HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS OUTCOMES OF UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW PROCESS ON LUXEMBOURG, BARBADOS AND MONTENEGRO


Human Rights Council
AFTERNOON

18 March 2009


The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review process on the reports on Luxembourg, Barbados and Montenegro.

Jean Feyder, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Luxembourg was committed to include gender mainstreaming in the follow-up to the Universal Periodic Review. On freedom of religion and belief, all religious communities or philosophical beliefs were treated equally in Luxembourg. In the penal sector, the Government had noted the recommendations that had been made and was undertaking a policy to improve the conditions for the detention of minors. Luxembourg was committed to reach the voluntary goals related to human rights. The protection and promotion of human rights was a permanent challenge for all States as well as the international community, and Luxembourg would continue its efforts to overcome all difficulties, wherever they may exist.

During the discussion on Luxembourg, representatives of non-governmental organizations raised issues concerning prison overcrowding and xenophobic behaviour of prison staff. Efforts undertaken by Luxembourg concerning juvenile prisoners were welcomed. A speaker encouraged Luxembourg to ratify the Convention on Persons with Disabilities, the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and the Convention on Migrant Workers.

Speaking on Luxembourg were the following non-governmental organizations: Consultative Commission on Human Rights of Luxembourg, Arab Commission for Human Rights, Cercle de Recherche sur Les Droits et les Devoirs de la Personne Humaine, and International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture.

C. Trevor Clarke, Permanent Representative of Barbados to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that as a small island developing country with all the associated economic, security and environmental vulnerabilities, Barbados had to approach the process realistically and could only commit to those actions which were within its ability to undertake and maintain. Barbados was actively looking at further revising its Constitution and updating its legislation to conform to its treaty obligations. It was just three months ago that Barbados underwent the Universal Periodic Review process, where it received a number of recommendations from Member States which they considered were elements that could enhance the domestic architecture of human rights protection. There were some which the Government was not at this time prepared to accept, but it had taken serious note of them.

During the discussion on the Barbados, speakers recognized the constraints faced by Barbados, as clearly indicated in both of its submissions to the Council and in its continuing efforts to implement its obligations under international human rights instruments. They commended Barbados on the progress made, particularly with respect to social and economic indicators. Barbados was an outstanding example in the Caribbean, and had shared this in various regional seminars. The implementation of the recommendations would take place with support from the international community, a speaker said.

Speaking on Barbados were the United Kingdom, Bahamas, Mexico, Cuba, Japan and Algeria. The non-governmental organizations Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture also took the floor.

Miras Radovic, Minister of Justice of Montenegro, said that Montenegro had achieved enormous progress since its independence was restored on 21 May 2006. Regarding refugees and internally displaced persons, re-registration of internally displaced persons residing in Montenegro would take place. It would be conducted in the first half of 2009. Several municipalities would allocate land for the construction of housing units for displaced persons. Regarding the accession to main international human rights instruments, Mr. Radovic said that the Parliament of Montenegro had ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and in the required time framework it would establish the effective national mechanism for prevention of torture.

During the discussion on Montenegro, speakers welcomed Montenegro’s efforts to incorporate human rights into its Constitution and the recent creation of an ombudsman institution for the protection of human rights and a Judicial Council to strengthen judicial bodies and ensure their independence. It was noted that trafficking in persons was a problem in Montenegro. It was noted that the police and judiciary worked in tight collaboration, and with the support of their European colleagues, in the fight against trafficking and organised crime in both States. In the Balkans, which had often suffered from ethnic problems, this was a giant step towards peace and prosperity in this part of the world.

Speaking on Montenegro was the United States, Albania and China. Amnesty International and Cercle de recherché sure les droits et les devoirs de la personne humaine also took the floor.

The next meeting of the Council will be at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 19 March when it will proceed with the consideration of the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review process on United Arab Emirates, Israel and Liechtenstein.


Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review for Report on Luxembourg

JEAN FEYDER, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Luxembourg supported the Universal Periodic Review from the very beginning of the negotiations which had led to the creation of the Human Rights Council, in a spirit of greater rigour and efficiency of the United Nations system. With regards to Luxembourg's international commitments, it was committed to take the recommendations into account and to finalise the various ratification processes as soon as possible. The Universal Periodic Review incited a dynamic process of consultation of the independent institutions which oversaw the respect of human rights in Luxembourg, which would continue these consultations regularly, in order to ensure appropriate follow-up to the Review.

The Government was aware of certain issues with regards to human rights, linked to the situation of persons with mental disorders, and had committed itself to a legislative reform that would reinforce the fundamental rights of those committed to psychiatric care without their consent. With regards to immigration and the question of non-refoulement, Luxembourg believed that its new legislation was in conformity with this latter principle. On recommendations linked to the elimination of racial discrimination, the country was committed to sending the necessary reports to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination as soon as possible. The Government also intended to bring together all actions taken to implement the CEDAW Convention and the Beijing Platform and Plan of Action in order to reinforce the coherency of political action on equality between men and women.

Luxembourg was committed to include gender-mainstreaming in the follow-up to the Review. On freedom of religion and belief, all religious communities or philosophical beliefs were treated equally in Luxembourg. In the penal sector, the Government had noted the recommendations that had been made, and did not underestimate the difficulties which it faced, and was undertaking a policy to improve the conditions for the detention of minors. With regards to the situation of children of prisoners, it was the interest of the child that was the most important factor. On the conditions of employment of migrants, there were no particular problems for either men or women migrants. Luxembourg was committed to reach the voluntary goals related to human rights. The protection and promotion of human rights was a permanent challenge for all States as well as the international community, and Luxembourg would continue its efforts to overcome all difficulties, wherever they may exist.

KATHARINA ROSE, of Consultative Commission of Luxembourg, said that it was an honour to participate in the Universal Periodic Review of Luxembourg. The Consultative Commission was also mandated to monitor the follow-up to the Universal Periodic Review and welcomed the recommendations made to Luxembourg by the Council. Concerning juveniles, the Consultative Commission noted that prison was fundamentally an inappropriate institution for dealing with juveniles. The Consultative Commission of Luxembourg encouraged Luxembourg to ratify the Convention on Persons with Disabilities, the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and the Convention on Migrant Workers in particular.

ABDEL WAHAB HANI, of Arab Commission for Human Rights, welcomed the transparent way in which the delegation of Luxembourg responded to the recommendations of the Working Group on Luxembourg’s examination under the Universal Periodic Review. The Arab Commission regretted that the replies were only in French, which reduced the possibility for discussion. The Arab Commission recommended that Luxembourg report back to the Council, which was done on a voluntary basis, on the results of this follow-up within one year’s time. The record of the promotion and protection of human rights was based on its ability to move forward on those measures unilaterally. The Arab Commission for Human Rights stressed that the participation of non-governmental organizations in the Universal Periodic Review process was important.

HILAIRE BELL, of Cercle de recherche sur les droits et les devoirs de la personne humaine (CRED), said France had made a commendable recommendation for a comprehensive strategy for the elimination of violence against women, and the organization wondered whether there was already a United Nations strategy in this regard, and if so, could it be adopted by countries, or whether France's suggestion would only apply to Luxembourg. To only approach violence from the perspective of violence against women would be discrimination, as the situation of men should also be addressed. Iran and Luxembourg should cooperate with a view to adopting the Universal Declaration on the Rights of the Family.

NATHALIE JEANNIN, of International Federation of ACAT (Action By Christians for the Abolition of Torture), said that the International Federation took note of the date of 2010 for the construction of a closed center for minors in Luxembourg. Sweden and Uruguay had criticized Luxembourg earlier because of prison overcrowding. The International Federation welcomed the comments made by Luxembourg in that regard on alternatives to detention but feared that those could be used in a discriminatory way. The International Federation of Christians for the Abolition of Torture joined Australia and Germany in their allegation of xenophobic or discriminatory behaviour of prison personnel towards foreign detainees.

JEAN FEYDER, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in his concluding remarks, expressed thanks to the various speakers and the various non-governmental organizations who had taken the floor today. Luxembourg attached considerable importance to the work of the various commissions and organizations and would take into account the various comments made. Concerning the follow-up process, Luxembourg would establish this in cooperation with civil society, and Mr. Feyder stressed that Luxembourg would on occasion report regularly to the Council in that regard. Concerning the various issues facing violence against women, he said that measures had already been put in place to address that in the next national legislation plan for 2009-2013.

Mr. Feyder said that he took to heart the active participation by everyone in the Universal Periodic Review and thanked the Secretariat of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for their support, the members of the Troika who played a helpful part in the process, and to all Member States for their recommendations.

The promotion and protection of human rights remained a challenge for all States and the international community, observed Mr. Feyder. The Government of Luxembourg did not avoid criticism; it aimed to ensure for all the respect for all rights. Luxembourg would continue to endeavour to overcome difficulties where they existed, and the Universal Periodic Review represented an important roadmap to those goals. The Government of Luxembourg would tirelessly continue to ensure progress in a system which should always be ready to take on new challenges, and would continue to work towards improving human rights in the country.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Luxembourg.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review for Report on Barbados

C. TREVOR CLARKE, Permanent Representative of Barbados to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Barbados was a small island developing State with an international human rights record and a level of good governance which had served it well since independence in 1966. Despite limited financial and human resources, it had been an active participant and fervent supporter of international human rights and the international system of protection for the most vulnerable. It had always been and would continue to be the aim of the Government and people of Barbados to build on this foundation, and it was in this spirit that it approached the deliberations under the Universal Periodic Review and addressed the recommendations made subsequently. Barbados had always been cognizant of the need to ensure, at the minimum, the basic level of human rights protection for all citizens of the world.

As a small island developing country with all the associated economic, security and environmental vulnerabilities, Barbados had to approach the process realistically and could only commit to those actions which were within its ability to undertake and maintain. Barbados did intend to improve on its human rights reporting record, and accepted the recommendation to do so - however, human resources constraints still remained the major impediment to timely reporting, and Barbados would continue to support initiatives developed by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to assist developing countries in this regard. The Government had undertaken a thorough analysis of the recommendations emanating from the Universal Periodic Review, and the Cabinet had taken a number of important decisions relating to the matter of human rights in Barbados.

Barbados was actively looking at further revising its Constitution, and updating its legislation to conform to its treaty obligations. The Cabinet of Ministers had recently considered a number of proposals to further enhance its human rights profile. It was just three months ago that Barbados underwent the Review process, where it received a number of recommendations from Member States which they considered were elements that could enhance the domestic architecture of human rights protection. In that short space of time, and given the impact which the global economic challenges were having on all economies, the Human Rights Council should take into account the efforts that the Government had made to adopt, where possible, these recommendations. There were some which the Government was not at this time prepared to accept, but it had taken serious note of them.

JAMES EVANS (United Kingdom) said that the United Kingdom was pleased to serve on the troika during Barbados’ Universal Periodic Review in December during which the United Kingdom was able to closely observe the serious manner in which Barbados approached the Review. The United Kingdom was impressed by Barbados’ conduct during the Review and by the high-level delegation which attended the Working Group. The United Kingdom expressed its appreciation for the serious consideration which Barbados had given to all of the recommendations which were made, including those made by the United Kingdom.

NICOLE ARCHER (Bahamas) commended Barbados for its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and for the progress made in Barbados in this regard, particularly with respect to social and economic indicators. The Bahamas also commended Barbados for its very constructive approach to the Universal Periodic Review and to the work of the Council, as demonstrated by its full and frank participation in the session of the Working Group in December and in today’s meeting, through the presentation of its response to the report of the Working Group.

As a fellow small island developing State, The Bahamas understood very well the constraints faced by Barbados, as clearly indicated in both of its submissions to the Council, in its continuing efforts to implement its obligations under international human rights instruments. The Bahamas therefore encouraged the international community to heed Barbados’ request and to provide the necessary support and assistance for enhancing national capacity and to assist Barbados to continue to implement its human rights obligations and the recommendations emanating from this process which it had committed to implement.

MARIANA OLIVERA WEST (Mexico) said Mexico recognised the serious commitment of Barbados to the Universall Periodic Review dialogue, and that it was prepared to consider those recommendations that it could not accept immediately. Barbados was seriously committed to the Universal Periodic Review, and had engaged in an objective evaluation of its successes and challenges in the field of human rights, and had gone on record with its desire to tackle the human rights challenges. Barbados was an outstanding example in the Caribbean, and had shared this in various regional seminars. The implementation of the recommendations would take place with support from the international community. The institutional and legislative strengthening would also be supported. The Council and other bodies, as well as the international community as a whole, played a role in this regard, and should support Barbados in its efforts to give effect to the recommendations.

RAFAEL GARCIA (Cuba) said that Cuba was one of the countries that had taken the floor during the debate in the Universal Periodic Review process of Barbados. Cuba commended the high level of acceptance of the recommendations made. Cuba also commended the efforts made by the Government of Barbados, notwithstanding the enormous challenges Barbados was facing as a small developing economy. Cuba also commended Barbados on its constructive cooperation with the Human Rights Council.

OSANU YAMANAKA (Japan), speaking as a member of the Troika for Barbados, said Japan congratulated Barbados on the professional way it prepared and conducted its review. During the process and afterwards, the Government of Barbados had shown it firm commitment to improve its human rights situation. Japan expected that the recommendations in the report of the Working Group which enjoyed the support of the Barbados Government would be fully implemented. Japan encouraged the Government of Barbados to continue its maximum efforts to improve the human rights situation, taking into account the concerns of the international community. Japan believed that the serious stance of the Barbados Government would lead to concrete implementation of the recommendations, bearing fruit in the improvement of its human rights situation.

BOUALEM CHEBIHI (Algeria) said the report had been of high quality, and Algeria was encouraged by the efforts made by Barbados to protect and promote human rights and promote good governance, despite the challenges facing it as a small island developing State. The appeal for technical and financial assistance to backstop Barbados' efforts to protect and promote the human rights of its people was fully supported.

JOHN FISHER, of Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, addressed the recommendation dealing with the decriminalization of consensual adult same-sex conduct. Barbados had stated that it could not accept the recommendation at this time because significant sections of the community were opposed to such decriminalization and it was against the weight of public opinion. The Network emphasized that human rights must never become a popularity contest and indeed international guarantees of non-discrimination were designed precisely to protect the rights of unpopular minorities.

HILAIRE BELL, of Cercle de recherche sur les droits et les devoirs de la personne humaine (CRED), congratulated the Government of Barbados which was a small island State but had made considerable efforts in the field of human rights. The organization welcomed the Government of Barbados’ adoption of the new laws on integrity, and wished the Government every success in carrying out this very praiseworthy effort with regard to the duties of individuals with respect to human rights.

C. TREVOR CLARKE, Permanent Representative of Barbados to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in concluding remarks, said he wished to thank the delegations and other stakeholders for their constructive comments and expressions of support, and some mild criticism. All comments had been taken on board, and would be conveyed to the Government. Barbados had approached the Review and the recommendations in a serious manner, and had considered a number of short-, medium-, and long-term measures to take to implement the recommendations contained in the document, as these would further enhance the protection and promotion of the human rights of Barbados' citizens. Barbados was confident that, with the support and encouragement of the international community, it would be able to live up to its international commitments and contribute to the support of the international human rights system.

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

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review for Report on Montenegro

MIRAS RADOVIC, Minister of Justice of Montenegro, said that when Montenegro presented the national report on the human rights situation in Montenegro from 3 to 5 December 2008, he had had the honour to provide a summary presentation of the activities implemented in Montenegro in the field of respect and protection of human rights. Montenegro had achieved enormous progress in the field of human rights since its independence was restored on 21 May 2006 in a referendum organized according to the highest legal standards. He drew the attention of the Council to the most important activities of Montenegrin institutions undertaken in the period since the presentation of the national report, which were in line with the recommendations that had been given.

The Parliament of Montenegro had ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and in the required time framework it would establish the effective national mechanism for prevention of torture. The Government had also undertaken significant activities in combating terrorism. It had considered the fourth report on the implementation of the measures from the Action Plan for the Implementation of the Programme for Combating Corruption and Organized Crime and passed a new law on preventing conflict of interests which would contribute to raising the level of trust that public offices were held in a legitimate and impartial manner. The Working Group for monitoring the implementation of the national strategy for fighting trafficking in human beings adopted the action plan which defined the activities planned for 2009. The judiciary attached adequate importance to the criminal cases of trafficking in human beings and imposed punishments proportionate to their gravity.

Regarding refugees and internally displaced persons, the Bureau for Care of Refugees was preparing re-registration of internally displaced persons residing in Montenegro. It would be conducted in the first half of 2009. Several municipalities would allocate land for the construction of housing units for displaced persons. The process of repatriation of 29 families displaced from Kosovo had already started. Montenegro accepted the recommendation to invite the international community to provide technical assistance and financial support to Montenegro in the implementation of the strategy leading to a sustainable solution of the issue of refugees and internally displaced persons, since it was a confirmation that the international community had not forgotten that in the 1990s Montenegro had opened its doors to a large number of persons from the war stricken areas.

ANNA CHAMBERS (United States) said the United States welcomed Montenegro’s efforts to incorporate human rights into its Constitution and the recent creation of an ombudsman institution for the protection of human rights and a Judicial Council to strengthen judicial bodies and ensure their independence. The United States noted the concern documented in the Working Group report by a number of delegations about attacks and threats against journalists and appreciated Montenegro’s expressed commitment to protect media freedoms and its continuing efforts to investigate those attacks and prosecute them.

The United States also noted that trafficking in persons was a problem in Montenegro, and welcomed the Action Plan for the Fight against Human Trafficking adopted in December 2008 as a positive step to improve protection of victims and prosecution of the perpetrators. The United States also appreciated Montenegro’s efforts to coordinate its anti-trafficking efforts with other countries in the region. Finally, the United States supported the recommendations in the Working Group report with respect to minorities, including the Roma and the need for full protection of their rights under the law in practice.

SEJDI QERIMAJ (Albania) said Montenegro was a democracy that functioned, with a solid market economy, and was a real factor in regional stability and a reliable partner. The excellent report was evidence of the immense progress Montenegro had made in the protection and promotion of human rights, and the modernisation of its society. Albania and Montenegro worked together in the field of the protection and promotion of human rights and consolidation of democracy. The police and judiciary worked in tight collaboration, and with the support of their European colleagues, in the fight against trafficking and organised crime in both States. In the Balkans, which had often suffered from ethnic problems, this was a giant step towards peace and prosperity in this part of the world. The situation was not perfect, but it was satisfying that Montenegro guaranteed human rights and fundamental freedoms and was launched on the right path - a better future for its citizens.

ZHOU XIANFENG (China) said that China appreciated the responsible attitude of Montenegro in receiving the report. China commended Montenegro on the progress made in promoting and protecting human rights. Now, Montenegro had an almost complete legal framework and an institution of an ombudsman. The Government had also implemented various action plans in the field of the promotion of human rights. Regarding human trafficking, Montenegro had launched considerable efforts. China hoped that Montenegro would continue those efforts.

MARIANNE LILLIEBTERG, of Amnesty International, welcomed many of the recommendations made by States to Montenegro, including calls for the protection of minorities, in particular measures to guarantee the rights of the Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities. Mindful of Montenegro’s obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Amnesty International urged the Government to prioritize fulfilment for all members of the Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities, without discrimination, of the rights to free and compulsory primary education, access to employment and essential primary health care, and to basic shelter and housing. When allocating resources, the Government should prioritise the most vulnerable and should seek international cooperation and assistance where necessary to meet those basic obligations.

BELL HILAIRE, of Cercle de recherché sure les droits et les devoirs de la personne humaine, said the replies by Montenegro to the recommendations made in the context of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group were of great interest, in particular those on the initiatives by the Government to improve draft legislation prohibiting discrimination. The Bill in question addressed twelve precise grounds for discrimination, but did not include discrimination linked to political choices or associations of the individual. Several forms of human rights violations were committed against members of political parties or the opposition, and the Government should include these forms of discrimination in the draft. The Government was encouraged to take part in the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

MIRAS RADOVIC, Minister of Justice of Montenegro, in his concluding remarks, said that he had the impression that he had already mentioned several issues raised in previous discussions. As to activities regarding the protection of Roma, he said that there was a plan for the integration of Roma and that there was progress in the implementation of that strategy. He noted that a significantly larger number of Roma children attended school now. On refugees, he had earlier noted that re-registration would be undertaken, and that relevant legislation was revised. There would be no stateless persons in Montenegro. As to human trafficking, it was not a problem in Montenegro, judicial bodies dealt with it appropriately. He said that Montenegro was continuing to strengthen the freedom of the media. He thanked all for the debate they had during the process and for encouraging Montenegro to achieve even better results. He promised that Montenegro would give its full commitment to the universal promotion and protection of human rights. He added that not one of the recommendations had been rejected and they would be of decisive significance in the period to come.

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