Human Rights Council
17 March 2017
The Human Rights Council at its midday meeting adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Haiti and South Sudan.
Pierre André Dunbar, Permanent Representative of Haiti to the United Nations Office at Geneva, explained that the implementation of international treaties required financial resources, which was why Haiti could not be party to all international covenants. As for the ratification of the Rome Statute, the Government had taken steps to fight crimes against humanity which did not require the ratification of that instrument. With respect to gender-based and sexual violence, the Constitution made provisions for the enjoyment of the rights of all citizens, regardless of their gender. The identification of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic remained a problem due to the fact that the process required negotiations with the Dominican Republic, which did not always cooperate. Mr. Dunbar also drew attention to the difficult situation in Haiti due to hurricane Matthew which had devastated the southern part of the country.
In the ensuing discussion, speakers commended Haiti’s participation in the Universal Periodic Review despite financial and environmental challenges. It welcomed the legal changes made to raise the legal marrying age, efforts to fight violence against women and girls, and measures to tackle corruption, trafficking in persons and child abuse. Speakers urged the Haitian Government to work closely with the Government of the Dominican Republic to restore Dominican nationality to those arbitrarily deprived of it in 2013. They also called attention to the situation of human rights defenders, the high level of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, as well as the lack of housing.
Speaking were Brazil, Burundi, Congo, Cuba, Ecuador, Ghana, Iraq, Madagascar, Peru, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Maldives, Philippines and Sierra Leone.
Also taking the floor were the following civil society organizations: Franciscans International, Amnesty International, Advocates for Human Rights, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme, Human Rights Watch, Istituto internationale Maria-Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco, Coalition des Organisations haïtiennes des Droits Humains pour l’EPU, and Centre for Global Nonkilling.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Haiti.
Paulino Wanawilla Unango, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of the Republic of South Sudan, said that South Sudan had already acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols, and the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Government was committed to the implementation of the agreement on the resolution of the conflict signed in August 2015, and was carrying out the necessary institutional reforms stipulated in it, particularly the reforms related to organized forces and law enforcement institutions and the criminal justice system.
In the ensuing discussion, delegations welcomed the development of the national strategy for human rights, the setting up of a technical committee for the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing, and the adoption of a framework to mainstream gender issues. Speakers were deeply concerned by appalling levels of sexual violence since the outbreak of the conflict in 2013 and stressed the need for accountability of perpetrators, without which there would be no hope of bringing an end to the ongoing violence. Delegations urged South Sudan to deepen the cooperation with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, work with the African Union on establishing the Hybrid Court, and turn into action its commitment to the deployment of the regional protection force as authorised by Security Council resolution 2304.
Speaking in the discussion were Maldives, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Togo, United Nations Children’s Fund, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Albania, Algeria, Angola and Botswana.
Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Article 19-The International Centre against Censorship, Advocates for Human Rights, East and Horn of Africa Human Right’s Defenders Project (joint statement), Centre Independent de Recherches et initiatives pour le Dialogue, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme, International Service for Human Rights, Lutheran World Federation, and Human Rights Watch.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of South Sudan.
At 2 p.m., the Council will continue its general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms, and then hold a general debate on the Universal Periodic Review.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Haiti
PIERRE ANDRÉ DUNBAR, Permanent Representative of Haiti to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that out of 213 recommendations, Haiti had accepted 188 and noted 25. Haiti had made efforts to regularly submit reports to treaty bodies, including the Universal Periodic Review. He noted that the implementation of international treaties required financial resources, which explained why Haiti could not be party to all international covenants. As for the ratification of the Rome Statute, the Government had taken steps to fight crimes against humanity which did not require the ratification of that instrument.
With respect to gender-based and sexual violence, the Constitution made provisions for the enjoyment of rights for all citizens, regardless of their gender. The identification of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic remained a problem due to the fact that the process required negotiations with the Dominican Republic, which did not always cooperate. As for increasing the minimum marrying age of girls and boys, legislation had already stipulated that that age was 18. The Civil Code prohibited the celebration of marriages between girls and boys below the age of 18 by State officials. As for the request to end all forced expulsions from camps, the authorities was constantly taking steps to prevent them. The Government was not fully able to guarantee the rights of persons expelled from third countries due to socio-economic difficulties in their countries of origin. The Government had not accepted the two recommendations regarding the criminalization of placing children in domestic service and fighting the high rate of adolescent pregnancies. The Government had accepted the three recommendations on the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding between Haiti and the Dominican Republic with respect to repatriation mechanisms. Mr. Dunbar drew attention to the difficult situation in Haiti due to hurricane Matthew which had devastated the southern part of the country.
Brazil praised the Government for its timely examination even in the face of the tragic recent passage of Hurricane Mathew. It was confident that Haiti would foster best efforts to build resilience and implement the recommendations. Brazil praised the Government’s efforts to enhance the living conditions of the poorest, and the implementation of a comprehensive strategy on social assistance, as well as the Government’s respect for the rights of freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly.
Burundi welcomed the measures envisioned by Haiti to raise awareness and educate the population about their rights and duties. It commended the Government’s plan to eliminate corruption, as well as the steps taken towards the promotion and protection of the rights of women. It was pleased to note the creation of the office to combat violence against women and girls.
Congo congratulated Haiti on the significant progress made on the institutional and legal fronts, so as to consolidate national measures for the promotion and protection of human rights. Congo welcomed the will of the Government of Haiti to implement the human rights strategy and called upon the Council to help in its implementation.
Cuba congratulated Haiti for the efforts undertaken for the protection of the Haitian people. The commitment of Haiti was clear. Cuba was happy that its recommendation on cooperation with international mechanisms had been accepted. Cuba appealed to the international community to support Haiti in implementing all rights, particularly the right to development.
Ecuador welcomed the fact that Haiti had accepted the recommendations made by Ecuador in a constructive and open manner, adding hope that there would be positive benefits for the Haitian society. It was aware of the challenges faced by Haiti, notably severe weather conditions.
Ghana noted with satisfaction that a significant number of recommendations enjoyed the support of Haiti. Ghana urged the international community to help Haiti to increase the size of the police force, reform the judicial system, build new prisons, establish a legal aid system, and eradicate illiteracy and gender inequality in education.
Iraq thanked Haiti for having responded positively to its recommendations. It encouraged Haiti to safeguard the rights of women and to pursue the equality of women in decision-making.
Madagascar welcomed the fruitful cooperation of Haiti with the Universal Periodic Review process, and its efforts to promote human rights in spite of natural disasters. It particularly welcomed Haiti’s fight against discrimination of women and girls.
Peru congratulated Haiti for the recent democratic elections. It took note that Haiti had accepted the vast majority of the recommendations, but regretted that the two recommendations by Peru had not been accepted. These had been made in a true constructive spirit.
Nigeria commended Haiti’s compliance with the mechanisms, despite the challenges that the country had faced following the hurricane. Nigeria was pleased to acknowledge the ratification of many human rights mechanisms by Haiti. It joined other delegations in recommending the adoption of the report of the working group on the Universal Periodic Review of Haiti.
Pakistan commended the Government of Haiti for accepting the majority of the recommendations, including those made by Pakistan. Pakistan appreciated that Haiti had made efforts to promote and protect the rights of its citizens, including women, children and persons with disabilities. Pakistan wished Haiti every success in the implementation of the accepted recommendations.
Paraguay welcomed the presentation of Haiti and its efforts to advance human rights. It recognized the willingness of the Government to accept the recommendations by Paraguay, in particular to ratify the International Labour Organization convention on domestic workers and the Convention against Torture. It also stressed the recommendations on the operation of national human rights mechanisms and on improving gender focus.
Maldives appreciated Haiti’s measures towards the protection and promotion of child rights, especially the provision of free education. It also positively noted Haiti’s progress towards disaster risk management and aftermath of natural disasters.
Philippines welcomed Haiti’s acceptance of the recommendation made by the Philippines, namely the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Migrants and their Families and International Labour Organization convention 189 on domestic workers. It also commended Haiti’s reforms in the justice system and measures to tackle corruption, trafficking in persons, violence against women and girls, and child abuse.
Sierra Leone commended Haiti’s participation in the Universal Periodic Review despite financial and environmental challenges. It welcomed the legal changes made to raise the legal marrying age, efforts to fight violence against women and girls, and the acceleration of the Child Protection Code.
Franciscans International, in a joint statement with International Commission of Jurists; and International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, recalled that the Government of Haiti had withdrawn its support for the renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the country. It called on the Government to consider the view of civil society before making the decision about the renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert.
Amnesty International urged the Haitian Government to work closely with the Government of the Dominican Republic to restore Dominican nationality to those arbitrarily deprived of it in 2013. It also called attention to the situation of human rights defenders, and the high level of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, as well as the lack of housing.
Advocates for Human Rights commended the Government for its support of recommendations that addressed women’s human rights, such as reforms to promote gender equality and combat stereotypes, assistance for domestic violence victims, and increasing women’s access to decision-making policies. It remained concerned, however, over the fact that the Government had noted, but not accepted, the recommendation to “eliminate violence against women in all its manifestations.”
Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme appreciated the Government’s efforts and congratulated the Haitian people for their resilience following the hurricane. It remained concerned about the lack of legislation criminalising rape, family violence, discrimination based on sex, extreme poverty, illegal detention, and the situation of children in domestic work. It invited Haiti to improve the access to education, water, and sanitation, in order to prevent disease.
Human Rights Watch continued to have deep concerns related to dire public health conditions in Haiti among the most vulnerable individuals, including those affected by or at risk of outbreaks of cholera. Despite accepting recommendations to ensure access to basic services such as water, housing and health for the population, many instances remained where Haiti could improve water and sanitation coverage.
Istituto internationale Maria-Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco was pleased by the constructive attitude of the Government. Nevertheless, despite efforts to improve the quality of education, there were shortcomings. Demotivation and lack of training for teachers had a negative impact on the quality of education. This was why the majority of children signed up to private schools. The quality of education was directly related to the situation of families.
Centre pour les Droits Civils et Politiques – Centre CCPR welcomed the adoption of the strategic development plan for Haiti and said that extreme poverty continued to plague the country. Hurricane Mathew, the cost of which was estimated at $ 2.7 billion, had aggravated the food security of many in the country and hampered the efforts to improve the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights.
Centre for Global Nonkilling commended Haiti for its acceptance to abolish the death penalty and thanked Haiti for making a recommendation to Iceland to adopt universal basic income which would ensure better living for all. Respect for life must also be seen as respect for one’s own life and therefore addressing suicide must be undertaken.
PIERRE ANDRÉ DUNBAR, Permanent Representative of Haiti to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in concluding remarks, thanked all delegations for their support to Haiti in its efforts to promote and protect human rights and reiterated the will to continue Haiti’s cooperation with all Human Rights Council mechanisms. Haiti was fully committed to implementing all accepted recommendations and reassured all States of the intention of the Government to bolster the legal and institutional framework and so turn the promotion and protection of human rights into a reality.
The Vice-President of the Council said that of the 213 recommendations received, Haiti had supported 188 and noted 25.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Haiti.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of South Sudan
PAULINO WANAWILLA UNANGO, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of the Republic of South Sudan, said the Universal Periodic Review was one of the essential mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights and South Sudan would support its recommendations. South Sudan had received 233 recommendations, of which 203 had enjoyed the support of the South Sudanese Government, while 30 were noted. With respect to the recommendations on the ratification of core international conventions, South Sudan had already acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols, and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. South Sudan was committed to continue to work towards acceding to other major international conventions related to human rights.
The Government of South Sudan reaffirmed its commitment to the implementation of the agreement for the resolution of the conflict signed in August 2015, by carrying out the necessary institutional reforms stipulated in it, particularly the reforms related to organized forces and law enforcement institutions and the criminal justice system. The Government accepted to continue with efforts to harmonize laws and customs with international human rights standards, with the aim of empowering women and protecting children. Implementation of the supported recommendations, which included institutional reforms and capacity building of human resources, entailed the availability of sufficient resources, and the Government would need technical assistance to this effect. The Government of South Sudan appreciated the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for training two South Sudanese officials in the national mechanism on reporting and follow-up and the Government hoped to be offered additional trainings in different mechanisms in all fields of human rights. The South Sudanese Government understood and appreciated that freedom of expression was one of the fundamental rights. Therefore it was endeavouring to improve the enjoyment of this right by the citizens.
Maldives appreciated the establishment of the Ministry for women and children and the establishment of a framework to mainstream gender issues. South Sudan had accepted two recommendations made by Maldives. Maldives wished South Sudan well and encouraged it to continue promoting human rights.
Nigeria noted the continued efforts, despite challenges, in strengthening legal and security institutions aimed at finding a permanent solution to security challenges in the country. Nigeria would continue to support South Sudan in crime investigation.
Pakistan commended South Sudan for accepting the majority of the recommendations and the promulgation of the transitional constitution. Pakistan requested the Council to adopt the outcome report on South Sudan.
Philippines appreciated the enormity of the challenges to the promotion and protection of human rights in South Sudan and encouraged the Government to fulfil its human rights obligations. South Sudan should further seek cooperation with international and regional partners and should aim to ratify additional human rights conventions to which it was not yet a party.
Sierra Leone noted the request by South Sudan for technical assistance for the implementation of the recommendations it had accepted, and welcomed the support for the recommendation to strengthen the transitional justice mechanism through the establishment of the Hybrid Court. Sierra Leone encouraged South Sudan to accede to core human rights instruments and noted with concern that the continued insecurity had led to massive displacement of the population, further exacerbated by the looming famine. South Sudan should prevent the recruitment of child soldiers and violence against its population.
South Africa welcomed the constructive spirit of South Sudan within the dialogue that had taken place regarding the Universal Periodic Review. South Africa was of the view that South Sudan faced challenges of peacekeeping, peacemaking, post-conflict reconstruction, and development. It was important that South Sudan be afforded the space, technical support and capacity-building assistance to give effect to its obligations under the 2015 agreement on the resolution of the conflict. The various elements of the peace process in the country had to be correctly sequenced.
Sudan warmly welcomed the delegation of the brotherly country of the Republic of South Sudan and commended its commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process, including the ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Sudan noted that most of the recommendations had been accepted, including three by Sudan. It recommended that the Human Rights Council adopt the report and wished South Sudan peace and prosperity.
Togo wished a warm welcome to the delegation of South Sudan and the country’s involvement in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. It was pleased that most recommendations had been accepted, including those by Togo. It wished South Sudan every success in implementing the recommendations and invited the international community to intensify the support provided to South Sudan.
UNICEF remained concerned that the security situation continued to be extremely volatile throughout the country, with high levels of grave child rights violations being committed by parties to the conflict. UNICEF appealed to the Government to implement its commitment to the revised action plan to stop the recruitment and use of children, signed on 24 June 2014, and the peace agreement which stipulated that the warring parties should ensure the immediate and unconditional release of child soldiers who were under their command.
United Kingdom welcomed the development of the national strategy for human rights and the establishment of a technical committee for the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing. The United Kingdom was deeply concerned by appalling levels of sexual violence since the outbreak of the conflict in 2013 and stressed the need for accountability of perpetrators. South Sudan should continue to work with the United Nations and the African Union on establishing the Hybrid Court.
United States underscored that in the absence of any accountability for human rights violations, there would be no hope of bringing an end to the ongoing violence. South Sudan was still examining the recommendation on whether to agree to the deployment of the regional protection force as authorised by Security Council resolution 2304. The obstruction of this deployment undermined the stability of the country and risked further atrocities.
Venezuela said that South Sudan cooperated openly with the Universal Periodic Review and appreciated the effort to implement the accepted recommendation, despite the challenges. Venezuela recognized the willingness of South Sudan to achieve improvements and recommended the adoption of the report.
Albania encouraged South Sudan to further strengthen its cooperation with the United Nations human rights mechanisms, including with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.
Algeria thanked South Sudan for presenting additional information and reiterated its appeal to all parties to find a political solution to the crisis facing the country. Algeria thanked South Sudan for accepting recommendations which included Algeria’s recommendations on the rights of women.
Angola thanked South Sudan for having accepted most recommendations, including that of Angola to streamline international human rights standards into national legislation. Angola encouraged South Sudan to end harmful customary and traditional practices.
Botswana appreciated the update provided, and noted South Sudan’s cooperation despite a challenging situation. Botswana supported the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review outcome of South Sudan.
Article 19 said many journalists had been murdered in South Sudan, and many remained in detention. The authorities must desist from harassing non-governmental organizations, and reforms to the law would be necessary to remove obstacles from the work of media workers.
Advocates for Human Rights called on South Sudan to reconsider its position on the Universal Periodic Review recommendations concerning the death penalty and to immediately institute and maintain a moratorium on all executions. It also called on South Sudan to provide access to qualified counsel in all capital cases, and increase public information and transparency about policies and practices related to the use of the death penalty.
East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, in a joint statement with CIVICUS, was shocked that no local civil society organization could participate in the pre-session of the Human Rights Council. Some defenders had been threatened at gunpoint at the airport and prevented from travelling to Geneva. Human rights defenders faced intimidation, torture and death and the Government showed persistent non-cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.
Centre Independent de Recherches et initiatives pour le Dialogue appreciated the position of South Sudan on recommendations, notably regarding the peaceful settlement of conflict and the creation of a Hybrid Court to combat impunity. It invited South Sudan to review its decisions on important recommendations that had not been accepted, including those on the crime of rape and violence against women. What was required was political will, not technical assistance.
Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droids de l’homme said it unfortunately had little to say regarding the deploring human rights situation in South Sudan. The situation in the country was marked by a climate of genocidal strife, impunity, and gender-based violence.
International Service for Human Rights said that the protection of human rights defenders was critical in light of the degrading situation while the delays in the establishment of a Hybrid Court were of great concern. It was worrying that South Sudan did not accept the recommendations to cease attacks against civilians and United Nations premises, and stop unlawful killings and arbitrary detention.
Lutheran World Federation said it would support refugees and internally displaced persons in the country, and would also provide support for the transitional justice process. Further, the non-governmental organization would provide a platform and dialogue for the country’s leaders to overcome political differences.
Human Rights Watch said that five years after independence, South Sudan was mired in a highly abusive and increasingly complex civil war that did not show signs of ending soon despite the 2015 peace agreement. Both sides allowed their forces to carry out serious abuses, blocked humanitarian assistance to people in need, and attacked refugee camps and United Nations compounds. Accountability was key to ending the violence and abuses, thus the establishment of the Hybrid Court was imperative.
PAULINO WANAWILLA UNANGO, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of South Sudan, said South Sudan was doing its level best to protect children during a difficult situation. Regarding the Hybrid Court for South Sudan, the role of the Government was to domesticate the Memorandum of Understanding and then give it back to the African Union. Until now, there had been no official Memorandum of Understanding from the African Union. South Sudan had accepted a force of 4,000 and it was the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) which was to accelerate the arrival of that force to Juba. Throughout the review process, in the field of the promotion and protection of human rights, South Sudan had welcomed the spirit in which each recommendation was given, although the country had not accepted every recommendation. South Sudan would engage with all stakeholders including civil society. South Sudan was aware that recommendations made under the constructive dialogue mechanism would promote human rights in the country.
The Vice-President said that of the 233 received recommendations, South Sudan supported 203 and noted 30.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of South Sudan.
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