Human Rights Council
19 September 2012
Council Hears Address by Minister of Human Rights of Iraq
The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Morocco, Indonesia and Finland. The Minister of Human Rights of Iraq also addressed the Council.
Mohammed Shiaa Al-Sudani, the Minister of Human Rights of Iraq, said that Iraq had established a national human rights institution, which would start monitoring the human rights situation as soon as it became operational. Iraq had a heavy legacy of human rights violations which compelled it to determine the fate of all the victims buried in mass graves, who still had not been identified. Iraq called on the United Nations and the civilized world to assist it in identifying victims, providing compensation to the families, assisting in the prosecution of those who were responsible and not allowing impunity to reign.
Mahjoub El Haiba, Interministerial Delegate for Human Rights of Morocco, said that Morocco had embarked on a structured reform process to build a democracy and promote human rights and human development. Recommendations accepted by Morocco were all part and parcel of the structured reform processes embarked upon, and some of them had already been implemented. Morocco had volunteered to submit a progress report on the follow-up to the recommendations within two years and reiterated its support for the Universal Periodic Review.
Houria Esslami of the Consultative Council for Human Rights of Morocco called upon the Government to reconsider its position on the recommendations which it had not accepted. The Council, which serves as the national human rights institution of Morocco, reiterated its commitment to follow the human rights situation in Morocco and supervise the effectiveness of current legislation and its conformity with international standards.
In the discussion on Morocco, delegations welcomed Morocco’s commitments and its acceptance of most of the recommendations made, including ratifying various human rights conventions and volunteering to submit a progress report on follow-up to recommendations within two years’ time. Some speakers expressed concern regarding gross and ongoing violations being committed in Western Sahara and called for the protection of the Saharawi people.
Speaking in the discussion were Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Palestine, Philippines, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan, Thailand and Togo.
The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, France Liberté Fondation Danielle Miterrand, World Federation of Democratic Youth, Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme, Association for the Prevention of Torture and International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Morocco.
Edi Yusup, Chargé d’Affaires of the Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Indonesia had received a total of 180 recommendations, of which 144 had been immediately accepted and 36 had been sent to Indonesia for further consultations with the relevant national stakeholders. Some of the recommendations received during the review had already been implemented and further initiatives to develop the legal framework were underway. Incidents connoting religious intolerance regrettably continued to take place in some communities, but Indonesia was determined to resolve the issue in a comprehensive manner and to address any challenges and gaps in advancing the cause of human rights.
The National Commission on Human Rights of Indonesia expressed regret about the reluctance of Indonesia to accept recommendations concerning critical issues. The Commission recommended that the Government optimize forums for consultations with stakeholders in the process of reporting to the next Universal Periodic Review session in 2016.
In the discussion on Indonesia, speakers commended Indonesia on its cooperation during the review process, for accepting 150 out of 180 recommendations made, including in the area of human rights education, and for efforts undertaken in support of vulnerable sections of the society. There was concern that recommendations on the protection of human rights defenders did not enjoy Indonesia’s support. Indonesia was urged to accept calls to permit access to Papua and West Papua provinces, and to issue a standing invitation to United Nations human rights experts to visit those areas.
Speaking in the discussion were Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Thailand, Morocco, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Pakistan and Viet Nam.
The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Human Rights Watch, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Asian Legal Resource Centre Action Canada for Population and Development, International Commission of Jurists, Amnesty International, Forum on Indonesian Development and North-South XXI.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Indonesia.
Paivi Kairamo-Hella, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that of the 78 recommendations made during its Universal Periodic Review in May, Finland had fully adopted 71, partially accepted four and rejected three. Many of the fully accepted recommendations were already in the process of being implemented. Finland had partially accepted two and rejected one recommendation on human rights education and training of professional groups, the reason being the highly autonomous nature of the Finnish higher education institutions. Those institutions decided by themselves on the content and the nature of their education and that was why the Government could not accept any requirement of a mandatory element imposed on higher education institutions.
In the discussion on Finland, speakers welcomed the professionalism and frankness of Finland during the review process, and its response and acceptance of recommendations. Its efforts to eradicate racism, xenophobia, inequality and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity were also welcomed. Concern was voiced about existing discrimination against women, children and migrant workers.
Speaking in the discussion were Morocco, Philippines, Romania, Thailand, Algeria, Benin and Iran.
The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation, Amnesty International, Save the Children International and International Fellowship of Reconciliation.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Finland.
The Human Rights Council will resume its work at 9 a.m. on Thursday, 20 September, to consider the Universal Periodic Review reports of the United Kingdom, India and Brazil, before holding its annual discussion on gender integration at noon during its midday meeting.
Statement by the Minister of Human Rights of Iraq
MOHAMMED SHIAA AL-SUDANI, Minister of Human Rights of Iraq, said that Iraq was now a party to eight international instruments and was implementing its Universal Periodic Review recommendations, for which a plan of action and a timeline were agreed. Iraq had established a national human rights institution, which would start monitoring the human rights situation as soon as it became operational. Iraq had a heavy legacy of human rights violations which compelled it to determine the fate of all the victims buried in mass graves, who still had not been identified. The brutal 1968–2003 dictatorial regime had committed numerous gross and systematic human rights violations, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. Some 500,000 people were victims of those violations. Numerous resolutions of the Human Rights Commission, the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council had condemned those violations. Other evidence was discovered in the archives of the dictatorial regime; this documentation had not yet been fully examined. Mass graves were being discovered on a daily basis in Iraq. Iraq called on the United Nations and the civilized world to assist Iraq in identifying victims, providing compensation to the families, assisting in the prosecution of those who were responsible and not allowing impunity to reign.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Morocco
MAHJOUB EL HAIBA, Interministerial Delegate for Human Rights of Morocco, said that Morocco had embarked on a structured reform process to build a democracy and promote human rights and human development. This was an irreversible commitment to international human rights instruments that it had ratified. Morocco was determined to continue with its reform of the human rights governance machinery in order to enshrine human rights and fundamental freedoms. Recommendations accepted by Morocco were all part and parcel of the structured reform processes embarked upon, and some of them had already been implemented. Morocco had volunteered to submit a progress report on the follow-up to the recommendations within two years.
In accordance with its commitments, Morocco continued to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms and had begun procedures to ratify the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and the First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, among others. In accordance with those commitments and in order to ensure openness, Morocco was receiving the Special Rapporteur on torture. In view of its attachment to the role of the judiciary in the promotion and protection of human rights, Morocco had also embarked on a reform process of the judicial system, and set up a High Council to ensure national dialogue to look into a comprehensive reform process in which all parties concerned would be involved. Currently, Morocco was preparing the eighth version of the Gender Sensitive Budget that would be annexed to the Financial Act of 2013. Action had been taken to provide medical care for those categories not covered by the social security system. In conclusion, Mr. El Haiba reiterated that Morocco would continue to lend support to the Universal Periodic Review which was an essential mechanism. That was why efforts had to be redoubled to strengthen and consolidate it.
HOURIA ESSLAMI, Consultative Council for Human Rights of Morocco, welcomed the number of recommendations made to Morocco. Ms. Esslami recommended that the Government adopt additional measures, including to institutionalize domestic consultation with human rights institutions concerning human rights legislation; to reconsider its position concerning those recommendations which had not been accepted, including for the withdrawal of reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the moratorium on capital punishment, and on the ban on underage marriage; and to develop a strategy for implementing recommendations from treaty bodies and for the submission of implementation reports. Ms. Esslami indicated that the Consultative Council had recently published a report on the situation of psychiatric hospitals and was finalizing a report on the situation of prisons, both of which had been presented to Juan Mendez, the Special Rapporteur on torture, who was currently visiting Morocco. Ms. Esslami reiterated the Consultative Council’s commitment to follow the human rights situation in Morocco and supervise the effectiveness of current legislation and in conformity with international standards.
Lebanon congratulated Morocco for accepting the majority of the recommendations from its Universal Periodic Review process and applauded the role Morocco played in the human rights machinery and particularly in the Human Rights Council. Lebanon encouraged Morocco to continue playing this much appreciated role.
Libya commended the efforts of Morocco to promote human rights and consolidate the rule of law and related institutions. Judiciary reforms ongoing in Morocco provided an appropriate framework to promote and protect human rights. Libya welcomed the national initiatives to combat poverty and the support provided to low-income families.
Malaysia took positive note of the constructive and open engagement of Morocco in the Universal Periodic Review process, where it had made all efforts to respond to questions and requests addressed to it. The genuine efforts of Morocco in promoting the rights of women and children were particularly welcome.
Mauritania said that the positive approach of Morocco in dealing with international and regional bodies was a reflection of the Government’s policy to increase freedoms and combat all forms of discrimination. Mauritania welcomed initiatives to strengthen the role of civil society and increase their participation.
Palestine said that Morocco worked relentlessly to promote human rights through cooperation with the human rights machinery and this spirit of cooperation was highly appreciated. Palestine welcomed the acceptance of the recommendations to ratify Optional Protocols to two international instruments, on civil and political rights and on discrimination against women.
Philippines said the Philippines supported the adoption of the report of Morocco. The Philippines acknowledged Morocco’s ratification of several human rights conventions and was encouraged by its commitment to consider ratifying, among others, the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture. The Philippines wished Morocco well as it continued to use its new constitution as a springboard for the protection and fulfillment of human rights.
Qatar said that the discussion revolving around the Moroccan Universal Periodic Review in May and the exhaustive explanation provided today attested to the importance attached by Morocco to the consolidation of the constitutional and legislative framework for human rights. Qatar commended the plans launched by Morocco, which showed the firm resolve of the authorities to promote human rights and protect fundamental freedoms, as well as the constructive dialogue with human rights mechanisms.
Romania said that it welcomed the adoption of the report. Morocco had proved its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights. Romania welcomed Morocco’s response to most of the recommendations made. Morocco had undertaken commitments which would require legislation and institutional building in the future, and it was quite sure that they would be maintained. Romania also welcomed the commitment adopted to submit a mid-term report within two years’ time.
Saudi Arabia thanked Morocco for its clarification on the recommendations. Morocco continued to positively engage with the human rights machinery and this was a clear testimony of Morocco’s commitment to human rights. The report illustrated efforts made to strengthen laws and human rights institutions, the implementation of constitutional dispositions related to human rights, and the ratification of international instruments.
South Africa said the commitment of Morocco to the Universal Periodic Review process was further demonstrated by the acceptance of 128 recommendations. South Africa welcomed the voluntary commitment to present a progress report on the implementation of the recommendations after a period of two years and appreciated the work done by Morocco in the work of the Council on issues such as human rights education and training, and the anti-racism agenda.
Sudan welcomed the efforts made by Morocco concerning the implementation of Universal Periodic Review recommendations; this had had a positive effect on the enjoyment of human rights. Sudan welcomed the acceptance of recommendations, including its recommendation concerning freedom of expression and the adoption of a media act, which would confirm Morocco’s commitment to human rights.
Thailand recognized the strong support of Morocco to the Universal Periodic Review process since its beginning and commended its serious commitment to promoting economic and social rights, and particularly the rights of women. Thailand looked forward to continuing collaboration with Morocco in the Human Rights Council.
Togo commended the remarkable political will of the Government of Morocco to implement the recommendations, particularly on human rights education and training and the introduction of programmes for children with disabilities. Morocco should continue with those efforts and examine its decision concerning the abolition of the death penalty.
Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peoples deeply regretted that the Working Group had omitted to mention the situation of the Western Sahara in its report and said that the Sahrawi people could not be considered a minority. Morocco should revise its Constitution to respect the actual international juridical status of the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Western Sahara.
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies expressed concern regarding grave violations that continued to be committed against the people of Western Sahara by the Moroccan State. It called upon States to condemn ongoing violations and demand that the Human Rights Council be fully informed on the state of rights in the region.
France Liberté Fondation Danielle Miterrand said that it was surprised and concerned that Morocco considered that some of the recommended measures had been or were being implemented. In the last few days peaceful assemblies had been repressed during the visit of the Special Rapporteur on torture. As long as Western Sahara was on the special list of the Special Committee on Decolonization, the United Nations had to take its responsibility to monitor and protect the rights of the Saharawi people.
World Federation of Democratic Youth said that in order to be credible, the Council should never entrust Morocco to report about Western Sahara. That non-self-governing territory needed an independent human rights mechanism to really investigate four decades of gross and continuous human rights violations committed by the Moroccan authorities against Saharawi people, openly and in total impunity.
Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme appreciated the incentive actions taken by Morocco. Noting the visit of the Special Rapporteur on torture, Rencontre Africaine hoped that invitations would be extended to all human rights mandate holders. Despite efforts in rural areas, access to education remained low and additional efforts were needed to ensure progress in other areas such as respect for freedom of expression and the rights of migrants.
Association for the Prevention of Torture noted that Morocco had accepted recommendations concerning the prevention of torture and indicated that the Government had adopted legislation concerning the ratification of international instruments in this regard. Concerning the creation of a national mechanism for the prevention of torture, the Association for the Prevention of Torture echoed the recommendations put forward by the Moroccan National Human Rights Institution.
International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, in a joint statement, said that Morocco was exercising de facto control over Western Sahara, a non-self governing territory. The International Court of Justice had clearly rejected Morocco’s claim to sovereignty over Western Sahara in its 1975 Advisory Opinion and Morocco’s refusal to agree to a referendum with independence as one of the options was clearly inconsistent with the General Assembly resolution.
Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Cooperation in a joint statement welcomed the establishment of a national human rights institution in Morocco and the commitment of the Government to gender equality. They warned some non-governmental organizations not to be swayed by the propaganda of Polisario militia and to overlook the human rights situation in the Polisario camps.
Al Zubair Charity Foundation said in a joint statement that Morocco was profoundly committed to the promotion and strengthening of its legal framework and legal reforms. Morocco had made efforts to protect the rights of migrants, cooperate with all human rights bodies and protect civil society.
MAHJOUB EL HAIBA, Interministerial Delegate for Human Rights of Morocco, in his closing remarks reiterated the openness of Morocco to cooperate with all human rights bodies and mechanisms. In the past year and a half, Morocco had hosted visits by three Special Procedures, and today was hosting the Special Rapporteur against torture. Those visits were conducted freely and without conditions. Also, Morocco had chosen to work through its national institutions and through civil society and national, regional and international non-governmental organizations. Morocco had set itself the target of two and a half years for the submission of the report on the implementation and would observe this deadline.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Morocco.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Indonesia
EDI YUSUP, Charge d'affairs, Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Indonesia gave serious consideration to comments and recommendations put forward during the Universal Periodic Review process. Indonesia had received a total of 180 recommendations comprising a broad spectrum of issues and human rights aspects, 144 recommendations had been immediately accepted and 36 had been sent to Indonesia for further consultations with the relevant national stakeholders. No recommendation was directly rejected by the Indonesian Delegation during the review. Indonesia had engaged in information dissemination after the review to reach out to the general public, develop a common understanding among stakeholders on the process, and build common ownerships among relevant stakeholders. The report of the Working Group of the Universal Periodic Review had been translated to Bahasa Indonesia.
In determining its position on the 36 pending recommendations, Indonesia had convened broad-based consultations with relevant stakeholders including garnering views from civil society and six more recommendations had been accepted, the majority fell in line and supported Indonesia’s human rights agenda. Thirty recommendations did not enjoy Indonesia’s support for the following reasons: first, they did not reflect the actual situation or the challenges faced by Indonesia; second, they were subject to further national debates for the possible inclusion in the next human rights action plan, such as the recommendation on the adoption of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which had recently been adopted by the General Assembly; third, some of the recommendations were not relevant since the measures had already been fully implemented.
Some of the recommendations received during the review had already been implemented, such as the ratification of the Optional Protocols of the Convention on the Rights of the Child regarding children in armed conflict and regarding the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Further initiatives to develop the legal framework were underway, such as decrees on programmes for the promotion of human rights-friendly districts, human rights parameters in the formulation of by-laws, and the finalisation of a Bill of Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Incidents connoting religious intolerance regrettably continued to take place in some communities, but Indonesia was determined to resolve the issue in a comprehensive manner and to address any challenges and gaps in advancing the cause of human rights.
Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas Ham) expressed regret about the reluctance of Indonesia to accept recommendations concerning critical issues, including ending impunity, freedom of religion and intolerance, ending violence in Papua, and protection of minorities and vulnerable groups such as women, children, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and religious minorities. The Commission recommended that the Government optimize forums for consultations with stakeholders in the process of reporting to the next Universal Periodic Review session in 2016.
Lao People’s Democratic Republic was pleased to note that Indonesia had accepted large numbers of recommendations and had started taking the necessary steps to implement them. Indonesia was actively cooperating and sharing best practices in promoting and protecting human rights at regional and international levels.
Malaysia was aware of the need for Indonesia, and all countries, to be afforded the necessary time and space to make improvements in the human rights of its people. Malaysia was confident that Indonesia would continue to be committed to implementing the recommendations from its second Universal Periodic Review.
Thailand commended Indonesia’s integration of recommendations into its national human rights action plan. It looked forward to continuing the strong cooperation between the two countries to promote and protect human rights in the region and beyond.
Morocco applauded Indonesia’s staunch commitment towards promoting human rights and its spirit of openness. It welcomed efforts undertaken by the Government, particularly those in support of vulnerable sections of society. Also commended was Indonesia’s decision to accept almost all recommendations addressed last May.
Myanmar was pleased to note that Indonesia continued to be committed to cooperation with the United Nations human rights mechanisms in reviewing domestic laws in line with international norms and standards, and that it had conducted human rights education and training courses for law enforcement officers.
Sri Lanka commended Indonesia for accepting 150 recommendations, including those made by Sri Lanka concerning human rights training and education and the participation of women in the legislature. Sri Lanka was encouraged by Indonesia’s assurance that human rights education and training would continue to enjoy the highest level of attention from the Government. Many of the accepted recommendations were already an integral part of the national human rights plan.
Philippines acknowledged Indonesia’s ready acceptance of the recommendations to consider the ratification of several human rights instruments, and was encouraged by Indonesia’s acceptance of recommendations related to human rights education, making it permanent at all levels of education, and protection of women’s rights, in particular victims of trafficking in persons.
Russia said that Indonesia’s participation in the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review attested to its commitment to human rights. Russia welcomed the acceptance of recommendations concerning the strengthening of Indonesia’s legal framework and in particular the provision of training on human rights issues for the police and elements of the justice system, as recommended by Russia.
Saudi Arabia said that Indonesia had made it clear that it wished to continue dialogue and cooperation on human rights across the board and at all levels. The update on legislative changes by Indonesia was appreciated and Saudi Arabia commended the country for its efforts in ensuring access to education.
Singapore commended Indonesia’s constructive approach to the Universal Periodic Review and its commitment to improving the human rights of its people. Singapore endorsed the adoption of the report on Indonesia and, as a fellow Asian country, looked forward to working with Indonesia, including in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Intergovernmental Commission for Human Rights.
South Africa appreciated the information provided on recommendations not addressed during the session of the Working Group and recognized the continued support of Indonesia for the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights. South Africa particularly applauded the importance accorded by Indonesia to the right to education and the achievement of education related to the Millennium Development Goals.
Pakistan said that it appreciated the cooperative and constructive manner in which Indonesia had engaged in the process. Pakistan was also pleased that 150 recommendations out of 180 had been accepted and recommended that the Council adopt the report on Indonesia.
Viet Nam said that it highly appreciated the acceptance by Indonesia of the three recommendations that Viet Nam had submitted. It encouraged Indonesia to continue to implement its commitments in the promotion and protection of human rights in close cooperation with United Nations Members, human rights mechanisms, and relevant stakeholders.
Human Rights Watch said it regretted that Indonesia had not accepted recommendations made to release from prison political detainees in Papua and the Moluccas Island. It urged Indonesia to accept calls to permit access to Papua and West Papua provinces, and to issue a standing invitation to United Nations human rights experts to visit those areas.
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network in a joint statement drew the Council’s attention to sustained discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in Indonesia and regretted that Indonesia rejected Spain’s recommendation on this subject. Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network asked Indonesia to prevent the enactment of legislation criminalising sexual relations between same sex persons and to proactively stop intolerant groups from making homophobic and transphobic rhetoric, which often resulted in assaults.
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development was concerned that the recommendations on the protection of human rights defenders did not enjoy Indonesia’s support. Indonesia had expressed its commitment to ensure the freedom of religion for all. The recommendation to hold law enforcement officials accountable and conduct human rights trainings should be immediately implemented.
Asian Legal Resource Centre noted that Indonesia had failed to accept the recommendation calling for the use of civilian instead of military courts to examine abuses against prisoners. The Asian Legal Resource Centre called on Indonesia to adopt comprehensive measures to better address the escalation of violence in Papua, including granting access to human rights actors and journalists, inviting the Special Rapporteur on indigenous people to visit, and protecting human rights defenders.
Action Canada for Population and Development welcomed the pledge of Indonesia to address sexual and reproductive rights in the country, as the existing programmes were not adequate for the needs of adolescents. The Government should use the guidelines on sexuality education developed by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation and other United Nations agencies and programmes.
International Commission of Jurists in a joint statement welcomed the commitment of Indonesia to ratify the Convention against Enforced Disappearance and to combat impunity. This included also addressing the right to truth and reparation for victims of enforced disappearances and their families.
Amnesty International noted that several of the 2008 Universal Periodic Review recommendations were yet to be implemented by Indonesia, including combating impunity. Indonesia must take urgent steps to protect minorities from discrimination and violence and to hold perpetrators accountable. Amnesty International was particularly concerned about provisions in the Criminal Code and other laws which did not comply with the international obligations of Indonesia and should be repealed.
Forum on Indonesian Development said, in a video message, that the situation of religious minority groups in Indonesia was worsening. Of deepest concern was the practice of violence ongoing in Papua. The Forum on Indonesian Development urged Indonesia to concretely implement the 144 recommendations accepted, to accept the remaining 36 recommendations, and to hold peaceful dialogue with representatives of the Papuan people.
North-South XXI urged Indonesia to support the effort to create a Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change, who could act to increase awareness of the potential harm to human rights that was resulting from the international community’s failure to take action based on the existing science and principles of international law.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Finland
PAIVI KAIRAMO-HELLA, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the Universal Periodic Review provided an important channel to elaborate on national achievements and challenges in the field of human rights in a constructive and equal basis between States. The national Universal Periodic Review process was based on consultation and the active role of civil society. Racist, discriminatory and xenophobic attitudes continued to be part of every day life in Finland: violence against women remained one of the most fundamental obstacles to the realization of women’s rights; while part of the population was in danger of being marginalized. Those challenges were also future priorities and the priority and commitments of the Finnish human rights policy would be defined in the extensive report to be presented to the Parliament in 2014.
Of the 78 recommendations made during its Universal Periodic Review in May, Finland had fully adopted 71, partially accepted four and rejected three. Many of the fully accepted recommendations were already in the process of being implemented. Finland had partially accepted two and rejected one recommendation on human rights education and training of professional groups, the reason being the highly autonomous nature of the Finnish higher education institutions. Those institutions decided by themselves on the content and the nature of their education and that was why the Government could not accept any requirement of a mandatory element imposed on higher education institutions. On 11 September, the Government had presented its views on the recommendations to the Finnish civil society and welcomed their participation in and contribution to the implementation process.
Morocco thanked Finland for its presentation and welcomed the frankness and transparency that prevailed during the discussions. Morocco noted the efforts of Finland to combat racism and xenophobia, to prevent violence against women, and to review procedures for asylum seekers, unaccompanied minors and persons with disabilities. Finland’s acceptance of most recommendations attested to its commitment to fulfil international obligations, in particular the prevention of xenophobia.
Philippines welcomed Finland’s ready acceptance of the recommendation to continue the process of ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families and ILO Convention 189 on decent work for domestic workers. The Philippines acknowledged Finland’s consistent efforts to continue a broad and participatory process in implementing its national human rights action plan.
Romania appreciated the professionalism with which Finland participated and its preparation for the process represented an example of good practice. Romania took note of the fact that most recommendations were accepted and that Finland made a series of commitments concerning the next cycle. The setting up of the network for fundamental freedoms and human rights represented a good practice that may be emulated.
Thailand appreciated Finland’s careful response to the Universal Periodic Review recommendations and thanked Finland for accepting both recommendations made by Thailand. Thailand welcomed the efforts to protect and assist victims of violence against women and human trafficking in practice and through its legislative projects. Thailand attached importance to both technical cooperation and anti-human trafficking efforts and stood ready to explore venues for cooperation.
Algeria welcomed the clear responses provided regarding the pending recommendations and the voluntary commitment made by Finland to renew its engagement regarding the development assistance objective. Algeria noted Finland’s will to eradicate racism, xenophobia, and inequality. It encouraged Finland to ensure a balanced approach between freedom of expression and the distribution of racist, xenophobic, or isalmophobic material on the internet.
Benin said that Finland had made qualitative progress in the promotion and protection of human rights. Benin encouraged Finland to continue with reforms to ensure the enjoyment of human rights in keeping with international law and would like to have an exchange of experiences with it. Benin recommended that the report be adopted by the Council.
Iran said that it had made recommendations on existing human rights violations, including the existing inequality and discrimination against women and children, migrant workers, and workers in Finland. Highly effective measures were expected to be taken to prevent and combat the dissemination of racist and Islamophobic propaganda, particularly in the press and on the internet.
European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation commended Finland for accepting the recommendation to increase its efforts in combating discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Transgender and intersex persons continued to face serious discrimination, including bullying in schools and in the employment market. Children should not be treated unequally depending on their parents’ gender or orientation.
Amnesty International welcomed support for recommendations to combat violence against women and children and to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. Amnesty International was dismayed by Finland’s investigation of its participation in the CIA rendition programme. Inquiries by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to government agencies and the United States did not qualify as the independent, impartial and thorough investigation legally required under international obligations.
Save the Children International called on Finland to prioritize children’s rights issues and establish a system for legal guardians in observance of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the principle of the best interests of the child. Finland should further strengthen the measures to fight all forms of discrimination, including discrimination against children with disabilities and immigrant, refugee and asylum seeking children.
International Fellowship of Reconciliation regretted that there were no follow up recommendations in the current review of Finland regarding conscientious objection to military service. International Fellowship of Reconciliation welcomed the decision that those who refused both military and civilian service would no longer be routinely imprisoned, but the practice of electronic tagging was not appropriate.
PÄIVI KAIRAMO-HELLA, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the constructive dialogue had provided Finland with tools to assess the implementation of the 2008 Universal Periodic Review recommendations and recommendations made to Finland by other human rights bodies.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Finland.
For use of the information media; not an official record