Human Rights Council
12 June 2008
The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review process on the reports on Pakistan, Zambia, Japan and Ukraine.
Masood Khan, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Pakistan endorsed the view that the strength of the Universal Periodic Review lay in the equitable and transparent examination of the human rights records of all States, without distinction. The new Government was resolutely pursuing the goals of the rule of the law and democracy, even as it faced daunting challenges of terrorism and extremism. A number of measures had been undertaken to empower minorities. Further, Pakistan attached importance to ensuring security, safety and freedom of human rights defenders.
In the discussion on the report, speakers said they appreciated the open and frank attitude with which the Pakistani Government had conducted itself throughout the review. Despite the current challenges of terrorism and the high influx of immigrants, Pakistan had tried to continue work on addressing human rights. Pakistan was congratulated on the new democratically elected Government. The undertakings made by the people of Pakistan in fulfilment of their aspiration to a return to democracy had been noted with interest. One speaker called on Pakistan to seriously consider the adoption of a moratorium on executions. Also, it was noted that women’s rights appeared to be neglected.
Speaking in the discussion on the report on Pakistan were the delegations of China, Bahrain, Canada, Morocco, Kuwait, Algeria, Indonesia and India.
Also speaking were the representatives of International Federation for Human Rights, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Human Rights Watch, European Centre for Law and Justice, International Commission of Jurists, Interfaith International, Amnesty International, Asian Legal Resource Centre, International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific and Islamic Human Rights Commission.
Gertrude Imbwae, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice of Zambia, said Zambia faced a number of wide ranging challenges in promoting and protecting all human rights within its territory, but had undergone positive changes as well. Zambia undertook to examine 11 recommendations and had provided responses at this session of the Human Rights Council. Zambia was pleased to report that it had signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Zambia reiterated its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In the discussion on the report, speakers expressed appreciation to the delegation of Zambia for their honest and sincere attitude during the review. They were encouraged by Zambia’s acceptance to strengthen its efforts on gender issues and to address extreme poverty and its impact on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. Zambia was applauded for its broad consultations with civil society. It was noted that HIV/AIDS had compounded the problem of child labour, not only in Zambia but on the African continent. There were also serious concerns about the high number of street children in Zambia.
Speaking in the discussion on the report on Zambia were the delegations of China, Algeria, Ireland, Nigeria, Switzerland, Uganda and Botswana.
Also speaking was the representative of Franciscans International.
Makio Miyagawa, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that several States had stressed the need to make efforts towards establishing a national human rights institution in Japan. A bill for the establishment of such a body had in fact already been submitted to Parliament in 2002, but had not passed in the end. Japan had already ratified most of the major human rights instruments and would further proceed to the examination of ratifying the signed conventions as early as possible. One recommendation had called for the elimination of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In response, the Ministry of Justice was conducting awareness raising activities. It was underlined that Japan was not in a position to consider granting a moratorium on executions or to abolish the death penalty.
In the discussion on the report, speakers congratulated Japan on its open and thorough report which presented detailed careful consideration for the observations, concerns and recommendations expressed by various Member States. They welcomed Japan’s recent signing of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and last year, the Convention on Enforced Disappearances. There were questions about past military slavery that were unanswered. It was also noted that Japan has addressed the gross and systematic violations of women’s human rights.
Speaking in the discussion on the report on Japan were the delegations of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Also speaking was the representative of International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism.
Yevhen Korniichuk, First Deputy Minister of Justice of Ukraine, said that Ukraine had carefully examined five recommendations of the Working Group of the Universal Periodic Review and had decided to accept the recommendation to sign and ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol, the recommendation on ensuring the safety and proper treatment of all persons held in custody by the police, and to consider the recommendation on establishing an independent police complaints system. It was essential to emphasize that at the national level Ukraine took all efforts which were necessary to protect the rights of migrants and stateless persons. Ukraine attached great importance to the recommendations which were of paramount importance for the country.
In the discussion on the report, speakers said it was important that Ukraine had confirmed its intention to fully align its national legislation with its obligations under several treaties, particularly with regard to the protection of national minorities. Ukraine had made a lot of efforts and had covered significant ground towards building a free and democratic society, ensuring the rule of law, and protecting and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms. Specifically their efforts to counter violence against women and children, and to improve the jails and correctional institutions, amongst others, were praiseworthy. The adoption of the new criminal procedure code, the introduction of alternatives to prison and the State programme for improving prison conditions were all major steps in the right direction
Speaking in the discussion on the report on Ukraine were the delegations of the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan and Guatemala.
Also speaking was the representative of Prison Fellowship International.
The Council will convene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 13 June to consider the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review process on the reports on Sri Lanka, France and Tonga.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review for Report on Pakistan
MASOOD KHAN, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Pakistan endorsed the view that the strength of the Universal Periodic Review lay in the equitable and transparent examination of the human rights records of all States, without distinction. The preparation and conduct of the Universal Periodic Review had been a productive and rewarding experience for Pakistan. It had allowed them to work closely with civil society. Two types of observations had been made by the Member States during the Universal Periodic Review. Several had expressed satisfaction over the steps taken and results achieved while others had pointed to the deficits in the laws, societal norms and administrative machinery. Recommendations in the outcome fell into four categories: those which were didactic in nature; those recommending amendments to existing laws; those suggesting societal changes and those encouraging them to build on the successes they had achieved. Because of the short period for reaction, they had received only preliminary feedback from the concerned departments. Pakistan had recently negotiated a transition to a full-fledged democratic system. The new coalition formed after the elections was being consolidated. The new Government was resolutely pursuing the goals of the rule of the law and democracy, even as it faced daunting challenges of terrorism and extremism.
On religious freedom, Mr. Khan said that the Constitution guaranteed freedom of religion or belief. A number of measures had been undertaken to empower minorities. It was agreed that more needed to be done. The Prime Minister had expressed his resolve that minorities would be given representation in all national institutions. Discrimination on the basis of caste was prohibited under their law. Concerning women’s rights, it was noted that they had risen to the highest offices, but Pakistan had to intensify its efforts to cascade empowerment of women to the grass root communities. In the recent past, they had passed laws which narrowed the protection gap for women. The Government was pursuing a policy of zero tolerance on violence against women and was working together with civil society to declare sexual harassment at the work place a grave misconduct and punishable offence. The recommendations which had been made regarding human rights training of security officials were welcomed. Comprehensive curricula had been included in police training schools.
Mr. Khan also said that with the withdrawal of the emergency order of November 2007, all fundamental freedoms had been restored. Rules of fair trail were provided by Pakistan’s legal and judicial system. The Supreme Court had initiated action on cases of disappearances. Further, Pakistan attached importance to ensuring security, safety and freedom of human rights defenders. They had taken note of the suggestions to consider formulation of a national policy on protection of human rights defenders. Impunity was not condoned; abuses by law enforcement agencies, including security forces were cognizable offences. Pakistan would also continue to sign and ratify international treaties in accordance with their constitutional requirements and administrative processes. On the rights of the child, a series of recommendations had been made to promote them. Several measures had already been taken to protect children against violence, abuse, neglect, discrimination and exploitation. Concerning freedom of expression, Pakistan’s record and performance in this regard was strong and rewarding; it had one of the freest media and press in the world. On counter-terrorism, Pakistan would continue with its efforts to fight terrorism, which had to be rooted out by military means as well as by redressing poverty and under-development. Misguided ideologies had to be opposed. All precautions were taken by the security forces to minimize civilian and non-combatant casualties.
Further, on refugees, Mr. Khan underlined that Pakistan had hosted more than 4 million Afghan refugees for the past 29 years. Despite a drastic reduction in international assistance, Pakistan would continue to fulfil its responsibilities in this regard. A number of measures had also been taken with regard to internally displaced persons. Social development was also a priority. After having survived two natural disasters in the past years, they had acquired new skills in disaster response. The coalition Government had also initiated review of all question related to capital punishment.
LI BAODONG (China) thanked the Permanent Representative of Pakistan for his detailed introductory remarks. The Chinese delegation appreciated the open and frank attitude with which the Pakistani Government had conducted itself through the Universal Periodic Review process. China also appreciated the frank and full dialogue with various parties during the entire review process. They appreciated the measures taken to protect and promote democratic values in protecting the rule of law. Pakistan had signed and ratified a number of human rights instruments. China welcomed the great importance attached to their effective implementation and positive efforts to promote the rights of women, children, persons with disabilities and ethnic minorities. While promoting human rights, Pakistan had displayed adequate frameworks and they were capable of strengthening human rights and sustaining progress in economic, social and political areas, among others. China was also confident that Pakistan would play a healthy role in promoting these values.
ABDULLA ABDULLATIF ABDULLA (Bahrain) said Pakistan was party to a number of human rights instruments and it was fully committed to live up to its obligations on human rights. Bahrain appreciated that Pakistan worked for the promotion and protection of human rights. Pakistan was committed to democracy.
Many of the recommendations made in the process had already been acted upon. Pakistan had begun working on poverty, rights of women, and other issues. Bahrain wished Pakistan success in the field of human rights.
JOHN VON KAUFMANN (Canada) welcomed Pakistan’s acceptance of many of the recommendations made by the Working Group. Concerning the recommendation to remove restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, it had not been reflected accurately in the outcome report. Canada had requested that this error be corrected prior to the adoption of the report. The Pakistan Constitution outlawed the Ahmadi religion and the penal code allowed for the imprisonment of members of the Quadiani, Lhaori and Ahmadi religions for preaching their faith. Disappointment was also expressed over the rejection of the recommendation to repeal provisions of the Hudood Ordinances that criminalized non-marital consensual sex and failed to recognize martial rape. The rejection of the recommendation to decriminalize defamation was also disappointing. The right to freedom of opinion and expression were universally recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco) congratulated the delegation of Pakistan for the presentation which complimented the information given last month through the Universal Periodic Review process. Morocco appreciated the frankness, sincerity and the efforts Pakistan had taken to create the rule of law and fundamental rights ahead. Despite the current challenges of terrorism and high influx of immigrants, Pakistan had tried to continue work in addressing human rights. Morocco noted Pakistan’s efforts to protect women and children and to strengthen education and health services. The independence of the judiciary was welcomed. Pakistan had noted that the Government was committed to the recommendations which it had accepted, but that not all recommendations were capable of immediate implementation and some would require a medium or long term process to be fulfilled.
NAJEEB AL BADER (Kuwait) recognized the great efforts of Pakistan in working on the Universal Periodic Review. Pakistan showed great interest and deep rooted dedication in working with all groups and for the promotion and protection of human rights. Kuwait congratulated the new democratically elected Government. It also congratulated Pakistan for its commitment and its accomplishments.
IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria) said that Algeria found Pakistan’s comments relevant, progressive and up front in the challenges it faced, especially in its fight against terrorism, which had an impact on the whole world. The conclusions and recommendations of the report highlighted the fact that Pakistan continued its important effort in fighting terrorism. It was essential that Pakistan received adequate support from the international community in this regard. The efforts of Pakistan in the promotion and protection of human rights were commendable. Pakistan was also commended for its efforts on behalf of children’s rights.
KAMAPRADIPTA ISNOMO (Indonesia) extended his appreciation to Ambassador Masood Khan for his statement on the consideration of the report of the Working Group of the Universal Periodic Review on Pakistan. Many recommendations put forward had already been seriously taken into account by Pakistan which had undertaken measures to carry them out. The undertakings made by the people of Pakistan in fulfilment of their aspiration to a return to democracy had been noted with interest. Indonesia welcomed the fact that the country had undertaken the transition to full democracy and achievement that deserved to be appreciated. Indonesia commended the efforts made in developing relevant legal structures to eradicate the issue of violence against women in Pakistan. They encouraged Pakistan to ensure faithful implementation of the laws adopted to combat violence against women. A positive change in Pakistan with regard to women was made possible by the affirmative action which reserved quotas for women in high-responsibility jobs and important and senior decision-making bodies. The issue of an independent of judiciary was high on the agenda of the new Government. The new Government was on the right track in addressing this issue through Pakistan’s elected Parliament. In applying this approach, an ample time may be required before Pakistan achieved the desired result. Such an approach may not be achieved over night and therefore must be supported. They wished them all the success in their endeavours in promoting and protecting human rights in the country.
MUNU MAHAWAR (India) said the national report of Pakistan referred to territory that was part of Indian Kashmir and was illegally occupied by Pakistan.
JULIE GROMELLON, of the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, welcomed the fact that the Government of Pakistan had recently ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and had signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Against Torture. The International Federation also looked forward to Pakistan’s establishment of an independent human rights commission, in accordance with the Paris Principle. The Government was urgently called to seriously consider the adoption of a moratorium on executions. Women continued to be hounded under accusations of extramarital sex. On the criminalisation of defamation, it was deplored that Pakistan had refused to review laws and measures whose restrictions were incompatible with the principles of the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
JULIE DE RIVERO, of Human Rights Watch, said that the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan came at an opportune moment of transition in Pakistan and at a time when the newly elected Government had engaged on a number of human rights reforms, including the ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the signing of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Against Torture, which they hoped the Government would promptly ratify in line with recommendations made to it during the Universal Periodic Review process. Human Rights Watch also welcomed the repeal of laws that limited the freedom of the press and the restoration of rights exercised by workers organizations. They regretted that the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan did not lead to the formulation of specific recommendations aimed at addressing the situation of disappeared persons in the country. Human Rights Watch recommended that the Pakistan Government fully involve civil society in consultations surrounding the Universal Periodic Review process.
LUKAS MACHON, of the International Commission of Jurists, called for the prompt implementation of all of the Universal Periodic Review recommendations, including recommendations 4,5,14,15 and 16. The Government of Pakistan had yet to address the consequences of the rule of law crisis culminating in the state of emergency, to restore the licenses of all lawyers, to revoke the limitations on the media and to stop the harassment of human rights defenders and lawyers. The Parliament had not decided on a method to clearly repeal any constitutional amendments. The Universal Periodic Review recommended re-establishing an independent judiciary. The covering coalition had not as yet been able to conclude a formula to reinstate all of the justices and judges deposed during the law. Beyond the need to restore Pakistan’s constitutional order, the judicial system was in need of profound reforms to promote judicial independence. State action against real terrorism must comply with the principles of the rule of law and international human rights standards. The International Commission of Jurists reminded the Government of Pakistan of the accessory and substantive nature of the right to equality before the law and to equal protection of the law.
PETER SPLINTER, of Amnesty International, encouraged the Government of Pakistan to pursue its work on a proposal to commute the death penalty to life imprisonment. The announced intention to accede to the Convention on Enforced Disappearances was encouraging. Hundreds of persons remained subjected to enforced disappearances. The Government was urged to immediately resolve all acts of enforced disappearances. Further, the full restoration of judges removed during emergency rule was believed to be necessary.
GAYOON BAEK, of Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), in a joint statement with Pax Romana and International Movement against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism, said that the Asian Forum was concerned and disappointed at the constant denials of the Government of Pakistan during the Universal Periodic Review Working Group as well as the plenary session this afternoon in response to its human rights records and the situation in the country. It was imperative that the new Government of Pakistan recognized the oppression in some cases and indifference in others exercised by the military-led Governments of the very recent past in dealing with political workers, human rights defenders, lawyers, judges, women, children from poor communities and religious minorities. New research had pointed to the fact that caste-based discrimination was indeed a reality for approximately two million people in Pakistan, and that the majority of bonded labourers in agriculture were scheduled caste Hindus.
PATRICK POPPINCK, of the European Centre for Law and Justice, said there were serious difficulties in the area of religious freedom in Pakistan. The first was the prohibition of certain groups, the laws against blasphemy against Islam, and the use of force and violence to intimidate. He read from the Pakistani Constitution. It was true that other religions received protection, but on a more limited basis. The law against blasphemy was restrictive.
NORMAN VOSS, of the Asian Legal Resource Centre, welcomed the Government’s acknowledgement of the importance of the lawyers’ movement and civil society’s role in the struggle for an independent judiciary. The lack of an independent judiciary was equivalent to the suspension of fundamental rights in Pakistan, as there was no effective legal redress available at present. The recommendation to ratify the Convention on Enforced Disappearances was welcomed. Disappointment was expressed over Pakistan’s attempts to undermine its review and the Universal Periodic Review process as a whole by trying to discard valid recommendations made to it. This behaviour clearly amounted to non-cooperation. It was hoped that Pakistan would refrain from trying to sabotage the process.
NASIR AZIZ KHAN, of Interfaith International, said that Interfaith International strongly urged the Government of Pakistan to take serious note on the recommendations for the freedom of religion or belief, to amend legislation which discriminated against persons belonging to minority religions and, in general, to protect the freedom of religion and belie. They also urged the Government to implement the recommendations with regard to women’s rights, gender equality and opposing violence and discrimination against women. They believed that a serious effort must be made towards economic, social and political rights; as the Pakistani people had waited too long, action was urged now.
LISA PUSEY, of International Women’s Rights Action Watch, expressed deep concern that the Government of Pakistan rejected recommendations put to it during the interactive dialogue during the Universal Periodic Review on the erroneous grounds that these recommendations were not universally accepted human rights. Recommendations related to marital rape were clearly recognized international human rights norms. They welcomed the statement that Pakistan would review this issue and review the domestic violence law. They urged the Government to ensure that perpetrators of marital rape were prosecuted. They urged the Government to live up to its statements. And they urged the Government to accept recommendations relating to the criminalization of non-marital consensual sex and adultery.
ANEESA SATTAR, of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said that the Pakistani Government had a legal obligation under international human rights law in relation to women’s health care. Deep concern was expressed over the fact that in Pakistan women’s rights appeared to be neglected. Cultural practices hindered women’s access to economic, social and cultural rights. Of deep concern was also the outcome of the draft bill on the national human rights commission. This body had to be independent and professional and capable of doing its job. Pakistan already faced a number of human rights challenges that made the establishment of an effective national body an important necessity.
MASOOD KHAN, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in concluding remarks thanked all Member States for their comments on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and who congratulated the Government of Pakistan for its promotion of democracy and human rights. He especially liked to thank Algeria for its encouraging comment for Member States to support Pakistan in combating the issue of terrorism in the country. The understanding and support of the international community was important. With regards to the comment made by Canada, the recommendation received from Canada for consideration was received past the deadline for submission and therefore was not considered in the report. Pakistan would appreciate in future that Canada make their point in a more respectful way, and not merely accuse Pakistan that their recommendation was out right rejected when that was not the case.
On the issue of consensual or premarital sex, the Government of Pakistan could not legalize this issue and would not submit or be forced by the views and thoughts of others. Freedom of opinion and expression was part of international law. Some of the speeches made by civil society were out dated and did not take into consideration the last statement or the statement made today by Pakistan. They did not monitor the work done since March 2008 and did not do their homework.
With respect to the recommendation by the International Federation of Human Rights, it was rejected because a review had been mandated by the Government on the right to life and the Government was looking into all aspects of capital punishment. There must be respectful dialogue and cooperation with civil society in this capacity. Rape victims were of special concern to Pakistan’s authorities and they wanted to provide redress to them. Kashmir was not part of the Pakistani territory, neither was it part of the Indian territory, it was a disputed territory according to United Nations resolutions. He thanked the members of the Secretariat for their hard work on the Universal Periodic Review. He also thanked civil society for their comments and concerns, an independent and impartial view was important in gaining traction and going in the right direction.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review for Report on Zambia
GERTRUDE IMBWAE, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice of Zambia, welcomed the Universal Periodic Review mechanism and the active participation of States in the process. The Human Rights Council was invited to note that while Zambia faced a number of wide ranging challenges in promoting and protecting all human rights within its territory, it had undergone positive changes in the area of human rights. This could be seen from a number of actions, like the consultative process undertaken in preparation of the national report and the plans put in place in the fifth National Development Plan relating to human rights. Zambia undertook to examine 11 recommendations and had provided responses at this session of the Human Rights Council. Zambia was pleased to report that it had signed the Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities. Zambia thanked members of the troika and the Secretariat. Zambia reiterated its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
ZHU YANWEI (China) expressed appreciation to the delegation of Zambia and for their honest and sincere attitude during the review. Zambia had achieved positive progress in the promotion and protection of human rights, it had made progress in formulating and promoting many human rights measures and norms. It had also further ensured access to justice and education. China believed that Zambia would further continue its efforts.
IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria) commended Zambia for the commitment expressed in the report to promote and protect human rights and also the county’s commitment to cooperate with the Universal Periodic Review both during the process and thereafter. Algeria was encouraged by Zambia’s acceptance to strengthen its efforts on gender issues as expressed by the delegation of Zambia and to address extreme poverty and its impact on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. This included vulnerable groups such as the girl children and those affected by HIV/AIDS under various programmes of the Fifth National Development Plan. Algeria encouraged Zambia to pursue its efforts to improve its educational system, to continue to improve the living conditions of detainees and to seek international assistance for implementing its lofty objectives. Further, they congratulated Zambia for its well deserved re-election to the Human Rights Council.
MARK BARTON (Ireland) expressed gratitude to Zambia for its positive engagement in the Universal Periodic Review. Ireland noted Zambia’s strong commitment to human rights. Ireland looked forward to further improvements. It applauded Zambia’s broad consultations with civil society. It appreciated that Zambia had accepted 19 recommendations as well as agreeing to examine 11 further recommendations. Ireland welcomed the standing invitations extended by the Zambian delegation to all Special Rapporteurs. Ireland was pleased with the improvement of prison conditions, welcomed progress of incorporating the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women into domestic law, was please with the recognition of the reforms needed in relation to laws of freedom of expression, and welcomed the steps taken in reviewing its position on the death penalty.
JOHN GANG (Nigeria) was pleased to note the high level of transparency demonstrated by Zambia throughout the review. This was key in achieving the objectives of the Universal Periodic Review. Nigeria was particularly pleased to note Zambia’s initiatives aimed at ensuring the implementation of the various recommendations. Zambia’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights was recognized. As a developing country, Nigeria also recognized the challenges faced by Zambia in its efforts for the promotion and protection of the rights of its citizens.
ALEXANDRA RUPPEN (Switzerland) said that Switzerland was proud of being one of the troika members together with Senegal and Philippines. They were able to observe first hand the cooperative spirit that Zambia displayed throughout the process. Zambia accepted 19 of the recommendations, among them seven which focused on improving the situation of women and children. Zambia had committed to incorporating the work on women systematically in the follow-up. National programmes for children should be a national priority in the areas of health and education, particularly the girl children whose rights were precarious and doubly threatening. Switzerland encouraged Zambia to work closely with civil society to incorporate the recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review.
CISSY HELEN TALIWAKU (Uganda) congratulated Zambia on taking steps to address the bottle necks in its justice system. It also noted measures Zambia had put in place to mainstream gender issues, particularly the challenge of gender-based violence. Legislative measures and strategies that dealt with issues of reproductive health in order to reduce both maternal and child mortality would go a long way to improve the delivery of health care to the most vulnerable groups, women and children. Uganda noted that HIV/AIDS had compounded the problem of child labour, not only in Zambia but on the African continent. Uganda found it highly commendable that Zambia was taking a holistic approach to all these issues.
O. RHEE HETANANG (Botswana) welcomed the additional information provided in responses to some issues raised during the review. This was a demonstration of Zambia’s positive and constructive commitment in the whole Universal Periodic Review exercise. Zambia’s commitment to place a high priority on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms was recognized. They could also understand the challenges that some of the recommendations made placed on the national legislative process of any country. It was hoped that Zambia could count on the full support of the international community.
GOTZON ONANDIA ZARABE, of Franciscans International, called on the Government of Zambia to continue and strengthen its efforts to guarantee free and compulsory basic education by 2015, and urged the Government to ensure that girls fully benefited from the education system. The Government should also support civil society organizations that provided basic education services and involve them in a permanent and open dialogue. Franciscans International was seriously concerned about the high number of street children in Zambia who were exposed to trafficking, physical and sexual abuse, forced labour and even police brutality. They called on the Government to follow up on the recommendations expressed during the Universal Periodic Review process and to urgently develop and implement an effective strategy of assistance and prevention for street children in order to protect and guarantee their rights. Franciscans International welcomed the commitment of Zambia to continue engaging with all stakeholders in the follow-up of the Universal Periodic Review and to working towards the observance of all its regional and international human rights obligations.
GERTRUDE IMBWAE, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice of Zambia, thanked all countries that contributed to its successful review. It thanked the countries that spoke during the discussion. Zambia considered dialogue an important tool in the protection of human rights. She called on the global community to help in the fulfilment of the Universal Periodic Review process.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review for Report on Japan
MAKIO MIYAGAWA, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Japan had been delighted to hear from more than 40 delegations during the Universal Periodic Review process. At the Working Group several delegations had expressed appreciation about Japan’s efforts on human rights education, the elimination of discrimination against leprosy-affected persons and its provision of assistance, including technical assistance. Japan was ready to continue efforts in those fields. After being re-elected as a member of the Human Rights Council, Japan would do its utmost in realising its voluntary pledges and commitments. Concerning the 26 recommendations, several had referred to the need to make efforts in establishing a national human rights institution. A bill for the establishment of such a body had in fact already been submitted to Parliament in 2002, but had not passed in the end. A number of delegations had recommended that Japan should consider ratifying various human rights treaties. Japan had already ratified most of the major human rights instruments and would further proceed to the examination of ratifying the signed conventions as early as possible. Japan was also willing to cooperate with all Special Procedures.
One recommendation had called for the Government of Japan to take measures to eliminate discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity, noted Mr. Miyagawa. In this regard, the Ministry of Justice was conducting awareness raising activities. On the recommendation to expressly prohibit all forms of corporal punishment of children, Japan accepted to follow it up. Some steps had already been put in practice. Corporal punishment at schools was already prohibited. Several recommendations also asked that Japan should adopt a national law against racism, discrimination and xenophobia. The Constitution of Japan already stipulated that all were equal under the law. Concerning human rights violations in the Internet society, the human rights section of the Ministry of Justice was closely looking to eliminate malicious incidents.
Further, Mr. Miyagawa noted that a number of delegations had raised concerns on the interrogation of detainees in police custody and that it should be monitored and recorded. Careful consideration was needed to introduce mandated recording or vide-taping of all interrogations. Concerning the death penalty, several States had called for Japan to review its use. It was underlined that Japan was not in a position to consider granting a moratorium on executions or to abolish death penalty. Concerning Ainu people, the parliament had unanimously adopted a resolution in this regard.
GUSTI AGUNG WESAKA PUJA (Indonesia) congratulated Japan on its open and thorough report which presented detailed careful consideration for the observations, concerns and recommendations expressed by various Member States of the Council during their review process last month. Indonesia appreciated that there was a clearly expressed commitment in the report to human rights education and to improving the criminal justice system and procedures which normally followed a very thorough investigative methodology. Indonesia welcomed Japan’s recent signing of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and last year, the Convention on Enforced Disappearances. In October 2007 Japan also became a State party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and considered this to be a constructive example of their legitimate concern and commitment to the rule of law.
It was clear that Japan was aware of the areas where improvements could be made and the delegation of Indonesia believed that the efforts in this regard formed part of an ongoing process towards the full enjoyment of human rights in the country. Indonesia was encouraged by Japan’s positive response to the United Nations mechanisms as well as by its commitment to improving existing standards and norms. Further, Indonesia was confident that the efforts of Japan to fully implement these human rights norms would further enhance its latest commitments and achievements in the field of the promotion and protection of human rights.
MOKTAR IDHAM MUSA (Malaysia) appreciated Japan’s substantive response to Malaysia’s questions during the interactive dialogue. It welcomed the frank manner which Japan undertook in the Universal Periodic Review process. Japan had made great strides in several spheres and was widely acknowledged as one of the leading countries in promoting assistance to the developing countries in numerous areas including social, economic, and cultural rights. Malaysia was encouraged that Japan continued to take this cooperative stance. Malaysia remained confident that Japan would continue to engage constructively with the international community in realizing the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide.
PITCHAYAPHANT CHARNBHUMIDOL (Thailand) thanked the Japanese delegation for providing further information and responses to the several outstanding recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group. Thailand also commended Japan for the sincerity and commitment of the Government in advancing human rights. Many important recommendations that Japan had agreed to undertake were both instrumental and key in improving the situation of human rights on the ground in a practical manner. Thailand commended Japan for these steps. Japan was determined to seriously address other difficult issues and challenges. The international community should encourage and support Japan to further enhance the promotion and protection of human rights for all people in Japanese society.
JESUS ENRIQUE G. GARCIA II (Philippines) said that the cooperative approach demonstrated by Japan throughout the Universal Periodic Review was commendable. Japan demonstrated its commitment to improving human rights. Japan accepted the recommendations to strengthen the legal framework and to improve conditions for women and children. The Philippines encouraged Japan to pay attention to vulnerable groups such as migrants. Further Japan was encouraged to continue to work on extreme poverty and to continue to demonstrate its commitment to improving the quality and conditions of human rights in the country.
CHOE MYONG NAM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had made three recommendations in the interactive dialogue, including on past violations of human rights by Japan in Korea. There were questions about past military slavery that were unanswered and which Japan called an impediment to the Universal Periodic Review process. It would be good for Japan to adopt these recommendations. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea called on Japan to implement all recommendations.
GEORGINA STEVENS, of the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, regretted that the Japanese Government had not taken the opportunity presented by the Universal Periodic Review to give true consideration to the views and questions posed, instead using only to repeat its established position, for example with respect to the issues of comfort women, the death penalty, the lack of a national human rights institution or any domestic legislation prohibiting discrimination and the human rights of the indigenous Ainu people. It was also regretted that Japan had chosen not to accept a number of recommendations. The recent announcements regarding the recognition of the Ainu as indigenous peoples were applauded. Japan was called to fully involve civil society in the follow up to the Universal Periodic Review process.
MARIANA DUARTE, of World Organization against Torture, in a joint statement with Asia-Japan Women's Resource Center, warmly welcomed the comprehensive examination by the Human Rights Council of the human rights situation in Japan, including gender-based violence and discrimination against women. They welcomed Japan’s determination as a re-elected member of the Council to implement its obligations under the human rights instruments and to address “situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations” worldwide in its voluntary pledges and commitments. They expected Japan to prove its commitment by addressing the gross and systematic violations of women’s human rights for which it was responsible, namely Japan’s military sexual slavery during World War II, as mentioned in a number of paragraphs in the report of the Working Group. They called on Japan to urgently act on all recommendations including those on military sexual slavery without reservation, and to set a best practice in ensuring remedies for the survivors of the most serious forms of violence against women in armed conflict.
YORIO SHIOKAWA, of International Association of Democratic Lawyers, in a joint statement with Interfaith International and Indian Council of South America, supported the recommendation that Japan should review urgently the use of the death penalty with the view to join the larger number of States that had a moratorium or abolition on capital punishment. The United Nations should advise and cooperate with the Government of Japan so that the Japanese people became aware about the international tendency to abolish the death penalty. The Association hoped that Japan would abolish the death penalty.
MIKIKO OTANI, of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, appreciated the positive approach that the Government had taken in the Universal Periodic Review Working Group sessions. Since then, some progress had been observed. A national consultation for the Universal Periodic Review had been organised by more than ten Parliament members across the parties and had been well attended by the officers of relevant ministries and more than 100 members of civil society. It was noted with appreciation that the Government had expressed the intention to carefully consider the need to introduce mandated recordings of all police interrogations. Disappointment was expressed over the reluctance of the Government to accept a number of recommendations. The Government was urged to take this opportunity to re-examine its long-standing position and to start moving towards acceptance of the recommendations.
MAKIO MIYAGAWA, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in concluding remarks thanked all the delegations for participating in the Universal Periodic Review discussions on Japan. Japan had heard a number of comments, concerns and suggestions from the non-governmental organizations and thanked them as well. Japan shared the idea that the Universal Periodic Review should be a cooperative and effective mechanism. They hoped that under this idea, the Universal Periodic Review would function as a mechanism that could contribute to the improvement of human rights situations in every country. Japan intended to make a positive contribution towards the improvement of human rights while taking into consideration each country’s situation, such as its history, traditions, etc., and keeping in mind its basic approach to “dialogue and cooperation.” As for their efforts in the international community, due to globalization and environmental changes, they were facing new challenges and new kinds of human rights problems and the Governments of all countries had to tackle them and take necessary measures.
Japan would continue its work in the international community, in close cooperation with the United Nations, regional communities, other national Governments and civil society. The Human Rights Council gave birth to the Universal Periodic Review at its establishment. Japan has participated in this new endeavour by the Council as one of the first year States under the review. The Human Rights Council was steadily gaining in experience and formulating the practices of the Universal Periodic Review and would make further contributions so that the Universal Periodic Review could function as an effective tool for the Human Rights Council towards the improvement of the human rights situation around the world. Japan sincerely hoped that in the course of interactive dialogue they could have a fruitful and constructive exchange of opinions on Japan’s human rights situation.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review for Report on Ukraine
YEHVEN KORNIICHUK, First Deputy Minister of Justice of Ukraine, said that Ukraine had carefully examined five recommendations of the Working Group of the Universal Periodic Review and had decided to accept the recommendation to sign and ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol, the recommendation on ensuring the safety and proper treatment of all persons held in custody by the police, and to consider the recommendation on establishing an independent police complaints system. Ukraine could not accept recommendations three and five. Ukraine could not ratify at this time the Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and the convention relating to the status of stateless persons. It was essential to emphasize that at the national level Ukraine took all efforts which were necessary to protect the rights of migrants and stateless persons. The concept of the State’s migration policy was currently being elaborated. In order to implement it, a number of amendments would be introduced into national legislation. Ukraine attached great importance to the recommendations which were of paramount importance for the country.
VALERY LOSHCHININ (Russian Federation) thanked the delegation of Ukraine for presenting their comments and views. It was noted with satisfaction that the Government of Ukraine had adopted most of the recommendations which had been submitted. For Russia it was important that Ukraine had confirmed its intention to fully align its national legislation with its obligations under several treaties, particularly with regard to the protection of national minorities. Russia was however disappointed that Ukraine had refused other recommendations such as the one asking to put in place relevant provisions to guarantee use of the mother tongue to linguistic minorities. The question of assigning Russian as second-state language should be addressed. It was the mother tongue for almost half of the people of the country and it went towards the interest of the Government to do so. It ran counter to the realty of the life existing in Ukraine. Further, the Secretariat was reminded that Russia’s questions that had been sent before the consideration had still not been posted on the appropriate extranet page.
AZAD CAFAROV (Azerbaijan) commended Ukraine for including challenges, progress made and the Government’s will to foster human rights protection and promotion in the country in the presentation of the report. Ever since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 90’s, Ukraine, as an independent State, had made a lot of efforts and covered significant grounds towards building a free and democratic society, ensuring the rule of law and protecting and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms. The efforts of the Government to reform the criminal justice system, to counter violence against women and children, and to improve the jails and correctional institutions, amongst others, were praiseworthy. Azerbaijan was glad to note that the delegation of Ukraine was capable of accepting a broad scope of recommendations, demonstrating its will and genuine devotion to the issue of human rights. In particular Azerbaijan shared the view of recommendations made by the Committee on the Rights of the Child on the efforts to reduce juvenile violence and to address the root causes of the problem. Further they commended Ukraine for the way they proceeded during the session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review. Ukraine conducted themselves in a constructive way vis-à-vis the Universal Periodic Review dialogue and thus Azerbaijan wished them all the success in the implementation of the provisions of the outcome document.
MARIA SOLEDAD URRUELA ARENALES (Guatemala) thanked the delegation of Ukraine for the constructive role they had played. As a member of the troika, Guatemala could testify to the commitment of Ukraine to the Universal Periodic Review process and to the promotion and protection of human rights. Guatemala was confident that Ukraine would pursue its obligations.
IVAN K. SOTIROV, of Prison Fellowship International, said that they had noted especially the attention accorded to the situation in prisons and the justice system in Ukraine. The adoption of the new criminal procedure code, the introduction of alternatives to prison and the State programme for improving prison conditions were all major steps in the right direction and Prison Fellowship International stood ready to contribute to the implementation of the reforms. The increasing cooperation with the civil society was noted. One critical note was that the procedures for receiving humanitarian assistance for prisons should be simplified.
YEHVEN KORNIICHUK, First Deputy Minister of Justice of Ukraine, appreciated the work that had been done by the countries in the Universal Periodic Review. Ukraine thanked the Human Rights Council and said that most of the recommendations would be implemented. On the issue of the Russian language in Ukraine, the authorities had studied the proposal about the Russian language carefully, but could not implement that recommendation because it contradicted the Constitution. The minority languages, including Russian, were used in all areas of the territory without any problems. Ukraine extended special gratitude to all those countries that took part in the interactive dialogue.
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