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues urged the Government to release human rights defenders and political prisoners, to enable independent non-governmental organizations to operate freely, and to guarantee that they as well as journalists enjoyed the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.

Amnesty International said the space for freedom of expression and association continued to shrink in Uzbekistan.  It deeply regretted Uzbekistan’s rejection of recommendations to release those detained on politically motivated charges.  It expressed concern that Uzbekistan appeared determined to remain closed to international monitoring. 

International Fellowship of Reconciliation said that it hoped that Uzbekistan was in the process of revising its military recruitment legislation in order to make the option of alternative service available to more than just the few registered members of specific religious groups. 

CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation said that, despite Uzbekistan’s acceptance of several recommendations, at least 15 civil society activists remained in prison on politically motivated charges and had been given lengthy prison sentences. Uzbekistan should lift unjustified restrictions on the freedom of expression.

AKMAL SAIDOV, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission of Uzbekistan, thanked the Council for the constructive dialogue and said that it had adopted 145 recommendations.  Priority areas for human rights activities were: improving legislation in the area of human rights, strengthening institutional mechanisms, and enhancing information and awareness-raising activities.  Uzbekistan was also paying close attention to the rights of the child, the rights of women, and combating trafficking in persons.  Uzbekistan would continue to comply with its international obligations and work closely with its international partners and the Council.  However, Uzbekistan could not agree with unilateral and biased statements made by non-governmental organization representatives concerning, among others, political prisoners and Uzbekistan’s supposed refusal to register non-governmental organizations.  

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


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC13/113E