Human Rights Council
7 June 2011
The Human Rights Council this morning adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Nauru, Rwanda and Nepal.
Marlene Moses, Permanent Representative of Nauru to the United Nations in New York, said the Universal Periodic Review process had enabled Nauru to review its human rights situation and engage stakeholders and members of the international community. Nauru called on the international community to assist it in further progressing human rights. Nauru was not able to accept the recommendations calling for ratification of international treaties simply due to lack of financial resources. Where appropriate, Nauru was willing to consider incorporation of principles in national legislation, while stopping short of ratification.
In the discussion on Nauru, speakers acknowledged that Nauru was working towards implementing human rights and recognized that constraints were present for small island States. Speakers congratulated Nauru for accepting many of the recommendations put forth in the Universal Periodic Review. Special consideration was given to Nauru in terms of vulnerability to climate change. Speakers urged Nauru to adopt reforms to ensure human rights were respected.
Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review of Nauru were Algeria, Cuba, New Zealand and Morocco. The European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation and the World Association for the School as an Instrument of Peace also took the floor.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Nauru.
Tharcisse Karugarma, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Rwanda, was grateful to the Council for the opportunity to make further clarification on a few issues that remained pending when the report was formerly presented to the Council’s Working Group. Of 73 recommendations made under the Universal Periodic Review, 3 were rejected by Rwanda because they were premised on wrong grounds. Most of the recommendations were accepted by Rwanda and were being implemented or were in the pipeline for implementation. The Rwanda Government benefited from the recommendations and would cooperate with the Human Rights Council in its quest to protect and promote human rights in Rwanda.
In the discussion on Rwanda, speakers commended Rwanda on implementing many of the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review and thanked Rwanda for the clarification provided regarding the recommendations. Speakers appreciated the progress Rwanda had made in achieving its Millennium Development Goals and in working towards reconciliation after the genocide in 1994. Several speakers stated that Rwanda should reform the “genocide ideology laws” and raised concern about the Batwa community in Rwanda.
Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review of Rwanda were Algeria, Cuba, Morocco, Republic of Moldova, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda. Also taking the floor were Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Society for Threatened Peoples, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Recontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme, Action international pour la paix et le développment dans la région des Grands Lacs, and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Rwanda.
Madhav Prasad Ghimire, Chief Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers of Nepal, thanked delegations, non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions for a constructive engagement on the Universal Periodic Review of Nepal. Nepal had received 135 recommendations and had accepted a majority of them and it was in the process of streamlining policies to implement these recommendations. Nepal’s basic goal was to achieve sustainable peace and a just society and ensure proportional and meaningful participation of women at all levels of conflict transformation and peace building processes and the protection of women and girls’ rights.
In the discussion on Nepal, speakers appreciated the dialogue with the Government of Nepal on human rights, including on how the international community could best support the improvement of the human rights situation in Nepal. Speakers thanked Nepal for accepting the majority of recommendations that had been formulated but expressed belief that the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal should be extended for one year. Speakers raised concerns about the treatment of refugees, internally displaced people and asylum seekers, and respect for the human rights of women, children and transgender people in Nepal.
Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review of Nepal were Algeria, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, Cuba, Denmark, Morocco, Republic of Moldova, China, India and Cambodia. The following national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations took the floor including the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal in a joint statement, Human Rights Watch, Asian Legal Resource Centre, Action Canada for Population and Development in a joint statement, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Amnesty international, International Commission of Jurists, Save the Children International, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme, Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples and Jubilee Campaign.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Nepal.
The next meeting of the Council will be at 3 p.m. this afternoon when the Council will consider the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Saint Lucia, Oman and Austria.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Nauru
MARLENE MOSES, Permanent Representative of Nauru to the United Nations in New York, said that Nauru welcomed the recommendations following from its Universal Periodic Review process and was committed to promoting human rights for its people and continued to participate in both domestic and international fora with the aim of achieving those objectives. The Universal Periodic Review process had enabled Nauru to review its human rights situation and engage stakeholders and members of the international community. The commitment of Nauru was reaffirmed through Nauru’s acceptance of the majority of the recommendations. Nauru was not able to accept the recommendations calling for ratification of international treaties simply due to lack of financial resources. Where appropriate, Nauru was willing to consider incorporation of principles in national legislation, while stopping short of ratification. The possibility of Nauru becoming a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women remained a matter to further consider. Nauru remained conscious of the fact that laws alone did not resolve human rights concerns and was considering opening a small permanent mission in Geneva in the future. Nauru called on the international community to assist the country to further progress human rights circumstances.
MOHAMED SALIM SAMAR (Algeria) thanked the representative of Nauru for the additional information. Algeria congratulated the authorities of Nauru for employing human rights approaches, given the constraints presented for small island States. Algeria called on the international community to support small island States in ensuring that human rights were fulfilled. Algeria was pleased that the four recommendations suggested by Algeria had been accepted. Algeria noted with satisfaction that the authorities of Nauru had gone along with the vast number of recommendations, which spoke volumes about their respect for human rights. Algeria recognized that a lot of work had to be done, on the part of Nauru, with scarce resources for few citizens.
YUMIRKA FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba) said Cuba congratulated the delegation of Nauru on their spirit for compromise with which it had participated in the Universal Periodic Review process. During the review of Nauru there had been a positive debate in the Working Group, in which a number of countries had participated, including Cuba. The commitment to and priority accorded to the promotion and protection of human rights by the Government of Nauru was evident, regardless of significant challenges posed by the international economic crisis and environmental problems due to climate change. Cuba congratulated Nauru on the acceptance of the majority of the recommendations formulated by the Working Group, especially those related to strategy and plans for socio-economic development and improvement of the right to education and the right to health.
SALLY JACKMAN (New Zealand) said that in January this year New Zealand had taken part in the Universal Periodic Review of Nauru, during which it had made a number of recommendations, concerning the improvement of reporting on human rights, improvement of the situation of women and ratification of a number of international instruments, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. New Zealand welcomed the commitments of Nauru to accept and implement most of those recommendations. The survey of citizens Nauru had undertaken to understand why people refused constitutional amendments aimed at improving the promotion and protection of human rights in this country would shed more light on the necessary next steps.
MAJDA MOUTCHOU (Morocco) thanked Nauru for its cooperation and the additional information made available by the delegation. Morocco thanked the delegation for its work on the right to development and the rights of women. The international community should assure it provided support for Nauru and met requests for technical and financial support. It was important to take into consideration Nauru’s multiple economic, geographic and climate constraints. There was a responsibility to protect special vulnerable groups such as migrants and refugees. Nauru had shown exemplarily humanism in this regard. The launch of a constitutional revision process and other reforms in Nauru was a considerable step towards the harmonization of domestic regulations with international standards.
JOHN FISHER, of European Region of International Lesbian and Gay Federation, noted Nauru’s acceptance of recommendations 38, 74 and 35 of the report, pledging to reform the criminal code and to decriminalize consenting sex between adults of the same sex, and asked Nauru to indicate the time frame for the adoption of this legislation. The European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation commended the Government for accepting the Jakarta principles on human rights law regarding sexual and gender identity. They welcomed Nauru’s support for the recent joint statement on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity delivered at the human Rights Council last March, on behalf of 85 States from all five UN regions.
JOSHUA COOPER, of World Association for the School as an Instrument of Peace, said that adoption of the ILO Conventions by Nauru would help to improve the framework for human rights protection. The World Association was pleased to accept Nauru’s open invitation to participate in their human rights reform process and it would actively participate and share its expertise. It had been monitoring the positive moves to implement human rights in Oceania. The focus on human rights education was necessary to create democracy and dignity. The World Association noted that this could be done with a positive partnership through the University of Hawaii. The World Association for the School as an Instrument of Peace noted that the potential impact of climate change was important for Nauru and that it was already having an adverse impact in relation to the availability of food and water.
MARLENE MOSES, Permanent Representative of Nauru to the United Nations in New York, in her concluding remarks, thanked States and non-governmental organizations for their constructive comments and questions. In response to the comments made by the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation, the Permanent Representative said it would take at least three years to produce the first draft and that general principles had been developed. Nauru had been enriched by the Universal Periodic Review experience and looked forward to the next stage in the process, in view of achieving human rights milestones.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Nauru.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Rwanda
THARCISSE KARUGARAMA, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Rwanda, said Rwanda was grateful to the Council for the opportunity to make further clarification on a few issues that remained pending when the report was formerly presented to the Council’s Working Group. Rwanda accepted most of the recommendations made by the Working Group, but observed that many were made several times and thus were merged and harmonized. That was why, according to Rwanda, the total number of distinct recommendations were 73, although the Working Group’s report referred to 81 recommendations. Of all the recommendations that were made, Rwanda rejected only three because they were based on totally wrong or false premises.
Recommendation number 81.1 asked Rwanda to assure that children under 18 were not recruited into any armed group and that child recruitment into the local defense forces or any armed group was prohibited. The Minister said there were no armed groups in Rwanda, the professional army was made up of adult men and women and the Local Defense Force had undergone tremendous reforms to bring it into harmony with national objectives. Recommendation number 81.2 covered Rwanda’s work to ensure that concrete measures were taken in addressing the problem of human trafficking. Rwanda rejected this recommendation because Rwanda was not known as a place where trafficking took place. Rwanda had signed all international conventions against human trafficking and had put in place a policy of community policing.
Recommendation number 81.3 about measures to improve access of minority groups and indigenous peoples to basic social services was also rejected. While there were marginalized and vulnerable groups in Rwanda, there were no indigenous people in Rwanda. Rwanda also rejected recommendation number 80.4, that it should investigate cases of arbitrary arrests and detentions; recommendation number 80.15, that Rwanda should adopt concrete measures to avoid discrimination and protect the right of people of the Batwa Community; and recommendation number 80.16, that Rwanda should ensure religious minorities were able to freely practice their respective religions.
Mr. Karugarama stated that the Rwandan Government had benefited from the recommendations and would in particular cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council in its quest to protect and promote human rights in Rwanda. Most of the recommendations were accepted by Rwanda and were being implemented or were in the pipeline for implementation. This was except for the three that were rejected outright on 24 January 2011 and a further three that had now been rejected out of the 16 that needed further consultations. There was no doubt that Rwanda had made tremendous progress in its reform portfolio and the Universal Periodic Review process would help Rwanda to identify existing gaps that still needed Rwanda’s attention.
MOHAMED SALIM SAMAR (Algeria) thanked the Minister from Rwanda for the useful information he provided on Rwanda. Rwanda’s commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process had been shown throughout the process and they had accepted many of the recommendations put before them, including three from Algeria. Rwanda had made significant progress toward the respect for human rights, economic growth and national reconciliation that deserved recognition and Algeria wished them every success in the implementation of the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review.
YUMIRKA FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba) said Cuba welcomed the spirit of great responsibility shown by Rwanda during the Universal Periodic Review process and thanked Rwanda for the additional information provided at the appropriate moment. Cuba fully agreed with the conclusions of the report that Rwanda had made significant progress in the promotion and protection of human rights. Despite the negative impacts and consequences of the 1994 genocide and the challenges, the country had made huge progress. Rwanda intended to achieve a number of Millennium Development Goals even before 2015, including those relating to education, health and the environment. Cuba commended Rwanda for accepting a great majority of recommendations, particularly on socio-economic development and improvement of access to health by women and children. Cuba wished Rwanda and its people great success.
MOHAMED ACHGALOU (Morocco) said Morocco welcomed the delegation of Rwanda. After listening to the statement, the Council was assured that Rwanda would implement the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review. Morocco believed that accepting so many recommendations was an act of good will which underscored Rwanda’s commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process. Morocco welcomed the steps forward made by Rwanda, especially in assuring the rights of the most vulnerable, particularly women. With regards to the 1994 genocide, Morocco paid tribute to the efforts at national reconciliation, which had set Rwanda on a path to stability and peace. Morocco welcomed the progress toward the Millennium Development Goals made by Rwanda, which would assure that it became a space of peace, economic development and stability.
VLADIMIR CHIRINCIUC (Republic of Moldova) thanked the delegation of Rwanda for its constructive participation in the Universal Periodic Review process and for the additional information they supplied today. The Universal Periodic Review of Rwanda had allowed the Moldovan delegation as well as other interested delegations to have a dialogue with the representatives of the Rwandan Government with respect to the challenges that their country faced in the field of human rights and to formulate appropriate recommendations. The Republic of Moldova noted that Rwanda accepted many of the recommendations put to it, including two recommendations from the Republic of Moldova on women’s rights and domestic violence and speeding up the process of legal reform. This showed Rwanda’s engagement with the Universal Periodic Review process. The Republic of Moldova was encouraged by the determination of the Rwandan Government to pursue efforts to strengthen democratic society and to accept many of the recommendations.
BEATRICE IKEKU-THOMAS (Nigeria) said Nigeria thanked the Government of Rwanda for its commitments and efforts in the promotion and protection of rights of its citizens. Nigeria was encouraged by the acceptance of most of the recommendations by Rwanda, which was reflective of the commitment of the Government to engage with the human rights system, regardless of numerous challenges experienced. Nigeria encouraged Rwanda not to relent in its efforts but to see to the implementation of the recommendations accepted towards the realisation of the human rights of its people and the attainment of its Millennium Development Goals. Nigeria then called on the international community to render all the needed assistance to Rwanda in this regard.
MOUHAMADOU LAMINE THIAW (Senegal) said Senegal appreciated the spirit of openness and dialogue with which the Rwandan delegation engaged in the process of the Universal Periodic Review. It was in that spirit that Rwanda had accepted many of the recommendations, especially as they related to women and children and improving the quality of life of its population. The implementation of the recommendations, along with efforts already accomplished in terms of socio-economic issues, would bring Rwanda closer to achieving its Millennium Development Goals. Senegal noted with interest the clarifications and complementary information provided by Rwanda, including the information related to the fight against all forms of discrimination. The delegation of Senegal wished the Government of Rwanda success in the process of the Universal Periodic Review and in achieving its development goals.
ROSSETTE NYIRINKINDI KATUNGYE (Uganda) congratulated the Government of Rwanda for participating in the Universal Periodic Review process, and Uganda was satisfied with the Rwandan delegation’s consideration of the recommendations made to them, particularly with the clarity given regarding their intended course of action in relation to each recommendation. The Ugandan delegation noted that almost 20 recommendations were already in the process of being implemented and that the Government of Rwanda had accepted almost all of the recommendations given to it. This was indicative of the State’s commitment to the full realization of universal human rights for its citizenry. Uganda also appreciated the reasons given for rejecting three of the recommendations. Uganda was pleased to learn that the Government of Rwanda supported the recommendation to provide basic education for all by 2015. In this regard, Uganda encouraged the Government to continue to give the implementation of this recommendation the priority it deserved.
PHILIPPE DAM, of Human Rights Watch, said that Human Rights Watch welcomed the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Rwanda, in particular its recommendations on freedom of expression, legal reforms and the independence of the judiciary. Human Rights Watch remained seriously concerned that freedom of expression was not respected in practice, as evidenced by recent cases of imprisonment and detention of journalists and leaders of opposition parties and lack of progress in the investigation into the murder of the Vice President of Democratic Green Party. Human Rights Watch welcomed the Government’s statement that the Government was reviewing the 2008 “genocide ideology law” and the 2009 media law and encouraged it to amend those laws as soon as possible. The Government should also ensure that the National Human Rights Commission refrained from interfering with the work of independent human rights organizations.
MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG, of Amnesty International, welcomed Rwanda’s support of the vast majority of the recommendations made during the review and urged Rwanda to publicly announce a timeframe for revising the Genocide Ideology Law and the 2009 Media Law. Amnesty International was concerned that authorities continued to use the law to prosecute those engaging in government criticism, including journalists. Amnesty International urged Rwanda to uphold its commitment to undertake credible investigations into reports of harassment of journalists and to prosecute where the evidence warranted. Amnesty International regretted the rejection of the recommendation to investigate cases of arbitrary arrest and detention, and enforced disappearances.
CAROLINE DE BRUIN, of Society of Threatened People, was concerned by Rwanda’s non-ratification of ILO Convention 169 concerning indigenous and tribal communities, linked to the non-recognition of the existence of minorities and indigenous peoples, in particular the Batwa. The refusal of the State to recognize the Batwa as a minority or indigenous group left the Batwa community with no legal status or recognition and, being numerically small, they were prevented from actively engaging in political activities at the national level. The Society of Threatened People called on the State to reconsider its decision not to support the recommendation laid out in the report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review to intensify measures to improve access by minority groups and indigenous people to basic social services such as health, education, employment and occupation.
HASSAN SHIRE SHEIKH, of Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, in a joint statement, commended Rwanda for its acceptance of the majority of recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review and encouraged it to go through with their implementation. They also commended Rwanda for accepting the recommendation to ensure the safety of all human rights activists operating in the country and looked forward to seeing the implementation of this commitment. The revision of the Media Law currently under way was also a positive step, particularly if defamation was to be decriminalised. The non-governmental organizations noted with concern the continued use of this and other criminal charges as a means to obstruct freedom of expression in Rwanda. A visit by the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression would be welcome. They hoped that the Rwandan Government would continue to seize the opportunity presented by the Universal Periodic Review to engage with civil society to fully implement its recommendations and to make use of their expertise and commitment.
BIRO DIAWARA, of Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, appreciated the efforts that Rwanda had made in terms of social fabric and the economy, as well as in implementing political and institutional reforms. These had ensured that Rwanda was now a world leader in the representation of women in parliament. Rwanda had abolished the death penalty and made a significant contribution to peace efforts worldwide. All social strata of Rwandan society should be involved in discussions of peace and reform, in order to provide a framework that was beneficial to social and economic dialogue, and contributed to national cohesion. Recontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme encouraged Rwanda to revise the 2009 law, put an end to restrictions imposed on human rights defenders and encouraged Rwanda to pursue cooperation with the Council.
MAURICE KATALA, of Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs (AIPD), said that Rwanda had been formally and repeatedly implicated by the United Nations, the Security Council, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of genocide. One of the perpetrators of these crimes, General Nkudabatware, benefited from the protection of President Paul Kagame. The mapping report of the United Nations recently echoed grave violations of human rights committed by Rwanda in the Congo and the Great Lakes region. The adoption of this Universal Periodic Review would be an affront to the memory of the 8 million Congolese victims and taint the credibility of the Human Rights Council. Action Internationale recommended that the Council reject the report of Rwanda from the Universal Periodic Review Working Group as it was a State that was de-stabilizing the Great Lakes region.
The Representative of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, noted the willingness of Rwanda to revise its media laws in accordance with international standards, ensure freedom of expression by protecting journalists and human rights defenders, revise genocide laws to meet international standards and reform the judiciary while ending the gacaca court system. Rwanda had a long way to go in achieving the effective implementation of these recommendations and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative questioned the reality of progress given allegations of brutality and miscarriage of justice in the treatment of dissidents. Looking ahead, the implementation must be the letter and sprit for the four years before the next Universal Periodic Review of this country. Rwanda’s implementation of human rights recommendations would not have their full effect until fundamental freedoms were guaranteed within the country and the Government should ensure that free speech and dissent were permitted, that civil society and human rights defenders had the freedom to associate and that space was available for free political participation.
THARCISSE KARUGARMA, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Rwanda, said he appreciated the statements from partner States and the comments made by non-governmental organizations. With regards to the non-governmental organizations, Mr. Karugarma said he had invited Special Rapporteurs and non-governmental organizations to visit Rwanda. Comments from several non-governmental organizations were unfortunate, sometimes careless and did not reflect the reality on the ground, but Mr. Karugarma stated he would not dwell in a combative mood. Running a country in a way to help people was difficult, and legislative reforms could not satisfy all parties.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Rwanda.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Nepal
MADHAV PRASAD GHIMIRE, Chief Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers of Nepal, thanked delegations, non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions for a constructive engagement on the Universal Periodic Review of Nepal. The Universal Periodic Review was an important mechanism for the protection and promotion of human rights. Nepal had received 135 recommendations and had accepted a majority of them and it was in the process of streamlining policies to implement these recommendations. There had been 132 days since the interactive dialogue on Nepal had been held in this chamber. Since then, the Government had widely disseminated all 135 recommendations held in the draft report at the local and national levels to educate people about the importance of the recommendations contained in the report. They continued to remain engaged with civil society, development partners and the media. Several policy and legal measures had been implemented and the Government had adopted an action plan on the implementation of the Universal Periodic Review recommendations, which were prepared with the widest consultation of stakeholders. It designated responsible bodies, the expected timeframe and relevant indicators.
The relevant Ministries had been asked to integrate the recommendations into their work and they were also integrated into the national human rights action plan. Nepal was currently undergoing a profound social, economic and political transformation process after a decade long armed conflict. Since the beginning of the peace process in 2006, the country had registered a remarkable improvement in the human rights situation. As the fundamentals of human rights, the peace process and constitution drafting were all interlinked, the Government of Nepal was working hard to complete the basic tasks of the peace process and the drafting of a new constitution.
The Government of Nepal had already adopted the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Policy of 2010, which was being implemented through various programmes. It was reviewing the National Plan of Action against Human Trafficking, and they had witnessed tangible progress in the arrests, prosecution and conviction in addressing human trafficking. A National Action Plan for the Rehabilitation and Reunification of Children Affected by Conflicts was being implemented. The Government had also adopted and enforced a National Action Plan on the Implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820. Its basic goal was to achieve sustainable peace and a just society and ensuring proportional and meaningful participation of women at all levels of conflict transformation and peace building processes and the protection of women and girls’ rights. They were also fighting gender-based violence by implementing an action plan against gender-based violence.
The Government had recently passed the caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability Bill of 2011 and had decided to observe 4 June as the day against racial discrimination and untouchability. With a view toward ensuring transitional justice and enhancing the culture of accountability, two important bills were in the final stages of enactment in parliament. Some other important bills under consideration in the parliament included the Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Bill and the Mediation Bill. Bills that had already been presented before the parliament included the National Dalit Rights Commission Bill, a Civil Code Bill, the Penal Code Bill, the Civil and Criminal Procedures Code and Sentencing Bills. Nepal had also ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption and an action plan had been developed to give effect to this Convention.
Mr. Ghimire said that some of the recommendations that were rejected were combined with those that they could not accept. With regard to the ratification of certain Conventions and Optional Protocols, Nepal regularly reviewed human rights treaties for possible accession or ratification and they believed that putting in place adequate national infrastructures was prerequisite for complying with the principles and objectives and undertaking additional responsibilities, including the reporting obligations that emanated from these treaties. Even without being a party to these instruments, Nepal consistently upheld their principles and objectives.
MOHAMED SALIM SAMAR (Algeria) said that a large number of countries had taken the floor during the Universal Periodic Review process of Nepal, thus demonstrating the great interest of the international community in the human rights situation in this country. Nepal had replied immediately to a number of recommendations received and today had provided the replay to the 36 recommendations that had remained. Algeria was following with interest the institutional reforms undertaken by the Government of Nepal. The country was facing great difficulties now, following the years of armed conflict, and Algeria encouraged the international community to provide Nepal with the necessary support and assistance.
KSHENUKA SENEWIRATNE (Sri Lanka) commended the comprehensive and representative manner in which the delegation of Nepal participated in the Universal Periodic Review process. Sri Lanka appreciated the socio-economic and political transformation taking place in Nepal following the People’s Movement in 2006, based on democratic values and norms. Sri Lanka congratulated Nepal on the Interim Constitution and the increased representation of women in the Constituent Assembly. Nepal had examined 120 conclusions and recommendations, provided responses and had already implemented 28 recommendations. Sri Lanka appreciated Nepal’s commitment to promote and protect human rights through a holistic and comprehensive approach.
PETER GOODERHAM (United Kingdom) said the United Kingdom felt compelled to speak today because as a friend of Nepal they were concerned at recent retrograde development on human rights. They were alarmed by recent reports that the Nepalese Government was seeking the withdrawal of conflict era criminal cases currently before the courts, relating to State and Maoist forces alike. This seemed to contradict the Government’s acceptance of several Universal Periodic Review recommendations to tackle impunity, and was against the spirit of the peace agreements. Furthermore, such a move would constitute an effective amnesty for alleged perpetrators of grave human rights violations and abuses and would put Nepal in potential breach of its international law obligations. The United Kingdom urged the Government to ensure that police investigations and criminal cases were allowed to proceed. The United Kingdom was also concerned that the Government of Nepal seemed to consider the truth and reconciliation and disappearance commissions substitutes for dealing with serious human rights violations through the criminal justice system. The United Kingdom was also extremely disappointed at the Nepalese Government’s recent decision to extend the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for only six months and they urged them to reconsider. The technical support of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights would be important in helping Nepal implement the Universal Periodic Review recommendations.
YUMIRKA FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba) said Cuba congratulated Nepal on the seriousness demonstrated during the Universal Periodic Review process. It had become clear that the Government attached great importance to the promotion and protection of human rights and had made great progress in this field regardless of the challenges and the economic and financial crisis. The Government took many steps to mitigate poverty in the country and had developed strategies for sectors of health, education and housing, among others. Cuba was pleased to know that Nepal had accepted many recommendations, particularly those of Cuba to develop plans and strategies for socio-economic development and for the improvement of rights to education and health.
TANJA VESTERGAARD JORGENSEN (Denmark) said Denmark appreciated the dialogue with the Government of Nepal on human rights, including on how the international community could best support the improvement of the human rights situation in Nepal. Denmark would have appreciated Nepal clearly indicating its position on all Universal Periodic review recommendations. Denmark expressed its concern about the recent decision by the Government of Nepal to extend the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the country for an additional six months. Denmark believed the mandate should have been extended for at least one year. Technical support would be of key importance in building the capacity of the Government to effectively implement recommendations. In light of the unfinished peace process and continued concerns over the current human rights situation, Denmark highlighted the continued need for the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights in Nepal.
MOHAMED ACHGALOU (Morocco) thanked Nepal for accepting the majority of the recommendations that had been formulated, including those of Morocco, and expressed appreciation to the Government for its display of outstanding diligence during the consideration of issues that were raised. The Universal Periodic Review of Nepal was special because of the context, its emergence from recent crisis after the peace accord of 2006 and the democratic plurality established in 2008. Nepal still faced economic challenges and a lack of financial resources that hampered efforts to ensure economic, social and cultural rights by addressing development and poverty reduction. This was why Morocco felt that the international community should have a favourable and generous response to the Universal Periodic Review of Nepal, to help the country in its fight and to guarantee its success in its socio-economic and political endeavours.
VLADIMIR CHIRINCIUC (Republic of Moldova) commended Nepal’s commitments to continue its holistic and comprehensive approach to the promotion and protection of human rights and to put in practice human rights-based approach to development in all sectors. The Republic of Moldova welcomed Nepal’s efforts in building national democratic institutions and developing the institutional framework for human rights, the rule of law and constitutionalism to address the remnants of the conflict period. The Republic of Moldova appreciated the commitment to protect refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons and the support for the recommendations to ensure protection of all people from enforced disappearances. Finally, the Republic of Moldova welcomed the support of Nepal to the establishment of special inquiry teams to investigate all allegations of extrajudicial executions.
TIAN NI (China) thanked Nepal for the reply to recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review. The reply showed the importance that the Government of Nepal gave to the Universal Periodic Review. China commended Nepal for the efforts and progress made in social and economic development, in protecting vulnerable groups and in alleviating poverty. China commended Nepal for cooperating with United Nations human rights bodies. China hoped the international community would continue to provide constructive assistance to Nepal to assure its continued development and peace.
GOPINATHAN ACHAMKULANGARE (India) took positive note of the receptive, candid, cooperative and constructive manner in which Nepal had chosen to approach and participate in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. It was encouraging to note that Nepal had accepted 56 of the recommendations, along with 28 recommendations that had already been implemented or were in the process of implementation, at the time of adoption of the report of the Working Group. Of the remaining 36 recommendations, India took positive note that Nepal had accepted a majority of them, while providing detailed responses to each. India believed that Nepal had gained much from its earnest participation in the review and it trusted that it would further intensify its efforts to implement the recommendations accepted by it in the coming years. India warmly congratulated Nepal for its successful and rewarding review, reiterated its commitment to support Nepal’s laudable efforts to consolidate its peace process, and wished it well in its future endeavours.
BIENG THENG (Cambodia) said Cambodia recognised the efforts undertaken by the Government of Nepal to address all challenges focusing in particular on intensifying its policy and measures to carry out its commitment on human rights. Many steps had been taken by the Government, including the implementation of action plans and policies. As a fellow least developed country and as a landlocked state with multi-ethnic and religious characteristics, Cambodia was aware of the challenges and vulnerability that Nepal faced within the promotion and protection of human rights during its transitional process. The international community should provide Nepal with further assistance in the implementation of the Universal Periodic Review recommendations, concluded Cambodia.
GAURI PRADHAN, of National Human Rights Commission of Nepal, on behalf of the National Human Rights Commission, the National Women’s Commission and National Dalit Commission, commended the Government of Nepal for increased efforts towards the promotion and protection of human rights in the country. However, stronger determination by the Government to maintain the rule of law by effective implementation of laws and recommendations was expected. A state of impunity had emerged as a menace for society. Despite some specific legislation, crimes against women and children, gender-based forms of violence, rape, domestic violence, trafficking and sexual harassment remained largely unaddressed. Basic minimum standards in detentions and prisons needed to be maintained to respect the rights of prisoners.
PHILIPPE DAM, of Human Rights Watch, said that unfortunately the Government’s pledge to adopt a new constitution by May 2011 remained unfulfilled. Nepal’s political parties had spent the better part of the last year trying to form a Government. Similarly unfulfilled was the Government’s promise to establish an independent truth and reconciliation commission and a disappearance commission. There were troubling indications that the hold up over a truth and reconciliation council was over the issue of amnesty for perpetrators. Most disturbingly, the Government had announced that cases against alleged perpetrators of serious human rights violations would be withdrawn, citing these charges as being politically motivated. Finally, Human Rights Watch praised Nepal for being the first country to include third gender identity as part of its census questionnaire and consultation with leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups.
MICHAEL ANTHONY, of Asian Legal Resource Centre, said that during the Universal Periodic Review of Nepal, 24 States had raised the issue of caste-based discrimination and Dalit rights and the Asian Legal Resource Centre welcomed the recent endorsement by the Parliament of the Untouchability Bill which criminalised the practice of untouchability in public and private spheres. Concerning extra-judicial killing, the Government’s rejection of key recommendations suggested unwillingness to halt such killings and the claims that it had already been taking necessary steps to prevent them were patently false. The Asian Legal Resource Centre said that the use of torture remained widespread and this contradicted the claim of the Government that there were sufficient constitutional and legal safeguards to prevent torture in Nepal.
MANISHA DHAKAL, of Action Canada for Population and Development, on behalf of the Blue Diamond Society and the Sexual Rights Initiative, said the accepted recommendations included a clear commitment to fully implement the Supreme Court decision on sexual and gender minorities. In that decision, Nepal’s Supreme Court issued an order for the Government to issue citizenships certificates to persons who were third genders. However, the Government had not implemented this order. Proposed civil and criminal laws by the Ministry of Law did not follow international human rights standards.
POOJA PATEL, of Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), remained concerned that discrimination based on region, ethnicity, caste, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity were deep rooted in Nepal and required sustained efforts and prompt action on the part of the Government. Furthermore, gender-based violence remained a serious issue. Between January and March 2011 there had been 84 documented cases of rape and domestic violence. The National Women’s Commission must be strengthened and gender-based violence criminalized. It was crucial for the Government to take stronger measures in addressing impunity for past and ongoing human rights violations, particularly by setting up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Inquiry on the Disappeared. In addition, the Government of Nepal must exert serious efforts to ratify a number of human rights treaties and guarantee the protection of human rights defenders.
MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG, of Amnesty International, said that more than 10 States had recommended that Nepal establish accountability for human rights violations and abuses committed during the conflict in the country. Impunity continued to prevail in Nepal for the widespread human rights violations and abuses that had been committed by all sides in the conflict; to date, not a single case had been prosecuted in a civilian court. There were also reports of victims being intimidated by politicians of members of the police and army. Amnesty International was deeply concerned by recent comments by the Deputy Prime Minister that the Government intended to withdraw more than 300 conflict-era criminal cases currently before the courts, which included murders, rapes and other serious crimes. Amnesty International urged Nepal to promptly establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Disappearances Commission.
ALEX CONTE, of International Commission of Jurists, welcomed Nepal’s cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review but remained concerned that the Government had not embraced the substance of all recommendations concerning the state of de facto impunity that existed in the country. The International Commission of Jurists reiterated its support for the recommendation that the Government show its commitment to ending impunity. Support was extended to the Government to ensure accountability in compliance with its international obligations to provide effective remedy and reparation for victims of human rights violations. The International Commission of Jurists called on the Government to extend the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal for at least one year.
NIKI DHEEDENE, of Save the Children International, asked the Government of Nepal to consider making any form of violence against children and child recruitment punishable under domestic law. Save the Children International also asked the Government to expedite the endorsement of a long awaited child policy legislation and take necessary steps to ensure their full implementation. In the past the Government had not been able to fully translate its pledges, policies and laws into practice, thus creating a significant gap between what existed on paper and what was actually delivered in reality. Save the Children International emphasized that the implementation of the plans was as important as their formulation.
MANISH NAYAK, of Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, appreciated the dialogue with the Nepalese delegation during the Universal Periodic Review process and said that Nepal had faced a long civil armed conflict which had created a hurdle in the promotion and protection of human rights. It was now the time that Nepal turned the past, to combat impunity and torture by the police and army and create right conditions to guarantee judicial independence. Rencontre Africaine was concerned about the kidnapping of children in Nepal’s southern plains and how criminals were exploiting this position to extort money from poor farmers. Another point of concern was the restrictions on demonstrations and freedom of movement of Tibetans, which clearly violated the fundamental right to freedom of expression.
GIANFRANCO FATTORINI, of Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peuples, in a joint statement with Society for Threatened Peoples and Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network, said it was making its intervention on the plight of Tibetan refugees as raised in the Universal Periodic of Nepal, urging the country to protect vulnerable refugee populations by allowing for registration and by refraining from forcibly returning Tibetan asylum-seekers to China. Nepal indicated there was no policy of forcibly returning the refugees. Despite Nepal’s claims, Tibetan refugees continued to be deported. Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples called upon the Nepalese Government to accede to the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, as well as its Protocol, and to take all necessary measures so that the fundamental rights of refugees residing in the country were protected by adopting national legislation pertaining to refugees.
MATTHEW JONES, of Jubilee Campaign, said that the recent granting of an extension on the deadline for a new constitution was a perfect opportunity for Nepal to exercise its commitment to human rights. Present proposals for the new Constitution claimed to guarantee all human rights, but the Jubilee Campaign was concerned that their interpretation would differ significantly from internationally accepted standards. The freedom of religion for all citizens should be guaranteed and formulated according to international standards and needed to be enshrined in the new Constitution. The present constitutional proposals did not guarantee this right according to the standards and the Jubilee Campaign urged Nepal to adequately address its commitments to international law as a matter of priority in its institutional framework. In conclusion, the Jubilee Campaign commended the Government of Nepal for its commitment to engage civil society in the promotion and protection of human rights and recommended that it took vital steps to implement this commitment through close collaboration with the Nepal Inter-Religious Council.
MADHAV PRASAD GHIMIRE, Chief Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers of Nepal, in his concluding remarks, stated that in the submissions Nepal had tried to be as candid as possible and appreciated the concerns expressed. Mr. Ghimire said, with regards to some of the questions raised by delegations, that extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances were strictly not allowed by the laws of Nepal. The development of statutory mechanisms, such as the National Human Rights Commission, had provided an effective framework for addressing violations of human rights. Nepal appreciated the role of the international community during the peace process, and significant changes had been made on the ground. Nepal considered that there were strong reasons to extend the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner for only six months, as the process would be finished by that time. The decision was made in a widely participatory process. Nepal asked that the decisions arising from this democratic decision process be respected and thus would not extend the mandate.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Nepal.
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