Human Rights Council
24 September 2009
The Human Rights Council this morning adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review on Chad, Viet Nam, Uruguay and Yemen.
Abderaman Djasnabaille, Minister in Charge of Human Rights and the Promotion of Freedom of Chad, said Chad was doing everything it could to promote and protect human rights, despite the numerous challenges it faced, and aimed to ensure that human rights could see real progress, and that the democratic process in Chad was established. The election should fundamentally change the situation, unlike the previous elections that had been contested. Chad was working for peace in central Africa, and it hoped that in its brother country Sudan this would also be the case. Chad called for peace because human rights could not be defended and protected in a context of war. Chad also called for the support of the international community as it needed to make headway and move mountains.
In the discussion on Chad, speakers said Chad was determined to build a State based on the rule of law and respect for human rights, and its effort to strengthen the primacy of law and the respect of human rights was welcome, in particular with regards to the reform of judicial and other areas. The sporadic armed conflicts within and on the borders of Chad and their consequences had caused human rights violations. This situation of war had mainly directed the efforts of the country towards the consolidation of peace and national reconciliation, without which the enjoyment of human rights was difficult. The international community should provide the technical assistance that Chad needed. The efforts of the people and the Government should be brought together to make progress in the area.
Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review of Chad were Algeria, Qatar, Russian Federation, Morocco, United States, Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Ireland, Gabon, Tunisia, Congo and South Africa. Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations (NGOs): International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture, Interfaith International, Amnesty International, International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, Human Rights Watch, and International Human Rights Association of American Minorities.
Pham Binh Minh, First Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, said Viet Nam's achievements in human rights were attributable to the comprehensive reforms implemented in the past 20 years which had brought about significant improvements in all aspects, and were the result of Viet Nam's consistent policy to respect, protect and promote human rights, with the understanding that human rights were common values of mankind, forged through the long struggles by all nations, including Viet Nam. Apart from these accomplishments, the two-year long Universal Periodic Review process, including the dialogue at the Council, had helped Viet Nam to understand more fully the challenges in protecting and promoting human rights, identifying things to be done, and sharing with and learning from valuable experiences. This laid an excellent foundation for Viet Nam to do more to protect and promote human rights in the country.
In the discussion on Viet Nam, speakers acknowledged Viet Nam’s consistent policy of considering its people as the centre for social and economic development. Through fundamental initiatives, Viet Nam had been making significant progress in socio-economic development. Even though it was a developing country, the country had already attained or surpassed many of the Millennium Development Goals set for 2015, and therefore should be applauded for its national strategic plan in this regard. As a developing country faced by numerous challenges, Viet Nam had set a good example for others as to how all countries could make meaningful progress towards ensuring the full range of rights for their peoples, provided that they had sufficient political will and determination. Speakers were confident that Viet Nam would spare no efforts to ensure that the recommendations they had received were translated into concrete actions that would make a real difference on the ground.
Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review of Chad were Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar, China, Algeria, Thailand, Cambodia, Venezuela, Cuba, Malaysia, Yemen, and Russian Federation. Also taking the floor were the following NGOs: Viet Nam Peace and Development Foundation, Amnesty International, Viet Nam Family Planning Association, Pen International, Human Rights Watch, International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, World Peace Council, and North-South XXI.
Maria Elena Martinez, Director of Human Rights, Ministry of Education and Culture of Uruguay, said Uruguay had examined all 88 recommendations that were made and had accepted all of them. Uruguay in 2008 had also approved the creation of its national human rights institution, according to the Paris Principles. In 2005 the Government had already stated that prisons were in a situation of humanitarian urgency and a plan had been elaborated to reduce the number of the prison population, in keeping with international standards. A new system of healthcare had also been devised for persons deprived of their liberty. Specific attention and care was also given to people deprived of their liberty with HIV/AIDS. The situation of children was a constant concern to the Government of Uruguay. On the issue of discrimination, Uruguay was currently preparing its report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This September they had also enacted a law to create an indigenous people’s day.
In the discussion on Uruguay, speakers said over the last 20 years, Uruguay had rapidly set up a system to protect human rights and ensure their protection by the State, as well as the expansion of the democratic sphere, elimination of poverty, promotion of the rights of minorities, social cooperation, and others. There were huge advances within the country in the most sensitive areas, including the need to put an end to impunity, and the Plan of Equity, the merits of which were based on its completeness and design, covering a broad range of issues, including food, work, security and other measures. The Government had shown its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and had fully cooperated with the Universal Periodic Review. Uruguay’s readiness to initiate legal reforms was testimony to the country’s commitment to create an effective judiciary system.
Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review of Uruguay were China, Algeria, Venezuela, Cuba, Russian Federation, Nicaragua, and Colombia. Also taking the floor were International Lesbian and Gay Association, Conectas Direitos Humanos, International Commission of Jurists, Federation for Women and Family Planning, and Action Canada for Population and Development.
Huda Abdullatef Alban, Minister of Human Rights of Yemen, said Yemen took note of the recommendations as they were important and could strengthen human rights for the future. It was also aware that any form of development which was not based on the respect of human rights in a democratic framework would fail. Further, the Government of Yemen was committed to the obligations it had taken through the adoption of the recommendations it had accepted, and it would seek to implement them over the next four years. The recommendations for Yemen were 225 in number.
In the discussion on Yemen, speakers said the efforts and many measures taken by the Government in order to implement recommendations were also noted, all of which demonstrated a firm political will and strong commitment on the behalf of Yemen to respect the universal values of human rights, despite the many socio-economic challenges and its limited financial resources. Substantial progress had been made in promoting people's rights to education, health and food. Yemen had also contributed in the humanitarian sphere, receiving many African refugees who posed a challenge for this developing country, and it should be supported by the international community. The decision of Yemen to create an institutional mechanism to comply with recommendations issued from the Universal Periodic Review was very responsible and guaranteed the Government's commitment to the enjoyment of human rights for all its citizens.
Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review of Yemen were Lebanon, Viet Nam, China, Algeria, Venezuela, Egypt, Qatar, Cuba, Syria, Pakistan, Bahrain, and United Arab Emirates. Also taking the floor were International Lesbian and Gay Association, Al-Hakim Foundation, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Amnesty International, Human Rights Information and Training, Human Rights Watch, international Federation of Human Rights Leagues, and Arab Network for Environment and Development.
The next meeting of the Council will be on Friday, 25 September at 10 a.m., when it is scheduled to consider the Universal Periodic Review outcomes on Vanuatu, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Comoros.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Chad
ABDERAMAN DJASNABAILLE, Minister in Charge of Human Rights and the Promotion of Liberties of Chad, said that the Government of Chad had been surprised and frustrated when it had learned that its document had encountered difficulties to be translated. Chad collaborated in a transparent way with the Council and the treaty bodies. The efforts of the Government of Chad could among others be seen in the six reports it had submitted this year and the national forum that would crown these efforts later this year. At the fifth session of the Human Rights Council Working Group, held in May 2009 in Geneva, Chad had received 114 recommendations. Chad had accepted 85 of these recommendations, all of which had been judged essential to allow the Government of Chad to take concrete measures to ameliorate the situation of human rights and to respect its international commitments. Fourteen recommendations were postponed until today for study by the involved stakeholders, and 13 were rejected, which was however not to be seen as a rejection since some provisional measures were currently being elaborated in Chad, and it was thus not useful to retain these recommendations.
Chad had received a number of recommendations by various States, including that of Holland which recommended that Chad put in place appropriate sentences regarding female genital mutilation, forced marriage and sexual violence, Mexico and Spain’s recommendation that Chad reconsider the moratorium on the death penalty, Switzerland’s recommendation that Chad took all the necessary measures to ensure the protection of civilians, and in particular vulnerable groups including women, children and internally displaced persons, as well as Denmark’s recommendation that Chad facilitate the International Committee of the Red Cross’ access to Chad’s detention centers. Chad had examined these issues and real work on these recommendations was underway in Chad so as to ensure that an operational follow-up was made, which would be visible even by end of 2009.
Chad also wished to thank Member States who had expressed their solidarity with Chad, and Chad sent its gratitude to them. Chad also sincerely thanked the Council for having established the framework for this dialogue. Chad extended its gratitude to the troika, namely France, Zambia and Slovenia, for having accompanied Chad throughout the process, and it was grateful for all forms of assistance to help implementing the commitment Chad had accepted here. The presence of Chad’s delegation at the Council demonstrated the extent to which the Government, President and Prime Minister of Chad were all in step with what being done here. Chad was doing everything it could to promote and protect human rights, despite the numerous challenges it faced, and aimed to ensure that human rights could see real progress, and that the democratic process in Chad was ensured. The elections should fundamentally change the situation, unlike the previous elections that had been contested. Chad was working for peace in central Africa, and it hoped that in its brother country Sudan this would also be the case. Chad called for peace because human rights could not be defended and protected adequately in a context of war, also calling for the support of the international community as Chad needed to make headway and move mountains.
SELMA MALIKA HENDEL (Algeria) said Chad was sincerely committed to work towards the protection and promotion of human rights in the country, and had accepted most of the recommendations, showing their commitment despite challenges and constraints. Chad was determined to build a State based on the rule of law and respect for human rights, and its efforts to strengthen the primacy of law and the respect of human rights was welcome, in particular with regards to the reform of judicial and other areas. Algeria appealed to the international community to provide Chad with the assistance it needed to support it in its efforts to provide free and equal access to education for all. Chad was irreversibly embarked on the path of the protection and promotion of human rights, and deserved the support of the international community and the adoption of the report.
SULTAN AL-DOSARI (Qatar) said that Chad had accepted most of the 114 recommendations that were made during the Universal Periodic Review. This reflected the determination of the country to fully cooperate with the United Nations human rights system. The Government had been able, since the adoption of its Constitution, to make progress to build a modern state. Qatar urged the country to continue on this path and the Council to adopt the report.
PAVEL CHERNIKOV (Russian Federation) said Chad was committed to the Universal Periodic Review process, and had a constructive attitude and approach, shown in the adoption of 86 of the recommendations. Chad was wished every success in their plans and to make further progress in the protection and promotion of human rights.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said the Chadian delegation had shown that it was extremely courageous, looking at the human rights situation objectively, both with regards to progress made and problems that had arisen. The international community should provide the technical assistance that Chad needed. Morocco welcomed that the authorities wished to address some of the problems affecting the country, moving towards national reconciliation, and it urged Chad to move forward on their plans with regards to human rights, which needed the support and aid of the international community. The efforts of the people and the Government should be brought together to make progress in the area. The implementation of the recommendations was welcome, and efforts on the protection of human rights were welcome.
ANNA CHAMBERS (United States) said that the United States urged the Government of Chad to continue to strengthen its efforts to demobilize child soldiers and to end their unlawful recruitment and use, including in the Chadian National Army and other armed groups. Recruitment from refugee camps continued to be a particular concern. The United States welcomed the recent transfer of some presumed child soldiers to the custody of the United Nations Children's Fund. Further, increased efforts had to be made to end impunity. Many delegations had highlighted the importance of bringing to justice those responsible for abuses that had taken place between January and February 2008.
AHMED MOHAMED ABRO (Djibouti) said Djibouti wished to congratulate Chad for its report and commend its Government for the success that it had achieved despite the country’s difficult situation. Djibouti encouraged Chad to implement the recommendations that had been made.
SABINE KANZIE BAKYONO (Burkina Faso) said the situation of human rights in Chad remained marked by the situation of crisis that prevailed for many years in the country. The sporadic armed conflicts within and on the borders of Chad and their consequences had caused human rights violations. This situation of war had mainly directed the efforts of the country towards the consolidation of peace and national reconciliation, without which the enjoyment of human rights was difficult. The efforts of the Government to fulfil its international judicial obligations were applauded. Most of the recommendations made during the Working Group were in the context of the need to guarantee all Chadians the full enjoyment of their rights. The implementation of some recommendations required support from the international community.
ABDOUL WAHAB HAIDARA (Senegal) said that during the Working Group sessions, Senegal had already expressed support for the initiatives Chad was undertaking in the area of education and health. Senegal had also expressed the wish to see the international community help Chad as it faced the challenges that it was encountering. Having listened to today’s statement, Senegal was even more convinced of the will of Chad to improve the situation in the country. The acceptance of Chad to implement the recommendations on the fight against poverty and on strengthening the protection of children and women, were also welcomed.
MICHEL MAHOUVE (Cameroon) said Cameroon welcomed the presence of the delegation of Chad. The importance the international community attached to the exercise of the Universal Periodic Review was commensurate with the challenges of Chad, which were even greater as the country had been recently confronted with internal violence. Cameroon believed that the recommendations that had been accepted by Chad would allow the country to achieve the respect of human dignity and economic, social and cultural rights more easily. Chad could count on the full support of Cameroon in this endeavor, and Cameroon invited other States to follow this example.
RICHARD LUKUNDA (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said the determination of Chad to continue its efforts to sensitise the population to the need for women's education was applauded, as was the country's commitment to put in place, with the support, among others, of UNICEF, permanent structures against the exploitation of child herdsmen. Chad should make concrete its will to promote all human rights, both civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights, as well as collective and individual. Chad was congratulated for its efforts to make higher education accessible to all high-school graduates and for its commitment to improve the social situation of students.
MERCY YVONNE AMOAH (Ghana) said that despite the difficulties confronting the Government of Chad in the promotion and protection of human rights, it had demonstrated its will to improve the situation of human rights in the country. Ghana welcomed the fact that Chad had accepted most of the recommendations that were made during the review. Ghana also wished to express concern regarding the preparation and translation of the report of Chad. The Council might also need to find a long-term solution with regard to the funding of the Universal Periodic Review.
Mr. M. MASSAMBA (Republic of the Congo) said that the Republic of the Congo warmly welcomed the delegation of Chad and thanked and congratulated it for the quality of the report it had submitted to the Human Rights Council. These praiseworthy efforts deserved recognition and support, particularly as Chad had suffered from the detrimental effects of the rebel movement. The Congolese delegation recommended that the Human Rights Council adopt the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Chad.
KGOMOTSO DAPHNE RAHLAGA (South Africa) said South Africa was encouraged by the substantial number of recommendations enjoying the support of the Government of Chad, and called on the international community to support it in its efforts to restore stability through the provision of technical assistance and capacity-building programmes. The Government of Chad was encouraged to continue in its efforts and to continue in its changes to legislation to ensure full protection of all rights, in particular economic, social and cultural rights.
NATHALIE JEANNIN, of International Federation of ACAT (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture), congratulated Chad for having accepted the Danish recommendation on adopting a definition of torture, in conformity with Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture. They encouraged Chad to also incorporate appropriate sanctions taking into account the gravity of acts. The practice of torture was however a recurring phenomenon in the police stations that were run by the traditional authorities. Chad should also address the issue of prison overcrowding.
BIRO DIAWARA, of Interfaith International, said that Interfaith International noted with satisfaction that the majority of the recommendations issued by the Universal Periodic Review Working Group had been taken into account by Chad. While Chad had been considered an exemplary country regarding the violation of human rights in the 1990s, Chad now plainly cooperated with the human rights mechanisms and refreshed its relationships with conventional organs, which clearly highlighted the country’s willingness to turn the dark pages of its history. Interfaith International encouraged the Chadian Government to establish a healthy atmosphere which would allow it to pursue its efforts and judge those who had committed crimes under the rule of Hissène Habré.
MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG, of Amnesty International, welcomed many of the recommendations made by States in the Working Group, including those calling on Chad to end extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and illegal detentions, the impunity enjoyed by members of the security forces, violence against women and the recruitment of child soldiers. Chad had supported many of the recommendations. The real test of the examination would be measured by the extent to which the Government fulfilled the commitments that it had made and improved respect for Chad's international human rights obligations. Amnesty International regretted that Chad did not expressly support some important recommendations made by several States, including ending the practice of secret detention, and improving measures to protect women and girls living in internally displaced person camps and refugee camps in eastern Chad, especially from rape and other forms of violence.
SAMUEL DANSETTE, of the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, congratulated Chad for all its commitments, but noted that it had not adopted some very important recommendations, such as on the protection of journalists. The Government should also ratify the international instruments relevant to the situation of women. They also welcomed Chad’s decision to punish the perpetrators of violence and torture in the police stations and prisons. They however deplored the fact that the commission charged with investigating the events of February 2008 had not established the responsibility for acts committed against the civilian population.
PHILIPPE DAM, of Human Rights Watch, said that Human Rights Watch welcomed the Universal Periodic Review report on Chad. It also welcomed that the Chadian Government had indicated its support for those recommendations that addressed the use and recruitment of child soldiers and urged the Government to keep the Council regularly informed on the steps it was taking in line with these recommendations. Human Rights Watch was particularly concerned about the restrictions that the Chadian Government continued imposing on the access of the United Nations Children's Fund to the Direction Générale de Services de Sécurité des Institutions de l’Etat. Chad should also implement Austria’s recommendation that it had accepted and which urged the release of child soldiers from Chad’s military, and to effectively prosecute those persons responsible for recruiting children for armed groups. Human Rights Watch was also deeply concerned by the inadequacy of protections afforded to women and girls in Chad as well as the prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence, which in the context of armed conflict could constitute war crimes.
DAMIEN PERRY, of International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, said the Association noted with some dismay that in Chad freedom of speech continued to be curtailed, democratic values continued to be eroded, nepotism continued at all levels of power, social mobility was extremely limited, and opposition leaders were frequently arrested. Chad was ranked in 2008 as the eighth most corrupt nation in the world, due to the President recruiting from his tribe for all influential positions within Government, and a lack of control or accountability for corruption. The losers in this situation were the citizens of Chad who in turn were seeing an erosion in a number of their human rights. There had been a worrying decline in democratic freedom in recent years, and the Association felt that the Human Rights Council should monitor this situation closely.
ABDERAMAN DJASNABAILLE, Minister in Charge of Human Rights and the Promotion of Liberties of Chad, in concluding observations, said that the delegation of Chad was very satisfied by the comments made; all were considered as a contribution. All delegations had recognised the efforts Chad was undertaking. It was true that the situation was difficult in Chad. They were not saying that human rights in Chad were in a very good situation. Efforts remained to be done and the situation was still difficult. He also noted that all recommendations had been taken into account, contrary to what some delegations had said. Eighty-five recommendations had been adopted, 14 had just been responded to publicly. But even the recommendations that had been rejected had not been rejected in reality. The fact was that Chad had already taken measures in the areas of these recommendations and as such, some of these recommendations were redundant.
Further, no journalists or human rights defenders were being put in prison nowadays in Chad; this was part of a Chad of the past, but today’s reality was different. The Government ensured that the media and the press could do their job. Human rights workers and journalists were the real bullhorns against dictatorship and thus the Government had to protect them. Turning to disappearances, Mr. Djasnabaille said that hearings were being held by judicial authorities on these subjects. Trials had however not yet taken place, all the process was taking time and they could not go faster. On child soldiers, they had checked the situation and were doing everything they could to adopt legislation on this issue and were doing everything to make sure than no children were present in the regular armed forces.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Chad.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Viet Nam
Pham Binh Minh, First Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, said Viet Nam's achievements in human rights were attributable to the comprehensive reforms implemented in the past 20 years which had brought about significant improvements in all aspects, and were the result of Viet Nam's consistent policy to respect, protect and promote human rights, with the understanding that human rights were common values of mankind, forged through the long struggles by all nations, including Viet Nam. Apart from these accomplishments, the two-year long Universal Periodic Review process, including the dialogue at the Council, had helped Viet Nam to understand more fully the challenges in protecting and promoting human rights, identifying things to be done, and to share with and learn from valuable experience. This laid an excellent foundation for Viet Nam to do more to protect and promote human rights in the country.
In the spirit of dialogue and cooperation, Viet Nam had prepared an addendum to provide additional information and clarify Viet Nam's position on recommendations made at the May meeting. First, freedom of press and freedom of expression were provided for in Viet Nam's Constitution and laws, in accordance with international law and practice. Second, Viet Nam paid due attention to the development of human rights institutions, including a national human rights committee, and had a diversified system of institutions to protect and promote human rights. Third, Viet Nam always wished and stood ready to cooperate with Special Procedures. Fourth, with a policy of humanity and leniency and in accordance with international law, Viet Nam had progressively reduced the number of offences punishable by death. Last, with regards to accession to human rights treaties, in line with its consistent policy, Viet Nam was studying and positively considering accession to the Convention against Torture and certain ILO conventions as well as ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
YONG CHANTHALANGSY (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said that the delegation of Lao People’s Democratic Reublic recognized that Viet Nam had overcome tremendous obstacles of all kinds and had successfully implemented the renovation policy of “Doi Moi”, as well as achieved comprehensive economic, social and cultural development in the country, along with great achievements in the implementation of human rights in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Lao People’s Democratic Republic also acknowledged Viet Nam’s consistent policy of considering its people as the centre for social and economic development. Lao People’s Democratic Republic further welcomed Viet Nam’s commitment to the comprehensive Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy for 2005-2010, the Strategy on the Development of Legal System Vision 2020 and the National Strategy on Gender Equality for 2011-2020. Lao People’s Democratic Republic recommended that the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Viet Nam be adopted.
JANIN ERIH (Brunei Darussalam) said that Brunei Darussalam was of the view that the positive and constructive approach taken by Viet Nam in response to the recommendations of the Working Group illustrated its commitment to enhancing the human rights of its people. They were supportive of Viet Nam’s endeavours to promote democracy, social equality and security. Brunei Darussalam also welcomed efforts in taking measures to better ensure the economic, social and cultural rights of its people, especially women, children, ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities.
KYAW MYO HTUT (Myanmar) said Myanmar noted with interest the spirit of openness demonstrated in acknowledging human rights challenges facing Viet Nam during the review process. Viet Nam had already demonstrated its strong commitment in realising the objective of the fundamental human rights of its people by pursuing a consistent policy of respecting and ensuring human rights, as enshrined in its Constitution. Through fundamental initiatives, Viet Nam had been making significant progress in socio-economic development. Even though it was a developing country, the country had already attained or surpassed many of the Millennium Development Goals set for 2015, and therefore should be applauded for its national strategic plan in this regard. Myanmar firmly believed in Viet Nam's continued commitment to strengthen the full enjoyment of all human rights by its citizens.
LI BAODONG (China) said that China wished to thank Viet Nam’s delegation for its presentation, also appreciating the detailed response it had given to the recommendations made. Viet Nam had in fact supported socio-economic development and strengthened the rule of law. China was pleased to note that Viet Nam implemented as much as it could the recommendations it had agreed to, and that it had adopted measures for economic, social and cultural rights, and the rights of women and children. As a developing country, Viet Nam faced many challenges in promoting and protecting human rights, and China wished Viet Nam well in its endeavors.
NADIA LAMRANI (Algeria) said that the frank and open spirit with which Viet Nam had tackled the review showed its will to cooperate constructively with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. Algeria appreciated Viet Nam’s determination to meet its obligation under the international treaties it was a part of. Viet Nam had been able to show the added value of the Universal Periodic Review and how it could bring about the goals that had led to the creation of the Human Rights Council.
SIHASAK PHUANGKETKEOW (Thailand) said Thailand wished to comment on the transparent, inclusive and constructive approach that Viet Nam had taken in the preparation of its national report as well as in the follow-up to the recommendations adopted by the Working Group, demonstrating the importance that Viet Nam attached to the Universal Periodic Review mechanism and the protection and promotion of human rights in general. As a developing country faced by numerous challenges, Viet Nam had set a good example for others as to how all countries could make meaningful progress towards ensuring the full range of rights for their peoples, provided that they had sufficient political will and determination. Thailand welcomed Viet Nam's commitment to considering becoming a party to a number of international human rights treaties, and noted with appreciation the plan to further improve its national legal framework, which would no doubt help strengthen the protection and promotion of human rights in the country. The Universal Periodic Review was a process that required effective implementation and follow-up, and in this regard Thailand was confident that Viet Nam would spare no efforts to ensure that the recommendations they had received were translated into concrete actions that would make a real difference on the ground.
SUN SUON (Cambodia) said that the Universal Periodic Review report of Viet Nam had indicated its Government’s efforts and commitments to promote and protect human rights in all aspects of life in various ways, including through its reform process. Cambodia particularly commended Viet Nam for the various follow-up activities within the last four months and took note with encouragement of the continued commitments of the country to address the challenges ahead through further implementation of the programmes and relevant plans aiming at the promotion and protection of the rights of its citizens, especially in the economic, social and cultural rights area, thus contributing further to the advancement of the living conditions and well-being of all people living in the country. Finally, Cambodia took note with appreciation of the commitments of Viet Nam to further implement most of the recommendations that had been made by Member States of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group in order to fulfill those objectives in all areas of promotion and protection of human rights in the year ahead.
ENZO BITETTO GAVILANES (Venezuela) said that the Government of Viet Nam had fully cooperated with the Universal Periodic Review; this reflected the commitment of the Government for the promotion and protection of human rights. Venezuela particularly noted the success of Viet Nam in the development of measures and the efforts currently underway for social progress, as well as the permanent efforts of the Government to heed the needs of many people that were disabled. Venezuela was satisfied by the commitment of Viet Nam with regard to the Millennium Development Goal on the eradication of poverty. They recommend the adoption of the report.
RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba) said the Universal Periodic Review process had shown the commitment of the Government of Viet Nam to the recommendations and to human rights. Viet Nam had accepted the majority of the recommendations made during the Working Group session, and these were very relevant in the entire human rights sphere. The success of the country, based on the political, economic and social system that was freely chosen by its people, was huge, both in civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights. This country had been able to demonstrate this success after rising from the ashes after their devastating struggle from colonialism and military invasion. Cuba appreciated a country that was clearly committed to the full respect and enjoyment of the human rights of all, and this political will deserved recognition.
OTHMAN HASHIM (Malaysia) said that Malaysia would like to thank Viet Nam for the latest update on the promotion and protection of human rights in Viet Nam. Malaysia was pleased to note that Viet Nam had accepted a number of recommendations and it was encouraged that Viet Nam had already started taking the necessary steps towards implementing many of these. Malaysia viewed this as a positive approach on the part of the Government of Viet Nam. Malaysia also welcomed the various mechanisms put in place to guarantee the protection of the fundamental freedoms and rights of its citizens, including those that focused on the promotion and protection of human rights. Malaysia encouraged Viet Nam’s Government to continue taking the necessary measures to implement the recommendations effectively. Finally, it was encouraging that Viet Nam had speeded up its law reforms and public administrative programmes aimed at deepening and broadening democratic reforms norms, principles and standards in the country.
FADHL AL-MAGHAFI (Yemen) said that today’s participation by Viet Nam showed its commitment to the work of the Human Rights Council, as well as to the Universal Periodic Review. The report presented by Viet Nam to the Universal Periodic Review Working Group had showed that Viet Nam was implementing a strategic approach in the area of human rights. Viet Nam had accepted many recommendations. Yemen supported the efforts made by Viet Nam to promote human rights and was pleased that they had agreed to many of the recommendations. This was a step forward in implementing the human rights instruments to which Viet Nam was a party to.
PAVEL CHERNIKOV (Russian Federation) said the Russian Federation recognised the efforts of Viet Nam to ensure civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights for its people, and also noted the delegation's constructive approach and willingness to engage during the Universal Periodic Review. Viet Nam had already been ready to implement the overwhelming majority of the recommendations received at the Working Group. Russia was convinced that by the next cycle of the review, Viet Nam would have made major efforts to achieve its goals, improving the quality of housing, health and education.
Mr. T.H.V. NGUYEN, of Vietnam Peace and Development Foundation, said that the Viet Nam Peace and Development Foundation highly appreciated that the Government of Viet Nam promoted the participation and contribution of non-governmental organizations right from the start. It could today be said with certainty that, despite many challenges, Vietnamese people were enjoying the best ever period of life in the last hundreds years of their history. This was seen not only in the general improvement of people’s living conditions, but also in other fields, including women’s empowerment and the respect for the rights of ethnic minorities. Nevertheless, the Viet Nam Peace and Development Foundation was of the view that the society of Viet Nam was still far from being perfect, and there were many things to be done.
ORLAITH MINOGUE, of Amnesty international, welcomed Viet Nam’s active engagement in the Universal Periodic Review, as well as its expressed commitment to promote and protect human rights. Amnesty International however regretted the rejection of important recommendations, including repealing or amending national security laws of the 1999 Penal Code inconsistent with international law; removing other restrictions on dissent, political oppositions, and freedoms of expression and assembly; and releasing prisoners of conscience. Amnesty International was concerned that several prisoners of conscience were in detention and regretted that Viet Nam had not supported recommendations to adopt a moratorium on executions.
Mr. L.D. PHUONG, of Viet Nam Family Planning Association, said the Association commended the efforts of the Government in the protection and promotion of human rights in the fields of education, healthcare, child rights, gender equality and elimination of discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. The achievements of Viet Nam in improving living standards, reducing poverty and promoting social justice and progress were appreciated. The promulgation of laws on gender equality showed that Viet Nam was paying more attention to women's rights and their role. Although these results were very encouraging, Viet Nam still needed further improvements in the quality of life of the population, providing better access to high quality health services, including reproductive health, for ethnic minority people, youth and adolescents, and in further strengthening HIV/AIDS prevention and control.
FAWSIA ASSAD, of International Pen, said that International Pen expressed the hope that the comments in the Universal Periodic Review report would prove to be a sign of the Viet Nam’s Government’s openness to giving greater access to information to its people. It also noted that the Viet Nam authorities had included “freedom of expression, press and information” among its special priorities, but highlighted that a significant number of writers, journalists and dissidents were being held in detention for having expressed their opinions or dissent publicly. International Pen would continue to press for their release and to end other official means of suppressing free speech. The Government of Viet Nam was in particular urged to lift the Government-controlled screening mechanism, which aimed at allowing pre- and post-publication censorship. Finally, International Pen concurred with the Human Rights Committee’s recommendation to bring Viet Nam’s legislation to comply with Article 19 and to demand Viet Nam’s authorities to bring to an end the pattern of imprisonment.
JULIE DE RIVERO, of Human Rights Watch, said that the Universal Periodic Review of Viet Nam raised serious doubts over the Government’s commitment towards human rights protection. It had rejected several significant recommendations pertaining to, among others, detention and mistreatments of government critics, democracy advocates, human rights defenders, use of capital punishment and lack of prohibition of torture. Among the 45 rejected recommendations was also a recommendation to lift Internet and blogging controls. In addition, Viet Nam had refused to issue invitations to all United Nations Special Procedures, none of which had visited the country since 1998. On the positive side, the country had reduced the number of crimes punishable by capital punishment.
VO VAN MAI, of International Federation of Human Rights Leagues - FIDH, said the International Federation was greatly concerned about Viet Nam's refusal of a number of essential recommendations as to its respect of international obligations, such as its refusal to revise its laws on national security and on the abuse of democratic freedoms to harm the interests of the State. Since the examination, journalists, bloggers, human rights lawyers and other opponents had been arbitrarily arrested. Numerous countries had called for transparency on prisons and camps, the number of detainees, the reasons for their incarceration, and the death penalty. Religions were the last voice of civil society, and Viet Nam should recognise independent religions. It was regrettable that Viet Nam had rejected a request to extend a standing invitation to the Special Procedures on freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of religion or belief, torture, human rights defenders, and to the Working Group on arbitrary detention.
YORIO SHIOKAWA, of International Association of Democratic Lawyers, in a joint statement with Europe-Third World Centre, warmly commended Viet Nam for its significant achievements in the promotion and protection of all human rights, especially with regard to poverty reduction, right to health and the promotion of women’s rights. These results were even more meritorious in view of the fact that Viet Nam was a developing country that had undergone 30 years of war. In this regard, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers drew the attention of the Human Rights Council to the fact that millions of Vietnamese still suffered from the dramatic consequences of the chemical Agent Orange. Despite the significant progress realized by Viet Nam in the respect and implementation of human rights, its legal system contained some inconsistencies and contradictions.
PAFILIS ATANASIOS, of the World Peace Council, said that the World Peace Council had been following the situation in Viet Nam and he had personally visited it several times in recent years. There were still millions of victims suffering from Agent Orange related deformities and diseases. Regretfully, the perpetrators and the international community had not dealt adequately with the issue that had had a huge negative impact on human development. Viet Nam should be encouraged to pursue the universal values in its own way for the benefit of its people and one should not impose on it those formulas which still caused many contradictions and had many limitations on other societies.
MARGAREET WEWERINKE, of North-South XXI, in a joint statement with Union of Arab Jurists, said the engagement of Viet Nam with the Universal Periodic Review was a good example to other States, and the Working Group had recognised the progress made in ensuring both economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights for its people. North-South XXI remained concerned about the Government's limitation on the freedom of expression, and encouraged the Government to continue to work closely with journalists and media organizations to ensure that a wide variety of views were expressed in the media. North-South XXI hoped that the Government of Viet Nam would consider subscribing to the General Assembly moratorium on the death penalty as an exemplary act of commitment to the fundamental values of international human rights law. The international community had a legal duty to support the efforts of Viet Nam with adequate resources and cooperation - this was a legal duty based on the United Nations Charter, and Viet Nam and other countries that were making committed efforts to ensure human rights, especially the right to development, should consider drawing the attention of the Council to areas where it could benefit from international cooperation and resources.
PHAM BINH MINH, First Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, in his concluding remarks, said that Viet Nam took note of the remarks that had been made, as well as of the goodwill regarding the challenges Viet Nam faced. The Government and people of Viet Nam were aware of these challenges and placed them high on their national development agenda. With regard to the issues that had been raised in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review of Viet Nam, Viet Nam believed in the essential role of the press, which the Government aimed to facilitate by creating an increasingly comprehensive legal framework and a favorable policy environment in which the freedom of press and expression were protected. Similarly, millions of Vietnamese were daily Internet users, which was vivid evidence of Viet Nam’s policy to facilitate and protect Internet development. Viet Nam was also currently working to amend its press law and promulgate new regulations to better ensure such rights of the people. Furthermore, special incentives and preferential treatment were provided to ethnic minorities with a view to facilitate their development and assist them in preserving their cultural values and languages. This was a clear manifestation of Viet Nam’s consistent policy aiming at strengthening unity among religions and ethnic groups, and creating all necessary conditions for their equitable development. Viet Nam once again reaffirmed that the ultimate goal was to develop a prosperous people, a strong country and a just, democratic and advanced society.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Viet Nam.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Uruguay
MARIA ELENA MARTINEZ, Director of Human Rights, Ministry of Education and Culture of Uruguay, said that they were here today to present the actions that Uruguay had already carried out in connection with the recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review of Uruguay. Uruguay had examined all 88 recommendations that were made and had accepted all of them. On the fight against discrimination in education, Uruguay had deposited its ratification instrument for the Convention against Discrimination in Education to the Director General of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization and it had come into effect. Uruguay was also signing today the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in New York. They had also started a national plan to fight all forms of discrimination. Uruguay in 2008 had approved the creation of its national human rights institution, in accordance to the Paris Principles.
Turning to some of the measures taken, Ms. Maritnez said that there was currently a bill to reform the Penal Process Code and the Penal Code. In 2005 the Government had stated that prisons were in a situation of humanitarian urgency and a plan had been elaborated to reduce the number of the prison population, in keeping with international standards. A new system of healthcare had also been devised for persons deprived of their liberty. Specific attention and care was also given to people deprived of their liberty with HIV/AIDS. The age of marriage had been raised to 16 for girls and boys two weeks ago. They had a new law on education and had regulated their law on migration. The situation of children was a constant concern to the Government of Uruguay. On the issue of discrimination, Uruguay was currently preparing its report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This September they had also enacted a law to create an indigenous people’s day.
QIAN BO (China) said China welcomed the report on Uruguay, and noted the seriousness with which Uruguay undertook the Universal Periodic Review process. Over the last 20 years, Uruguay had rapidly set up a system to protect human rights and ensure their protection by the State, as well as the expansion of the democratic sphere, elimination of poverty, promotion of the rights of minorities, social cooperation, and other measures. The Government would continue to work on national realities, and expand its international cooperation to ensure that all human rights were fully enjoyed and increased. China supported the adoption of the report.
NADIA LAMRANI (Algeria) said that Algeria noted with satisfaction that Uruguay had endorsed all of the recommendations, including those made by the Algerian delegation. Algeria welcomed Uruguay’s determination to give concrete form to the promotion of all human rights and was happy to hear about Uruguay’s intention to take the necessary measures to have its National Institution for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights accredited with the International Committee of National Human Rights Institutions. Algeria saluted Uruguay’s position regarding the recommendation relating to the establishment of a National Committee against the Discrimination of Persons of African Ascendance and Indigenous Peoples and regarding the diminution of gender disparities at the workplace. Further, Uruguay’s readiness to initiate legal reforms was testimony to the country’s commitment to create an effective judiciary system. Algeria encouraged Uruguay to pursue its constructive action at the Human Rights Council and recommended the adoption of its Universal Periodic Review outcome.
GERMAN MUNDARAIN HERNANDEZ (Venezuela) said that Venezuela highly appreciated the presentation made today by Uruguay. The Government had shown its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and had fully cooperated with the Universal Periodic Review. Venezuela welcomed the constructive spirit that the Government of Uruguay had shown and the fact that it had provided concrete responses to all recommendations that had been made. They also welcomed measures carried out to respond to the needs of citizens and the problems of children and adolescents in difficult situations. Venezuela appreciated the determination of Uruguay to continue to hold consultations on the results emanating from the review.
RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba) said in considering the national report presented by Uruguay, Cuba noted the enormous efforts made by Uruguay to protect and promote human rights, and now witnessed the firm commitment and political will of the Government to continue on this path. The Government of Uruguay had redoubled its efforts and increased financial allocation to protect and promote human rights. There were huge advances within the country in the most sensitive areas, including the need to put an end to impunity, and the Plan of Equity, the merits of which were based on its completeness and design, covering a broad range of issues, including food, work, security and others. This had had an undeniable positive effect in fighting poverty and increasing equality and social justice, and this should be an example of best practices for all.
EVGENY USTINOV (Russian Federation) said that the Russian Federation noted the successful Universal Periodic Review of Uruguay. The presentation of its national report was a concrete example of the importance Uruguay attached to the Universal Periodic Review process. The Russian Federation welcomed Uruguay’s readiness to implement all of the 88 recommendations it had received, including both recommendations made by Russia. The Russian Federation wished Uruguay every success in implementing the obligations it had assumed under the Universal Periodic Review as well as further progress in encouraging and protecting human rights.
NESTOR CRUZ TORUNO (Nicaragua) applauded the spirit of collaboration Uruguay had exhibited towards the Universal Periodic Review process. The participation of citizens in decision making processes was an essential value of democracy. Nicaragua welcomed the review process. Developing countries enjoying similarities could learn from each other’s review. Nicaragua hoped that States participating in the Universal Periodic Review process might offer them recommendations that could be adopted to their own national reality during Nicaragua’s upcoming review.
ALVARO ENRIQUE AYALA MELENDEZ (Colombia) said that Colombia noted the great commitment and seriousness with which the Government of Uruguay had assumed this Universal Periodic Review responsibility. There had been significant steps forward. Any type of impunity inherited from the period of dictatorship would be eliminated. The National Plan against Discrimination was being drawn up. Uruguay had always been firmly committed to defending the rights of children.
BJORN VAN ROOSENDAAL, of European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation (ILGA-EUROPE) in a joint statement with Canadian HIV/Aids Legal Network, said that they supported the recommendation made by the Czech Republic that Uruguay further strengthen the institutional anti-discrimination framework by providing awareness-raising campaigns and promoting tolerance and equality based on sex, gender and race. They recommended that Uruguay explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for discrimination in the development of such a framework. They would also appreciate hearing from the Uruguayan delegation about the status of the pending Bill that recognized the right of all persons to the free development of their personality in accordance with their gender identity without requiring sex-reassignment surgery.
CAMILA LISA ASANO, of Conectas Direitos Humanos, said that there had been difficulties during the consultation process for the Universal Periodic Review for Uruguay, civil society had not had enough time to participate fully. It was very important to establish a national institution for human rights with the necessary human and financial resources. They recognised the advances in legislation but regretted the slow advances in the approval of the new penal code and the new penal process code.
MARIA RIVERO, of International Commission of Jurists, said that in the Working Group session, several recommendations were made to Uruguay, specifically to improve justice legislation and remove unconstitutional aspects. Concerning laws which had left crimes committed during the dictatorship in a situation of impunity and recommendations on the penal system, changes had been made, but there was a step back in the protection of human rights due to the non-inclusion of the law on defamation and slander, which had involved the conviction of journalists. These recommendations should be included and accepted by the Government.
MALGORZATA DZIEWANOWSKA, of Federation for Women and Family Planning, said that the Uruguayan Parliament was to be commended for having passed in 2008 the Comprehensive Law to Defend Sexual and Reproductive Rights. This was however later restricted by presidential veto, and the Federation for Women and Family Planning demanded information on how the Uruguayan State intended to implement this law. The Federation for Women and Family Planning also strongly urged the Government of Uruguay to prioritize public policies aimed at youth, and the inclusion of sexual and reproductive rights in these policies, but welcomed the Government’s commitment to increase investment to guarantee rights to freedom in terms of sexual orientation and gender identity. Furthermore, it was necessary to stress the importance of establishing training programmes for personnel who assisted and received formal complaints and queries from female victims of violence.
ENISA EMINOVSKA, of Action Canada for Population and Development, said that, in relation to human trafficking, they recognized the efforts made by Uruguay after the installation of specialized courts for crimes that required special treatment, such as transnational crimes, especially human trafficking. However, prosecution of the crime was the predominate approach, leaving a gap in the field of prevention. In relation to the prison system, they were concerned about prison conditions, the critical cases of overcrowding, riots and the frequent jailbreaks, the unacceptable living conditions and inadequate healthcare. Regarding the right to truth, justice, memory and reparation, it was essential to annul the law on expiration of punitive state claims because it represented one of the largest obstacles in the fight against impunity.
Maria Elena Martinez, Director of Human Rights, Ministry of Education and Culture of Uruguay, said Uruguay had undertaken major efforts, and had an urgency plan for times of crisis. Uruguay was pleased with the situation, which had enabled it to progress and heed the needs of all people. There was an emergency plan to deal with children and women, and to address needs of inmates. Special thanks went to the Republic of Cuba, in addition to the efforts that had been realised. It was thanks to the help from Cuba that Uruguay had made progress. All recommendations had been accepted, but not all could be applied. The process had already been successful and further progress had been made - there were new laws on the press. Uruguay was not in the best of situations, but it had deployed all efforts and made all arrangements in a four and a half year period. There was clear evidence of Uruguay's will to work towards human rights ends. Work was underway for example in the plan to eliminate sexual exploitation of children, girls and adolescents. Uruguay hoped that when it came back for the next review, the entire review would be positive.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Uruguay.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Yemen
HUDA ABDULLATEF ALBAN, Minister of Human Rights of Yemen, said that the Council played a noble role in the promotion and protection of human rights throughout the world. Yemen was pleased to participate at the twelfth regular session of the Human Rights Council before which Yemen presented its report. Yemen took note of the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review process as they were important and could strengthen human rights for the future. It was also aware that any form of development which was not based on the respect of human rights in a democratic framework would fail. Further, the Government of Yemen was committed to the obligations it had taken through the adoption of the recommendations it had accepted, and it would seek to implement them over the next four years.
The recommendations for Yemen were 225 in number. Yemen had been reviewing 21 of these recommendations. Regarding the first of these recommendations, Yemen did not wish to become party to the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Yemen nevertheless agreed with the second recommendation. The decision on the third recommendation was postponed to later, and the fourth was not yet admissible and Yemen would not endorse individual complaint procedures since there were other bodies in place. As for the fifth recommendation, Yemen had raised the marriage age from 15 to 17 and perhaps later it would be raised to 18 years. Yemen could agree to recommendation 10 as part of the Sharia. Similarly, it agreed on recommendation 11 as the Parliament of Yemen had decided to change the age of marriage. As for recommendation 13, Yemen agreed to this but there was no rape by husbands and all marriages were based on mutual consent.
Yemen also agreed to recommendation 14 and the Ministry for Human Rights and other civil society institutions had the right to visit prisons and other places of detention, which had been enforced for the last 14 years. Recommendation 15 was also accepted and Yemen was a pioneering country in the protection of the right to speech and press. As for recommendation 16, Yemen’s Constitution did not preclude creative activities of journalists. Yemen could also agree to recommendation 19 and had made every effort to disseminate human rights through mass media and other channels. As for recommendation 20, Yemen wished to guarantee the protection from torture in all its forms and punish those that were guilty.
RANA MOKADDEM (Lebanon) noted Lebanon’s deep appreciation for the efforts made by Yemen under the Universal Periodic Review and welcomed Yemen for the useful and practical measures it had taken in strengthening human rights, despite the challenges it faced and the resources it needed. Lebanon invited Yemen to continue to strengthen the rights of children and women.
VU ANH QUANG (Viet Nam) said Yemen had accepted 125 recommendations out of 148 made, a very high acceptance rate. The efforts and many measures taken by the Government of Yemen in order to implement recommendations were also noted. All of this demonstrated a firm political will and strong commitment on the behalf of Yemen to respect the universal values of human rights, despite the many socio-economic challenges and its limited financial resources.
QIAN BO (China) said Yemen's openness and sincere acceptance of recommendations was noted. Yemen had been involved in economic development, with its poverty rates dropping over past years. Substantial progress had been made in promoting people's rights to education, health and food. There was a high-level woman's council. A great deal of work had been done to protect and promote human rights, whilst Yemen interacted with the international community and the United Nations institutions. China fully understood that as a developing country, Yemen still faced numerous difficulties and challenges, and was confident that the Government would implement the recommendations whilst improving its economy, which would improve human rights and help it to achieve even greater results.
IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria) welcomed the fact that Yemen had accepted the recommendations of the Working Group, including the one made by Algeria to create a national human rights institution, in keeping with the Paris Principles. Algeria noted Yemen’s collaboration with international human rights instruments and encouraged it to continue to promote women in development plans. Algeria also welcomed the role played by Yemen in engaging healthcare for women in rural areas. The efforts made to put an end to and eradicate poverty as well as measures to reduce poverty levels were also welcomed.
GERMAN MUNDARAIN HERNANDEZ (Venezuela) said the presentation was a true sign of Yemen's commitment to the Universal Periodic Review. Work was done in the social sphere in past years, leading to a notable improvement of health indicators, an increase in care centres directly impacting the people, and this should be positively assessed. Yemen had also contributed in the humanitarian sphere, receiving many African refugees who posed a challenge for this developing country, and Yemen should be supported by the international community. The decision of Yemen to create an institutional mechanism to comply with recommendations issuing from the Universal Periodic Review was very responsible and guaranteed the Government's commitment to the enjoyment of human rights for all its citizens.
HISHAM BADR (Egypt) said the report of Yemen clearly informed the reader on the efforts to ensure human rights at all levels. The national strategy adopted by the Government in promoting gender equality in all areas was welcome, as were legislation and constitutional reforms which the country had implemented over past years and should have a positive impact on the lives of citizens, who would enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Yemen had demonstrated a strong will to improve human rights and the living conditions of all its citizens, despite financial constraints, and had received refugees and fought terrorism. Egypt congratulated Yemen on its report and urged the international community to provide Yemen with its support so it could continue on the path to improve living standards and improve the situation of all inhabitants.
ABDULLA FALAH ABDULLA AL-DOSARI (Qatar) said Qatar would like to thank the Yemeni delegation for the responses it had provided on the recommendations and queries, also thanking Yemen for its positive and constructive attitude. The number of recommendations that Yemen had accepted proved the seriousness with which Yemen considered human rights. Yemen had witnessed great improvements in the fields of human rights, and Qatar had always helped Yemen to provide for security and stability and wished to congratulate it in this regard. Qatar encouraged the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review report of Yemen.
MARGARITA VALLE (Cuba) said that during the Universal Periodic Review of Yemen the Council had been able to appreciate the clear will of the country to improve further the daily lives of its citizens, in particular with regard to basic rights, such as education. In terms of health they could note the increase of 30 per cent of the number of health centres and an increase of 90 per cent of infant maternity health centres. Cuba also welcomed the efforts with regard to the rights of women, such as a better access to higher posts and encouraged Yemen to continue along this path.
RANIA AL RIFAIY (Syria) said it wished to welcome the vision of Yemen, tying sustainable development to human rights, reflecting the seriousness of the Government's intentions to improve the situation of human rights in Yemen, which was facing a number of difficulties, namely a lack of resources, poverty, terrorism and a growing number of refugees. However, Yemen had been able to promote human rights, including the right to development, and had done so in an open and transparent fashion, in respect of the national religious and cultural specificities of the people and the country. Yemen was wished every success and progress in all areas, and the Council should adopt the report.
MUHAMMAD SAEED SARWAR (Pakistan) said that Pakistan welcomed the presence of the Yemeni Minister of Human Rights. Yemen’s strong commitment to human rights was evident from it accepting most of the recommendations. Pakistan was confident that Yemen would take the necessary steps to expedite the realization of human rights. It further noted with appreciation Yemen’s open and constructive approach. Pakistan wished the Government of Yemen well in its endeavors to promote and protect the human rights of its citizens.
BUDOOR ABDULAZIZ AHMED (Bahrain) welcomed the positive steps undertaken by Yemen with regard to the various recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review. It reflected the commitment of the Yemeni Government to progress and move forward in the area of human rights. Bahrain welcomed the commitment of the Yemeni Government in promoting the access of women to higher positions. Bahrain recommended the adoption of the report.
SAEED AL HABSI (United Arab Emirates) said the United Arab Emirates appreciated all the positive steps made by the Yemeni Government in implementing the recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review. The delegation gave an exhaustive presentation, showing the tremendous progress made in promoting human rights and ensuring they were properly rooted in the country, and the United Arab Emirates praised the efforts made by the Government to strengthen rights, including the rights of women and children, all recommendations on which had been adopted, as had those on education, poverty and health. Yemen was encouraged to move forward in strengthening national institutions. Awareness-raising campaigns should be held to improve the population's awareness of human rights. All should stand with Yemen in helping it implement its commitments.
ARVIND NARRAIN, of European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation (ILGA-EUROPE) in a joint statement with Canadian HIV/Aids Legal Network, said that the International Lesbian and Gay Association wished to note with very serious concern that as of today, Yemen was one of only seven countries in the world to maintain the death penalty for consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex. The imposition of the death penalty was a particularly egregious violation of one of the most fundamental of human rights, namely the right to life, and imposing the death penalty for expressing romantic love between same sex partners shredded the very fabric of what was meant by human rights. The International Lesbian and Gay Association recommended that the Government of Yemen gave serious consideration to decriminalizing homosexuality. Such an action would be entirely consistent with current international human rights standards and in keeping with the human rights obligations of the Government of Yemen.
ABDUL AMIR HASHOM, of Al-Hakim Foundation, welcomed Yemen’s efforts to cooperate with the High Commissioner for Human Rights. There was a military conflict in Yemen and many citizens were without food. Assistance to these people had been granted by the Red Cross. Civilians were still exposed to the military confrontation and violence.
MUNEER AHMED MOHAMMED AL-SAKKAF, of Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, said Yemen should move forward in promoting human rights and in implementing all existing laws designed to promote human rights. The situation of Yemen showed that the recommendations may not have been respected - there had been tremendous violations by the Government over the last months of the rights of the mass media and the press, with arbitrary arrests of journalists and the closing down of newspapers. The Government had imposed restrictions on legitimate gatherings, and there were cases of torture. The Government had ignored recommendations. Government forces had killed 84 civilians in aerial attacks last week. The war had resulted in the displacement of over 100,000 citizens, and if the situation was not attended to both by Yemen and the international community, then it would look like Darfur.
MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG, of Amnesty International, said that Amnesty International regretted Yemen’s rejection of the recommendations made by 11 States to establish a moratorium on all executions and to reduce the use of the death penalty with a view to its eventual abolition. It strongly encouraged the Government to reconsider its position on these recommendations without delay. Amnesty International further noted Yemen’s support of recommendations to ensure the effective enforcement of human rights-related laws throughout its territory at all administrative and judiciary levels and to fulfill its international human rights commitments and obligations. In this regard, Amnesty International called on the Government to immediately end violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the context of the conflict in the Sa’da region. The authorities must urgently investigate all allegations of serious violations by their forces.
MOHAMMED AL MAQTARI, of Human Rights Information and Training Center, said that they were very pleased to see that Yemen had accepted all recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review process. It was important to create a national institution of human rights. The recommendation of Denmark should also be implemented; the Government should respect the Constitution and cooperate with international institutions. Yemen should also strengthen its capacity to teach civil servants in their understanding of human rights. He also called for the implementation of the recommendation of the United Kingdom to grant access to prisons and to ensure that the judiciary was independent.
PHILIPPE DAM, of Human Rights Watch, said the Government of Yemen should fully implement the accepted recommendations, including in the regions affected by the recent unrest in southern Yemen and renewed armed conflict in northern Yemen, and in this context should endeavour to strengthen protection for the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in the south, and scrupulously observe international humanitarian law in the north. Human Rights Watch was also extremely concerned about the grave humanitarian consequences of the current fighting in northern Yemen - the Government should take all possible steps to facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of impartial humanitarian relief for civilians in need. The Government should promptly and impartially investigate responsibility for any attacks that indiscriminately or disproportionately harmed civilians, and all parties to the armed conflict should respect the prohibition under international law against targeting civilians.
AMAL BASHA, of International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, said that the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues welcomed the pledges of Yemen to support several important recommendations formulated during the interactive dialogue regarding the protection of human rights in counter-terrorism legislation. In this aim, Yemen should promptly amend the draft anti-terrorism laws as several provisions of these bills contravened the international standards of protection of human rights. To this purpose, Yemen must implement Germany’s recommendation to enhance its cooperation with the Special Procedures and invite them. The use of torture and ill-treatment remained widespread and largely unpunished in Yemen and the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues were therefore concerned that Yemen seemed reluctant to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. Finally, fair trial guarantees were widely disregarded and the functioning of the Specialized Criminal Court was particularly worrying in this regard.
TAWAKUL KARMAN, of Arab Network for Environment and Development, welcomed today’s responses by Yemen and endorsed the recommendations on the freedom of opinion and the freedom of the press. Peaceful demonstrations were currently regarded as a danger to security in Yemen. Journalists had been arrested or abducted because they were taking part in or endorsing such peaceful demonstrations. Newspapers had been closed down because they had covered the demonstrations. All exceptional courts should be annulled as they were unconstitutional. As for the minorities, it was necessary to give equal rights to all citizens in Yemen.
Huda Abdullatef Alban, Minister of Human Rights of Yemen, said she wished to thank all those who had participated in the process, and those who had deployed efforts to bring to success the objectives of the Council. Yemen wished to renew its undertaking before the international community that the Government was committed to all the voluntary undertakings that it had made during the Universal Periodic Review process, and it would spare no effort to translate these into implementation. Over the next four years, the international community would see the light of implemented action. The Yemeni people, with their traditions of civilisation that went back thousands of years, were able to provide further legal, practical and constitutional guarantees for the implementation of these rights. Yemenis would be provided with every care and support to pave the way to reach the required democracy, security, and respect for human rights, and to achieve progress in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms. This was a space for democracy, and Yemen was truly a democratic society, as evidenced by the presence of journalists today. Not everything said by civil society organizations was true - they should prove that there were such violations committed. The war had been imposed on Yemen, and the Yemeni people found themselves obliged to defend themselves against the rebels who had taken up arms, and regretfully refused to listen to the voice of reason and had welcomed the language of weapons and arms. Nothing would hold Yemen back - it would collaborate and engage with every national and political organization in the country in order to implement each and every recommendation undertaken before the Council.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on Yemen.
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