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Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Wednesday, 23 January 2013 (Afternoon)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is intended for use of the information media and is not an official record.  The note provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review and does not cover all points addressed.  An official summary of the meeting can be found in the Working Group report.)

State under review

Bahamas
Represented by seven-member delegation headed by Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs.

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the Bahamas page on the UPR website.

Troika *

Pakistan, Costa Rica, Gabon.

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Bahamas page on UPR Extranet )

  • In August 2012 the Government of the Bahamas re-constituted the Constitutional Reform Commission to conduct a comprehensive review of the Constitution, and to recommend changes to the Constitution by the end of March 2013;
  • The Government was taking initiatives to address the deficit in Treaty Body reporting; a project management was being established to conduct an audit of all international treaties to which the State was a party;
  • The Bahamas was generally supportive of the concept of NHRIs although was awaiting the results of a study currently underway before it took the decision to establish one;
  • Per is first UPR, The Bahamas ratified the ICCPR and the ICESCR which both entered into force in March 2009; the State also signed the CAT and withdrew its reservations to CEDAW;
  • The State’s “Swift Justice” system utilized processes to ensure that crimes were investigated and trials commenced and prosecuted without unreasonable delays; the Attorney General’s Office was also conducting a comprehensive audit of the backlog of criminal cases;
  • The Bahamas’ current position on the death penalty continued to recognize its lawfulness as a punishment for the crimes of murder and treason; the country was an active participant in the “retentionist” group of countries at the UN maintaining the position that the issue of the death penalty was a criminal one within domestic jurisdiction of the States; the State was not considering any immediate action to establish a formal moratorium;
  • Corporal punishment remained available under Bahamian law in respect of the legal rights of parents or guardians to physically discipline children under 16 years and as it may be applied as punishment for criminal or prison disciplinary offences; the National Parenting Programme promoted and informed on alternative punishment measures for children;
  • The National Child Abuse Prevention Inter-Agency Protocol became operational in early 2013; the Government strongly promoted awareness of child abuse through public service announcements and a National Abuse Hotline, among other measures;
  • The head of delegation informed that the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons was granted permission to visit the country this year;
  • There was no formal or positive legal discrimination against persons in The Bahamas based on sexual orientation or gender identity, although it was not included as a prohibited ground of discrimination in the Constitution;
  • On marital rape, the law enabled a spouse to obtain from the court a protection order in such cases; given the high incidents of rape in the country, the Government was taking steps to reduce these acts by educating women and persons at risk;
  • Pursuant to the first UPR of The Bahamas, the State enacted the 2009 Police Act providing for a civilian Police Complaints Inspectorate to have oversight of complaints made against the police.

Participants

In total 47 States participated in the dialogue:  20 HRC members and 27 observers  (Statements available on the Bahamas page on UPR Extranet).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • Accession to the ICCPR and the ICESCR;
  • The institution of the “Swift Justice” programme;
  • The establishment of the Inter Ministerial Committee on Trafficking in Persons and the Trafficking in Persons Task Force;  
  • Efforts to combat domestic violence and the Domestic Violence Act of 2007;
  • Steps to promote gender equality and to promote the rights of women and children;
  • The integration of a human rights sensitization programme into the general school curriculum.

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • The possibility of imposing a moratorium on the death penalty;
  • Steps to criminalize and address cases of marital rape and domestic violence;
  • Measures to raise awareness about corporal punishment;
  • Efforts to include discrimination based on sexual orientation in legislation;
  • The State’s Treaty Body reporting obligations;
  • Steps undertaken to establish a national human rights institution.

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Bahamas.  These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • To establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty;
  • To establish a fully independent oversight body to receive and investigate complaints of police misconduct and reports of human rights violations and to review existing conditions of the Carmichael Road Detention Center;
  • To amend the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act to criminalize marital rape and to raise awareness of such cases and to include same sex couples in the Act; 
  • To take legal and educative measures in order to change the population’s attitude to corporal punishment of children and to prohibit such acts and strengthen efforts to increase school enrolment rates;
  • To put in place a comprehensive strategy with results-oriented approach to eliminate stereotypes that discriminated against women in the family;
  • To include discrimination based on sexual orientation in the Constitutional reform process and repeal provisions discriminating against persons on grounds of their sexual orientation;
  • To further legal measures to increase visibility and transparency of asylum applications and ensure asylum seekers were treated in accordance with international human rights standards;
  • To consider amending legislation to ensure citizenship to children born abroad from Bahamian women and to adopt the necessary measures to guarantee universal birth registration; 
  • To establish a national human rights institution in compliance with the Paris Principles;
  • To extend a standing invitation to the UN Special Procedures; 
  • To seek technical assistance from the OHCHR in order to address the issue of delay in reporting on the Convention to which it is party;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: The CRPD; the Convention on the rights of migrant workers, ILO Convention 189 (domestic workers), the CAT, the OPCAT, the 2nd OP to the ICCPR, the Rome Statute to the ICC, the three OPs to the CRC, the Convention on enforced disappearances, and the OP to CEDAW.  

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Bahamas is scheduled to take place on Friday, 25 January 2013.

The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR. 

Media contact: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org

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