Human Rights Council adopts outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Kazakhstan, Slovenia and Bolivia

Human Rights Council
AFTERNOON 9 June 2010

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Kazakhstan, Slovenia and Bolivia.

Marat Beketayev, Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Justice of Kazakhstan, said Kazakhstan had received 128 recommendations and had expressed its position on 102 of these. For this session, it had prepared written answers to the remaining recommendations. Kazakhstan had accepted in total 121 recommendations, but was unable to accept 7. Kazakhstan would intensify measures to protect the rights of children and promote the juvenile justice system, fight domestic violence, and improve human rights education and awareness. Kazakhstan would continue to regularly accept visits from the Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council, in accordance with its extended standing invitation. The reforms of the judicial and law enforcement systems would continue with due regard to the recommendations received.

Numerous States congratulated Kazakhstan on its national human rights action plan and the priorities it placed on the promotion and protection of human rights. Speakers also welcomed Kazakhstan’s commitment to end domestic violence and gender discrimination, its measures to strengthen law enforcement and the judicial system by addressing impunity, and its decision to accelerate the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It was suggested that Kazakhstan continue to work toward unrestricted freedom of the press and ratification of the Convention to Protect Migrant Workers and All Members of Their Families.

Countries speaking on the Universal Periodic Review of Kazakhstan included Bahrain, Algeria, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Qatar, Belarus, United States, Iraq, Norway and Russian Federation. Human Rights Watch, International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, Amnesty International, Interfaith International, Reporters Without Borders and Canada HIV/AIDS Legal Network were the non-governmental organizations that commented on the Universal Periodic Review of Kazakhstan.

Andrej Logar, Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the Government of Slovenia had accepted 97 of the recommendations received, rejecting only five. Slovenia could not accept the recommendation to pass a law on domestic violence due to its national legislative system, whereby criminal offences and sanctions were defined by the Criminal Code and the General Offences Act. Most of the rights of migrant workers and their family members, as defined in the Convention on Migrant Workers, were already guaranteed. Many of the accepted recommendations had already been in the process of implementation, for example the improvement of the situation of the Roma community through a new national programme which contained measures for key areas in which the Roma still faced discrimination, such as education, health care and employment.

Regarding the review of Slovenia, speakers applauded the measures undertaken by the country to combat trafficking in persons, to protect immigrants, to raise awareness of human rights among police, and to protect women and children in armed conflict. Speakers also welcomed steps taken to combat discrimination against Roma in the areas of education, housing, healthcare and employment. Slovenia was asked to further elaborate on measures it had taken to address recommendations made in the areas of combating gender-based violence and preventing and punishing ill treatment by law enforcement officials.

Algeria, Iran, the United States and Iraq took the floor to comment on Slovenia’s Universal Periodic Review as well as representatives of the following non-governmental organizations: Amnesty International and the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation.

Hugo Raul Montera Lara, Vice-Minister of Justice and Fundamental Rights of Bolivia, said Bolivia had already accepted 78 of the 79 recommendations during the seventh session of the Working Group and confirmed this today. Turning to some of Bolivia’s achievements, Mr. Montero Lara mentioned the election of the Ombudsman last May; the renewal of the agreement with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Bolivia with which the Government was working in a coordinated manner to draw up the bill on jurisdictions; and measures taken to strengthen the rule of law. Mr. Montero Lara also reported that on March 31 the anti-corruption law had been promulgated, creating the national council to combat corruption that was designed to punish corruption by public officials. Mr. Montero Lara further announced the forthcoming visit of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and said that the visit would hopefully take place before the end of the year.

In the discussion, Bolivia was congratulated on its human rights promotion throughout the country, particularly in the area of rights for indigenous people, who had long been marginalized or excluded from the enjoyment of their rights. Speakers said the fact that Bolivia had accepted almost all of the recommendations made during its review was evidence of its strong commitment to the human rights agenda. It was noted that Bolivia had also made progress in reducing illiteracy and increasing the number of healthcare centres in the country. Speakers asked if Bolivia could provide further information on steps taken to combat corruption and child labour.

Taking the floor to comment on the Universal Periodic Review of Bolivia were Cuba, Algeria, Venezuela, Malaysia, Pakistan, Nicaragua and the United States. Representatives of non-governmental organizations including Defensoria del Pueblo de Bolivia, Amnesty International, Movement against Racism and For Friendship between the Peoples, Indian Movement of Tupaj Amaru, Conectas Direitos Humanos and Action Canada for Population and Development also spoke.

The Council will meet at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 10 June to consider the outcome of the Universal Periodic Reviews of Fiji, San Marino and El Salvador.

Universal Periodic Review for Kazakhstan

MARAT BEKETAYEV, Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Justice of Kazakhstan, said Kazakhstan had received 128 recommendations and had expressed its position on 102 of these. For this session, it had prepared written answers to the remaining recommendations. In follow-up to the Universal Periodic Review discussion, Kazakhstan had again closely reviewed all recommendations and discussed them extensively with State authorities, representatives of international organizations, and non-governmental organizations, basing the review on whether the recommendations accorded with Kazakhstan's policies on democratic institutions and civil society, rule of law and human rights. Kazakhstan had accepted in total 121 recommendations, and was not able to accept 7. This represented a genuinely constructive approach. Kazakhstan was willing to comply with the recommendations to continue its policy and carry out the reforms to protect human dignity and freedom of thought, conscience and religion, to enforce economic, social and cultural rights, and to strengthen the national institution for human rights.

Kazakhstan would also intensify measures to protect the rights of children and promote the juvenile justice system, fight domestic violence, and improve human rights education and awareness. It would continue to accede to international treaties on human rights, and, subject to financial implications and the need to make changes to the law and legal practice, Kazakhstan intended to continue to gradually expand its international obligations in this regard. Kazakhstan would continue to regularly accept visits from the Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council, in accordance with its extended standing invitation. The reforms of the judicial and law enforcement systems would continue with due regard to the recommendations received. Kazakhstan envisaged further steps towards the quality development of the penitentiary system and torture prevention. The Government would continue constructive dialogue with non-governmental organizations. As one of the most multi-ethnic States, Kazakhstan would continue robust protection of the rights and freedoms of the ethnic minorities. Kazakhstan had and would place special emphasis on sustainable development with a focus on human rights and freedoms.

BUDOOR ABDULAZIZ AHMED (Bahrain) said Kazakhstan had taken a number of measures to enhance and protect human rights. That reflected the Government’s readiness to give another momentum to work in the field of human rights and to grant further support to the United Nations system. Bahrain appreciated that Kazakhstan had undertaken efforts to draw up a national human rights plan and valued the efforts of the Government of Kazakhstan in terms of children's rights and the establishment of a culture of human rights.

BOUALEM CHEBIHI (Algeria) said the information provided by Kazakhstan allowed an understanding of the human rights situation in the country and made it possible to measure the vastness of the Government’s commitment to promoting and protecting human rights. The Government had already implemented half of the recommendations it had received. Algeria would appreciate if the recommendation relating to the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families would continue to be examined. The ratification of that Convention would reinforce Kazakhstan’s contribution to the promotion and protection of the rights of that vulnerable segment of the population. Algeria congratulated Kazakhstan for the presentation of its report and its commitment to the review process.

BADRIDDIN OBIDOV (Uzbekistan) welcomed the fact that Kazakhstan underwent the review and thanked the delegation of Kazakhstan for the exhaustive report on the recommendations and their implementation. Uzbekistan welcomed in particular the national plan of action to 2010 and the conception of the legal policy of the State for the next decade in which the human rights priorities were set out, in particular the rights of women and children and minorities. Uzbekistan welcomed Kazakhstan’s commitment to international cooperation in the field of human rights, and bilateral cooperation with Special Procedures. It had a constructive approach in developing a relationship with the Human Rights Council and so had demonstrated that the national system of the promotion and protection of human rights was being developed.

ZAHOOR AHMED (Pakistan) said that Kazakhstan had a successful review and it was pleased to note that most of the recommendations were either implemented or in the process of being implemented. Kazakhstan’s willingness to comply with the recommendation was a testimony to the importance it attached to the process and the Human Rights Council. Pakistan noted with appreciation the commitment of Kazakhstan to end domestic violence and gender discrimination. The Government’s readiness to further strengthen law enforcement and the judicial system by addressing impunity was a welcome step. Kazakhstan expressed its willingness to establish an independent national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles and said it would certainly help Kazakhstan to strengthen the human rights infrastructure in the country.

SITI HAJJAR ADNIN (Malaysia) said Malaysia noted with encouragement Kazakhstan's commitment to pursuing a non-confrontational and dialogue-based approach aimed at expanding and intensifying its international cooperation efforts in the protection and promotion of the human rights of its citizens. It was encouraging that Kazakhstan had accepted a large number of recommendations, and this demonstrated the Government's stated commitment to deepening democratic norms and standards as well as its commitment to ensure respect for all human rights in the country. Its decision to accelerate its ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was welcomed.

MICHAEL TENE (Indonesia) said the report presented by Kazakhstan attested to a genuine commitment to advance the protection and promotion of human rights in the country, in step with the reforms which the Government had begun to undertake in order to endow Kazakhstan with fully democratic institutions. Kazakhstan deserved to be congratulated on its achievements in the field of economic, social and cultural rights - its remarkable results in education, health and social welfare were some of the best in Asia. The Government was also commended for its efforts to address the modernisation of the judiciary, trial procedures, and detention conditions. Indonesia encouraged Kazakhstan not to flag in its drive to implement the ambitious goals it had set itself, in which regard it should continue to target unrestricted freedom of the press and media, and intensify its progressive measures on behalf of the rights of women, children, and the disabled.

KHALID FAHAD AL-HAJRI (Qatar) said the information provided by Kazakhstan had answered the additional requests for clarification. The report showed that Kazakhstan had accepted a vast majority of recommendations, including the recommendations made by Qatar, which highlighted Kazakhstan’s constructive approach to the Universal Periodic Review. Qatar welcomed what had been done in the past 19 years in Kazakhstan, particularly with regards to economic, social and cultural rights and the Millennium Development Goals.

ANDREI TARANDA (Belarus) thanked Kazakhstan for the detailed comments it had provided in response to the recommendations. The review confirmed the Council’s close interest in the experience and policies of Kazakhstan and highlighted the successes of that country with regards to economic, social and cultural rights, while also pointing to areas needing further attention. Belarus believed that the measures needed to implement the recommendations would be a complement to the implementation of Kazakhstan’s first national human rights action plan. Belarus commended the willingness of the Government to activate measures to develop human rights education and combat domestic violence and wished Kazakhstan further success in promoting and protecting human rights.

JOHN C. MARIZ (United States) said the United States congratulated Kazakhstan on the adoption of its Working Group report and commended its adoption of a national human rights action plan and the plan to end torture by 2012. The United States supported the recommendations of the Working Group to establish an independent monitoring mechanism to ensure effective prevention of torture in all detention centres. The United States appreciated Kazakhstan’s acceptance of the recommendation related to the protection and promotion of women’s rights and children rights. The United States was deeply disappointed with the Government’s assertion that the investigation and trial process in the case of Yevgeniy Zhovits had been carried out transparently and the United States strongly supported the recommendation for an effective and impartial judicial system. The United States was concerned that the delegation did not see the need to decriminalize libel and strongly supported the recommendation to do so in order to ensure free and vibrant independent media.

BAKIR AHMED AL-JAF (Iraq) said that Iraq highly valued the efforts of Kazakhstan to prepare its national report, which reflected the desire of the Government to give further momentum to the development of human rights. Iraq commended the progress Kazakhstan had made, particularly the reconciliation between ethnic groups and minorities, economic growth realized so far to reduce poverty and improve the well-being of Kazakh citizens, and policy reform. Iraq hoped that the report would be adopted and wished further progress to Kazakhstan, particularly in the area of human rights.

GEIR SJOBERG (Norway) said the Government of Kazakhstan already considered a number of recommendations made by Norway had been implemented or were in the process of implementation, including to effectively investigate and prosecute violations against human rights defenders and journalists, to ensure that all trials observed international standards for fair trial, to impose concrete measures to ensure that courts worked in accordance with the treaties ratified by Kazakhstan, and to take concrete steps to meet its obligations on creating an environment that fostered freedom of expression. Norway would continue to follow these matters closely in Kazakhstan. The Universal Periodic Review process, with the constructive participation of all partners, held the potential to contribute to human rights in terms of freedom of expression and freedom of religion in Kazakhstan.

ROMAN KASHAEV (Russian Federation) said Russia welcomed the initiative of Kazakhstan to broaden its treaty obligations in the field of human rights and to facilitate a constructive and non-confrontational dialogue on human rights in international fora. The high level of cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review process was noted. This position was a sign of the decisiveness of Kazakhstan to strengthen respect for all human rights, and Kazakhstan should continue its work in this area.

PHILIPPE DAM, of Human Rights Watch, called on the Kazakh Government to immediately put an end to the harassment of journalists and civil society activists and without further delay implement meaningful reforms to ensure and foster freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, as pledged by accepting a number of recommendations during the Universal Periodic Review. In that respect, Human Rights Watch welcomed Kazakhstan’s acceptance of the recommendations regarding the full implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan 2009-2012. That plan could be an important tool for strengthening human rights protection.

SAMUEL DANSETTE, of International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, said the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues shared the recommendation made that Kazakhstan protect the rights of migrants, and in particular that it sign and ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Since 2005, many Uzbek and Uyghur asylum seekers had been abducted, extradited or forcibly returned to the countries from which they had fled persecution. It was further of concern that some provisions of regional agreements, such as the Minsk Convention and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, were in contradiction with the principle of non-refoulement.

CATHERINE BEVILLACQUA, of Amnesty International, said Amnesty International welcomed Kazakhstan’s support of recommendations pertaining to strengthen safeguards against torture and noted that the Government had previously said that it was committed to a policy of zero tolerance of torture. Amnesty International now called on the Government to put its words into deeds by giving immediate effects to those recommendations. Amnesty International remained concerned at persistent allegations of torture or ill treatment of individuals before formal detention took place. Amnesty International welcomed the support of Kazakhstan to fully abolish the death penalty and to ratify the Second Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Given that self-incriminatory statements alleged to have been extracted under torture were regularly introduced as evidence against the accused, Amnesty International was concerned that individuals accused of terrorism could be sentenced to death in an unfair trial based on such so-called “evidence”.

CHARLES GRAVES, of Interfaith International, in a joint statement, said the non-governmental organizations had cooperated with the Kazakhstan delegation since the creation of the Human Rights Council in order to promote an intercultural dialogue and this policy of Kazakhstan demonstrated that its authorities believed in a democracy founded upon diversity of opinion, tolerance and coexistence. They congratulated the Government for taking into account the recommendations and for progress made in implementing the Millennium Development Goals and its efforts to improve health and education through modernised infrastructure and its progress in integrating in Central Asian economy. They encouraged Kazakhstan to establish a national human rights institution and to create a better climate for the independence of judges and the media.

GEORGE GORDON-LENNOX, of Reporters without Borders, said Kazakhstan had taken up the chairmanship of the OSCE in January 2010, but had not seen any improvement in press freedom, seeming to lack the political will to improve this and break with impunity. This form of disguised censorship was directed against those who revealed infractions committed by politicians. Accusations such as impugning honour and reputation and professional reputation were still valid in Kazakhstan. The courts had ruled the press should not publish information that could be construed as impugning honour and reputation. This wave of intimidation was directed against the press, printing shops, and areas where newspapers were on sale, and there were new laws restricting private life. Kazakhstan should move towards democratic standards in the field of freedom of the press.

JOHN FISHER, of Action Canada for Population and Development, in a joint statement with European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation (ILGA-EUROPE), said Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network commended Kazakhstan's acceptance of recommendations which dealt with measures to combat discrimination against persons with drug dependence and persons living with HIV/AIDS, and to redouble its efforts to eliminate stigmatisation of and discrimination against persons infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. The Government was commended for developing anti-discrimination legislation and was encouraged to include sexual orientation and gender identity as recognized grounds for discrimination. Kazakhstan should apply international best practices on the application of international law in relation to sexual orientation and recognize the rights of transgender people to change gender and name in official documents in accordance with their self-defined gender identity and without the need to undergo surgery.

A member of the National Commission of Human Rights of Kazakhstan, in concluding remarks, said the National Commission for Human Rights had drafted a report on the human rights situation in Kazakhstan in 2009. Many statements made by State representatives today had been taken up in that report. The National Commission for Human Rights had recommended to the Government to decriminalize slander and that had already been transmitted to the relevant Government bodies. As for statements made by NGOs today, their comments that Kazakhstan had failed to implement some measures were not in keeping with reality. The Government was improving Kazakhstan’s legislation and practice and, in keeping with Universal Periodic Review recommendations, had established a three-tier judiciary system. Moreover, all judges were required to take human rights education courses to ensure they were well aware of the human rights in Kazakhstan and the provisions as they related to Kazakhstan. As for the situation of migrant workers, while the economic situation in Kazakhstan was somewhat better than in other countries, and many migrants thus came to Kazakhstan, the Government did all it could to ensure appropriate living conditions, and the new draft law on populations and migration was now being studied. As for comments on the freedom of journalists, the National Commission for Human Rights had actively participated to improve the situation in that area, and slander would be decriminalized shortly and would no longer come under the Criminal Code. Concerning gender policy, Kazakhstan was implementing an equality plan ensuring 30 per cent of women at the decision-making level.

MARAT BEKETAYEV, Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Justice of Kazakhstan, also in some concluding remarks, said Kazakhstan would continue to actively cooperate with the Council in the implementation of the recommendations that Kazakhstan had accepted.

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

Universal Periodic Review for Slovenia

ANDREI LOGAR, Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the delegation of Slovenia to the Universal Periodic Review Working Group had been headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, which demonstrated the commitment of the Government to the Universal Periodic Review process. The preparation of the national Universal Periodic Review report was a comprehensive exercise that was an opportunity to take stock of Slovenia’s internal human rights situation and to compare it to those of other United Nations Member States. All recommendations had been taken back to Ljubljana for consideration and each of them had received an individual response. During the interministerial process, Slovenia had formulated its position on the basis of recommendations made and the Government had adopted it in March 2010.

The Government of Slovenia had accepted 97 recommendations received, rejecting only five. Slovenia could not accept the recommendation to pass a law on domestic violence due to the national legislative system, whereby criminal offences and sanctions were defined by the Criminal Code and the General Offences Act. On specialised family courts, Slovenia planned to gradually and systematically strengthen the existing family departments at district court level and to facilitate the creation of new departments if the need for this was independently established by the judiciary. The rights of the German-speaking community were adequately protected both by bilateral agreements and the Convention between the Governments of Austria and Slovenia, while most of the rights of migrant workers and their family members as defined in the Convention on Migrant Workers were already guaranteed. Many of the accepted recommendations had already been in the process of implementation, for example the improvement of the situation of the Roma community. The Government had adopted in March this year the new national programme of measures for the Roma which contained measures for key areas in which the Roma still faced discrimination, such as education, health care, employment and other.

Slovenia underlined the importance of a firm follow-up mechanism and it was decided that the existing Interministerial Commission on Human Rights would monitor the follow-up to the recommendations received. Another part of the follow-up process was an analysis of the existing institutional protection of human rights in Slovenia and the Universal Periodic Review process had highlighted some of areas of human rights that could be covered in a more efficient and comprehensive manner. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had initiated a broad discussion on how to improve institutional capacities for a more proactive promotion of human rights in Slovenia.

BOUALEM CHEBIHI (Algeria) said Algeria appreciated Slovenia’s adoption of 91 recommendations out of 97. Algeria spoke during the presentation of the national report and formulated two of the recommendations that were accepted. Algeria commended Slovenia's efforts to continue the protection and promotion of human rights, in particular for vulnerable groups. Algeria congratulated the Government for its stand on human rights during the consideration of the resolution on the attack by Israeli forces on the humanitarian convoy.

MOHAMMED ZARAN (Iran), referring to the serious concerns expressed by various United Nations human rights mechanisms on a series of human rights violations in Slovenia, among them non existence of a specific plan of action on human trafficking, suffering of minorities, reported cases of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials, and the continuation of the trafficking of women for prostitution, said Iran asked the Slovenian delegation to elaborate on the measures undertaken to effectively address those recommendations. These were listed as: developing a national plan of action aimed at addressing the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; taking urgent and concrete measures to ensure the practical enjoyment by minorities of their rights; taking appropriate measures to prevent and punish all forms of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials; addressing the issue of gender-based violence in a comprehensive manner; and combating all forms of trafficking of women and girls in Slovenia.

JOHN C. MARIZ (United States) said the United States commended the establishment of the action plan of the inter-departmental working group against trafficking in human beings and encouraged Slovenia to strengthen its efforts to address trafficking in persons. The United States urged Slovenia to continue doing so particularly by vigorously investigating and prosecuting both sex and labour trafficking offences and by convicting and punishing traffickers. The United States looked forward to sharing further information with Slovenia in that regard.

BAKIR AHMED AL-JAF (Iraq) said Slovenia’s national report reflected the Government’s willingness to promote human rights. Iraq noted that the efforts undertaken to protect immigrants in Slovenia were positive, and it paid tribute to the Government’s efforts in terms of raising awareness of human rights among the police and protecting children and women in armed conflict. Iraq wished Slovenia the best success in its further work in the human rights area.

MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG, of Amnesty International, said Amnesty International welcomed the adoption by Slovenia in March 2010 of the national measures outlining the Government’s measures to combat discrimination against Roma people in access to education, housing, health care, employment and other areas. Amnesty International called on the Government to address the inadequate housing conditions of many Roma, including access to water, sanitation and electricity and to refrain from forcible evictions of Roma communities. The situation of the “erased” had been raised by many States during the review and the adoption of the law regulating the legal status of the “erased” was a positive development. Amnesty International was concerned about the attempts to organise a referendum on the new law, which could overturn it and this could lead to further discrimination against the “erased”.

BJORN VAN ROOSENDAHL, of European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation (ILGA-EUROPE), in a joint statement, said that the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation commended Slovenia for accepting the recommendations related to ensuring that same-sex partners were treated equally with opposite-sex partners. The European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation was concerned that homophobic and intolerant public statements made by some politicians had been made during the discussion of the draft law in the Parliament and called on Slovenia to remain strong in its defence of the draft law and to continue working towards equity for all. An education and awareness campaign for the general public and law enforcement personnel could be a strong instrument and the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation recommended that Slovenia strengthen the existing efforts with such campaigns.

ANDREI LOGAR, Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the United Nations, said Slovenia fully agreed with Iran that no country had a perfect human rights record, including Slovenia, but the Government would do its utmost to improve the situation of human rights in Slovenia. On trafficking and the treatment of Roma by law-enforcement officials, on the latter, Slovenia had adopted the recommendation put forward by Iran, and Slovenia treated and viewed the problem of ill-treatment by law enforcement from the perspective that it was not serious or widespread. This recommendation had already been implemented, and Slovenia would continue efforts to regulate the field. On the Roma, Slovenia agreed with the Programme of Measures to Assist the Roma and measures to better integrate them into society, and Slovenia was positive that the situation of the Roma would improve. On anti-trafficking, these policies were part of the Inter-Departmental Action Plan on Trafficking in Human Beings, which worked to inform the general population and specific vulnerable groups. The Government was also monitoring the situation constantly to eliminate discrimination against women, including work to remove traditional stereotypes in advertising. All acts of violence were criminalised and prosecuted as appropriate.

Slovenia was about to conclude its mandate within the Human Rights Council. Since the very beginning, the country had been a staunch supporter of the Universal Periodic Review. This new and very innovative mechanism had become indispensable in addressing the human rights situation in all Member States. A good connection had been made with Special Procedures and United Nations treaty bodies as well as regional human rights mechanisms. There were some issues that needed to be improved, such as the quality of recommendations and their implementation. Slovenia would continue to work hard to strengthen international norms, standards and mechanisms for their implementation, including the Universal Periodic Review.

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

Universal Periodic Review for Bolivia

HUGO RAUL MONTERO LARA, Vice-Minister of Justice and Fundamental Rights of Bolivia, said Bolivia had already accepted 78 of the 79 recommendations made during the seventh session of the Working Group and confirmed this today. The 78 recommendations had been dealt with responsibly by the National Council for Human Rights. Many recommendations had already been included in Bolivia’s National Plan of Human Rights 2009-2013 which was currently being implemented. Turning to some of Bolivia’s achievements, Mr. Montero Lara noted the election of the Ombudsman last May; the renewal of the agreement with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Bolivia with which the Government was working in a coordinated manner to draw up the bill on jurisdictions; the preparation of reports to various United Nations Human Rights Committees; and that the Government had taken measures to strengthen the rule of law.

Mr. Montero Lara also reported that on March 31 the anti-corruption law had been promulgated, creating the national council to combat corruption that was designed to punish corruption by public officials and was comprised of legal representatives of various sectors. In terms of combating discrimination, the Government had submitted a bill on combating racial discrimination. That bill promoted harmony, social and gender equality, and prohibited all forms of racism, as well as discrimination on the grounds of age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious belief, ideology, type of work, degree of education, disability, and other grounds. That bill was designed to be preventive and to provide the appropriate machinery in terms of human rights. Mr. Montero Lara further announced the forthcoming visit of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and said that visit would hopefully take place before the end of the year. Mr. Montero Lara also stressed that Bolivia would not spare any efforts to promote and protect human rights. Bolivia had been attempting to give voice to victims of discrimination and would continue to do so in the Council and elsewhere. Through the dynamic participation in the Universal Periodic Review, Bolivia had shown its firm political will to build a State that respected human rights.

MARIA DEL CARMEN HERNANDEZ (Cuba) said the review of Bolivia proved once more the firm commitment of the Government to the protection and promotion of human rights for all. The far reaching changes of recent years had resulted in the achievement of full social justice, giving priority to the needs of indigenous majorities historically excluded and marginalized. Bolivia was firmly moving down the path of a society built on social equality and fairness where discrimination and exclusion had no place. The remarkable progress made by Bolivia was an indisputable achievement. During the review, Cuba highlighted the important achievements made such as the reduction in illiteracy, a decrease in the drop out rate, a doubling of the number of healthcare centres and other accomplishments. Cuba wanted to congratulate Bolivia on its positive achievements and extended its firmest will to continue working together for the betterment of all people.

BOUALEM CHEBIHI (Algeria) said that Algeria noted with satisfaction efforts made for the promotion and protection of human rights throughout the country. Algeria was happy about Bolivia’s acceptance of recommendations made by Algeria and was satisfied to see that many recommendations were being implemented or had already been implemented. Algeria also welcomed the additional voluntary commitments made by Bolivia and Algeria recommended the adoption of the report.

GERMAN MUNDARAIN HERNANDEZ (Venezuela) said Venezuela deeply appreciated the presentation made today. The Government of Bolivia had openly and fully cooperated with the Universal Periodic Review, proof of the country’s commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights. Bolivia had made efforts to fully implement human rights throughout the country, as reflected in the review process. Bolivia had enlightened the Council as to the process of profound social change. However, through the consistent harassment of a privileged minority that did not respect the rights of the indigenous people, this had been made more difficult. Bolivia was encouraged to continue consolidating the process of change in favour of its noble people, to which end it would always have the committed and fraternal hand of the people of Venezuela.

SITI HAJJAR ADNIN (Malaysia) said Malaysia was highly encouraged to note that out of 79 recommendations, 78 were accepted. The openness and flexibility of Bolivia's approach to the Universal Periodic Review was a testimony to the Government's sincerity and commitment, as well as a demonstration of its political will to ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights by its people. Malaysia was keenly aware that Bolivia faced significant challenges as it strove to ensure that its people continued to reap the benefits of globalisation and development, and was optimistic that with the re-election of President Evo Morales, Bolivia was in a very good position to take advantage of the stable political climate to pursue its development plans and programmes.

ZAHOOR AHMED (Pakistan) said Pakistan appreciated the constructive role played by Bolivia during its term as a member of the Human Rights Council. Bolivia had shown strong commitment to the human rights agenda by accepting almost all the recommendations which had been made during the review. It had been further encouraging to note that 67 out of 78 recommendations were either implemented or in the process of implementation. Bolivia also made a number of short-term voluntary pledges and commitments during the consideration of its reports by the Working Group in February 2010, thus demonstrating their genuine efforts towards the promotion and protection of human rights of their citizens. Pakistan hoped that Bolivia would continue it efforts and would share a number of good practices with the international community in ensuring economic, social and cultural rights.

CARLOS ROBELO RAFFONE (Nicaragua) said Nicaragua thanked Bolivia for the excellent presentation on the implementation of recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review process. Nicaragua congratulated Bolivia for the remarkable commitment that the Government of President Evo Morales had made to his people with regard to improving the human rights situation of the country, for the recognition of the work to still be done and for the cooperation with the Council. Nicaragua would take home the good example of Bolivia and its good practices and hoped to work hand in hand with the Bolivian people in improving the situation of all, particularly those most in need. Bolivia demonstrated that all must treat this world and this land with responsibility and appreciation.

JOHN C. MARIZ (United States) commended Bolivia for accepting the recommendations regarding the respect of judicial independence and the right to fighting corruption of public officials. What measures did the Bolivian Government intend to take to implement those recommendations? The United States also noted with satisfaction that Bolivia had been implementing its plan for the progressive elimination of child labour and that the Ministry of Labour had been conducting inspections in that regard. Could information be given on the measures of the application of that plan?

KATHARINA ROSE, of Defensoria del Pueblo de Bolivia, said the assessment of the human rights situation in Bolivia had been a challenge because it involved a wide ranging process of dialogue with civil society groups. For the drawing up of the report, which covered the years 2006-2009, significant changes had taken place in policies regarding human rights and one of the most important achievements was the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and Bolivia was one of the first countries to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Much progress had been witnessed in the work to help women and children, disabled people, adolescents and people living in vulnerable groups.

MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG, of Amnesty International, said the reforms that were being discussed needed to take into account increased transparency in the reform process. Amnesty International acknowledged the measures highlighted, but with regard to victims of enforced disappearances, Amnesty International encouraged the Bolivian Government to make available archives that shed light on abuses committed during the years of the authoritarian rule. In order for the rights of indigenous people to be fully realized free, prior and informed consent of indigenous people should be sought in relation to any reforms that would affect them.

GIANFRANCO FATTORINI, of Movement against Racism and for Friendship among Peoples,in a joint statement with France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand and International Educational Development, said the first Universal Periodic Review of Bolivia had allowed all to become acquainted with the difficulties the Bolivian Government faced, including the fact that a small number of people had been profiting from the county’s economy. With the adoption of a new Constitution, Bolivia had placed human rights at the heart of its policy and the Government’s actions. The Cocha Bamba Conference showed that another path was possible and the success achieved in various fields of human rights must encourage the Government to pursue these efforts. The Movement against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples assured the Government of Bolivia of its support in that endeavour.

LAZARO PARY, of Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”, said the State apparatus that had split from the people remained intact, arrogant and omnipresent and the dictatorship continued in the hands of the ruling elite. Oligarchy and transnational enterprises continued to loot natural resources of indigenous people. At the same time, poverty and begging were on the rise in urban centres and the situation in communities had not changed – they continued to live as 60 years ago, taking care of animals to survive. The first indigenous president did not have enough power to effectively change the situation.

MARIANNA DUARTE, of Conectas Direitos Humanos, said Conectas Direitos Humanos welcomed the recommendation accepted by Bolivia on the rights of women and appreciated the progress made. Reduction of maternal mortality should be accompanied by education in decision making for pregnancy. Abortion was the third cause of death of women in Bolivia. It was important to ensure the political participation of women in the electoral law, while women’s rights must be respected in judicial justice. The compliance with all women’s rights must be obligatory and Bolivia needed to establish cooperation with women organizations, and to pay more attention to violence against women.

YOLANDA OROZCO, of Action Canada for Population and Development, said recommendations accepted were the priority and stressed positively that the Bolivian State had extended the agreement with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Bolivia. The national human rights plan should be implemented on economic, social and cultural rights, but the State must make the priorities and must specify concrete actions. Eradication of inequalities would be impossible without employment generation. The situation of street children must be addressed. Action Canada for Population and Development regretted the fact that the needs of different groups of the population and those of vulnerable groups had not been properly addressed.

FELIX CARDENAS, Vice Minister of Decolonization, Bolivian Ministry of Culture, in concluding remarks, thanked all the delegations and non-governmental organizations who had taken the floor. He said this dialogue was very useful and this was why they carried it out in Bolivia with civil society groups, indigenous peoples and other stakeholders. The National Human Rights Council was a space for coordination and it was actively following up the recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review and the Bolivian Government would fully comply with requirements for human rights because it was demanded by their people and required by the Government, but people had to realize that Bolivia was in a period of transition and it was a very diverse society so there were many viewpoints to be taken into consideration. Bolivia was a colonial State that had deeply rooted biases against women and indigenous people and this was a reality they had to change, but it would not happen overnight after 500 years of colonization. They were developing a democracy based on their constitution and their roots. In the area of women’s rights, there was a department in the Ministry of Culture to do away with patriarchy, as the basis of the colonial state had been racism and patriarchy. Bolivia recognized it had much to do, but it was not easy to reclaim a population that had suffered for so long from colonialism and racism and it was not easy to do away with the vestiges of the past without disrupting the privileged few. States also had to recognize the rights of Mother Earth and that the destiny of all people on this planet depended on the decisions made by all States. How could people enjoy their human rights, guarantee the right to food, health and water if Mother Earth was defiled? Those rights were just as important as human rights.

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

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For use of the information media; not an official record