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Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Wednesday, 30 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

Malta
Represented by 12-member delegation headed by H.E. Ms. Helena Dalli, Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties.

Documents

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

Troika *

Kuwait, Peru, Republic of Moldova.

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Malta page on the UPR Extranet ** – LINK NOT AVAILABLE YET)

  • The change in the administration in Malta last March brought along fresh impetus towards the advancement of human rights in the country and, for the first time in the history of Malta, a Minister responsible for Civil Liberties was appointed;
  • The harsh realities of immigration, turmoil, financial challenges and actors that defied the fundamental principles of human rights were real situations that Malta confronted in upholding its international human rights commitments;
  • In 2010, Malta submitted its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child and earlier this year an inter-ministerial delegation was in Geneva to elaborate on the state of play of the rights of children in Malta;
  • The Government was committed to introduce legal recognition of same-sex couples with equal rights like those of married couples. The Civil Union Act, published on 14 October 2013, introduced the rights of persons, whether of the same sex of or opposite sex, to contract a civil union.
  • A Gender Identity Bill will be published in the coming weeks and the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers, in collaboration with UNHCR, was currently finalising guidelines for the prevention, identification, intervention and follow up of victims and perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence;
  • An amendment to the Criminal Code was drafted in order to ensure that corporal punishment of any form on minors was considered as a criminal offence; this amendment forms part of the Bill which also includes the increase in the age of criminal responsibility of minors from nine years to fourteen years;
  • Malta has experienced a significant irregular migratory influx since 2002.  In 2012, 95 per cent of irregular migrants entering Malta by sea applied for asylum;
  • According to UNHCR statistics for 2012, Malta received the largest number of asylum applications among the 44 industrialised countries covered in the report;
  • Malta’s asylum recognition rate was consistently high, at around 50 per cent, in view of the needs of persons seeking protection in Malta.  The recognition rate reached a record high of 90 per cent in 2012 which demonstrated that the principle of non-refoulement was upheld both legally as well as in practice;
  • With regard to search and rescue, Malta continued to fully respect its international legal obligations regarding the rescue of persons in distress at sea.  A total of over 13,000 persons have been rescued through the intervention of the Armed Forces of Malta over the period 2003-2013;
  • Malta was committed to the promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health and to the protection of the right of women to have control over and decide freely and responsibly ion matters related to their sexuality and the timing, number and spacing of children free of coercion, discrimination and valance;
  • Malta did not recognise abortion or any other form of termination of pregnancy as a legitimate measure of family planning.

Participants

In total 53 States participated in the dialogue:  18 HRC members and 35 observers  (Statements available on Malta page on the UPR Extranet – LINK NOT AVAILABLE YET).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol; the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography; and the Optional Protocol on a communication procedure.
  • The recent advancement made to enhance the rights of LGBT persons, especially the introduction of a civil union bill recognizing same-sex partnerships.
  • The establishment of a ministry dealing with civil liberties.
  • Efforts to deal with irregular migrants, especially the rescue of migrants on boats in the Mediterranean.
  • The establishment of specialized National Commissions with mandates to protect vulnerable groups.
  • The introduction of divorce as a legal remedy.

Issues and Questions

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

  • The situation of migrants, especially their detention conditions.
  • The situation of unaccompanied migrant children.
  • Abortion and the lack of a live-saving abortion law.
  • The issue of trafficking in persons.
  • Racial violence and discrimination.
  • The minimum age of marriage of 16 years of age.

Recommendations

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

  • To enhance efforts to ensure the protection of the rights of migrants, especially to improve their conditions in detention.
  • To stop the practice of detention of vulnerable migrants, especially children.
  • To establish a National Human Rights Institution in conformity with the Paris Principles.
  • To intensify efforts against all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance.
  • To decriminalize abortion for cases of therapeutic abortion and when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
  • To make further progress in strengthening the legislative and institutional framework to enhance the rights of LGBT persons and to combat discrimination against them.
  • To strengthen measures, laws and practices with regards to human trafficking.
  • To continue efforts towards promoting equal opportunities between men and women.
  • To enhance the capacity of the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality to follow-up and monitor responses in cases of racial violence and discrimination.
  • To raise the minimum age of marriage from 16 to 18 years old.
  • To guarantee to all migrants the right to seek judicial review of their detention.
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances; the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and their Families; the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of The Child on a communication procedure; and the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Malta is scheduled to take place on Friday, 25 October 2013 after 3 pm.

*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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