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Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Wednesday, 24 April 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

Tuvalu
Represented by three-member delegation headed by Ms. Ese Apinelu, Attorney-General.

Documents

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

Troika *

Mauritania, Republic of Korea, Estonia.

Opening statement by State under review

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

  • The head of delegation noted that Tuvalu’s small island characteristics made it vulnerable to the challenges presented by the adverse impacts of climate change and sea level rise which have become an everyday nightmare for the people of Tuvalu;
  • Tsunamis are becoming a major issue for the country with Tuvalu experiencing more than three tsunami warning since the last UPR;
  • Tuvalu accepted all ten recommendations posted to it during its first review, and declined two; the Government has tried to work to implement these recommendations although faced challenges in doing so and with its overall human rights commitments largely due to financial restraints and resource availability;
  • Some of the more notable human rights achievements include: completion of the CRC and CEDAW reports, the visit of the Special Rapporteur on clean water and sanitation, support to the ratification to the CRPD and the Rome Statute of the ICC, providing policies for the inclusion of gender in government planning, and the visibility of Tuvalu’s climate change issues in the international arena;
  • Responding to questions posed in advance, the delegation noted that the Government respected the rights of people with different sexual orientation who did not suffer social discrimination;
  • In 2009, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Office of the Attorney-General and partners worked to enhance national responses to the issue on violence against women; the issue was brought to the CEDAW National Task Force for deliberation and agreed to give it more attention;
  • Following national consultations the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Bill was passed which provided greater protection from violence within any domestic relationship;
  • In 2009, Parliament passed the Police Powers and Duties Act which specifically mandated the police to respond to issues concerning domestic violence;
  • The Department of Women’s Affairs through its cultural sensitivity approach in gender mainstreaming and gender sensitizing programmes aimed to use cultural realities as a way to challenge harmful cultural practices that promoted human rights principles;
  • Consultations were currently underway with a view to amending the Constitution once there was wider understanding and acceptance of gender equality;
  • As regards accession to the Rome Statute of the ICC, the Government was currently looking at the issue and how it related to Tuvalu citizens;
  • In terms of gender-based discrimination or on the grounds of sexual orientation, consultations were on-going with a view to amending the Constitution once there was wider understanding and acceptance of the issues.

Participants

In total 38 States participated in the dialogue:  16 HRC members and 22 observers  (Statements available on Tuvalu page on the UPR Extranet).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • Efforts to address the issue of violence against women and the formulation of the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Bill;
  • The establishment of the People’s Lawyers Office and the Department of Women’s Affairs;
  • The passage of the Police Service Act of 2009 and the Police Powers and Duties Act of 2009;
  • The visit of the Special Rapporteur on safe drinking water and sanitation;
  • Efforts undertaken in the area of financial governance;
  • Progress in increasing school attendance for girls and towards achieving primary universal education.

Issues and Questions

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

  • Steps taken to decriminalize consensual same-sex conduct;
  • Legislative measures to prohibit gender-based discrimination;
  • Efforts to further increase women’s empowerment;
  • Steps envisaged to continue to combat violence against women; 
  • Measures underway to fully guarantee freedom of religion of belief;
  • Efforts taken to ratify the outstanding core human rights treaties.

Recommendations

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

  • To decriminalize consensual same-sex conduct; to support repeal of the provisions of the Penal Code criminalizing consensual sex between adult males;
  • To take further steps to increase women’s empowerment; to further promote gender equality and women’s participation in public life;
  • To continue to combat discriminatory societal behaviours, in particular discrimination against women in law and practice;
  • To continue to combat violence against women and to support the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Bill with an institutional strategy;
  • To expedite action on the national youth policy currently underway;
  • To amend the Constitution Amendment Act of 2010 to fully guarantee freedom of religion of belief; to implement the Religious Organizations Restriction Act of 2010;
  • To continue efforts to harmonize national legislation with international human rights instruments;
  • To establish a national human rights institution in full compliance with the Paris Principles;
  • To extend a standing invitation to UN Special Procedures; to continue to actively engage regional and international partners to mobilize necessary resources for the implementation of its human rights programme;
  • To implement a national water strategy; to formulate a plan for the mitigation of natural disasters;
  • To provide human rights training for law enforcement officials; 
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: the ICCPR and its Ops, the ICESCR and its OP, the OPs to the CRC, the Rome Statute of the ICC, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and to step up efforts to ratify the core human rights treaties.

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Tuvalu is scheduled to take place on
Friday, 26 April 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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