UPR Media Briefing Note
Thursday, 24 May 2012 (Morning)
For use of information media; not an official record
State under review
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Represented by 25-member delegation headed by H.E. Lord McNALLY, Minister of Justice of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the UK page on UPR website.
Indonesia, Angola, Norway.
Opening statement by State under review
Key points from opening statement of State under review:
- In its Programme for Government, the UK Coalition reaffirmed its commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights; the Government has, accordingly, established a Commission on a Bill of Rights which provided an opportunity to review how best to enshrine the Convention into Domestic Law, protecting British liberties.
- In tackling terrorism, the Government saw it as vital that it never lose sight of the importance of human rights; last year the UK Government undertook a review of six of its counter-terrorism and security powers, which, among other things, concluded that the maximum pre-charge detention period for terrorist suspects should be reduced from 28 to 14 days; the review also concluded that control orders should be replaced by a system of terrorism prevention and investigation measures which was achieved by the TPIM Act 2011;
- In terms of the deportation of terrorist suspects, the Government was of the view that diplomatic assurances were a valid way of achieving its aim of protecting the public in accordance with its international obligations; the Government will not deport an individual where there was substantial grounds for believing that there was a real risk the individual would face torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
- The Government fully supported the right to peaceful protest;
- As regards children’s rights, any punishment that constituted violence was unlawful; the Government was also committed to ending child poverty and had instituted a first ever Child Poverty Strategy; the Children Act of 2004 required public bodies to make arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children;
- The Minister noted the existence of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, which was currently chairing the European Group of National Human Rights Institution;
- Since the UK review in 2008, there were a number of successes in Wales such as embedding the Convention on the Rights of the Child into Welsh Law and the first strategic national policy to ensure equality of opportunity for the Gypsy Traveller community;
- The Minister also noted that Northern Ireland has enjoyed a period of political stability not seen in a generation.
In total, 60 States participated in the discussion: 25 HRC members and 35 observers (Statements available on UK page on UPR Extranet).
Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:
- The enactment of the Equality Act to ensure equal opportunities based on the principle of non-discrimination; the setting up of a Women’s Business Council;
- The ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
- Steps taken to reform the defamation law and the commitment of the State to safeguard the freedom of expression;
- Measures in place to uphold the rights of the children, including the Child Poverty Strategy;
- Efforts to give practical effect to the Responsibility to Protect.
Issues and Questions
Main issues and questions raised by the Working Group:
- Steps in place to ensure the safety and physical integrity of migrant workers;
- The Domestic Violence Rule; steps planned to further combat human trafficking and to protect victims; efforts to uphold child rights;
- Measures to advance gender equality;
- Measures taken to uphold human rights during the 2011 riots;
- The State’s counter-terrorism strategies in the context of human rights;
- Steps to address cases of racial and religious profiling.
In total, States participating in the discussion posed a series of recommendations to United Kingdom. These included, among others:
- To consider ratifying ILO Convention 189 on domestic workers and the Convention on migrant workers; to retain the Overseas Domestic Worker visa as a measure to safeguard against abuses of migrant workers;
- To accept the right to sanitation as an integral right to the right to clean drinking water;
- To provide more resources to the social welfare system to better tackle poverty;
- To standardize and improve ant-trafficking responses across the UK; to adopt a national strategy to combat all forms of violence against women; to sign the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence;
- To withdraw the reservation on the OP of the CRC concerning children in armed conflict, and to ratify the third OP to the CRC concerning communications; to fully incorporate the provisions of the CRC into domestic law;
- To consider raising the age of criminal responsibility for minors; to ratify the First OP to the ICCPR; to reconsider the position about the continued legality of corporal punishment of children;
- To take measures to improve prison overcrowding and improve conditions for detainees;
- To adopt legislation restricting detention of territory suspects without charge and ensure the illegality of such detention and to continue efforts to ensure that “secret evidence” was only used in cases where there was a threat to public security;
- To accede to the Convention on Enforced Disappearances and set up a timetable in that regard;
- To ensure that enquiries be carried out immediately and thoroughly for allegations of acts of torture by members of the British armed forces; to conduct independent investigations into all allegations concerning detention facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq;
- To put an end to racial profiling in combatting terrorism; to implement the recommendation of ECRI to continue to monitor hate crimes;
- To take all measures to combat prejudices and negative stereotypes, which may lead to racial discrimination or incitement to racial hatred, including against Arabs and Muslims; to strengthen data collection and maintain disaggregated data to better understand the scale of hate crimes.
Adoption of report of Working Group
The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, 30 May 2012.
The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR.