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COUNCIL STARTS DIALOGUE WITH WORKING GROUP ON DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN AND SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON HUMAN RIGHTS OF MIGRANTS
21 June 2012

The Human Rights Council this afternoon began a clustered interactive dialogue with the Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice and the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.

Kamala Chandrakirana, Chairperson of the Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice, presented the first annual report since the establishment of the Working Group on 1 October 2010, which outlined the consultation process with a range of stakeholders, aimed at defining the scope of its mandate.  It also contained a conceptual framework for identifying and mapping good practices on the elimination of discriminatory laws, implementation of existing legislation on equality and human rights, and for identifying ways and means to achieve greater progress on gender equality, protection and empowerment of women. 

Ms. Chandrakirana said the Working Group had visited Morocco in February this year and had noted the important progress this country had made on equality and human rights, including the legal and Constitutional amendments.  Gender-sensitive interpretation and enforcement of the law in Morocco were areas for further improvement in order to guarantee women equality before the law.

François Crépeau, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, said that the detention of migrants in an irregular situation was an issue of paramount concern, given the growing tendency of States to detain migrants in an irregular situation, and in light of the wide range of human rights aspects that such detention potentially had on those persons.  It was observed with concern that States used a wide range of reasons to justify the detention of migrants and that some States saw irregular migration as a national security problem or a criminal issue.  The obligation to always consider non-custodial measure before resorting to detention should be established by law.

Mr. Crépeau said the Government of Albania had adopted an impressive set of laws, policies and strategies to ensure a comprehensive and rights-based approach to migration in compliance with international and European standards and obligations.  However, a number of challenges remained, including a significant gap between policies and their implementation.

Morocco and Albania spoke as concerned countries.  The National Council on Human Rights of Morocco also took the floor.

Ethiopia, Canada, Cuba, China and Paraguay spoke in a right of reply.

The Council will meet on Friday, 22 June at 10 a.m. to conclude the clustered interactive dialogue with the Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice and the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.  It will then hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rappporteur on the promotion of the enjoyment of the cultural rights of everyone and respect for cultural diversity and the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children.

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the Working Group on discrimination against women (A/HRC/20/28).

The Council has before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on human rights of migrants (A/HRC/20/24).

The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on human rights of migrants on the mission to Albania (A/HRC/20/24/Add.1).

Presentation of Reports by Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and Practice and Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants

KAMALA CHANDRAKIRANA, Chairperson of the Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice, presented the first annual report since the establishment of the Working Group on 1 October 2010, which outlined the consultation process with a range of stakeholders, aimed at defining the scope of its mandate.  It also contained a conceptual framework for identifying and mapping good practices on the elimination of discriminatory laws, implementation of existing legislation on equality and human rights, and for identifying ways and means to achieve greater progress on gender equality, protection and empowerment of women.  This conceptual framework would be applied to the two thematic priorities, namely discrimination against women in political and public life and in economic and social life, including during times of economic crises.  In compiling a compendium of good practice, the Working Group would examine legal and policy frameworks and special measures which reached women facing multiple forms of discrimination such as rural and indigenous women, women with disabilities, women living in poverty and women facing other forms of marginalization.  The political will of States was a fundamental requirement for the elimination of discrimination against women.  An integral part of good practice in sustaining achievements in equality and non-discrimination was women’s empowerment; women initiated, led and sustained engagement with formal political and legal processes and took actions to end all forms of discrimination and human rights violations by claiming their place as full and equal citizens of nations and global community. 

The Working Group had visited Morocco in February this year and had noted the important progress this country had made on equality and human rights, including the legal and Constitutional amendments.  Gender-sensitive interpretation and enforcement of the law in Morocco were areas for further improvement in order to guarantee women equality before the law.  Many societal and patriarchal obstacles still impacted on women’s status and opportunities and Government, men and religious leaders should urgently fight against stereotypes and negative portrayal of women.  Rural women and other marginalized groups of women suffered hardships, poverty and disempowerment; the National Human Development Initiative offered life-transforming opportunities to women, but needed to take rights and result-based approach and guarantee full ownership of the programme by the women.  Gender-based violence remained a serious concern and a critical area for action was to close gaps in legal protection on violence against women, including by enacting as soon as possible a law prohibiting all forms of violence against women.

FRANCOIS CREPEAU, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, said that the detention of migrants in an irregular situation was an issue of paramount concern, given the growing tendency of States to detain migrants in an irregular situation, and in light of the wide range of human rights aspects that such detention potentially had on those persons.  States were reminded that the right to liberty and security of person and the protection against arbitrary detention was applicable to all deprivations of liberty, including immigration control.  Such rights were afforded to all persons regardless of their migration status.  It was observed with concern that States used a wide range of reasons to justify the detention of migrants and that some States saw irregular migration as a national security problem or a criminal issue.  However, legitimate objectives for detention were the same for migrants as for anyone else.  Irregular entry or stay should never be considered criminal offences as they were not per se crimes against persons, property or national security.  There was no empirical evidence that detention deterred irregular migration or discouraged persons from seeking asylum. 

Detained women migrants were vulnerable to sexual violence and should therefore be separated from men and guarded by female wardens.   Detention of children should be permitted only as a measure of last resort and only when it had been determined as in the interest of the child, for the shortest possible period of time and in conditions that ensured the rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Victims of trafficking should not be prosecuted, detained or punished for illegal entry or residence or for the activities they were involved in as a consequence of their situation as trafficked persons.  The obligation to always consider non-custodial measures before resorting to detention should be established by law.  Possible alternatives to detention included the registration of migrants with relevant authorities and providing them with official registration documents, and release on bail, bond, or under surety/guarantor, designated residence, and electronic monitoring.  Governments had an obligation to establish a presumption in favour of liberty in domestic law.  Mr. Crépeau called upon States to adopt a human rights approach to migration and review their legislation policies on detention of migrants.

The Government of Albania had adopted an impressive set of laws, policies and strategies to ensure a comprehensive and rights-based approach to migration in compliance with international and European standards and obligations.  However, a number of challenges remained, including a significant gap between policies and their implementation.

Statements by Concerned Countries

Morocco, speaking as a concerned country, indicated that since the visit of the Working Group Morocco had made progress in addressing discrimination in the Constitution and reforms of the relevant codes including on family, nationality, commerce and criminal code; similarly, Morocco had withdrawn reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.  The Working Group had noted the progress made through article 19 in the Constitution and programmes to combat discrimination and violence against women, calling for more involvement in the implementation of these measures and through an inclusive approach.  A revolutionary reform through the family code had been implemented and significant attention was paid to the fundamental rights of women.  Morocco continued to work for parity between men and women and endeavoured to establish protection mechanisms against all forms of discrimination in order to develop a society based in solidarity and the enjoyment of equal opportunities and social justice; among improvements in the field, gender sensitive budgeted had been also implemented. 

National Council on Human Rights of Morocco said that the report underscored the turning point that had taken place in the last decade and challenges on the situation of women.  The National Council called upon the Government to adopt a participatory and transparent approach based on human rights, for example concerning parity and non-discrimination.  Among other measures, the National Council suggested strengthening treaty based practice through the implementation of recommendations from special procedures and the Universal Periodic Review; establishing legislation to promote dignity and equality of all citizens; adopting of measures against gender-based violence; and ensuring representation and participation of women in decision-making and public life and access to education.  A think-tank process for the exchange of ideas had been provided by article 19 of the Constitution and would lead to a dialogue to guide further efforts.

Albania, speaking as a concerned country, said that for Albania, the visit of the Special Rapporteur was a new experience but also an opportunity to present the measures taken by Albania to realize, in practice, the human rights of migrants and to check national efforts in this area.  Respect for the human rights of migrants was one of the priorities of the Albanian Government and this had been established by the creation of a legislative and institutional framework to regulate these rights.  Albania aimed, through the Global Forum for Migration and Development, to closely cooperate with the International Organization for Migration, International Labour Organization, and States parties, seeking to create approaches and policies which would enable respect of the human rights of migrants and would fight against all forms of discrimination in social life and the labour market.  Parliament adopted in 2012 a law for protection against discrimination and created an institution against discrimination which was tasked with reviewing the situation in the country and proposing adequate solutions to any problems.  Another step consisted of the adoption of a strategy to help returning Albanese citizens.  Finally, since the Special Rapporteur’s visit, the Prime Minister of Albania had decided to create an inter-institutional group to prepare a new national strategy for migration 2013-2018.

Right of Reply

Ethiopia, speaking in a right of reply, challenged comments made concerning charities and societies legislation in Ethiopia.  The legislation had been established after broad and inclusive consultations and it sought to create an enabling environment, allowing civil society organizations to thrive and play an active role.  There was no restriction to the amount of funding raised in the country.  Normally, the United States and representatives of non-governmental organizations promoted national participation and the law went along these lines; it also stipulated that funding for charitable purposes should only be spent accordingly.  Allegations put forward lacked a solid basis and the Ethiopian Government was committed to the promotion of human rights and working on a national plan to this end.

Cuba, speaking in a right of reply, referred to the interactive dialogue on the right to peaceful assembly and association, and the fact that United States Government was bothered by the fact that Cuba had been mentioned as an example of best practice in the report.  The Occupy Wall Street movement had been brutally dispersed, even though the United States considered itself to be a virtual paragon of democracy. 
Cuba called upon the United States to review its own history and domestic situation and refrain from voicing groundless criticism against others.  

Canada, speaking in a right of reply in response to the comments of Belarus and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and association in his concluding remarks, said Canada had made a statement on the situation of Quebec and took its international commitments very serious.  The right of association was enshrined by Canadian law and police were guided by codes and regulations concerning their conduct during violent protests and all those arrested had the opportunity to request a revision of charges by an independent body.  Demonstrations continued daily in Quebec and the right to assembly and association was alive and well.

China, speaking in a right of reply, refuted the attacks by the Society for Threatened Peoples against China.  China had always sought to protect the rights of Tibetan people and all ethnic groups in Tibet fully enjoyed their right to autonomously manage their affairs and their living standards had greatly improved.  China protected the right of assembly of its citizens.  Tibet had seen some violent protests and criminal acts, including attempts at self-immolation, which did not constitute peaceful demonstrations.  China had legitimately enacted legislation against such criminal acts in order to protect the integrity and dignity of its people.  Some of these were criminal acts incited from abroad; while others were caused by local reasons.  Forces from abroad encouraged and incited these extreme acts in violation of law and Buddhist teaching.  The scarification of people’s lives went against morality and should be condemned and resisted.  China had responded to communications from Special Procedures’ mandate holders and it had exercised its right of reply to respond to their statement more often than other countries.  China would continue to safeguard stability according to law.

Paraguay, speaking in a right of reply, addressed the situation of female workers in Paraguay.  Programmes for female domestic workers were being implemented and provided opportunities.  The labour code addressed the issue of discrimination and an analysis had been carried out on the situation.  A pilot project to make domestic workers more professional and provide vocational qualifications had been implemented.  Social and labour provisions had suggested retirement ages and benefits; the Ministry of Labour had carried out consultations with indigenous leaders and proposals had been received, as a result in 2011 an advisory system on ethnicity was developed and the Ministry for Women was building a connection with leaders from indigenous groups.


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC12/070E


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