Human Rights Council adopts outcomes of Universal Periodic Review on Belgium, Denmark and Palau

Human Rights Council
MORNING

21 September 2011

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review on Belgium, Denmark and Palau.

Francois Roux, Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Belgium was committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and the importance attached to the Universal Periodic Review. From 121 recommendations, 85 had been accepted and 13 had been postponed. Belgium also noted that 26 of the accepted recommendations were already implemented or were in the process of being implemented. The accepted recommendations dealt primarily with the ratification of international instruments, racism, asylum and immigration policies, sexual exploitation of children, sexual minorities’ rights, the rights of people with disabilities and other aspects which Belgium had indentified in its national report as requiring attention.

In the discussion on Belgium, speakers congratulated Belgium on the quality of their report and the clarity of responses to the recommendations received. One speaker hoped that Belgium would reconsider its decision not to accede to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers
and Members of Their Families. Belgium was urged to tackle racial discrimination and combat more resolutely all forms and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and religious intolerance against foreigners and religious minorities, such as Muslims. Positive developments included progress made with regards to the institutional legal framework in the fight against discrimination, human trafficking and the rights of the child, and the decision to establish a national institute for the promotion and protection of human rights.

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

Steffen Smidt, the Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Denmark was a strong supporter of the Universal Periodic Review, which had received considerable attention in Denmark and without doubt raised the general awareness of human rights in the country. Denmark had received 133 recommendations of which 81 had been agreed; 52 were not accepted, often for reasons not pertained to the substance or core of the recommendation. The recommendations focused on international obligations, the rights to equality and non-discrimination, human rights of migrants, legal rights and detention, freedom of expression, women’s rights, children’s rights, development policy and Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Mr. Smidt noted that last week general elections were held in Denmark and the new Government had yet to take office. Human rights challenges existed in Denmark, as they did elsewhere.

In the discussion on Denmark, speakers noted Denmark’s rejection of the recommendation to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and human rights violations in Denmark such as the lack of respect for other religions, hate speech, incitement to hatred and defamation of Islamic religious symbols and Islamophobia. Demark were recognized for its willingness to address human rights issues with an open and frank approach, and for its acceptance of recommendations on combating discrimination against women and the protection of victims of domestic violence. Another comment concerned Denmark bringing their rape legislation in line with international law and establishing an Ombudsman for Children and national human rights institutions for Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. A speaker noted that Denmark required hormonal or surgical sex reassignment before legal recognition of gender identity was possible, a practice which breached the right to privacy as well as the right to health. Denmark’s commitment to observe the legal principle of non-refoulement and to not resort to diplomatic assurances to circumvent it was welcomed.

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

Jeffrey Antol, Director of the Bureau of Foreign Affairs, Palau, said that Palau had found the Universal Periodic Review a useful tool which served as a uniting agent for both the Government and civil society and helped to identify human rights priorities. Palau received 106 recommendations, had responded to 64 and 42 of them would be taken back to Palau for consideration and consultation. None had been rejected. The recommendations focused on accession and ratification of the main international human rights instruments, the establishment of a national human rights institution, the status of children born of foreign parents, the minimum age of criminal responsibility, the treatment of female prisoners, the sexual exploitation of children, child labour, sexual relations of consenting adults of the same sex, age of marriage and refugees and asylum seekers. Mr. Antol reiterated an appeal to the international community to assist Palau, both technically and financially, to carry out human rights responsibilities in the implementation of human rights instruments and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

In the discussion on Palau, speakers noted the fact that Palau had received 106 recommendations and accepted many of them, which would form a real challenge as the implementation of the accepted recommendations would stress the limited resources of the country. Palau would also sign the seven core human rights instruments during the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly. A comment concerned Palau taking steps to protect vulnerable persons, including persons with disabilities, and also implementation of a law specifically dealing with domestic violence, including protecting married women from rape. Palau should improve enforcement of regulations to protect foreign workers and extend coverage of minimum wage requirements to include foreign workers, another speaker said. Palau was commended for its commitment to equality and non-discrimination, to combat discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through political, legislative and administrative measures, and for accepting recommendations to decriminalize sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex.

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 resume the clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the Chairperson of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It will then hold a general debate on its agenda item dealing with human rights bodies and mechanisms: Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Complaint Procedure, and Special Procedures.

Universal Periodic Review on Belgium

FRANÇOIS ROUX, Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations Office at Geneva, recalled that during the Council’s meeting on 2 May in which the national report was presented and an interactive dialogue with members of the Universal Periodic Review working group was held, Belgium was represented by its Foreign Minister. This fact attested to Belgium’s commitment to human rights and the importance attached to the Universal Periodic Review. Belgium was committed to the promotion and protection of human rights. From 121 recommendations, 85 were accepted and 13 were postponed. Belgium also noted that 26 of the accepted recommendations were already implemented or were in the process of being implemented. The accepted recommendations dealt primarily with the ratification of international instruments, the fight against racism, asylum and immigration policies, the struggle against the sexual exploitation of children, sexual minorities’ rights, the rights of people with disabilities and other aspects which Belgium had indentified in its national report as requiring attention. Belgium had accepted the establishment of a national human rights institution under the Paris Principles, strengthening procedures for receiving asylum, the revision of imprisonment conditions and the ratification of international instruments, including the Convention on Forced Disappearances, the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights and the Third Protocol of the Geneva Convention. Beginning in May, the Belgian authorities all turned their attention to following these recommendations. In Further ratifications were underway. A working group was set up to establish a national human rights institution under the Justice Ministry.

Belgium had postponed 13 recommendations after close consideration by the authorities, they included recommendations 1,2,3,7, concerning existing reservations to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural; the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. While Belgium could have accepted the recommendation to consider retiring existing reservations concerning these international instruments, Belgium was currently unable to accept recommendations 1, 2 and 3, given that such reservations continued to be justified. Belgium rejected recommendations 5 and 6, concerning a national plan for human rights. Belgium had a sectoral approach concerning human rights and had already developed a number of plans for the implementation and promotion of human rights in the prioritized sectors. Belgium had agreed to establish a national human rights institution. Concerning recommendations 9, 10, 12 and 23, concerning domestic violence, violence against women and girls, the treatment of women in detention, and non-penitentiary measures for female delinquents, Belgium rejected recommendation number 9. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
against Women had asked Belgium to modify its criminal code to consider crimes against women as a violent crime. Given that this had no impact on legal action or the priority of the prosecution of these crimes, the modification would be only symbolic. Belgium accepted recommendation 10 and 12, with the clarification that it would enlarge the national plan against domestic violence to include all forms of violence against women and girls. Other forms of violence were already included in specific policies. Concerning recommendation 8 on sexual exploitation of children, Belgium believed that the issue was both linked to human trafficking and sexual tourism. Concerning recommendations 4 and 11, on minorities, Belgium had signed the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities but expressed reservations concerning the concept of national minority; there was at present no agreement in Belgium on this definition. Belgium had voluntarily committed itself to present a report on its Universal Periodic Review in 2013. Belgium would continue to work with civil society on the implementation of these recommendations as attested by the meeting between the Government and non-governmental organizations on 21 June in which the latter indicated their priorities.

BOUALEM CHEBIH (Algeria) said Algeria congratulated Belgium on the quality of their report and the clarity of responses to the recommendations received. Algeria noted with satisfaction the acceptance of two recommendations made by Algeria. The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers
and Members of Their Families was one the nine core conventions that made up the United Nations human rights framework. Algeria reiterated the recommendation and hoped that Belgium would accede to that convention. Algeria hoped that Belgium would reconsider its rejection and wished Belgium every success in implementing the recommendations made.

LARISA BELSKAYA (Belarus) said Belarus hoped that Belgium would successfully implement the recommendations accepted, including those to eliminate the trafficking in persons and child prostitution. Belarus noted with regret the number of recommendations rejected, including on measures to eliminate discrimination against migrant workers and their families and against the use of excessive force by police during mass demonstrations and in the deportation of individuals. Belarus was concerned about xenophobic and racist remarks made by politicians, the media and the general public and called on Belgium to introduce legislative prohibitions on political parties utilizing xenophobic and racist slogans.

MAJDA MOUTCHOU (Morocco) said Morocco noted with satisfaction the existence of a follow-up mechanism on forced deportation in Belgium along with assistance provided to asylum seekers. The National Commission for the Rights of the Child and the measures taken to promote equal opportunity and reduce domestic violence were examples of good practices in promoting and protecting human rights in Belgium. Morocco hoped that Belgium would adopt the recommendation on education and training.
ASGAR SADR KHAN (Iran) said Iran took note with great regret that most of the recommendations made by the delegation of Iran were rejected by Belgium.
A law against wearing the head scarf entered into force in Belgium on Saturday 23 July 2011 and Iran strongly urged the Belgian Government to abolish this law. Iran urged Belgium to reconsider its position with regard to the following recommendations: Belgium should ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families; Belgium should tackle racial discrimination and combat more resolutely all forms and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and religious intolerance against foreigners and religious minorities, such as Muslims; Belgium should prevent manifestations of racial hatred or intolerance, including in the statements of politicians, civil officials or the press; Belgium should legally ban the activities of any political parties and organizations that propagated hatred and racial discrimination; and Belgium should tackle discrimination against the Muslim community and insults against Islamic sanctities and allow all Muslims to practice Islam in accordance with their religious beliefs. Finally, Iran urged Belgium to end detention of asylum seekers at borders and create alternatives to detention for asylum seeking families.

RAZVANE RATUNDU (Romania) welcomed the presentation of the report and commended Belgium for the preparation of its national report and consultations with civil society. Romania noted progress made with regards to the institutional legal framework in the fight against discrimination, human trafficking and the rights of the child. Romania also noted that Belgium would establish a national institute for the promotion and protection of human rights. These were all positive developments.

MAIDAH JAMSHED RAO , of Islamic Human Rights Commission, said that under the Belgian Government’s strict regime Muslim girls were banned from wearing the headscarf in schools and this could lead to adverse affects such as increased educational exclusion and social deprivation. The Belgian Government sought to punish anyone caught in public places wearing the face veil by fines of up to Euros 30 and or up to seven days imprisonment. The Belgium Government must take measures to abolish all unreasonable laws against women and provide them with respect and protection from discrimination in order to safeguard their human rights.

BJORN ROOZENDAAL, of European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation (ILGA-EUROPE), encouraged Belgium to integrate gender identity and expression in school curricula. There should be specific reference to gender identity and sexual discrimination in the Belgium Constitution. Belgium should share best practices on gender and sexual identity with other countries and should continue to use the Yogyakarta Principles on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity in both its domestic and foreign policies.
ALEX CONTE, of International Commission of Jurists, welcomed Belgium’s acceptance of many recommendations related to the protection of asylum seekers. In October 2010 Belgium had implemented a freeze on the automatic transfer of asylum seekers to Greece under the Dublin regulations. Belgium should formally abolish mechanisms of automatic expulsion that failed to take into consideration the principle of non-refoulment. The International Commission of Jurists urged Belgium to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families

MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG, of Amnesty International, welcomed Belgium’s commitment to involve civil society in the follow up to the review. Belgium was to be commended for supporting the majority of the recommendations. Amnesty International also encouraged Belgium to present an implementation plan to the Human Rights Council. Eighteen States had recommended the establishment of a national human rights institution compliant with the Paris Principles. Belgium was to be applauded for the acceptance of this recommendation. Amnesty International welcomed the commitment by the Belgium Government to ratify the Optional Protocols to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Convention on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights but noticed that previous commitments by Belgium to that effect had not been met. Belgium should eliminate the systematic detention of asylum seekers and migrants. Detention should be a measure of last resort only.

FRANCOIS ROUX (Belgium), in closing remarks, said that Belgium was above suspicion when it came to human rights, while any country could of course always do better. Concerning migrant workers, this was a difficulty which did not only affect Belgium but the European Union as a whole. Concerning the points made by Iran on the question of the veil, it was noted that Belgium enjoyed an open society and faced with the challenge of multiculturalism it endeavoured to promote unity. Structures did exist to ensure that civil society could exercise their rights and the authorities could take into account the expectations of civil society. It was a society that was constantly evolving and in the next meeting Belgium would take stock of future developments.

The outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Belgium was then adopted.

Universal Periodic Review on Denmark

STEFFEN SMIDT, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Denmark was a strong supporter of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism and having taken part in the process now had an even better understanding of the important role that the Universal Periodic Review played in promoting human rights domestically and internationally. The Universal Periodic Review was a mechanism with the potential to improve human rights on the ground by providing each State with a clear target and tool box for the development of domestic human rights and represented a unique opportunity for States to undertake an open and candid debate on human rights among peer States and with civil society. In Denmark, the Universal Periodic Review had received considerable attention and without doubt raised the general awareness of human rights in the country. This attention was important and constituted a key element in the continuous improvement of the human rights situation in the country. The inclusion of civil society in the Universal Periodic Review had proven to be one of the strongest features of the entire process and added significant value to the review process.

Denmark had received 133 recommendations of which 81 had been agreed while 52 were not accepted. In many cases, the reasons for not agreeing to recommendations had not pertained to the substance or core of the recommendation. The recommendations focused on nine over all thematic issues: international obligations, the rights to equality and non-discrimination, human rights of migrants, legal rights and detention, freedom of expression, women’s rights, children’s rights, development policy and Greenland and the Faroe Islands. All recommendations were subject to careful scrutiny and all relevant authorities had been involved. Mr. Smidt noted that last week general elections were held in Denmark and the new Government had yet to take office. There was an acknowledgment that human rights challenges existed in Denmark, as they did elsewhere, and the Universal Periodic Review process continued to be an important factor in addressing those challenges. Involvement of civil society, including public hearings in the largest cities in Denmark and in Greenland and the Faroe Islands, had been a vital part of the Danish Government’s initial scrutiny of the recommendations received.

BOUALEM CHEBIH (Algeria) noted the acceptance of over 80 recommendations including the explanation that racial hate speech did not remain unpunished. Algeria appreciated the favourable follow up on two Algerian recommendations. Algeria noted that Denmark did not accept the recommendation to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Algeria hoped Denmark would reconsider its rejection.

ASGAR SADR KHAN (Iran) said that fortunately a number of recommendations had been examined by the Government of Denmark and Iran hoped that they would be implemented. Iran remained concerned with regards to human rights violations in Denmark such as the lack of respect for other religions and hate speech as well as incitement to hatred, defamation of Islamic religious symbols and personalities, and Islamophobia; forcible return of asylum-seekers to third countries where they faced the danger of persecution or serious harm; the lack of legislation protecting women victims of violence in Greenland and the Faroe Islands; and sexual abuse. Iran called upon Denmark to continue to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence; to incorporate international human rights instruments into its legal system and to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families.

RAZVANE RATUNDU (Romania) said there was a high level of recognition in Demark of the importance of human rights and the Government, in the interactive dialogue, showed willingness to address human rights issues with an open and frank approach. Belarus looked forward to the implementation of recommendations on combating discrimination against women and the protection of victims of domestic violence.

JONAS CHRISTOFFERSON, of Danish Institute for Human Rights, acknowledged the Danish commitment to the Universal Periodic Review. The Danish Government had accepted only 84 of the 133 recommendations. Denmark should undertake a systematic approach to the protection and promotion of human rights in Denmark. Denmark should participate fully in international human rights cooperation and ratify core conventions. Denmark should have strong and independent human rights institutions, including an Ombudsman for Children, and national human rights institutions for Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

MAIDAH JAMSHED RAO, of Islamic Human Rights Commission, said that Muslims were discriminated against in Denmark. There were reports of Muslims being removed from boarding a flight and held in cells for readings book concerning Islam. Muslim women were experiencing prejudice when they looked for employment as they were discriminated against for wearing the head scarf. The publishing of the controversial cartoon of the prophet Muhammed had caused great distress in the Danish and international Muslim community. The Islamic Human Rights Commission urged the Government of Denmark to comply with human rights laws they were a party to, and to further take measures in providing their citizens a better understanding of the religion Islam by promoting acceptance of their Muslim citizens and re-establishing tolerance towards them.

BJORN ROOZENDAAL, of European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation (ILGA-EUROPE), noted that Denmark required hormonal or surgical sex reassignment before legal recognition of gender identity was possible. This practice breached the right to privacy as well as the right to health. The Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe held the view that such laws needed to be abolished. Gender identity was not currently explicitly included as a ground for discrimination in existing discrimination legislation. The Federation urged Denmark to consider applying the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law as a guide for policy development

DAVINIA OVETI BONDI, of International Save the Children Alliance, called on Denmark to prioritize the establishment of an Ombudsman for Children since children in Denmark did not have sufficient access to complain in significant areas of their lives. Concerning the age of criminal responsibility, Save the Children International noted that the Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concerns on this issue and according to General Comment no. 10 States should continue to increase the age of criminal responsibility. On the issue of the rights of unaccompanied children, Save the Children International regretted that Denmark chose not to revise the Danish Aliens Act and called on the Government to ensure that the best interest of the child was enforced as the guiding principle of the law in finding a durable solution for separated children or those in asylum-seeking families.

MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG, of Amnesty International, said Amnesty International was disappointed that Denmark had accepted only 84 of the 133 recommendations in the Universal Periodic Review, most of them very general in nature, and rejected many substantive recommendations aimed at strengthening the protection of human rights in the county. The new Danish Government should keep those recommendations under review with a view to accepting them at a later date. Amnesty International welcomed Denmark’s commitment to observe the principle of non-refoulement and to not resort to diplomatic assurances to circumvent it. Denmark should use the detention of refugees, migrants and asylum-seekers only as a last resort and the Government of Denmark should bring legislation on rape in line with international law.

STEFFEN SMIDT (Denmark), in concluding remarks, thanked the Council for the comments heard from civil society and States. General elections were held last week in Denmark. The process of negotiations to form a government was to take place this week. Whatever the outcome, Denmark would seriously take note of all the recommendations received. Denmark thanked the secretariat and the troika that had helped Denmark through the process of the Universal Periodic Review.

Universal Periodic Review on Palau

JEFFREY ANTOL, Director of the Bureau of Foreign Affairs, Palau, said that Palau had found the Universal Periodic Review a useful tool to assess how the country could continue to improve in achieving its own human rights goals. It served as a uniting agent for both the Government and civil society and allowed the process to identify human rights priorities. The recently concluded forty-second Pacific Leaders Forum in New Zealand had welcomed the successful participation of all Forum members in the first round of the Universal Periodic Review. Pacific leaders expressed deep appreciation for the valuable contribution of the United Nations in the Pacific region; and thanked the United Nations Secretary-General for the opportunity to discuss key challenges facing the region and the importance of United Nations’ continuing support to ensure the achievements of the Forum. Leaders reaffirmed the shared values and principles of the Forum, including important commitments to human rights, the rule of law, good governance and democracy. Leaders also welcomed key partnerships between the United Nations and its funds and programmes and the key regional institutions of the Forum.

This year could be considered historic for the Pacific Region. It was particularly historic for the people and Government of Palau as President Johnson Toribiong had signed yesterday in the sidelines of the General Assembly all remaining core United Nations human rights treaties. Palau acknowledged the assistance of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and support in the Universal Periodic Review process. Palau received 106 recommendations, it responded to 64 and 42 of them were taken back to Palau for consideration and consultation. Concerning accession and ratification of the main international human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Optional Protocols and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Palau took note of these treaties and indicated that it was undertaking consultations and working towards public awareness about these treaties and determining the Republic’s capacity and resources to fulfill its obligations on these treaties. Palau was working towards the ratification of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
against Women and its Optional Protocols. Concerning the ratification of the Convention against torture, Palau noted that under its constitution torture or cruel or inhumane or degrading treatment were prohibited.

Palau had accepted the recommendation concerning the establishment of a national human rights institution and continued to work with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the Asia Pacific Forum and the Office of the High Commissioner through consultations in developing awareness and to determine the capacity to fulfill its obligations. Palau also accepted recommendations concerning the status of children born of foreign parents, and the minimum age of criminal responsibility. Palau took note of the recommendation regarding the treatment of female prisoners; its prison system had extended compliance standards that protected women prisoners in line with the Bangkok Rules. Palau also accepted the recommendations to harmonize or implement legislation in line with international instruments concerning sexual exploitation of children; child labor; sexual relations of consenting adults of the same sex; age of marriage; and refugees and asylum seekers. Palau was fully committed to its human rights obligation and responsibilities and reiterated its appeal to the international community to assist Palau, both technically and financially, to carry out human rights responsibilities in the implementation of human rights instruments and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

BOUALEM CHEBIH (Algeria) said Palau had received 106 recommendations and accepted all of them, including two made by Algeria. This was a real challenge as the implementation of the accepted recommendations would stress the limited resources of the country. Algeria highly appreciated the decision of the President of Palau to sign the seven core human rights instruments to which Palau was not yet party during the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly which clearly demonstrated the engagement of Palau to implement the accepted recommendations. The international community should encourage Palau by providing it with the adequate assistance necessary to fulfill the obligations contained in these instruments. Algeria recommended that Palau further review the possibility to ratify core international human rights instruments to which it was not a party as well as to establish a national human rights institute. Such action would further consolidate the process made in many fields related to the promotion and protection of human rights including food security, Millennium Development Goals, combating human trafficking and discrimination and improving the situation of migrant workers. Algeria called on the Council to adopt Palau’s national report to the Universal Periodic Review.

MAJDA MOUTCHOU (Morocco) said Morocco welcomed Palau’s cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism and the transparency that it had conducted during the process boded well for implementation of the recommendations. Palau had accepted more than 65 recommendations, among them three recommendations by Morocco. Palau should continue efforts to establish an independent national human rights institution. Palau should continue to take steps to protect vulnerable persons including persons with disabled. Palau should take steps to study the implementation of a law specifically to deal with domestic violence. Morocco supported the Government of the kingdom of Palau and wished them every success in their efforts to implement the recommendations.

WENDY HINTON. (New Zealand) said New Zealand had recommended that Palau become a party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Palau responded that it was working on building an awareness of this instrument and an assessment of the resources it would need to fulfill its obligations. These were necessary first steps and New Zealand commended Palau for starting its work in this area. New Zealand also recommended that Palau enact laws to protect married women from rape, to ensure women were not discriminated against in family inheritance and to protect women from domestic violence. New Zealand was glad that Palau had responded that implementation was under way in these matters and that the Government was providing facilities for temporary shelter and protection for women who were the victims of domestic violence. New Zealand recommended that Palau improve enforcement of regulations to protect foreign workers and extend coverage of minimum wage requirements to include foreign workers and Palau stated that this work was also under way. New Zealand was pleased that Palau had accepted many of the recommendations and had pledged to extend a standing invitation to Special Procedure mandate holders.

VAN EMDEN, of Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, commended Palau for its commitment to equality and non-discrimination and expressed satisfaction to see Palau accept recommendations to decriminalized sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex. As the United Nations Human Rights Committee had confirmed, laws criminalizing same-sex were inconsistent with the rights to privacy and non-discrimination, and inhibited measures to address HIV/AIDS. The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network welcomed Palau’s commitment to amend current legislation and bring it in line with international standards and to combat discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through political, legislative and administrative measures; and it urged Palau to work together with civil society and to promote respect for all persons, including on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

JEFFREY ANTOL (Palau), in concluding comments, said Palau thanked everyone for their interventions and their recommendations were noted and they would be considered seriously on the return of the delegation to Palau. All remaining core human rights treaties were signed yesterday in New York by President Johnson Toribiong.

_________

For use of the information media; not an official record