Human Rights Council adopts Universal Periodic Review outcomes on Liberia, Malawi and Mongolia

Human Rights Council
MORNING

16 March 2011

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcomes on Liberia, Malawi and Mongolia.

Christiana Tah, Minster of Justice and Attorney General of Liberia, said that after years of conflict Liberia had begun to take measures to fully understand its regional and international human rights obligations and to analyze the roles and functions of the various United Nations human rights Special Procedures. Liberia was currently considering the adoption of an anti-torture bill and had accelerated the process for drafting and adopting the national human rights action plan for the country. The Government had taken cautious steps to engage the local communities on female genital mutilation, and recalled that high criminal rates demanded a reintroduction of the death penalty which was considered to be a fitting deterrent measure for Liberian society. Liberia accepted 72 recommendations and had not been able to take a position on the deferred recommendations regarding the ratification of human rights instruments and regarding female genital mutilation and trial by ordeal.

In the discussion on the outcome on Liberia, speakers welcomed the progress Liberia had made in the improvement of the human rights situation in the county and in promoting the rule of law, despite the obstacles it was facing due to the years of armed conflict it had experienced. Speakers encouraged Liberia to continue advancing the status of women, children and those with disabilities. Several speakers were concerned about the prevalence in the country of female genital mutilation and sexual and gender-based violence and urged the Government to investigate such cases and ensure access to justice for victims. A speaker called on Liberia to abolish the Armed Robbery Act that carried a sentence of the death penalty. Countries encouraged the international community to provide Liberia with the necessary assistance to overcome the challenges and implement the recommendations it had accepted.

Speaking in the discussion on Liberia were Algeria, Cuba, Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa and Switzerland. The non-governmental organizations that spoke during the discussion were Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme and Amnesty International.

Jane Ansah, Minster of Justice of Malawi, said that Malawi had accepted 65 recommendations, rejected 39 and there were 23 recommendations on which Malawi had not made a stand pending further consultations. Two threads ran through those recommendations: the need for Malawi to accede to several conventions and protocols and the need for Malawi to domesticate several conventions which were already ratified. Malawi would ensure that the country’s laws were in conformity with international law, international instruments to which the country was a party and to international treaty obligations. Malawi had raised the age of criminal responsibility to 10 years from 7 years and enacted a comprehensive law on the rights of the child, the Child Care, Protection and Justice Act. Malawi had taken active steps to ensure that there was equality between men and women and would continue to work with international and regional mechanisms to achieve this equality.

In the discussion on the outcome on Malawi, speakers commended the progress and efforts in improving the living conditions of its citizens, particularly considering that Malawi was one of the least developed countries. Criminalizing homosexual relations was inconsistent with Malawi’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a speaker said. While welcoming the efforts of the Government on combating violence against women and human trafficking, and for making improvements in prisons, several speakers were concerned about conditions of detention and reports of torture. The efforts of the Government of Malawi needed to be matched by the efforts of the international community and speakers encouraged the international community to step up its assistance to Malawi in the implementation of the recommendations.

Speaking in the discussion on Malawi were Algeria, Cuba, Botswana, United States, Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Switzerland. Also speaking in the discussion were the following national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations: Malawi Human Rights Commission, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme, World Vision International, Franciscans International and Action Canada for Population and Development.

Luvsantseren Orgil, Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the Government of Mongolia accepted 118 recommendations out of 129, while the remaining 11 were left in brackets. Out of those, eight had been accepted and three were deemed not to be acceptable at the moment. Mongolia could not accept recommendations to become party to the International Convention of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families; to accede to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol; and to mandate the Constitutional Court to act upon violations of the individual rights and freedoms. However, the Government remained committed to further study this issue. The spring session of the Parliament was scheduled to debate Mongolia’s accession to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. Also, the newly adopted foreign policy concept of Mongolia stated that Mongolia would actively participate in the process of promoting human rights, freedom and strengthening democracy.

In the discussion on the outcome on Mongolia, speakers said that Mongolia’s progress in the area of human rights was illustrated by the proclamation of a moratorium on the death penalty and in the establishment of a number of protection mechanisms. The Mongolian report demonstrated the strong will on the part of the Government and its people to move forward to overcome these challenges while striking a balance between economic growth and human rights. Countries also commended Mongolia for accepting the recommendations made by Canada, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom to enact broad anti-discrimination legislation that explicitly prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. A speaker was dismayed that issues concerning water, land and environmental rights were not considered.

Speaking in the discussion on Mongolia were Algeria, Thailand and Morocco. Also speaking in the discussion were the following national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations: National Human Rights Institution of Mongolia, Forum Asia, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, Amnesty International and COC Nederland.

The next meeting of the Council will be this afternoon at 3 p.m., when it is scheduled to consider the Universal Periodic Review outcomes on Panama, Maldives and Andorra.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Liberia

CHRISTIANA TAH, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Liberia, said that after years of conflict, the Republic of Liberia, under the current administration, had begun to take measures to fully understand its regional and international human rights obligations and to analyze the roles and functions of the various United Nations human rights Special Procedures. The Government, through the newly established Law Reform Commission, was engaged in researching and compiling all regional and international obligations and the country was taking a number of measures to educate all government actors on human rights, including building knowledge on United Nations systems and procedures. While the Government of Liberia remained committed to improving the human rights of its citizens and would consider extending a standing invitation to all Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council in the future, it firmly believed that the first stage in this process remained building the capacity and knowledge of all stakeholders in the country to fully benefit from these cooperative and participatory mechanisms.

Liberia was currently considering the adoption of an anti-torture bill. The draft bill would be presented to the House of Representatives in August 2010. Liberia had received the Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and during the Committee’s stay in the county the Government provided all required information and facilitated its visit to different detention centers around the country. Liberia had accelerated the process for drafting and adopting the national human rights action plan for the country and had distributed the draft report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review to all relevant government and non government institutions.

Out of 113 recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review session, the delegation had accepted 72 of them. The Republic of Liberia had not been able to take a position on the deferred recommendations regarding the ratification of human rights instruments and regarding female genital mutilation and trial by ordeal. The Government had taken cautious steps to engage the local communities on genital mutilation and would work to determine the best ways to address these issues. Liberia would like to recall that high criminal rates demanded a reintroduction of the death penalty which was considered to be a fitting deterrent measure for Liberian society. Immediate abrogation of the law allowing for the death penalty would require more time and understating by the population. Specialized training was held to address sexual gender based violence and safe houses had been constructed by the Ministry of Gender and Development for survivors of sexual violence, however capacity and resource constraints had impeded full implementation of the recommendations with regard to sexual gender based violence. Pre-trial detention was a concern for the Government, illustrated by the creation of a pre-trial task force and the implementation of a fast-track review mechanism; however the Government was not able to take a position on this recommendation. The Government would like to reaffirm its commitment to the protection of human rights and would like to restate its expectations in terms of international assistance, including training to enhance the capacity of law enforcement agencies and knowledge about the working methods of treaty bodies and treaty body reporting.

MOHAMED SALIM SAMAR (Algeria) welcomed the progress Liberia had made in the improvement of the human rights situation in the county, in promoting the rule of law and in the area of refugees and internally displaced persons. The global economic situation remained difficult and it had an impact on developing countries and Algeria reiterated the call to the international community to assist Liberia in achieving its objectives. Algeria expressed its satisfaction at the acceptance of 72 recommendations by Liberia, including those proposed by Algeria. Algeria recommended that the Human Rights Council adopt the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Liberia.

JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA (Cuba) said Cuba welcomed the Liberian delegation and was grateful for the presentation which showed the efforts to implement the recommendations during the review process. Cuba noted positively that Liberia had accepted Cuba’s recommendations with regard to the most vulnerable groups. The Government of Liberia continued to move forward in the promotion and protection of human rights and they welcomed strategies and development plans to reduce poverty. The international community should continue its cooperation and financial assistance to Liberia and Cuba urged the Government of Liberia to continue to support the rights of its citizens.

BEATRICE IKEKU-THOMAS (Nigeria) said Nigeria noted that Liberia had accepted a large number of recommendations and had taken positive steps toward implementing them. This was an indication of the importance Liberia attached to the promotion and protection of the human rights of its people. Nigeria wished to encourage Liberia to continue implementing the various recommendations and it had accepted and improved its policies and progammes toward the promotion and protection of all human rights, including advancing the status of women, girls, children and those with disabilities. Nigeria recommended the adoption of the outcome of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review for Liberia.

OMAR RABI (Morocco) said Morocco congratulated Liberia on their firm commitment to human rights and consolidation of the rule of law, despite the many obstacles it was facing, namely armed conflict that the country had been experiencing for several years. Liberia was an example of a country transiting to democracy and consolidating peace following the armed conflict. Also, Liberia was the first African country with a woman for a President. Morocco was pleased that Liberia accepted its recommendation on human rights education and training and Morocco believed that Liberia as one of the least developed countries should benefit from all possible assistance in the implementation of the recommendations it had accepted.

SEDWYN ANTHONY (South Africa) said South Africa welcomed the delegation of Liberia and congratulated Liberia on the Universal Periodic Review process and appreciated the interaction with the delegation during the ninth Working Group session. South Africa noted with appreciation the consultative process undertaken during the preparation of the national report, and they would like to encourage that this interaction with civil society and the media be continued and further enhanced during the follow up process to implement recommendations accepted during the review process. South Africa encouraged the international community to provide Liberia with the technical assistance required to overcome the challenges as outlined in the national report.

MICHAEL MEIER (Switzerland) said that Liberia should state clearly which recommendations would be accepted and which would not be accepted in accordance with Article 32 of Resolution 5.1. This was the only way to ensure a comprehensive follow-up during the implementation process for Liberia.

STELLA SZONN, of Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, said that Sudwind remained concerned about the prevalence of female genital mutilation and rape in Liberia, particularly in rural areas. Female genital mutilation constituted an extreme form of gender discrimination and violated the very rights of women and girls. Over 20 per cent of those exposed to female genital mutilation died and this practice was contrary to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As a matter of priority, Liberia should declare female genital mutilation a criminal act in accordance with its international obligations. Also, Liberia should fight the impunity and prosecute all reported cases of female genital mutilation. The Government should also provide resources to support the newly established Criminal Court and should enable the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission to fulfil its mandate.

BIRO DIAWARA, of Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, congratulated Liberia on the progress made in consolidating peace. Liberian society was deeply marked by years of violence and crimes the consequences of which were still visible, for example in the increase of violence, sexual aggression, or fraud. The obstacles to the general rule of law were linked to impunity and corruption of the judicial system, but also to the mistrust of Liberians towards authorities. The use of street justice sometimes led to the killing of women accused of witchcraft. Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme was concerned about the security in the country and the region due to the recruitment of former militias by Mr. Gbagbo. Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme welcomed the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission and encouraged Liberia to dedicate more attention to the protection of women and girls.

MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG, of Amnesty International, said many States had raised the issue of the death penalty and the introduction of the 2008 legislation reintroducing the death penalty for persons convicted of armed robbery which resulted in death. Amnesty International shared those concerns and said that this legislation violated the international obligations of Liberia and urged Liberia to abolish the armed robbery act and maintain a moratorium on executions which had been in place since 1979. Amnesty International expressed concern about the vast number of women victims of rape, sexual slavery and sexual violence and welcomed the recommendations made to Liberia during the review to investigate cases of such violence, to ensure effective access to justice for women victims of such violence and to develop and implement an education campaign to prevent such violence. Amnesty International urged Liberia to act promptly on those recommendations.

CHRISTIANA TAH, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Liberia, in her concluding remarks, thanked the Council for recognizing the efforts of the Liberian Government. Operating in a post conflict environment was very difficult and complex and she appreciated those who understood the culture of context and the degree of trauma that their people had experienced. As a woman in the Minister of Justice, women’s exploitation and sexual abuses were very important for her and they were increasing the prosecution of rape cases and much more than it had occurred in the past, including cases which included foreign nationals. Ms. Tah said that the Liberian Government was making a lot of efforts in this area of concern and they would continue to do their best to continue to protect human rights in the region.

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

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Malawi

JANE ANSAH, Minister of Justice of Malawi, said that concerning the country’s Universal Periodic Review, Malawi had accepted 65 recommendations, rejected 39 and there were 23 recommendations on which Malawi had not made a stand pending further consultations. Two threads ran through the 23 recommendations: the need for Malawi to accede to several conventions and protocols and the need for Malawi to domesticate several conventions which were already ratified. Malawi, in deciding to ratify international instruments, was guided by constitutional requirements. The country had an extensive bill of rights that included first, second and third generation rights and there were democratic provisions such as specifying that the executive should be responsible for the initiation of policies and laws and that the judiciary should consider the interests of the people in adopting the laws. Malawi had no immediate plans to ratify the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Malawi would consider ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Malawi committed to consider outstanding international instruments that required ratification by ensuring domestic laws would be in line with international crimes. Malawi had just criminalized genocide under Section 217A of the Penal Code. In 2010 Malawi ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Malawi would retain the death penalty and had no intention of ratifying the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Malawi would consider ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture but had no immediate plans to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. Malawi would ensure that the country’s laws were in conformity with international law, international instruments to which the country was a party and to international treaty obligations.

Through a 2010 amendment to the Penal Code, the age of criminal responsibility had been raised to 10 years from 7 years. In the same amendment, a person under 14 years would not be criminally responsible unless it could be shown that at the time of committing the crime, the child had knowledge that it should not have committed the crime. In 2010 Malawi enacted a comprehensive law on the rights of the child, the Child Care, Protection and Justice Act. Malawi would consider extending a standing invitation to all Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council and would respond to the Council at the appropriate time. Malawi had taken active steps to ensure that there was equality between men and women and would continue to work with international and regional mechanisms to achieve this equality. Malawi would ensure that all measures were taken to prevent cases of child labour.

MOHAMED SALIM SAMAR (Algeria) said that Algeria hailed the commitment of Malawi to the promotion and protection of human rights and the efforts in improving the living conditions of its citizens. This was particularly commendable considering that Malawi was one of the least developed countries. Algeria welcomed the acceptance of the recommendation concerning the planning of socio-economic development of the country, and efforts to harmonise the laws of the country with international commitments and others. Algeria wished all success to Malawi in the implementation of the recommendations it had accepted.

JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA (Cuba) said Cuba was grateful for the comments of Malawi on the recommendations received under the Universal Periodic Review process and noted with satisfaction the acceptance of Cuba’s recommendations concerning continuing efforts on poverty reduction. Despite the obstacles and challenges that it faced, Malawi had demonstrated progress in several sectors, such as health, education, HIV/AIDS and others. The efforts of the Government of Malawi needed to be matched by the efforts of the international community and Cuba encouraged the international community to step up its assistance to Malawi in the implementation of the recommendations.

CHARLES MASOLE (Botswana) said Botswana welcomed the decision by Malawi to accept many of the recommendations made during the Working Group and appreciated the elaborate presentation this morning providing additional information. Botswana recognized that this was a further demonstration of Malawi’s constructive commitment in the whole exercise of the Universal Period Review. As a country presently going through the implementation and follow-up of the Universal Periodic Review recommendations made to them in 2008, Botswana understood and appreciated the challenges that some recommendations placed on the national legislative processes and administrative framework of any country.

DANIEL BAER (United States) said the United States commended Malawi for its work in aligning its national legislation with its international human rights obligations. There were important steps to ensure the continued protection of human rights in Malawi and they related to many of the recommendations in the Universal Periodic Review Working Group report. Lamentably, the United States noted discouraging trends in Malawian law and governance. In November, the United States expressed their deep concern with Malawi’s law criminalizing homosexuality. Since that time, Malawi had taken the regrettable step of making this law even more severe by criminalizing lesbian relations. Criminalizing homosexual relations was inconsistent with Malawi’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United States recommended that the Government of Malawi pursue steps to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and that it enshrine its commitment to free expression through appropriate modifications to Amendment 46 of the Penal Code.

CHARLES NDUKA ONIANWA (Nigeria) said Nigeria commended Malawi for the efforts made in the field of the promotion and protection of human rights and welcomed the steps taken by the Government to implement the recommendations adopted. Nigeria called on the international community to provide all necessary technical assistance to allow the Government of Malawi to better implement the recommendations that Malawi had accepted. Nigeria recommended that the Council adopt the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Malawi.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said Morocco appreciated the clear and detailed information on the Universal Periodic Review process presented by Malawi and its acceptance of 65 recommendations. Morocco was pleased that the recommendations proposed by Morocco on education, human rights training, combating poverty and promotion and access to justice were all accepted. Morocco stressed the need for technical assistance for the follow-up to the Universal Periodic Review and urged the international community to provide all necessary assistance to Malawi in applying the accepted recommendations.

SEDWYN ANTHONY (South Africa) said South Africa welcomed the inclusive process undertaken in the preparation of the national report of Malawi which was reflected in the comprehensive nature of the report. South Africa appreciated the commitment of Malawi to prioritise issues such as sustainable economic growth, social protection, social development, infrastructure and improved governance. The promotion of gender equality was welcomed and this was reflected in the number of women in high-level positions in the Government and their roles in decision-making in Government and Parliament. South Africa encouraged Malawi to ensure that an inclusive process was followed when implementing the accepted recommendations and that all concerned stakeholders were involved in the follow-up process.

LUCAS N. SARONGA (Tanzania) said Tanzania thanked the Malawi delegation for their active and constructive engagement during the review process and welcomed various efforts by the Government in the promotion and protection of human rights despite all the major challenges that the country faced. Tanzania was delighted to note the efforts made on poverty eradication, infrastructure development, economic growth and human resources development among others. Tanzania also welcomed and commended the implementation of the Malawi Vision 2020 with the view of providing quality life for the people. Tanzania heeded the commitment to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and in that sense supported the efforts to end hunger and address maternal mortality. Tanzania emphasized the importance of increased international community assistance to strengthen the global promotion of human rights and protection against gross and systematic violations of human rights and underlined the role of the Human Rights Council in helping States to develop and implement national and international frameworks.

ENOS MAFEMBA (Zimbabwe) said Zimbabwe welcomed the delegation of Malawi on the occasion of the adoption of the report. Zimbabwe recognized the efforts undertaken by Malawi and the acceptance of a large number of recommendations and believed that it was in this spirit that Zimbabwe would stand with the Southern Africa Development Community in support of their fellow member and fully endorse Malawi’s national report.

MICHAEL MEIER (Switzerland) thanked the delegation of Malawi and noted with regret that only one Swiss recommendation was accepted by Malawi and they asked the delegation of Malawi to clearly state which recommendations they rejected and which they accepted.

JOHN KAPITO , of Malawi Human Rights Commission, said the Malawi Human Rights Commission was happy to report that it would play a consultative and coordinating role with the Government and non-governmental organizations, including trade unions, to ensure that the recommendations resulting from the Universal Periodic Review, including those rejected, would be discussed by all stakeholders to reach a common position. The Commission would link international instruments and treaties with the recommendations raised for the public to understand and generate debate on those issues. The Government should come up with a three-year implementation plan of the recommendations which should establish a calendar for follow-up with actions to be undertaken and measurable goals to be achieved within a specific timeframe.

ROMAN MORIAUD, of Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, congratulated Malawi on its Malawi Vision 2020 which was aligned with the Millennium Development Goals and noted with satisfaction the ratification of a number of international instruments. Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme noted the improvements in prisons in the country, but was concerned about conditions of detention and reports of torture. Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme welcomed the commitment of Government of Malawi to combat violence against women and human trafficking.

MARISA VOJTE, of World Vision International, said World Vision welcomed the national action plan on children and the policies and measures put in place to address child trafficking and exploitation, human trafficking, gender inequality, discriminatory practices and violence against women and girls. While welcoming the acceptance of the recommendation concerning access to education in rural areas, World Vision encouraged the Government to step up its efforts in this area. Drop-out rates, particularly for girls, were high and there was a lack of qualified teachers and lack of facilities or resources to effectively educate. Problems were faced by those living with HIV/AIDS, and high rates of maternal and child mortality were compounded by the lack of safe water and sanitation and difficult access to health services. World Vision urged the Government to put in place strong and clear mechanisms for follow-up on the implementation of the recommendations which would allow the participation of both the Government and civil society.

JAMES JOLLEY, of Franciscans International, strongly endorsed the accepted recommendation made by Malaysia for Malawi to undertake more effective measures to ensure the accessibility of crucial public services such as education, health care and social benefits to the population living in rural areas, in particular rural women and children. However, it was regrettable that Malawi had rejected several recommendations relating to compulsory primary education, in contravention of Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. A major drawback to quality education was overcrowding and poor teaching in many schools. Franciscans International strongly recommended that Malawi increase its education budget to improve its infrastructure and teaching resources, to provide a higher output of fully trained teachers to help reduce overcrowded classrooms, and to provide teachers who were well equipped to deliver quality education to children.

GIFT TRAPENCE, of Action Canada for Population and Development, welcomed Malawi’s acceptance of various recommendations that were put forward for its considerations. However, they regretted that Malawi had rejected all recommendations that called on Malawi to prohibit discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community as well as to decriminalize same sex relationships. Action Canada for Population and Development believed that this was inconsistent with Malawi’s own constitutional and international human rights obligations to prohibit discrimination and ensure equality for all people in its jurisdiction. They therefore called on Malawi to reflect on these recommendations as well as its constitutional obligations and ensure the full implementation of its human rights obligations.

JANE ANSAH, Minister of Justice of Malawi, in closing remarks, said that the total number of recommendations made at the Universal Periodic Review was 127, Malawi had rejected 45 and accepted 82 recommendations. Malawi was happy to report that there was already an inter-ministerial committee responsible for human rights and this committee would monitor the progress of Malawi in implementing the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review. The amendment of Section 46 of the Penal Code was reformed by the Law Commission to align it with the Constitution’s Bill of Rights so that the powers of the Minister were reduced from absolute to reasonable grounds and this brought in the ability of the courts and the process of judicial review into the Minister’s decision making. Section 13 of the Constitution had taken into consideration that socio-economic rights required resources and the Government had taken steps to progressively fulfill these rights.

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

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Mongolia

LUVSANTSEREN ORGIL, Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that last November Mongolia presented its first report on the situation of human rights on which a total of 129 recommendations had been put forward. The Government of Mongolia accepted 118 recommendations, while the remaining 11 were left in brackets. Out of those, eight had been accepted and three were deemed not to be acceptable at the moment. Concerning the recommendations to become party to the International Convention of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and to accede to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol, Mongolia said that the Government had carefully considered both recommendations and concluded that the accession to those international instruments was strongly linked to national security interests. Since the decision to accede to international instruments was within the competence of the Parliament, the Government was not in a position to declare the acceptance of those recommendations. Concerning the recommendation to mandate the Constitutional Court to act upon violations of individual rights and freedoms, Mongolia said that the Constitutional Court of Mongolia was the organ exercising supreme supervision of the implementation of the Constitution by making judgement on specific laws and legislative norms considered to be in violation of the constitution itself. Since the Government found it impractical to mandate the Constitutional Court to receive single complaints, this recommendation had not been accepted. However, the Government remained committed to further study this issue.

Mongolia accepted recommendations to consider accepting individual complaints mechanisms such as those provided for in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention against Torture and other international instruments; to adopt quick and effective measures and necessary legislation to explicitly prohibit, prevent, punish and abolish discrimination on any grounds, including on the basis of HIV/AIDS status; for the National Human Rights Institution of Mongolia to play a decisive role in the exercise of drafting a gender equality law and its implementation; to include women in high-level decision-making positions; to amend the provisions of the Criminal Code and eliminate legal provisions and practices by public authorities which led to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; to protect victims by defining hate crimes and crimes under criminal law; to declassify death penalty sentences imposed in the past as a State secret with the aim of providing the families of those who had been executed with information on their relatives sentenced to death; and to remove the classification of information on the death penalty as a State secret and provide statistics and information related to the death penalty and executions. In closing, Mongolia said that the spring session of the Parliament was scheduled to debate Mongolia’s accession to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. Also, the newly adopted foreign policy concept of Mongolia stated that Mongolia would actively participate in the process of promoting human rights, freedom and strengthening democracy.

MOHAMED SALIM SAMAR (Algeria) said Algeria thanked the representative of Mongolia for additional information on the human rights situation in the country and said that Mongolia’s progress in the area of human rights was illustrated by the proclamation of a moratorium on the death penalty and in the establishment of a number of protection mechanisms. Algeria appreciated the acceptance of 126 recommendations and their determination to continue their efforts in promoting and protecting human rights.

EKSIRI PINTARUCHI (Thailand) said Thailand commended Mongolia’s efforts in promoting and protecting the human rights of its people despite facing significant socio-economic and development challenges. The Mongolian report demonstrated the strong will on the part of the Government and its people to move forward to overcome these challenges while striking a balance between economic growth and human rights. Thailand commended, among others, Mongolia’s efforts aimed at adopting a law on gender equality and the new 10-year National Programme on Strengthening Child Development and Protection.

OMAR RABI (Morocco) said that Mongolia’s acceptance of 126 recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review reaffirmed the Government’s full unconditional cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review. The process provided a unique opportunity to share views with other countries. Morocco stressed the importance of assistance to developing countries to follow-up reviews and repeated the importance of technical assistance to Mongolia in the implementation of the recommendations.

BYAMBADORJ JAMSRAN, of National Commission on Human Rights of Mongolia, said that the Parliament had only considered one of the nine reports submitted and stated that if the Parliament had reviewed many of the 129 recommendations of the report it would have adopted most of the measures. The National Commission on Human Rights of Mongolia agreed to 128 of the 129 recommendations. In the constitution of Mongolia changes to the constitution were only possible after fulfilling stringent conditions.

SUKHGEREL DUGERSUREN, of Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia), said Forum Asia regretted that Mongolia had failed to provide written replies on the 11 pending recommendations beforehand. Forum Asia was dismayed that issues concerning water, land and environmental rights were not considered and that the Government did not accept the recommendation to mandate the Constitutional Court to act upon the violations of individual rights and freedoms. Fifty per cent of the people of Mongolia resided in the capital which was at risk of environmental hazards from the uranium exploration project carried out just 70 kilometres from the city.

ZANAA JURMED, of Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, said that this statement was on the election campaign and the buying of votes. In 2008 many reports came from the media that many votes were stolen during the parliamentary elections. There were cases of ballot fraud, and those who objected were arrested. Reform of the election law must be carried out to ensure fair and just elections.

MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG, of Amnesty International, welcomed Mongolia’s support for recommendations to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights calling for the abolition of the death penalty and urged the early implementation of these recommendations. They noted that certain recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review had been accepted by Mongolia with the assertion that they had already been implemented. These included recommendations to bring the definition of torture in national legislation in line with international standards and to abolish or amend Article 44.1 of the Criminal Code. Amnesty International was concerned that this might lead to impunity for human rights violations. They encouraged Mongolia to involve relevant stakeholders, notably the residents of “ger” districts, in its efforts to implement these recommendations and to keep the Council informed of its implementation measures.

OTGONBAATAR TSEDENDEMBEREL, of Federatie Van Netherlandse Verenigingen Tot Integratie Van Homoseksualiteit - Coc Nederland, commended Mongolia for accepting the recommendations made by Canada, Norway, Switzerland and United Kingdom to enact broad anti-discrimination legislation that explicated prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In the course of implementing this commitment, the Government of Mongolia should include civil society organizations in the development, execution and evaluation of such measures. COC Nederland also commended Mongolia for accepting recommendations by Spain and Canada to amend the provisions of the Criminal Code and to protect victims by defining hate crimes as crimes under criminal law. They encouraged Mongolia to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in its broader human rights and awareness-raising activities.

LUVSANTSEREN ORGIL, Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in closing remarks, said that the promotion of human rights could only be achieved through active participation and dialogue. The Government would pay attention to the following: ensuring civil participation in the adoption of laws and polices, considering the rights of a healthy environment especially through laws in the mining sector and the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and minority persons. The Permanent Representative thanked the previous speakers for their statements and as the Government accepted the overwhelming majority of the recommendations it would seek technical assistance for implementation.

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

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