Human Rights Council
17 March 2011
The Human Rights Council this morning adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review on Bulgaria, Honduras and Lebanon.
Dimiter Tzantchev, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, said that Bulgaria had accepted without any reservations the overwhelming majority of the recommendations, namely 102 out of 113. Forty of the accepted recommendations had already been implemented or were under implementation, such as accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, the establishment of the national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles, or the creation of the institution of ombudsmen in 2005. Concerning the recommendations related to de-institutionalisation of children, Bulgaria reiterated the commitment of the Government to close all the remaining specialised institutions for children in the course of 15 years and replace them with the community-based supportive centres. With regard to the situation of Roma in Bulgaria, the Government had the political will to take adequate steps to improve the situation of the Roma people. Bulgaria had not been able to accept only five recommendations (2, 24, 59, 81 and 107), mainly due to constitutional and legal constraints.
In the discussion on Bulgaria, speakers welcomed the work toward vulnerable categories, especially children and people with disabilities, and encouraged Bulgaria to reconsider the recommendation calling for effective measures to enhance the health care service which was meant to improve access to the right to health. Some speakers were concerned about the conditions of detention and human trafficking and encouraged the Government to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.
Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review of Bulgaria were representatives of Algeria, Morocco and Turkey. COC Nederland, Recontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme and the Islamic Human Rights Commission also took the floor.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Bulgaria.
Ana Pineda, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Honduras, said that Honduras came to the Universal Periodic Review following a deep political crisis which revealed the pre-existing situation and showed their vulnerability concerning the promotion and protection of human rights. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, Honduras had opened up a multi-sector dialogue with civil society with the goal of developing an agenda and a national plan of action for human rights. With respect to the 129 recommendations received, the Government of Honduras said that actions were underway to implement some of the recommendations and that a draft bill was submitted before the National Congress of the Republic to reform Art. 117 and 321 of the Criminal Code related respectively to the crime of murder and the crime of discrimination. In addition, Honduras, through the Secretariat of Foreign Relations, had started the proceedings for accession to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
In the discussion on Honduras, speakers welcomed the agreement of the Government of Honduras to accept many of the recommendations from their Universal Periodic Review process and the comprehensive attention to the status of persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, Afro descendents and other vulnerable groups. Speakers also encouraged Honduras to increase assistance to victims of sexual violence and vulnerable groups and to incorporate human rights education and training within the school curricula. One speaker was dismayed at the lack of independence of the justice system and at the high levels of impunity for crimes committed against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review of Honduras were representatives of the United States and Thailand. The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: World Organization Against Torture, International Institute of Mary Our Help of the Salesians of Don Bosco, COC Nederland, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Recontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme, Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims, Amnesty International, Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez, Plan International, Center for Justice and International Law, and African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Honduras.
William Habib, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lebanon, said Lebanon had accepted a large number of the recommendations in the Universal Periodic Review and had extended a standing invitation to the Special Procedure mandate holders to visit Lebanon when they wished. The Government of Lebanon would submit the report on the Convention against Torture in the near future. Concerning women’s rights, there were six draft laws currently before the Chamber of Deputies and proposals to eliminate discriminatory provisions against women in terms of family and maternity allowances were submitted to the Ministry of Justice to propose draft laws for the Chamber of Deputies. Lebanon agreed with all recommendations regarding the protection of women against violence and civil society had doubled its efforts to mobilize its support for these new laws within the Chamber of Deputies. Concerning torture, Lebanon had accepted all recommendations related to torture and signed the Convention against Torture in 2000 and the Optional Protocol in 2008. A definition of torture was currently underway. Lebanon accepted all recommendations related to determining the fate of disappeared persons and stated that the implementation of this obligation depended on enabling internal and external circumstances.
In the discussion on Lebanon, speakers congratulated Lebanon on the interest demonstrated in the Universal Periodic Review process and its preparedness to work in a cooperative spirit with the Council. Speakers noted that Lebanon had implemented a series of measures in the field of the promotion and protection of human rights, such as the development of a legislative framework and national strategies, particularly to combat child labour and protect the victims of trafficking, and had accepted all recommendations to improve the status of women. This had demonstrated the commitment of the State to move forward the promotion and protection of human rights in the country. Some speakers touched upon the issue of Palestinian refugees and appealed to the international community to support Lebanon to solve this problem.
Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review of Lebanon were representatives of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Armenia, Iraq, Jordan, Mauritania and Yemen. The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, International Institute of Mary Our Help of the Salesians of Don Bosco, Sudwind, Khiam Rehabilitation Center of Victims of Torture, Human Rights Watch, World Vision, Recontre Africiane pour la defense des Drotis de l’Homme, Amnesty International, Pax Christi International, and African Association of Education for Development also took the floor.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Lebanon.
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 Marshal Islands, Croatia and Jamaica.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Bulgaria
DIMITER TZANTCHEV, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, said that the Universal Periodic Review was a challenging task which provided a unique opportunity to review Bulgaria’s human rights record. Bulgaria had accepted without any reservations the overwhelming majority of the recommendations, namely 102 out of 113. The other four recommendations referred to as “taking note of” were also acceptable in principle, but the competent authorities could not come up with a concrete timetable for their implementation. Regarding recommendation 31, Bulgaria had extended a standing invitation to all Special Procedures, meaning Bulgaria had accepted this recommendation. Forty of the accepted recommendations had already been implemented or were under implementation, such as accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, establishment of the national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles, or the creation of the institution of ombudsmen in 2005. Concerning the recommendations related to the de-institutionalisation of children, Bulgaria reiterated the commitment of the Government to close all the remaining specialised institutions for children in the course of the next 15 years and replace them with community-based supportive centres. The reform of the child-and-family care system had started in 2010 and included the replacement of the system of conventional residential-type institutions by a network of community-based services, oriented to individual needs of each child.
With regard to the situation of Roma in Bulgaria, the Government had the political will to take adequate steps to improve the situation of the Roma people. The Government had already updated its strategic document aimed at fostering equal reintegration of Roma in the society and in 2010 the Government had approved the new Framework for Integration of Roma Bulgarian Society. Bulgaria emphasized that this was a pan-European issue, requiring concerted efforts at the European level and Bulgaria supported the initiative of the Hungarian Presidency of the European Union to elaborate a European Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies. Bulgaria has not been able to accept only five recommendations (2, 24, 59, 81 and 107), mainly due to constitutional and legal constraints. Some of the recommendations touched in the independence of the judiciary. Two of the recommendations, 64 and 108 were partially accepted, since Bulgaria considered that the rights of persons belonging to minorities were fully guaranteed by the Constitution and other legislation. The second part of the recommendation 108 was irrelevant since Bulgaria as a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights fully implemented all its provisions, including article 27.
BOUALEM CHEHIBI (Algeria) said Bulgaria had accepted a high number of recommendations and Algeria appreciated the acceptance of two recommendations made by the Algerian delegation for the establishment of a national human rights institution and the fight against all forms of religious hatred, discrimination, racism, extremism and xenophobia. Algeria encouraged Bulgaria to reconsider the recommendation calling for effective measures to enhance the health care service which was meant to improve access to the right to health. According to United Nations studies, major problems persisted in the health care system in terms of management and effectiveness and Algeria hoped Bulgaria would accept this recommendation.
MAJDA MOUTCHOU (Morocco) said the Council had received additional information on the commitments Bulgaria had made toward implementing the Universal Periodic Review which evidenced Bulgaria’s serious intentions towards human rights matters. The establishment of a national human rights institution which was independent and in conformity with the Paris Principles and which would be made official in 2011 was a positive sign. Morocco noted the strategy for judicial reform which had been done in a targeted and coordinated way with all stakeholders and should be viewed as a best practice in judicial reform. Morocco welcomed the work toward vulnerable categories, especially children and people with disabilities and thanked Bulgaria for accepting the recommendations Morocco had made on the systematic inclusion of human rights in education and the integration of Roma people into Bulgarian society through national programmes. Morocco considered the Universal Periodic Review of Bulgaria was a success.
ONUR KATMERCI (Turkey)said Turkey commended the achievements that Bulgaria had made in various fields. In this vein Turkey also welcomed the development of their bilateral relations. The Turkish minority in Bulgaria was certainly a strong bridge of friendship. During the review concerning Bulgaria, they had made some recommendations with a view to further strengthening this bridge. Turkey trusted that their messages of friendship were heard by their Bulgarian partners with whom they wished to continue to enhance their cooperation in every possible field.
BJORN VAN ROOSENDAAL, of Federatie Van Netherlandse Verenigingen Tot Integratie Van Homoseksualiteit - Coc Nederland, said that during the Universal Periodic Review process of Bulgaria recommendations were made to adopt legislation to prevent discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation; develop effective measures to overcome continuing discriminatory patterns against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons through education and training; continue efforts to overcome stereotypical attitudes regarding the roles of men and women and existing gender inequality; and study the possibility of introducing a criminal aggravating factor for racial and religious hatred of hatred against persons with a minority sexual orientation. Whilst COC Nederland commended Bulgaria for all positive steps it had taken in the past years to progress human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, they wanted to reiterate the need to implement these recommendations.
ROMAN MORIAUD, of Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, said it welcomed the open attitude of the Government of Bulgaria in the process, and took note of the new strategy for children. Despite the measures taken to integrate the Roma, Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme was concerned about discrimination and ill treatment against Roma in Bulgaria. Many of the children lived in abject poverty and Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme called on the Government to step up the efforts to address the needs of this group and guarantee their rights. Other issues of concern were conditions of detention and human trafficking and Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme encouraged the Government to ratify the Optional Protocol on the Convention against Torture.
MAIDAH JAMSHED RAO, of Islamic Human Rights Commission, said it wished to bring to the attention of the Human Rights Council the plight of the Roma Muslims residing in Bulgaria, who had been experiencing the prejudice by the Bulgarian people and as a result had endured some of the worst racism and Islamophobia on record. Discrimination was institutional with Roma families routinely denied access education and access to housing and employment. This unfairness had led to the alienation of the Roma Muslims and their converting to other religions seeking better life styles. The Islamic Human Rights Commission was concerned that this situation was taking place within the borders of the European Union and urged the Government of Bulgaria to treat the Roma people as they treated other citizens of the country, by providing them with the same standard of living as other citizens, in order to respect their rights.
DIMITER TZANTCHEV, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, in concluding remarks, said he would like to confirm that the Bulgarian authorities closely monitored any form of racism or intolerance against individuals and took all measures to punish these crimes. The Government collected relevant statistics on hate crimes and analyzed them. Regarding the Penal Code, punishments for acts that incited hate crimes were being incorporated. The Constitution of Bulgaria provided for the protection of the rights of its citizens. The Government would continue to consider all of the recommendations discussed and raised during its Universal Periodic Review in this Council.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Bulgaria.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Honduras
ANA PINEDA, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Honduras, said that Honduras attached great importance to the Universal Periodic Review mechanism for protecting and promoting human rights. Honduras came to the Universal Periodic Review following a deep political crisis which revealed the pre-existing situation and showed their vulnerability concerning the promotion and protection of human rights. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, Honduras had opened up a multi-sector dialogue with civil society with the goal of developing an agenda and a national plan of action for human rights. One of the challenges was to retrieve the credibility of their institutions and they had received contributions and suggestions from civil society organizations on this. With respect to the 129 recommendations made, some actions were underway to implement some of them. With respect to the recommendations that Honduras had accepted, the country informed the Council that a draft bill was submitted before the National Congress of the Republic to reform Art. 117 of the Criminal Code related to the crime of murder. In addition, a draft bill to reform Art. 321 of the Criminal Code, which dealt with the crime of discrimination, was also submitted to the National Congress of the Republic.
Honduras, through the Secretariat of Foreign Relations, had started the proceedings for accession to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. As to access to lands and natural resources of indigenous people and African descendents, Honduras had seen an increase in the number of complaints related to the failure to comply with their rights to be involved in consultations and the public prosecutor’s office had requested to the Agrarian National Institute for a sanitarian process and for titles to be granted to indigenous peoples and African descendents.
As to the resolution 64/169 of the United Nations, Honduras would be hosting the first World Summit of African Descendents which would take place in La Ceiba in August 2011.
As to volunteer commitments, Honduras informed the Council that the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights had started a process of opening up a multi-sectoral dialogue with different civil society organizations with the goal of studying requests in order to build an agenda based on consensus and they were pleased to count on the assistance of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. With regard to the mechanisms on the prevention of torture, Honduras had been working to reform Art. 209-A of the Criminal Code related to the crime of torture with the aim to bring it in line with the provisions of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punsihment. With the goal of establishing better statistical registers, the public prosecutor offices had adopted a comprehensive policy for coexistence and citizen security. Honduras had adopted a Protocol for Protection established by consensus with the victims to carry out investigations into the origins of the alleged threats. Honduras had also recognized the vulnerability of human rights of human rights defenders, children and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and said that they needed to draft a specific policy for these groups. The current context had opened up windows for opportunities and never before had Honduras been so committed to the goals of human rights.
DANIEL BAER (United States) said the United States welcomed the agreement of the Government of Honduras to accept many of the recommendations from their Universal Periodic Review process and the agreement to ensure financial resources for the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples to enable its proper functioning. The United States applauded the agreement to institute a human rights education programme for police, prosecutors and judges and the intention to monitor the effectiveness of those programmes. Also, the United States welcomed the comprehensive attention to the status of persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, Afro descendents and other vulnerable groups. The United States hoped that Honduras would adopt appropriate legislation to prevent vulnerable groups from discrimination. The United States wished to know what measures would be put in place to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, and to prosecute perpetrators of violence against those groups. The United States welcomed the intention to investigate and prosecute cases of violence against journalists that had occurred in 2010 and wished to know more about those cases that would be soon brought to trial.
EKSIRI PINTARUCHI (Thailand) said Thailand welcomed the measures of the Government of Honduras on the promotion and protection of human rights in the country and the progress made in the national reconciliation plan. Thailand was pleased that Honduras accepted all the recommendations put forward by Thailand, and in particular welcomed the efforts to address issues of human trafficking at all levels. Thailand welcomed the efforts to address domestic violence and violence against women and encouraged the Government to strengthen the protection for those groups. Thailand also encouraged Honduras to increase assistance to victims of sexual violence. Thailand was pleased to learn that Honduras was in the process of promoting human rights education and training, particularly among the police, prosecutors and judges and encouraged the incorporation of human rights education and training within the school curricula as well.
ALEXANDRA KOSSIN, of World Organization Against Torture, said it welcomed the establishment by the Honduran Government of the Secretariat of Justice and Human Rights and a Special Unit to investigate crimes against journalists and hate crimes against the gay and lesbian community. However crimes against human rights defenders had continued and there was a rate of impunity of 92 per cent in these crimes.
ANNA THERESA CRUZ, of Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco, said it acknowledged the efforts of the Honduran Government in the protection and promotion of the rights of the child. However, it urged the Government to take concrete actions to guarantee quality education by increasing budget allocations and by providing subsidies to the poorest families and indigenous communities. To combat the high number of children suffering from hard labour, the Government should undertake awareness raising campaigns to prevent and combat the economic exploitation of children as well as initiate programmes to support disadvantaged families by helping them to find alternative sources of income. The Honduran Government should also provide the estimated 10,000 children living on the street with adequate housing, nutrition, healthcare and educational opportunities as required by the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Honduras was a party.
NANCY ZUNIGA, of Federatie Van Netherlandse Verenigingen Tot Integratie Van Homoseksualiteit - Coc Nederland, in a joint statement, said that in November 2010, through the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, a series of recommendations were made to Honduras with regard to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Unfortunately crimes against this community had increased and there had been a total of 34 victims killed. The situation continued to worsen because of the high level of impunity. Since 2003 only three of these crimes had been brought to courts and they needed these cases to be investigated. In addition, these recommendations needed a follow up because necessary concrete measures and independent and impartial investigations had to be carried out.
LUCY MENDOZA, of International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, said that they were concerned about a series of recommendations that had not been accepted nor implemented. The Government had not taken any action to sanction this failure in their duties and it had not assumed before the Council any commitment to accept recommendations related to non-gender discrimination and the protection of vulnerable sectors of the population such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and children. Most of the crimes went unpunished and the State did not provide substantive replies which dealt with these human rights failings. They asked Honduras to accept the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review and implement them in concrete actions to defend human rights in Honduras.
FOLAKE IDOWU, of Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, said that Honduras had endured a political upheaval in recent years which had a marked effect on the political credibility and stability of the country following the ousting of the former president Zalaya in 2009. Several problems remained today that needed to be addressed in a cohesive manner, including torture, enforced disappearance, and sexual and commercial exploitation of children. To effectively address those issues, national legislation must be brought in line with international norms on human rights. More needed to be done on combating discrimination, particularly combating poverty and improving literacy levels among indigenous peoples and people of African descent. Recontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme encouraged Honduras to strengthen the role of the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights, and to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.
JUAN ALMENDAREZ BONILLA, of International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, said that Honduras had not taken this opportunity to take initiatives which would effectively prevent torture and cruel and inhumane treatment. The mechanism established six months ago did not have sufficient financial resources to function. Victims of violations of human rights were invisible, despite the law on compensation and the appropriate recommendation from the Universal Periodic Review. The Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims encouraged Honduras to demonstrate real commitment and accept and implement the recommendations, in particular those related to the financing of the human rights system and institutions.
MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG, of Amnesty International, said it welcomed Honduras’ support of recommendations to take effective steps to protect journalists and human rights defenders, as well as its commitment to implement the precautionary measures issued in favour of human rights defenders by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Amnesty International was concerned at the increasing levels of violence experienced by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community and the high levels of impunity for crimes against them and it welcomed the support by Honduras of recommendations to strengthen the investigation of crimes committed against members in this community and to prosecute the perpetrators. The acceptance by Honduras of recommendations to ensure full and transparent investigations into the human rights violations following the coup d’etat in June 2009 was a welcome first step that should be followed up by concrete action to ensure justice.
RAMON MUNOZ CASTRO, of Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juarez, said it welcomed the Government’s promise to investigate attacks on journalists. However in 2010, 10 journalists were murdered in the country and none of the cases had been thoroughly investigated, resulting in an environment of impunity that continued to prevail. The Honduran Government promised, in accordance with the Universal Periodic Review, to amend its telecommunications law to bring it in line with international standards by removing taxes against community based media outlets but had yet to do this and they called on it to honour this commitment.
NANCY ZUNIGA, of Plan International, in a joint statement, said that they appreciated the recommendations made to Honduras, in particular those relating to boys and girls who experienced difficult circumstances. There had not been progress made in the recommendations related to the improvement of the justice system and in bringing killers of young people to justice. The exploitation of children in the labour marked had not been dealt with. The State should give urgent priority to the implementation of reforms to strengthen institutions dealing with children and ensure and guarantee their rights. Plan International repeated the need to upgrade Honduras’ protection of children’s rights.
LUCY LIZETTE MENDOZA, of Centre for Justice and International Law, said that the State of Honduras had not complied with any recommendations to improve the state of justice nor to strengthen the independence of the judiciary. Judges continued to be appointed on the basis of political considerations with the consequence of biased judicial decisions. This lack of independence led to impunity. Concerning the human rights of women, they had regressed. Neither the judiciary not other parts had shown the necessary political will to prevent and punish these crimes.
ANA LEURINDA, of African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters, welcomed the Government of Honduras for sponsoring the global summit of people of African descent that would take in August this year. Historically, against the background of the American continent there had been clashes of persons of different cultures in the context of sovereignty and exclusion; discrimination remained persistent even today. The autonomous communities and individuals reached various agreements concerning their own identity and those models resulted in an important cultural, religious and linguistic diversity. The Garifuna managed to preserve their language, but needed support from the Government to preserve their lands. From the view of indigenous peoples, there was no culture without territory; culture was constructed from there and was not an abstract concept. The Garifuna community would soon be celebrating 214 years of existence in the country.
ANA PINEDA, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Honduras, in concluding remarks, said that Honduras had endorsed all of the recommendations and had not rejected any. Only two of the recommendations had been postponed due to their budgetary implications. Honduras had extended the invitation to the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and the Special Rapporteur on the right to education and others, in order to guarantee compliance with its international obligations. Honduras had established the roadmap for eradication of child labour and trafficking in children. The national policy on food security and nutrition aimed at adopting guidelines in different sectors, such as health, education, infrastructure and others. Also the National Congress had opened up the procedures for the law on the Council of Magistrates and Judges Careers with various stakeholders to define its scope. Honduras was initiating the definition of the bill to protect minorities. A fund was available to assist Hondurans abroad and to assist those with insufficient resources. A national policy and strategy concerning climate change had been adopted in order to implement adaptation and mitigation strategies to combat the impact of climate change on the people and natural resources. A fund for compensations to victims of human rights violations had been set up. Significant efforts had been made so that exercise of journalism was free and without due influence. Over 150 prosecutors had been appointed to investigate and prosecute crimes of violence against women, journalists and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. In conclusion, Honduras thanked the members of the Troika, the Secretariat and all States and organizations that had participated in the Universal Periodic Review process and the dialogue.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Honduras.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Lebanon
WILLIAM HABIB, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lebanon, said Lebanon appreciated the efforts of this Council and the awareness it had built among people of the importance of human rights. Lebanon was a victim of the wars of others on its land. The Government had updated its laws based on the principles proposed by this Council and would make every effort to take into consideration the recommendations of Member States and the legitimate claims of civil society. Lebanon had accepted a large number of the recommendations in the Universal Periodic Review. Regarding the last category of recommendations included in the report of the Working Group on which Lebanon had decided it needed more time to consider in depth, the Secretary-General could now state that the Government had decided to accept the totality of the recommendations except one part of a recommendation. In addition, Lebanon had extended a standing invitation to the Special Procedure mandate holders to visit Lebanon when they wished. Lebanon had given a list of the outstanding recommendations that it now accepted to the Secretariat and requested that the Secretariat translate them and post them on the Council’s website.
The Government of Lebanon would submit the report on the Convention against Torture in the near future. Concerning women’s rights, there were six draft laws currently before the Chamber of Deputies and proposals to eliminate discriminatory provisions against women in terms of family and maternity allowances were submitted to the Ministry of Justice to propose draft laws for the Chamber of Deputies. Lebanon agreed with all recommendations regarding the protection of women against violence and civil society had doubled its efforts to mobilize its support for these new laws within the Chamber of Deputies. Regarding the recommendations on honour crimes, a draft penal code was in process that included legal articles to eliminate special circumstances permitting honour crimes. With regard to Palestinian refugees, the creation in 2005 of a mechanism to encourage dialogue with Palestinians had allowed for greater cooperation between the Palestinian and Lebanese sides to deal with pending issues. A major achievement in this area was to find a solution to those who had lost their identity papers and to improve the camps in Lebanon. Regarding the economic rights of Palestinian refugees, including the right to work, those professions which were only open to Lebanese citizens were now open to Palestinians. Concerning torture, Lebanon had accepted all recommendations related to torture and signed the Convention against Torture in 2000 and the Optional Protocol in 2008. A definition of torture was currently underway. Lebanon accepted all recommendations related to determining the fate of disappeared persons and stated that the implementation of this obligation depended on enabling internal and external circumstances.
Lebanon was one of the countries that had created the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and had made every effort to deal with these issues. The slow pace of progress in some areas was due to insufficient resources or political difficulties. Lebanon could not solve the Palestinian problem alone and called on the international community to shoulder this burden with them.
ABDULWAHAB ABDULSALAM ATTAR (Saudi Arabia) said Saudi Arabia welcomed the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lebanon and said that his statement clarified the position of Lebanon with regard to the recommendations and reflected the positive interaction of Lebanon with the human rights mechanisms. Lebanon had shown its constant readiness for international cooperation and the importance given by Lebanon to the area of human rights. The review was an occasion to see the efforts of Lebanon to promote human rights in the country and Saudi Arabia commended the country for the achievements it had made.
MANSOOR ABDULLA AL-SULAITIN (Qatar) said Qatar welcomed the Lebanese delegation and thanked it for the comprehensive information presented in the report. Qatar congratulated Lebanon on the interest demonstrated in the Universal Periodic Review process and its preparedness to work in a cooperative spirit with the Council. Lebanon had shown its determination to overcome the challenges that it was facing. Lebanon had developed a national plan to develop and implement the recommendations and this had demonstrated the commitment of the State to promote human rights. All human rights bodies had provided the Government of Lebanon with their assistance and this was fully in line with the Universal Periodic Review principles.
BOUALEM CHEBIHI (Algeria) said Algeria commended Lebanon on the excellent way in which the report was prepared, which enabled the Human Rights Council to have a good overview of the human rights situation in Lebanon. A number of recommendations had been accepted by Lebanon, and Algeria welcomed the acceptance of those recommendations which had been pending. This demonstrated the commitment of the Government to the promotion and protection of human rights in the country. Algeria took note during the dialogue of the sincere desire of the Government of Lebanon to engage in cooperation with other delegations. Algeria wished to the people of Lebanon further progress and prosperity and recommended the adoption of the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Lebanon.
AHMED IHAB GAMALELDIN (Egypt) said Lebanon had dealt openly with the Universal Periodic Review, from the initial session until the presentation today. Egypt appreciated the efforts of Lebanon to overcome the crises and wars, including the amendment and reforms of the law and taking practical steps on the ground in order to implement recommendations accepted by Lebanon. Egypt mentioned in particular the draft law on the rights of women and the acceptance of all recommendations to improve the status of women. Lebanon accepted all 14 recommendations that it had postponed reviewing until the final report, which meant that Lebanon had accepted the majority of recommendations put forward in the Universal Periodic Review. Egypt recognised the difficulties of Lebanon on the issue of Palestinian refugees, particularly in light of limited resources. Egypt appealed to the international community to support Lebanon on this particular issue and to continue the efforts to solve the problem of Palestinian refugees.
FAYSAL KHABBAS HAMOUI (Syria) said Syria warmly welcomed the Lebanese delegation. Lebanon had submitted a report that demonstrated transparency and professionalism and provided a good picture on efforts in the country to protect human rights. Lebanon had accepted a great number of recommendations, which demonstrated the Government’s openness and willingness to cooperate and work with the international community on promoting human rights. Syria recommended the acceptance of the Universal Periodic Review for Lebanon.
VAHEH GEVORGYAN (Armenia) said Armenia was pleased to note that the Lebanese Government had accepted all recommendations which were under its consideration after the review. Armenia particularly valued the readiness of the Government of Lebanon to enhance its cooperation with the Special Procedures through extending them an open and standing invitation. Armenia noted with appreciation that Lebanon was committed to protecting the cultural heritage of its diverse communities and consequently would ratify the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Diversity of the Cultural Expressions.
MOHAMED ALI ALHAKIM (Iraq) said Iraq welcomed the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs for his valuable and comprehensive statement and for accepting the recommendations that they had made. Iraq thanked the Government of Lebanon for the efforts in preparing the report and they recognized the difficulties faced by Lebanon as well as the position taken by Lebanon during the discussion of their report in the Universal Period Review. This reflected their sincere will to move towards further promotion of human rights. The report of Lebanon gave them a chance to monitor the implementation of human rights which were respected despite difficulties. Iraq called on the Government of Lebanon to draw up effective plans to implement their recommendations.
MAJD HATTAR (Jordan) said Jordan welcomed the head of the delegation and the information which he had provided which highlighted the recommendations made to Lebanon. Lebanon attached great importance to the promotion and protection of human rights. Indeed it had implemented a series of measures in the field of the promotion and protection of human rights, such as the development of a legislative framework and national strategies, particularly to combat child labour and protect the victims of trafficking. It had also taken measures to promote the emancipation of women at the social and political level and to put an end to honour crimes.
CHEIKH AHMED OULD ZAHAF (Mauritania) said Mauritania welcomed the delegation of Lebanon and highly appreciated Lebanon’s achievements in the field of human rights, which were proof of the commitment of the Government to continue with this approach. The acceptance of the majority of the recommendations was also proof of this political will. Mauritania hoped that the Human Rights Council would adopt the final outcome on Lebanon.
MARWAN AL-SHAMI (Yemen) said Yemen welcomed the delegation of Lebanon and commended the Ambassador in Geneva on her excellent role. Yemen welcomed the excellent report prepared by Lebanon and its cooperation with civil society and non-governmental organizations in the country. Lebanon was a centre of human rights in the region and Beirut had always been a centre of freedom. The rights of Palestinian refugees must be guaranteed, together with their fundamental freedoms, said Yemen. Yemen commended Lebanon for accepting the recommendations from its Universal Periodic Review, including those put forward by Yemen.
ROLA BARDAN, of Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, said it was concerned that the commitments to improve the situation of Palestinian refugees had not been accompanied by a clear action plan and concrete implementation. There was a continuous disregard of the right to freedom of movement, accompanied by various levels of military interference, which led to the long-term neglect, exclusion and marginalization of Palestinian refugees. The Law on Property Ownership was amended in 2001 and now excluded solely Palestinians from the right to own property. The Lebanese Government had a clear obligation to ensure all individuals, including Palestinians, residing within its territory were afforded full equality and guaranteed their rights.
DANIELA MACCIONI, of Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco, said there were still weaknesses in the education sector in Lebanon and they encouraged the Government to adopt the draft law to bring the level of secondary education up to 15 years. The International Institute was concerned about Palestinian children’s access to state education as only 20 per cent of Palestinian children had access to the state education system. Palestinians should be granted access to jobs and children access to education.
HANNELORE ECKERSTORFOR, of Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, said that they took note of Lebanon’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 2008 and welcomed it, but they regretted that until this day the unofficial moratorium on the death penalty had not been turned into a legally binding framework. Sudwind urged Lebanon to stop abstaining from votes on the global moratorium on the use of the death penalty in the General Assembly. Sudwind recommended that Lebanon lift all reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol of this Convention.
MOHAMMED SAFA, of International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, said that Lebanon had not taken serious steps to execute the recommendations it had received and they had to put an end to torture in Lebanese prisons. There had to be a law to put an end to capital punishment and to view some of the recommendations that had been refused, such as the recommendations regarding the removal of discriminatory provisions against women.
PHILIPPE DAM, of Human Rights Watch, said it wished that the Universal Periodic Review had reflected the concern about the situation of foreign detainees in Lebanon’s prisons, who finished serving their sentences but still remained held without legal basis. Lebanon had adopted the law enabling Palestinian refugees to find work and Human Rights Watch urged the Government to continue the efforts to ensure full respect for the rights of Palestinian refugees. The situation of women was still insufficient, concerning citizenship, custody and inheritance law. Human Rights Watch welcomed the decision of the Commission to investigate the cases of missing persons.
JENNIFER PHILPOT-NISSEN, of World Vision International, said World Vision acknowledged the growing acceptance in Lebanon that children had the right to participate and be heard in matters which affected them. World Vision welcomed the recommendations that the Government had accepted concerning the trafficking of children, child labour and increasing efforts on clearing landmines. One concern of the Children’s Council was the situation of children who did not have identity papers or who were stateless, even if born in Lebanon. Such children had great difficulty in accessing education, health care and later employment. World Vision asked the Government of Lebanon to reconsider its rejection of the recommendations to ensure that nationality was transmitted also by mothers and not only fathers, as was the case now.
ROMAN MORIAUD, of Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, said it welcomed the creation of a national human rights institute and the establishment of an Ombudsman. However, it regretted that the death penalty was still in force and remained concerned that refugees did not enjoy the fundamental right to freedom of movement. They urged Lebanon to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation.
MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG, of Amnesty International, said it supported Lebanon’s recommendations to amend its national legislation to include a definition of torture that conformed to the Convention Against Torture. Amnesty International was disappointed that the Government had rejected a number of recommendations aimed at amending the discriminatory laws and regulations relating to nationality, to the right to own property, and to education and employment that affected over 420,000 Palestinian refugees registered in Lebanon. Amnesty International noted with concern that civilians in Lebanon continued to be tried and sentenced to death before military courts in proceedings that fell far short of international fair trial standards.
TREVOR GRIFFITHS, of Pax Christi International, International Catholic Peace Movement, welcomed the significant number of recommendations with regard to torture made by States during Lebanon’s review under the Universal Periodic Review. They reiterated that Art. 401 of the Penal Code was ambiguous and did not criminalize torture. It was important to note that “violent practices” had to be defined so as to include mental and psychological torture. They called on the Government of Lebanon to recognize the competence of the United Nations Convention against Torture in receiving and considering individual complaints under art. 22 of the Convention against Torture. The national prevention mechanism was an independent monitoring body and they urged the Government to commit for the establishment of this mechanism. On capital punishment they regretted that Lebanon had refused all recommendations on this subject.
GHENNET GIRMA, of African Association of Education for Development, said that for female domestic workers, physical violence was an everyday occurrence, freedom of movement was unheard of and the working hours were mostly without rest. Their passports were withheld to discourage efforts in view of escaping a very harsh and difficult life. Added to all these dire conditions, the exploitative work load put the female foreign domestic workers under the category of modern day slavery. There were many cases of maids being flogged, burnt or deprived of food. There were also cases of sexual abuse of the live-in domestic worker by the male members of the family. Some had committed suicide; other had been thrown out of buildings. The African Association thanked all the journalists, trade unionists and non-governmental organizations who took their time to interview these women, and who earnestly and protectively encouraged them to speak up.
WILLIAM HABIB, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lebanon, in concluding remarks, said as far as civil society organizations were concerned, Lebanon attached great importance to their role in the country. The Council could rest assured that the Government would have an ongoing dialogue with them. Concerning the recommendations that the Government did not accept, it was because the Lebanese citizens could not accept them. For example, the bill on abolishment of the death penalty still had not obtained majority and it was not yet possible to vote on it. Lebanon was in a particular situation; there were 18 different religious groups making up the Lebanese society. This meant that the rules governing the society were specific, but the solutions were adopted by the people. In order to overcome rivalries among faiths, there was a need to start with awareness. There was a need to ensure that all those faiths would be represented and this was the only way forward in the Lebanese society. Concerning domestic work, there were some instances that the Ministry of Labour was already dealing with. A draft bill on domestic workers had been introduced and a model contract was developed. The Labour Ministry adopted a system of employment offices and efforts had been made to focus on isolated cases. Concerning the Palestinian refugees, Lebanon said that they enjoyed full freedom of movement; the checkpoints for access to the camps had been set up because certain persons that had committed violations might take refuge in those camps to flee prosecution. They were entitled to carry out a number of jobs available on the Lebanese job market; those who did not have identity cards were given one, so that they could finally send their children to school. In closing, Lebanon thanked all for coming forward with valuable proposals and Lebanon would always be ready and open to cooperation with civil society and others in the promotion and protection of human rights.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Lebanon.
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