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Human Rights Council adopts outcomes of Universal Periodic Review of Sweden, Grenada, Turkey and Kuwait

Human Rights Council
MORNING/MIDDAY

26 June 2015

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Sweden, Grenada, Turkey and Kuwait.

At the beginning of the meeting, the President of the Council, Joachim Ruecker, said that 26 June was the International Day of the Victims of Torture and reminded that the United Nations Voluntary Fund provided support to 60,000 victims of torture.

Jan Knutsson, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Sweden accepted 154 recommendations out of 208 received, adding that its 2015 budget bill would include the establishment of a national institution with the competence to promote and protect human rights in accordance with the Paris Principles.  Comprehensive legislation prohibiting racial profiling was already in place, and Sweden intended to adopt a national plan on combatting crimes of hatred, racism and xenophobia.  Sweden was considering appointing an inquiry to examine a legal framework on pre-trial detention and special attention would be given to the treatment of minors in pre-trial detention.  In June 2014 an independent inquiry was commissioned to consider whether a specific provision on torture should be introduced in the penal law; this report was due on 1 September 2015.

Speakers congratulated Sweden on measures concerning organizations representing indigenous peoples and national minorities, in particular the Sami Parliament, and welcomed Sweden’s acceptance to combat hate speech, racism, and hatred of foreigners.  Delegations encouraged Sweden to integrate the Convention on the Rights of the Child into its legislation in the very near future, and raised concern about the opportunities for racist and fascist organizations to spread their ideology and hate through public manifestations.  Some of the challenges for Sweden were forced deportation of foreigners, imprisonment of immigration detainees, and discrimination based on age, religion and ethnicity, in particular for Roma and Sami.  Extended isolation of prisoners and detainees should be the exception rather than the rule.

Speaking in the discussion were Sudan, Viet Nam, Albania, Algeria, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Chad, China, Council of Europe, Cuba, India, and Sierra Leone.  Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, Save the Children International, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and Swedish Federation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (joint statement).

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Sweden.

Robert Branch, Senior Legal Counsel at the Ministry of Legal Affairs of Grenada, thanked the delegates for their positive assessment of Grenada’s achievements in the area of human rights protection, and for their recognition of the challenges faced by small island developing States.  Out of 104 recommendations, Grenada accepted 62 and noted 42.  Grenada accepted to establish a national human rights institution and ombudsman in line with the Paris Principles, and ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2012.  Grenada could not accept the recommendation to abolish the death penalty.  Mr. Branch stressed that women enjoyed high participation in political life and the public administration: 28 per cent on public sector boards, 29.1 per cent on trade unions, and 54 per cent on non-governmental organization boards. 

In the discussion on Grenada, speakers commended the legal measures to improve the human rights situation nationally, and noted with appreciation the ongoing constitutional reform process, the creation of a new Child Protection Act, and the Education Act.  They recognized the work carried out on education, the fight against poverty, and the health system, and called upon the international community to provide support to Grenada in accordance with its national priorities. 

Sierra Leone, Venezuela, China, and Cuba took the floor.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Grenada.

Mehmet Ferden Carikci, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the Universal Periodic Review process, inherently conducted in a constructive spirit and a non-politicized manner, presented a unique opportunity for a constructive improvement in the field of human rights for United Nations Member States.  The recommendations based on an objective assessment of the human rights situation of the State under review could be an important tool to contribute in a constructive manner to each State’s human rights agenda.  Turkey received 278 recommendations, of which it supported 215 and considered that some of those were already implemented; the acceptance of roughly 80 per cent of the recommendations was proof of Turkey’s strong commitment to the Universal Periodic Review. 

In the ensuing discussion, speakers welcomed the 2010 constitutional amendments which introduced positive changes in respect of women, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities.  The Judicial Reform Package aimed to strengthen the independence of the judiciary, expand the scope of freedoms and ensure improvement in the freedom of expression, while the Democratization Package provided for a wide-spectrum of human rights and freedoms.  Delegations appreciated efforts to strengthen human rights institutions in the country and welcomed the establishment of the Ombudsman and the national human rights institution.  The persistence of politically motivated arrests, prosecutions and harassment of journalists, and violence and discrimination against women were cited as issues of concern, and speakers called on Turkey to adopt comprehensive legislation to combat discrimination.

Speaking were Honduras, India, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, and Qatar.  Also speaking were the following non-governmental organizations: Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, Minority Rights Group, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (joint statement), Syriac Universal Alliance, Action Canada for Population and Development, Article 19-International Centre against Censorship, Gazeteciler ve Yazarlar Vakfi, Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Coopération Economique Internationale, Africa Culture International, Jubilee Campaign, and Amnesty International.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Turkey.

Jamal Alghunaim, Permanent Representative of Kuwait to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that recommendations made to Kuwait had been reviewed by all institutions in Kuwait, including a standing inter-ministerial body established for that purpose only.  Kuwait accepted 178 recommendations and rejected 71 because they were at odds with the constitution and Islamic Sharia.  Kuwait accepted 40 recommendations in the area of labour rights, 21 recommendations related to its legislative framework, all recommendations on its cooperation with the United Nations human rights mechanisms, and all six recommendations relating to human trafficking, and had adopted a law to combat this practice.  Kuwait also accepted the recommendations pertaining to the rights of the elderly, development, and the humanitarian sector, while the recommendation to establish a national human rights institution was already implemented.  Kuwait was a country where the rule of law and social justice prevailed.

Delegations welcomed the commitment of Kuwait to the full protection of women’s rights and the laws, policies and programmes to address discrimination and violence against the most vulnerable, particularly women, the elderly, children and foreign migrants.  Speakers took positive note of the adoption of the 2013 law on people trafficking and smuggling of migrants, and highly commended humanitarian and relief operations of Kuwait throughout the world.  It was regrettable that Kuwait refused to abolish the death penalty and criminalize domestic sexual violence, and that the prosecution of bloggers, opposition activists and human rights defenders for “undermining the status of the emir” remained widespread.

Speaking were Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and State of Palestine.  Also taking the floor were Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, Human Rights Watch, Al-Salam Foundation (joint statement), International Service for Human Rights, International Lesbian and Gay Association, International Council of South America, Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Coopération Economique Internationale, and African Development Association.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Kuwait.

The Council will next meet at 3 p.m. this afternoon to continue its general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms, followed by a general debate on the Universal Periodic Review.

Statement by the President

JOACHIM RUECKER, President of the Human Rights Council, reminded that the International Day of the Victims of Torture was observed on June 26.  He added that the Voluntary Fund of the United Nations  supported 60,000 victims of torture.

Consideration of the Outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Sweden

JAN KNUTSSON, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the promotion and protection of human rights was a core value and a central priority of Sweden and a cornerstone of its foreign policy.  Dialogue and constructive scrutiny contributed to strengthening the values on which societies were based on.  Sweden had received 208 recommendations, of which it had immediately accepted 154, and postponed those which required more time for consideration.  Such was the recommendation to establish a national human rights institution; the Government would introduce in its 2015 budget bill a strategy for the systematic work for human rights which would include vesting a national institution with the competence to promote and protect human rights in accordance with the Paris Principles.  With regard to racism, intolerance and discrimination, Sweden had already undertaken the steps to combat hate crimes; it had in place comprehensive legislation prohibiting racial profiling and would adopt a national plan on combatting crimes of hatred, racism and xenophobia.  Sweden was considering appointing an inquiry to examine a legal framework on pre-trial detention and special attention would be given to the treatment of minors in pre-trial detention.  Additional analysis was needed before taking the decision on whether to ratify the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Sweden had commissioned in June 2014 an independent inquiry to consider whether a specific provision on torture should be introduced in the penal law; this report was due on 1 September 2015.  More explanations on all 44 recommendations that had been postponed during the review were provided in the addendum.

Sudan commended the positive engagement of Sweden with the Universal Periodic Review, including measures referring to the raising of public awareness on human rights education in school curricula, and the fight against xenophobia.

Viet Nam welcomed new developments in the promotion of human rights made by Sweden, and the fact that it had accepted most of the recommendations.  It noted that the Universal Periodic Review process was a good mechanism to promote human rights.

Albania congratulated Sweden on further measures undertaken regarding organizations representing indigenous peoples and national minorities, in particular the Sami Parliament’s right, including the Minerals Act and Ordinance, and work on discrimination against Roma.

Algeria commended Sweden for having accepted most of the recommendations, including measures to provide equal pay to men and women, and to combat religious hate and racism, as well as acts of violence against persons of African descent.

Angola congratulated Sweden for having accepted most of the recommendations and encouraged it to incorporate the Convention on the Rights of the Child into national legislation.

Botswana appreciated that Sweden had accepted to strengthen measures against hate
speech and discrimination, and to protect the rights of asylum seeking children.

Bulgaria encouraged Sweden to fully respect its international human rights obligations and the effectiveness of the efforts to combat racism, xenophobia and hatred of foreigners.

Burkina Faso recognized the considerable efforts of Sweden to protect the rights of migrants and minorities, and ensure equality between women and men and the rights of children.  The human rights challenges were enormous and Burkina Faso encouraged Sweden to continue with its efforts.

Chad welcomed the fact that Sweden had made the promotion and protection of human rights of all its priority and that it considered that there was no room for racism and hatred, which the police actively combatted.

China commended Sweden for accepting most of the recommendations, including the one made by China to protect the rights of vulnerable groups and on housing.  China supported the adoption of Sweden’s report.

Council of Europe pointed to the challenges that Sweden was facing, including the forced deportation of foreigners, imprisonment of immigration detainees, as well as discrimination based on age, religion and ethnicity, in particular for Roma and Sami.  Extended isolation of prisoners and detainees should be the exception rather than the rule.

Cuba reiterated that there were still significant challenges in Sweden, such as discrimination and incitement to racial hatred, despite the measures adopted.  It also  regretted Sweden’s failure to take measures to guarantee access to evidence to all persons subjected to some form of privacy abrogation.

India commended Sweden for the receptive and constructive manner in which it had participated in the Universal Periodic Review.  It was encouraging that Sweden had accepted as many as 154 recommendations.

Iran noted that the measures that Sweden had taken to prohibit and prevent racism and xenophobia were not satisfying.  It also expressed serious concerns over the targeting of Muslims. 

Sierra Leone commended the ongoing efforts to address the high suicide rate in Sweden, and encouraged the Government to integrate the Convention on the Rights of the Child into national legislation in the very near future.

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik noted with concern the reports on extremely long asylum procedures, and the denial of asylum on the grounds of so-called evidential shortcomings to political asylum seekers who were in grave danger of arrest and other prosecution in their home countries solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to free expression, sexual orientation or religion.

Save the Children International raised concern about access to justice for children and called on Sweden to ratify the Third Optional Protocol and give the mandate to the Ombudsman for children to receive individual complaints from children without the consent of the legal guardian.  Disparities between municipalities in terms of the support available to vulnerable children at the local level were a major driver of inequalities between children and an issue of concern.

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom said that around 70 women were killed each year in Sweden by a current or former partner.  The allocation of resources to gender equality and women’s security remained very low.  A concern was raised about the opportunities for racist and fascist organizations to spread their ideology and hate through public manifestation.

Swedish Federation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, in a joint statement with the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, commended Sweden’s efforts to prosecute hate speech, but urged the Government to protect transgender persons under the law against discrimination.  It was critical that the rule of non-refoulement also be applied on the basis of sexual orientation.  It welcomed the Government’s decision to establish a national human institution in line with the Paris Principles.

The President of the Council said out of 208 recommendations, 154 were accepted and 54 noted.
 
JAN KNUTSSON, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in concluding remarks, said that many important issues were brought to attention during the discussion and that the Government of Sweden would consider them in the follow-up of the review.  The Government saw the recommendations as an important input for its future work related to human rights.  Sweden would develop a new strategy for human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Swedish foreign policy.  The follow-up would be a central part of the mandate for the Swedish Inter-Ministerial Working Group for Human Rights.  The Government would develop a strategy for  systematic work on human rights, including a proposal for a national institution with the competence to promote and protect human rights in accordance with the Paris Principles.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Grenada
 
ROBERT BRANCH, Senior Legal Counsel at the Ministry of Legal Affairs of Grenada, thanked delegates who had participated in the review for their positive assessment of Grenada’s achievements in the area of human rights protection, and for their recognition of the challenges faced by small island developing States.  The Government of Grenada had met with a broad group of stakeholders in order to address the accepted recommendations.  Out of 104 recommendations, Grenada accepted 62 and noted 42.  Among the accepted ones was the establishment of a national human rights institution and ombudsman in line with the Paris Principles.   Another one referred to the rights of persons with disabilities and Grenada had ratified the relevant convention in 2012.  The abolition of the death penalty could not be accepted.  Mr. Branch stressed that women enjoyed high participation in political life and public administration: 28 per cent on public sector boards, 29.1 per cent on trade unions, and 54 per cent on non-governmental organization boards. 

Sierra Leone commended the legal measures to improve the human rights situation in Grenada nationally, and noted with appreciation the ongoing constitutional reform process, the creation of a new Child Protection Act, and the Education Act.

Venezuela said that education was a priority in Grenada which was free from the age of five to 16.  Venezuela also noted the Fund for the Needy, the Water Programme and day care centres that helped working parents.

China thanked Grenada for accepting the recommendations made by China, namely to further improve education standards, provide quality human rights resources for socio-economic development, and further reduce poverty and increase economic growth.

Cuba recognized the work carried out on education and the health system, as well as the fight against poverty, and called upon the international community to provide support to Grenada in accordance with its national priorities.  Grenada should continue efforts to improve the rights of persons with disabilities.

The President said that out of 104 recommendations received, 62 enjoyed the support of Grenada and 42 were noted.

ROBERT BRANCH, Senior Legal Counsel at the Ministry of Legal Affairs of Grenada, reaffirmed Grenada’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights through international conventions that it had ratified.  It would continue to address the human rights needs of its people.  Mr. Branch acknowledged the work of the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights, and members of the troika: Japan, Mexico and the United States for their assistance in compiling the recommendations.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Turkey

MEHMET FERDEN CARIKCI, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the Universal Periodic Review process had tremendous potential to significantly contribute to the enhancement of human rights on the global scale.  The Universal Periodic Review process, inherently conducted in a constructive spirit and a non-politicized manner, presented a unique opportunity for constructive improvement in the field of human rights for United Nations  Member States.  The Universal Periodic Review recommendations based on an objective assessment of the human rights situation of the State under review could be an important tool to contribute in a constructive manner to each State’s human rights agenda.  At the session of its Universal Periodic Review Working Group Report on 29 January, Turkey had accepted 199 out of 278 recommendations made during the review and declared that responses to 52 recommendations would be provided in due course.  Turkey announced that following a careful consideration by relevant authorities, it had provided a written account of its assessment of the 52 recommendations in the addendum presented at the session.  Out of the 278 recommendations, 215 enjoyed Turkey’s support, some of them considered to be already implemented.  This meant that Turkey had accepted roughly 80 per cent of the recommendations which was proof of its strong commitment to the Universal Periodic Review. 

Honduras urged Turkey to scale up its efforts in improving its human rights situation and urged it to demonstrate the same commitment for the recommendations of the second cycle.  Honduras recommended the adoption of the report.

India encouraged Turkey to accept all recommendations, including that of India.  India recommended the adoption of the report on the Universal Periodic Review and wished Turkey success in implementing all recommendations.

Kuwait thanked Turkey for the detailed report and welcomed the fact that Turkey had accepted the majority of the recommendations, and that it had shown its commitment through legislation.  Kuwait acknowledged that Turkey had acceded to many human rights documents, and had hosted many refugees.

Oman welcomed the commitment of Turkey to the promotion and protection of human rights in line with international human rights mechanisms and said that the acceptance of many recommendations was evidence of the attachment of Turkey to human rights.

Pakistan appreciated steps taken by Turkey to implement its human rights obligations, including through strengthening of human rights institutions in the country, and acknowledged efforts for women’s empowerment and to eliminate discrimination against women.

Rwanda recognized the positive engagement by Turkey with the Human Rights Council in the Universal Periodic Review process and took note with appreciation of the acceptance of a significant number of recommendations.  This indicated Turkey’s great commitment to promoting and protecting human rights.

Sierra Leone applauded Turkey for its intention to establish a new human rights mechanism as part of the Government’s political commitment.  It encouraged Turkey to implement into national norms and judicial processes the recommendations that it had accepted.

Sudan noted the positive engagement of Turkey with the Universal Periodic Review process and the fact that it had accepted most of the recommendations.

Syria said that given Turkey’s previous statement that the Universal Periodic Review should not be used for political purposes, its rejection of Syria’s recommendations was contrary to its previous discourse.  It regretted that Turkey did not take measures to counter terrorism.

Tajikistan commended Turkey’s willingness to cooperate with international human rights mechanisms, and its efforts to strengthen the rule of law and improve the protection of the rights of women and their access to education.  

Togo welcomed Turkey’s openness and transparency during the second Universal Periodic Review and noted with satisfaction that Turkey had accepted three of the recommendations proposed by Togo.  Therefore Togo recommended the adoption of the report. 

United Kingdom thanked Turkey for its continued commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process.  It welcomed the acceptance of its recommendation to take steps to ensure the upholding of international obligations on the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, and commended Turkey for hosting around two million refugees from the crises in Syria and Iraq.

Venezuela commended the Turkish Government for its commitment to the implementation of human rights legislation, as well as the creation and strengthening of institutions such as the national human rights institution, the Ombudsman and a Constitutional Protection System.  Venezuela also valued Turkey’s move to give access to education to its citizens on an equal footing and recommended that the report be adopted.

Afghanistan welcomed the 2010 constitutional amendments which introduced positive changes in respect of women, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities, and brought Turkey’s constitutional system in line with its international obligations.

Albania appreciated the judicial reform package which had introduced substantial legislative amendments to strengthen the independence of the judiciary, expanding the scope of freedoms and ensuring further improvement in the freedom of expression.

Azerbaijan applauded the establishment of the Ombudsman and the national human rights institution, as well as the adoption of the judicial reform package and the democratization package which aimed at strengthening the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, and providing a wide-spectrum of human rights and freedoms.

Qatar commended the fact that the protection and promotion of human rights was part of Turkey’s objectives and priorities, and that its recommendations were among those accepted by Turkey.

Sudwind drew attention to the inhuman living and working conditions of Iranian refugees in Turkey, noting also that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, political prisoners and women victims of domestic violence were especially vulnerable groups.   Refugees and asylum seekers did not enjoy full rights, even though Turkey had ratified the Convention on the Rights of Migrants and Their Family Members.  They did not enjoy the right to work and health service.

Minority Rights Group regretted Turkey’s discriminatory conception of minority rights.  Turkey recognized only Armenians, Jews and Greek Orthodox as minorities.  It deplored that Turkey rejected all recommendations calling for the ratification of international instruments on minority rights.

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, in a joint statement with International Lesbian and Gay Association, welcomed Turkey’s statement affirming that discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transsexual community would not be tolerated, and thanked Turkey for ensuring the punishment of violence against them.  It urged Turkey to bring its domestic laws in line with international legislation to prohibit and prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Syriac Universal Alliance welcomed Turkey’s acceptance of the recommendations regarding human rights, minority rights, and anti-discriminatory measures.  It regretted that the report did not mention the indigenous Aramean population in south east Turkey and urged Turkey to grant them legal status, as well as adopt other measures in the promotion of their cultural, economic, and civil rights.

Action Canada regretted that Turkey had not accepted the recommendations on gender equality and discrimination against women.  At the same time, it welcomed Turkey’s acceptance of the recommendations on the access of women to safe abortion, as well as the recommendations on comprehensive sexuality education. 

Article 19-International Centre against Censorship welcomed the recommendation that Turkey decriminalize defamation and noted the continuing prosecution of individuals for insulting public officials, and said that politically motivated arrests, prosecutions and harassment of journalists persisted. 

Gazeteciler ve Yazarlar Vakfi took note of Turkey’s commitment to improve women’s rights and to bring national laws in compliance with international standards, and then expressed grave concern about the increase of violence against women and femicide in recent years.  Those were not individual random acts but a sign of a structural problem.  

Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Coopération Economique Internationale welcomed the National Plan of Action against domestic violence and the draft law on the elimination of violence against women.  Turkey should adopt comprehensive legislation to combat discrimination, which would contain a clear definition of discrimination against women.

Africa Culture International said that Turkey had made a lot of progress in adhering to international and regional human rights mechanisms, and it had continued to cooperate with international organizations.  It advocated the development of stable links for the stabilization of States and for cohesion of all interested parties.

Jubilee Campaign, in a joint statement with Christian Solidarity International, urged Turkey to implement recommendations pertaining to the freedoms of expression and religion.  There was heavy media censorship and many journalists were in detention.  It urged Turkey to remove restrictions on freedom of religion, such as the establishment of places of worship and education of religious minorities.

Amnesty International noted that the more specific recommendations addressing some human rights challenges had been rejected by Turkey.  It was disappointing that Turkey had rejected key recommendations to amend or abolish laws which were used to unfairly limit the right to freedom of expression. 

The President of the Council said that out of 278 recommendations, 215 were supported whereas 63 were noted.

Turkey thanked participants for their constructive recommendations, and regretted attempts to divert the focus of the session and politicize it.  Universal human rights were deeply engrained in the cultural values of Turkey.  The scope of fundamental rights and freedoms in Turkey had expanded, thanks to the wide array of legal measures adopted in the past two decades, popularly referred to as the “silent revolution.”  Minority rights were in accordance with the Lausanne Peace Treaty, pursuant to which minorities were defined.  Turkish citizens from non-Muslim minorities enjoyed all rights that other citizens enjoyed.  In addition, a full range of measures had been undertaken to ensure the cultural rights of these minorities.  The Kurdish, Armenian and Syriac languages were now taught and restrictions had been lifted on teaching them.  Defendants  from these communities facing charges now could express themselves in court in their own language.  A new Syriac Church would be built in Istanbul and the restoration of a grand Synagogue was almost completed.  These were all testimonies of Turkey’s commitment to coexistence and to addressing human rights and cultural rights. 

Regardless of the identity and irrespective of sexual practice or religious orientation, equality was in practice, and discrimination was combatted.   The absence of specific rights for specific communities did not mean that these were not granted.  There were laws in place to combat hate crimes.  Open debates were regularly organized to combat discrimination against the Allevie community.  Regarding the law referring to the “internal security process”  it had been adopted in March, 2015 March, and it regulated  law empowerment officers who had committed a crime.  With regard to freedom of expression and the media, legal measures had been adopted in 2012 and 2013, and processing related to press officers had been suspended.   Pluralism existed in the media section, with 221 private TV channels and 4,000 newspapers.  Turkey would keep on addressing human rights challenges.

Consideration of the Outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Kuwait

JAMAL ALGHUNAIM, Permanent Representative of Kuwait to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in opening remarks, stressed Kuwait’s commitment to strengthen its cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms, and particularly with the Universal Periodic Review.  It welcomed the constructiveness of its review, and said recommendations made to Kuwait had been reviewed by all institutions in Kuwait, including a standing inter-ministerial body established for that purpose only.  One hundred and seventy-eight recommendations had been accepted by Kuwait, and 71 only had been rejected because they were at odds with the constitution and Islamic Sharia.  Kuwait accepted 40 recommendations in the area of labour rights, and had recently adopted a law that governed the use of domestic workers in Kuwait.  As for the legal framework, Kuwait had accepted 21 recommendations.  In the area of cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms, Kuwait had accepted all recommendations.  Kuwait had also accepted all six recommendations relating to human trafficking, and had adopted a law to combat this practice.  The 11 recommendations pertaining to development had all been accepted.  Kuwait had also accepted all recommendations regarding the rights of the elderly and regarding the humanitarian sector.   The recommendation to establish a national human rights institution was already being implemented.   Kuwait was a country where the rule of law and social justice prevailed.  It was a country of generosity and it hosted persons of many nationalities.  Kuwait also attached significant importance to the right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion.  Kuwait was driven to continue to make efforts to overcome challenges it faced and to capitalize on international cooperation.  Instability in the region was leading to more challenges.  In the last three hours, there had been an attack against a Mosque.  Such attacks sought to undermine democracy and the rule of law in Kuwait.  Kuwait welcomed all contributions and constructive criticism, and would engage openly in international cooperation in the field of human rights. 

Morocco condemned the criminal assault and aggression on the Kuwaiti mosque, and expressed solidarity with the Kuwaiti people.  It paid tribute to Kuwait’s palpable endeavours to ensure that human rights were implemented, and noted Kuwait’s positive interaction with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.

Myanmar warmly welcomed the report of Kuwait and was pleased to note that Kuwait had accepted the recommendations made by Myanmar.  It wished Kuwait success and recommended the adoption of the report.

Nepal was pleased that the recommendations made by Nepal had been adopted, including measures on the right to education and health, as well as the promotion and protection of the rights of women, and the security and dignity of migrant workers, including domestic workers.  Nepal recommended the adoption of the report.

Niger welcomed the adoption of the 2013 law on people trafficking and smuggling of migrants, as well as the legislation on the stay of foreigners, rights of persons with disabilities and protection of the environment, and wished all the best to Kuwait.

Oman welcomed the establishment of a human rights mechanism for the protection of children, and mechanisms for the protection of women, and welcomed all the efforts of Kuwait to support those struck by disasters.

Pakistan highly commended humanitarian and relief operations of Kuwait throughout the world and its constructive engagement with the human rights machinery, and called on the Human Rights Council to adopt the report of Kuwait.

Philippines noted Kuwait’s advances in the field of economic, social and cultural rights, and concerning the rights of women and of migrant workers.  Kuwait should take the lead in its region by ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families and other related conventions of the International Labour Organization. 

Qatar welcomed Kuwait’s commitment to cooperate in the field of human rights, as illustrated by Kuwait’s acceptance of a large number of recommendations.  Qatar also commended Kuwait’s humanitarian aid efforts worldwide. 

Rwanda commended Kuwait for accepting its recommendation to establish a national human rights institution and to adopt a national plan of action to achieve gender equality.  Rwanda fully endorsed the adoption of the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Kuwait. 

Saudi Arabia, condemned the terrorist attack on the Mosque in Kuwait, and announced its support to the Government’s actions to protect security in the country.  Saudi Arabia thanked Kuwait for the report and said it had made efforts in human rights, including in the development of the protection of children.  Saudi Arabia commended Kuwait’s adoption of 178 recommendations.

Senegal welcomed the delegation of Kuwait and took note of the additional information provided by Kuwait, in particular with regards to the establishment of the national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles, as well as the steps taken towards the rights of women and migrant workers.  Senegal recommended the adoption of the report.

Sierra Leone noted the constructive engagement by Kuwait during the last periodic review cycle.  It commended the Government’s engagement in the creation of the national human rights institution and encouraged it to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

Singapore welcomed the commitment of Kuwait to the full protection of women’s rights and to the implementation of practical measures to eliminate discrimination against women.  Singapore also welcomed Kuwait’s consistent approach to providing impactful humanitarian assistance to those affected by disasters.

Somalia noted significant advances in the promotion and protection of human rights in Kuwait and particularly welcomed the laws, policies and programmes to address discrimination and violence against the most vulnerable, particularly women, elderly, children and foreign migrants.

South Sudan applauded Kuwait’s efforts to provide official development assistance worldwide and in particular to developing countries, and its efforts to promote and protect of human rights.

Sri Lanka welcomed that its recommendations had been accepted by Kuwait, and welcomed Kuwait’s efforts in the field of human rights and equality between women and men. 

State of Palestine expressed its sympathies to the people of Kuwait after the terrorist attack that took place today.  It welcomed that Kuwait had accepted a large number of recommendations, showing Kuwait’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights. 

Sudwind was disappointed that Kuwait had rejected the recommendations to criminalize domestic sexual violence and the abolition of the death penalty, among others.  Kuwait continued to restrict freedom of expression, press, belief and criticism of the State. 

Human Rights Watch said that the reality on the ground did not reflect the report.  There had been a serious decline in the freedom of speech, with a crack-down on the rights to freedom of speech, the prosecution of critics, and the stripping of political opponents of their nationality.

Alsalam Foundation, in a joint statement with American for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrein Inc, recalled that many countries had made recommendations regarding  the freedom of expression, which was a right that had been suppressed in Kuwait.  Many bloggers were being controlled.  Kuwaiti authorities were urged to release all those imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression. 

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues remained concerned that Kuwait had rejected recommendations regarding the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.  It also expressed concern that bloggers continued to be arbitrarily detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

International Service for Human Rights said that the prosecution of bloggers, opposition activists and human rights defenders for “undermining the status of the emir” remained widespread.  Kuwait should repeal or amend the Public Gathering Law, the Penal Code, national security laws, press regulations, and lèse-majesté and blasphemy laws, which were used to criminalize human rights advocacy.

International Lesbian and Gay Association expressed its concern about the deteriorating situation of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in Kuwait, who suffered discrimination, stigma and lack of access to almost all services, including necessary health service.

Indian Council of South America called upon Kuwait to examine the laws to promote equality of women in the workforce, improve the status of the Bedouins, and continue the cooperation with Special Procedures with the view of developing a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles.

OCAPROCE Internationale welcomed Kuwait’s attention to the rights of women and noted progress in women’s access to the labour market and to higher education.  It expressed concerns however about the law allowing early and forced marriage of girls and about domestic violence against women and girls. 

Africa Culture Internationale welcomed Kuwait’s ratification of international instruments, and its commitment to implement international standards.  It urged human rights organizations to better consider progress made by Kuwait in the field of economic, social and cultural rights. 

African Development Association, in a joint statement with Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs, and Victorious Youths Movement, welcomed the creation of a national human rights institution, a public authority for labour and a service for migrants.  It encouraged Kuwait to continue its reforms and improve the economic and social conditions of migrants. 

The President said that out of 278 recommendations received, 178 enjoyed the support of Kuwait, while 96 were noted.  Additional clarification was provided on 4 recommendations.

JAMAL ALGHUNAIM, Permanent Representative of Kuwait to the United Nations Office at Geneva, expressed his gratitude for the approval of the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review.  Kuwait would further strive to achieve human rights in all fields and it was fully aware that it had not reached the level of ambition that it aspired towards.  More steps and more achievements were needed; Kuwait was therefore thankful for the constructive statements and best practices.  Kuwait did not live in an isolated island but rather in an international environment where pervasive terrorism prevailed, in which a war was being waged against Daesh, and the situation in Syria Libya, Palestine and Yemen was dire.  All these had negative repercussions at the national level, but did not prevent Kuwait from addressing them through the rule of law.  Kuwait was determined to further promote human rights and international humanitarian law.  It expressed its gratitude for the constructive criticism on behalf of non-governmental organizations, while at the same time expressing regret that certain organizations had not studied the laws objectively and did not know the facts.  Kuwait’s permanent delegation in Geneva was ready to respond to any further questions.  For Kuwait, the integrated approach towards the promotion and protection of human rights was a strategic one, and this took into account the cultural traditions of societies.  Kuwait was thankful for the trust and esteem that had been placed in it today, and extended its gratitude to the Human Rights Council, as well as its greetings to his Muslim brothers and sisters for the month of Ramadan.

The Council then  adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Kuwait. 

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For use of the information media; not an official record

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