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Human Rights Council adopts outcomes of Universal Periodic Review of Bolivia, Fiji, and San Marino

Human Rights Council 
AFTERNOON 

18 March 2015

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Bolivia, Fiji and San Marino.

Angelica Navarro, Permanent Representative of Bolivia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, stated that Bolivia had participated in the Universal Periodic Review process in a manner characterized by transparency and responsibility, with the participation of civil society organizations.  In its report, Bolivia had presented the challenges it faced, as well as its developments.  In total, 178 recommendations had been accepted and 15 recommendations rejected, due to the fact that they did not reflect the reality, or violated principles of state sovereignty.  Bolivia was grateful for the recommendations with a spirit to make headway on the progress of human rights.   

In the discussion, delegations welcomed Bolivia’s acceptance of most recommendations, and commended Bolivia’s reform efforts in the socio-economic area.  They also commended Bolivia’s leadership in the development of international human rights norms on the rights of peasants and efforts to combat poverty as innovative responses.  Bolivia was encouraged to further its efforts to protect the rights of indigenous peoples, especially with regards to the negative repercussions of the mining industry.  Speakers called on Bolivia to decriminalize abortion and to implement judicial reform.   

Speaking in the discussion were Philippines, Russia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Venezuela, Algeria, China, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, India, Iran, Ireland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Nicaragua and Pakistan.

The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: International Lesbian and Gay Association, Indian Council of South America, Colombian Commissions of Jurists, Franciscans International, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Action Canada for Population and Development, Centre Europe – Tiers Monde – Europe-Third World Centre, United Nations Watch, International Fellowship of Reconciliation and American Association of Jurists. 

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

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice of the Republic of Fiji, said Fiji had endorsed 98 of the 138 recommendations that had been made, and 12 of these had already been implemented.  Fiji reiterated its commitment to advancing and protecting the fundamental principles and values of universal human rights.  In 2013, Fiji’s constitution had come into force, enshrining fundamental principles and values, and creating for the first time a comprehensive Bill of Rights.  The Minister for Justice said the Fijian Parliament had approved a bill to remove all references to the death penalty in military laws, therefore abolishing the dead penalty from all national legislation. 

In the ensuing discussion, delegations welcomed progress made by Fiji and commended it for becoming the ninety-ninth country to abolish the death penalty.  States also commended Fiji for its successful elections in 2014, steps taken towards the ratification of the Convention on Torture, efforts to promote access to education and to improve the rights of persons with disabilities. Concerns were expressed about restrictions on the media and freedom of expression, and Fiji was urged to facilitate a visit by the Special Rapporteur on Torture. 

Speaking in the discussion were Indonesia, Kuwait, New Zealand, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Venezuela, China, Cuba and India.

The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Minority Rights Group, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International. 

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

Ms. Federica Bigi, Director of Political and Diplomatic Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of San Marino acknowledged the importance of promoting and protecting the rights and freedoms of human beings at all times and in all circumstances.  San Marino had accepted 46 out of 74 recommendations.  Some had already been undertaken, while others represented new engagements. 

In the ensuing discussion, delegations commended San Marino for its policies to strengthen the protection of the rights of women and noted its accession to a large number of international conventions.  San Marino was encouraged to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and the Convention on Enforced Disappearances.

Speaking in the discussion were the Council of Europe, Kuwait, Sierra Leone, Venezuela, Burkina Faso, and China.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of San Marino. 

The Human Rights Council will reconvene tomorrow, Thursday 19 March at 9 a.m. to consider the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Kazakhstan, Angola and Iran.  At noon it will hold a panel discussion on national policies and human rights.  The Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Iraq, Madagascar and Slovenia will be considered from 3 p.m.

Consideration of the Outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Bolivia
 
ANGELICA NAVARRO, Permanent Representative of Bolivia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Bolivia had participated in the Universal Periodic Review process in a way characterized by transparency and responsibility, with the participation of civil society organizations.  Bolivia had accepted 178 recommendations.  It had rejected 15 recommendations due to the fact that they did not reflect the reality, or violated the principles of State sovereignty.  Bolivia was dedicated to human rights and in its report had presented five voluntary commitments which it had already begun work on.  In 2014 President Evo Moralez was re-elected, receiving more than 61 per cent of the votes.  That made the “living well” principle a reality for all Bolivians.  Important developments included progress in women’s participation in the political sphere, and today women made up 49 per cent of members of the Legislative Assembly, 44 per cent of members of the Senate, and 51 per cent of members of the Chamber of Deputies.  That meant Bolivia now ranked the second highest in the world, after Rwanda, in terms of women’s participation in politics. 

Bolivia had since 2006 made conditional cash transfers to vulnerable sectors of society, including orphaned children and mothers of children under the age of two years, and a guaranteed income for people over the age of 60.   An incentive grant was provided to students in final year of secondary school and laptops had been made available in schools.  Price control systems had been established for various products resulting in an increase in purchasing power for vulnerable households.  Progress in the housing and financial services sectors had also been made.  Efforts to tackle all forms of violence included police training, and a new law to ensure women could live freely without violence had been drafted, with a provision for a 30 year sentence for perpetrators.  A decree of 2014 established the minimum financing allocations for the direct taxation of hydrocarbons for the construction, maintenance and operation of women’s refuges.  In order to ensure that indigenous peoples fully participated in decision-making processes, an international conference was convened in 2014 which included the participation of Parliaments from more than 20 countries, in preparation for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples held last September, an initiative proposed by Bolivia itself.   

Philippines welcomed laws and policies to protect the vulnerable, including women and children, and recognized Bolivia’s leadership in the development of international human rights norms on the rights of peasants and its introduction of universal agricultural insurance as innovative response to the challenges posed by climate change.  Russia said that the acceptance of the large number of recommendations was a testimony of Bolivia’s commitment to human rights.  Russia recommended the adoption of the outcome report.  Sierra Leone noted with great satisfaction that Bolivia had accepted all its recommendations and welcomed its attempts to comprehensively tackle violence against women. 

Sri Lanka commended efforts in promotion and protection of the social rights of the people of Bolivia and took note of the increased health budget.  Sri Lanka also recognized the efforts to exchange and use the knowledge of indigenous peoples and strengthening their capacities.  Algeria welcomed Bolivia’s acceptance of the majority of the recommendations.  In particular it commended its efforts with regard to infants and children, and its measures to combat extreme poverty.  It recommended the Council adopt the report.  China welcomed Bolivia’s constructive participation and its acceptance of China’s recommendations on the protection of nature and economic and social development.  It gave its support to Bolivia and asked the Council to approve the report.

Venezuela said that Bolivia’s successful policies had recovered the control of the economy.  Venezuela was very pleased that Bolivia had achieved the Millennium Development Goal on reducing extreme poverty early, and that it had established a social protection system.  Cuba congratulated Bolivia for the striking progress it had made in protection of human rights, including the needs of indigenous peoples.  It noted the adoption of its two recommendations and reiterated its support to Bolivia.  Ecuador congratulated Bolivia for the progress it had made and recognized that Bolivia had redoubled its efforts.  Ecuador acknowledged the challenges Bolivia faced in empowerment of women and their participation in all sectors.  El Salvador said that it was important to highlight Bolivia’s progress in the promotion and protection of human rights particularly social inclusion, a participatory approach and progress in promoting and protecting the rights of women, children and indigenous peoples. 

India took positive note of the receptive and constructive participation of Bolivia in Universal Periodic Review and said that it was encouraging that Bolivia had accepted great majority of recommendations.  India trusted that Bolivia would further intensify efforts to implement the recommendations it had accepted.  Iran commended Bolivia’s active participation in the Universal Periodic Review and acknowledged that all of its recommendations had been accepted.  Iran praised Bolivia for the progress it had made in reducing extreme poverty, on human rights education and on the elimination of racial discrimination.   Ireland encouraged Bolivia to submit a voluntary mid-term report on the implementation of the recommendations it had accepted.  Ireland noted with regret that Bolivia did not accept the recommendation on judicial process, especially in the light of a profound crisis in the administration of justice in the country.  Bolivia should ensure that all killings were subject to an impartial investigation, strengthen the rule of law and ensure that impunity was not tolerated.

Kuwait commended Bolivia for its clear efforts to improve education and health and to adopt a social and economic model which had reduced extreme poverty to 18 per cent by 2013.  Kuwait also welcomed the efforts to establish a social-democratic State governed by the rule of law that promoted human rights and dignity.  Malaysia said it was pleased that its recommendations on eradicating extreme poverty and improving drinking water had been implemented by Bolivia.  It recommended the adoption by Universal Periodic Review.   Nicaragua congratulated Bolivia for implementing the vast majority of recommendations.  It urged Bolivia, as a Member of the Human Rights Council, to continue its work on the rights of indigenous peoples and rural farmers.  Pakistan said it strongly supported Bolivia’s common rights machinery and encouraged further strengthening of socio-economic development.  It encouraged Bolivia to adopt recommendations, including those that Pakistan had provided.

International Lesbian and Gay Association welcomed Bolivia’s efforts on non-discrimination but regretted that the recommendation on derogation of legislation which limited the rights of persons with a different gender identity had not been adopted.  It urged the Government to overcome the gap and to institute same-sex marriage.
Indian Counsel of South America said that the legislation to consult indigenous peoples should be well grounded and effectively implemented.  It raised concerns that critical voices of leaders of indigenous peoples had been silenced and some posts had been violently taken over by followers of the Government.  Likewise Government actions in local elections and the violation of voting rights were a concern.   Colombian Commission of Jurists noted that Bolivia had accepted numerous recommendations on judicial independence which was difficult to reconcile with the disciplinary and criminal proceeding brought by the Legislative Assembly against three judges of the Constitutional Court. 

Human Rights Watch expressed concern about the law on civil society which gave the authorities power to interfere with the functioning of the organizations.  It hoped that judicial reform would strengthen the independence of the judiciary.  Bolivia must ensure that gross human rights violations were not judged by military courts.  Franciscans International recognized the advanced legislation on human rights in Bolivia and noted the lack of mechanisms to implement the laws.  It was essential to strengthen resources and capacities to deal with violence against women, and to urgently reform the judicial system and ensure access to free and fair trial to all. 

Action Canada for Population and Development called on Bolivia to decriminalize abortion and to eliminate the requirement for judicial authorization for abortion in cases of rape or incest.  Bolivia should revise its legal code and provide safe and free access to abortion services in any circumstances.  Amnesty International said concrete steps must be taken to end impunity for human rights violations committed in the past.  Maternal mortality rates were among highest in the region and Amnesty International urged Bolivia to remove the requirement of judicial authorisation for abortion in cases of rape, and adopt sexual and reproductive health bill.  United Nations Watch said it was deeply concerned about violations of women and children’s rights in Bolivia, and the failure of the justice system to protect children from exploitation.  Half of the population lived below the poverty line.  Prison overcrowding had to be addressed to ensure that children in detention were protected from sexual abuse. 

Centre Europe – Tier Monde recognized progress made by Bolivia for the protection of economic, social and cultural rights, and more particularly in the areas of health, food, access to water and education.  It welcomed Bolivia’s leading role in promoting the right to drinkable water at the international level.  International Fellowship of Reconciliation was concerned that Bolivia had received no recommendation regarding its lack of any legal provision for conscientious objectors to be exempted from military service, despite its commitment to allow that.  Bolivia should take legislative action to create an alternative civilian service for conscientious objectors.  American Association of Jurists welcomed the impressive social and economic achievements of Bolivia and the legal recognition of the right of indigenous peoples to implement their own justice system.  It also commended Bolivia’s efforts in reducing the unemployment and poverty rates.

Concluding Remarks

ANGELICA NAVARRO, Permanent Representative of Bolivia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the majority of concerns expressed today had already been dealt with.  Bolivia would continue engaging in a constructive dialogue with the civil society in with the aim of improving the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.  It would be a great honour to present the progress made, said Ms. Navarro, and thanked all the delegations that had engaged in Bolivia’s Universal Periodic Review.  Bolivia had presented real picture of the human rights situation in the country with honesty and humility and was committed to bringing about peaceful change through its Living Well project for all Bolivians.

The President said that of 193 recommendations received, Bolivia supported 178 and took note of a further 15. 

The Council then adopted the Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Bolivia.

Consideration of the Outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Fiji

AIYAZ SAYED-KHAIYUM, Attorney- General and Minister for Justice of Fiji, reiterated Fiji’s commitment to advancing and protecting the fundamental principles and values of universal human rights enunciated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights whilst cultivating an ethos of a responsible human rights culture.  The constitution of Fiji enshrined fundamental principles and values such as common and equal citizenry, a secular State and good governance.  For the first time a comprehensive and very progressive Bill of Rights had been created which allowed for the realization of socio-economic rights as well as civil and political rights.  It had also established a Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission for the promotion, protection, observance of and respect for human rights guaranteed under the constitution.

The Minister for Justice said the Fijian Parliament had approved a bill to remove all references to the death penalty in military laws, and therefore abolishing the dead penalty from all national legislation.  Fiji was aware that there were patriarchal notions of power relations as well as challenges in tackling violence against women at the legislative and community levels.   However, huge progress had been made in establishing a legislative framework for addressing violence against women, including new legal provisions for the offences of rape and sexual assault based on the Australian model as well as domestic violence and child abuse.  Fiji encouraged civil society to undergo legal training on the effective implementation of the laws, which were designed to remove discrimination and violence against women.  

Indonesia commended Fiji for holding successful elections in 2014 and hoped that the democratization process would further strengthen its constitutional reforms and promote long-term stability.  Indonesia welcomed the steps towards the ratification of the Convention against Torture and urged the Government to accelerate the implementation of its national gender policy.  Kuwait welcomed Fiji’s participation in the Universal Periodic Review and the progress it had made in the promotion and protection of human rights.  Kuwait congratulated Fiji on the organization of fair elections which showed that the country was well on its way to upholding human rights.  New Zealand welcomed the removal of the death penalty from the military penal code and the commitment to establish a constitutional commission, which in turn would re-establish the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission.  New Zealand also welcomed Fiji’s steps towards ratification of the Convention against Torture and urged due consideration be given to the impact of reservations on achieving the full spirit of the Convention.

Sierra Leone noted with satisfaction the acceptance by Fiji of the great number of the recommendations and said that it highly valued cooperation and constructive engagement of Fiji with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.  Sierra Leone particularly welcomed the efforts to protect women and girls from violence.
Sri Lanka congratulated Fiji on its efforts to restore democracy and commended the people of Fiji for the conduct of its elections.  Sri Lanka trusted the new Government would take necessary steps for the promotion and protection of human rights, and called for technical assistance from the international community.  Venezuela welcomed Fiji’s cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review and its efforts in the field of education.  The challenges Fiji faced with regard to climate change were well noted. 

China welcomed Fiji’s commitment to international cooperation in the field of human rights and the large number of recommendations it had accepted.  China encouraged Fiji to implement all accepted recommendations and to continue efforts for poverty eradication.  Cuba welcomed that Fiji had accepted its recommendations relating to the implementation of a national policy for persons with disabilities and Fiji’s efforts to ensure access to free primary education.  India welcomed Fiji’s commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process, and noted with appreciation that the new constitution of Fiji contained dispositions on all human rights and on the elimination of ethnic voting.  India encouraged Fiji to ensure that its Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission functioned in compliance with the Paris Principles.

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative hoped that the Government would swiftly address human rights challenges, including by removing the draconian decrees and legislation adopted by the previous regime.  The Public Order Amendment Act restricted freedom of assembly and criminalized peaceful protest.  Minority Rights Group expressed concern that the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission suffered from a lack of adequate resources and called on Fiji to take immediate action to restore its functionality and compliance with the Paris Principles. 

Human Rights Watch expressed concern about severe restrictions on media freedom, a clampdown on worker’s rights, and torture and ill-treatment in detention in Fiji.  It regretted that Fiji did not accept the recommendation to suppress the Media Decree which restricted media freedom.   It called on Fiji to facilitate a visit by the Special Rapporteur on Torture.  Amnesty International commended Fiji on becoming the ninety-ninth abolitionist country to repeal the death penalty.  However, a number of past cases of torture and ill-treatment remained to be investigated, and a range of national laws, including the Media Decree, restricted freedom of expression.
 
Concluding Remarks

AIYAZ SAYED-KHAIYUM, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice of the Republic of Fiji thanked States for their recommendations and their acknowledgment of progress made.  It was unfortunate that some of the comments made by non-governmental organizations were based on heresy by third-party sources and not facts, which would be more constructive.   Regarding the Essential National Industries Decree, he noted that stakeholders had been consulted during a meeting of employer and employee representatives who would be directly affected by the decree.  There was consensus that the law had to be improved and that would be done following legislative procedures.  On the issues pertaining to the freedom of expression, the Minister confirmed that if any law was contrary to the constitution, the constitution would prevail.  The consultation process at the Human Rights Council had to be a positive development. 

Out of 138 recommendations received, 112 enjoyed the support of Fiji and 26 were noted.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Fiji.
 
Consideration of the Outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of San Marino

FEDERICA BIGI, Director of Political and Diplomatic Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of San Marino, acknowledged the importance of promoting and protecting the rights and freedoms of human beings at all times and in all circumstances.  After the examination before the Council, all the recommendations made to San Marino were evaluated and 46 out of 74 recommendations were immediately adopted.  Those recommendations, on which San Marino reserved its position until today had been submitted to Government colleagues and evaluated by the competent authorities.

San Marino said it had not adopted the recommendations to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and to adhere to the Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity because of limited human resources in the public administration.  San Marino noted that it had to be careful not to undertake treaty commitments that it was impossible to endeavour within the four next years.  Likewise, San Marino stated that its legislation did not assimilate couples of the same sex with heterosexual couples, which was why another three recommendations could not be accepted.  It had since accepted a further nine recommendations, making a total of 55 out of 74 recommendations accepted. 

Council of Europe made three suggestions regarding human rights in San Marino: the need to strengthen the fight against corruption in the public administration; the need to establish an independent mechanism to counter racism; and the need to pursue efforts to raise public awareness on tolerance and intercultural dialogue.  Kuwait congratulated San Marino’s efforts to implement recommendations made during its first Universal Periodic Review, including reforms to better combat racism and xenophobia. 

Sierra Leone commended San Marino for its cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review and commitment to human rights.  San Marino was encouraged to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families and the Convention on the Protection of All Persons Against Enforced Disappearances.  Venezuela welcomed policies put in place to strengthen the protection of the rights of women, and noted that San Marino had acceded to a large number of international human rights conventions.  Venezuela urged San Marino to continue its efforts to strengthen social protection of vulnerable groups. 

Burkina Faso welcomed the willingness of San Marino to cooperate with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism and treaty bodies, and wished San Marino every success in implementing the recommendations.  China welcomed San Marino’s efforts to overcome difficulties due to the limitation of human resources.  China hoped that San Marino would implement recommendations relating to the protection of vulnerable groups. 

FEDERICA BIGI, Director of Political and Diplomatic Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs, thanked all delegations for their recommendations, especially the Council of Europe.  She took the opportunity to state that San Marino had signed the Convention on the Prevention of Violence against Women and would endeavour to quickly ratify it.  Regarding residence permits for people working in the health care sector, she noted that a draft law had been submitted to Parliament and was expected to be adopted in the coming months.  San Marino would continue to work on the 55 recommendations that it had accepted, and thanked the Human Rights Council for its cooperation and support. 

Out of 74 recommendations received, 55 were accepted by San Marino and 19 were noted.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of San Marino.

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