Human Rights Council adopts outcomes of Universal Periodic Review on Saint Lucia, Oman and Austria

Human Rights Council
AFTERNOON

7 June 2011

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review on Saint Lucia, Oman and Austria.
Donatus Keith St. Aimee, Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia to the United Nations in New York, said that Saint Lucia was a young country, limited in natural resources, with a small population. Despite many challenges St. Lucia was categorized as a middle income country that had been able to achieve, and in some cases surpass, many of the Millennium Development Goal targets. While St. Lucia was not party to certain treaties, it had incorporated certain parts of these treaties into domestic legislation. For example, while St. Lucia was not signatory to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, the Counter Trafficking Act which incorporated many of the provisions of the Protocol had been implemented into domestic legislation, and came into force in February 2010. Eradication of poverty was a central pillar of government policy and programmes in St. Lucia. Much of this was accomplished through agencies such as the St. Lucia Social Development Fund which through diverse policy measures sought to especially secure an improved quality of life for the socially or economically disadvantaged.

In the discussion on Saint Lucia, speakers emphasized the constructive participation of Saint Lucia in the dialogue with the Universal Periodic Review Working Group and its response to the majority of questions posed during the interactive dialogue. In the context of their vulnerability to external shocks and natural disasters, the international community should provide Small Island Developing States with the necessary assistance to enable them to meet their development priorities while promoting human rights. A speaker welcomed the fact that there had been no executions in Saint Lucia for 15 years, but it regretted that St. Lucia had declared itself not in a position to move towards a formal moratorium on the use of the death penalty or its abolition. They also regretted St. Lucia’s rejection of a range of recommendations, including the decriminalization of sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex and combating discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review of Saint Lucia were representatives of Algeria, Cuba, Morocco and Venezuela. Speakers from Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Amnesty International also took the floor.

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

Yahya Salim Al-Wahaibi, Permanent Representative of Oman to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Oman had adopted a positive attitude with all transparency towards the proceedings and recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review which was a good chance to review progress and accomplishments made in Oman and also to look at recommendations and experiences of Member States and profit from them in the continuous process of development in Oman. The comprehensive economic, social and human development in Oman was aimed at accomplishing the highest living standards within an integrative legislative mechanism within a framework of equality. Oman received 166 recommendations, of which 103 were accepted, 12 were rejected and 51 were under review. The Permanent Representative announced the acceptance of 39 of the 51 recommendations originally under review. Revision of certain legislation and the adoption of certain mechanisms would also be implemented in accordance with recommendations.

In the ensuing discussion, speakers commended the efforts of Oman in the field of human rights and the efforts made for human development. The extension of free universal education for Omani citizens was significant and speakers noted that significant progress had been made with regard to migrant workers, including the establishment of legal structures for the protection of workers’ rights in conformity with international standards. The economic dynamism of Oman attracted a large number of migrant workers. It was thus imperative that authorities took effective action to combat abuse. Despite some improvements in women’s rights, many challenges had to be met due to the vulnerability of women and practices which discriminated against them, particularly in rural areas. Given increased violence against bloggers critical of Oman, the State party was urged to lift restrictions on freedom of expression on the Internet.

Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review of Oman were representatives of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Algeria, Sri Lanka, Cuba, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Palestine, Bahrain and Iraq. A representative of Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des droits de l’Homme also took the floor.

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

Christian Strohal, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations at Geneva, said that on the rights of the child, Austria had approved a bill in January that had incorporated children’s rights into the federal constitution. Also, Austria had accepted recommendations to amend its provisions against incitement to hatred, attacks on minority groups and equal protection for all religious minorities. Austria was strongly committed to combating racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia and strengthening measures for integration of migrants into the society. A new State Secretariat for Integration had been established which had strengthened the awareness of the Government’s policies on integration and had set ground for a more effective implementation of the National Plan of Action for integration. A good deal of recommendations that did not enjoy the support of Austria pertained to the signing of the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers, which Austria did not intend to sign or ratify since the rights enshrined therein were already fully protected by Austrian laws and European Union regulations.

In the discussion on Austria, speakers welcomed the commitment of Austria to the Universal Periodic Review that was illustrated by its acceptance of 131 out of the 161 recommendations received. Austria’s inclusion of civil society in the review of the report was considered to be a good practice that all States should follow. However, speakers remained concerned by the alarming cases of hate speech and an atmosphere of hostility by some politicians and discriminatory attitudes and manifestations of racism against migrant communities, in particular Muslims and the Roma. There was also a lack of respect for the rights of ethnic and national minorities, cultural rights, human rights, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, and the rights of person with disabilities.

Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review of Austria were representatives of Algeria, Morocco, Iran and the Republic of Moldova. Representatives from Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, the Islamic Human Rights Commission, the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation, Amnesty International, Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des droits de l’Homme, the International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, the European Disability Forum and the Society for Threatened People also took the floor. The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Austria.

Also this afternoon, the Council held a discussion on the modalities of the interactive dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry that was tasked with examining the human rights situation in Libya. The Commission was established by Human Rights Council Resolution S-15/1 after the fifteenth Special Session held on 25 February 2011 on the human rights situation in Libya. At issue was whether representatives of the current Government would speak as a concerned country during the interactive dialogue and whether representatives of the transitional authorities would also be allowed to take the floor during the discussion. Speakers noted that while they were flexible in terms of who spoke, many of their governments had not recognized the transitional national government in Libya and thus it should be made clear that this group was not an authority, but rather represented the opposition forces. Other speakers noted that Libya’s Human Rights Council membership had been suspended by the United Nations General Assembly, and therefore it should not participate in the interactive dialogue on the report of the Commission of Inquiry. They remained flexible, however, and agreed with an option that would provide Libya a chance to react to the report. Still other speakers held that the authorities in Tripoli had committed gross and systematic violations of human rights against their own people, therefore the regime had lost its legitimacy and the right to govern.

Speaking during the discussion were Cuba, Argentina, Jordan and the Maldives.

The next meeting of the Council will be Wednesday, 8 June at 10 a.m., when it is scheduled to consider the Universal Periodic Review outcomes on Myanmar, Australia and Georgia.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Saint Lucia

DONATUS KEITH ST. AIMEE, Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia to the United Nations in New York, said Saint Lucia was a young country, limited in natural resources, with a small population. Despite many challenges St. Lucia was categorized as a middle income country that had been able to achieve, and in some cases surpass many of the Millennium Development Goal targets. This attested to the willingness of both the Government and the people to ensure that gains were made on all fronts. Democracy and respect for human rights went hand in hand. On ratifications, St. Lucia outlined in paragraph one, the five Treaties or Conventions that were considered most pressing, given limited human resources and their impact on the society. From the time of independence St. Lucia had had a constitution that served it well, but it had recently embarked on a process of Constitutional Review that would enable adjustments based on the preferences of the governed. While St. Lucia was not party to certain treaties, it had incorporated certain parts of these treaties into domestic legislation. For example, while St. Lucia was not signatory to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, the Counter Trafficking Act which incorporated many of the provisions of the Protocol had been implemented into domestic legislation, and came into force in February last year.

St. Lucia intended to strengthen the capacity of the office of the ombudsman as a means of reinforcing effective avenues for redress of human rights concerns and grievances. The Government was also partnering with non-governmental organizations, faith based organizations and others to ensure that the needs of the youth were met in an adequate and timely manner. St. Lucia noted the ongoing legislative framework of the Education Development Project to secure improved protections and standards of living for children, who were recognized as being most vulnerable members of society. Other developments included a new home for the elderly which had been constructed to deal with the ever increasing aging population. St. Lucia noted that its constitution protected all persons against unlawful acts, and that domestic legislation through the criminal code provided further means of redress. The constitutional reforms process would strengthen these measures. Eradication of poverty was a central pillar of government policy and programmes in St. Lucia. Much of this was accomplished through agencies such as the St. Lucia Social Development Fund which through diverse policy measures sought to especially secure an improved quality of life for the socially or economically disadvantaged.

MOHAMED SALIM SAMAR (Algeria) said Algeria appreciated the constructive engagement of Saint Lucia in the Universal Periodic Review process. The acceptance of the overwhelming majority of recommendations received demonstrated the country’s commitment to human rights. Algeria had actively participated in the review process and submitted two recommendations in support of the ratification of international human rights instruments and the ongoing efforts to fight poverty. Algeria encouraged Saint Lucia to consider ratifying the Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. Algeria also commended the Government for their efforts to the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals despite the obstacles Saint Lucia faced as a Small Island Developing State. In the context of their vulnerability to external shocks and natural disasters, the international community should provide Small Island Developing States with the necessary assistance to enable them to meet their development priorities while promoting human rights.
YUMIRKA FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba) emphasized the constructive participation of Saint Lucia in the dialogue with the Universal Periodic Review Working Group. The delegation of Saint Lucia responded to the majority of questions posed during the interactive dialogue. Cuba had the occasion to pay tribute to the progress realized by Saint Lucia in the fulfillment of human rights. Cuba thanked the delegation for its replies to the recommendations made, including the interventions of Cuba related to the rights of vulnerable groups, poverty, socio-economic development and the rights to health and education. Cuba wished Saint Lucia well in implementing the recommendations and pledged its solidarity and support.

MAJDA MOUTCHOU (Morocco) congratulated St. Lucia on its achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly, those related to the reduction of poverty, the promotion of equality between men and women and better access to education for children. Morocco noted the three recommendations it formulated concerning St. Lucia’s Universal Periodic Review examination which included the ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the signing and ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and continued progress with regard to development and democracy. Morocco recognized St. Lucia’s efforts in the field of development and wished that it would be able to put the recommendations made into practice.

EDGARDO TORO CARRENO (Venezuela) welcomed the spirit of constructive openness of the Government of Saint Lucia and the answers to questions related to the socio-economic situation. Venezuela commended Saint Lucia for their efforts in the fight against poverty, and so achieving significant reduction in extreme poverty rates, mainly due to social programmes such as the Fund for Social Development and others. Saint Lucia spared no efforts in achieving universal primary education, thus fighting poverty and advancing socio-economic development of the country. The international community should provide Saint Lucia with unconditional assistance to enable this country to achieve its development and protect and guarantee the future of its people.

KENITA PLACIDE, of Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, welcomed the Government’s commitment to accept a number of recommendations and its commitment to raise public awareness on issues of discrimination. There definitely existed State-sanctioned discrimination based on sexual orientation in Saint Lucia. There were discriminatory laws which had legitimized and perpetuated socio-cultural prejudices and facilitated violence and other violations by state and non-state actors. In reference to the Government’s response that Saint Lucia could not accept recommendations 92 and 96, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network asked to see strong recommendations in regard to reminding Saint Lucia that the rights of any minority could not be held hostage by the tyranny of the majority, to ensure the process remained accountable and transparent, and to remind the Government of Saint Lucia to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of everyone without discrimination.

MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG (Amnesty International) welcomed the fact that there had not been executions in Saint Lucia in 15 years, but regretted that St. Lucia had declared itself not in a position to move towards a formal moratorium on the use of the death penalty or its abolition. St. Lucia was urged to reconsider the recommendations made by many States regarding the death penalty and to abolish it; to commute all death sentences to prison sentences; and to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Amnesty International rejected Saint Lucia’s refusal to do so. Amnesty International also regretted St. Lucia’s rejection of a range of recommendations, including to decriminalize sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex and to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation.

DONATUS KEITH ST. AIMEE, Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia to the United Nations in New York, thanked those delegations which expressed their support and extended assistance to Saint Lucia to help it overcome its hurdles and challenges. The Constitution of the country protected all persons without distinction. It was important to Saint Lucia that it was shown that the country could fulfil the obligations it had undertaken, and it needed to move swiftly on the implementation of those obligations. The Government would revisit the recommendations and comments again and would try its best to integrate them into their development plans. Mr. St. Aimee thanked all for their patience while Saint Lucia moved into the next phase of the process.

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

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Saint Lucia

YAHYA SALIM AL-WAHAIBI, Permanent Representative of Oman to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Oman had adopted a positive attitude with all transparency towards the proceedings and recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review which was a good chance to review progress and accomplishments made in Oman and also to look at recommendations and experiences of Member States and profit from them in the continuous process of development in Oman. The comprehensive economic, social and human development in Oman was aimed at accomplishing the highest living standards within an integrative legislative mechanism within a framework of equality. The ministerial committee in Oman entrusted with reviewing the Universal Periodic Review and other authorities in Oman had examined the recommendations in order to decide the position of the Sultanate. Oman received 166 recommendations, of which 103 were accepted, 12 were rejected and 51 were under review. The Permanent Representative announced the acceptance of 39 of the 51 recommendations originally under review. Oman agreed to consider ratification of the two international human rights covenants as well as other human rights conventions. Oman also accepted recommendations for supporting the national human rights committee, due to its belief in the role such an institution could play. Revision of certain legislation and the adoption of certain mechanisms would also be implemented in accordance with recommendations. The process of revision was important in the pursuit of development and modernization in Oman.

ABDULLA FALAH ABDULLA AL-DOSARI (Qatar) said that after reviewing the report Qatar found that the Government of Oman had agreed to and approved 103 recommendations, and Qatar was grateful for the five recommendations that were accepted that Qatar had proposed. Qatar hailed the continued efforts exerted by the Sultanate of Oman to support human rights. The realization of economic, social and cultural rights was particularly important for Qatar in the field of education and the rights of women.

MOHAMMAD KARAKUTLY (Saudi Arabia) recognized the Sultanate of Oman for its positive dealings with the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council. Oman had accepted most of the recommendations, including those put forward by Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia noted that this showed that Oman was interested in human rights and that it had been careful and attentive in implementing human rights recommendations. The Universal Periodic Review of the Sultanate of Oman was an opportunity to uncover the efforts of the Government in order to develop its laws in a manner consistent with the protection of human rights.

DHARAR ABDUL-RAZZAK RAZZOOQI (Kuwait) said that Kuwait commended the efforts of Oman in accepting recommendations during the interactive dialogue. Great strides had been made in improving human rights in the field and Kuwait welcomed the open invitation of Oman to Special Procedures. Finally, Kuwait recommended that the Council adopt the report on Oman.

BOUALEM CHEBIHI (Algeria) said Algeria commended the efforts of Oman in the field of human rights and the efforts made for human development. Oman had received 166 recommendations, 64 of which had been accepted immediately. Algeria looked forward to replies of Oman with regard to recommendations that had been postponed. Algeria welcomed the acceptance of recommendations proposed by Algeria and the ratification by Oman of a number of international instruments. Oman’s attitude testified to its attachment to the promotion and protection of human rights and Algeria wished the people of Oman all the best.

KSHENUKA SENEWIRATNE (Sri Lanka) commended the comprehensive engagement of government and civil society stakeholders in the Universal Periodic Review process. The extension of free universal education for Omani citizens was significant. Sri Lanka noted that significant progress had been made with regard to migrant workers, including the establishment of legal structures for the protection of workers’ rights in conformity with international standards. Sri Lanka appreciated Oman’s commitment to ensure coordination in the follow-up to the Universal Periodic Review among all human rights stakeholders, including national human rights institutions and civil society to evaluate the outcome of the review and develop national plans and relevant legislation.

YUMIRKA FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba) congratulated Oman for being committed to the Universal Periodic Review process. When the report of Oman was examined by the Member States, the positive steps Oman had taken in regard to the rights to health and education, human trafficking and discrimination against people with disabilities were noted by Cuba. Cuba had issued recommendations on the rights to health and education, and women’s employment and a more general role for women in economic activity. Cuba appreciated that many of the recommendations had been accepted, including those of Cuba, and was pleased with the clarifications provided by Oman. It was now up to Oman to implement the recommendations and put in place plans to fulfill human rights.

OBAID SALEM SAEED AL ZAABI (United Arab Emirates) commended the measures adopted by the Sultanate of Oman within the Universal Periodic Review. Achievements in the fields of education and health and other efforts to achieve a decent life for all citizens of Oman were noted. The United Arab Emirate welcomed the political will of Oman to implement human rights principles in its policies.

JOHN C. MARIZ (United States) supported the recommendations made to Oman to enhance assistance and rights protection mechanisms for migrant and domestic workers, and expressed appreciation to Oman for its acceptance of recommendations regarding freedom of expression and labour rights. In that regard the United States noted Oman’s appropriate restraint as it dealt with ongoing labor protests and proactive engagement of job seekers. Oman was encouraged to continue its efforts to raise employer and employee awareness of labour rights and responsibilities under national and international law.

IMAD ZUHAIRI (Palestine) said Palestine welcomed the efforts of the head of the delegation to explain the response to recommendations received during the Universal Periodic Review. The reaction of Oman to the recommendations testified to the Government’s positive attitude towards human rights. Oman had made great progress in this field and had cooperated with the United Nations bodies and mechanisms. The Universal Periodic Review exercise was a means for the Council to become more familiar with the actions of Oman to protect human rights.

BUDOOR AHMED (Bahrain) said that the acceptance by Oman of a great majority of recommendations demonstrated the commitment of Oman to human rights and to work with the Council. Bahrain was pleased that Oman had accepted recommendations by Bahrain, particularly those related to the study of human rights and increasing participation of women in political life.

MOHAMED ALI ALHAKIM (Iraq) thanked the delegation of Oman for its positive attitude throughout the Universal Periodic Review process and interactive dialogue. The acceptance by Oman of many of the recommendations testified to the Sultanate’s commitment to human rights. Iraq recommended that the Council adopt the Universal Periodic Review of Oman.

SALIH KILIC, of Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, said the economic dynamism of Oman attracted a large number of migrant workers. It was thus imperative that authorities took effective action to combat abuse. Despite some improvements in women’s rights, many challenges had to be met due to the vulnerability of women and practices which discriminated against them, particularly in rural areas. Women and children suffered under legislation that prevented them from enjoying their rights. The situation of children outside wedlock remained a concern. Given increased violence against bloggers critical of Oman, Recontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme urged Oman to lift restrictions on freedom of expression on the Internet.

YAHYA SALIM AL-WAHAIBI, Permanent Representative of Oman to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Oman was fully committed to implementing all recommendations aimed at the promotion and protection of human rights. This was at the core of the Government’s programme and was not something that would get discarded after a while, Mr. Al-Wahaibi said. The promotion and protection of human rights could be achieved only if socio-economic conditions were on an equal footing. Oman thanked all delegations that had made contributions during the Universal Periodic Review, and thanked all non-governmental organizations for their contribution to the process. Oman thanked the members of the troika and the Secretariat of the Human Rights Council, who worked tirelessly during the Universal Periodic Review of Oman in January this year.

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

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Austria

CHRISTIAN STROHAL, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the Universal Periodic Review was one of the fundamental achievements of the Human Rights Council, a true celebration and reaffirmation of the principles of the universality of all human rights and the equality of all States. Austria was constantly striving to honour its commitments under the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action with sincerity and it was in this spirit that Austria had been for many years a member of the Human Rights Commission and had been an observer in this Council. Soon, Austria would join the Council as one of its new members. The Universal Periodic Review had recognised that Austria had a pretty high standard of human rights protection and had provided Austria with an opportunity to take a new look at its human rights situation. It had injected a new vigour to the debate on human rights at the national level. Austria received 161 recommendations of which 97 were immediately accepted, 10 were rejected and 54 were left for further considerations. Austria had accepted 131 recommendations overall and was committed to their successive implementation.

The preparation of the national report had been done with involvement of civil society and consideration of recommendations received was a new phase in the process. Austria was now entering yet another phase of implementation which required an appropriate institutional framework. Austria’s mechanism for the implementation was led by the human rights coordinators of the Federal Ministry and of Provincial Governments. With regard to reservations to international treaties, the Government had accepted a number of recommendations to withdraw reservations to some international instruments, particularly concerning the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Austria had accepted a number of recommendations referring to a national human rights institution and had rejected some too. Recommendations aimed at strengthening of the existing institutional framework were accepted, comprising the Austrian Ombudsman Board, which had extended its monitoring activities during the last years, and specialised ombudsperson mechanisms for equal treatment and anti-discrimination. In the course of the candidature of Austria to the Human Rights Council, the country had committed itself to the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and had accepted a number of recommendations in this regard.

On the rights of the child, Austria had approved a bill in January that had incorporated children’s rights into the Federal Constitution. A number of recommendations with regard to the full realisation of the rights of minorities had been accepted as well and a historic breakthrough had been reached on bilingual topographic signs in Carinthia. From among the previously pending recommendations, the Government had accepted recommendation to harmonise different levels of protection from discrimination and noted that this was a long-term project. Also, Austria had accepted recommendations to amend its provision against incitement to hatred, attacks on minority groups and equal protection for all religious minorities. Austria was strongly committed to combat racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia and to strengthen measures for integration of migrants into the society. A good deal of recommendations that did not enjoy the support of Austria pertained to the signing of the Migrant Workers Convention, which Austria did not intend to sign or ratify since the rights enshrined therein were already fully protected by Austrian laws and the European Union regulations.

MOHAMED SALIM SAMAR (Algeria) said Algeria wished to take the opportunity to congratulate Austria for its election as a member of the Human Rights Council. Algeria was confident that this would further strengthen the contribution of Austria to the advancement of human rights causes and the promotion of dialogue and cooperation through bridge-building across conceptual and cultural divides. Algeria had submitted three recommendations to Austria on combating manifestations of racism and xenophobia in political rhetoric, removing obstacles for women’s accession to the labour market, and acceding to the Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. Algeria took positive note of the willingness of Austria to implement the first two recommendations, but would have wished to see Austria accept the third recommendation regarding the Convention on Migrant Workers. Algeria recommended the adoption of the report of Austria.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) welcomed the commitment of Austria to the Universal Periodic Review that was illustrated by its acceptance of 131 out of the 161 recommendations received. Austria’s inclusion of civil society in the review of the report was considered to be a good practice, which Morocco suggested that all States should follow. Austria had held expanded consultations to consider the report of the Universal Periodic Review, in which civil society took part. Morocco noted that the review of Austria’s periodic report was an opportunity to consider the situation of human rights, particularly regarding the Government’s efforts in the fight against racism and xenophobia, amelioration of the situation of migrants and their integration in Austrian society, as well as the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights and the project for the constitutionalization of those rights.

SEYED HOSSEIN ZOLFAGHARI (Iran) said Iran welcomed the acceptance by Austria of around half of the recommendations made during the meetings of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group. Iran remained concerned over a number of human rights violations in Austria, including mounting trends and instances of Islamophobia and provocative motions and remarks by the right wing parties against Islam and Muslims. Iran also noted alarming cases of hate speech and an atmosphere of hostility by some politicians and discriminatory attitudes and manifestations of racism against migrant communities, in particular Muslims and the Roma. Iran called upon the Government of Austria to adopt and take effective measures to address the recommendations made during the Working Group session including those made by Iran.

VLADIMIR CHIRINCIUC (Republic of Moldova) expressed thanks to Austria for complementary inputs on recommendations. The Republic of Moldova welcomed Austria’s long-standing record of active engagement not only to ensure the protection of human rights on the national level, but also to advance human rights in the international system. The Republic of Moldova was pleased to congratulate Austria for its recent election as a member of the Human Rights Council. The Republic of Moldova commended the Austrian Government for its commitment to continue the fruitful dialogue with civil society in the follow-up to the review. The Republic of Moldova appreciated the acceptance of both recommendations provided and expressed satisfaction with Austria’s recent incorporation of children’s rights in the Federal Constitution. The Republic of Moldova noted the ratification process of the Convention on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances and the inclusion of enforced disappearances as a criminal offense.

BABAK BARMAYEH, of Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, regretted that over the years Austria’s actual contribution to official development assistance had lagged far behind its pledges. However Sudwind welcomed the Ambassador’s statement that Austria would accept the recommendation in the Universal Periodic Review that Austria increase its official development assistance to 0.7% of the country’s gross national income. In this regard it was noted that Austria had not only failed in terms of contributions to official development assistance, but also in terms of the content and thrust of its development policy. Sudwind was critical of the shift in Austrian development policy away from combating poverty to setting new priorities and focusing on the Black Sea Region and the Danube Basin, where Austria was primarily pursuing its foreign trade interests. As a member of the Human Rights Council, Austria’s propagation and realization of human rights was in the spotlight.

MAIDAH JAMSHED RAO, of Islamic Human Rights Commission, said that the anti-racism institution ZARA based in Vienna had reported that there had been over 745 cases of racial abuse against Muslim women who chose to wear the headscarf, with the number of verbal abuses on the rise. The Commission noted that prejudice against Muslims had become institutionalized where employment offices often considered the headscarf as a disability in a job search and rejected others for not being of Austrian origin. The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia stated that there was an atmosphere being created where Muslims had to defend themselves and explain that they were not terrorists.

JUSTUS EISFIELD, of European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation (ILGA-EUROPE), commended Austria for accepting recommendations to include a gender identity and sexual orientation perspective in measures against incitement to hatred and to combat gender-based discrimination in the workplace. The Federation encouraged the Government to uphold its commitment in relation to equal protection against discrimination on the basis of gender identity and to consider gender identity as a ground for asylum procedures for those cases where transgender persons faced or feared violence. They encouraged Austria to share best practices on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity with other countries and to critically self-examine if further adjustment of policies needed to take place.

DORTHE CHRISTENSEN, of Amnesty International, said that Amnesty International welcomed Austria’s support of the great majority of recommendations made to it during the review and encouraged the authorities to use the dialogue to improve the human rights situation in Austria. Amnesty International appreciated the Government’s efforts to involve civil society in the preparation of the national report, but noted that certain aspects of the consultation process needed to be improved for future consultations. Amnesty International welcomed the support of the Government on the criminalisation of torture in domestic laws and urged the Government to set a precise time-frame for this endeavour and to meet all the criteria required by the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, including the requirement to give due consideration to the Paris Principles. Amnesty International urged Austria to systematically tackle the issue of impunity and structural racism in the criminal justice system.

MANISH NAYAK, of Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, appreciated Austria’s large consultation with civil society and other national institutions during the preparation for the Universal Periodic Review process. The incorporation of children’s rights into the constitution was commendable. The allotment of 50 per cent of the national budget for labour market policy to be spent on programmes to improve women’s chances in the labour market was a great step for the empowerment of women. Giving free legal and psychological support to victims of domestic violence showed Austria’s interest in upholding the value of human rights. Although anti-discrimination laws had been tightened in recent years, racially motivated policy misconduct towards foreign nationals, asylum seekers and ethnic minorities was a concern.

JULIE GROMELLON, of International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, welcomed recommendations made by the Universal Periodic Review Working Group, which highlighted structural human rights deficits and emphasized that asylum and migrants legislation was not in compliance with international human rights law. There was a lack of respect towards ethnic and national minorities’ cultural rights, human rights, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, and the rights of person with disabilities. The International Federation of Human Rights Leagues welcomed the significant number of recommendations accepted by Austria, but was concerned that the Government refused to adopt a national action plan on combating racism and xenophobia, and had not accepted the recommendations that Austria ensured minors were not held in policy custody or detention.

ELLEN WALKER, of European Disabilities Forum, noted that Austria had ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008 and had committed itself to the principles and rights enshrined therein. However in order to realize the comprehensive participation of persons with disabilities in Austrian society, inclusion of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in all measures which affected them must be guaranteed from the outset. It was noted that the depiction of disability in Austria had to be changed. Disability in Austria was still defined through the medical instead of the social model and Austria lacked a national policy to establish comprehensive accessibility for persons with disabilities. Numerous barriers existed that prevented persons with disabilities from equal and independent participation in many areas of life. The Austrian education was described as non inclusive and non supportive of persons with disabilities. It was noted that persons with disabilities faced an above average risk of living in poverty of 18 per cent, and that women of working age were the most affected by manifest poverty.

JANA BRANDT, of Society for Threatened People, said that Article 7 of the State Treaty of 1955 concerning the rights of Slovene minorities in the province of Carinthia and Styria and the rights of the Croat minority in the province of Burgenland set out a number of measures to protect the rights of these minorities including language rights, education rights and cultural rights. Since 2000 it was noted that more than 30 decisions of the Constitutional Court had been rendered, each of which highlighted different aspects of the State Treaty and the Government’s failure to comply with both article 7 of the State Treaty as well as the interpretations by the Constitutional Court. The Society for Threatened Peoples urged Austria to comply with international obligations and determine bilingual territory that was in use for bilingual schools, also for all other minority rights of the Slovene minority in Carinthia: topographical terminology and inscriptions in the Slovene language as well as for the use of Slovene language before administrative authorities and courts and to include the Slovene minority in the province of Styria.

CHRISTIAN STROHAL, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in his closing observations said that the importance of open and transparent cooperation with civil society and non-governmental organizations in the whole process of preparation and the follow-up of the Universal Periodic Review could not be over-emphasized. Austria was therefore looking forward to maintaining ongoing dialogue with civil society on the implementation of its Universal Periodic Review recommendations. On the Migrant Workers Convention, Austria noted that national and European Union legislation already covered this field. Concerning the manifestations of Islamophobia and hate speech, Austria reiterated that the Government took this very seriously and that a new bill was being submitted in this regard. The cases of police misconduct were being taken very seriously and were being dealt with through the judicial system and prosecution. Austria was willing to maintain dialogue on all recommendations made at the occasion of its Universal Periodic Review and would come back to them in the interim update to be presented to the Council.

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

Discussion on Representation of Libya in the Council during an Upcoming Meeting on Follow-up to the Special Session on Libya

SIHASAK PHUANGKETKEOW, President of the Human Rights Council, informed the Council of the decision of the Bureau concerning the modalities of the interactive dialogue in the follow up to the fifteenth Special Session of the Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in Libya. The Human Rights Council had received the request of the Transitional Government to participate in the interactive dialogue and this had been discussed by the Bureau over several days. The Bureau’s position was based on the mandate of the Human Rights Council and the applicable rules and procedures, in particular the United Nations General Assembly resolution whereby the credentials of the current Government of Libya remained recognised. The Council recalled the United Nations General Assembly resolution suspending the membership of Libya in the Human Rights Council and considered that the current Government of Libya should be able to take the floor in this Council as the concerned country and be given an opportunity to react to the report by the Commission of Inquiry. This decision would apply to the follow-up session only. A representative of the Transitional National Government would also be given an opportunity to speak. The President then opened the floor for statements by the delegations.

RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba), speaking on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries, said Cuba had one matter it wanted to raise. The President’s summary was correct except for one minor detail. Cuba was flexible as to who could speak, but it should be clear that the representation could not be taken on behalf of an authority which had not been recognized. Cuba had always said that it would give the floor to representatives of the opposition from Benghazi or Libya, or whatever the group chose to call itself. However, the Transitional National Government had not been recognized by members of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries. Cuba was flexible, saw no major problem and but wanted to acknowledge that the speaker represented the opposition forces, not an authority.

ALBERTO J. DUMONT (Argentina) said the suspension of Libya from the Council with regard to the recognition of the regime in Tripoli had significant legal implications, including reaching implications that went over and above this one institution. As responsible Governments, States could not take such important decisions simply based on a text read out by the President of the Human Rights Council. Argentina stressed that the text had to be consulted by all capitals before anything was finalized. This was a discussion that was undertaken in the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries regarding speakers taking on a specific position and regarding specific institutions. Argentina found the suggestions made by the President of the Human Rights Council to be problematic. The suggestion that the President aciculate the proposed language was put forward so that delegations would have more time to consult with their capitals.

MUTAZ FALEH HYASSAT (Jordan) said that in the view of the comments by Cuba and Argentina, Jordan wished to maintain its position which it had consistently expressed during the discussions. Jordan said that the membership of Libya to the Human Rights Council had been suspended by the United Nations General Assembly, and therefore it should not participate in the interactive dialogue on the report of the Commission of Inquiry. Jordan had demonstrated its flexibility and agreed with an option that Libya be given a chance to react to the report. Neither of those options was accepted and Jordan hoped that this decision would not imply the recognition of the regime in Tripoli. Jordan requested that its disassociation from the decision be reflected in the records.

IRUTHISHAM ADAM (Maldives) held that gross and systematic violations of human rights had been committed by the authorities of Tripoli against their own people. The regime had lost its legitimacy and the right to govern. The Maldives had recognized the Transitional National Government as the sole legitimate authority. The Maldives did not want to obstruct the efforts of the Council and the President to move forward on this issue, but wanted it to show on the record that this did not represent the views of the Maldives.

SIHASAK PHUANGKETKEOW, President of the Human Rights Council, said that the Bureau had had extensive discussions on this issue and had consulted with regional and political groups. Mr. Phuangketkeow said that he had heard the views expressed by the representative of Argentina and suspended the meeting for fifteen minutes to circulate the text as requested.

SIHASAK PHUANGKETKEOW, President of the Human Rights Council, stated there had been intensive consultations regarding the participation of Libya in the meeting which would hear from the Commission of Inquiry. The issues had not yet been resolved. The President proposed to move the meeting of the Commission of Inquiry to Thursday and proposed to have another round of consultations on the participation of Libya on Wednesday, 8 June at 9 a.m. The President hoped that before the consultation took place, delegates would have consultations with their respective regional and political groups, as well as with their capitals, so as to be ready to discuss the issues and make an agreement based on consensus. The President would inform the parties concerned of the location of the meeting.

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For use of the information media; not an official record