Human Rights Council adopts outcomes of Universal Periodic Review on Niger, Mozambique and Estonia

Human Rights Council
MORNING 9 June 2011

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review on Niger, Mozambique and Estonia.

Abdoulaye Djibor, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Niger, said Niger had received 112 recommendations, of which 77 had been accepted, 33 were postponed and 2 were rejected. Since the return of the delegation to Niger after the Universal Periodic Review in January 2011, a workshop had been organized for governmental authorities and civil society to review the recommendations. Niger presented the report in a context of six transitional elections and the inauguration of newly elected authorities. This explained certain constraints encountered in the consultation process aimed at following-up on the 33 postponed recommendations. Among the 33 recommendations postponed, 29 had been accepted, and 4 rejected. Despite the multiple constraints, the promotion and protection of human rights were a major concern for Niger. The challenges were numerous, necessitating the support of the international community.

In the discussion on Niger, speakers said Niger had gone through a difficult experience and welcomed the fact that Niger had emerged successfully from this stronger and with a society based on democracy. It was important that strategies for development began with economic development and combating food insecurity. Niger needed help from the international community to make progress and implement the various recommendations suggested in the Universal Periodic Review. In response to the situation in the country, Niger had prepared a strategy for accelerated development and a poverty reduction strategy to improve social indicators. This and other measures were testament to the priority that the Government placed on combating poverty. Speakers welcomed the acceptance of a large number of recommendations by Niger and encouraged it to implement them, but noted that the slavery of women and children in rural areas continued and the right to fair trial also needed to be protected.

Speaking in the discussion on Niger were Algeria, Cuba, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Senegal, and Morocco. The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme, and Federation International des Ligues des Droits de L’homme.

Maria Benvinda Delfina Levi, Minister of Justice of Mozambique, said since most of the 169 recommendations received during the Universal Periodic Review had already been covered and included in various Government plans for different sectors, Mozambique had been able to immediately accepted 131, while it had postponed 28 and rejected only 10 recommendations. Today, Mozambique informed the Council that it had accepted all of the 28 of the postponed recommendations and 2 of those that it had previously rejected. In total, 95 per cent of the recommendations received had been accepted. The National Plan 2011 to 2014 provided a mechanism for the implementation of recommendations. Concerning the recommendations relating to visits by Special Procedures, Mozambique reiterated its commitment to receiving visits from mandate-holder according to the agreed timetable.

In the discussion on Mozambique, speakers commended Mozambique for its detailed report outlining its stance on each of recommendations as well as their acceptance of most of the recommendations. Concerning the rights of the child, and in particular the right to education, speakers recommended that Mozambique ensure equal access to education, eradicate gender disparity, especially in rural areas, build new schools, provide subsidies to poor families and provide teachers with adequate training. Speakers were also concerned about the persistence of corporal punishment in private and public contexts. The State party was urged to ensure the prompt implementation of recommendations relating to unlawful killings, torture and excessive use of force by the police in the context of public gatherings. Speakers urged the international community to come forward and assist Mozambique in their greatest areas of need so as to further consolidate the protection and promotion of human rights.

Speaking in the discussion on Mozambique were Zimbabwe, Morocco, Timor-Leste, Nigeria, South Africa, Namibia and Lesotho. The following national human rights institutes and non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Instituto Internazionale Maria Auxiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco, Amnesty International, Save the Children and Connectas Human Rights.

Sander Soone, Political Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, said that
Estonia had received 124 recommendations during its Universal Periodic Review; it had promptly supported 81 of those, rejected 20 and left 16 for further consideration. All the recommendations received due consideration and many were already in the process of being implemented. Estonia had also accepted 6 of the recommendations it had postponed, including the ratification of several international human rights treaties and instruments, the establishment of the Gender Equality Council, increasing the resources allocated to the Commissioner for Gender Equality and Equal Treatment, and paying special attention to acts of violence against homosexuals. Estonia was committed to taking measures to enhance the level of public awareness and protection of rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.

In the discussion on Estonia, speakers were pleased to note that Estonia supported many of the recommendations made by different delegations during the Universal Periodic Review Working Group, and the constructive approach of Estonia throughout the Universal Periodic Review process demonstrated its readiness to engage in a genuine dialogue on its international obligations. However, they remained concerned over a number of human rights violations in Estonia, especially racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia against religious, linguistic and ethnic minorities. Speakers called on the Estonian Government to take effective legal and practical measures to combat the sale of children of children, child prostitution and child pornography, as well as domestic violence against women and children, and to prohibit torture as a matter of priority. Speakers also voiced concern about the poor conditions of detention facilities and encouraged Estonia to improve national legislation concerning trafficking in persons.

Speaking in the discussion on Estonia were Algeria, the Russian Federation, Iran, the Republic of Moldova, Latvia, Morocco and Lithuania. The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme (RADDHO), Conscience and Peace Tax International and COC Netherlands.

The Council today is holding a full day of meetings from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. During its midday meeting, the Council will hold an interactive dialogue with the International Commission of Inquiry which was asked to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law in Libya. This will be followed by an interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in Libya.

 

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Niger

ABDOULAYE DJIBOR, Minister of Justice of Niger, said Niger had received 112 recommendations, of which 77 had been accepted, 33 were postponed and 2 were rejected. Since the return of the delegation to Niger after the Universal Periodic Review in January 2011, a workshop had been organized for governmental authorities and civil society to review the recommendations. Niger presented the report in a context of six transitional elections and the inauguration of newly elected authorities. This explained certain constraints encountered in the consultation process aimed at following-up on the 33 postponed recommendations.

Concerning the recommendation that Niger ratify certain international human rights instruments, Mr. Djibor underlined that consultations had taken place and would continue after the Universal Periodic Review process. Significant progress had been made in implementing the recommendations related to torture and the death penalty. The legal framework formally prohibited torture, and it only remained to adopt the legal text. The process of considering the prohibition of the death penalty was ongoing, and would continue to be pursued with the new authorities. Concerning the reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, violence against women and children and access to justice for victims of violence based on gender, much progress had been made but consultations were ongoing toward the adoption of policy in this regard. Legal and judicial assistance was being provided to victims of violence based on gender, and women and children victims of violence. Other actions concerning the protection and promotion of the rights of these groups were being executed. The recommendations concerning the ratification of legal human rights instruments, the prohibition of torture and the abolition of the death penalty had been accepted. The recommendations related to lifting reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, violence against women and children, and access to justice victims of violence had also been accepted.

Among the 33 recommendations postponed, 29 had been accepted, and 4 rejected. Regarding the recommendations concerning indigenous people, the Government assured the equal promotion of all cultures. No ethnic group or community was discriminated against or marginalized by the State. The Government assured the equal promotion of national unity and socio-economic development despite the modesty of its resources. Regarding the recommendation that an invitation to Special Procedure mandate-holders be extended, Niger re-affirmed its willingness to dialogue with human rights institutions and to examine any request in that regard. Despite the multiple constraints, the promotion and protection of human rights were a major concern for Niger. The challenges were numerous, necessitating the support of the international community. Niger remained opened to all cooperation in implementing the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review. Mr. Djibor thanked the Human Rights Council for its collaboration and expressed appreciation for the efforts deployed in assuring the protection and promotion of human rights.

MOHAMED SALIM SAMAR (Algeria) noted that Niger had gone through a difficult experience and welcomed the fact that Niger had emerged successfully from this, stronger and with a society based on democracy. It was important that strategies for development began with economic development and combating food insecurity. Niger needed help from the international community to make progress and implement the various recommendations suggested in the Universal Periodic Review. Niger received 120 recommendations during the debate and it accepted a significant number of those recommendations.

YUMIRKA FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba) noted that Niger had many natural resources and that despite of this it faced widespread poverty within its population. In response to the situation in the country, Niger had prepared a strategy for accelerated development and a poverty reduction strategy to improve social indicators. This and other measures were testament to the priority that the Government placed on combating poverty. Schools were now free in Niger and this had led to improvements in the level of education. Cuba noted Niger’s acceptance of many of the recommendations, particularly those put forward by Cuba. Cuba expressed solidarity with the people of Niger and hoped that they could achieve the aims that they had set themselves.

XAVIER BAERT (Belgium) said that Belgium had focused on the death penalty and discrimination against women during the Working Group of the Universal Periodic Review on Niger. Concerning the death penalty, which had been implemented de facto in Niger since 1975 but still remained enshrined in the texts, Belgium was following with great interest the current discussion in the society of Niger concerning its eventual abolition. Belgium thanked Niger for accepting recommendations to undertake additional measures to address discrimination against women and in particular female genital mutilation.

CLARISSE MERINDOL OUOBA (Burkina Faso) said that Burkina Faso thanked the delegation of Niger for the additional information provided today on its Universal Periodic Review process. Burkina Faso welcomed the acceptance of a large number of recommendations by Niger and encouraged it to implement them. Burkina Faso remained open to working with Niger in exchanging experiences and best practices in the implementation of the recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review.

BEATRICE IKEKU-THOMAS (Nigeria) congratulated the delegation of Niger on its update. Nigeria commended Niger for its efforts to implement the recommendations and to promote and protect human rights. Nigeria encouraged Niger to continue these efforts and called on the international community to provide all necessary technical assistance to allow the Government to better implement the accepted recommendations and to ensure attainment of its development goals and targets. Nigeria recommended that the Council adopt the Universal Periodic Review of Niger.

MOUHAMADOU LAMINE THIAW (Senegal) welcomed Niger and commended them for their efforts in the Universal Periodic Review. This showed the determination of the Government of Niger to work for the improvement of the human rights situation. Senegal said that Niger had worked for the improvement of the situation of women and children as well as the right to health care and the right to food. Senegal remained convinced that the efforts promoted by the new democratic Government should enable Niger to achieve its objectives in the area of human rights.

OMAR RABI (Morocco) congratulated the Government of Niger for the process of transition and the process of democracy. Thanks to the efforts of all the actors in the country, Niger had been able to overcome the crisis and had become an example in democratic transition. By accepting all of the recommendations received, the Government of Niger had confirmed its full commitment to cooperating with international human rights mechanisms and the Universal Periodic Review. In view of the recent crisis in this country, it was important that the international community provided all the necessary assistance to Niger.

BIRO DIAWARA, of Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, said Niger had crossed an important threshold and had successfully gone through a transition period and organized elections. The people who had suffered under years of dictatorship had been able to elect a new government. Measures incriminating certain violence against women continued, however. Society was faced with social and cultural problems. The slavery of women and children in rural areas continued. Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme asked authorities to put an end to these activities and to support education for security forces, the police and all authorities responsible for implementing human rights laws.

GLENN PAYOT, of International Federation of Human Rights Leagues - FIDH, noted that a number of freedoms had suffered over the last few years in Niger. Among them was the freedom of expression; the right to fair trial also needed to be protected. Niger had put in place certain measures to end discrimination against women and trafficking in women and children. Niger was urged to ratify the Protocol to the African Charter relating to the rights of women and to withdraw reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The Federation noted that slavery continued and that criminal prosecutions for slavery were non existent. Federation International des Ligues des Droit de L’hommes stressed that the economic situation was very fragile in the country and measures should be taken to improve the situation of economic, social and cultural rights.

ABDOULAYE DJIBOR, Minister of Justice of Niger, in his concluding remarks said Niger commended all the speakers of this morning. He had taken note of encouragements expressed. In view of the difficulties confronting the country, Niger reiterated the need for the support of the international community to complete all the processes it had initiated.

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

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Mozambique

MARIA BENVINDA DELFINA LEVI, Minister of Justice of Mozambique, said that the national report was an outcome of broad consultations within the country and that Mozambique had also benefited from the comments and remarks by the delegations participating in the interactive dialogue. Since most of the 169 recommendations received during the Universal Periodic Review had already been covered and included in various Government plans for different sectors, that was why Mozambique had been able to immediately accepted 131, while it had postponed 28 and rejected only 10 recommendations. Today, Mozambique informed the Council that it had accepted all of the 28 of the postponed recommendations and 2 of those that had previously been rejected. In total, 95 per cent of the recommendations received had been accepted. The National Plan 2011 – 2014 presented a mechanism for the implementation of recommendations. Concerning the recommendations relating to visits by Special Procedures, Mozambique reiterated its commitment to receiving visits from mandate-holder according to the agreed timetable. Mozambique reaffirmed that extrajudicial executions were not permitted and the death penalty was illegal. All charges and criminal procedures were following the established procedure. As regards the legal reform on sexual exploitation of children, the legislating had been amended to reflect different categories of crime of sexual abuse of children under twelve. Trafficking was being punished with heavier sentences too. This showed the progressive movement to strengthening protection of children, including from sexual abuse.

Concerning recommendations relating to poverty reduction, Mozambique said that those were addressed in the National Poverty Reduction Strategy. Through those policies the Government had made significant progress in education, health and access to basic services, thanks to funding for food production, income generation and employment creation. There had been increase in urban poverty and as of this year the poverty reduction programmes had been oriented towards urban areas. Bilingual education had been gradually introduced and perfected and Mozambique hoped for an effective coverage soon. To allow for sustainable expansion and quality, programmes had been focusing on teacher training, textbooks production and others. Pans addressing violence and sexual violence in schools and prevention of teen pregnancies had been crafted as well. Turning the recommendations that had not been accepted, Mozambique said that those had been extensively debated. With regard to health insurance there was a political will to study different options regarding introduction of health insurance. On the approval of legislation for greater protection of political rights, a range of legislation with this purpose had already been enacted. Mozambique thanked all the delegations that had participated in the Universal Periodic Review of this country and reiterated the commitment of the Government to live up to all obligations and commitment it had entered into.

MOHAMED SALIM SAMAR (Algeria) welcomed Mozambique and expressed great interest in the efforts of Mozambique as it made reforms to ameliorate its policies and programmes directed at the promotion and protection of human rights. Mozambique had clearly demonstrated its engagement in the Universal Periodic Review process in accepting most of the recommendation that were made during the debate, particularly those regarding the fight against HIV/AIDS.

YUMIRKA FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba) noted that Mozambique had participated frankly and constructively in the interactive dialogue within the Working Group. The delegation offered details of the Government’s efforts to continue its advancement regarding the promotion and the protection of human rights. References were made to measures adopted in relation to food security, reduction of illiteracy, better access to medical services, above all in relation to the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS and related rights. Cuba thanked the Government of Mozambique for accepting the majority of the recommendations that were made, including those made by Cuba, in relation to strategies and plans for the socioeconomic development of the country, particularly those directed at poverty reduction, the right to education and the right to food and programmes to prevent and combat HIV/AIDS. The government of Mozambique is now in the process of implementing the recommendations. Cuba urged Mozambique to redouble its efforts to achieve these goals.

ENOS MAFEMBA (Zimbabwe) welcomed the delegation from Mozambique and was grateful for the presentation and the additional information provided. Zimbabwe’s brothers in Mozambique, like most in the Southern African Development Cooperation region, had come a long way and Zimbabwe fully supported efforts being undertaken to advance socio-economic and political development, including the protection and promotion of human rights. Zimbabwe thanked Mozambique for accepting most of the recommendations and commended Mozambique for the standards upheld in the promotion and protection of human rights. Zimbabwe urged the international community to come forward and assist Mozambique in their greatest areas of need so as to enhance the further consolidation of the protection and promotion of human rights.

OMAR RABI (Morocco) thanked the head of the Mozambique delegation for the detailed presentation. Morocco commended Mozambique for the detailed report, stating its stance on each of recommendations. This was a good approach that should be emulated by other countries. The Universal Periodic Review was a chance to show progress in the promotion and protection of human rights in Mozambique. Morocco was pleased to see that most of the recommendations were accepted by Mozambique. This included the three recommendations put forth by Morocco, which related to judicial reform, the implementation of strategies to combat poverty and the need to articulate technical and financial assistance in view of fulfilling international obligations related to international human rights instruments.

MARCOS DOS REIS DA COSTA (Timor-Leste) noted with appreciation that Mozambique had accepted the great majority of recommendations received under the Universal Periodic Review and that recommendations had been already included in the Government national action plans for a number of sectors. Timor-Leste encouraged the Government to continue its efforts and to consolidate its cooperation with the international community and United Nations human rights mechanisms in order to improve human rights situation in the country.

BEATRICE IKEKU-THOMAS (Nigeria), said Nigeria thanked Mozambique on the constructive engagement with the process and said it was pleased to know that Mozambique had already taken positive steps towards implementation of the accepted recommendations. Nigeria encouraged Mozambique to continue improving its policies and programmes to improve the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights and political rights of its people. Also, Nigeria hoped that this country would received the necessary support of the international community.

JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa) welcomed the delegation of Mozambique and thanked it for its presentation on the Universal Periodic Review. South Africa commended Mozambique for accepting a larger number of recommendations, particularly those presented by South Africa. South Africa commended Mozambique for the impressive strides made in the provision of social services to all its citizens. South Africa encouraged Mozambique to continue this commitment to the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. South Africa had followed the positive and impressive democratic processes which had become part of the culture of Mozambique. South Africa hoped Mozambique would maintain its commitment to human rights situation, despite challenges related to resources and capacity. South Africa encouraged the international community to provide the required technical assistance and capacity building for this process.

ABSALOM NGHIFITIKEKO (Namibia) welcomed the delegation of Mozambique and thanked it for presenting a report on the situation of human rights in that country. Namibia commended Mozambique for positively considering acceding to a number of human rights instruments. Namibia also commended Mozambique for ambitions to continue rebuilding itself after years of civil war and for embarking on a number of initiatives to safeguard the rights of its citizens, including in the health and education sectors, as well as with programs aimed at poverty reduction. Namibia recommended the Council to adopt the Universal Periodic Review of Mozambique.

NTSIME JAFETA (Lesotho) noted with gratification that the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms as inscribed in the national constitution were a priority for the Mozambican Government. This was demonstrated by the fact that the Government of Mozambique had accepted most the recommendations made in the Universal Periodic Review. It was hoped that the international community would continue lending meaningful support to Mozambique to implement the recommendations.

DANIELA MACCIONI, of Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco, welcomed the recommendations concerning the rights of the child and in particular the right to education. Several issues had been affecting the educational system in Mozambique, including school enrolment fees despite their abolishment in 2005, high drop out rates, insufficiency of teaching personnel and others. The International Institute strongly recommended that Mozambique ensure equal access to education and eradicate any gender disparity, especially in rural areas, build new schools, provide subsidies to poor families and provide teachers with adequate training. With regard to violence against children, the International Institute was particularly concerned about the persistence of corporal punishment in private and public contexts and requested the Government to prohibit all forms of corporal punishment in the laws.

MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG, of Amnesty International, said that Mozambique had stated that it had already implemented or was in the process of implementation of 92 of the 169 recommendations and Amnesty International welcomed the intention to investigate all cased of arbitrary detention, torture and ill treatment. Amnesty International urged Mozambique to ensure the prompt implementation of those recommendations, which were particularly pertinent in the light of a number of years of unlawful killings, torture and excessive use of force by the police in the context of public gathering. Amnesty International welcomed the undertakings of Mozambique to take further steps to prevent ill-treatment of prisoners and to bring prison conditions into compliance with international legal standards.

NIKI DHEEDENE, of Save the Children, welcomed the report on the Universal Periodic Review of Mozambique, especially the recommendations regarding children’s rights. Save the Children supported recommendations 76 and 78, which called on the Government to disseminate and implement the plan to achieve Millennium Development Goals four and five using a rights-based approach to maternal and child health. Children under the age of 18 were not involved in the development of national plans, although they accounted for more than 50 per cent of the population. Save the Children called on the Government to take effective measures to ensure all children’s voices were heard and looked forward to the Government’s continued cooperation with civil society organizations.

SALVADOR NKAMATE, of Connectas Human Rights, noted that while the general evaluation process was positive it hoped that the next steps of the recommended collaboration between the Government and civil society would be effective and not superficial. Connectas Human Rights called on the Government of Mozambique to duly implement all accepted recommendations, with particular emphasis on torture, summary executions and domestic violence. Connectas Human Rights noted that it received daily reports of allegations of police brutality, and had been offering legal assistance to affected persons.

MARIA BENVINDA DELFINA LEVI, Minister of Justice of Mozambique, in her concluding remarks, restated the commitments the Government had already entered into concerning human rights. Mozambique took due note of the recommendations made and despite the huge challenges it confronted, the Government would do all it could so that the country was one that upheld human rights for all its citizens. Some of the civil society organizations referred to corporate punishment as being persistent in public and private spheres; while there were some families that still used this form of punishment with their children, this was not a prevalent practice in Mozambique. All recommendations received today were further encouragement to the Government to continue, and Mozambique thanked all who had participated in the process. Finally, Mozambique reiterated the need for technical assistance and other types of assistance to ensure the proper implementation of the recommendations.

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

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Estonia

SANDER SOONE, Political Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, said that Estonia highly valued the contributions of countries that had taken the floor during the Universal Periodic Review dialogue. Through the Universal Periodic Review Estonia had been able to find assurance that several steps it had taken to further the promotion and protection of human rights had resonated positively in other countries as well. Estonia had received 124 recommendations during its Universal Periodic Review; it had promptly supported 88 of those, rejected 20 and left 16 for further consideration. All the recommendations received due consideration and many were already in the process of being implemented. Estonia had accepted a further six of the recommendations it had postponed, including the ratification of several international human rights treaties and instruments, establishment of the Gender Equality Council, increasing the resources allocated to the Commissioner for Gender Equality and Equal Treatment, and paying special attention to acts of violence against homosexuals. Estonia was committed to taking measures to enhance the level of public awareness and protection of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. Estonia had also accepted the recommendations to speed up the process to adopt the Development Plan for Children and Families.

With regard to the 10 remaining recommendations under consideration, Estonia said that at this stage it could not give a definite answer to signing and ratifying the Optional Protocols to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Also, Estonia could not give a definite answer to recognising the competence of the Committee against Torture. Other recommendations that Estonia could not give a definitive answer to at the moment concerned the establishment of the national human rights institution, development of policy instruments to combat discrimination against sexual minorities, and adoption of the National Action Plan and the specific law to combat the sale of children, child pornography and child prostitution. The current Penal Code already included all the mentioned as acts punishable pursuant to criminal procedure. The fight against crimes against children was a priority issue in the national Guidelines for Development of Criminal Policy until 2018, while the Development Plan for Reducing Violence 2010-2014 aimed at reducing and preventing violent crimes committed against children.

Concerning the 88 recommendations that Estonia had endorsed during the review in February, Estonia reiterated its commitment to ratify several human rights instruments and treaties, combat various forms of violence including human trafficking which had been one of the priority areas, and Internet safety for children would be receiving additional emphasis. Further Estonia continued to hold consultations with a view to seeking accreditation to the national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles. Equal access to all employment opportunities was guaranteed for both men and women, while restrictions on the labour market were not determined by nationality but by language proficiency when it was required. Estonia continued to apply several measures to promote naturalisation and thereby reduce the number of undetermined citizens. In closing, Estonia emphasised that the promotion and protection of human rights was a national priority and believed that the Universal Periodic Review process was one of the cornerstones of the human rights system. That was why Estonia had issued a standing invitation to all United Nations Special Procedures and would work to enhance dialogue with them. Also, Estonia was presenting its candidature to the Human Rights Council for the period 2012-2015 in order to more actively contribute to the Council’s work on the promotion of human rights.

MOHAMED SALIM SAMAR (Algeria) welcomed the Estonian delegation and thanked it for the complementary information provided. Algeria appreciated that Estonia accepted a good number of the recommendations, particularly the recommendations proposed for the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the strengthening of efforts to combat all forms of racism and discrimination. Algeria wished that the fourth recommendation it suggested, related to the ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers, had been accepted. This was the only international instrument capable of protecting the rights of these vulnerable people, particularly important given the growth of xenophobic sentiments against foreigners and migrant workers in diverse parts of Europe. Algeria expressed its appreciation for the cooperation and commitment of Estonia to human rights and wished it success in implementing the recommendations accepted.

ROMAN KASHAEV (Russian Federation) regretted that Estonia was not able to adopt a number of the recommendations proposed by States. The Russian Federation was disappointed that of the six recommendations it issued, four were rejected by Estonia. The actions of the State were in violation of human rights standards and not in line with international standards by not taking action on the issues addressed in the recommendations. However, two of the recommendations proposed by Russian Federation had been accepted by Estonia. These recommendations urged Estonia to end discrimination, especially in the labour market, and to prohibit the operation of racist organizations. The Russian Federation hoped that Estonia was starting to realize the gravity of these issues and that it would take action in this regard.

SEYED HOSSEIN ZOLFAGHARI (Iran) said that Iran was pleased to note that Estonia supported many of the recommendations made by different delegations during the Universal Periodic Review Working Group, including those of Iran. However, Iran remained concerned over a number of human rights violations in Estonia, especially racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia against religious, linguistic and ethnic minorities. Iran called upon the Estonian Government to take effective legal and practical measures to combat the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, as well as domestic violence against women and children, and to prohibit torture as a matter of priority.

VLADIMIR CHIRINCIUC (Republic of Moldova) said that the Republic of Moldova welcomed Estonia’s pledge to engage civil society and stakeholders in the promotion and protection of human rights. Estonia had accepted a significant number of recommendations, including three recommendations made by the Republic of Moldova. The Republic of Moldova welcomed Estonia’s commitment towards the World Programme on Human Rights Education by taking new measures to continue to reinforce human rights education, which was crucial for improving and promoting human rights. The Republic of Moldova acknowledged that the Estonian Government was committed to take additional measures to more actively promote the full and equal participation of women in bodies where members were elected or nominated. Also, the Republic of Moldova expressed its satisfaction with the commitment of Estonia to take additional measures to prevent, combat and appropriately sanction human trafficking.

JANIS MAZEIKS (Latvia) said Latvia appreciated the comprehensive information provided by the delegation of Estonia and its responses to the recommendations. Latvia was pleased to note the high number of accepted recommendations regarding the implementation of bilingual education, the continuation of the successful integration policy and the efforts to improve the knowledge of state language among the non-Estonian population. The constructive approach of Estonia throughout the Universal Periodic Review demonstrated its readiness to engage in a genuine dialogue on its international obligations, and the importance the country attached to the Universal Periodic Review.

MAJDA MOUTCHOU (Morocco) said Morocco welcomed the exemplary cooperation of Estonia during its Universal Periodic Review and commended them for the success of their review, which was an opportunity to take stock of the human rights situation in the country and to review the progress made by the Government. With regard to recommendations received, Morocco welcomed the fact that Estonia had accepted two recommendations made by Morocco, on combating sexist presentation of women and establishment of national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles. Morocco was pleased that Estonia was sparing no efforts in the implementation of the recommendations it had accepted.

JONAS RUDALEVICIUS (Lithuania) welcomed Estonia and thanked it for its open and constructive engagement in the Universal Periodic Review process. Lithuania provided written questions to Estonia, as well as made recommendations. Lithuania noted with satisfaction Estonia’s responses and reactions to them, which displayed Estonia’s determination to guarantee the highest human rights standard to all groups of its population. Lithuania could most certainly say the creation of a human rights protection and promotion system in a short period of 20 years was a major achievement.

SALIH KILIC, of Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, took note of the Universal Periodic Review recommendations concerning Estonia. Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme urged Estonia to implement holistic policies concerning its linguistic and other minorities. There needed to be a dialogue with all minorities in the country. Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme was concerned about the poor conditions of detention facilities and encouraged Estonia to improve national legislation concerning trafficking in persons. In-depth work needed to be done in order that asylum speakers were treated in accordance with human rights standards.

DEREK BRETT, of Conscience and Peace Tax International, welcomed the amendment to the Defence Forces Service Act, which came into force in 2010 and had equalised the duration of military and alternative service. Conscience and Peace Tax International looked forward to hearing the precise criteria used in assessing claims of conscientious objection and to seeing statistics showing a more reasonable acceptance rate. On a related topic, it was regrettable that Estonia had not yet ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, but Conscience and Peace Tax International welcomed Estonia’s acceptance of a number of firm recommendations that it do so.

B. VAN ROOZENDAAL, of Federatie Van Netherlandse Verenigingen Tot Integratie Van Homoseksualiteit - Coc Nederland, commended Estonia for accepting various recommendations in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity and for paying particular attention to discrimination on the basis on gender identity. Such an approach in fact had not yet been developed by Estonia and the present legislation did not sufficiently present their interests. COC Netherlands asked Estonia to specifically inform the Council about the development of the necessary means and to include civil society organizations in the development, execution and evaluation of such measures. COC Netherlands regretted that Estonia did not accept recommendations to accord same rights and responsibilities to same-sex partners as accorded to opposite sex partners, as this discriminated against same-sex couples and put lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons’ families in a disadvantaged position.

SANDER SOONE, Political Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, thanked all parties for their participation in the Universal Periodic Review. Their inputs were useful and were important in improving the situation on the ground.

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

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