22 September 2017
The Human Rights Council this morning adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines, Algeria and Poland.
Evan P. Garcia, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the Philippines had noted recommendations referring to the extrajudicial killings allegedly resulting from the State’s anti-illegal drug campaign of the administration. The Philippines had sufficiently explained that deaths which occurred in the course of the implementation of the anti-illegal drug campaign were not extrajudicial killings. Similarly, the State clarified that concerns on the re-imposition of the death penalty and the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility had been subject to deliberations in the Philippines Congress, which included comprehensive consultations.
The Commission of Human Rights of the Philippines also spoke.
In the ensuing discussion, speakers praised the Philippines for the implementation of measures aimed at combatting poverty, and promoting the right to education and the rights of vulnerable groups. The country was also thanked for acceding to important international conventions. Some speakers urged the Philippines to comply with international standards in combatting the use of drugs. Other speakers underscored serious concerns about the absence of national legislation to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer persons from discrimination and violence.
Speaking were the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Libya, Madagascar, Malaysia,
Maldives, Myanmar, China, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sudan, Thailand, United Kingdom and United States.
Also taking the floor were the following civil society organizations: International Lesbian and Gay Association, Centre for Reproductive Rights Inc., The, Save the Children International in a joint statement, Franciscans International, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia, International Service for Human Rights in a joint statement, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues in a joint statement, and Human Rights Watch.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines.
Boudjemaa Delmi, Permanent Representative of Algeria to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the Algerian Government had sought to ensure that there was positive and attentive care given to each recommendation. Algeria had held legislative elections which had been governed by an independent oversight body overseen by magistrates and civil society representatives. The country’s accession to new international instruments was being reviewed in an ongoing process. Comments from the Algerian Government on the entirety of the recommendations were in the addendum submitted to the Council.
In the ensuing discussion, speakers positively noted Algeria’s comprehensive and important presentation on steps and measures taken to ensure fundamental rights and freedoms. The country’s decision to consider the establishment of a national human rights council was also praised, as was the establishment of a national ombudsman for the protection of childhood. Some speakers urged Algeria to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and to investigate cases of enforced disappearance, especially in the Sahrawi regions.
Speaking were Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Madagascar, Oman, Pakistan Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone and South Africa.
Also taking the floor were the following civil society organizations: World Evangelical Alliance, Victorious Youths Movement, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Amnesty International, Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme - RADDHO, African Development Association, Jssor Youth Organization, Human Rights Watch, Organisation Internationale pour le Développement Intégral de la Femme, and Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Coopération Économique Internationale OCAPROCE Internationale.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Algeria.
Jerzy Baurski, Deputy Permanent Representative of Poland to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Poland was party to the vast majority of human rights treaties. Since some of the delegations had raised the issue of recent changes to Polish legislation, Mr. Baurski noted that all amendments to Polish law complied with the Constitution and international human rights provisions. As for children’s rights and the elimination of poverty among children in Poland, it was one of the main priorities of the Government. Poland was making every effort to reach disadvantaged groups and to improve the quality of their life.
The national human rights institution of Poland also spoke.
In the ensuing discussion, speakers lauded Poland for having developed a strategy for disabled persons for 2017-2030. The country’s acceptance of recommendations on ratification of the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance was also welcomed, as was the country’s strengthening of mechanisms on combatting human trafficking. Some speakers said Poland’s Universal Periodic Review was taking place in the midst of a wide justice system reform in the country, which seemed to amount to a systemic threat to the rule of law. They noted that Poland had failed to implement any of the recommendations it had accepted pertaining to sexual and reproductive health from the previous cycles.
Speaking were Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, Albania, Belarus, China, Egypt, Estonia, India, Iraq, Libya, Maldives and Pakistan.
Also taking the floor were the following civil society organizations: International Bar Association, European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation ILGA-EUROPE, Federation for Women and Family Planning, Human Rights House Foundation, African Regional Agricultural Credit Association, Action Canada for Population and Development, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Amnesty International, CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and European Union of Public Relations.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Poland.
The Council will next meet to consider the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of the Netherlands and South Africa. It will then hold a general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms, to be followed by a general debate on the Universal Periodic Review. At 5:30 p.m., the Council is scheduled to hold a closed meeting of the Complaint Procedure.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines
EVAN P. GARCIA, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations Office at Geneva, outlined that the participation of the Philippines in the Universal Periodic Review reflected its sustained support for this process as an effective peer review and underlined its desire to further strengthen the process as a responsive monitoring and review mechanism. Of the 257 recommendations received, a total of 103 were fully accepted. These recommendations mirrored the recommending States’ understanding of the current human rights situation in the Philippines, and recognized and respected the State as currently implementing or having implemented them. These recommendations were classified into four items. The Philippines noted a total of 154 recommendations anchored on the State’s national circumstances. Among those, there were 99 that the State accepted in principle and could have partially supported because they were very much aligned with the aspirations of the Government to enhance the human rights governance framework in the Philippines. However, the State could only note these recommendations because it could not guarantee or commit at this time to their fruition given that the results of processes required to implement them were beyond the sole control of any of the branches of the Government. Also, in the set of 99 recommendations were those perceived to insinuate that the State had not taken any action whatsoever on the concerns raised. Full acceptance would denigrate the State’s current serious efforts that already addressed the issues raised.
The Philippines noted recommendations referring to the extrajudicial killings allegedly resulting from the State’s anti-illegal drug campaign of the administration as these were already addressed during the interactive dialogue with the Universal Periodic Review Working Group on 8 May 2017. The Philippines had sufficiently explained that deaths which occurred in the course of the implementation of the anti-illegal drug campaign were not extrajudicial killings. Similarly, the State clarified that concerns on the re-imposition of the death penalty and the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility were subject to deliberations in the Philippines Congress, which included comprehensive consultations. In effect, of the 154 recommendations that the Government had noted, only 55 could not be fully supported by the Government.
Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines said it came before the Human Rights Council at a time when human rights promotion and protection in the Philippines was at a crossroads. A culture of impunity continued and human rights were challenged on the ground by a series of factors including: the relentless war against illegal drugs that had resulted in thousands of deaths, largely victimizing the poor; the extension of the martial law in Mindanao and an active armed conflict that had caused internal displacements; the pursuit of a legislative agenda that reintroduced the death penalty and lowered the minimum age of criminal responsibility; the discovery of a secret detention cell and its denial by State agents; public threats, intimidation and false information against human rights defenders, journalists and oversight actors; and the vote in the House of Representatives to reduce the Commission’s budget to $ 20, which was recently restored but with a possible 15 per cent reduction in the total budget proposal. The Commission reiterated its call on the Government to end impunity and adhere to the rule of law in the campaign against criminality. It also called upon the Government to ensure accountability, transparency and cooperation in investigations of human rights violations, especially torture and enforced disappearances, and to provide adequate protection for human rights victims, whistle-blowers and witnesses, prosecute all perpetrators and honour its human rights obligations. Finally it called upon the Government to enable oversight mechanisms to perform their mandates and respect the independence of the Commission on Human Rights. Despite the disabling and exclusionary environment, the Commission would continue to perform its constitutional duty in line with the Paris Principles.
Lao People’s Democratic Republic commended the acceptance of a large number of recommendations, including those it had proposed. It appreciated the adoption or implementation of measures aimed at combatting poverty and promoting the right to education and the rights of vulnerable groups.
Libya appreciated that many of the Universal Periodic Review recommendations had been adopted, which showed that the Philippines wished to promote and protect human rights. It hoped the Philippines would continue these efforts, especially in the field of unemployment, and recommended the adoption of the report.
Madagascar welcomed the delegation and commended the efforts made to promote and protect human rights in the Philippines despite recent disasters. It noted with satisfaction the ratification of the Convention of the Association of South East Asian Nations against Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.
Malaysia was appreciative of the Philippines’ acceptance of many of the recommendations, and its efforts to improve access to quality education for vulnerable and marginalised groups, and in particular girls, as well as the focus on poverty. Malaysia recommended that the Human Rights Council adopt the report.
Maldives thanked the Philippines for its acceptance of the majority of the recommendations. It continued to encourage the Philippines to comply with international standards in combatting the use of drugs.
Myanmar thanked the delegation of the Philippines and commended its positive and constructive cooperation with the United Nations mechanisms. It was pleased that a vast majority of the recommendations had been accepted, including two made by Myanmar, and wished the Philippines every success in implementing the recommendations.
China expressed appreciation for Philippines’ acceptance of its recommendations. The Philippines’ Government worked hard to promote social equality and improve people’s living standards. The international community should support the Philippines’ efforts in fighting drug-related crimes.
Russian Federation congratulated the Philippines on its third Universal Periodic Review. The efforts of the authorities were appreciated with a view to upholding fundamental rights and freedoms.
Sierra Leone commended the Philippines for improving the lives of children. The Government had also put in place a task force to that end. It was noted that many of the recommendations enjoyed the support of the Government of the Philippines. Efforts aimed at eradicating the abuse of illegal drugs should not be detrimental to fundamental human rights and freedoms.
Singapore commended the Philippines for its positive response, and endorsed the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review. The continuing efforts of the Government of the Philippines were also praised.
Sudan welcomed the delegation of the Philippines and thanked it for the information, paying attention to the adherence of the Philippines to certain important regional conventions. Sudan’s recommendation for the Philippines to accede to the Convention on Enforced Disappearances had not been accepted. Sudan recommended the adoption of the report of the Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines.
Thailand welcomed the participation of the Philippines in the third Universal Periodic Review cycle. No one should be left behind, and Thailand stood ready to assist the Philippines as a fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nations member.
United Kingdom regretted that its recommendations were not accepted by the Philippines. The United Kingdom remained concerned about the high death toll associated with the campaign against illegal drugs and statements questioning the universality of human rights. Continuing threats against human rights defenders were also of grave concern.
United States welcomed the acceptance of its recommendations by the Philippines. The United States remained concerned about ongoing reports of extrajudicial killings and called on the Philippines to ensure that investigations were conducted with respect for human rights and the rule of law.
International Lesbian and Gay Association noted that despite positive steps to promote gender equality, there were serious concerns about the absence of national legislation to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer persons from discrimination and violence. Education institutions, including State universities, continued to enforce restrictive measures.
Centre for Reproductive Rights Inc., The was concerned that the Philippines had not accepted the recommendations to allow abortion, even in limited circumstances. There were concerns that a law was enacted last month, increasing the fine for pharmacists who dispensed abortion pills without prescription. According to recent reports, 610,000 abortions were performed in the Philippines with 100,000 women suffering from complications and 1,000 dying in one year.
Save the Children International, in a joint statement with International Volunteerism Organization for Women, Education and Development – VIDES, was concerned that the war on drugs campaign of the Government had claimed the lives of 54 children. Some were caught in the crossfire while others were killed due to their alleged use and trade of prohibited drugs. The war on drugs had affected more than 18,000 children who had lost their parents or witnessed the killing of their loved ones.
Franciscans International was concerned about the serious deterioration of the human rights situation in the Philippines. The Government had failed to accept key recommendations such as investigating cases of extrajudicial executions in the framework of the Government’s war on drugs. This policy had indifferently killed more than 12,000 Filipinos, including innocent children.
Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, said barely five months since the Government presented its report, parts of the country had become a virtual inferno, with incessant bombings by the military in Marawi and brutal killings by the police every day. It called on the Philippines to stop using rape as an instrument of war; end martial law in Mindanao; end contractualization; guarantee the rights of women to a fair wage; and guarantee women’s access to adequate maternal and basic healthcare.
International Humanist and Ethical Union said it was extremely disappointed by the reaction of the Philippines in response to concerns raised by a number of States about extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances and torture in President Duterte’s so-called war on drugs. On 16 August, Filipino police had killed 32 people in what was believed to be the highest death toll in a single day in this “war” that had cost over 7,000 lives since 30 June 2016.
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia said it regretted that the Government did not accept 154 of the 257 recommendations, particularly those on ending and investigating extrajudicial killings, protecting human rights defenders, and ensuring the right to freedom of expression. It called upon the Government to fully accept the remaining recommendations and to seek technical assistance, if needed.
International Service for Human Rights, in a joint statement with CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation, said the systematic and targeted killings of human rights defenders, under the cover of “counterinsurgency programmes” had long been a problem. On average, 40 killings per year had been documented from 2001 to 2016.
International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, in a joint statement with Amnesty International, said the Government had not accepted any of the recommendations relating to extrajudicial killings, the death penalty, and the protection of human rights defenders and journalists. The so-called war on drugs raised serious doubts on the intention of the Government concerning human rights, and in particular on the right to life.
Human Rights Watch was dismayed that the Philippines had rejected all Universal Periodic Review recommendations that could have made a practical difference in ending the extrajudicial killings perpetrated in the name of its murderous “war on drugs”. It was deeply concerned that President Duterte had launched a campaign of vilification and harassment against individuals and institutions pursuing accountability for those abuses.
The Vice-President announced that out of 257 recommendations received, 103 enjoyed support while 154 were noted.
EVAN P. GARCIA, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked all participants to the dialogue. The presence of non-governmental organizations from the Philippines demonstrated that the country was a vibrant democracy where all voices could be heard. The Universal Periodic Review remained a relevant mechanism for the examination of the situation of human rights, allowing all States to meet with equality. The Philippines had taken note of the concerns raised. These issues had already been extensively discussed both in the dialogue and the report. There was no culture of impunity in the Philippines. All criminal cases were investigated with respect for the rule of law. The National Commission of Human Rights could also lead its own investigations. The Philippines would continue to engage in genuine dialogue in the field of human rights. The acceptance of the recommendations related to sexual orientation and gender reflected this will. Recently, a proposed lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex anti-discrimination bill had been passed. Freedom of expression was also fully alive in the Philippines. Yesterday, the President had declared a day of protest where all groups had been free to express their views.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines.
Consideration of the Outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Algeria
BOUDJEMAA DELMI, Permanent Representative of Algeria to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Algeria’s third review had been marked by increased interest by civil society and officials. At the end of its third review, Algeria had received 229 recommendations. The Algerian Government sought to ensure that there was positive and attentive care given to each recommendation. Recommendations that had not gained acceptance of the Algerian Government contradicted the Algerian constitution. The recommendations that were accepted were being implemented gradually. The recommendations were many in number, covering many issues, such as freedom of assembly and the judicial system. Algeria had held legislative elections which had been governed by an independent oversight body overseen by magistrates and civil society representatives. The 2016 Constitution had also brought new guarantees for freedom of expression. It was clear that Algeria was cooperating fully with the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. As regards the legal framework of Algeria, the country’s accession to new international instruments was being reviewed in an ongoing process. The Maputo protocol would be ratified, as well as the African Charter, known as the Johannesburg Charter. Numerous measures were being taken on the preventive front, including taking measures on trafficking against persons. It was clear that the delegation would be all ears today, and would be in a position to respond to questions that might be asked. Comments from the Algerian Government on the entirety of the recommendations were in the addendum submitted to the Council.
Iran commended the 2016 constitutional amendments adopted by Algeria, including the establishment of an election oversight authority, the national human rights council, and the national child protection ombudsman, as well as the efforts relating to economic and social rights. It hoped that the three recommendations Iran had made to Algeria would be fully implemented.
Iraq thanked the brotherly country of Algeria for the presentation of the human rights situation, and expressed appreciation for Algeria’s acceptance of the recommendations made by Iraq. It supported the adoption of the report.
Jordan thanked Algeria for the comprehensive and important presentation on the steps and measures taken by Algeria to ensure fundamental rights and freedoms. It appreciated the acceptance of the majority of the recommendations, and was confident that Algeria would continue to intensify the implementation thereof. It recommended the adoption of the report and wished Algeria success in the promotion of human rights.
Kuwait welcomed the delegation of Algeria and commended the efforts by Algeria in the field of human rights which portrayed the progress made. It noted with satisfaction that all recommendations by Kuwait had been adopted and recommended the adoption of the report.
Libya commended the effective participation of Algeria during the Universal Periodic Review and welcomed the important measures taken in many fields. Algeria had expressed genuine will to promote and protect human rights and its positive willingness to interact with various human rights mechanisms was welcomed. Libya wished Algeria success and recommended the adoption of the report.
Madagascar welcomed the decision of Algeria to agree to consider numerous recommendations, including the establishment of a national human rights council. It also commended the amendments that Algeria had made to its Constitution. Madagascar called on the Human Rights Council to adopt the report and wished every success to Algeria in the implementation of the recommendations.
Oman thanked the delegation for its detailed presentation. Oman welcomed Algeria’s acceptance of most of the recommendations and commended the reforms that had reaffirmed the rule of law and human development. Oman particularly welcomed reforms to promote the independence of the judiciary and the adoption of a strategy to combat violence against women and children.
Pakistan commended Algeria for its acceptance of most of the recommendations. Pakistan particularly appreciated the measures taken to strengthen the judiciary and the adoption of laws to protect the rights of women and the rights of persons with disabilities. Pakistan recommended the adoption of the outcome with consensus.
Philippines congratulated Algeria for supporting most of the recommendations and hoped that the country would continue to consider ratifying conventions that enshrined the rights of migrants. Philippines wished Algeria success in the implementation of the accepted recommendations.
Qatar commended the positive efforts and motivated actions taken by Algeria in the field of human rights. Qatar particularly welcomed the creation of a national human rights council and the creation of an organization to promote childhood and protect child rights.
Russian Federation appreciated that the Algerian authorities were doing their utmost to promote human rights. The Russian Federation particularly welcomed the creation of a national council of human rights and the establishment of a national ombudsman for the protection of childhood.
Saudi Arabia congratulated Algeria for engaging in close cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review process. Algeria had shown interest in the promotion and protection of human rights and had accepted most of the recommendations. Algeria was encouraged to continue its efforts in this field.
Sierra Leone warmly welcomed the report of Algeria and commended the establishment of the Working Group to establish methodologies for removing reservations to the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. It urged Algeria to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
South Africa thanked Algeria for accepting South Africa’s recommendations. It noted with appreciation the steps taken to prioritize women’s rights as well as education and health, and recommended the adoption of the report.
World Evangelical Alliance thanked Algeria for its participation. Numerous recommendations covered the issues of religious freedom. While religious freedom was covered under the constitution, there were challenges in practice. A non-Muslim could not inherit, and a Muslim woman was not allowed to marry a foreign non-Muslim. It called upon the Government to modify the law pertaining to this question.
Victorious Youths Movement said Algeria faced problems including torture, rape, failing in the education, health and care systems, and forced disappearances, in particular in the Sahrawi regions. It called on the international community to urge Algeria to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and to investigate cases of enforced disappearance.
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies called on the Government to seek visits of Special Procedures. It regretted the lateness of implementation of recommendations on enforced disappearances. The right to truth and justice to families of victims had to be guaranteed. The Government had to respond urgently to requests for visits. Finally it urged the Government to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
Amnesty International was deeply concerned about the repression of human rights defenders and journalists. While it welcomed acceptance of recommendations on freedom of assembly, it urged Algeria to publicly agree to a time frame for this. Amnesty International regretted Algeria’s explicit lack of commitment to guarantee freedom of religious expression.
Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme – RADDHO called on the Government to tackle gender-based violence and modify the family code which was discriminatory to girls and women. Algeria was foremost an African country, and the organization remained concerned about hatred and xenophobia against African migrants in the country. The authorities were invited to guarantee better protection for migrants in Algeria.
African Development Association expressed regret that Algeria had not investigated cases of enforced disappearance in the Tindouf camps. A number of international organizations had documented cases of torture against defenders of human rights in Algeria. There was a systematic policy of torture to silence any opposition. Residents of camps were deprived of the right to association.
Jssor Youth Organization welcomed the Algerian commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process. Youth offered an opportunity for the country to progress, but unemployment was widespread among young people. There was a need for the empowerment of youth and living with a sense of belonging. Algeria should create funding opportunities for new social start-ups, and tax allowances and scholarships to support young entrepreneurs.
Human Rights Watch said Algerian authorities criminally prosecuted bloggers, journalists and media figures by using the penal code criminalizing “denigrating Islam” among other things. Algeria was urged to accept key recommendations on freedom of speech, assembly and association. Algeria still had prison sentences in its legislation for non-violent speech offenses, such as for insults and defamation.
Organisation Internationale pour le Développement Intégral de la Femme said it was time for Algeria to stop its behaviour of the past. The Algerian State had a moral responsibility in the Sahara. Algeria’s actions would be monitored and recommendations and visits by Special Rapporteurs to the Tindouf camps should be implemented.
Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Coopération Économique Internationale OCAPROCE Internationale was troubled about the repeated violations of human rights in Algeria, particularly the rights of sub-Saharan migrants who were expelled to the desert at the border with Niger. The situation of women and children was also of grave concern. There were concerns that African non-governmental organizations had been targeted and blackmailed by several governments.
The Vice-President said that out of 229 recommendations received, 177 enjoyed Algeria’s support while 36 recommendations were noted. Additional clarification had been provided on 16 recommendations, indicating which parts of those recommendations were supported and which parts were noted.
BOUDJEMAA DELMI, Permanent Representative of Algeria to the United Nations Office at Geneva, highlighting the situation in Western Sahara and the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, said these refugees were on Algerian territory because they had been subjected to violations of their human rights, namely their right to independence, and had thus sought refuge in Algeria. The non-governmental organizations that spoke of violations of the rights of refugees by Algerian authorities were not credible because they were under the influence of occupying military groups in the Western Sahara. In the Tindouf camps, the occupying power was these military groups. It unfortunate that it was these military groups and the non-governmental organizations that had spoken at the Human Rights Council who continued to oppose the visits by human rights mandate-holders in the occupied territories. International organizations such as World Food Programme and many other credible international organizations that were permanently present in Tindouf had never mentioned human rights violations in Tindouf camps. Algeria regularly received visits from United States Congressmen and delegations from Europe, and none of these had spoken of human rights violations. It was the occupying powers and non-governmental organizations that refused to allow for visits to take place in the Western Sahara.
Another member of the delegation of Algeria, also spoke, saying that all religions were protected legally and their members were free to enjoy their religious gatherings and events. Allegations of the harassment of religious freedom were an exaggeration. Individuals that had been referred to had not been prosecuted because of their religious convictions; rather, there were laws in place that did not allow Muslims or any other members of other religions to pray or preach in certain areas. In Algeria all religions were equal. There was no Ministry of Islamic Affairs – there was a Ministry of Religious Affairs, and this body covered all religions. Referring to Algeria’s role in protecting the rights of refugees and asylum seekers, he informed that hundreds of thousands of individuals had entered Algeria as migrants and asylum–seekers, the last wave of which were from Syria. On violence against women, he said Algerian law punished domestic violence and violence in the work place. There were women’s units in all police stations that were trained to receive women who had been subjected to domestic violence. In the case of divorced women, a fund had been created for indemnity, so as to cover those who had not received alimony. There were 110,000 non-governmental organizations in Algeria which reflected the openness of society.
BOUDJEMAA DELMI, Permanent Representative of Algeria to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in conclusion ensured the participants of the Human Rights Council that Algeria would continue to work towards the promotion and protection of human rights.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Algeria.
Consideration of the Outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Poland
JERZY BAURSKI, Chargé d’Affaires and Deputy Permanent Representative of Poland to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Poland highly valued the Universal Periodic Review process and that it considered it to be one of the most important human rights accomplishments to date. He thanked Polish non-governmental organizations which had met with the Government and shared their remarks, views and concerns regarding Poland’s report. Out of 185 received recommendations, Poland had noted 21 and had partially accepted 10. The Government could not give a definitive position to another 10 recommendations. Poland had accepted 144 recommendations. Mr. Baurski reminded that Poland was party to the vast majority of human rights treaties. The recommendations that the Government had not supported concerned the ratification of the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, the 1954 and 1961 conventions on statelessness, and ILO Convention 169 concerning indigenous and tribal peoples in independent countries. Since some of the delegations had raised the issue of recent changes to Polish legislation, Mr. Baurski assured that although the Government did not have the plans to re-establish the Council for the Prevention of Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, the responsibilities of the former Council were fulfilled in the scope of the existing institutional framework.
Some countries had recommended to Poland that it separate the functions of the Prosecutor General and the Ministry of Justice. Although the Government did not currently have plans to separate those two functions, its position was that the existing law guaranteed the independence of the two functions. Mr. Baurski assured that all amendments to the Polish law complied with the Constitution and international human rights provisions. As for children’s rights and the elimination of poverty among children in Poland, it was one of the main priorities of the Government. It had recently introduced a number of actions and policies in order to protect children’s rights. It had amended the Family and Guardianship Code to guarantee better protection of children in case of divorce or separation of parents. The Family 500 Plus programme provided for the disbursement of child benefits, resulting in considerable reduction of poverty levels. Poland had also adopted a programme to assist families with disabled family members, especially parents raising children with disabilities. The Government was aware that poverty affected many vulnerable groups and it was thus working on the programme to financially support retired people. It was making every effort to reach disadvantaged groups and to improve the quality of their lives.
Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights of Poland welcomed the Government’s response to the recommendations aimed at improving compliance with Poland’s human rights obligations. But its increasing control of key institutions might impede human rights protection in Poland. Recent changes to the ordinary courts subordinated the courts to political power, and there was doubt concerning the independence of the Constitutional Tribunal. Political control over the media remained concerning; the Government’s statement that it had no influence over the programme content presented by public media seemed “imprecise.” That posed a real threat to the freedom of speech and the independence of media.
Russian Federation regretted that a number of recommendations had been rejected. The Russian Federation was particularly worried about repeated race-based and xenophobia-based crimes in the country. Organizations fuelling racial discrimination should be declared illegal in the country. Poland was urged to take necessary measures to cease the destruction of monuments in honour of Soviet troops.
Sierra Leone welcomed Poland’s commitment to the promotion of human rights. In particular, Poland was praised for having developed a strategy for disabled persons for 2017-2030, and implemented the Family 500+ programme, which provided financial support to families with children.
Albania appreciated the presentation of the delegation of Poland and its cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. Albania appreciated that Poland had accepted the majority of the recommendations, including the ones related to the ratification of the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Poland was encouraged to continue its efforts to protect the rights of migrant workers and minorities.
Belarus congratulated Poland for its participation in the Universal Periodic Review cycle. It particularly appreciated the acceptance of the recommendations strengthening mechanisms on combatting human trafficking. Belarus trusted that Poland would give special attention to preventing the spread of all manifestations of hatred and discrimination.
China commended the active commitment of Poland to the Universal Periodic Review. It welcomed its efforts in combatting human trafficking. It appreciated that Poland had accepted the recommendations of China. Poland was encouraged to take legislative steps to combat violence against women and protect minorities, including Roma.
Egypt commended the commitment of the delegation of Poland to the Universal Periodic Review process. Egypt had taken note of several positive developments, particularly the ratification by Poland of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the reduction in wage disparities between men and women.
Estonia commended Poland for its constructive participation in the Universal Periodic Report. It welcomed the strengthening of gender equality and the empowerment of women, including the acceptance of recommendations to continue efforts to eliminate violence against women. At the same time, Estonia encouraged Poland to ensure favourable legislation towards women’s rights, including access to comprehensive sexual education and family planning measures.
India took positive note of the receptive and constructive manner in which Poland had participated in the Universal Periodic Review, notably its efforts in the sphere of women’s rights, rights of persons with disabilities, and the introduction of institutional changes with regard to the equality of treatment.
Iraq appreciated that Poland had accepted the majority of recommendations, including the two made by Iraq, and called for the adoption of its report.
Libya thanked Poland for the extensive explanations regarding the recommendations, and commended positive rights in the field of human rights. Libya expressed hope that Poland would continue to work to improve the situation regarding hate crimes and incitement to hatred, and persons with disabilities.
Maldives stated that it was encouraged by Poland’s efforts in advancing children’s rights and the rights of persons with disabilities. It commended Poland for all the initiatives taken to fight against gender-based violence, discrimination against women, sexual exploitation of children, and racial discrimination.
Pakistan acknowledged Poland’s efforts to ensure equal treatment and to combat discrimination and hate crimes, including the appointment of equal treatment coordinators in each ministry and the project called “Migrants against hate crimes: how to enforce your rights.”
International Bar Association said Poland’s review was taking place in the midst of a wide justice system reform, which seemed to amount to a systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland. Parliament was urged not to adopt two laws which would end the tenure of all judges sitting currently on the Supreme Court. Poland was also urged to revoke a law which disturbed the constitutional principle of the separation of powers.
European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation ILGA-EUROPE welcomed Poland’s acceptance of recommendations which related to the penal code. But concern was expressed at the recommendation to amend the existing anti-discrimination law and enhance legal protection on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Federation for Women and Family Planning said Poland had failed to implement any of the recommendations it had accepted pertaining to sexual and reproductive health from the previous cycles. Access to contraception was limited, and the new educational curriculum incorporated patriarchal and discriminatory stereotypes and religious views on matters of reproductive health and private life.
Human Rights House Foundation said Poland had dismantled hard-won democratic principles underpinning the rule of law which originally established Poland as a model and leader of democratic change in the region. Poland should recall the Polish people’s struggle for liberty, and respect their right to an independent judiciary, due process, independent media, and fundamental freedoms.
African Regional Agricultural Credit Association noted that, in the last 25 years, Poland had entered into a transformation from a communist country to a vibrant democracy characterized by western norms such as the rule of law and respect for human rights. Poland’s economic growth was estimated at 3.5 to 4 per cent between now and 2018 with Polish industry contributing a significant share.
Action Canada for Population and Development said accessing a legal abortion in Poland had become almost impossible. Entire parts of the country failed to meet women’s needs in this regard.
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights regretted that a number of recommendations had not been accepted by Poland. The constitutional crisis was ongoing in the country, severely undermining the protection of the rule of law. There were grave concerns related to the lack of protection of freedom of speech in public media. Public broadcasters were under political supervision.
Amnesty International welcomed Poland’s commitment to reform the justice system to align it with international standards. Amnesty International was concerned about reports by the European Union which outlined that the independence of the constitutional tribunal was undermined. It was concerning that Poland had rejected to restore freedom of assembly.
CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation welcomed Poland’s commitment to engage with the Universal Periodic Review, but remained seriously concerned by the Government’s control over State institutions and the media through weakened rule of law and undermined respect for fundamental freedoms. It urged the Government to ensure that its new anti-terrorism legislation was not used for the erosion of the rights of minority groups.
European Union of Public Relations noted that Poland had achieved significant democratic reforms since 1991 and had managed to build a robust democracy and a thriving market economy. It had managed to lift the most vulnerable groups from poverty and had consistently invested in social spending. The Government was focused on the poorest segments of society in the poorest regions.
The Vice-President said that out of 185 recommendations, Poland had accepted 144 recommendations and noted 31.
JERZY BAURSKI, Deputy Permanent Representative of Poland to the United Nations Office at Geneva, reiterated Poland’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights. The Government would take all the recommendations and comments under consideration, and it would present a Universal Periodic Review mid-term report. Mr. Baurski expressed hope that Poland’s report showed the work and efforts undertaken to better protect human rights. Concerning the issue of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, Poland remained committed to the principle of universality of human rights. Everyone, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity, was entitled to the enjoyment of their human rights, as well as to the protection by State authorities from violence and discrimination. However, Poland did not plan to recognise marriages between same-sex persons as it was against the provisions of the Constitution. Mr. Baurski concluded by saying that Poland was determined to maintain the highest standards of the rule of law.
The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review of Poland.
For use of the information media; not an official record