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Human Rights Council – Universal Periodic Review


10 December 2008 (morning)
For use of information media; not an official record

The Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group reviewed the fulfilment of human rights obligations by Cape Verde this morning, during which 24 Council members and observers raised a number of issues pertaining to the human rights situation in the country.

· This morning, the Working Group also adopted, ad referendum, the report on Liechtenstein following the review of the country on Friday, 5 December.

· Presenting the national report of Cape Verde was HELENA MORAIS, Minister of Justice of Cape Verde, who, while noting that Cape Verde’s GDP growth had been above African regional countries, said the benefits of economic reforms which have taken pace had been followed buy a democratic process which had made the country’s regime as one of the most stable in the continent. Cape Verde had managed to reduce its illiteracy rate by more than 40% and had achieved a general school attendance of 95%. Cape Verde’s Constitution encompassed a wide range of rights and liberties guaranteed to all Cape-Verdean citizens. Cape Verde had a government systems based on the separation of powers between different sovereign entities and an independent judicial system. Today, Cape Verde had a consolidated democracy and was committed to achieving sustainable development based in human rights. Moreover, Cape Verde was party to the core international human rights instruments which prevailed above all domestic legislation per the Constitution. The Constitution was also in full compliance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, she added.

Among the recent legislative measures taken was the enactment of the Penal Code of 2004 which covered crimes of domestic violence, crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, the Minister said. The subsequent Penal Process Code of 2005 expanded the scope of the State’s policy in combating acts of domestic violence. Furthermore, the new Labour Code, in force since 2007, has contributed in many ways to improve labour relations and factored in international norms and instruments to which Cape Verde was a party. Other recent initiatives include measures to increase access to justice by marginalized groups. In 1999 an assessment of the human rights situation in the country was conducted, with the assistance of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which led to the need to create a human rights institution. In 2003, the National Action Plan for Human Rights and Citizenship was adopted – PNADHC – which identified human rights violations or constraints for the implementation of human rights and citizenship and set out to identify priorities and present administrative, legislative and institutional proposals to enhance the State’s efforts to promote and protect human rights throughout the country. The creation of the PNADHC was done in consultation with members of civil society. Among other things, the PNADHC promoted human rights awareness, conducted studies, provided advice on human rights matters and investigated cases of human rights allegations. Regarding child rights, the Cape-verdean Child and Adolescent Institute aimed to harmonize national efforts to foster the rights of the child in the country. Moreover, the Equality and Fairness of Gender was tasked with working specifically on issues of gender and women’s empowerment.

Poverty was one of the biggest obstacles to achieving human rights on Cape Verde, she stated. The National Programme for the Fight Against Poverty focused its efforts on improving infrastructure and socio-economic integration of the most affected populations. The Government developed a number of other programmes with the aim of combating this problem while creating alliances between economic growth and economic and social rights. The provision of social security and services had been increasing to benefit deprived groups. The provision of adequate housing had been another concern. The Government’s “Hope Operation” project, created in 2003, aimed to improve living conditions targeting poor families throughout the country. As for people living with HIV/AIDS, the Government had implemented a programme with the aim of supporting free of charge anti-retroviral drugs. In the area of justice, one important initiative was the creation, in 2005, of the Law Houses, which was a government institute charged with carrying out human rights training and promoting access to justice.

In conclusion, the Minister noted that priority of the Government of Cape Verde had been to develop polices aimed at fully respecting the rights of citizens; to promote respect and compliance with human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed by the Constitution and with international and regional instruments to which the State was party; to increase the quality in the application of the country’s human rights laws and norms; to promote access to justice and remove any obstacles in that regard; to pay special attention to children’s rights, in relation to their protection; to step up efforts to combat violence against women; and to reinforce the role of civil society in the area of human rights.

· During the three-hour interactive discussion delegations noted a number of positive achievements of the State under review. These included legislative reforms efforts; the entry into force of the new Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code; the creation of arbitration centres; the establishment and functioning of the PNADHC; the national programme of poverty reduction; the establishment of the national institution on gender equality; efforts to reinforce the role of women in society; the increase in life expectancy; the Cape Verde is no longer among the LDCs; progress achieved in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, in particular in terms of universal primary education; and strategies implemented to improve children’s rights such as the adoption of a national declaration on social policy with regard to children and adolescent rights.

· Issues and questions raised by the Working Group, comprised of the 47 members of the Council, and observers participating in the interactive discussion related to corrective measures in line with the Committee on the Rights of the Child; steps taken to assist and protect street children, in particular to combat child prostitution; measures intended to address the situation of street children; the work of the Commission on Legal and Institutional Reform on Children and Adolescents; measures envisaged ensuring that complaints of violence against women led to prosecution; steps taken to increase the participation of women in society; and the status of implementation of the recommendations of CEDAW to implement awareness raising measures aimed at achieving gender equality in marriage and family relations.

Other questions pertained to measures to address organized crime; steps taken to implement the anti-corruption strategies; efforts to combat police brutality; steps envisaged to change or repeal laws or any government initiatives to end discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation or gender identity; the level of interaction with the African Commission on Human Rights and main challenges it faced with regard to regional and international human rights systems; main challenges and shortcomings with regard to economic, social and cultural rights; the main urgent needs to the realization the right to development in terms of capacity building and technical assistance; and the impact of drought and desertification on the economy and environment of Cape Verde.

· A number of delegations also posed specific recommendations. These included: To develop a national place of action to combat sexual violence; to enhance efforts to combat human trafficking measures; to promote the creation of places where women who were victims of domestic violence could seek help and care; to respect article 5a of CEDAW calling for counties to set up appropriate measures to change social and cultural stereotypes; to ratify the Optional Protocol to CEDAW; to incorporate specific legislation prohibiting physical punishment and abuse, especially addressing cases of police working with minors; to increase efforts to combat acts of sexual violence against children; to adopt all necessary measures to put an end to all forms of corporal punishment, as recommended by the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2003; to establish courts for juveniles in conflict with the law; and to implement international labour standards with regard to children.

Other recommendations included: To take the necessary measures to improve conditions in prisons and detention facilities; to provide human rights training for law enforcement and prison officials; to do all necessary to reduce the duration of pre-trial detention in order to conform with international standards; to ensure that police action of police forces and the condition in places of detention fully met international human rights standards; to support efforts to combat the proliferation of small arms in ECOWAS States; to ratify the Convention on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances; to ratify the Optional Protocol to Convention against Torture; to ratify the ICC Rome Statute; to accede to the Convention on the Prevention of Genocide; and to accede to the Convention on the Status of Refugees.

Additionally, State recommended that Cape Verde strengthen its national human rights committee to meet the requirements of the Paris Principles; to consider working with the new Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Regional Office in Dakar to develop a common core document in order to simplify and streamline treaty body reporting; to invite selected Special Procedures with mandates of particular interest to Cape Verde to visit the country; to extend a standing invitation to the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council; to draw up an agreed timetable with Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for addressing the backlog of reports to human rights mechanisms and future work; to continue to collaborate with civil society on its human rights policies; and for the international community to assist Cape Verde in implementing its human rights policies and to assist in capacity building.

Moreover, the State was encouraged to develop a national strategy on human rights education in the school system at all levels; to consider strengthening programmes to combat and prevent HIV/AIDS, with special attention to women children; to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; to take further steps to address discrimination against women and vulnerable groups including children; to consider appropriate policy measures in order to promote tolerance and non-discrimination of lesbian, gay, transgender and bi-sexual persons; and to take additional steps to implement the recommendations of the CEDAW and the CERD. Certain States also called on the international community to assist Cape Verde in its efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

· Working Group Members taking the floor during the interactive discussion were Chile, France, Argentina, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Senegal, China, Slovenia, Angola, Brazil, Cameroon, South Africa and Nigeria.

· Observer States participating in the discussion were Algeria, Maldives, Luxembourg, Portugal, Sweden, Morocco and Latvia.

· The three-person delegation of Cape Verde consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the National Human Rights Commission and the Permanent Mission of Cape Verde to the UN Office at Geneva.

· The three Council members serving as rapporteurs – troika - for the review of Cape Verde are Angola, Bolivia and Saudi Arabia.

· In accordance with its institution-building package, the three documents on which State reviews should be based are information prepared by the State concerned, which could be presented either orally or in writing; information contained in the reports of treaty bodies and Special Procedures, to be compiled in a report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and information provided by other relevant stakeholders to the UPR including non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, human rights defenders, academic institutions and research institutes, regional organizations, as well as civil society representatives, also to be summarized by OHCHR in a separate document. The reports on Cape Verde can be found here.

· Adoption of report on Liechtenstein: The three Council members serving as the troika for the report on Liechtenstein are Germany, Mexico and Jordan. Introducing the report on behalf of the troika NORBERT FRICK (Germany) said the State under review had presented a comprehensive report and substantially answered a large number of questions; the commitment expressed by Liechtenstein was evidence of its strong commitment to human rights in Luxembourg and in other countries. Representing the State under review, REINHARD SCHWEPPE, Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the dialogue would serve well to help shape Liechtenstein’s policies and practices in the area of human rights. It was a pleasant coincidence that the report was being adopted on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Liechtenstein will continue the dialogue with States before and after the upcoming plenary session of the Human Rights Council and would present it responses to the recommendations before the March session. At least one-third of the recommendations were already accepted by Liechtenstein, he added.

· The UPR Working Group is scheduled to adopt the report of Cape Verde on Monday, 15 December.

· When the UPR Working Group continues its work this afternoon at 2.30 p.m. it will review the fulfilment of human rights obligations by Colombia after which it is scheduled to adopt the report on Serbia.

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