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Human Rights Council – Universal Periodic Review


Third session meeting highlights

2 December 2008 (afternoon)
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 Luxembourg this afternoon, during which 30 Council members and observers raised a number of issues pertaining to the human rights situation in the country.

Presenting the national report of Burundi was NICOLAS SCHMIT, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, who recalled that Luxembourg held consultations within the Government and with civil society in preparation of their national report. Attention was drawn to the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights which was the government body responsible for assisting the Government of Luxembourg on all questions pertaining to human rights in Luxembourg.

Conditions of detention were not perfect in Luxembourg, particularly due to prison overcrowding, the Minister affirmed. The number of prisoners had increased over the last few years and therefore the prisons in the country were close to a maximum capacity. There were plans for a second prison to be constructed to address this problem. To date, asylum seekers were detained in the State’s prison, due to the lack of a detention centre for them. The State was endeavoring to build a new holding centre to house those persons whose asylum requests were pending. There was also a specialized service which allowed for visits for children whose parent(s) were incarcerated.

As to the rights of women, he recalled that members of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women visited Luxembourg in October 2008. A number of measures, particularly as regards violence against women, were subsequently being put in place in form of a strategic framework, per the recommendations of CEDAW. There had also been an improvement in the area of gender equality and employment. A number of efforts were being undertaken to address instances of discrimination. Moreover, human rights training was envisaged for public servants.

Luxembourg factored in human rights prominently in its humanitarian action policies, the Minister noted. The ultimate goal of these efforts was to eradicate poverty and to ensure better respect and enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. Luxembourg was a highly multi-cultural country; some 43% of those living in the country were foreigners. In terms of asylum seekers, there was a support programme instituted by the Government for those persons who were denied asylum. Recently the Government adopted a new law on immigration which aimed at enhancing the enjoyment of rights for immigrants residing in Luxembourg.

· During the three-hour interactive discussion delegations noted a number of positive achievements of the State under review. These included efforts to combat gender-related discrimination and steps taken in the area of the advancement of women’s rights; the State’s invitation to CEDAW members to visit the country, the first visit of this kind, and steps towards implementing the Committee’s recommendations; positive achievements in the areas of health and education, in particular the provision of free education up to the age of 18; the State’s policies on overseas assistance; advancements in the areas of freedom of expression; the efforts of the State to combat all forms of racism and xenophobia; the State’s accession to a large number of international treaties; and the State’s cooperation with civil society on human rights matters.

· 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 efforts undertaken to combat racism; steps taken to address cases of racist and xenophobic incidents, particularly against Arabs and Muslims, and discriminatory attitudes towards ethnic minorities by public officials; measures taken to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and to eliminate discrimination against ethic and religious minorities; steps taken to institute an anti-discrimination campaign in the country; and the achievements of the Centre for Equal Treatment established in 2006.

Questions were also raised with regard to policies and steps taken in the area of the human rights of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, in particular the treatment of asylum seekers in terms of the principle of non-refoulement; the intention of the State to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families and also the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and information on the National Council for Foreigners.

Other questions concerned the implementation of the law on domestic violence; efforts to combat human trafficking; steps to combat prostitution; measures to implement the National Plan on Gender Balance; plans to introduce temporary special measures to increase the involvement of women in political and public life; the status of the draft law on the legal age for marriage; steps taken to penalize corporal punishment; the intention of the State to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child concerning the sale of children, child prostitution child pornography; and measures to protect the best interests, needs and physical, social and psychological development of babies and children affected by parental detention or imprisonment.

Additionally issues were raised pertaining to administrative measures to address any mistreatment of detainees; information on efforts to construct a detention centre for minors; measures taken in the area of family reunification; and amendments to the rules on the maximum time detainees may be held in solitary confinement.

A number of delegations also posed specific recommendations. These included: To consider an overall strategy to eliminate violence against women; to continue efforts to combat human trafficking; to review the criteria on issuing visas to night club workers to avoid instances of human trafficking; to take additional steps to improve the rights of women and children, including by implementing the recommendations of CEDAW; to take the necessary measures to ban the practice of corporal punishment; to take additional measures to protect children from violence, prostitution and pornography; to adopt a programme to combat prostitution; to consider strengthening policies on human rights and mental health, with special attention to the area of child psychiatry; and to ensure that children of migrant workers were afforded the same levels of education to other children in Luxembourg.

Other recommendations called on the State to take necessary steps to allow for the integration of foreigners in the country; to further develop its law immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in line with the principle of non-refoulement; to sign and ratify the Convention on the Rights of Migrants Workers and Members of their Families; to bring its policies in detention in line with the Conclusion number 7 from the international protection of refugees; and to uphold all international human rights obligations when drafting and implementing policies addressing migrants.

A State also recommended that Luxembourg adopt recommendations by the CERD, particularly those calling for all officials coming into contact with minority groups to receive human rights training and that any organization promoting or inciting discrimination should be declared illegal and prohibited, and to recognize participation in such organizations as an offence punishable by law; to provide better training to Government workers on human rights, particularly in the areas of racism and xenophobia; and to ensure that all religious communities be dealt with without discrimination.

Additionally, recommendations included: To enhance human rights training for security personnel in the country; to establish an effective national preventive mechanism to monitor the compliance with the Optional Protocol Convention against Torture; to intensify its efforts to improve detention conditions, especially for children deprived of their liberty; to consider ratifying the Convention on Forced Disappearances, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture; to accomplish the human rights goals set by resolution 9/12 of the Human Rights Council [regarding human rights voluntary goals]; to strengthen the role of the human rights advisory committee; to enhance efforts in human rights education; to continue its consultative process with civil society in the follow-up to the UPR; to adopt a French vocabulary that truly reflected equality between men, women and children; and to continue upholding its international commitment to earmark 0.7% of its GDP to overseas assistance and to encourage their neighbours to do so.

Members States taking the floor during the interactive discussion were Germany, Cuba, France, the Russian Federation, Brazil, Azerbaijan, Italy, Malaysia, Argentina, Mauritius, the United Kingdom, Egypt, Canada, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Ukraine, Slovenia, Mexico, Ghana, Uruguay and Senegal.

Observer States participating in the discussion were Australia, Algeria, Czech Republic, Iran, Sweden, Turkey, Belgium and Portugal.

The 11-person delegation of Luxembourg consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, the Ministry for Equal Opportunities, the Ministry of Family and Integration, the Penitentiary Centre, the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights, the Ministry of Justice and the Permanent Mission of Luxembourg to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The three Council members serving as rapporteurs – troika - for the review of Luxembourg are Canada, Slovenia and Bangladesh.

· 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 Luxembourg can be found here.

The UPR Working Group is scheduled to adopt the report of Luxembourg on Thursday, 4 December.

When the UPR Working Group continues its work tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. it will review the fulfillment of human rights obligations by Barbados.

Additional information on the Universal Periodic Review mechanism can be located at the UPR webpage - http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx.

To access the webcast for the UPR session please visit http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/index.asp 

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