23 September 2010
The Human Rights Council this morning adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Guyana, Kuwait and Belarus.
Gail Teixeira, Presidential Adviser on Governance of the Office of the President of Guyana, said Guyana was proud of its constitutional and parliamentary reforms, and its model of shared governance. Guyana was proud of its socio-economic achievements and its budgetary commitment to poverty reduction, although it recognized that there were still very many more problems to be overcome. Guyana remained committed to achieving equitable access of the delivery of goods and services, especially for the poor and vulnerable - women, children, the elderly, Amerindians, the differently abled- as evidenced by its programmes and policies within its available resources. Guyana assured the Human Rights Council that it remained irrevocably committed to democracy and the protection of human rights, the rule of law, and good governance for its people.
In the discussion on Guyana, speakers said Guyana had demonstrated a strong commitment for the social, economic and cultural development of its population, and this commitment was seen through the achievements made at the economic and social levels, in particular the reduction of external debt and poverty levels. A large number of recommendations had been adopted by Guyana and this attested to the resolve of the Government to promote and protect human rights. Particularly valued were the efforts of Guyana in promoting food security and addressing the impact of the economic crisis, as was the readiness of Guyana to continue addressing violence against children, sexual exploitation of girls, further reducing poverty, promoting access to food and mitigating negative impacts of climate change.
Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review of Guyana were Cuba, Algeria, Morocco, United Kingdom and China Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations (NGOs): Amnesty International and Action Canada for Population and Development.
Dharar Abdul Razzaq Razzooqi, Permanent Representative of Kuwait to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said through the Universal Periodic Review, Kuwait had shown that the protection of human rights had been reflected in its constitution, which stated that all human beings were equal in their rights and before the law. Human rights had always been a fundamental element in the development of all public policies, such as health, education, social protection and others. Kuwait approved 114 of 139 recommendations, and a large number of them were already in the process of implementation. Kuwait did not accept the recommendations that run counter to the constitution and Islamic Sharia law.
In the discussion on Kuwait, speakers said Kuwait had constantly improved its living standards, and this was praiseworthy, and had been reflected in the level of development and of human rights enforcement in the country, particularly with regard to migrant workers and women. Kuwait had shown a serious and frank interest in following up on the recommendations and upholding human rights. Kuwait had always cooperated with international human rights mechanisms and had always shown openness to collaborating with the international community. Kuwait was a pioneer in accepting human rights obligations, including the role of women in society and this was showing fruit today, which was a vital sign of true democracy in Kuwait.
Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review of Kuwait were Qatar, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Jordan, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Djibouti. Also taking the floor were the following NGOs: Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs, Comité International pour le respect et l'application de la Charte Africaine des Droits de l'Homme et des Peuples, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, Human Rights Watch, Refugees International, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and Human Rights Information and Training Centre.
Mikhail Khvostov, Permanent Representative of Belarus to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the Universal Periodic Review allowed for countries to monitor and track their progress on national developments made in human rights. In the process, Belarus had learned a great deal about human rights mechanisms. An array of recommendations had been made to help Belarus move forward in the promotion and protection of human rights and Belarus was one of the few countries that had already begun to implement recommendations. Belarus had adopted 55 recommendations and the others were further considered and carefully studied by the Government, in light of the national capacity to implement them. Belarus had adopted about 70 percent of the recommendations and said that this reflected its commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process and the promotion and protection of human rights.
In the discussion on Belarus, speakers said Belarus was to be commended for the progress achieved in civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights - this progress would make the country one of the first in its region and beyond to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Several of the achievements in the country were underscored, such as the eradication of illiteracy, low mortality rates, and efforts to eradicate HIV/AIDS - a whole range of efforts to strengthen and promote human rights had been implemented, showing the Government's will to give new momentum to progress in human rights and its commitment to the United Nations. The implementation of the recommendations accepted by Belarus would serve the further development and the progress made so far on a whole range of human rights issues.
Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review of Belarus were Russian Federation, Algeria, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Bahrain, Viet Nam, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Morocco, Uzbekistan, and China. Also taking the floor were the following NGOs: Rencontre africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme, Amnesty International, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, CIVICUS- World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Northern Alliance for Sustainability, and Conscience and Peace Tax International.
The next meeting of the Council will be at 3 p.m. this afternoon, when it will hold a general debate under item six on its agenda, namely the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Guyana
Gail Teixeira, Presidential Adviser on Governance of the Office of the President of Guyana, said there were a total of 112 recommendations presented at the Universal Periodic Review; more than half of these, 57, enjoyed the support of, or were being implemented by Guyana. Of the 57 recommendations, 14 had been implemented, 40 were at various stages of implementation, and 2 were pending implementation. Of the remaining 55, 15 had been accepted, 28 would be considered and subjected to consultations wherein Guyana voluntarily committed to report to the Human Rights Council, and 18 were noted. Guyana was committed to holding consultations with civil society, the four Human Rights Commissions, various levels of Government and State agencies and the National Assembly on the follow-up to the first round of the Universal Periodic Review process, which would conclude today.
Guyana assured the Human Rights Council that as a developing country and a newly emerging democracy with many challenges to reduce poverty and to develop and modernise the country, Guyana was nevertheless proud of its constitutional and parliamentary reforms, and its model of shared governance. However, it must be recognized that these were introduced only seven years ago. Guyana was proud of its socio-economic achievements and its budgetary commitment to poverty reduction, although it recognized that there were still very many more problems to be overcome. Guyana remained committed to achieving equitable access of the delivery of goods and services, especially for the poor and vulnerable - women, children, the elderly, Amerindians, the differently abled - as evidenced by its programmes and policies within its available resources. Guyana assured the Human Rights Council that it remained irrevocably committed to democracy and the protection of human rights, the rule of law, and good governance for its people.
Margarita VALLE (Cuba) welcomed the delegation of Guyana and commended their cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review. Cuba was pleased to note Guyana’s efforts to address the human rights issues of health, food, and social security in their country. Cuba underscored the religious and cultural diversity of Guyana, which was safeguarded by the Government. A large number of recommendations had been adopted by Guyana and this attested to the resolve of the Government to promote and protect human rights. Food security was high on Guyana’s list of priorities and Cuba encouraged Guyana to continue pursuing this positive path.
Sim MELLOUH (Algeria) said that Guyana was an emerging democracy and a developing nation which was facing myriad challenges. Algeria welcomed the commitment of Guyana to the protection of human rights, the rule of law and good governance for its people in spite of those challenges. Particularly valued were the efforts of Guyana in promoting food security and addressing the impact of the economic crisis. Algeria welcomed the readiness of Guyana to continue addressing violence against children, sexual exploitation of girls, further reducing poverty, promoting access to food and mitigating negative impacts of climate change. Algeria wished all the success for the Government of Guyana in implementing the recommendations it had accepted.
Mohamed ACHGALOU (Morocco) said through its Universal Periodic Review, Guyana had demonstrated a strong commitment for the social, economic and cultural development of its population. This commitment was seen through the achievements made at the economic and social levels, in particular the reduction of external debt and poverty levels. The institutional and legislative measures taken by Guyana with regard to a progressive improvement of the framework for the protection and promotion of human rights was welcome, as were the projects currently underway such as the creation of a national, independent human rights institution, and the consideration of several international instruments with a view to ratification. There were also a number of innovatory initiatives which deserved the attention of the international community, including a low-carbon development strategy, the national strategy for progressive eradication of poverty, which had already achieved its goals with regard to the reduction of maternal and infant mortality and the increase of life expectancy, and human rights education programmes. Guyana should continue its policy to strengthen human rights and continue its efforts to ensure the follow-up of recommendations.
Bob LAST (United Kingdom) extended a warm welcome to the Government of Guyana and commended them for their clear elaboration of outstanding recommendations, which were still under consideration. The United Kingdom’s recommendations included a reform of the criminal and justice sectors and a firm commitment to protect vulnerable groups from violence. The other United Kingdom recommendation was to hold a formal moratorium on executions. With regard to these recommendations, the United Kingdom hoped that Guyana would be in a position to adopt them very soon. In conclusion, the United Kingdom congratulated Guyana for its detailed and comprehensive presentation.
NING Bo (China) said that Guyana paid a lot of attention to the work of the Universal Periodic Review and of the Human Rights Council, which it demonstrated by accepting most of the recommendations and by getting ready for their follow up. China appreciated the efforts to develop the national economy, achieve the Millennium Development Goals and the efforts aimed at poverty reduction. A lot of progress had been made also in the areas of medical care and the enhancement of women and children’s’ rights, China said. Being a developing country, Guyana was facing a number of challenges in implementing the recommendations and China called on the international community to provide the Government with the help and assistance it needed.
Claire CAHILL, of Amnesty International, said Guyana supported recommendations to improve the training of the security forces, and to investigate allegations of human rights violations committed by the security forces, including torture, extrajudicial killings and the use of excessive force, but it was regretted that Guyana did not commit to establish an independent inquiry into torture, enforced disappearances and killings allegedly committed by death squads, and to ensure that those responsible were brought to justice. It was also disappointing that Guyana rejected recommendations by many States to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. Guyana should remove legislation that discriminated against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and repeal laws that criminalised sexual activity between consenting adults of the same sex.
David Clarke, of Action Canada for Population and Development, said the Government's commitment to hold consultations on issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people over the next two years was welcome. In relation to the Government's efforts in 2003, the attempt to include "sexual orientation" in the Guyana Constitution as a basis for discrimination was not a genuine one, as the Government presented this in a separate bill from all other new grounds for the consideration of the National Assembly and signalled its intention not to support the sexual orientation bill. This saw the bill flounder without any vote being taken on it. It would be erroneous to say that there was no State-sanctioned discrimination based on sexual orientation in Guyana - there were discriminatory laws which legitimised and perpetuated socio-cultural prejudices and facilitated extortion, blackmail, violence and other violations by the uniformed forces and private citizens alike.
Gail Teixeira, Presidential Adviser on Governance of the Office of the President of Guyana, in her concluding remarks, thanked all the countries for their statements and involvement, particularly Cuba and China who had played an important role in supporting Guyana’s developmental thrust. In relation to the establishment of a Human Rights Commission, Guyana confirmed that it was civil society that presented the nominees. Once these nominees had been selected, it then went to the President for official appointment. This was a very involved and democratic practice and was a conscious part of Guyana’s model of good governance. Moreover, based on the democratic practice and the will of the majority, the Government could make changes to the Commission’s structure.
With regard to the amendments to the Criminal Offences Act, the Presidential Adviser confirmed that differentiated sentences were currently being established. In some cases the death penalty would still be applied but life sentences would also be an available option that was not permitted before. She also addressed the issue of an anti-discrimination clause from a bill that had passed before Parliament. Initially, this clause had included sexual orientation but there was a Parliamentary vote and a decision was made to remove it. The Christian Evangelical movement exerted a lot of pressure on Guyanese society and Governmental decisions. Nonetheless, the Government of Guyana was trying to bring the issue of sexual orientation out of the closet and was working to promote non-discrimination. She concluded by saying that the Government of Guyana was committed to working with civil society to finding the most appropriate solutions.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Guyana.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Kuwait
DHARAR ABDUL RAZZAQ RAZZOOQI, Permanent Representative of Kuwait to the United Nations Office at Geneva, welcomed the recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review process which aimed at furthering the promotion and protection of human rights in Kuwait. Through the Universal Periodic Review, Kuwait had shown that the protection of human rights was reflected in its constitution, which stated that all human beings were equal in their rights and before the law. Human rights had always been a fundamental element in the development of all public policies, such as health, education, social protection and others. Kuwait approved 114 of 139 recommendations, and a large number of them were already in the process of implementation. Kuwait did not accept the recommendations that ran counter to the constitution and Islamic Sharia law. One of greatest challenges in Kuwait was alien residents, who largely hid their documents out of fear of being deprived of some rights and benefits. Kuwait was providing benefits for alien workers on its territory and was actively trying to improve their situation.
Kuwait was aware of the recommendation related to the Rome Statute and took note of it. Regarding domestic workers, Kuwait had a labour law that regulated this issue, and some of its articles stated that domestic workers must enjoy all rights such as salary, working hours, vacation and others. Kuwait had undertaken all necessary measures to promote the role of women in society so that they could take an active part in the development of the country and enjoy equal opportunities. A national work plan had been set up to ensure gender equality. In addition, Kuwait had undertaken further efforts to advance the role of women in the judiciary. Women could work as investigators or lawyers. Kuwait had approved a number of recommendations such as extending an open invitation to Special Procedures, a recommendation on foreign workers, and all of the recommendations to set up National Human Rights Institutions in line with the Paris Principles. This institution had the support of everyone at the highest level and would constitute an important tool for the promotion and protection of human rights, Mr. Razzooqi concluded.
Mansoor Abdulla AL-SULAITIN (Qatar) said Kuwait had given a detailed presentation, with responses and comments in light of the recommendations and queries made by the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review. On the report, it seemed that Kuwait had adopted more than 114 recommendations, including the 3 on the efforts to establish a national human rights institute, to alleviate the suffering of the poor and vulnerable families, and to establish a juvenile programme and improve legislation on minors. The acceptance of these recommendations showed that Kuwait had dealt openly and frankly with the Review process, and responded favourably to all international mechanisms for human rights. Kuwait was to be applauded on its human rights record and improvement thereof.
Idriss JAZAIRY (Algeria) said Kuwait was commended for playing a pioneering role in human rights, and had made considerable efforts in that regard. There had been serious preparations leading up to the presentation of the report. Kuwait had constantly improved its living standards, and this was praiseworthy, and had been reflected in the level of development and of human rights enforcement in the country, particularly with regard to migrant workers and women. The commitment on the part of the Kuwaiti authorities to make more efforts to continue this progress was evident. Kuwait was thanked for the assistance provided to certain developing countries which went beyond the 0.7 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product. Kuwait was wished continuing success.
Abdulwahab ATTAR (Saudi Arabia) thanked the Ambassador of Kuwait for outlining Kuwait’s efforts in the field of human rights. Saudi Arabia had listened closely to the presentation and welcomed that the majority of the recommendations, including those made by Saudi Arabia, had been accepted. Kuwait had always cooperated with international human rights mechanisms and had always shown openness to collaborating with the international community. In addition, the review of the human rights situation in Kuwait was a good opportunity to renew ties between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and the Saudi delegate wished Kuwait peace and prosperity going forward.
Fadhl AL-MAGHAFI (Yemen) expressed appreciation for the statement of the Ambassador of Kuwait and said that his participation in the today’s session was a testimony of Kuwait’s attachment to the promotion and protection of human rights. Kuwait was a pioneer in accepting human rights obligations, including the role of women in society and this was showing fruit today, Yemen said. All those were vital signs of true democracy in Kuwait. Kuwait accepted the vast majority of recommendations which confirmed its will to build and disseminate the culture of human rights. Yemen commended Kuwait for its cooperation with the Human Rights Council.
Faysal KHABBAZ HAMOUI (Syria) said the approach of Kuwait to the recommendations had been observed, and one could only laud the seriousness with which Kuwait had dealt with the issue, and it should be encouraged to continue along the same lines. The Ambassador had made reference to the host of recommendations that had been accepted and taken on board, and also referred to some that could not be accepted due to cultural and religious traditions. Kuwait had shown a serious and frank interest in following up on the recommendations and upholding human rights. Kuwait's commitment to human rights was well-known, and it had achieved important progress before the creation of the Council, and even before the creation of the Commission. It had worked to develop human rights, without forgetting the roots from which they grew. Kuwait should continue with the same rhythm and spirit in protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Muna Abbas RADHI (Bahrain) welcomed the delegation of Kuwait and expressed Bahrain’s appreciation for the acceptance and implementation of the numerous recommendations made, particularly those presented by Bahrain on the issues of protecting the human rights of persons with disabilities and providing health care to all. Kuwaiti efforts to provide educational services to all children, as well as illiterate adults, deserved recognition. In closing, Bahrain added its voice to all the other delegations that called for the adoption of the report on Kuwait.
Shehab A. MADI (Jordan) thanked His Excellency the Ambassador for sharing Kuwait’s reaction to the recommendations made and informing the Council of the latest developments in the human rights situation in the country. Those were part of the continuity of efforts to improve the legislative framework related to human rights and fundamental freedoms. Jordan praised the measures promoting and strengthening the situation of women and their participation in public life, especially in the judiciary. Kuwait’s participation in the process demonstrated its commitment to the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review process. In closing, Jordan wished all the best to Kuwait in the implementation of the recommendations.
Samira SAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) said a comprehensive and informative presentation had been made today on the recommendations made during the Review, and the Addendum to the Report presented Kuwait's commitment to the constructive dialogue on the protection and promotion of human rights. The Government of Kuwait was congratulated for accepting the recommendation to extend a standing and open invitation to all Special Procedures, particularly its favourable response to the request for a visit of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons. The Government had accepted the vast majority of the recommendations made during the review, among which were those of Azerbaijan on the establishment of a national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles, and the development and adoption of a Plan of Action for the promotion of gender equality, which would positively contribute to the human rights record of Kuwait.
Hisham BADR (Egypt) expressed Egypt’s appreciation for the excellent presentation made by the Kuwaiti delegation. Egypt appreciated Kuwait’s serious treatment of the Universal Periodic Review and the United Nations human rights procedures. Kuwait’s acceptance of the vast majority of the recommendations should be applauded, as well as their drafting of national legislation on the protection of children and the rights of migrants. Kuwait’s assistance to developing countries, particularly in the aftermath of natural disasters, was a testament to its genuine concern for human rights and Egypt hoped that Kuwait would continue making positive developments in the field of human rights.
Mohamed ACHGALOU (Morocco) thanked Kuwait for their statement and for providing the Council with very important information about the efforts undertaken in the promotion and protection of human rights. Morocco expressed its appreciation to Kuwait for accepting the recommendations made by Morocco, such as protecting culture, education and human rights. The fundamental rights of all people living in Kuwait were taken into account without discrimination, Morocco said. The indispensable balance in Kuwait had been struck between democratic development and cultural and civilization values. Morocco saluted the role of Kuwait’s diplomacy in Geneva and the support provided to the initiatives presented by States.
ABDELWAHEB JEMAL (Tunisia) said Kuwait was to be commended for the detailed explanations and observations which reflected Kuwait's seriousness in dealing with human rights issues, and the acceptance of a large number of recommendations was to be applauded. Tunisia was satisfied at Kuwait’s continued efforts to raise the level of awareness of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to create adherence to international instruments in this regard. What was worthy of note was the achievements in improving the situation of Kuwaiti women and allowing them to play an important role in political life. Tunisia was fully convinced that this keenness by Kuwait to achieve the balance between both sexes would help the country in the future.
AHMED MOHAMED ABBO (Djibouti) congratulated the Kuwaiti Government for the commitment it had shown in cooperating with the Universal Periodic Review process. Djibouti also commended Kuwait for the many efforts it had made in the protection of human rights and the adoption of national draft resolutions in this regard, particularly on that of the trafficking of migrants. Djibouti concluded by saying that it hoped that Kuwait would continue to make progress in promoting and protecting the rights of children.
MAURICE KATALA, of Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs (AIPD), welcomed the fact that the Constitution of Kuwait complied with international norms and noted the efforts made to establish a national human rights institution and to implement recommendations such as the improvement of the situation of the vulnerable and elderly. All children were covered by public health services. The assistance provided to other countries exceeded 0.7 per cent of its gross domestic product. Kuwait had played a major role in developing the Arab plan for human rights education. International Action for Peace and Development in the Great Lakes Region congratulated Kuwait on the ratification of a number of international instruments which allowed the establishment of a solid legal basis for improvement on the enjoyment of human rights.
MALUZA WASILUADIO, of International Committee for the Respect and Application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, thanked Kuwait for its willingness to work together with international mechanisms and for the measures undertaken by the Government to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights for all its people. Particularly important was the establishment of the national human rights institution, the fight against illiteracy, social protection for the elderly and vulnerable, and the promotion of human rights education, to mention some. The assistance provided through the Kuwait Fund for Economic Development for poverty reduction also deserved mentioning. All those initiatives demonstrated a strong commitment to the Millennium Development Goals and demonstrated that there was no alternative to the promotion and protection of human rights. Kuwait deserved the full support of the international community and the Human Rights Council.
HASSEM NAYEB HASHEM, of Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, said Sudwind noted with regret the reluctance of Kuwait to bolster its record relating to the protection of human rights by declining to support recommendations urging it to subscribe to a broad range of optional protocols to human rights treaties. Positive developments in the field of international criminal justice and the rights of stateless persons were laudable, and their implementation was eagerly awaited. Reform was a long and difficult process, yet a number of measures could be swiftly expedited in the national interest. A moratorium on the death penalty should be considered. The inequality of women was especially troubling, as it deprived future generations of opportunities for economic growth and social justice. The situation in regard to human trafficking was similar to the prevailing system of discrimination and abuse.
PHILIPPE DAM, of Human Rights Watch, said Human Rights Watch welcomed the Kuwaiti Government's support for recommendations to enact legislation protecting the labour rights of domestic workers, and to grant stateless persons permanent residence and improve their access to healthcare and educational services, which would help address two of the most pressing human rights concerns in the country. The Government should give high priority to the recommendation to investigate and prosecute abuses against domestic workers. Kuwait should grant the bidoon permanent residency status and equal access to civil rights as soon as possible, and expedite the review of pending claims to nationality.
SANDRA OYELLA, of Refugees International, said that more than 12 million people around the world were stateless or at risk of de facto statelessness. In Kuwait, the Arabic word “bidoon” was used to denote long time residents who were stateless. The present estimated number of bidoon in Kuwait ranged from 80,000 to 140,000, less than half the number who resided in the country prior to Iraq’s invasion in 1990. The bidoon could not access government education so their parents had to pay for private, poorer-quality schooling. Furthermore, many bidoon were forced to work in the informal sector, selling produce on the street, hawking bootleg DVDs or selling blood and organs. In addition, healthcare offered free of charge to national citizens was withheld from the bidoon.
LAILA MATAR, of Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, said that while Kuwait had accepted the recommendation to issue a standing invitation to Special Procedure mandate holders, this had not been followed through. The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies also regretted that Kuwait had rejected recommendations by Norway, Spain and others to ratify the Optional Protocols of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the International Convention against Torture. Moreover, Kuwait continued to have reservations to these treaties that impeded progress in the protection of human rights. Despite the fact that article 70 of the Kuwaiti Constitution granted signed international treaties the power of law, Kuwait’s national legislation continued to be in great contradiction with the international treaties and conventions that Kuwait had ratified. Finally, Kuwaiti law also greatly undermined the independence of the judiciary.
JOHN FISHER, of Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, urged Kuwait to give serious consideration to the recommendation calling on the elimination of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and to decriminalize same-sex relations between consenting adults. Laws criminalizing homosexuality ran counter to the implementation of effective education programmes in respect of HIV/AIDS prevention by driving marginalized communities underground. Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network urged the Government of Kuwait to eliminate in law and practice all forms of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, decriminalize same-sex relations between consenting adults and repeal provisions which criminalized dressing as a member of the opposite sex.
FAHAD EIDHAEN, of Human Rights Information and Training Centre, thanked the Government of Kuwait for living up to its commitments in the promotion and protection of human rights. The Human Rights Information and Training Centre said the national human rights institution must be established in accordance with the Paris Principles and civil society must contribute to this process. The problem of stateless persons must be settled, with their active participation. Kuwait needed to make progress as soon as possible to establish public manpower facilities in accordance with the law and under the auspices of the Ministry for Social Work. Campaigns for raising awareness of human rights should be completed successfully.
DHARAR ABDUL RAZZAQ RAZZOOQI, Permanent Representative of Kuwait to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in concluding remarks, said at the outset he wished to express his appreciation for all delegations who spoke in which they defended and also criticised Kuwait, and Kuwait respected their opinions. In Kuwait, there was nothing to hide - it was an open society. There was not a single political prisoner in Kuwait - it was a democracy, a small nation, with 1 million Kuwaitis and 2 million foreigners, and it was proud of all of them. There was no Adam Smith Utopia State. Kuwait had benefited from the Universal Periodic Review, looking at deficiencies and seeking advice from the High Commissioner and from national representatives, and was ready to implement means to close deficiencies and gaps. Kuwait was a proud, Muslim, Arab, developing country, seeking modernisation, but sought to retain its customs and traditions, of which it was proud. All civil society organizations were encouraged to contact Kuwait and help it to correct mistakes. There was a problem of illegal residents, and this had existed for many years, but everybody was seeking to solve this problem, and give these people their basic rights. Kuwait was a welfare state, and by its constitution it gave by law the guarantee of employment. Education was free, as was health care. There were no taxes to be paid. It was not a perfect society, but abuses were handled.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Kuwait.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Belarus
MIKHAIL KHVOSTOV, Permanent Representative of Belarus to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that it was a great honour to be addressing the Council. The Universal Periodic Review allowed for countries to monitor and track their progress on national developments made in human rights. In the Universal Periodic Review, Belarus had learned a great deal about human rights mechanisms. Members of the Council were thanked for their contributions and involvement in Belarus’ review process. An array of recommendations had been made to help Belarus move forward in the promotion and protection of human rights and Belarus was one of the few countries that had already begun to implement recommendations. In Minsk, a conference had been held on the Universal Periodic Review to see how the Government could better collaborate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Belarus had adopted 55 recommendations and the others were further being considered and carefully studied by the Government, in light of the national capacity to implement them. Belarus had adopted about 70 per cent of the recommendations and said that this reflected Belarus’ commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process and the promotion and protection of human rights. Regarding the recommendations that Belarus did not accept, the abolition of the death penalty was not solely decided upon by the Government and had been accepted in a nationwide referendum. Belarus was not violating any international law by maintaining the death penalty. However, the Government of Belarus would continue to try and sway the general population to support the abolition of the death penalty and was acting as a driving force in this regard. Belarus was a party to almost all of the core international human rights treaties and conventions and was working to ratify the remaining ones. As an example, Belarus had accepted to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons. Finally, with regard to the involvement of civil society, in the first half 2010 alone, 68 new non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were established in Belarus and this was proof of the lack of legislative barriers to the creation of NGOs and the freedom of civil society.
VLADIMIR ZHEGLOV (Russian Federation) welcomed the decision taken in Minsk to expand Belarus’s treaty obligations in the area of human rights and to pursue a constructive and non-confrontational dialogue in the international fora in the area of human rights. The Russian Federation welcomed the engagement of Belarus in the Universal Periodic Review process. The Russian Federation was convinced that the implementation of the recommendations accepted by Belarus would serve the further development and the progress made so far on a whole range of human rights issues.
Idriss JAZAIRY (Algeria) said Belarus was to be commended for the progress achieved in civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights - this progress would make the country one of the first in its region and beyond to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. This progress was part of a sustainable process. Seventy per cent of the recommendations made had been accepted, and there had been indications that recommendations that had not been accepted were still under consideration, which attested to the Government's exemplary commitment to the Universal Periodic Review. The Council should adopt the report, and wish the country the best.
JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA (Cuba) said during the Working Group session, Belarus' political commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights was confirmed. On that occasion, several of the achievements in the country were underscored, such as eradication of illiteracy, low mortality rates, and efforts to eradicate HIV/AIDS. These were part of broad efforts of the Government to promote economic and social development. Many of the recommendations made had been adopted, and Belarus was thanked for the submission of the document which contained its viewpoints on the recommendations made to it, and it was encouraged to continue to attain high levels of economic development.
FELIX PENA RAMOS (Venezuela) welcomed the comprehensive presentation by Belarus. Venezuela was pleased to note the Government of Belarus’ willingness to examine the progress made as well as the remaining challenges in promoting human rights. Thanks to programmes of social assistance, Belarus was on a positive path to reducing poverty and providing education to all. Venezuela hoped that Belarus would continue to implement these positive changes. For these reasons, Venezuela called for the adoption of the report.
RANIA AL RIFAIY (Syria) thanked Belarus for the detailed statement and the presentation of the State’s position on different recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review session in May 2010. It showed the sincere efforts to undertake the utmost recommendations to promote and protect human rights. Syria encouraged Belarus to continue with its efforts and invited it to fulfil all its human rights commitments in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Syria offered its full support to the country in those endeavours.
BUDOOR ABDULAZIZ AHMED (Bahrain) said positive measures had been applied in Belarus with a view to implementing the recommendations made under the Universal Periodic Review, and a whole range of efforts to strengthen and promote human rights had been implemented, showing the Government's will to give new momentum to progress in human rights and its commitment to the United Nations. The efforts to combat trafficking in persons were applauded, with the establishment of rehabilitation and rescue centres. Belarus was commended for efforts to put an end to human rights violations of all forms in the country.
VU DUNG (Viet Nam) took note with interest of the achievements made by Belarus in the past years in promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. It was noteworthy that Belarus was among the countries that had implemented the Millennium Development Goals related to poverty eradication, gender equality and access to primary school. Viet Nam was also pleased to note the progress made in various areas such as job creation, healthcare and social security. In conclusion, Viet Nam recommended that the Council adopt the Universal Periodic Review Working Group outcome report of Belarus.
SAMIRA SAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) noted with interest the comprehensive and substantive responses of Belarus to the recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review process, which clearly reflected its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and the readiness to engage in the constructive dialogue on this issue. Azerbaijan congratulated Belarus on the adoption of a Global Plan of Action against human trafficking by the General Assembly, which had been initiated and launched by Belarus. Azerbaijan also commended the establishment of the International Training Centre on Migration and Combating Human Trafficking by the Government, which would definitely contribute to efforts on combating trafficking in persons at the national, regional and international levels.
HEBA MOSTAFA RIZK (Egypt) said as the Millennium Development Goal Review Summit had just ended with renewed commitments to realise those goals, it was satisfactory to witness the achievements of Belarus in this domain, in particular its ability to achieve the Goals related to the eradication of poverty, universal primary education, and promoting gender equality before the designated deadline. Belarus was also exerting commendable efforts for combating human trafficking, and should play a strengthened active role on this issue on the national and international scenes. Worthy of consideration also were Belarus’ efforts in the area of the rights of women and children. Egypt believed in the ability of Belarus to sustain and strengthen its endeavours aimed at the protection and promotion of all human rights and fundamental freedoms through a comprehensive and holistic approach, while relying on a consolidated national human rights infrastructure that sought the participation of and engagement with all relevant stakeholders.
SANAA KOURKMADI (Morocco) welcomed the constructive approach demonstrated by Belarus and the sincere willingness of the Government to be actively involved in the Universal Periodic Review process. Morocco noted the work undertaken by Belarus to address the issue of trafficking migrants as well as the work it was conducting in providing education. Morocco welcomed the progress made on establishing measures to promote equality between men and women, in addition to the rights of the elderly. Finally, Belarus must be encouraged and supported to continue making constructive progress in the promotion and protection of human rights.
BADRIDDIN OBIDOV (Uzbekistan) noted with satisfaction that during the May session on the Universal Periodic Review, the delegation of Belarus had adopted both recommendations suggested by Uzbekistan related to the further improvement of living conditions and further engagement in the fight against discrimination. Belarus had already established legal and institutional foundations for work in this area and Belarus was a State party to most international instruments and was actively working on fulfilling its international obligations. Uzbekistan commended the efforts in the fight against human trafficking and expressed the hope that Belarus would continue with its efforts.
NING BO (China) said Belarus had approached the Universal Periodic Review process seriously and with a constructive attitude in cooperating with the United Nations mechanisms. It had made remarkable progress in economic and social development and in human rights, and was reaching the Millennium Development Goals in poverty eradication and primary education, among others. It was also working to improve its legal system and was investing heavily in public health and social security, and the Government had accepted most of the recommendations of the report, committing itself to their implementation, despite the challenges it faced as a developing country. China hoped that Belarus would make new headway in economic and social development and in the protection and promotion of human rights.
ROMAIN MORIAUD, of Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, welcomed the progress made by Belarus. However, it noted that there were still many obstacles, including the situation of the Roma people, which remained difficult. Belarus was the last country in Europe to still maintain the death penalty and Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme strongly urged the Government to revisit its position on the death penalty and to take the necessary steps to abolish it. The non-governmental organizations also concluded by calling on Belarus to guarantee freedom of association and expression for all citizens, including the press, human rights defenders, political opposition parties and trade unions.
MARIANNE LILIEBJERG, of Amnesty International, said that no less than 14 States had raised concerns about the death penalty during the review of Belarus. Amnesty International joined them in urging the Government to declare an immediate moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. Amnesty International was also seriously concerned that prisoners and their relatives were not informed in advance of the date of execution and, in some cases, relatives did not know for weeks or even months that the execution had taken place. In addition, Amnesty International said that there was credible evidence that, under pressure to solve crimes, police investigators sometimes resorted to torture and other ill treatment in order to force confessions.
M. BJORN VAN ROOSENDAHL, of European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, urged Belarus to accept and implement the recommendations to promote the equality of all people, including on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity and to include those grounds in anti-discrimination programmes. Belarus should provide sensitivity training to police, judicial and other authorities as to promote respect for all persons, including on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission reiterated the various calls made during the Working Group process to guarantee the freedom of expression, assembly and association for all citizens, including for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who were not granted permission for a peaceful demonstration in Minsk earlier this year.
RENATE BLOEM, of World Alliance for Citizen Participation, said that thanks to the Universal Periodic Review process the situation of human rights in Belarus had become the subject of a comprehensive dialogue with the Government on a wide range of problems. The World Alliance for Citizen Participation regretted to note that the position of the Belarus delegation during the interactive dialogue was non-constructive. Belarus rejected recommendations such as the abolition or at least a moratorium on the death penalty, guaranteeing freedom of association, simplifying registration procedures for associations, political parties and other forms of non-governmental organizations and others. Civil society of Belarus believed that the points set out in the report would be the scale by which it would be possible to measure progress in the development of the situation with human rights in the coming years.
TATSIANA NOVIKAVA, of Northern Alliance for Sustainability, said the right to a favourable environment was an inalienable part of human rights, and the adoption of a recommendation on a policy of practical measures to protect the environment was appreciated, as was that of a recommendation on human rights defenders. There was a problem with the pre-electoral campaign, as environmental campaigners continued to be unjustifiably detained. The environmental movement in Belarus was a non-politicised movement which worked toward ensuring the right of the population to enjoy a clean environment. Citizens could not deal with ecological self-management due to an article in the Criminal Code prohibiting this. It was important to adopt the recommendation on the elimination of this article in the Criminal Code.
DEREK BRETT, of Conscience and Peace Tax International, said while welcoming Belarus' announcement that it had invited eight Special Procedure mandate holders, there was concern that the list did not include the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. Belarus should invite this mandate holder, who could investigate persistent reports of the harassment of minority religious denominations and assess progress toward implementation of the right of conscientious objection to military service. There should be a continuation and deepening of the engagement with civil society in preparation for the drafting of the Alternative Service Law, and this would help to produce a text compatible with established international standards on the implementation of the right of conscientious objection to military service. Pending the early promulgation of legislation, a halt should be put to the prosecution and imprisonment of conscientious objectors for their refusal of military service.
MIKHAIL KHVOSTOV, Permanent Representative of Belarus to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in his concluding remarks, thanked the Members of the Council who had spoken today as well as all the delegations for the attention that had been given to Belarus. Belarus would continue to cooperate with delegations and UN human rights mechanisms. As it had been already pointed out, it was not because certain recommendations had not been accepted that the country was not open to discussing them, either in the Council or in regional institutions. Belarus would take into account all the contributions and suggestions that had been made during the entire process. With regard to the environmental question, Belarus was giving a lot of attention to this issue and civil society was involved in this process. Belarus had achieved a lot in the 20 years of independence, including political stability and a functioning and robust economy. Belarus promised to undertake all possible efforts to implement the recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review process.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Belarus.
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