Human Rights Council adopts outcomes of Universal Periodic Review on Latvia, Sierra Leone and Singapore

Human Rights Council
MORNING

22 September 2011

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review on Latvia, Sierra Leone and Singapore.

Raimonds Jansons, Permanent Representative of Latvia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Latvia had received 122 recommendations out of which 71 were accepted, 7 were rejected and 44 were left for further examination. Latvia appreciated that there were areas where improvements were needed, and would consider ratification of other human rights instruments, although they did not intend to sign and ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Latvia had submitted to their parliament a draft law to abolish the death penalty. The Constitution guaranteed human rights, which were applied without discrimination and all were equal before the courts. Latvia would continue to protect the rights of children, women and those with disabilities. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons were protected by laws on freedom of expression. The right to vote was an inalienable attribute of citizenship, and non citizens were ensured access to naturalization. Latvia was strongly committed to preventing cases of human trafficking.

In the discussion on Latvia, speakers noted with satisfaction Latvia’s commitment to combat human trafficking, but said they needed to be more vigorous in combating violence and abuse against women. It was recommended that Latvia raise the status of the ombudsman to that of a national human rights institution. A speaker welcomed Latvia’s pledge to issue among the first States a standing invitation to United Nations Special Procedures. However they needed to fully observe the rights of national monitories, dismantle the system of non citizenship and address structural discrimination, racial hatred and intolerance. Some speakers expressed concern about the rejection of the recommendation to recognize the diversity of family forms; Latvia should ensure equal rights between same sex and opposite sex couples in its legislation so that children of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals were not discriminated against. Speakers also voiced concern about discrimination against migrants, Roma, young women, Russian citizen workers and refugees in Latvia.

Algeria, the Russian Federation, Estonia, and the Republic of Moldova took the floor, as did the following non-governmental organizations: European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation and Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme.

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

Franklyn Bai Kargbo, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of Sierra Leone, said that Sierra Leone addressed 101 of the 129 recommendations put forward by States, and would submit the outstanding 28 to the stakeholders and the people of Sierra Leone for proper determination. Sierra Leone had undertaken work in the area of citizenship policies, treaty reporting, and women, among others. Interviews had been taking place and the process would continue to ensure that the situation of people with claims to citizenship would be ameliorated. The Government was considering fast-tracking treaty reporting and had in principle agreed to a 40 per cent quota in public life and parliamentary composition for women. The Government had recently instituted the agenda of an equality commission and had started the process of reporting on both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture. The first step that Sierra Leone wanted to take would be commissioning a national human rights action plan which would serve as a blueprint to ensuring that recommendations were addressed and the goal of protecting and promoting human rights in Sierra Leone was assured.

In the discussion on Sierra Leone, speakers said that there was a constructive commitment by Sierra Leone to the Universal Periodic Review evidenced by an acceptance of 126 recommendations out of 129 and congratulated Sierra Leone for accepting most of the recommendations, which indicated its will and determination to protect human rights. Speakers were pleased that Sierra Leone had agreed to the recommendations to counter violence against women, to improve conditions in prisons, to protect the rights of children and to promote the role of women in society in the implementation of the recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Speakers congratulated Sierra Leone for the efforts undertaken to ensure peace and security, and truth and reconciliation. Development and human rights protection efforts required solidarity and support for the Government efforts to implement recommendations. Sierra Leone was also commended for its efforts to promote transparency and for its reintegration of the various victims of war, and its promise to take steps to eliminate child labour and forced labour and to enhance respect for the rights of workers. Several speakers called on the international community to support Sierra Leone with the technical assistance it required to allow it to fulfil the recommendations.

Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco and Nigeria took the floor, as did the following non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions: Sierra Leone human Right Commission, World Vision International in a joint statement with World Vision Sierra Leone, Save the Children, Amnesty International, and Recontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme.

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

Tan Yee Woan, Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that in May, Singapore received 112 recommendations of which it accepted 52, rejected 21 and deferred 39 recommendations for further discussions within the Government and with relevant stakeholders. After careful consideration, Singapore had decided to accept 23 of the pending recommendations in part and 9 in full. Overall, the majority of the recommendations Singapore was not able to support were those related to crime and security issues, for instance, recommendations to end the mandatory death penalty and corporal punishment; and those pertaining to the establishment of a national human rights institution. Similarly, Singapore believed that the best approach for addressing children’s rights and issues was through an integrated system of legislation, policies and services. Singapore did not accept the recommendation to accept the Bangkok Rules since each country should determine the best approach in ensuring the proper treatment of women prisoners. Singapore accepted in part many recommendations concerning the ratification of international human rights instruments, but it was necessary to ensure the domestic framework was ready to implement obligations fully and effectively.

In the discussion on Singapore, speakers commended Singapore for having a successful review and it was noteworthy to recall that half of the recommendations made by the Member States in this Council had enjoyed the support of Singapore and almost all were so far addressed in a positive manner. They were encouraged with Singapore’s continued commitment to the promotion and protection of the human rights of its people and particularly commended the efforts made by the Government of Singapore on its best practices on ways to tackle the issue of trafficking in persons. Singapore was urged to strengthen and promote the protection of the human rights of children, especially children with disabilities and the specific needs of women prisoners and offenders. Some speakers regretted Singapore’s unwillingness to consider important recommendations dealing with political and civil rights, including steps toward repealing all laws permitting arbitrary detention without charge or trial and the abolition of the death penalty. Singapore should reject the use of the death penalty which included the imposition of non discretionary death sentences for alleged drug traffickers. Speakers urged the Government to engage with a broader base of non-government organizations.

Speaking on Singapore were Viet Nam, Brunei Darussalam, Thailand, Indonesia,
Laos Democratic People’s Republic, Myanmar, Malaysia, Cambodia, India, United States, and Saudi Arabia. The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: International Council on Social Welfare in a joint statement with Article 19,
Human Rights Watch, Conscience and Peace Tax International, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, International Federation for Human Rights, and Amnesty International.

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

The Council today is holding a full-day of meetings from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. During the midday meeting, the Council will continue its interactive dialogue on the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Belarus and will then start its general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention. During the afternoon meeting, the Council will consider the Universal Periodic Reviews of Suriname, Greece and Samoa.

Universal Periodic Review on Latvia

RAIMONDS JANSONS, Permanent Representative of Latvia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the preparation process and examination had been an excellent method to view the relevant government institutions and the ombudsman’s office. During the interactive dialogue Latvia had aimed to deliver substantive replies. Latvia had received 122 recommendations out of which 71 were accepted, 7 were rejected and 44 were left for further examination. Many of those accepted were already implemented or were in the process of implementation. Several steps had resonated positively in other countries. Latvia appreciated that there were areas where improvements needed to take place. These were developed in the addendum of the working group’s report.

Latvia was a committed member of the international community and since the 1990s had become party to the core human rights instruments. The possibility of ratifying the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights, the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance would be considered gradually and in due course. Concerning the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, the Government’s profound analysis showed that the Latvian legal system was based on adherence to international human rights treaties and European Union regulations. As such Latvia did not intend to sign and ratify this convention. The recommendation that Latvia ratify the second Optional Protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, abolishing the death penalty in times of war, was accepted and Latvia had already taken immediate action on its implementation. Concerning the abolition of death penalty in all circumstances, a draft law had been submitted to parliament.

During the Universal Periodic Review, numerous inquires were made concerning the set up of the Latvian Ombudsman office. Latvia had received recommendations that the Ombusdman should seek accreditation to the National Human Rights Institutions Coordination Committee. Latvia did not envisage enlarging the mandate of the Ombudsman. It already had the right to initiate ex officio action and was able to draw the attention of parliament and the government to perceived abuses and could submit applications to the Constitutional Court. In some cases it was able to submit an application to court on general jurisdiction. The Ombudsman’s strategy was set to launching a procedure for accreditation to the National Human Rights Institutions Coordination Committee.

The Constitution guaranteed human rights were applied without discrimination and all were equal before the courts. Prohibition on discrimination also applied in sectoral laws. Latvia would continue to protect the rights of children, women and those with disabilities. Mainstreaming was ensuring results. Attention of some recommendations was focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons were protected by laws on freedom of expression and no violence had been reported against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons as such. Victims of crimes were provided with accessible and effective mechanisms for protecting rights. Law enforcement agencies would continue combating discrimination within their mandate.

The right to vote was an inalienable attribute of citizenship. Non citizens were ensured the access to naturalization which so far had been used by more than 140,000 non citizens. Latvia was strongly committed to preventing cases of human trafficking. The Latvian Government had made substantial efforts in order to improve physical conditions in places of detention and prisons. It was important to strengthen overall respect for human rights. Awareness campaigns on specific human rights issues were being carried out in cooperation with the State Ombudsman, non-governmental organizations and the mass media. Latvia in 21 years had developed modern comprehensive legislation and an institutional system for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Latvia had put forwards its candidature for the Human Rights Council elections in 2014.

BOUALEM CHEBIH (Algeria) welcomed the Latvian delegation and their presentation. Algeria expressed great appreciation for the frankness with which the delegation had described and approached the problems and shortcomings faced by Latvia and what had been done with respect to the recommendations. Algeria noted that 122 recommendations were made, which attested to the interest of delegations on the human rights situation in Latvia. As part of its recommendations, Algeria had suggested raising the status of the ombudsman to that of a national human rights institution and to continue efforts to combat human trafficking. The recommendation concerning the ratification of the International Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers had not been accepted, but Algeria hoped that Latvia’s position concerning the rights of these vulnerable populations would be further reviewed. Algeria wished Latvia good luck in the implementation of these recommendations.

DEMITRY STEGNIY (Russian Federation) said the Russian Federation regretted that Latvia had not accepted many recommendations made by many States, including on the elimination of the unacceptable system of non-citizenship. The Russia Federation said there was a need to immediately grant non citizens the right to participate in the political process and noted that the rejection of this and recommendations to codify racist and xenophobia behaviour under the guise that current measures already took in account these issues was evidence that Latvia had refused to acknowledge the acute human rights problems in the county, notably the deprivation of human rights for national minorities. Negative facts disseminated and encouraged by the Government of Latvia were a direct violation of international human rights law. The Russian Federation called on Latvia to fully observe the rights of national monitories, to dismantle the system of non citizenship and to address structural discrimination, racial hatred and intolerance.

JURI SEILENTHAL (Estonia) said Estonia was pleased to note that Latvia had already implemented and continued to implement the rights of children and persons with disabilities. Estonia shared a similar historical experience with Latvia. The creation of a modern system of legislative protection in a short period of 20 year was an achievement. Estonia supported the standing invitation to Special Procedures by Latvia and extended its congratulations to Latvia on the adoption of the report.

VLADIMIR CHIRINCIUC (Republic of Moldova) applauded the constructive engagement of Latvia with the Universal Periodic Review process, which was indeed a unique process for improving the human rights situation in the country as well as an opportunity to exchange best practices. The Republic of Moldova welcomed Latvia’s pledge to issue among the first States a standing invitation to United Nations Special Procedures and actively promote standing invitations. The Republic of Moldova acknowledged the acceptance of the significant number of recommendation and the acceptance of the recommendations made by the Republic of Moldova; it welcomed the commitment to ensure the compliance of the Ombudsman institution according to the Paris Principles. The Republic of Moldova noted with satisfaction Latvia’s commitment to adopt appropriate measures in order to prosecute and punish perpetrators of human trafficking and to develop effective systems for the timely prevention of sexual exploitation and trafficking in children.

BJORN VAN ROOZENDAAL, of European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation, recommended that the Government of Latvia establish a concrete plan on the implementation of anti-discrimination measures and to work in close cooperation and consultation with civil society organizations. There was concern about the rejection of the recommendation to recognize the diversity of family forms and thus Latvia should reconsider its position and ensure equal rights between same sex and opposite sex couples in its legislation and policies to ensure that children of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender individuals were not discriminated against, for example by introducing the possibility of partnership registration.

UNATHI NGALKA, of Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, said it was concerned about discrimination against migrants, Roma, young women, Russian citizen workers and refugees in Latvia. Since 2000, Latvia had adopted legislation to combat human trafficking but the legislation should be more vigorous in combating violence and abuse against women. Latvia should continue to create mechanisms for human rights education for police and the security forces and to ratify the Convention Against all Forms of Discrimination against Women.

RAIMONDS JANSONS, Permanent Representative of Latvia to the United National Office at Geneva, in concluding remarks, said Latvia wished to thank all the delegations that had immersed themselves and analyzed the Latvian human rights situation as well as non-governmental organizations that maintained a dialogue with them during the process. This would continue, including through the projects that had been successfully initiated.

Universal Periodic Review on Sierra Leone

FRANKLYN BAI KARGBO, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of Sierra Leone, said that during the review of Sierra Leone 129 recommendations were put forward by States. Sierra Leone addressed 101 of those recommendations at the time and promised to submit the outstanding 28 to the stakeholders and the people of Sierra Leone for proper determination of its response. The report was presented to the President of Sierra Leone along with recommendations for a nationwide consultation. With technical assistance from the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone, those consultations were conducted in August by the Ministry of Justice and the Human Rights Secretariat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The content of those consultations consisted of a presentation of the report of the review. The remaining 28 recommendations were carefully discussed and a final decision was reached, the turn out was higher than anticipated and the feedback tallied in the final outcome. Sierra Leone accepted 126 recommendations, including recommendation 82.1 with the clarification that Parliament must consider the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and accepted recommendations 82.2-82.4 and 82.14-82.25 subject to constitutional review; and recommendations 82.11-82.13 with a call for technical assistance. Sierra Leone, however, rejected recommendations 82.7-82.9. Sierra Leone, since the presentation took place in May, had undertaken work in the area of citizenship policies, treaty reporting, and women, among others. Interviews had been taking place and the process would continue to ensure that the situation of people with claims to citizenship would be ameliorated. The Government was considering fast-tracking treaty reporting and had in principle agreed to a 40 per cent quota in public life and parliamentary composition. The Government had recently instituted the agenda of an equality commission and had started the process of reporting on both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against torture, which final reports had been scheduled for 1 November 2011. The first steps that Sierra Leone wanted to take concerning the implementation of recommendations would be formulating and commissioning a national human rights action plan which would serve as a blueprint to ensuring that recommendations were addressed and the goal of protecting and promoting the human rights in Sierra Leone was assured.

IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria) said Algeria appreciated the high quality of the presentation by the delegation of Sierra Leone on the position of the Government and welcomed the consultative and participative approach in the Universal Periodic Review process. There was a constructive commitment by Sierra Leone to the Universal Periodic Review evidenced by an acceptance of 126 recommendations out of 129. The use of technical assistance would make it possible to implement the various plans in support of human rights, notably, the National Plan for Equality. Algeria was pleased that Sierra Leone had agreed to the recommendations to counter violence against women and to improve conditions in prisons. Algeria called on the international community to support Sierra Leone with the technical assistance it required to implement its obligations to promote and protect human rights.

MOHAMEDOU TANDIA (Mauritania) congratulated Sierra Leone for accepting most of the recommendations, which indicated its will and determination to protect human rights. Mauritania called on the international community to provide assistance to Sierra Leone to allow it to fulfill the recommendations.

MAJDA MOUTCHOU (Morocco) said that the acceptance and determination to implement many of the recommendations made during the review process, including the two recommendations made by Morocco concerning the protection of the rights of children and the promotion of the role of women in society in the implementation of the recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, constituted an act of good will. As Morocco underlined during the review process, legal and institutional measures, good governance and achievements in human rights areas, illustrated the commitment of the authorities concerning the question of human rights. Morocco congratulated Sierra Leone for the efforts undertaken to ensure peace and security, and truth and reconciliation. Development and human rights protection efforts required solidarity and support for the Government’s efforts to implement recommendations. Morocco wished Sierra Leone success in the implementation of the recommendations.

UMUNNA HUMPHREY ORJIAKO (Nigeria) said Nigeria commended Sierra Leone for its efforts to promote transparency and for its reintegration of the various victims of war. Nigeria recognized the efforts of the Government of Sierra Leone to consolidate peace and stability, to harmonize domestic legislation with international human rights instruments and its promise to take steps to eliminate child labour and forced labour and to enhance respect for the rights of workers. Nigeria encouraged the Government of Sierra Leone to continue with its programme of reconciliation and other efforts to improve the living standards of the people of Sierra Leone. Nigeria would support the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review report on Sierra Leone.

EDWARD SAM, of Sierra Leone Human Rights Commission, said the Sierra Leone Human Rights Commission hoped that the Universal Periodic Review process would allow the Sierra Leone Government to improve its engagement with human rights mechanisms. The Sierra Leone’s Human Rights Commission supported recommendations concerning ratification of international instruments and the recommendation to ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that prohibited the death penalty. The Sierra Leone Human Rights Commission looked forward to establishing a working group on the implementation of the recommendations so that progress could be reported at the next review. The Sierra Leone Human Rights Commission hoped the development of a National Action Plan on human rights and the rights of children would include measures to implement the new United Nations Principles on Business and Human Rights.

JENNIFER PHILPOT-NISSEN, of World Vision International, speaking also on behalf of World Vision Sierra Leone, said Sierra Leone had one of the highest rates of under 5 mortality. Though the rate had fallen, it remained far from being on track for achieving goals 4 and 5 of the Millennium Development Goals relating to maternal and child mortality. Measures to combat challenges would be greatly improved if the Government could commit to increase its annual expenditure to health to 15 per cent.

DAVINIA BONDI OVETTA, of Save the Children, in a joint statement, welcomed the report, in particular the part on children’s rights, and commended the Government of Sierra Leone for immediately accepting 101 recommendations of the working group. Save the Children expressed concerns regarding the inadequate implementation of the 2000 Child Rights Act, as key aspects of its implementation were yet to be established. Save the Children also lamented the amendment to the act making the Children’s Commission dependent on the Government and expressed concerns with regards to the situation of female genital mutilation.

MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG, of Amnesty International, congratulated Sierra Leone on accepting recommendations concerning the issue of the death penalty and ratification of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Amnesty International urged Sierra Leone to ensure that gaps in monitoring and accountability did not undermine progress in maternity healthcare and access to confidential planning and sexual health and reproductive services. Amnesty International urged the prompt implementation of the many recommendations on the elimination, prohibition and criminalization of female genital mutilation.

BIRO DIAWARA, of Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, said it had visited Sierra Leone before the outbreak of civil war in 1991 and noted the atrocities committed during this war, including the amputation of villagers, the rape of many women and the enrollment of children in the violent conflict. The indictment of Charles Taylor by the International Criminal Court had given hope to the numerous victims of these crimes. Today Sierra Leone was in the process of recovering and the Government should focus on overcoming the deep poverty in the country, reconstruction and national reconciliation, and fighting discrimination, particularly against albino children who were killed because of superstitious beliefs.

FRANKLYN BAI KARGBO, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of Sierra Leone, in concluding remarks said he wished to reiterate Sierra Leone’s commitment to the advancement of human rights in all spheres. In principle the Government of Sierra Leone accepted the abolition of the death penalty. In April this year all death sentences were converted to life imprisonment. Since May two more convictions had been made. There were moves to commute these but there were ongoing moves to appeal the sentences in the court of appeal. A special body had been set up for monitoring of a free healthcare system. This group was not limited to government functionaries. Some of the members of the group were development partners. The Government of Sierra Leone was taking all steps to ensure children enjoyed their rights. In particular, no child shared detention facilities with adult prisoners. Sierra Leone had established and strengthened the juvenile court system. Access to justice was receiving active attention. Approximately 70 per cent of the justice system went though the local courts. This had been brought into the formal system under the auspices of the chief justice. Recruitment and staffing was done thorough this office. The Government was committed and continued to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. On female genital mutilation, the Government continued to sensitize persons connected with this practice. The Government in principle accepted this was a practice that ought to be abolished. However, these were deeply rooted institutions. Change must be implemented on a progressive basis.

Universal Periodic Review on Singapore

TAN YEE WOAN, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Singapore to the United Nations, said that Singapore took a whole-of-government approach in the preparation of the Universal Periodic Review and undertook the process with an open mind. In May, Singapore received 112 recommendations of which it accepted 52, rejected 21 and deferred 39 recommendations for further discussions within the Government and with relevant stakeholders. After careful consideration, Singapore had decided to accept 23 of the pending recommendations in part and 9 in full. Overall, the majority of the recommendations Singapore was not able to support were those related to crime and security issues, for instance, recommendations to end the mandatory death penalty and corporal punishment; and those pertaining to the establishment of a national human rights institution. Similarly, Singapore believed that the best approach for addressing children’s rights and issues was through an integrated system of legislation, policies and services. Singapore did not accept the recommendation to accept the Bangkok Rules since each country should determine the best approach in ensuring the proper treatment of women prisoners. Singapore accepted in part many recommendations concerning the ratification of international human rights instruments, but it was necessary to ensure the domestic framework was ready to implement obligations fully and effectively. Singapore had ratified the International Labour Organization maritime labour convention in June 2011 and intended to accede to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the end of 2012; reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women had been partially withdrawn in June 2011.

Singapore appreciated the recommendations with respect to the protection of victims of trafficking and recognized its territory was an attractive destination for human smugglers and human trafficking. Singapore was developing a national plan of action to step up efforts to fight trafficking in persons. Singapore was committed to implementing the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Committee on the Rights of the Child, consistent with treaty obligations. Singapore had also made efforts in enhancing legal protection for women with recent amendments to the Women’s Charter in January 2011. Singapore had addressed the concerns raised by the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism during the interactive dialogue at the seventeenth session of the Council; the Government would continue to encourage and support civic and community initiatives that promoted harmony amongst different ethnic and religious communities. Singapore accepted in full a number of recommendations on migrant workers and the well-being of migrant workers. Civil society organizations had played a role in the follow-up to the Universal Periodic Review. Consistent with the consultations with local stakeholders undertaken in the preparation of the national report, another dialogue was held in August; and Singapore intended to continue with these interactions. Singapore would continue to work hard to improve the lives and well-being of Singaporeans while respecting the fundamental principles of human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Singapore Constitution.

VU DUNG (Viet Nam) commended Singapore for having a successful review and it was noteworthy to recall that half of the recommendations made by the Member States in this Council had enjoyed the support of Singapore and almost all were so far addressed in a positive manner. Viet Nam highly appreciated the acceptance by the Government of Singapore of three recommendations submitted by its delegation, namely to continue to carry out further measures to strengthen the harmony between different ethnic and religious communities; to undertake concrete and appropriate steps towards ratification and accession of international human rights instruments; and to establish an effective and inclusive process to follow up on the recommendations emerging from the Universal Periodic Review. Singapore acted in good faith during the review process and Viet Nam urged the Council to adopt the Universal Periodic Review Working Group’s report on Singapore.

NORAMALI DATO JUMAT (Brunei Darussalam) said Brunei Darussalam congratulated Singapore on its cooperation and constructive engagement with the United Nations human rights system. Brunei Darussalam was encouraged with Singapore’s continued commitment to the promotion and protection of the human rights of its people. Brunei Darussalam particularly commended the efforts made by the Government of Singapore on its best practices on ways to tackle the issue of trafficking in persons.

EKSIRI PINTARUCHI (Thailand) welcomed the acceptance of a number of recommendations made by Thailand, particularly in the area of migrant workers and trafficking, issues on which the two countries shared common concern and interests. Thailand urged Singapore to strengthen and promote the protection of the human rights of children, especially children with disabilities, and the specific needs of women prisoners and offenders. As a fellow Association of South East Asian Nations member, Thailand stood ready to support and cooperate with Singapore in its efforts to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights through bilateral as well as regional mechanisms, particularly in the Association of South East Asian Nations Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.

DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia) welcomed Singapore’s continued progress and stability coupled with constant respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of its population. Indonesia was particularly encouraged by the fact that Singapore had enacted robust laws against trafficking in persons. This had enabled better bilateral cooperation with Indonesia to combat this heinous practice. Indonesia welcomed the strong commitment of Singapore to the well being of migrant workers through regular reviews of its legislation, effective enforcement, and systematic education and outreach.

YONG CHANTHALANGSY (Laos People’s Democratic Republic) expressed appreciation for the presentation and update and noted that Singapore had accepted a large number of recommendations. The Singaporean multi-ethnic and multicultural society had lived peacefully throughout many decades; and the Government had made efforts to improve the living standards of its citizens along with human rights so as to further advance the lives and well-being of its people, especially concerning economic, social and cultural rights. The five fundamental principles governing Singaporean policy on human rights were welcomed. At the international level, Singapore took its international obligations seriously and consistently cooperated with the United Nations Human rights mechanisms and the international community to achieve its commitment in promoting and respecting human rights. Therefore, the Laos People’s Democratic Republic recommended the adoption of the report of the working group.

MAUG WAI (Myanmar) said Myanmar was pleased to note that Singapore had accepted the majority of recommendations including one put forward by Myanmar, to ensure foreign workers went through proper legal channels to work in Singapore. Myanmar appreciated the open and constructive manner in which Singapore’s delegation had engaged in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. Singapore was committed to strengthening interaction with human rights mechanisms, through invitations extended to the Special Rapporteurs and Myanmar also commended Singapore’s’ efforts to combat trafficking in persons. Singapore’s Universal Periodic Review report received strong support from Myanmar and it deserved to be adopted by the Human Rights Council.

OTHMAN HASHIM (Malaysia) welcomed Singapore’s intention to accede to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by 2012. Malaysia was aware of the need for Singapore and all countries to be afforded the necessary time and space in which to continue making improvements in the promotion and protection of human rights on the ground.

SUN SUON (Cambodia) said Cambodia took note of the commitment that Singapore had demonstrated in the acceptance of a large number of recommendations and the achievements of human rights in Singapore, especially in the fields of economic, social and cultural rights. Cambodia welcomed Singapore’s cooperation with the United Nations and the international community in its efforts to promote and protect human rights. As a fellow member of ASEAN, Cambodia looked forward to work with Singapore through a regional framework on human rights and recommended the adoption of the report of the working group.

GOPINATHAN ACHAMKULANGARE (India) said India took positive note of the receptive, candid, cooperative and constructive manner in which Singapore had chosen to approach the Universal Periodic Review. It was encouraging to note that Singapore had accepted 35 of the 54 recommendations made, along with 17 recommendations that were already in the process of implementation at the time of the adoption of the report in the Working Group. Of the remaining 39 recommendations, India took positive note that Singapore had accepted a majority of them, while providing a thorough and detailed response to each. India believed that Singapore had gained much from its earnest participation in the Universal Periodic Review and trusted that it would further intensify its efforts to implement the recommendations in the coming years.

EMILY NARKIS (United States) welcomed Singapore’s agreement to support many important recommendations. The United States was pleased to note Singapore’s intention to ratify the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the consideration being given to ratifying the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The United States applauded the recent free and fair presidential elections. The United States encouraged Singapore to reform it electoral process to allow opposition parties to field candidates in all constituencies. Recent acknowledgments of forced labour and forced prostitution and the formation of an interagency committee to combat trafficking were to be supported. The United States remain concerned about freedom of expression.

ABDULAZIZ M.O. ALWASI (Saudi Arabia) said Saudi Arabia noted the constructive attitude of Singapore and its positive engagement with the Universal Periodic Review. Saudi Arabia underlined Singapore’s full cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms and procedures and its readiness to pursue international cooperation and engage in a genuine dialogue on human rights. Singapore was also a party to the major international instruments and protocols. Saudi Arabia welcomed the cooperative approach of Singapore and valued the efforts for the promotion and protection of human rights. It hoped for the continued engagement of Singapore and wished it success.

BRAEWA MATHIAPORANAM, of Article 19 - The International Centre against Censorship, in a joint statement with Article 19, said the General Election on May 7 was a watershed. The ruling party – People’s Action Party – saw its popularity dive to an all time low of 60 per cent. Post election analyses reflected a chasm between people and the Government. Much of the dissatisfaction centred around social security issues and lack of – perceived or real - adequate protection against foreigners taking jobs, access to affordable housing and a frustration at still being ‘nannied’ by the Government. Singapore was poised for change. People wanted more say in policy and more freedom to express themselves. There was a definite change in the relationship between Government and people. After those elections and acknowledging readiness for change the Government had not supported most of the civil and political recommendations offered in this Universal Periodic Review. The Government remained resolute in this area giving little.

PHILIPPE DAM, of Human Rights Watch, regretted Singapore’s unwillingness to consider important recommendations dealing with political and civil rights including steps toward repeal of all laws permitting arbitrary detention without charge or trial and the abolition of the death penalty. Singapore should reject the use of the death penalty which included the imposition of non discretionary death sentences for alleged drug traffickers. Human Rights Watch urged Singapore to join the growing community of nations which have endorsed General Assembly resolution 62/149 on “Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty”. Singapore should also revise laws and State practice to ensure the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly in line with international standards.

DEREK BRETT, of Conscience and Peace Tax International, said that they had submitted a recommendation raising the issue of the non recognition of the right of conscientious objection but this was mislaid. There was however no indication that anything had changed about Singapore’s position on this issue.

KONG SOON TAN, of Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, said that following the outcome of recent elections, the Asian Forum welcomed the Prime Minister’s editorial saying that the Government must become more consultative. The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development urged the Government to engage with a broader base of non-government organizations. The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development urged the Government to revisit its position on capital punishment and preventative detention law. No efforts on migrant labour were being made to bring legislation into line with international standards. The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development viewed minimum wage as integral to a decent standard of living.

GLENN PAYOT of International Federation for Human Rights, said the Federation was disappointed about Singapore’s rejection of key recommendation, especially those on the full protection of civil and political rights. The International Federation for Human Rights was alarmed that certain statements made by Singapore seemed to suggest that the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly could be subjected to trade offs. They welcomed recommendations to review, amend or repeal deeply flawed legislation and their implementation that restricted the rights to freedom of expression; and deeply regretted that Singapore rejected recommendations for the abolition of the death penalty and corporal punishment, and called on Singapore to repeal all provisions that provided for mandatory death sentencing and an immediate moratorium on its use.

MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG, of Amnesty International, regretted that Singapore had rejected recommendations made by several States to end the use of mandatory death sentences and to impose a moratorium on the death penalty with a view to abolition; and expressed disappointment that Singapore had failed to support recommendations regarding preventive detention. Singapore systematically infringed international fair trial standards by denying drug-trafficking suspects the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Amnesty International welcomed Singapore’s intention to consider accession to the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and urged Singapore to ratify core human rights instruments, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It also welcomed the Government’s support of recommendations to protect the rights of migrant workers.

TAN YEE WOAN, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Singapore to the United Nations, said that Singapore was prepared to listen to alternative views and suggestions, as well as criticisms. They were prepared to change their approach but they needed to be convinced first. The first Universal Periodic Review had given Singapore a chance to explain its approach to human rights, and to consider general valuable inputs that would help Singapore in its domestic efforts. Singapore was fully committed to the promotion of human rights for the betterment of the lives of its people. The document they were adopting today would serve as an important reference. By the time Singapore had its next Universal Periodic Review in 2016, they hoped they would be able to show progress in the areas where they had fallen short. Singapore’s Government would try to do their best for their people.

__________

For use of the information media; not an official record