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Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Meets with National Human Rights Institutions and Civil Society from Bolivia and Nicaragua

4 October 2021

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights this afternoon met with national human rights institutions and civil society organizations on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Bolivia and in Nicaragua, whose reports will be considered this week.

Organizations from Bolivia

The national human rights institution of Bolivia, Defensora del Pueblo, asked the Committee to recommend the Bolivian Government to ensure children enjoyed their rights as enshrined in the Covenant. Specifically, the Government should be urged to adopt a public policy program establishing a Committee for Children’s Affairs with an appropriate budget, and conduct a multi-level assessment of the situation of children in the country. Bolivia should guarantee the protection of families formed by same-sex partners without discrimination, strengthen the fight against trafficking in persons, adopt preventive mechanisms, and take measures toward the reintegration of victims of such crimes back into society. Regarding the right to health, welfare and human dignity, Bolivia was urged to strengthen the universal healthcare system and its infrastructure, and allow beneficiaries free and quality health care guaranteed within Bolivia. Women were facing unequal conditions, violence and structural discrimination, and the Committee was asked to urge Bolivia to promote information campaigns and training mechanism to ensure women’s access to legal abortion and to guarantee all rights under the Covenant, including sexual and reproductive rights.

The Coalition of Civil Society Organizations on the Rights of Children and Adolescents drew attention to the problem of forced marriages and early unions of children and adolescents, highlighting the large number of teenage pregnancies resulting from sexual violence, both in urban and rural areas.

The Coalition of Civil Society Organizations on LGBTI Rights reported that in 2020, the registration of the first common-law union of a same-sex couple was achieved in Bolivia as a result of a constitutional protection action. Nevertheless, the Constitution and the Family Code continue to recognize only marriage and common-law unions between heterosexual persons as the only form of legal relationship between couples.

The Coalition of Civil Society Organizations for the Defence of Women's Rights noted that, despite a reduction in the maternal mortality rate in Bolivia, it remained one of the highest in the region, with indigenous women being the most vulnerable. Access to information and methods to prevent pregnancy were very limited, especially among rural and indigenous populations. Bolivia should improve access to sex education in the educational system.

Organizations from Nicaragua

The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights said that the country was currently experiencing a serious crisis since the 2018 protests and heavy-handed interventions by the State had left at least 300 people dead, mostly young students demonstrating to demand their economic, social and cultural rights. Repression of student organizations was continuing. The Committee was asked to recommend Nicaragua guaranteed access to education without discrimination.

The Citizens’ COVID-19 Observatory denounced the lack of clear and transparent information and sufficient measures to curb the pandemic. Nicaragua’s health system was not up to dealing with the consequences of the pandemic. In addition, members of civil society had been threatened and organizations had had to close down, including medical organizations.

The Organization of Women of African Descent of Nicaragua, also on behalf of the Creole Communal Government of Bluefields, drew attention to the difficult socio-economic situation of the population living in the Caribbean zone of the country, especially the Afro-descendant population. The region was particularly affected by several phenomena: the COVID-19 pandemic, hurricanes, gang wars, as well as the financial crisis that Nicaragua had been experiencing since 2018. All those factors had given rise to a real humanitarian crisis. It was clarified that the Creole Communal Government of Bluefields was a community institution created in the face of measures taken by the Government of Nicaragua to keep control of the organizations and institutions of the Caribbean Coast region (Mosquito Coast).

Civil society organizations from Bolivia and Nicaragua also responded to requests for additional information from Committee members.

All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found at the session webpage.

The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed at http://webtv.un.org/.

The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday 5 October, to begin its review of the third periodic report of Bolivia (E/C.12/BOL/3)

Link: https://www.ungeneva.org/en/news-media/meeting-summary/2021/10/comite-des-droits-economiques-sociaux-et-culturels-audition