Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Wednesday, 6 May 2015 (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

Maldives
Represented by five-member delegation headed by Dunya Maumoon, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Documents

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

Troika *

Argentine, France, India.

Opening statement by State under review

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

  • Since its first UPR, the Maldives has overcome some key challenges and has achieved significant progress in improving the human rights situation in the country;
  • President Yemeen was elected to office in November 2013 on a platform of “people empowerment” through economic growth and employment creation;
  • One important strategy that the Government has adopted to cultivate the culture of and belief in human rights in Maldivian society was through civic education at schools to enable future generations to continue the Maldivian story of respect and tolerance;
  • The Maldives offered free education up to higher secondary level and has introduced universal health insurance across the country;
  • Notable progress has also been made in providing adequate, affordable and safe housing for all in the country, a true challenge for a country with limited land, and such a diverse population;
  • The Government has prioritised skills development and job creation for the youth.  Over the last seventeen months, more than 7,000 jobs have been created and several skills development programmes have been launched;
  • The Government drafted an entirely new Counter Terrorism and Prevention Bill that will make it a serious criminal offense for Maldivians to take part in armed activities overseas, except where the military or police officials operated under an authorised formal arrangement;
  • The Domestic Violence and Prevention Act, the Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Abuse Act, and the Sexual Offences Act has strengthened the legal framework to protect women, children and migrants from violence and sexual abuse; 
  • On 27 April 2015, the Parliament approved accession to the Optional Protocol to prevent, supress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children;
  • President Yemeen has formulated a comprehensive strategy for democracy consolidation which aimed at transforming the society into a political community that was able to forge an overwhelming consensus on the acceptability of the political system;
  • The new Penal Code that President Yemeen ratified in April last year, and which will come into force in July this year, is expected to contribute towards strengthening and modernising the Maldivian criminal justice system;
  • Among the most daunting challenges facing the Maldives was the incredibly high economic cost of bringing the systematic changes envisioned in the 2008 Constitution.  The provision of basic social services, together with urgent defensive measures against the effects of climate change, such as shore protection of the islands, took away more than three quarters of the government’s revenue.

Participants

In total 102 States participated in the dialogue:  38 HRC members and 64 observers  (Statements available on Maldives page on UPR Extranet).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The establishment of the Ministry of Law and Gender and the Gender Equality Bill in 2015;
  • The Domestic Violence Prevention Act and the Sexual Harassment and Abuse Prevention Act
  • The ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;
  • The Anti-Torture Act of 2014 and the new Penal Code;
  • The provision of free education up to higher level and introducing universal health care;
  • The “No Child Left Behind” policy. 

Issues and Questions

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

  • The functioning of human rights defenders, civil society and journalists;
  • Steps to uphold the freedom of expression and opinion and the media;
  • Measures to combat domestic violence and discrimination against women;
  • Promoting and protecting gender equality;
  • Ensuring the independence of the judiciary and administration of justice; 
  • Plans to abolish the death penalty.

Recommendations

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

  • To develop and implement specific laws policies and mechanisms that recognised and protected the work of civil society, human rights defenders and journalists;  to investigate and prosecute all who threatened human rights defenders, NGOs and journalists;
  • To accept the outstanding request of a visit by the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders; To take concrete measures to guarantee freedom of expression and opinion and of the media;
  • To consider abolishing the death penalty; to renew its commitment to a moratorium on the death penalty;
  • To full implement the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers;
  • To ensure the independence of the judiciary and that the administration of justice was fully consistent with international human rights standards; to end politically motivated prosecutions and court proceedings;
  • To take all necessary measures to ensure the elimination of violence and discrimination against women; To take measures to eradicate traditional stereotypes of women; To repeal all legal provisions that discriminated against women;
  • To continue efforts to combat violence against women and to hold perpetrators accountable; To adopt additional measures to implement the Domestic Violence Prevention Act;
  • To establish gender equality legislation to better protect the rights of women and girls; To continue to work for the enactment into law of the Gender Equality Bill; To decriminalize consensual extra-marital sexual relations;
  • To end all forms of corporal punishment;
  • To continue to implement the National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons (2015-2019); 
  • To create the necessary conditions to guarantee the functioning and independence of the National Human Rights Commission;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: The 2nd OP to the ICCPR; the Convention on the rights of migrant workers and members of their families; the Convention on enforced disappearances; the Protocol to the Convention against Transnational Organised Crime; ILO Convention 189 on domestic workers; the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol; the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons; and the 1961 Convention of the Reduction of Statelessness.

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Maldives is scheduled to take place on Friday, 8 May 2015.

*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

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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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