HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS OUTCOMES OF UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW ON SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES, SUDAN AND HUNGARY
Continues General Debate on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention
23 September 2011
The Human Rights Council this morning adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review on Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sudan and Hungary. It also continued its general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s Attention.
Speaking in the general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s Attention were Canada, Algeria, Australia, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Iran, Slovenia, Slovakia, Belarus, Japan, and Morocco. The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Eastern Sudan Women Organization, and Mouvement Contre le Racisme et pour l’Amitié entre les Peoples and Society for Threatened People speaking in a joint statement. The general debate will resume during the Council’s afternoon meeting.
Cenio E. Lewis, High Commissioner for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Kingdom, said that in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines respect for human rights was not seen only through legislators, but through the inclusion of society and communities. Its constitution explicitly protected, among other rights, the rights to life, personal liberty and freedom of conscience. It provided protection from slavery, forced labour and discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, colour or creed. The Government was giving active consideration to the remaining 23 recommendations which related to outstanding international conventions and protocols, policies concerning juvenile offenders, and measures focused on children’s development. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines may not be a party to an international human rights treaty or convention, but that did not diminish the importance of its commitment to promote and protect human rights.
In the discussion on Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, speakers welcomed the fact that they had accepted most of the recommendations and noted that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had accepted recommendations on technical assistance and the establishment of a national human rights institution. A speaker said that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had failed to accept recommendations against criminalizing consensual same sex conduct and urged the Government to engage in national consultations to move this issue forward as soon as possible. Other speakers said that despite meagre human and financial resources, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had made human rights a priority. Education was a priority for the Government and it had developed an education revolution with substantial reduction in illiteracy across the country and the construction of schools.
Algeria, Cuba and Venezuela took the floor, as well as the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Isam Eldin Abdelgadir Elzien Mohamed, Minister of Justice of Sudan, said that three different categories of recommendations were made: those directed to the Government of Sudan, those directed to North and South Sudan, and those directed to South Sudan. Of the 160 recommendations directed to Sudan 121 were accepted and 12 were partially accepted: an overall acceptance rate of 85 per cent. Of the joint recommendations, Sudan had accepted 25. Many had been already implemented or were in the process of implementation, such as a comprehensive review of domestic laws on war crimes and genocide. The new Child Act of 2010 had incorporated most measures from the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Doha Peace Document had been signed in Darfur and implementation had already started on the ground. The situation in Darfur had stabilized, women’s issues were being addressed, and an Office for the Prosecution of Crimes in Darfur was established to bring to justice those who had committed human rights violations in the conflict.
Grace Datiro, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of South Sudan, said that as a new country South Sudan had a commitment to promote and protect human rights. The Government had actively embarked on legal strategies to transform and professionalize law enforcement agencies to ensure respect for human rights. It had established the South Sudan Human Rights Commission. Although South Sudan had not yet acceded to the key international human rights treaties and conventions, it had articulated in its constitution provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The justice system and legal protection mechanisms needed to be strengthened and they needed technical support and capacity building in the fields of human rights education, promotion and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In the discussion on Sudan, speakers congratulated the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan on their commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process. Areas of concern noted by speakers included ongoing reports of human rights abuses including arbitrary arrests and detention of journalists, restrictions on freedom of assembly and ongoing violence with impunity in Darfur, restrictions on humanitarian access and assistance in Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile, and reports of sexual violence against women and girls and the unlawful recruitment of child soldiers. However speakers noted that Sudan had implemented a national strategy on education and was addressing health care issues. Speakers recommended that Sudan continue efforts to improve measures for children and for women. Sudan was commended for respecting the results of the January referendum on independence.
Algeria, Cuba, United States, Egypt, Mauritania, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, and Qatar took the floor as well as the following non-governmental organizations: Child Development Foundation, Society Studies Centre, Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies, Sudan Council of Voluntary Agencies, International Committee for the Respect and Application of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, CIVICUS, International Federation for Human Rights, Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development and the Eastern Sudan Women Development Organization
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Sudan and South Sudan.
Zoltan Balog, Minister of State for Social Inclusion in the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice of Hungary, said Hungary had received 148 recommendations and after intensive consultations, 122 were accepted. Concerning the 29 remaining recommendations, several had not received support exclusively due to the fact the suggested course of action had already been completed so there was no need for further consideration or action. The ratification of the Optional Protocol on the Convention against Torture and the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance was under way. Hungary noted that none of the European Union Member States were party to the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families since several provisions of this Convention were governed by European Union regulations. The statutory provisions under the Hungarian Criminal Code and the Law on Misdemeanours fully covered and prosecuted all acts falling under the scope of domestic violence, therefore it was not necessary to draft and implement a fully comprehensive law on gender equality and a law on combating gender violence.
In the discussion on Hungary some speakers hoped that Hungary would reconsider its opposition to adhering to International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. States welcomed Hungary’s support for the recommendation regarding hate groups and looked forward to the Government’s development and implementation of a Roma programme. They further welcomed the establishment of the Foundation for the International Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities. Hungary should be commended for its standing invitation to Special Procedures, its continuous voluntary contributions to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the holding of several Budapest Human Rights Forums, the National Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality and progress in combating trafficking in human beings, including children.
Algeria, United States, Slovakia, Moldova and Morocco took the floor as well as Amnesty International, and the European Region of the International Lesbian Gay Association.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Hungary
The Council will reconvene at 3 p.m. to hold a general debate on the Universal Periodic Review. It will then resume its general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention.
Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention
ALISON LECLAIRE CHRISTIE (Canada) said Canada was gravely concerned by the Assad regime’s indiscriminate and excessive use of military force against the civilian population and called on President Assad to step down immediately. The situation in Belarus continued to be of serious concern to Canada and the international community. The crackdown against the political opposition and civil society had continued and the Belarusian Government appeared to have no intention to abide by internationally recognized human rights obligations. Canada continued to have serious concerns about the Burmese human rights situation and once again called for the release of the approximately 2,000 political prisoners who were still in detention. Canada remained gravely concerned by the ongoing violations of human rights and the absence of basic freedoms, such as the freedom of expression and opinion in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Canada was concerned about the situation in Sri Lanka and encouraged the country to begin making real progress in terms of political reconciliation, accountability, and human rights. Canada supported calls for an independent investigation into credible allegations of violations of international humanitarian law committed by both parties to the conflict in Sri Lanka as recommended by the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka.
IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria) encouraged the Council to promote self-determination under article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with respect to the Western Sahara and not to allow this region to remain isolated from movements towards liberty in the region. There was a need to pay attention to the human rights situation in areas controlled by the de facto authorities. This was an opportunity for the Council to reflect about the situation on human rights and the resolution adopted last April by the Security Council, which expressed determination to see the right to self-determination respected. Morocco had aimed to detract attention about the situation in its territory and the Western Sahara region had been closed to non-governmental organizations and other actors. Measures which prevented human rights from being enjoyed should be revoked. The Council should be inspired by the Security Council resolution and ensure it was informed in order to act on the basis of full awareness of the facts.
RUTH STONE (Australia) said Australia was deeply concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Fiji. The Fiji constitution had been suspended and media censorship had curtailed freedom of speech.
Australia condemned the human rights abuses in Syria and urged a referral to the International Criminal Court. Australia called on Syria to grant full access to the United Nations Commission of Inquiry. Australia welcomed statements of the Transitional National Council in Libya that they were committed to the rule of law and the promotion and protection of human rights. Australia remained concerned about abuses alleged to be committed by Transitional National Council forces in Libya. Abuse of human rights in Sri Lanka remained a concern for Australia. Australia welcomed the establishment of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Committee. Australia would be scrutinizing the report of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Committee closely. Australia urged the Sri Lankan Government to move forward with its initiatives towards reconciliation.
IAN DUDDY (United Kingdom) said independent human rights monitoring was an essential tool for ensuring respect for human rights and the United Kingdom urged the Council to take action to ensure that United Nations’ monitoring continued in Sudan, where the human rights situation was of deep concern. Monitoring was also essential in Iran, where two opposition leaders had been detained for over 200 days, protestors had been brutally suppressed and hundreds of executions had taken place. In Myanmar, 2,000 political prisoners remained detained and human rights abuses in ethnic regions had increased. The United Kingdom welcomed the ongoing work of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry to examine events during the unrest earlier this year, including allegations of human rights abuses. On Sri Lanka, the transmission of the United Nations Panel of Experts report to the Human Rights Council underlined the need for accountability for alleged violations of international law. The United Kingdom remained concerned by continuing politically motivated intimidation and violence in Zimbabwe and called on the Government to end all violations and restore internationally accepted human rights standards. Ten years after the arrest of leading democratic reformers, the state of human rights in Eritrea remained critical and the United Kingdom called on the Government of Eritrea to release all political prisoners and to comply with its human rights obligations.
MARK HANNIFFY (Ireland) said that Ireland was gravely concerned about the situation in Syria, in particular the indiscriminate killing of Syrian civilians and the arbitrary detention, torture and the intrusion of government security forces into medical centers. Ireland was seriously concerned by the humanitarian crisis in Somalia and called for all involved to pursue national reconciliation and to build up a functioning and accountable security sector. The human rights situation in Burma/Myanmar was of serious concern as the Burmese people continued to be denied their fundamental rights and freedoms. Ireland was concerned about reports of systematic rapes and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The use of the death penalty and the continued persecution of minorities were of concern in Iran. In Zimbabwe, Ireland called for respect both for human rights and the rule of law; and highlighted the systematic harassment of human rights defenders and restrictions placed on freedoms. In Belarus, the authorities continued to show an absolute intolerance of any form of opposition. The use of violence against citizens asserting their basic rights was disturbing and was unacceptable. In Bahrain, Ireland called upon the Government to respect the human rights of all it citizens. In Sri Lanka, Ireland was deeply concerned by the credible allegations concerning major violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by all sides during the conflict years, and it urged the Government to engage with the Council in the path towards reconciliation.
BJORN GEHRMANN (Germany) applauded the willingness of Côte d’Ivoire to engage with human rights mechanisms. Germany invited the Kingdom of Bahrain to discuss the human rights situation in that country. Germany urged Syria to allow the Commission of Inquiry to enter the country. Germany regretted that there remained a number of countries that continued to decline any offers for dialogue and assistance. Germany welcomed the report of the Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka. Germany encouraged the Government of Sri Lanka to swiftly engage with the Secretary-General and the Human Rights Council.
KATARINA AMMITZBOLL (Denmark) said Denmark was deeply troubled by the deterioration of the situation in Yemen and condemned the killings and targeted attacks on largely peaceful demonstrators and the widespread intimidation campaign by the Government against human rights activists and members of the political opposition. In Iran, Denmark called for the immediate release of all political prisoners and for authorities to fully cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran. In Bahrain, a human rights crisis was unfolding while the Government continued to tighten restrictions on the freedom of information and expression. Denmark encouraged the Government of Bahrain to respect its international obligations in human rights. Denmark strongly supported the renewal of the mandate on Sudan and welcomed South Sudan’s interest in collaborating with the Human Rights Council to further promote and protect human rights. Denmark strongly encouraged Sri Lanka’s active and constructive engagement with the Secretary-General and the Human Rights Council to address such violations in a credible and independent manner. Denmark called on the Government of Myanmar to free all political prisoners unconditionally and without delay and to establish an inclusive dialogue with all political stakeholders on how to initiate a process towards democracy and national reconciliation.
JUAN KNUTSSON (Sweden) welcomed the positive developments in Libya and called on the National Transitional Government to live up to its stated ambition to implement international humanitarian law and human rights commitments. The Council should continue to focus on the situation in Sudan until significant progress in respecting and protecting human rights was made on the ground; the extension of the mandate of the Independent Expert was necessary. Sweden was concerned by reports of ongoing grave violations of human rights in Yemen. Concerning Sri Lanka, Sweden welcomed the report of the Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka and supported its recommendations. In Burma/Myanmar, Sweden noted the commitment to reform but underlined that there were still serious and ongoing human rights violations that needed to be addressed. Sweden was deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Iran which continued to deteriorate; it condemned the escalating numbers of executions, and the continuous harassment, arrests and long prison sentences of human rights defenders. Sweden had repeatedly deplored the persistent violation by Eritrea of its international and domestic obligations. Sweden remained concerned about the human rights situation in China, including setbacks regarding the rule of law, freedom of expression and harassment of human rights defenders. Sweden remained concerned about the human rights situation in Cuba, including the lack of respect for freedom of expression and information. It remained deeply concerned over the pervasive violations of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In Zimbabwe, critical reforms were needed with regard to respect for the rule of law, human rights and democracy.
ASGAR SADRKHAN (Iran) said Iran wished to draw the attention of the Council to the following issues: the unconditional support of the United States for Israel’s abuses and violations it carried out in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories; and the United States’ actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, including the establishment of secure detention centres for the purpose of using torture. These inhuman detention mechanisms were not the only example of United States’ violations at the international level. In a number of European Union Member States there were daily acts of xenophobia and Islamaphobia. Policies introduced against Muslims, namely in France and the United Kingdom, exposed Muslins to threats from racist groups and the police. Minority groups, indigenous peoples, refugees and asylum seekers were all subject to discrimination. In Canada Muslim women were subjected to unjustified police surveillance by racial profiling.
MATJAZ KOVACIC (Slovenia) said Slovenia was concerned about the current situation in Syria, where violence and repression by the security forces against the civilian population, arbitrary detentions, arrests of human rights activists and killings of human rights defenders still continued. Slovenia called on the Syrian authorities to cooperate with the international community through cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the recently established Commission of Inquiry. Concerning Libya, Slovenia reiterated the call for accountability for human rights violations and justice as a basis for peace and a successful transition to democracy in Libya. Slovenia was concerned about the human rights situation in Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile state of Sudan and was alarmed to have learned about the bombing attack on Kauda as recently as last week. Slovenia urged the Council to call on the Sudanese Government to provide rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access to the people in the Nuba Mountains and to allow full access to international human rights monitors.
FEDOR ROSOCHA (Slovakia) urged the Government of Myanmar to materialize its commitments concerning its human rights record; the unconditional release of political prisoners would constitute a first step in this direction. Truth and accountability were important parts of the process towards reconciliation; therefore Slovakia urged Sri Lanka to follow the recommendations of the Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka and to present findings of the national lessons learnt and reconciliation commission at the next session of the Council. Slovakia expressed concern regarding the increase in the application of death sentences in Iran. The application of this sentence on children went against Iran’s international commitments. Slovakia welcomed the invitation of Bahrain to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit the country; this highlighted Bahrain’s commitment to improve its human rights record and Slovakia called upon the Government to uphold the principle of accountability concerning violations. Slovakia was deeply concerned by the inhuman detention conditions in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and urged the Government to release all political prisoners.
ANDREI TARANDA (Belarus) said Belarus was concerned about the situation in Sweden where 500 refugees that were denied medical care including urgent medical care. During the suppression of riots in the United Kingdom more than 800 persons were put in prison. Belarus highlighted the sentences which were out of proportion and noted that the protesters had been angry about their lack of prospects. The Council should look into this issue. Certain countries liked to play the game of criticism rather than deal with their own issues. Belarus would like the Government of Botswana to consider accession to international human rights instruments. The delegation of Germany should look into a dictionary instead of interpreting a dialogue as a politicized country resolution.
KENICHI SUGANUMA (Japan) said in the Middle East and North Africa a fundamental transition was occurring and a democratic system of Government should be established with respect for human rights during the process. Japan would contribute to this process in both the short and medium term in the areas of good governance, human resources, job creation and industrial growth. The human rights situation in the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea was of grave concern to Japan, including the use of torture in detention camps, execution and malnutrition of children which continued with no sign of improvement. Japan urged the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to resolve the abduction issue as soon as possible and to accept a visit by the Special Rapporteur and cooperate with the international community on human rights and all other areas.
ABDERRAZZAK LAASSEL (Morocco) said that Algeria had tried to divert attention concerning its own human rights record by pointing to the situation in the Western Sahara. Democracy, political openness and reform did not predispose it to talk about human rights. Before criticizing its neighbour Algeria should work on its own issues concerning human rights and transitional justice. Algeria should abandon its abstinence and refrain from using human rights for its own purposes. Before talking about human rights in southern Morocco, Algeria should address human rights concerns within its own territory. It should also re-read and consider reports from the United Nations human rights mechanisms and the concerns expressed thereby.
ABLA MAHDI, of Eastern Sudan Women Development Organization, in a joint statement with several NGOs1, said they wished to comment on the report of the Independent Expert on Sudan. The Eastern Sudan Women Organization was one of the non-governmental organizations dealing with human rights and it believed that what applied to other member States should also apply to Sudan. There were many United Nations bodies represented in Sudan and there were also international and regional organizations, including the African Union, the League of Arab States and the Organization for the Islamic Conference. National organizations were effective and numerous. Sudan had thousands of non-governmental organizations, many political parties, and an ancient system of justice through customs and traditions. This today was taught as customary law. The report spoke of the improvements. These improvements were not due to monitoring by the Independent Expert but took place thanks to the competent bodies in Sudan and the efforts made by all sectors in Sudan. The international community should develop the capacities of non-governmental organizations to help them undertake policies fully.
GIANFRANCO FATTORINI, of Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peuples, in a joint statement with France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, International Educational Development and Women's Human Rights International Association, said the situation in camp Ashraf remained a source of concern. The camps would be victimized again before end of the year by the Iraqi forces. In July 2009 Iraqi military forces attacked the camps and then an attack and massacre in April 2011 left 36 dead. All the residents were now asylum seekers and protected under international law. There was a need for a transparent and complete investigation. Victims and their families were entitled to reparations.
TENZIN KAYTA, of Society for Threatened Peoples, in a joint statement with Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, International Educational Development and Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peoples, said that peaceful protestors in the Middle East had been brutally repressed and this had also happened in the People’s Republic of China. Last month a Chinese court sentenced three Tibetan monks to imprisonment for self-immolation and torture was used for extracting confessions. Monasteries in Tibet were under siege by the Chinese authorities. There had been 1,329 Tibetan political prisoners who had remained detained and the Council should call on China to arrange an early visit of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief to Tibet.
Universal Periodic Review on Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
CENIO E. LEWIS, High Commissioner for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Kingdom, said that the history of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was one shaped by colonialism, slavery and genocide. Since achieving independence in 1979, the quest had been to further enable the Caribbean civilization in every sphere of human endeavour and to build a Vincentian component of that civilization. This Vincentian component included the fundamental rights of citizens and peoples. Respect for human rights was not seen only through the lens of legislators, but through the inclusion of the cumulative components of its society, churches, families, parents, schools, the media, non-governmental organizations and other communities. Its human values were lodged within Christian ethics and social democracy. Over the years, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, committed to the protection and promotion of human rights, had signed and ratified conventions safeguarding fundamental rights and freedoms. Its constitution explicitly protected the rights to life, personal liberty and freedom of conscience, among other rights. It provided protection from slavery, forcer labour and discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, colour or creed. In relation to the remaining 26 recommendations on which the Government did not decide on in May, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines could not accept those recommendations which sought to presuppose that discrimination was encountered by children of minorities and persons with disabilities; nor the claim that discrimination existed in the criminal provisions of the laws relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The Government was giving active consideration to the remaining 23 recommendations related to outstanding international conventions and protocols, improvement of facilities and policies concerning juvenile offenders, and the continued implementation of measures focused on children’s development.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was a democratic society and laws were passed following discussions with the various stakeholders. There was a necessity for the elected body to produce balance between the rights of an individual and the needs of society. The necessary balance also provided the Government with reflections in its consideration of recommendations on human rights conventions and protocols. Resources could play a vital role in that balance. Small States were painfully aware that had no political power to control world trade. Its banana industry, which afforded many families the opportunity to enjoy many human rights, was almost destroyed by the decisions of the World Trade Organization. The words “special and differential” treatment for small States in the Doha round had been lost. The sensitivity to economic problems was often lost in developed countries and developing countries were sometimes faced with two swords, one man-made and the other by nature, including climate change and its devastating effects. These were the realities faced as the time frame into which treaties may be signed and ratified. These underlying factors included the mechanism to monitor obligations to additional treaties and conventions. The relationship between certain human rights and the constitution needed to be examined. These were some of the underlying factors which confronted a small developing State as it considered the various recommendations. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines accepted recommendations 78.8, 78.9, 78.15, 78.17, 78.19 and categorically rejected recommendation 78.16. While Saint Vincent and the Grenadines may not be a party to an international human rights treaty or convention, it did not in any way diminish the importance of its commitment to promote and protect human rights.
IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria) said Algeria welcomed the fact that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had accepted most of the recommendations on its Universal Periodic Review and noted that it accepted Algeria’s recommendations on technical assistance and the establishment of a national human rights institution. Algeria was convinced of the use of the Universal Periodic Review as a method of cooperation among States and encouraged Member States to go beyond recommendations into the provision of technical assistance, especially for those States which lacked the means for implementation.
YUMIRKA FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba) welcomed the delegation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It was clear to Cuba that despite meagre human and financial resources, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had made human rights a priority. Education was a priority for the Government and it had developed an education revolution. An adult literacy crusade had created a substantial reduction in illiteracy across the country. Cuba had made a contribution through programmes such as Project Miracle. Cuba recommended the adoption of the report and wished all success to the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
FELIX PENA RAMOS (Venezuela) expressed Venezuela’s deep appreciation for the presentation. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had shown openness and full cooperation with the working group, attesting to its commitment with the promotion and protection of human rights. Venezuela recognized the open mindedness and constructive attitude of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines during the review process. Venezuela noted the efforts made concerning the education revolution which was put forward at all levels, including adult education, reducing functional illiteracy and the construction of schools. Despite major challenges, intrepid efforts had been made to live up to commitments in human rights and this should be recognized. For these reasons Venezuela recommended the adoption of the report.
JOHN FISHER, of Canadian HIV/Aids Legal Network, said Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had failed to accept recommendations against criminalizing consensual same sex conduct. These laws were relics of the colonial area which were incompatible with international law, human dignity and respect for human rights. The delegation had indicated that national consultations would be needed to move this issue forward and urged the Government to engage in these consultations as soon as possible.
CENIO E. LEWIS, High Commissioner for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, in concluding remarks said Saint Vincent and the Grenadines thanked Cuba and Venezuela for their support in the area of education and other activities. Mr. Lewis explained that legislation criminalizing consensual same sex relations was based on the cultural nature of the country’s society and the recommendation to change this could not be considered at this time although the Government was willing to take it up at a later point. Although the Government could not accept the recommendations to repeal legislation against lesbians and gays, Mr. Lewis emphasized that there were no discriminatory laws against lesbian, gays, bisexual and transgender people because the prosecution of public indecency was not limited to homosexual acts but also applied to heterosexual acts.
Universal Periodic Review on Sudan
ISAM ELDIN ABDELGADIR ELZIEN MOHAMED, Ministry of Justice of Sudan, said that three different categories of recommendations were made: those directed to the Government of Sudan, those directed to North and South Sudan, and those directed to South Sudan. The Minister said that of the 160 recommendations directed to Sudan, 121 were accepted and 12 were partially accepted which resulted in an overall acceptance rate of 85 per cent. Of the joint recommendations, Sudan had accepted 25. Among the recommendations accepted by the Government of Sudan, a substantial number were either already implemented or were in the process of implementation, such as Constitutional reforms and a comprehensive review of a large number of domestic laws to include war crimes and genocide. The time set for pretrial detention was reduced with judicial oversight added. The new Child Act of 2010 had incorporated most measures in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including an increase in the age of criminal responsibility from 7 to 12 years and all forms of corporal punishment against children were outlawed. Furthermore, a system for juvenile justice was created with specific courts and detention facilities for juvenile offenders. The press and publications act was being reviewed in Parliament and following the creation of a second Republic in Sudan, a wide process of consultation was ongoing. Concerning recommendations that related to peace, the Doha Peace Document was signed on Darfur and implementation had already started on the ground with the creation of joint committees in charge of implementation. The situation in Darfur had stabilized as more than 1 million displaced persons had been returned to their villages and an Office for the Prosecution of Crimes in Darfur had been established to bring to justice all those who had committed human rights violations since the beginning of the conflict. The Government of Sudan was also active in tribal reconciliation as this played a critical role in maintaining stability. A National Action Plan to Stop Violence against Women was adopted and a number of committees were established across Sudan, including three in Darfur to address women’s issues.
The recommendations that could not be accepted related to acceding to treaty bodies without reservations. The Government of Sudan was committed to rendering the Universal Periodic Review mechanism a successful process and had already embarked on measures to ensure effective implementation. Sudan urged contributions to the voluntary fund to support countries in the implementation of their Universal Periodic Review and hoped it could learn from past lessons and adopt best practices.
GRACE DATIRO, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of South Sudan, thanked the Independent Expert for his report and called upon the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to resolve their differences through negotiations and dialogue. As a new country in the international system, South Sudan reiterated its commitment to promote and protect human rights and the desire to cooperate with the Council and with the members of the international community on all issues pertaining to human rights. The Government had actively embarked on setting up the basis for the rule of law by putting in place strategies to transform and professionalize law enforcement agencies and ensure respect for human rights. South Sudan needed technical support and capacity building in the fields of human rights education, and the setting up of mechanisms of protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. After the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, an autonomous Government had been formed in South Sudan and it had taken charge of affairs in the whole territory of the South. It had since then started building up its administration and institutions of governance; this included a human rights commission, empowered by a constitutional mandate to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, systematically monitor the human rights situation across the country and identify and investigate human rights violations. The South Sudan Human Rights Commission had actively made its presence felt and known to the Government and the general public and had started to establish itself across the territory of South Sudan to better monitor compliance.
Concerning issues raised in the report on human rights violations in South Sudan, including inter-communal violence, the fighting between the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army and the rebel groups, and abuses perpetrated by security forces, South Sudan indicated that the Government was not involved in any of the incidents noted in the report. The main causes of inter-communal violence were poverty, cattle rustling and the spread of weapons; security forces as an institution did not violate human rights and the national army, the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army and police services were known for their respect for human rights as the handing over of war prisoners showed. Members of the security forces committing crimes or human rights violations on a personal capacity were investigated and promptly brought to justice. In order to bring an end to the wars waged by rebel groups against the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army, the Government had declared a general amnesty and called upon all rebel leaders to put down their arms and accept a dialogue with the Government. South Sudan had also devised strategies to foster peace and security, and to foster a culture of pluralism and tolerance. Although South Sudan had not yet acceded to the key international human rights treaties and conventions, it had articulated in its constitution provisions on the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and the entire Universal Declaration on Human Rights. These provisions had constituted the commitment of the leadership of the Republic towards the promotion, protection and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The justice system and legal protection mechanisms needed to be strengthened. The Government was striving to enact domestic laws as part of the constitutional efforts to avail access to justice. South Sudan brought attention to the human rights abuses committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army in South Sudan, which had killed, abducted, rearmed and tortured people in Western Equatoria and Bahr El Ghazal in South Sudan. As a result, more than 200,000 people had been displaced in these two states and over 120,000 had crossed into South Sudan from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic. The Council and the international community should take up these issues seriously and bring this situation to an end.
IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria) welcomed the desire of the Sudanese Government to open a constructive dialogue with the international community, particularly through the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. With regard to the recommendations, Algeria had recommended that Sudan should continue efforts to improve provisions for all children, and to strengthen programmes to improve the status of women. Algeria welcomed acceptance of these recommendations and welcomed the positive replies to most of the recommendations by Sudan. Algeria also welcomed the position of the State of South Sudan which was created as a result of the referendum held following the global peace agreement. Algeria encouraged South Sudan to undertake efforts to extend the rule of law to the entire country. Algeria called upon the international community to provide all international assistance to the country to help it achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Algeria wished the Governments of Sudan and of South Sudan progress and prosperity.
YUMIRKA FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba) congratulated the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan on their commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process. The unjust economic order had given rise to problems that affected both countries. The Government of Sudan was working to fight poverty with a dedicated unit to combat poverty headed up by the President of Sudan. In terms of education, a national strategy was being implemented and primary education was free. Heath care was also being addressed. Cuba reaffirmed its solidarity and respect for the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan and stood ready to support them in the implementation of their Universal Periodic Review.
EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN DONAHOE (United States) commended Sudan for respecting the results of the January referendum on the independence of South Sudan. The United States remained deeply troubled by ongoing reports of human rights abuses including arbitrary arrests and detention of journalists, restrictions on freedom of assembly and ongoing violence with impunity in Darfur. The United States was also troubled by the restrictions on humanitarian access and assistance in Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile state. The United States noted Sudan’s acceptance of recommendations related to these matters and strongly urged Sudan to fully cooperate with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan. The United States remained deeply troubled by widespread sexual violence against women and girls and continued reports of the unlawful recruitment of child soldiers; it commended Sudan’s 2010 passage of the National Child Act but urged the Government to take greater measures to prevent and prosecute acts of sexual violence and the unlawful recruitment of children for use in armed conflict. The United States noted Sudan’s acceptance of many recommendations to these issues and urged to Government to fully meet its commitments and obligations to protect human rights in implementing these recommendations. In that spirit, the United States urged Sudan to decriminalize the so-called indecent and moral acts. The United States congratulated the Government of the Republic of South Sudan on becoming the international community’s newest nation and urged the Government to hold accountable perpetrators of ethnic and communal violence. It also urged the Government to enshrine human rights and fundamental freedoms in the new constitution.
HIBA MUSTAFA (Egypt) said Egypt noted the context of the political and historical developments that had occurred in Sudan, particularly the referendum that led to the establishment of South Sudan. Egypt welcomed the Doha agreement for peace. Egypt commended the Government of South Sudan’s keenness to support stability and justice in Darfur. Egypt had confident that Sudan would be able to realize the recommendations made. Egypt recognized the importance of the role of the international community in stepping up assistance to Sudan and South Sudan.
MINT MOHAMED OULD EL BOUKHARY KHADY (Mauritania) congratulated Sudan on its positive engagement with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. The Government of Sudan had cooperated with the Independent Expert to put an end to tribal conflict throughout the country. The Government’s recognition of the vote of the referendum to create an independent South Sudan had demonstrated the Government of Sudan’s commitment to promote human rights. Sudan should be allowed to focus on the implementation of the recommendations in the Universal Periodic Review to protect and promote human rights without interference and selectivity.
NATASHA GOONERATNE (Sri Lanka) welcomed the report of the working group on Sudan. It was commendable that the Government of Sudan had integrated the engagement of intergovernmental and civil society stakeholders, as well as United Nations bodies within the review process. Sri Lanka welcomed that Sudan had considered positively a number of recommendations within the review process, in the area of education and cultural life of the community, including Sri Lanka’s recommendation to increase the expenditure allocated for education in order that it could be accessible to children across the country. Sri Lanka also welcomed Sudan’s acceptance of recommendations on the right to social security and to adequate standards of living, which included Sri Lanka’s recommendation to increase further pro-poor public spending with a view to implementing the poverty eradication strategy. Sri Lanka hoped that Sudan’s commitment to this process and its positive approach to its recommendations would help the country on its way to further development and stability.
AHMED SULEIMAN IBRAHIM ALAQUIL (Saudi Arabia) welcomed the report of the Government of Sudan which demonstrated the State’s ongoing cooperation with human rights mechanisms. The Universal Periodic Review on Sudan was an opportunity to take note of areas where progress was good. Saudi Arabia encouraged Sudan to work further to ensure security in all the provinces of the country.
UMUNNA HUMPHREY ORJIAKO (Nigeria) said Nigeria noted with satisfaction the willingness of the Government of Sudan to cooperate with the Human Rights Council to improve the human rights situation in the country. Nigeria agreed with Sudan that an atmosphere of peace, security, and democracy was essential to attaining human rights and, in this regard, urged the Government of Sudan to continue to take measures that would enhance peace, security and democracy in Sudan, with particular reference to Abyei, Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur. Nigeria called on the Government to urgently establish its national human rights commission for which enabling legislation already existed.
SHEIKHA SALMAN AL ZAABI (United Arab Emirates) expressed appreciation for the progress achieved by Sudan and its consideration of the recommendations put forward during the review process. The United Arab Emirates commended the attitude of Sudan during the consideration of the report last May. Sudan was advancing on the path of good governance and deserved appreciation and support. The United Arab Emirates hoped that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights would provide assistance for the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as technical assistance for the implementation of commitments, despite challenges with regards to capabilities.
MANSOOR AL-SULAITIN (Qatar) said Qatar had followed with interest the debate held on the Universal Periodic Review on Sudan and noted that the Government of Sudan approved the majority of the recommendations including those made by Qatar. Human rights could only be realized in an environment of security and peace and that was why Qatar had sponsored negotiations that led to the signing of the peace treaty last July in Doha. Qatar called on the Council to support efforts to promote peace in Sudan and to adopt the report on Sudan. Qatar was confident that the Government was committed to bringing prosperity for all the people in its country.
MALUZA WASILUADIO, of International Committee for the Respect and the Application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, said that Sudan had resolutely taken steps to promote peace and national reconciliation by signing the peace agreement; and had confirmed this commitment by conducting free elections and a successful referendum on South Sudan. Challenges remained regarding the promotion of human rights and political stability, particularly in areas like South Kordofan. Reforms were underway with the view to protect human rights, justice and rule of law in Darfur and to ensure access to education. These measures deserved the support of the international community. The International Committee called on the international community and the Council to provide all the technical assistance to ensure that Sudan and South Sudan consolidated the rule of law.
INSHIRAH MOHAMMED KHALIL, of Child Development Foundation, in a joint statement with Eastern Sudan Women Development Organization and International Women Bond, said that conflict had led to the secession of South Sudan. The Eastern Sudan Women Development Organization looked forward to reuniting Sudan on the basis of the promotion of justice and equality in order to avoid repeating the experience of secession in any other part of the country. The Doha agreement was a right step towards peace and stability in Darfur. Pressure should be made to bear on the armed movements in order to compel them to join the Doha agreement. The Eastern Sudan Women Development Organization also called on the international community to provide financial and technical assistance to ensure stability and development for Sudan and the whole of Africa.
The Representative of Child Development Foundation, said there were considerable developments achieved in the promotion of the rights of women in Sudan. Women were leaders in the economic field across the continent of Africa. Legislation had been enacted to enable women to receive all rights under the international treaties and conventions ratified by Sudan. The Child Act of 2010 had made considerable progress in the country; however, activists in the field required technical and financial support in capacity building to promote the rights of women and children.
KAMAL ALDIN MOHAMED KHAAR, of Sudan Council of Voluntary Agencies, said that following legislative amendments to enhance press freedoms, there had been an emergence of many more newspapers. Based on the two Optional Protocols attached to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, there were child courts and specialized lawyers. However, there was a need for awareness-raising of children’s rights among children so they could understand and demand their rights.
AL BAQIR AL AFIF MUKHTAR, of Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies, said the humanitarian crisis in Sudan was continuing and escalating. On May 21 Sudan led an all out campaign on Abyei. The army and militia looted and destroyed a third of the homes in Abyei. The popular consultation had never started in Sothern Kordofan and had never been completed in Blue Nile. Freedom of conscience and freedom of expression was severely restricted. The independence of the judiciary was deeply compromised. The trial of human rights defender Abdelrahman Mohammed Al-Gasim was lacking basic guarantees for due and fair process.
OMER ELKHAIR IBRAHIM, of Society Studies Centre, said the Centre had witnessed significant improvements in Sudan without turning a blind eye to violations that occurred from time to time. Sudan had passed through serious challenges. It should have been noted the current Government of Sudan had accomplished great achievements and had organized elections in line with the constitution. Huge achievements had been made but there was still a need for some changes. Press and publication laws needed to be reformed. The international community should help and assist the Government of Sudan though technical assistance.
HEIMAT KUKU, of CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation, in a joint statement, welcomed the sincere desire stated by Sudan to cooperate with the Council and its review mechanism. CIVICUS pointed out that the tension and conflict between the governing parties of Sudan and South Sudan had been a major factor in the deterioration of economic and social conditions. The recent conflict in Blue Nile and South Kordofan had displaced many citizens, many women and children, and caused them to leave their homes. The threat on the livelihoods of people remained a big challenge on which there was a direct government responsibility. CIVICUS invited Sudan and South Sudan, in cooperation with the Council, to establish comprehensive monitoring and follow-up mechanisms that provided effective space for civil society participation.
OSMAR HUMMAIDA, of International Federation for Human Rights, restated concerns about the remaining obstacles to the realization of fundamental rights and freedoms in Sudan. In the months since the referendum, fighting had broken out in the sensitive border areas of Abyei, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The conflicts in these areas had resulted in massive human rights violations including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, displacements and indiscriminate aerial bombardments leading to the deaths of civilians. Violence and insecurity persisted in Darfur. The Government of Sudan must lift the state of emergency in Darfur and Blue Nile, ensure a ceasefire, negotiate a resolution to the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and release all political detainees.
ABOZER MOHAMED, of Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, said that in 2007 there was a scandal that gave rise to broad commendation when a French non-governmental organization, Noah’s Ark, had tried to illegally bring children from Darfur into France for adoption. Since then these children had not been able to recover their rights. This posed a double standard and a differential reaction to crimes. Politics could not serve humanitarian actions and the international community should condemn this crime committed under the guise of humanitarian work.
ISAM ELDIN ABDELGADIR ELZIEN MOHAMED, Ministry of Justice of Sudan, in concluding remarks, thanked all Member States for their remarks and recommendations during the Universal Periodic Review process. Sudan reiterated that it would need assistance from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and assured the Council that it would continue to place human rights at the centre of all policies and legislation to be adopted. Sudan would continue to cooperate with the Human Rights Council and would submit periodic reports on the progress achieved on implementing the recommendations.
GRACE DATIRO, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of South Sudan, said that South Sudan had addressed all the recommendations presented during the review and looked forward to working with the Council.
Universal Periodic Review on Hungary
ZOLTAN BALOG, Minister of State for Social Inclusion in the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice, said Hungary was strongly committed to the Universal Periodic Review mechanism since it had the potential to make a difference on the ground if recommendations were implemented. The Universal Periodic Review had helped the Government to improve its cooperation with civil society. Hungary had received 148 recommendations and after intensive consultations, 122 were accepted. Concerning the 29 remaining recommendations, several had not received support exclusively due to the fact the suggested course of action had already been completed, so there was no need for further consideration or action. This year the Parliamentary Commissioner for Civil Rights (Ombudsman) was accredited and it was the Government’s hope that the Commissioner would have a significant role in the implementation of accepted recommendations and in the preparation for the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review. The ratification of the Optional Protocol on the Convention against Torture and the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances was under way. The Government had also recently started the process of the codification of a new Criminal Code and saw no difficultly in harmonizing the definition of torture with the one contained in Article 1 of the Convention against Torture. The Government was ready to examine the accession to the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights but could not guarantee its acceptance before the next Universal Periodic Review. The Hungarian legislative framework and practice regarding migration and refugees was fully in line with Hungary’s international obligations. Hungary noted that none of the European Union Member States were party to the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families since several provisions of this Convention were governed by European Union regulations. Regarding the Slovenian minority, Hungary would implement the recommendations of the Slovenian-Hungarian Mixed Commission to the maximum extent possible but full implementation would depend on budgetary allocations.
The statutory provisions under the Hungarian Criminal Code and the Law on Misdemeanors fully covered and prosecuted all acts falling under the scope of domestic violence, therefore it was not necessary to draft and implement a fully comprehensive law on gender equality and a law on combating gender violence. Although the incompatibility of capital punishment with the Hungarian legal system was not explicitly enshrined in the Constitution, several legal norms were in place to ensure that the practice of the death penalty was fundamentally and strictly prohibited. The Hungarian statutory regulation in force provided safe and lawful freedom of choice in terms of abortion, and as the legislation was fully in line with international standards, its amendment would not be justified. The Constitution prohibited discrimination based on different grounds, including discrimination based on sexual orientation. In order to fight poverty, the Government had implemented measures aimed at decreasing the transmission of social disadvantages, developing the child health care system and reducing unemployment. Hungary was making every effort to gradually increase its overseas development aid contribution despite austerity measures adopted since 2006 and its target was based on the European Union guideline of 0.33 percent. The Government organized the Budapest Human Rights Forum, an annual initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that would take place at the end of October 2011. Hungary also established the Foundation for the International Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities. The Foundation declared that one of its main objectives was to narrow the gap between early warning and early action and to facilitate cooperation among the stakeholders including the representatives of academia committed to the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. The Foundation would be organizing a roundtable on 26 October 2011 on preventing genocide and mass atrocities in the Great Lakes Region.
BOUALEM CHEBIHI (Algeria) welcomed the Hungarian delegation and the response on the 29 pending recommendations received during the dialogue on the national report. Hungary received 148 recommendations, 113 were immediately accepted and 9 additional recommendations also enjoyed the support of Hungary as mentioned in the addendum. This clearly demonstrated the commitment of Hungary to further promote human rights. Algeria had formulated three recommendations related to the establishment of a national human rights institution, the assessment of all existing mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights with a view to strengthening them as needed and the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers. Algeria was encouraged by the acceptance of the two first recommendations and the one on the establishment of a national human rights institution had been implemented. Concerning the recommendation on the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers, Algeria hoped that Hungary would reconsider its opposition to adhering to this fundamental human rights instrument in line with recommendation 1737 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN DONAHOE (United States) congratulated the Hungarian delegation on its report to the Universal Periodic Review and welcomed Hungary’s agreement to support many of the recommendations presented during the working group session in July. The United States looked forward to continued cooperation with Hungary on human rights issues of mutual concern and the future work of the Budapest Human Rights Forum. The United States greatly appreciated Hungary’s support for the recommendation regarding hate groups and looked forward to the Government’s development and implementation of a Roma programme. It further welcomed the establishment of the Foundation for the International Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities. The United States commended Hungary’s establishment of a national coordination mechanism to combat human trafficking as well as its cooperation with Switzerland, Italy and Romania on this issue. It welcomed the commitment to strengthen measures for the rehabilitation of victims of trafficking. The United States welcomed Hungary’s support for the United Kingdom’s recommendation regarding the cardinal laws but remained concerned about amendments to Hungary’s constitution and the message of the laws such as the media law and the new religion law, as well as those regarding judicial independence; however, it was encouraged by Hungary’s willingness to discuss these issues openly with the Council.
FEDOR ROSOCHA (Slovakia) welcomed the enhanced commitment of Hungary to address human rights issues. Slovakia was concerned about the practice of Hungary of granting citizenship to persons living in neighbouring countries without a genuine link between the person concerned and Hungary. Such an action was not in line with the principles of international law and the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe’s High Commissioner on National Minorities Bolzano Recommendations. The Slovak minority in Hungary and the Hungarian minority in Slovakia represented a bridge between the two countries. Slovakia wished to enhance cooperation in every field.
VLADIMIR CHIRINCIUC (Republic of Moldova) applauded Hungary for maintaining good cooperation in promoting and protecting human rights with civil society, the private sector and United Nations human rights mechanisms. Hungary should be commended for its standing invitation to Special Procedures, its continuous voluntary contributions to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the holding of several human rights forums in Budapest, the National Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality, and progress in combating trafficking in human beings, including children. The Republic of Moldova welcomed Hungary’s measures to elevate the status of the national machinery for the advancement of women, strengthen its mandate, and the provision of necessary human and financial resources to endow it with sufficient authority and decision making power for coordinating effectively the Government’s work to promote gender equality.
MAJDA MOUTCHOU (Morocco) commended the Hungarian delegation for the quality of its presentation. Morocco commended Hungary for its attitude throughout the review process and the quality of the debate. Morocco was pleased to see that Hungary had accepted most of the recommendations, attesting to the importance that Hungary attached to human rights. In particular, Morocco was pleased to see that Hungary had accepted its two recommendations: taking the necessary measures to address women’s participation in public and political life and maintaining its policy of the promotion of the rights of minorities and vulnerable groups. Morocco welcomed the efforts of the Hungarian Government in the fight against discrimination, xenophobia, racism and intolerance, including initiatives to integrate migrants, protect their identity and to maintain links to their places of origin. Finally, Morocco reaffirmed its support for the efforts of Hungary to implement the recommendations.
BJORN VAN ROOSENDAAL, of European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation (ILGA-EUROPE), said discriminatory laws especially in the areas of family law were still in place in Hungary. Prejudice and discrimination and even violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity were widespread. Unlike the case with other minorities the Government of Hungary had no specific programmes on the promotion of equal opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG, of Amnesty International, welcomed measures to combat discrimination and combat prejudice against disadvantaged groups. There was no provision in the criminal code allowing for the existence of a racist motivation to be recognized as an aggravating factor. Law enforcement officials should be given training to recognize and address racially motivated crimes. Amnesty International urged Hungary to ensure crimes were fully investigated and those responsible were prosecuted under laws providing for sanction that reflected the gravity of the human rights violations.
ZOLTAN BALOG, Minister of State for Social Inclusion in the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice, thanked representatives of States and civil society for their contributions. The adoption of the new Constitution had been preceded by a public debate in Parliament which had received commentaries and remakes, surveys had been conducted among citizens concerning the crucial issues, and opposition parties had also received drafts for comments. Concerning freedom of belief and religion, the previous arrangement had led to a chaotic situation concerning the emergence of new churches with the intention of abusing State subsidies; the legislation now was fully in line with Hungary’s international commitments and religions currently recognized would continue to carry out activities, including pastoral services in the military, schools and hospitals and would receive subsidies to maintain their institutions. The list was open and several associations had already submitted requests for recognition as churches. There was a variety of recognition models in different countries, through administrative or judicial channels. Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was prohibited by law. The Constitutional Court also prohibited discrimination on sexual grounds without explicit mention. This was also the expression of the Venice Commission, despite the fact that it was not explicitly mentioned. However consultations with non-governmental organizations on these issues would continue and Hungary was open to continue to address them. It was incorrect to say that Roma people had been assaulted; in this case it was a matter of threats, but stricter laws had prevented events like this from taking place. Jobs and social help and care had been provided for some people who had not been provided for before. In the practice of the Hungarian police, there were statistics provided by different ethnic groups and none would be discriminated against for the use of their mother tongue, including national minorities. The Government had given serious consideration to the recommendations presented during the review process and had renewed its commitment to continue to work to strengthen its human rights record; its commitment with the review process had just started and would continue through the implementation of the recommendations; consultations would continue and Hungary had considered the possibility of presenting a mid-term update.
1Joint statement on behalf of: Eastern Sudan Women Development Organization, International Women Bond, Child Development Foundation, Society Studies Centre, and Sudan Council of Voluntary Agencies.
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