Human Rights Council adopts outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Republic of Moldova, Haiti and Antigua and Barbuda

Human Rights Council
MIDDAY 16 March 2012

Council Concludes First Four-Year Universal Periodic Review Cycle

The Human Rights Council in its midday meeting today adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on the Republic of Moldova, Haiti and Antigua and Barbuda.  With these adoptions, the Council has concluded its first four-year Universal Periodic Review cycle.  

Laura Lasserre Dupuy, President of the Human Rights Council, said that with today’s adoption of the Universal Periodic Review of Antigua and Barbuda, the first cycle of reviews by the Universal Periodic Review had been completed.  There had been 100 per cent participation by the States reviewed, thus making the unique mechanism truly universal and providing for a comprehensive map on human rights situations around the globe.  One hundred and ninety-three States were reviewed during the first four-year cycle.  That included South Sudan, which joined as a United Nations member during the period.  Only three States did not submit a written report, and some 80 per cent of delegations appearing before the Universal Periodic Review Working Group were led by ministers, further evidence of the importance given to the Universal Periodic Review by States under review.  The new cycle would be an opportunity for States and stakeholders to take stock of the developments which occurred during the previous reviews, also with regard to the implementation of recommendations.  Indeed, Ms. Dupuy said, the effectiveness of the Universal Periodic Review would only be apparent at the end of the second cycle.

Vladimir Grosu, Deputy Minister of Justice of the Republic of Moldova, said that the Universal Periodic Review had revolutionized the national system of human rights in the Republic of Moldova.  The Government learnt a great deal while preparing its report, for which it extensively consulted civil society.  The Republic of Moldova had received 122 recommendations, and accepted the majority of them.  The Strategy for Justice Sector Reform (2011 – 2016) aimed to reform the judicial system, access to justice and strengthen the integrity of the justice sector through anti-corruption measures.  

In the discussion on the Republic of Moldova, speakers welcomed the cooperation and commitment demonstrated by the Republic of Moldova during its Universal Periodic Review process.  The Government had reaffirmed its strong commitment to human rights mechanisms with positive programmes on gender equality and efforts were being made for persons with disabilities.  Policies that addressed the root causes of domestic violence were critical as well as conducting awareness campaigns and implementing policies to prevent the mistreatment of women and children.  

Morocco, Estonia, Algeria, Romania, and Belarus took the floor.  The following non-governmental organizations also spoke on Lithuania: COC Netherlands, CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and Amnesty International.

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

Michel Brunache, Minister of Justice of Haiti, said that despite the difficult situation in the country in the wake of the January 2010 earthquake and the post-electoral crisis of December 2010, the Government had undertaken a number of initiatives to uphold human rights.  Of the 136 recommendations, Haiti had accepted 122, including three with reservations, while 14 had been momentarily rejected.  Haiti had already initiated the implementation of some of the recommendations in the areas of judicial reform, detention conditions, combating impunity, violence against women, the right to education and re-housing of the earthquake victims.

In the discussion on Haiti, speakers said key areas for action in Haiti were combating impunity, illiteracy, school drop-out rates, trafficking of women and children and building homes for victims of the 2010 earthquake.  The United Nations was urged to help stop the cholera outbreak and provide the resources that Haiti desperately needed.  Speakers commended efforts made by Haiti to participate in the Universal Periodic Review process, even in the aftermath of the daunting challenges posed by the earthquake, adding that the actions Haiti took to promote and protect human rights, despite limited resources and recovery from a natural disaster, were commendable.  

Uruguay, Venezuela, Cuba, India, United States, France, and Algeria took the floor to speak about Haiti.  The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice dele Salesiane di Don Bosco, Human Rights Advocates Inc, Human Rights Watch, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, Amnesty International, and Rencontre africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme.  

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

A written statement sent by Antigua and Barbuda and read out by Laura Lasserre Dupuy, President of the Human Rights Council, said that Antigua and Barbuda had accepted all the recommendations except the five of which it had taken due note.  The Government recognised the human rights of all citizens and said that the issue of discrimination based on sexual orientation was one which remained a matter of concern; the Government was of the view that implementing policies based on sexual orientation required extensive public consultation and education given the current predisposition of the people and their religious influence and indoctrination.

In the discussion on Antigua and Barbuda, speakers noted its work in implementation of social policies.  Antigua and Barbuda had made real and positive progress in combating and reducing poverty, provision of universal primary and secondary education free of charge until the age of 20 years, social welfare services and services for the elderly, and in combating HIV/AIDS.  Despite the challenges Antigua and Barbuda faced as a small island State, it had made significant progress in enhancing the enjoyment of human rights by its people.  

Venezuela, Cuba, Singapore, Morocco, and Algeria took the floor on Antigua and Barbuda.  The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Amnesty International. The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Antigua and Barbuda.

In its afternoon meeting starting 3 p.m., the Council will hold a general debate on the Universal Periodic Review.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on the Republic of Moldova

VLADIMIR GROSU, Deputy Minister of Justice of the Republic of Moldova, said that the Universal Periodic Review had revolutionized the national system of human rights in the Republic of Moldova.  The Government learnt a great deal while preparing its report, for which it extensively consulted civil society.  The Republic of Moldova had received 122 recommendations, and accepted the majority of them.  The Strategy for Justice Sector Reform (2011 – 2016) aimed to reform the judicial system, access to justice and strengthen the integrity of the justice sector through anti-corruption measures.  The Strategy also provided for the prevention of torture by amending the criminal law to remove the statute of limitations for the crime of torture, and provision to all police stations of video surveillance systems to monitor compliance of the detention regime.  The Republic Moldova agreed that the comprehensive inquiry into the events of April 2009 should continue.  A draft law on preventing and combating discrimination was under consultation, and a strategy for social inclusion of people with disabilities was being implemented.  Amendments to the Action Plan to support Roma populations for 2011 to 2015 were adopted recently.  Regarding freedom of religion, Parliament renamed the Law on Religious Cults to be the Law on Freedom of Conscience, Thought and Religion, in order to bridge the gap between the name and purpose of the law.  Education and awareness-raising campaigns were of paramount significance for the promotion of diversity, and pupils had the right to choose their language of instruction at all levels.  Human rights in the Transnistrian region were a Government priority.  The Government strove to make the Republic of Moldova an open and inclusive society, a country where people with roots from different parts of the world could live side by side.  

Morocco welcomed the cooperation and commitment demonstrated by the Republic of Moldova during its Universal Periodic Review process.  The Government had reaffirmed its strong commitment to human rights mechanisms with positive programmes on gender equality and efforts were being made for persons with disabilities.  Morocco encouraged the Government to fulfil its international obligations to human rights.  

Estonia said the Republic of Moldova had made visible progress in protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country.  Estonia noted the adoption of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation in line with international standards.  Policies that addressed the root causes of domestic violence were critical as well as conducting awareness campaigns and implementing policies to prevent the mistreatment of women and children.  

Algeria congratulated the Republic of Moldova for the measures it had taken to promote human rights.  Algeria encouraged the Republic of Moldova to finalize plans it had adopted for human rights and was pleased it had accepted the recommendation to develop policies that promoted harmony and tolerance among all members of society.  Algeria wished the Republic of Moldova every success in the implementation of the accepted recommendations and urged the Council to adopt the report.  

Romania said that the Republic of Moldova was one of the few States that had not rejected any of the recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review.  Romania was looking forward to progress being made in the implementation of the recommendations related to the improvement of a normative framework for the promotion and protection of human rights.  

Belarus said that acceptance of all recommendations by the Republic of Moldova was evidence of its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.  Belarus was pleased to note the action on reducing poverty, improving education, combating human trafficking and improving the situation of women, children and national minorities.  

COC Netherlands said the Republic of Moldova supported recommendations to ensure that the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons would be protected and crimes against them prosecuted.  Realities in the Republic of Moldova were however different.  The Republic of Moldova should express its full support to the 2011 Human Rights Council resolution condemning violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation expressed concern about opposition towards ethnic, religious and sexual minority groups, and urged the Government of the Republic of Moldova to ensure adequate protection of all minorities in the country and to sign the Human Rights Council statement on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights.  

Amnesty International said it continued to receive reports of torture and welcomed the Republic of Moldova’s commitment to combat it.  Amnesty highlighted the case of Evgenie Fedoruk, who was held in police detention for two months, from April 2011, and tortured in order to force him to confess to a murder.  He was suspended from a rope with his hands and feet tied together and given electric shocks.  Mr. Fedoruk was subsequently transferred to a psychiatric hospital where he was still being held.  

VLADIMIR GROSU, Deputy Minister of Justice of the Republic of Moldova, said that the draft law on preventing discrimination was currently being considered by civil society and non-governmental organizations and was being debated in the public media.  The Republic of Moldova knew that some issues still needed to be resolved, but political will and diversity of views within the Moldovan society had to be considered.  The Government acknowledged that the law on persons with disabilities was overtly politicized.  The Republic of Moldova’s ambitious programme of human rights reform was a challenge, but it would be implemented.  Human rights and atrocities in the Transnistrian region were a priority for the authorities.  The first meeting of a monitoring commission in order to establish implementation of Universal Period Review recommendations would take place as soon as possible.  

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

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Haiti

MICHEL BRUNACHE, Minister of Justice of Haiti, said that despite the difficult situation in the country in the wake of the January 2010 earthquake and the post-electoral crisis of December 2010, the Government had undertaken a number of initiatives to uphold human rights.  Of the 136 recommendations, Haiti had accepted 122 of which three with reservations, while 14 had been momentarily rejected.  Haiti had already initiated the implementation of some of the recommendations in the areas of judicial reform, detention conditions, combating impunity, violence against women, the right to education and re-housing of the earthquake victims.  Haiti had filled the vacant post and all members of the Supreme Court were now known.  A series of measures were being undertaken to improve conditions in detention facilities, including building of new prisons.  In the framework of combating impunity, the Government aimed to raise awareness among all legal professionals on all human rights questions, particularly on the prohibition of torture and ill treatment.  Violence against women in Haiti had taken on a new dimension in the wake of the 2010 earthquake.  To address this phenomenon, the Government had held a seminar aiming to systematize efforts to combat violence against women and to so contribute to the definition of public policy in this matter.  Education was one of the four main priorities in Haiti and sources of funding had already been identified.  Almost a million children were benefitting from free education, and a good portion enjoyed free school bus and feeding programmes.  Haiti was committed to combating the phenomenon of child domestic workers and added that it was not necessary to establish an international commission to combat impunity.  Creation of a national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles was not a priority for the country at the moment; standing invitations to Special Procedures were not necessary as Haiti had never refused to collaborate with United Nations mechanisms.  

Uruguay said Uruguay had made recommendations that reflected the reality in Haiti and welcomed that the Government not only accepted them, but had already started implementing them.  Key areas for action were combating impunity, illiteracy, school drop-out rates, trafficking of women and children and building homes for victims of the 2010 earthquake.  

Venezuela said Haiti faced serious challenges and was limited by poverty and food shortages which were exacerbated by the 2010 earthquake which affected three million people and the subsequent cholera epidemic which had affected more than 500,000 people.  The United Nations was urged to help stop the cholera outbreak and provide the resources that Haiti desperately needed.

Cuba said that Haiti had many obstacles to overcome in order to protect human rights.  Shortcomings in the educational system, poor healthcare coverage and widespread poverty hampered efforts.  The international community owed a moral debt to the people of Haiti, who needed the support of States and the United Nations more than ever.

India commended efforts made by Haiti to participate in the Universal Periodic Review process, even in the aftermath of the daunting challenges posed by the earthquake.  India noted the steps to take progressive judiciary and constitutional reforms and efforts to ensure the right to adequate housing, combat hunger and fight human trafficking.  The actions Haiti took to promote and protect human rights, despite limited resources and recovery from a natural disaster, were commendable.  

Morocco said despite the 2010 earthquake, Haiti had nonetheless been able to respect its commitment to the Council by submitting a Universal Periodic Review report.  The delegation noted with appreciation the acceptance of the recommendation submitted by Morocco related to the Action Plan for national reconstruction and development of Haiti as well as the national strategy for education for all.  The Moroccan delegation encouraged Haiti to continue to request international technical assistance in order to implement the recommendations.

United States commended the Government of Haiti, both the executive and legislative branches, for already implementing one of the United States’ recommendations by filling four vacancies in the Supreme Court.  This step would help improve the state of the overburdened judicial system.  The United States urged the Government of Haiti to continue to take steps to ensure accountability, which would help strengthen the rule of law and break the pervasive cycle of impunity that hindered reconciliation and limited Haiti’s economic development.  

France said more than two years had passed since the devastating earthquake of 2010 and the challenges in overcoming its consequences were great, despite all national and international efforts.  The international community must continue to stand by the Government and ensure that human rights were mainstreamed in the reconstruction.  The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti had a major role to play in advising the Government on the implementation of necessary reforms and in sensitizing the international community to the needs of Haiti.

Algeria commended Haiti for accepting a large number of recommendations.  Algeria, together with other members of the international community, had contributed to addressing the terrible earthquake suffered by Haiti two years ago.  Algeria commended Haiti on strengthening the normative and legislative framework in the country and paid tribute to the frank way in which Haiti addressed the human rights situation in its report.  It was vital for the international community to continue to provide assistance to this country.

Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice dele Salesiane di Don Bosco encouraged the Government to implement the plan for universal primary education for all children.  A human rights approach to reconstruction was needed to ensure a more just society and to integrate in the education system vulnerable groups such as girls, children with disabilities, poor and rural children.

Human Rights Advocates Inc said that half a million people still lived in camps in Haiti’s capital, two years after the earthquake, and camp conditions were worsening.  With all of the reconstruction money going into Haiti, provision of durable housing and protection of camp resident from illegal and violent evictions must be a priority.  Senatorial and local elections due last November had not taken place, and the flawed elections of 2010 and 2011 spawned much of Haiti’s current political crisis.  

Human Rights Watch congratulated Haiti on ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, but said Haiti must realize the rights enshrined in that treaty, including ensuring women and girls had access to reproductive and maternal health services, fighting impunity in the case of former President Jean-Claude Duvalier and ensuring that those accused of the worst crimes were brought to justice.

Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti was concerned about the weak judicial system in Haiti and said that judicial reform must include appointment of independent judges.  Gender-based violence was a problem; police, commissioners and judges must be trained on the issue.  Cholera, introduced into Haiti through the United Nations Mission, had affected over 500,000 persons.

Amnesty International was concerned about the recent judicial decision to drop criminal charges against Jean-Claude Duvalier for grave human rights violations.  This reinforced prevailing impunity.  Evictions should be a measure of last resort, carried out in accordance with international human rights standards.    

Rencontre africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme said the creation of human rights defense institutions demonstrated the Haitian Government’s determination to ensure the observance of human rights.  Haiti had also abolished the death penalty and ratified several international human rights conventions.

MICHEL BRUNACHE, Minister of Justice of Haiti, in concluding remarks, thanked all the countries which had provided unswerving support to Haiti.  He reiterated the commitment of the new authorities to establishing the rule of law and contributing significantly to improving living conditions for the people of Haiti.  The re-housing programme currently underway took into account the needs of the population.  No one was evicted without being given an option for re-housing.

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

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Antigua and Barbuda

LAURA LASSERRE DUPUY, President of the Human Rights Council, said that Antigua and Barbuda had communicated that it would be unable to send a delegation to the Human Rights Council, but had sent a statement instead that reflected their position.

The statement of Antigua and Barbuda said Antigua and Barbuda had accepted all the recommendations except the five of which it had taken due note.  On the recommendation concerning accession to the First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Government said that any modification of the current legislation on matters relating to the death penalty was not acceptable at the moment.  Antigua and Barbuda further said that it could not accept the recommendation to extend a standing invitation to all Special Procedures because of the financial and resource burden it would pose on a small island state such as Antigua and Barbuda.  The Government would give active consideration to increasing the age of criminal responsibility in line with international standards.  The Government recognised the human rights of all citizens and said that the issue of discrimination based on sexual orientation was one which remained a matter of concern; the Government was of the view that implementing policies based on sexual orientation required extensive public consultation and education given the current predisposition of the people and their religious influence and indoctrination.
On the ratification of human rights instruments to which it was not a party as yet, the Government said it was a party to core human rights instruments and would continue to work towards completion of the accession process to those that were acceptable.

Venezuela noted the achievements made by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda in the field of education, particularly the provision of free primary and secondary education, and encouraged the Government to continue with their correct social policies.  The country was committed to achieving the full fundamental human rights of their people.

Cuba said that it was linked with fellow Caribbean country Antigua and Barbuda by history and culture, and noted its work in implementation of social policies.  Antigua and Barbuda had made real and positive progress in combating and reducing poverty, provision of universal primary and secondary education free of charge until the age of 20 years, social welfare services and services for the elderly, and in combating HIV/AIDS.  The Government had a welfare plan to attain the Millennium Development Goals.

Singapore said that as a fellow member of the Alliance of Small Island States, it recognized the challenges faced by Antigua and Barbuda.  Despite those challenges Antigua and Barbuda had made significant progress in enhancing the enjoyment of human rights by its people.  Singapore fully endorsed the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review and wished the country success in implementing it.  

Morocco commended Antigua and Barbuda on the great number of recommendations accepted and whose implementation would contribute to reinforcing the protection and promotion of human rights.  The challenges of small island States were numerous, but Antigua and Barbuda were very strong in their work to address them.  Morocco supported the Government’s calls for support for capacity building and technical assistance.  It was an excellent opportunity to exchange best practices, especially with regard to those challenges faced by small island developing States.

Algeria said the human, financial and environmental difficulties that Antigua and Barbuda faced were similar to those faced by other small island developing States.  Algeria was committed to providing assistance to Antigua and Barbuda to help promote and protect human rights.  Algeria noted with appreciation that the authorities accepted most of the recommendations relating to accession to human rights conventions, creating a national human rights mechanism and other issues.  

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network called the Council’s attention to particular challenges related to sexual orientation and gender identity; discriminatory acts continued to exist.  Would the Government declare a moratorium on enforcement of laws against private sexual conduct between consenting adults?

Amnesty International noted that there had been no executions in Antigua and Barbuda in the last 11 years, but expressed its regret that the Government had rejected the recommendation to abolish the death penalty.  Amnesty International emphasized that the removal of discriminatory laws was a first step in fighting the stigma surrounding homosexuality and regretted the Government’s rejection of recommendations to decriminalize sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Antigua and Barbuda.

Statement by the President of the Human Rights Council Marking the End of the First Four-Year Universal Periodic Review Cycle

LAURA DUPUY LASSERRE, President of the Human Rights Council, said that with today’s adoption of the Universal Periodic Review of Antigua and Barbuda, the first cycle of reviews by the Universal Periodic Review had been completed.  There had been 100 per cent participation by the States reviewed, thus making the unique mechanism truly universal and providing for a comprehensive map on human rights situations around the globe.  One hundred and ninety-three States were reviewed during the first four-year cycle.  That included South Sudan, which joined as a United Nations member during the period.  Only three States did not submit a written report, and some 80 per cent of delegations appearing before the Universal Periodic Review Working Group were led by ministers, further evidence of the importance given to the Universal Periodic Review by States under review.  

From the perspective of the State, the Universal Periodic Review proved to be a transparent, collaborative instrument for change, an opportunity for sharing of experiences and best practices and an occasion for self-reflection in a constructive spirit.  At the national level, the preparation of State reports had provided the framework for institutional collaboration across State structures, as well as between the State and civil society.  The consultation and participation of other stakeholders – national human rights institutions, non-governmental organizations and United Nations country teams – in the Universal Periodic Review process had been fundamental during this first cycle.  The challenge of the second Universal Periodic Review cycle would be to uphold the expectations raised in terms of improvement of the human rights situation on the ground.  The new cycle would be an opportunity for States and stakeholders to take stock of the developments which occurred during the previous reviews, also with regard to the implementation of recommendations.  Indeed, Ms. Dupuy said, the effectiveness of the Universal Periodic Review would only be apparent at the end of the second cycle.

The Universal Periodic Review Working Group will begin its second cycle on 21 May 2012 at its thirteenth session.  


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