29 September 2020
Begins General Debate on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms
The Human Rights Council this morning adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Sweden, Grenada, Turkey and Kiribati. It also started the general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms.
Speaking in the Universal Periodic Review of Sweden were South Sudan
Sri Lanka, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, China, Djibouti, Ethiopia, India and Iran.
Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations : Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Alliance Defending Freedom, World Evangelical Alliance, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, Institute for NGO Research, United Nations Watch, Amnesty International, and Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain Inc.
Speaking in the Universal Periodic Review of Grenada were Venezuela, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, China, Cuba, Fiji, India, Jamaica, Libya, Malawi, Nepal and Russian Federation.
Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations : Edmund Rice International Limited and Center for Global Nonkilling.
Speaking in the Universal Periodic Review of Turkey were Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations : World Evangelical Alliance, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, International Service for Human Rights, Article 19 - International Centre Against Censorship, International Commission of Jurists, International Humanist and Ethical Union, British Humanist Association, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
Speaking in the Universal Periodic Review of Kiribati were Venezuela, Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, China, Cuba, Fiji, India, Libya, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Nepal and New Zealand.
Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations : International Planned Parenthood Federation, Franciscans International, Edmund Rice International Limited, Center for Global Nonkilling, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, and United Nations Watch.
The Council then began its general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms.
Speaking in the general debate were Germany on behalf of the European Union, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, India on behalf of a group of countries, Viet Nam on behalf of the Association for South-East Asian Nations, Kuwait on behalf of the Arab Group, Portugal on behalf of a group of countries, Azerbaijan on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Latvia on behalf of a group of countries, Norway on behalf of a group of countries, Mexico on behalf of a group of countries, Pakistan and India.
The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found
here. All meeting summaries can be found
here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council's forty-fifth regular session can be found
At 2 p.m., the Council will hold an interactive discussion with the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen. It will then resume the general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Sweden
Presentation by Sweden
Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the Government's overall approach when considering the recommendations received had been to accept recommendations where the Government could foresee measures before the next review, or where measures had already been or were being implemented. Regarding the establishment of an independent national human rights institution, it would be done in 2021.
Speakers welcomed Sweden's decision to criminalize torture as a specific crime, and to establish a national human rights institution next year, which would be in line with the Paris Principles, and would receive a broad mandate. The excessive use of force by law enforcement officers, as well as instances of racism and xenophobia, which notably affected migrants, remained a cause of concern. Speakers regretted that Sweden accepted only one out of five recommendations regarding its arms exports, as arms transfers risked fuelling conflict and contributing to or facilitating human rights violations, including gender-based violence. While welcoming Sweden's acceptance of recommendations on sexual violence against women to ensure access to support for all survivors, speakers were concerned that rape was pervasive and that access to counselling and trauma care was not available to all rape survivors.
The Vice-President of the Council informed that out of 300 recommendations received, 214 enjoyed the support of Sweden and 85 were noted. Additional information was received on one recommendation, part of which Sweden supported, and the other part of which it only took note of.
Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the Government would continue to maintain a high level of ambition regarding the realization of human rights at the State level, and would continue to engage with civil society in doing so.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Grenada
Presentation by Grenada
CHARLES PETER DAVID,
Minister of Citizenship and National Unity of Grenada, said Grenada's efforts to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus had been largely successful ; no new cases had been reported as of June. As with previous Universal Periodic Reviews, Grenada welcomed the opportunity to address shortcomings and build on successes achieved.
Speakers noted positive developments such as the drop in unemployment, the ratification of the Convention against Torture, and the containment of the COVID-19 virus. Grenada's efforts to increase its resilience to climate change were noteworthy. Speakers encouraged Grenada to extend a standing invitation to Special Procedure mandate holders. Speakers pointed out that in light of Grenada's commitments related to the Universal Periodic Review, it should either refer the cases of Ronnie Gittens and Rudolph Hall back to the Court for determination of an appropriate sentence or release them, as these two individuals were serving life sentences that had not been judicially imposed. Noting that the Caribbean region needed one country to take the lead and be the first one to definitely terminate, by constitution and treaty, the ill fate of the death penalty, speakers asked if it could be Grenada.
The Vice-President of the Council informed that out of 148 recommendations received, 99 enjoyed the support of Grenada and 49 were noted.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Turkey
Presentation by Turkey
Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said 19 recommendations had been rejected because they were politically motivated and not in line with the principle of non-confrontational conduct of the Universal Periodic Review. The remaining 302 recommendations had been carefully examined by all relevant government institutions as well as the national human rights agencies, and around 72 per cent of them enjoyed the support of Turkey. The Government maintained its strong political will to expand the scope of fundamental freedoms for all.
Speakers were pleased to note that Turkey had shown commitment to further enhance human rights protection for women and girls as evidenced by the acceptance of numerous recommendations in that regard. The abolition of military courts and the launch of a large-scale judicial reform strategy deserved a positive assessment, as they strengthened the human rights legal framework in the country. Speakers urged the immediate release of arbitrarily detained individuals, including human rights lawyers Sevda Özbingöl Çelik and Selçuk Kozağaçlı, and many other detained members of the Progressive Lawyers Association and the Association of Lawyers for Freedom. If the Turkish Government was serious about its engagement with the Universal Periodic Review, it would commit to address the increasing erosion of judicial independence and the abusive use of criminal proceedings and detention to target perceived government critics and opponents ; and the systematic failure to investigate abuses committed by state officials, such as torture and ill-treatment in custody.
The Vice-President of the Council informed that out of 321 recommendations received, 216 enjoyed the support of Turkey and 105 were noted.
Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said responses to the claims made by non-governmental organizations could be found in Turkey's Universal Periodic Review report. Turkey would continue its close cooperation with human rights mechanisms, including in the context of the Universal Periodic Review.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Kiribati
Presentation by Kiribati
Minister of Justice of Kiribati, said the Government had developed a plan to implement the accepted recommendations. Some recommendations had only been noted because of resource constraints, religious beliefs and cultural impediments. In implementing the recommendations, the Government would consult with national stakeholders, faith-based organizations and civil society to address cultural and religious barriers. Kiribati did not assume to have solutions to every problem ; in that regard, it valued the peer-review process.
Speakers, acknowledging the challenges faced by this small island developing State, commended the effective actions undertaken by Kiribati to combat climate change. They encouraged Kiribati to consider the recommendation to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and called on the international community to assist Kiribati in its commitments and its implementation of accepted recommendations. Speakers commended Kiribati for its progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, noting the focus on sustainably harnessing Kiribati's fisheries resources. Kiribati needed to urgently acknowledge and address the impacts of climate change on cultural rights. The authorities of Kiribati should consider the ratification of the genocide convention as soon as possible. Speakers urged Kiribati to decriminalize abortions and consensual same-sex relations between adults.
The Vice-President of the Council informed that out of the 129 recommendations received, 88 were supported by Kiribati and 40 were noted. Additional clarifications were provided on one recommendation, indicating which parts of the recommendation were supported and which parts were noted.
General Debate on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms
President of the Human Rights Council, said that concerning resolution
A/HRC/43/117 on the methods of work of the Council's consultative group, recalled that the Council had requested that consultations be held with the goal of developing draft working methods for the consultative group. In that context, open consultations were expected to take place soon. She pointed out that the Council had adopted several resolutions on the work of the consultative group, in particular on the process of appointing Special Procedure mandate holders. These working methods had been reinforced over time, she said.
Speakers said cuts to the United Nations' general budget should not disproportionately affect human rights bodies and mechanisms, and rejected efforts to undermine the independence of Special Procedure mandate holders, who had to discharge their mandates despite the challenges generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Communication to States should be sent after having been fact-checked. Special Procedure mandate holders should give serious consideration to the issue of Islamophobia, as a cross-cutting issue. Further, they should discharge their mandates in strict adherence to the Code of Conduct, to foster constructive cooperation with States, avoiding self-glorification and sweeping statements. Human rights mechanisms should not be used as a tool to interfere in the internal affairs of Member States or to question their political, economic and social systems, their sovereign rights, and their national, religious and cultural peculiarities. Several speakers raised issues regarding the lack of geographical representation amongst the Special Procedure mandate holders. Speakers regretted the increasing number of complaints against Special Procedure mandate holders simply for fulfilling their mandates.
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