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Council adopts outcomes of Universal Periodic Review of Dominica, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Brunei Darussalam

MORNING
 
19 September 2014

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Dominica, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Brunei Darussalam.

Vince Henderson, Permanent Representative of Dominica to the United Nations in New York, said that of the 116 received recommendations, 79 were accepted and 37 noted. The accepted recommendations pertained to the establishment of a national human rights institution, strengthening the fight against discrimination and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. Dominica prioritized the implementation of the National Action Plan on gender violence, enforcement of the existing domestic violence laws, raising the minimum age of employment to at least 15 years of age and poverty alleviation. The continuing support of the international community was needed to enable the country to meet the continuing challenges it faced.

In the discussion, speakers welcomed the efforts of Dominica to improve education, health care and social services for its population and appreciated the zero-tolerance policy towards the violation of human rights of irregular migrants. Delegations were pleased that Dominica agreed to accede to a number of international human rights instruments, and regretted the rejection of the recommendations pertaining to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and abolition of the death penalty. Speakers recognized the technical and resource challenges that Dominica faced and called on the international community to provide it with the necessary technical assistance.

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

Speaking in the discussion were Morocco, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Venezuela, Algeria, Armenia, China, Cuba and Jamaica.

Also speaking in the discussion were the following non-governmental organizations: International Lesbian and Gay Association, Amnesty International and Action Canada for Population and Development.

Presenting the report of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Se Pyong So, Permanent Representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that of the 268 recommendations received during the review, 83 were rejected and 185 taken up for further review. Measures were taken for the full realization of political, economic and cultural rights, including the building of a number of modern facilities for the promotion of children’s welfare and steps to increase the advancement of women in the governmental services. The country’s efforts for the promotion and protection of human rights were faced with many obstacles and challenges, but whatever their nature, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea would accomplish the ultimate victory and enhance the functions of the human rights mechanisms of its style which met the demands of the reality and the people.

Speakers welcomed the engagement of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea with the Universal Periodic Review process and acknowledged the progress made in the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities, including its accession to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and changes made in the national legislation. Delegations stressed the importance of genuine cooperation with the international community in order to address the appalling human rights record and expressed grave concern that more than half of the recommendations received were rejected, including to immediately close down political prison camps, abolish the death penalty, prohibit the use of torture and ill-treatment, establish a system to prevent sexual violence against female prisoners, and to put an end to arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Taking the floor were the Republic of Korea, Russia, Singapore, Sudan, Syria, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Algeria, Angola, Belarus, China, Cuba and Estonia.

Amnesty International, United Nations Watch, Jubilee Campaign, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues and Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik also spoke.

Abu Sufian Bin Haji Ali, Permanent Representative of Brunei Darussalam to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that 97 of the 189 received recommendations were accepted, 14 were partially accepted and 78 were rejected because they were against the Constitution. Brunei was considering ratifying the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. As a result of the policy to give women equal access to education, women now actively contributed to the decision-making processes in the country and reached senior professions, while a number of laws, including the Islamic Family Law Act and the Married Women Act provided legal framework of the rights of women.

Speakers welcomed the adoption by Brunei Darussalam of a large number of recommendations received during it second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review which would strengthen the national system of protection of human rights. They also welcomed the priority accorded to education and health and the inclusion of development policies in the national plan for the environment. They appreciated the commitment to protecting the rights of children and women and achieving gender equality and said that meaningful progress needed to be made in the legislation and policies concerning the freedom of expression and association. It was regrettable that Brunei rejected the recommendations to abolish the death penalty and ratify the Convention against Torture and the Rome Statute.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Brunei Darussalam.

Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, United States, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Algeria, Bahrain, Belarus, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Djibouti and India spoke in the discussion.

The following non-governmental organizations took floor: British Humanist Association, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Amnesty International, and Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik.

The Human Rights Council is holding a full day of meetings today. During its midday meeting, the Council will consider the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Costa Rica, Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Commonwealth of Dominica

VINCE HENDERSON, Permanent Representative of the Commonwealth of Dominica to the United Nations in New York, highlighted the achievements of Dominica in education, healthcare, social services and rights of persons with disabilities, noting however that changes to social order and expansion of rights needed to reflect collective will. Dominica could not accede to international obligations without such consent. Dominica noted the recommendations emanated from the Universal Periodic Review, some of which it accepted and some it noted. Dominica was ratifying a series of international conventions on racial discrimination, torture, discrimination against women, enforced disappearances, migrant workers' rights, rights of the child and labour.

Dominica had agreed to establish a national human rights institution, promote human rights education, and strengthen cooperation with treaty bodies through technical assistance capacity building. Dominica still required the support of the Office of the High Commissioner to harmonise and integrate its international obligations. Dominica agreed to strengthen its fight against discrimination and continue work to eradicate discrimination and protect the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as of women and children. Dominica was working to protect women, accelerate the national adoption of the plan on gender violence, enforce existing domestic violence laws and raise the minimum age of employment to at least 15 years of age. Dominica prioritised poverty alleviation and social plan strengthening, with particular attention to the most vulnerable, reiterating the need for international assistance. Dominica would strengthen equal access to health services for all and continue improving national healthcare in cooperation with the World Health Organization. It thanked the Office of the High Commissioner for assistance as well as Member States to provide access to education, healthcare, water and sanitation, housing and social services. Due to resource constraints, some countries like Dominica had difficulties meeting international reporting and monitoring obligations.

Morocco welcomed the efforts of Dominica to improve education, health care and social services for its population and the commitment to social justice as enshrined in the Constitution, and called on the international community to provide it with the necessary technical assistance. Nigeria was encouraged by the zero-tolerance policy to combat violations of the human rights of irregular migrants and wished Dominica all success in the implementation of the recommendations it had accepted. Sierra Leone acknowledged the many technical and resource constraints Dominica faced and hoped it would be able to integrate more fully the accepted recommendations into its legal framework. Venezuela said that Dominica had achieved great progress in the promotion and protection of human rights, including the ratification of a number of international human rights instruments, despite the many challenges it faced. Dominica had agreed to most of the recommendations received during its Universal Periodic Review and Algeria was particularly pleased it agreed to strengthen cooperation with human rights treaty bodies. Armenia was pleased that Dominica accepted the recommendations made by Armenia, including acceding to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

China welcomed Dominica’s constructive engagement with the Universal Periodic Review process, and that Dominica accepted China’s recommendation on economic and social development. It called on the international community to respond to Dominica’s urgent need for technical support. Cuba congratulated Dominica on the priority it had assigned to the protection and promotion of human rights, including the adoption of policies promoting gender equality and the right to education and access to health. Jamaica noted that Dominica had accepted most of the recommendations, including several that related to the ratification of international human rights instruments, which was one of the main concerns formulated during the review. Jamaica called on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and international donors to provide adequate technical assistance to Dominica.

International Lesbian and Gay Association was disappointed with the response given by Dominica on recommendations made on the issue of gender identity and sexual orientation. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons continued to suffer from abuses and the Association encouraged the Government to repeal the necessary laws. Amnesty International regretted that Dominica was unable to provide a report, but acknowledged the difficulty it faced. It regretted that Dominica rejected all recommendations on discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and criminalization of same-sex relations. Amnesty International called on Dominica to declare a formal moratorium on executions with a view to abolish the death penalty. Action Canada for Population and Development was deeply concerned by the criminalization of same-sex relations in Dominica. Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons was not only a violation of international human rights law, but also undermined all of Dominica’s efforts to combat HIV/ AIDS.

VINCE HENDERSON, Permanent Representative of the Commonwealth of Dominica to the United Nations in New York, thanked all Member States for their remarks, in particular those familiar with the situation in Dominica and those who actively supported it. From the 116 recommendations received, 69 of them, accounting for 78 per cent, were accepted, however Dominica and its people could not, at this stage, accept the remaining 37 recommendations. There were unfounded accusations and allegations, not in tune with the situation in Dominica, expressed by some organizations on areas such as same-sex relationships. Dominica was not involved in the prosecution of homosexual persons, contrary to allegations made by some organizations. Dominica was a peaceful State with the right to have its own laws, and demonising that would be ineffective.

Out of 116 recommendations made to Dominica, 79 were accepted and 37 noted.

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

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

SE PYONG SO, Permanent Representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that out of 268 recommendations received during the review, 83 had been rejected because they seriously distorted the reality of the country and 185 had been taken up for further review. Most of the 268 recommendations had been accepted as a result of serious consultations held with relevant national institutions and the respect for the opinion of other countries. Measures had been taken for the full realization of the political, economic and cultural rights of the people and a number of modern facilities had been built for the promotion of children’s welfare. Further, measures had been taken to increase the advancement of women in the governmental services. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea took note of the 50 recommendations which contained elements that did not exist in the reality of the country, such as the recommendation to ensure free movement of all citizens and refrain from punishing those returning from abroad.

Ten of the recommendations left for further clarification had been rejected as they went against the principled position on opposing the politicization of human rights and contradicted the legal system of the country. Most had been based on distorted information provided by hostile forces which aimed to dismantle the country’s social system and included the recommendation concerning the penal system which allegedly prohibited people from leaving the country freely, and the cooperation with the “Special Rapporteur” on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected the forcible adoption of anti-Democratic People's Republic of Korea “resolutions” every year and the “Special Rapporteur” as they were the outcomes of politicization, selectivity and double standards. The country’s efforts for the promotion and protection of human rights were faced with many obstacles and challenges, but whatever their nature, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea would accomplish ultimate victory and enhance the functions of the human rights mechanisms of their style which met the demands of the reality and the people.

Republic of Korea took note of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s decision to further accept recommendations, but deeply regretted that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected recommendations to put an end to arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, and restrictions on freedom of expression and movement. Russian Federation hoped that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would enhance its efforts to promote and protect human rights. Singapore took positive note of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s constructive participation in the Universal Periodic Review, and welcomed that it had accepted its recommendations to continue its efforts to strengthen the legal framework for the promotion and protection of human rights and to improve social conditions in the country.

Sudan welcomed the efforts made by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review process and that it had accepted the recommendation made by Sudan. Syria appreciated the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s constructive engagement during the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review. Syria commended the acceptance of a large number of recommendations, which reflected the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s commitment to continue its efforts to promote and protect human rights. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia welcomed the engagement of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the Universal Periodic Review process, and that it had accepted three of its recommendations. It called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to collaborate with United Nations Special Procedures and to adopt a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

United Kingdom noted that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea’s human rights record remained one of the worst in the world as a result of policies carried out at the highest levels of the Government. It recalled issues related to the Commission of Inquiry and political prisoner camps. United States acknowledged progress in providing greater rights to person with disabilities and changing national legislation, encouraging the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to continue and expand such rights. It was disappointed at the country’s non-cooperation with international human rights mechanisms and expressed concern for abductions and disappearances. Venezuela said the Democratic People's Republic of Korea attached importance to recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review, nonetheless only through dialogue, not through imposition of mandates on countries, double standards, selectivity and politicisation. Health services and other services were free of charge in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Venezuela recommended the adoption of its report.

Viet Nam welcomed acceptance by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea of all recommendations made by Viet Nam, and noted that only through dialogue and cooperation could the situation be improved. Viet Nam stood ready to provide assistance in humanitarian matters, including abductions. Algeria congratulated the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on accepting many recommendations, noting its cooperation with international mechanisms and its promulgation of more laws to promote social and cultural rights. Angola commended the Democratic People's Republic of Korea for accepting many recommendations and the progress made in promoting the rights of children with disabilities. It encouraged further resource allocation to enhance the human rights of its people. Belarus said the review showed the systematic commitment of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to cooperate. Belarus welcomed the new voluntary obligations accepted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in its second Universal Periodic Review cycle.

China welcomed the commitment of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to implement the accepted recommendations, including improving the situation of people in the rural areas, and called on the international community to objectively look at the situation of human rights in the country. Despite the difficult conditions imposed on it, the Government had achieved major progress in human rights, and Cuba stressed the existence of free health care system and the eradication of illiteracy. Estonia welcomed the acceptance of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to continue to be a party to all main international human rights instruments and was disturbed by the refusal to abolish the death penalty, to prohibit the use of torture and ill-treatment and to establish a system to prevent sexual violence against female prisoners.

Amnesty International said genuine cooperation with the international community was imperative if the appalling human rights record of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was to be addressed and expressed grave concern that more than half of the received recommendations had been rejected, including to immediately close down political prison camps. United Nations Watch continued to be alarmed by the catastrophic situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. It said that the condemnation of the human rights violations was not enough and called for action.

Jubilee Campaign said that it continued to raise the human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and that there had been negligible change. In addition to the total denial of a range of human rights issues, freedom of religion or belief was non-existent in the country. Human Rights Watch said that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea continued to deny the existence of political prison camps despite overwhelming evidence and clear satellite imagery that showed they existed. It was estimated that today up to 120,000 people were living in such camps, deprived of all basic human rights. International Federation for Human Rights Leagues said that in practice, the death penalty was not only applied on a large scale, but those sentenced to death were also systematically denied fair trial. The use of the death penalty in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea violated all international standards as well as domestic provisions. Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik said that among the recommendations that did not enjoy the Democratic People's Republic of Korea’ support, some were of crucial importance. Concern was expressed that only two countries had not ratified the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, including the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

SE PYONG SO, Permanent Representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the United Nations Office at Geneva, expressed appreciation for the encouraging remarks made by speakers. Some remarks were however based on false information. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea respected the views of others and would try to address their concerns by accepting recommendations. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was fully committed to protecting and promoting human rights, as well as to continue to engage in fair dialogue and collaborate with United Nations human rights mechanisms.

Out of 268 recommendations made to it, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea accepted 113 and noted 154.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Brunei Darussalam

ABU SUFIAN BIN HAJI ALI, Permanent Representative of Brunei Darussalam to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in opening remarks, said Brunei Darussalam attached importance to the Universal Periodic Review and its role to improve human rights in Member States. The Government of His Majesty remained people' centred in all aspects. Brunei Darussalam had received 189 recommendations that had been considered through extensive interagency consultations. Brunei Darussalam had accepted 97 recommendations, including those already in practice or implemented. It partially supported 14 recommendations and was unable to accept 78 recommendations that were against its Constitution.

Brunei Darussalam had submitted reports to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and to the Committee on the Rights of the Child. It was considering ratifying the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. Brunei Darussalam maintained reservations expressed to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Committee on the Rights of the Child. It said procedures were available for children of women citizens married to foreign nationals to be accorded Brunei citizenship. It highlighted that women contributed actively to the decision-making processes in the country, reaching senior professions, as a result of Brunei Darussalam's policy to give them equal access to education. The rights of women were protected through legislation such as the Islamic Family Law Act, the Married Women Act and the Women and Girls Protection Act. It thanked delegations participating in Brunei Darussalam's review and welcomed comments from delegations.

Singapore noted the large number of recommendations Brunei Darussalam had accepted and said it would continue to work closely with the Government on the implementation of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations Charter for Human Rights. Sri Lanka was encouraged that education and health remained priorities, and by the inclusion of development policies in the national plan for the environment. Sudan thanked Brunei Darussalam for accepting the recommendation made by Sudan and wished it all the best in the pursuance of human rights. Thailand welcomed the acceptance by Brunei Darussalam of the recommendations pertaining to the situation of the rights of women and urged the Council to adopt its outcome document. United States appreciated the commitment to protecting the rights of children and women and achieving gender equality and said that meaningful progress needed to be made in the legislation and policies concerning the freedom of expression and association. Uzbekistan noted the participation of Brunei in the Universal Periodic Review process and believed that the implementation of the recommendations would strengthen the national system of protection of human rights.

Venezuela said this review had shed light on achievements in the area of human rights for the people of Brunei Darussalam. Its open participation in the process was proof of its commitment to the human rights of its people and it was wished success in implementing the recommendations made during this cycle. Viet Nam said that Brunei’s thorough and responsible consideration of the Universal Periodic Review recommendations strongly confirmed its commitment to continue its endeavours in the promotion and protection of human rights. Viet Nam strongly recommended the adoption of the report of Brunei. Algeria welcomed that Brunei Darussalam had accepted most of the recommendations, including a recommendation by Algeria on ensuring the effective participation of women in the decision-making process in the country. Brunei was encouraged to continue its efforts in promoting and protecting human rights. Bahrain applauded Brunei Darussalam’s efforts to continue protecting vulnerable groups. It welcomed what was announced by the delegation and its readiness to consider all recommendations presented during the review. It was hoped that recommendations presented by Bahrain were also accepted and would be implemented.

Belarus welcomed the significant progress made by Brunei Darussalam in the field of education, health and women’s rights, as well as in combating human trafficking. Belarus wished Brunei Darussalam every success in implementing the new recommendations and recommended the adoption of the report. Bhutan took note of the additional 14 recommendations which Brunei Darussalam had accepted after further consultations. It recommended the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review outcome report of Brunei Darussalam and wished it every success in implementing accepted recommendations. Cambodia was encouraged by steps taken towards the promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Brunei Darussalam’s people. Cambodia commended efforts to enhance the welfare of the people, addressing the core issues of education, food and shelter, and welcomed the acceptance of its two recommendations.

China welcomed the constructive participation of Brunei Darussalam in the Universal Periodic Review process, and its acceptance of China’s recommendations to increase access to education and provide assistance to disabled women. Cuba welcomed that Brunei Darussalam had accepted a high number of recommendations, including those made by Cuba. Djibouti welcomed progress achieved in the area of economic, social and cultural rights and development in Brunei Darussalam. India commended the achievement of Brunei Darussalam for the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals and access to health. It was encouraging to note that Brunei Darussalam had accepted many recommendations, including the one made by India to ratify the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

British Humanist Association said that Brunei Darussalam accepted, during its first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, the recommendation to put its domestic legislation in line with international human rights law, which it had unfortunately failed to do. Brunei Darussalam’s courts had set legal precedents that could be interpreted to allow corporal punishment for children and marital rape in practice. International Humanist and Ethical Union said that the Sharia penal code of Brunei Darussalam threatened the right to freedom of expression as well as women’s rights. Marital rape was legal. Children were considered criminally responsible at the age of 7. It deeply regret that Brunei Darussalam had rejected recommendations to suspend the code. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative was concerned that the implementation of recommendations would not be possible with a comprehensive review of Brunei Darussalam’s legislation. Current legislation on freedom of expression was not in line with international standards, and there were disproportionate restrictions on the activities of journalists and on freedom of association. The situation of sexual minorities was also not compatible with international human rights law.

Amnesty International said concerns had been raised with regard to revisions to the Penal Code as its provisions violated key human rights. It was disappointed that all recommendations to ratify the Convention against Torture had been rejected. Laws introduced also discriminated against women and girls. Verein Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik expressed concern that like many other countries, Brunei Darussalam also held back until the last minute to express the State’s views on recommendations received, which left very little chance for the non-governmental organizations to prepare their interventions and objections.

ABU SUFIAN HAJI ALI, Permanent Representative of Brunei Darussalam to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in concluding remarks said that Brunei Darussalam remained committed to the promotion and protection of human rights. Although its review ended today, its efforts did not. It would continue to work towards the betterment of human rights and face the challenges ahead. It reaffirmed its commitment to exchange views and experiences towards the fulfilment of the promotion and protection of human rights. As a small State of 400,000 people, Brunei Darussalam had limited human resources and would welcome any capacity building assistance.

Out 189 recommendations received, 97 were supported and the rest had been noted.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Brunei Darussalam.

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