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Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Monday, 28 October 2013 (Afternoon)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is not an official record, provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review, and does not cover all points addressed)

State under review

Belize
Represented by three-member delegation headed by Ms. Judith ALPUCHE, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation

Documents

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

Troika *

Maldives, Brazil and Germany

Opening statement by State under review

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

  • As a small country of 316,000 people, Belize was vulnerable to external factors, including climate change and high external debt; the poverty rate increased from 25% in 2002 to 33% in 2009;
  • The Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation was at the frontline in promoting and protecting human rights in the country; the National Committee for Families and Children was tasked with monitoring the implementation of the CRC;
  • The National AIDS Commission coordinated a multi-stakeholder response to addressing polices and legislation on HIV/AIDS;
  • Following the recommendations posed during the first UPR, the Government moved to strengthen the Office of the Ombudsman and has made progress in strengthening the Legal Aid Office;
  • Belize has made progress in achieving universal primary education, literacy, proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel, access to antiretroviral medication for those living with HIV, reducing death rates for those with malaria and access to safe drinking water;
  • The Government endeavoured to support the poorest segments of the population in the areas of health and education and set up the National Health Insurance programme, the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme, the Building Opportunities for Social Transformation and a Food Pantry Programme and education subsidies for eligible students;
  • Significant gains have also been recorded in addressing multiple challenges associated with HIV/AIDS.  Among other things, the Government set up the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission Programme;
  • In 2011, Belize acceded to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Since its first UPR, Belize has convened a number of workshops to coordinate the preparation of reports to the human rights treaty bodies;
  • This year, the State enacted improved domestic legislation implementing the Protocol to Prevent, Supress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children and also passed the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Prohibition Act;
  • The Education and Training Act, which entered into force in 2010, prohibited corporal punishment in schools.  Legislation was also pending on the Labour Act with regard to legal working age and a draft Occupational Health and Safety Act to prohibit the involvement of children in hazardous work;
  • The Government rolled out a National Gender-based Violence Action Plan and a Domestic Violence Protocol for Police Officers has been revised to ensure that victims of gender-based violence were fully aware of their rights and the support services available to then;
  • On indigenous rights, Mayas were entitled to indigenous title and the rights thereunder in respect of lands they occupied.  However, the Court of Appeals did not affirm the Government’s duty to give effect to those rights and the Government was in contact with Mayan representatives to determine a mutually agreeable framework for the implementation of this judgment.

Participants

In total 40 States participated in the dialogue:  17 HRC members and 23 observers  (Statements available on Belize page on the UPR Extranet)

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The advances made with regard to the rights of disabled persons and the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • The positive steps taken towards the protection of women’s rights, notably the development of the National Gender-Based Violence Action Plan.
  • The Education and Training Act of 2010, the implementation of the 2012 Strategy on the education sector and the abolishment of corporal punishment in schools.
  • The efforts made to tackle poverty.
  • The fact that human rights were a guiding principle in the long term development strategy plan Horizon 2030.
  • Measures taken to combat trafficking in persons, child prostitution and child pornography

 

Issues and Questions

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

  • The issues affecting indigenous peoples.
  • Gender-based violence.
  • The continued reports of violence against women.
  • The strengthening of the Ombudsman’s Office.
  • Discrimination against LGBT persons.
  • The lack of timely reporting to UN Human rights Treaty bodies.

Recommendations

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

  • To establish a National Human Rights Institution in-line with the Paris Principles.
  • To continue to work towards addressing gender-based violence and to investigate all cases of domestic violence
  • To adapt legislation that is currently outlawing same-sex activity and to address the discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • To extend a standing invitation to all Human Rights Council Special Procedures.
  • To provide the Office of the Ombudsman with sufficient resources.
  • To incorporate into legislation the rights contained in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • To address the issue of concessions for projects in Mayan territories without the community’s consent.
  • To abolish the death penalty.
  • To re-double efforts aimed at reducing poverty.
  • To strengthen measures against trafficking in persons by implementing the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Act.
  • To continue efforts in tackling HIV/AIDS.
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: the International Convention fort the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances; the International Labour Organization Convention 169 on rights of indigenous and tribal peoples; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and its Optional Protocol aimed at the abolition of the death penalty; the Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol; and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Belize is scheduled to take place on Thursday, 31 October 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. 
**For access to the UPR Extranet, please fill out the following form to receive a username and password

Media contacts: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org
Cédric Sapey, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9695, csapey@ohchr.org

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