Human Rights Council adopts Universal Periodic Review Outcomes of Kyrgyzstan and Guinea

MIDDAY

21 September 2010

The Human Rights Council today adopted the Universal Periodic Review Outcomes of Kyrgyzstan and Guinea.

Jyldyz Mambetalieva, Deputy Minister of Justice of Kyrgyzstan, briefed the Council on the tragic events that took place in Kyrgyzstan in April, May and June of 2010. The main causes of the April turmoil in the Republic could be boiled down to a confluence of factors, which included a reduction in social security, the creation of anti-constitutional state power institutions, high corruption levels, and the closure of independent printed media, radio stations and TV channels. All of these factors led to mass demonstrations against the country’s leadership, ultimately resulting in significant numbers of victims amongst the protestors. Regrettably, after the April events, the country was shaken by the events in the south of the country. In May and June 2010 a situation involving different ethnicities developed into inter-ethnic clashes that entailed the deaths of hundreds of people and the destruction of property. In light of recent events, the Kyrgyz Republic intended to focus all its efforts on building a democratic and economically prosperous State that upheld the value of human life and the well being of every citizen. The Kyrgyz Republic was firmly and decisively following the route of protecting and encouraging all basic rights and freedoms of its citizens, in line with international standards.

In the discussion on the outcome of Kyrgyzstan, speakers commended the Government of Kyrgyzstan for accepting over 100 recommendations. They appreciated efforts made to strengthen national solidarity and human rights bodies, and improve economic and social rights, such as access to health and education. Kyrgyzstan went through the Universal Periodic Review at a time of acute crisis in the country and the mere fact of their participation in the process at such a difficult time was an indication of their commitment to the implementation of human rights. Kyrgyzstan had made consistent efforts towards the protection and promotion of the human rights of all in the country, despite persistent challenges. Kyrgyzstan was encouraged to continue its efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular in relation to the rights of women and children and in poverty alleviation. Some speakers regretted the loss of life during the crisis and remained deeply concerned about further ethnic violence.

Speaking in the discussion on Kyrgyzstan were Morocco, China, Iran, Russian Federation, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Egypt, United Kingdom and the United States. The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme, and Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.

Siba Loholamou, Minister of Justice of Guinea, said that during the Eighth Session of the Universal Periodic Review in May 2010, Guinea had promulgated the Constitution and organic laws, such as the Electoral Code and freedom of the press, that set the solid basis for a the rule of law, which ushered Guinea in a new era of the promotion and protection of human rights. A number of other events occurred since May 2010, including the launch of the national reconciliation process, the opening of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Conakry and the first round of presidential elections. The second round due in September was postponed by the decision of the National Electoral Commission due to logistical, technical and security concerns. Each of those events ensured that the people of Guinea were more aware of human rights issues. Seminars were organised which raised awareness about the Constitution, while the new organic law of freedom of the press was a real break with the past. With regard to the abolition of the death penalty, Mr. Loholamou said that the consultations revealed that it was premature to start a national debate on this issue.

In the discussion on Guinea, speakers expressed their happiness to see that democratic elections were held in Guinea in 2010, an event of which the country could be proud and that showed the political will to move out of the crisis. It was clear that the Government of Guinea was trying to strengthen its human rights obligations. Strong support was expressed for all efforts to ensure that Guinea held the recently postponed second round of presidential elections as soon as possible. It was important to emphasize that maintaining an atmosphere of peace and stability was crucial during this period. Speakers appealed for a free electoral campaign that was free of violence and welcomed the statement on the neutrality of the armed forces. The transitional Government had confirmed Guinea’s willingness to improve its human rights situation, despite the difficult national context of which everyone was aware. Speakers were particularly pleased by the establishment in Conakry of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Speaking in the discussion on Guinea were Morocco, China, United Kingdom, France, Senegal and Norway. The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters and Amnesty International.

The Council today is holding three back-to-back meetings from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. During its midday meeting, it will continue its general debate on indigenous issues.

Consideration of Universal Periodic Review Outcome of Kyrgyzstan

JYLDYZ MAMBETALIEVA, Deputy Minister of Justice of Kyrgyzstan, began her statement by briefing the Council on the tragic events that took place in Kyrgyzstan in April, May and June of 2010. The modern history of Kyrgyzstan was a period of stormy and rapid changes. Recently, the social and economic situation in Kyrgyzstan facilitated a rapid growth in protests, which turned out to be the only available means for the people to express their resentment against the Government. The main causes of the April turmoil in the Republic could be boiled down to a confluence of factors, which included a reduction in social security, the creation of anti-constitutional state power institutions, high corruption levels, and the closure of independent printed media, radio stations and TV channels. All of these factors led to mass demonstrations against the country’s leadership, ultimately resulting in significant numbers of victims amongst the protestors.

Regrettably, after the April events the country was shaken by the events in the south of the country. In May and June 2010 a situation involving different ethnicities developed into inter-ethnic clashes that entailed deaths of hundreds of people and destruction of property. Analyses of the events in the South demonstrated that separate destructive groups attempted to carry out their objectives by inciting ethnic divisions and clashes. At present the situation in the South was stabilizing and measures had been directed to provide reparations for destroyed homes and buildings and to restore businesses and create employment. The Government understood that it could not address this issue without external assistance and was sincerely grateful for all those who responded to the call for help and for cooperation within the Flash Appeal announced by the United Nations for Kyrgyzstan.

In light of recent events, the Kyrgyz Republic intended to focus all its efforts on building a democratic and economically prosperous state that upheld the value of human life and the well being of every citizen. On 27 June 2010, a nation-wide referendum was held in Kyrgyzstan with the focus on a new Constitution envisaging the establishment of a parliamentary Republic. The constitutional reform would ultimately exclude the concentration and abuse of power. The new Constitution provided for a system of checks and balances that would ensure a real equilibrium between the branches of power and give the opposition a possibility to participate in discussing and making important national decisions. The Deputy Minister of Justice concluded by saying that the Kyrgyz Republic was firmly and decisively following the route of protecting and encouraging all basic rights and freedoms of its citizens, in line with international standards.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) welcomed the delegation of Kyrgyzstan and the update on the progress made in the country. Morocco commended the Government for accepting over 100 recommendations. Morocco welcomed the national reforms in line with international human rights treaties and the launch of the national plan for promoting gender equality.

QIAN BO (China) said the importance the Government of Kyrgyzstan gave to cooperation with the Human Rights Council was seen in its acceptance of most of the recommendations, and China appreciated the efforts made to strengthen national solidarity and human rights bodies, and improve economic and social rights, such as access to health and education. China understood the various challenges in economic development and the protection and promotion of human rights as a developing country. Kyrgyzstan would continue to make progress in its economic development and the course of human rights.

MOHAMMAD REZA GHAEBI (Iran) commended the constructive engagement of the Government of Kyrgyzstan in the eighth Universal Periodic Review session. The responsible approach taken by the Government with regard to the recommendations made by the Working Group was a vivid indication of the commitment of the Kyrgyz Republic to the promotion and protection of human rights. It was notable that the Government had accepted to support or examine near 130 out of the 140 recommendations. Finally, Iran encouraged the Government of Kyrgyzstan to take effective measures to fulfil their international commitments in line with their national laws and obligations.

ROMAN KAHAEV (Russian Federation) said that Kyrgyzstan went through the Universal Periodic Review at the time of acute crisis in the country and the mere fact of their participation in the process at such a difficult time was an indication of their commitment to the implementation of human rights. The Russian Federation noted with satisfaction that most of recommendations made in May this year were already in the process of implementation. More needed to be done and the Russian Federation was of the opinion that the international community, particularly through the Human Rights Council, should continue to provide assistance to Kyrgyzstan to implement the recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review and to normalize the situation in the country.

CHOE MYONG NAM (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) said Kyrgyzstan was thanked for its comprehensive and detailed presentation, and it had shown a sincere and constructive approach towards the Universal Periodic Review, as shown by its acceptance of a large number of recommendations. Kyrgyzstan had made consistent efforts towards the protection and promotion of the human rights of all in the country, despite persistent challenges. Kyrgyzstan was committed to ensure the rights and freedoms of all ethnic minorities. Particularly significant achievements continued to be made in the area of economic, social and cultural rights. The report should be adopted.

IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria) commended the Government of Kyrgyzstan for its work and cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review. Algeria took note of the fact that Kyrgyzstan had accepted the recommendation to adopt the Convention on Persons with Disabilities. It was clear that Kyrgyzstan was going through a turbulent time in its history but luckily the country had experienced positive developments over the summer, which would hopefully be consolidated and could contribute to the economic stability of that country.

ABZAL SAPARBEKULY (Kazakhstan) said that Kyrgyzstan was at a critical juncture of its modern history. Kazakhstan believed that despite the enormous challenges and difficulties Kyrgyzstan would continue to fulfil its commitment to international human rights obligations. While Kazakhstan welcomed the fact that Kyrgyzstan was able to accept a significant number of recommendations, it stressed the importance of paying equal attention to the realization of political and civil rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights. Kazakhstan welcomed the recent steps taken by the Government to promote dialogue and strengthen trust among ethnic groups and was confident that addressing of root causes would help overcome the existing tensions.

HABIB MIKAYILLI (Azerbaijan) said Azerbaijan thanked Kyrgyzstan for its participation in the Working Group despite the difficult political situation in the country, and noted with appreciation that a significant number of recommendations had been adopted by Kyrgyzstan. Azerbaijan regretted that after the review, tragic events took place in Kyrgyzstan, and encouraged Kyrgyzstan to accelerate its efforts to promote inter-ethnic harmony. Azerbaijan supported the efforts of the Government to return the situation in the country to normalcy, and welcomed the Constitutional referendum held this June. The holding of free and fair transparent elections was critical to guarantee human rights protection, and Azerbaijan noted that Kyrgyzstan had accepted the recommendations with regard to fair elections.

YONG CHANTHALANGSY (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) noted that Kyrgyzstan was trying its best to comply with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism and process and to cooperate with the Human Rights Council despite the tense political and economic situation in the country. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic also took note of the efforts and progress made by the Government of Kyrgyzstan to resolve the situation of ethnic tension, reinforcing social cohesion with the aim of attaining political stability and economic development for all ethnic groups. In conclusion, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic wished Kyrgyzstan well in its efforts to promote and protect all human rights of its multi-ethnic citizens and recommended the adoption of the report.

MAHMOUD AFIFI (Egypt) welcomed the commitment of Kyrgyzstan to the Universal Periodic Review process demonstrated by the acceptance of 127 recommendations during the review session. Egypt encouraged Kyrgyzstan to continue its efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular in relation to the rights of women and children and in poverty alleviation.

PETER GOODERHAM (United Kingdom) said the United Kingdom was pleased to note the number of recommendations accepted and was particularly pleased to note that the United Kingdom's recommendations were accepted on legislation on the National Prevention Mechanism and to organize elections and a referendum in line with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Venice Council of Europe institutional and human rights guidelines. All future trials should take place in accordance with international standards. The United Kingdom welcomed the commitments given by Kyrgyzstan to improve the situation, both through their Universal Periodic Review and through the resolution adopted in June, and looked forward to further updates from Kyrgyzstan to the Council on their progress to improve the human rights situation and implement their international obligations.

EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN DONAHOE (United States) said the United States supported the Government of Kyrgyzstan’s continuing efforts to restore law and order in the country, address social tensions and restore the legitimacy of the Government through democratic reform and processes. The United States encouraged Kyrgyzstan to realize these objectives fully and swiftly and to ensure the return of democratic governance and rule of law. Finally, the United States regretted the loss of life and remained deeply concerned about further ethnic violence.

ANDREA HUBER, of Amnesty International, said there were credible reports that security forces had failed to prevent incidents of human rights abuses during the recent violent events in June 2010. Amnesty International was particularly alarmed about reports of authorities obstructing the work of human rights activists in documenting or otherwise responding to the June events. Many were subjected to threats, beatings, arbitrary detention or other ill-treatment. In light of those grave concerns, Amnesty International welcomed the support of Kyrgyzstan’s Government to recommendations made by other States during the review to condemn the use of torture and other ill-treatment, strengthen safeguards against torture, and ensure prompt investigation and accountability for human rights violations.

PHILIPPE DAM, of Human Rights Watch, said that the Government of Kyrgyzstan deserved credit for its participation in the Universal Periodic Review despite the difficult political situation after the political violence and change of government in early April. Since then a wave of violence had shaken the country that had led to massive human rights violations. The implementation of the recommendations accepted by the Government should address those developments as a matter of priority. So far, the Government’s investigation into the violence had been carried out with serious violation of Kyrgyz and international law. Arbitrary arrests and extortion had been widespread and many individuals were denied due process guarantees. Human Rights Watch welcomed the Government’s acceptance of many important recommendations and called on key international partners to assist the Government with their immediate implementation.

RAMDAN ARIFI, of Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, said the presence of the Kyrgyzstan delegation, despite the social and economic difficulties of the country, was appreciated. The recent riots and violence in the country had caused general instability, which had caused innumerable violations of the human rights of ethnic and religious minorities. There was concern for the imposition on the media of restrictive measures as well as the threats weighing on human rights defenders and political opponents. It was vital for the authorities to reform the juvenile justice system. The authorities should continue the national dialogue to implement the recommendations that were vital to the return to normalcy of the country.

ELENA SHAPILIVA, of Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, said the Government of Kyrgyzstan should urgently adopt measures to punish those responsible for sexual violence, and provide technical and financial support to victims, and help women who had suffered sexual violence during the June events. The recommendation to bring legislation into line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was also supported with regard to sexual and ethnic minorities, and a State Committee should be established in this context.

JYLDYZ MAMBETALIEVA, Deputy Minister of Justice of Kyrgyzstan, in her concluding remarks, wanted to add a few points. She confirmed that a number of the report’s recommendations had been partially adopted. With respect to specific legal cases, following the crisis in April, she gave the floor to a member of her delegation to provide further information.

A member of the delegation of Kyrgyzstan provided more information on an incident that occurred near the crossing on the border between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Some soldiers tried to prevent the illegal crossing of Uzbeks into the Krygyz Republic but one insurgent refused to cooperate with law enforcement officials. A call was used to refrain from using weapons but this insurgent opened fire, leading to an escalation of violence that resulted in the death of a border patrolman, who was burned alive after having been beaten. The perpetrator was given a life sentence after a report on this incident was produced and presented to the courts. Such crimes were punishable under article 340 of the Kyrgyz criminal code. Although an appeal was also lodged, the second court confirmed the sentence. In another incident, an editor of the DR Newspaper was publishing articles to provoke racial hatred amongst Uzbeks and calling for separation. This case was now being reviewed in Kyrgyz courts and would be resolved soon.

The Council then adopted the decision on the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Kyrgyzstan.

Consideration of Universal Periodic Review Outcome of Guinea

SIBA LOHOLAMOU, Minster of Justice of the Republic of Guinea, said that during the Eighth Session of the Universal Periodic Review in May 2010, Guinea had promulgated the Constitution and organic laws, such as the Electoral Code and freedom of the press, that set the solid basis for the rule of law, which ushered Guinea in a new era of the promotion and protection of human rights. A number of other events occurred since May 2010, including the launch of the national reconciliation process, the opening of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Conakry and the first round of presidential elections. The second round due in September was postponed by the decision of the National Electoral Commission due to logistical, technical and security concerns. Each of those events ensured that the people of Guinea were more aware of human rights issues. Seminars were organised which raised awareness about the Constitution, while the new organic law of freedom of the press was a real break with the past. It protected journalists from arbitrary arrests and ruled out any possibility of their imprisonment and it also strengthened freedom of the press in form of the right to public information.

Regarding the nine pending recommendations, Mr. Loholamou said that as soon as the delegation returned to the country, a forum had been organised in July 2010 to restore the interactive dialogue held before the Council in this room. This forum brought together administrators in charge of the implementation of human rights and civil society organizations, to inform them of the acceptance of 105 recommendations and nine others on which the Government had reservations. The recommendations dealt with the most rapid submission of the Universal Periodic Review, creation of a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles, elaboration of a national plan for the promotion of the rights of the child and rights of women, a national plan for the fight against impunity, and others. The Government noted all of the nine pending recommendations. With regard to the abolition of the death penalty Mr. Loholamou said that the consultations revealed that it was premature to start a national debate on this issue. Reoccurrence of major crimes, increased insecurity and circulation of small arms meant that it was difficult to envisage the abolition of the death penalty at this time. The recommendations made by the Human Rights Council were of a different nature. The implementation of some could start immediately, while others required more coordination by different departments, particularly if there would be budgetary implications. The promotion and protection of human rights was a cornerstone of the new constitutional regime in Guinea, which presented a constant challenge, Mr. Loholamou concluded.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) began by thanking Guinea for its presentation, in particular the information provided on important developments that had taken place in the country since its review in May. The delegation of Morocco was particularly happy to see that democratic elections were held in Guinea in 2010, an event of which the country could be proud and that showed the political will to move out of the crisis. Morocco reminded everyone that the national electoral committee was the only electoral body and the candidates should consult this body if they wanted to dispute the outcome of the elections. In conclusion, Morocco welcomed these positive developments in the country and reiterated its commitment to stand beside Guinea as it found its way out of the crisis it had experienced.

ZHANG QIAM (China) said that from its update, it was clear that the Government of Guinea was trying to strengthen its human rights obligations. China recognized that the Government was faced with special difficulties at the moment and China would continue to provide technical support. One recommendation made by China was that further financial assistance be provided to the country, including agricultural aid, in order to help it achieve economic growth and address its human rights objectives.

PETER GOODERHAM (United Kingdom) said the United Kingdom was particularly pleased to note that their recommendations enjoyed the support of the Government of Guinea. The United Kingdom stated its strong support for all efforts to ensure that Guinea held the recently postponed second round of presidential elections as soon as possible. It was important to emphasize that maintaining an atmosphere of peace and stability was crucial during this period, the United Kingdom concluded.

EMMANUEL PINEDA (France) said that in accepting the recommendations contained in the report, Guinea confirmed its commitment to work in favour of engagement and in favour of the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The tragic events of September 2009 led the international community to mobilize itself in the fight against impunity. This mobilization translated into the adoption of the resolution of the Human Rights Council which committed itself to assisting the transitional authorities in the transition to democracy and the Council had established an office in Guinea with the financial support of France. The focus now should be on the second round of presidential elections. France reiterated its appeal for a free electoral campaign that was free of violence and welcomed the statement on the neutrality of the armed forces.

BABACAR CARLOS MBAYE (Senegal) said that the transitional Government had confirmed Guinea’s willingness to improve its human rights situation, despite the difficult national context of which everyone was aware. The holding of a second round of presidential elections was fully supported by Senegal. Senegal also expressed its appreciation for the positive institutional reforms taken on by the transitional Government of Guinea. Senegal welcomed the establishment of an inter-ministerial commission to study the possibility of adopting Optional Protocols and the involvement of civil society in this process. All of these efforts would hopefully result in a considerable improvement of the living conditions of the most vulnerable populations in Guinea.

GEIR SJOBERG (Norway) warmly welcomed the Minister of Justice of Guinea and the new initiatives in the promotion and protection of human rights. Norway was particularly pleased by the establishment in Conakry of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, for which Norway had provided financial support.

BIRO DIAWARA, of Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme, extended its condolences to the Guinean delegation after the passing of two social icons in Guinea who had fought for human rights. Guinea was at a decisive place in its history. The population needed to be given hope for a better future. The implementation of the recommendations addressed, among other things, overcrowded prisons, the use of torture to extract confessions, abductions of children and the mistreatment of women and a lack of dialogue and cooperation between various stakeholders. The gains that had been made included a law on the right of the press and the organization of the first round of presidential elections. The Government was urged to take the necessary steps to establish a political climate favourable to a second round of elections.

JIDE MACALLAY, of Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, urged Guinea to give serious consideration to the recommendation that the State decriminalize sexual activity between consenting adults. Concerns on this matter had also been raised by the United Nations Human Right Committee, which had noted that these laws criminalizing homosexuality “ran counter to the implementation of effective education programs in respect of HIV/AIDS prevention” by driving marginalized communities underground, a finding supported by UNAIDS and other key actors in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

ANA LEURINDA, of African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters, said that it was working very actively in Guinea to identify organizations that could help in this transition period, particularly in the field of education. Current decision-makers needed to take into account traditional forms of education. The African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters was trying to recover these traditional forms of education and to preserve traditional culture. These efforts were important to help steer Guinea in the right direction.

PETER SPLINTER, of Amnesty International, said that it was pleased with the fact that Guinea had endorsed the recommendations to bring to justice all those involved in the events of September 2009. The victims of sexual violence and their families deserved reparations and Amnesty International called on the transitional Government of Guinea to fulfil its obligations in this regard. In addition, the transitional Government had committed itself to re-establishing the rule of law and abolishing the death penalty was definitely in line with these goals. Fifteen African States had already abolished the death penalty and Amnesty International strongly urged the Government of Guinea to follow suit.

In concluding remarks, MOHAMED ABY THIAM, a member of the delegation of Guinea, was pleased to note the level of the interactive dialogue and found the comments offered by delegations encouraging. Guinea noted all comments and would make sure that progress would be made. The second round of presidential elections would be held in October and the results would be respected in line with the new Constitution. The newly set up institutions, such as the Constitutional Court and independent human rights institution, would have a positive impact on human rights mentality and human rights policies in Guinea. In closing, he thanked the President of the Council, the Secretariat and Member States and appealed to the international community for greater assistance in ensuring the proper protection of human rights, including the protection of human rights defenders.

SIBA LOHOLAMOU, Minster of Justice of the Republic of Guinea, in concluding remarks, welcomed the way in which the proceedings were conducted and confirmed the will of the Government to fully cooperate with this Council throughout its mandate.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of the Republic of Guinea.

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