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Human Rights Council – Universal Periodic Review

For use of information media; not an official record

Date: Monday 2 May 2011 (Morning)

Country under review: BELGIUM

Documents:   National report A/HRC/WG.6/11/BEL/1;
Compilation of UN information A/HRC/WG.6/11/BEL/2;
Summary of stakeholders’ information A/HRC/WG.6/11/BEL/3;
 
Troika: CUBA, JAPAN, NIGERIA

Concerned country - national report

  1. Represented by a 6 member delegation and headed by his Excellency Mr. Steven Vanackere, Deputy Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs

Highlights

- The promotion and protection of human rights depends on various levels of government. The constitution is the point of departure for the protection of the rights of citizens and foreigners.
- Belgium does not have a National Human Rights Institution.
- Individual communities apply specific education regimes.
- Belgium has ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the European Convention on Human Tights, and the Treaty of the Council of Europe on Child Exploitation.
- The 2004 Plan of Action combats discrimination.

Interactive discussion

Number of States taking part in the discussion

  1. Member States: 24          Inscribed on the list: 48
  2. Observer States: 24

Positive achievements

- The National Point of Action Programme.
- Dedicating resources to promoting the rights of migrant workers.
- Belgium has a strong framework for promoting and protecting human rights.
- The creation of a national commission on the rights of the child.
- 2003 constitutional amendments in regards to the rights of the child, equality between men and women, and between citizens and non-citizens. 
- Cooperation with Special Procedures and Treaty Bodies.
- The Asylum reform of January 2007 has strong protection guarantees.
- The role of women in public life.

Issues and questions raised

- Racist attitudes against Muslims, Roma and migrant workers.
- Reported instances of hate speech by politicians, in particular targeting migrants and members of minorities.
- Correctional facilities are overcrowded.
- Foreigners in the penal system receive stricter sentences than nationals.
-The resurgence of anti-Semitism, Islamaphobia and racism.
- Not to draw distinctions between documented and undocumented migrant workers.

Recommendations

- To increase the effectiveness of the prevention against racism, xenophobia and Islamaphobia.
- To eradicate stereotypes against women.
- To pursue actions in furthering relations with Africa.
- To ratify the Convention against Enforced Disappearances.
- To ratify the International Convention for the protection of All Migrant Workers and Members of their families.
- To investigate all allegations of human rights violations and ill-treatments by law enforcement officials and to set up an independent supervisory body.
- To take measures to improve the integration and the protection of the rights of migrants and asylum seekers.
- To ensure that asylum seekers have access to legal aid.
- To ensure the full independence of the National Institution for Human Rights.
- To consider alternatives to pre-deportation detention, and to limit the length of detention.
- To consider making the asylum procedure more transparent.
- To allocate more funding for detention facilities.
- To provide equal access to the labour market. 
- To provide training and education in the field of human rights. 
- To implement laws and programmes to strengthen gender equality. 
- To consider lifting the ban on head scarves in schools. 
- To take effective measures to curb racial and ethnic intolerance.
- To eliminate the sale of children and child pornography.
- To implement strategies to combat all forms of violence against women.

Response of the concerned country

- The National Commission on the Rights of the Child is responsible for responding to recommendations made by the Committee on the Rights of the Child. The regions have specific programmes for combating sexual violence. Belgium ratified the Optional Protocol on Children in armed conflict.
- Combating violence against women is a priority of the police.
- The Constitution promotes gender equality in the federal public service. 
- Belgium is active in promoting and protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons both nationally and internationally.
- In 2008, Belgium created an annual data collection mechanism to address poverty.
- Numerous laws protect people with disabilities; Belgium ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
- Belgium adopted a national program for integrating Roma people. 
- Belgium discourages arbitrary detention and excessive use of force by the police.
- The Centre for Equal Opportunity combats discrimination, and safeguards migrant rights by addressing individual complaints, and through awareness raising campaigns.
- The Law on the Reception of Asylum seekers will improve the quality of the reception for asylum seekers. The law provides provisions for minors. Asylum seekers receive legal aid.
- Detention of asylum seekers is not systematic.
- The combat against, and trafficking in, human beings is broadly defined in the penal code.
- Access to primary and secondary education is free.

Adoption of the report by the UPR working group scheduled on
Wednesday 4 May, 12 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.

More information

  1. UPR: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRmain.aspx
  2. Country under review (documents submitted): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/PAGES/BESession11.aspx

 

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