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Human Rights Council – Universal Periodic Review

4 May 2009 (afternoon)
For use of information media; not an official record

· The Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group reviewed the fulfillment of human rights obligations by Monaco this afternoon, during which 28 Council members and observers raised a number of issues pertaining to the human rights situation in the country.

· Presenting the national report of Monaco was FRANCK BIANCHERI, Minister Plenipotentiary, and Counsellor of the Government for Foreign Affairs and for International Economic and Financial Affairs, noted that the Principality of Monaco had become party to a large number of international instruments which covered a wide variety of human rights since becoming a member of the United Nations in 1993. However, the interpretation and involvement of international standards had to be assessed and appreciated given the specificities of the State. Monaco was a Constitutional Monarchy governed by the Constitution of 17 December 1962. The rule of law was recognized in all national institutions and the separation of powers was also recognized per law. The Judiciary reported directly to the Head of State – the Prince. There were a number of bilateral agreements between the Principality of Monaco and France which did not compromise the integrity or sovereignty of Monaco. There were some 35,000 people living in Monaco and more than 120 nationalities represented. It was noted that there were no reported acts of xenophobia in Monaco. Ironically Monegasques were a minority in Monaco as they only number 7,634 in the country, out of a total population of over 35,000.

As regards gender equality, the law on Family provided equal rights to men and women. Moreover, freedom of expression was guaranteed as were freedom of religion and belief and association, the head of delegation added. The death penalty was not practiced in Monaco and a person in police custody could not be held for more than 24 hours. The right to access to lawyer was guaranteed as was the independence of the judiciary. Furthermore, the Constitution guaranteed the right to work for all in the Principality of Monaco; on a daily basis an average of 45,000 people crossed into Monaco from France and Italy to work. Monegasque citizens had free access to primary and secondary education and there was no discrimination, per law, in terms of access to education. Among other legislative measures enacted was a law on disabilities, allowing equal opportunities for disabled persons in the Principality.

The Principality of Monaco had extended a standing invitation to the Special Procedures of the United Nations, Mr. Biancheri noted. The Monegasque legal system had been supplemented by a number of legal provisions, among them a law on combating money laundering. Other legislative steps had been taken as regards the fight against terrorism which also covered the criminal sanctions for financing acts of terrorism and compensation for victims of terrorism. The Principality of Monaco was committed to combating corruption. It was recalled that the State recently drafted a report, in December 2008, focusing on efforts to combat money laundering. The Government had also been involved in international cooperation to assist populations who were suffering from poverty and malnutrition and had been responsible for initiating more than 60 projects in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America. Between now and 2015, the Government was committed to increasing its Overseas Development Aid to 0.7%.

· During the three-hour interactive discussion delegations noted a number of positive achievements of the State under review. These included the accession of the Principality of Monaco to most international human rights instruments; policies to promote gender equality; financial support and programmes aimed at assisting children in armed conflict; the active engagement of Monaco in international discussions on combating violence against children, combating poverty, assisting persons with disabilities and promoting an environment of freedom of expression and association, religion and belief; the establishment of the principle of the independence of the judiciary; the adoption of a law on combating racist acts in 2005; measures taken to combat domestic violence; the recent revisions to the Criminal Code, which guaranteed the rights of persons in police custody, particularly the right of such people to consult a lawyer of their choice; efforts to educate public officials and school children about the principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms; and the recent amendments to civil law which enabled the establishment of associations within the Principality.

· 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, among other things, the status of establishing a national human rights institution in compliance with the Paris Principles; practical measures being taken to update labour legislation in Monaco; the status of ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; whether Monaco would review domestic laws as regards legal requirements for men and women wishing to acquire Monegasque nationality; the actions being undertaken or envisaged in favour of the most vulnerable and specifically older persons; and how the Government evaluated the initial implementation of legal measures against inciting hatred or violence.

Other issues pertained to specific measures to safeguard the right of the children when they were arrested and held in custody in Monaco’s Maison d’Arret; steps taken to ensure that freedom of expression was protected even with respect to the royal family; plans to adopt a legislation making domestic violence a criminal offence; plans to establish judicial procedures to protect women who were victims of domestic violence; the policy guidelines and institutional mechanisms in place to protect the interests of migrant workers in Monaco; and the latest situation with the legal reforms targeting the repeal of banishment of foreigners.

· A number of delegations also posed specific recommendations. These included: To set up a national human rights institution in compliance with the Paris Principles; to join the International Labour Organization as a member and accede to its relevant conventions; to ratify the Convention on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances; to ensure that the definition of terrorist acts in Monaco was in line with its human rights obligations; to consider ratifying the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court; to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture; and to provide human rights training for State officials, judiciary and law enforcement officials.

Other recommendations included: To ensure that the provision for acquiring nationality be the same for women and men; to accede to the Optional Protocol to Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; that the system of priorities in the employment sector did not imply discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, nationality, religion, language and ethnic and national origin; to consider steps to encourage the participation of women on the Government Council; to ensure that the social security regime should apply to all categories of workers in the State; to share experiences with other countries to prevent assaults and acts of violence based on racial discrimination; and to share best practices on its policies and programmes with respect to women, children, older persons, and persons with disabilities, as well as its educational programmes.

The Principality of Monaco was also encouraged to strengthen policies and programmatic responses to address domestic violence against women; to broaden criminal legislation regarding racist acts by considering racist motivations of criminal offences as an aggravating circumstance at the time of sentencing; to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; to ratify the Convention of the Rights of Migrant Workers and All Members of Their Families; to introduce human rights education, into the national school curricula at all levels, particularly that which focused on combating racism and racial discrimination; to amend privacy legislation to bring it in line with recommendations on video surveillance by the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe; to widen the opportunities for foreign inhabitants to participate actively in political life; and to uphold freedom of expression, including with respect to public denunciations of the royal family.

· Members States taking the floor during the interactive discussion were Brazil, the Netherlands, Italy, France, Mexico, India, Burkina Faso, Slovenia, Azerbaijan, China, Canada, the United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Germany, Argentina, Ukraine and the Philippines.

· Observer States participating in the discussion were Algeria, Sweden, the United States of America, the Republic of Congo, Turkey, Luxembourg, the Holy See, the Czech Republic, San Marino, Morocco and Singapore.

· The 13-person delegation of Monaco consisted of representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the Director for Judicial Services, the Department of Social Affairs and Health, the Department of the Interior and the Permanent Mission of Monaco to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

· The three Council members serving as rapporteurs – troika - for the review of Monaco are Switzerland, China and Uruguay.

· 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 Monaco can be found here.

· The UPR Working Group is scheduled to adopt the report of Monaco on Wednesday, 6 May.

· When the UPR Working Group continues its work tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. it will review the fulfillment of human rights obligations by Belize.

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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