HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS OUTCOMES OF UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW ON VANUATU, FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA AND THE COMOROS



Human Rights Council
MORNING

25 September 2009


The Human Rights Council this morning adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review on Vanuatu, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Comoros.

Roline Lesines, Vice-Chair-Person of the Vanuatu Universal Periodic Review Committee, Labour Department of Vanuatu, said the Government of Vanuatu had already taken positive steps towards the implementation of the recommendations through the formulation of various policies and frameworks within various Government Department Ministries. All recommendations were acceptable to Vanuatu, except recommendations 2, 3, 5, 7 and part of recommendation 20.

In the discussion on Vanuatu, speakers highlighted the constraints and challenges facing small-island states and least developed countries in participating in the Universal Periodic Review process when they had no permanent representation in Geneva. Vanuatu’s commitment to improving conditions in prisons and detention centers was commended and the undertaking to separate minors and adults in correctional facilities was welcomed. Nevertheless, accountability and transparency in Vanuatu's public sector remained an area of concern, and Vanuatu was also encouraged to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and to provide more resources to the Office of the Ombudsman and the Auditor General to allow for more vigorous investigations.

Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review of Vanuatu were Algeria, India, Australia, the United States and New Zealand. Amnesty International, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Franciscans International also took the floor.

Svetlana Geleva, Head of Department for Multilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, said that the recommendations, which largely corresponded to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's priorities in respect of human rights protection and promotion on national and international levels, would constitute an additional valuable guidance on action in this area. With regards to international treaties, Ms. Geleva said that the country had recently signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and that the procedure for the signature and consequent ratification of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was expected to commence in the near future. Further, the Ohrid Framework Agreement remained a priority for the Government - all envisaged laws regulating rights of non-majority communities had been adopted, and the recruitment procedures for persons belonging to non-majority communities were being pursued.

In the discussion on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, speakers noted that the Government was working to fulfill its obligations and confirm its commitments. The information provided demonstrated the huge amount of work that had been carried out by the Government to accede to international treaties and improve national standards. Nevertheless, a detailed assessment on the results and shortcomings of the previous reform process would be welcomed. Moreover, the cases of ethnic intolerance and discrimination remained of concern and the authorities were encouraged to take all appropriate measures to prevent discrimination based on ethnic affiliation, foster tolerance and respect for ethnic diversity, and to further strengthen the rights of the Ombudsman concerning non-discrimination issues. More attention should also be paid to the reassessment of the legal status of the “Kosovo Refugees” who had remained in the country since the crises of 1999.

Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia were Hungary, Algeria, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Slovenia, the United States and Slovakia. The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA-EUROPE), the International Commission of Jurists and Action Canada for Population and Development also took the floor.

Mohammed Jaffar Abbas, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Public Functions, Administrative and Institutional Reforms and Human Rights of the Comoros, said that in the less than six months that had passed since the last meeting, one could rightly expect that those speakers who had expressed concerns at that time should see positive progress today. It was for this reason that Mr. Abbas announced that the separatist military detainees were free today and had regained their island of origin, and that the politicians on the island of Grand Comoros who had refused to submit to the respect of the revised constitution on 17 May were not anymore under judiciary and penitentiary concern. These two examples clearly reflected the progress that had been made since the last meeting in May. Further, the 52 recommendations to which the Comoros had subscribed constituted an engagement to which the Comoros was firmly committed, and the Comoros continued to subscribe to the ideals of human rights.

In the discussion on the Comoros, speakers noted that nothing showed better the determination of the Government of the Comoros to go forward in a spirit of transparency and objectivity than its acceptance of the majority of the recommendations made. Equally, the constant efforts, despite the paucity of resources, showed the determination and strong will of the country to forward in the process of modernisation and democraticisation of the State. The efforts that the Comoros had made in combating corruption, poverty and in trying to reach good governance were also welcomed, and the Government was commended for its efforts in bolstering security and acceding to numerous international human rights instruments. Nevertheless, the Comoros should modify its legislation to eliminate corporal punishment and bring its Penal Code into conformity with its international human rights obligations by repealing those provisions which criminalised same-sex activity between consenting adults.

Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review of the Comoros were Qatar, Algeria, Bahrain, Libya, Morocco, Senegal and Ghana. The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA-EUROPE) and the International Human Rights Association of American Minorities also took the floor.

The next meeting of the Council will be today at 3 p.m. when it is scheduled to consider the Universal Periodic Review outcome on Slovakia, and then hold a general debate on its agenda item on the Universal Periodic Review.


Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on Vanuatu

ROLINE LESINES, Vice-Chair-Person of the Vanuatu Universal Periodic Review Committee, Labour Department of Vanuatu, said that when Vanuatu had received the recommendation after its presentation before the Universal Periodic Review Working Group last May, they had indicated that further consultations would be made in the country and that they would give their position on the recommendations during the current session. The Government of Vanuatu had already taken positive steps towards the implementation of the recommendations through the formulation of various policies and frameworks within various Government Department Ministries. All recommendations were acceptable to Vanuatu, except recommendations 2, 3, 5, 7 and part of recommendation 20.

In response to recommendations 2, 3, 5 and 7, she said that Vanuatu was not yet prepared to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families and the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. One of the main reasons was the financial constraint that a small island country like Vanuatu had. With regard to recommendation 20, Ms. Lesines said that it was acceptable; however the second part of the recommendation, which was the consideration of applying adequate sanctions for parents who failed to send their children to school, was not acceptable. The Government was prepared to provide appropriate counselling services to those parents. She further noted that the Ministry of Justice, in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were also seriously considering the setting up of a Human Rights Commission unit within the Government, which would oversee the implementation of the Universal Periodic Review recommendations in the country.

SIM MELLOUH (Algeria) said Algeria commended the sustained efforts made to protect and promote human rights in Vanuatu, despite the constraints and challenges facing it as a small-island state and a least developed country. The international community and the United Nations should provide Vanuatu with the required technical assistance to help it further the cause of human rights. Algeria welcomed the efforts to ensure equality between men and women and enhance the latter's participation in political life, and to improve access to the health system and its quality. The readiness of the Government of Vanuatu to develop a policy of free education was noted, and it was encouraged to pursue its efforts, enhancing the implementation of its National Plan for Education for All.

ROHIT RATHISH (India) said that India felt privileged to have been part of the troika of countries selected to facilitate the Universal Periodic Review of Vanuatu. India welcomed the constructive engagement of Vanuatu with the Universal Periodic Review process despite the difficulty of not having representation in Geneva and considered this to be symbolic of Vanuatu’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights of its citizens. India noted with appreciation Vanuatu’s recent ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as the enactment of the Family Protection Act that could go a long way in protecting and promoting the rights of women in Vanuatu. India also recognized the daunting challenges that Vanuatu faced being a small island developing state and a least developed country. India thanked the delegation of Vanuatu for its commitments to the promotion and protection of human rights and wished them the very best in their efforts.

ROBYN HODGKIN (Australia) said that Australia recognised the unique challenges that were faced by small states without permanent representation in Geneva in preparing for and appearing before the Universal Periodic Report Working Group. They acknowledged the extensive consultation of Government Departments and non-governmental organizations in the preparation of the report. Australia commended Vanuatu’s commitment to improving conditions in prisons and detention centers, and in particular welcomed the undertaking to separate minors and adults in correctional facilities. They also recognised Vanuatu’s continued commitment to human rights principles and welcomed the passing of the Family Protection Act.

COURTNEY MUSSER (United States) said the United States commended Vanuatu for its constructive engagement with the Universal Periodic Review process, being cognisant of the fact that Vanuatu was a small, developing island State with no permanent representation in Geneva and of the difficulties this could pose in presenting a report at the Human Rights Council. The United States noted that accountability and transparency in Vanuatu's public sector remained an area of concern, and the continuing problem of corruption. More resources should be provided to the Office of the Ombudsman and the Auditor General's Office to allow for more vigorous investigations. The Government of Vanuatu was commended for its renovation of detention centres to meet international standards, and for the passage of the Family Protection Act which aimed to prevent and punish abuses against women.

LUCY RICHARDSON (New Zealand) said that New Zealand recognized that for small island states in the Pacific region, participation in the Universal Periodic Review process was a major undertaking. New Zealand welcomed Vanuatu’s firm commitment to this important process. It also appreciated Vanuatu’s willingness to share its experience with other Pacific countries at a seminar for Pacific Island officials on the Universal Periodic Review process in New Zealand earlier this year. New Zealand thanked the delegation of Vanuatu for their informative comments today and welcomed the Government’s acceptance of over 90 per cent of recommendations received. Finally, New Zealand looked forward to continuing its close relationship with Vanuatu, and to working with it in the next important step of the Universal Periodic Review process, namely the implementation of the recommendations.

MARIANNE LILLIEBJERG, of Amnesty International, welcomed many of the recommendations that were made by States, including those concerning the establishment of a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles; the improvement of detention conditions for prisoners under the age of 18; addressing current rules and customs that continued to discriminate against women; and the adequate access to health care and safe drinking water for the population. They also welcomed the progress made towards ensuring that human rights were promoted and protected in Vanuatu, as well as steps being taken to consolidate various family laws, including those relating to maintenance and matrimonial property, into a single family law. Amnesty International encouraged Vanuatu to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

JOHN FISHER, of Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, said with regards to recommendation 25, which encouraged the Government of Vanuatu to "take necessary measures to ensure that discrimination on the basis of disability, economic status, sexual orientation or living with HIV/AIDS was prevented", Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network appreciated the Government's response that all marginalised groups were protected by the Constitution, but at the same time, noted that clear, explicit anti-discrimination legislation could only enhance Vanuatu's commitment to human rights and the protection accorded to marginalised groups, and the Government should accept the recommendation. Such protection could be further strengthened if also accompanied by awareness-raising and public education campaigns.

JAMES JOLLEY, of Franciscans International, said that Franciscans International understood the constraints and delays in Vanuatu providing its comments, but regretted that these were only distributed during this segment. Franciscans International was pleased with Vanuatu’s commitment to achieve free education for all children from grade 1 to grade 8 by 2010 and its acceptance of the recommendations put forward by Algeria, Germany and the Philippines, but additionally recommended that Vanuatu commit to finding effective ways to support children whose families could not afford to pay the additional expenses related to compulsory primary education. With approximately 20 per cent of all children being selected for secondary education, Franciscans International encouraged Vanuatu to seek ways of expanding its schooling infrastructure to enhance the capacity for all children to have access to free education beyond Grade 8. Furthermore, Franciscans International strongly encouraged the provision of vocational and education services in order to assist young people in finding paid and meaningful employment.

ROLINE LESINES, Vice-Chair-Person of the Vanuatu Universal Periodic Review Committee, Labour Department of Vanuatu, in concluding comments, thanked the speakers for their comments. The Universal Periodic Review was quite new for Vanuatu but they were committed towards improving their human rights and positively took on board the comments made today and would use them to update their laws and legislation.

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

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

SVETLANA GELEVA, Head of the Department for Multilateral Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, said the recommendations, which largely corresponded to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's priorities in respect of human rights protection and promotion on national and international levels, would constitute an additional valuable guidance in action in this area. With regards to international treaties, the country had recently signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the procedure for the signature and consequent ratification of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was expected to commence in the near future, and there were possibilities being considered for the ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers. On the rights of the child, the provisions of the Convention were taken in full consideration in the process of assessing the applicable laws and in adopting new legislation.

On the Ohrid Framework Agreement and inter-ethnic relations recommendations, the Framework Agreement remained a priority for the Government - all envisaged laws regulating rights of non-majority communities had been adopted, and the recruitment procedures for persons belonging to non-majority communities were pursued according to envisaged dynamics. On status registration, the Law on Registers set forth the obligation of registering the birth of a child - no fees were charged for documents and procedures. It had been established that the Roma population had the greatest problems with the registry records, and, among other things, a large number of educational and information meetings and debates had been organised by the Government and non-governmental organizations to deal with this problem. The current penitentiary reform was aimed at improving the conditions in penitentiaries and at ensuring more efficient enforcement of sanctions in pursuance with international standards. There was a draft law on the protection against discrimination. The recommendation on the rights of same-sex partners was not at this stage acceptable for the country. The implementation of the Law on Equal Opportunities and of the Gender Equality Action Plan was expected to help continue the positive trend in the representation of women in all spheres of social life. The 2008-2011 National Strategy for Protection against Domestic Violence was being implemented. An Action Plan was implemented aiming at the effective implementation of the Law on Juvenile Justice. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continually improved the coherency of the activities of various institutions, NGOs and international organizations which worked on the detection and prevention of trafficking in human beings. The reform of the judiciary and the promotion of its independence and efficiency remained major priorities. There were independent and external mechanisms for control of the work of the police.

KLARA TUNYOGI AKOTS (Hungary) said that Hungary commended the Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for its full engagement with the present mechanism and hoped that the implementations would contribute to the promotion of human rights. Since it had not received a clarification on its question concerning the effectiveness of the judiciary reflected in paragraph 56 of the report, Hungary would welcome a detailed assessment on the results and shortcomings of the previous reform process aimed at improving the credibility and effectiveness of the judiciary. Hungary fully supported the efforts already made to improve the efficiency of human rights institutions and encouraged the Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to further strengthen the rights of the Ombudsman concerning non-discrimination issues. Finally, more attention should be paid to the reassessment of the legal status of the “Kosovo Refugees” who had remained in the country since the crises of 1999.

IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria) said that the quality of the information presented demonstrated the serious approach of the authorities of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. There was an issue Algeria wanted to address however; the process should involve not only the administration but also the politicians in the country. Algeria would welcome a ministerial involvement in the Universal Periodic Review. Algeria also welcomed the decision by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to accept the recommendation of Algeria to make sure that the Office of the Ombudsman was in line with the Paris Principles. They also welcomed the favourable follow-up on Algeria’s recommendation to ensure that certain minorities were getting adequate access to housing, education, employement and healthcare.

PAVEL CHERNIKOV (Russian Federation) said the review of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was in complete compliance with the resolution of the General Assembly and the institution-building package of the Human Rights Council. This was largely due to the constructive approach of the Macedonian side to all stages of the report, including up to today's presentation. The information provided demonstrated the huge amount of work that had been carried out to accede to international treaties and improve national standards, bringing them into line with international standards. Appropriate and effective implementing mechanisms were being created to this effect.

EMINA KECO-ISAKOVIC (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said that Bosnia and Herzegovina had carefully read the report of the Universal Periodic Review of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and noted with satisfaction the progress that had been made in different human rights fields. The Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was working to fulfill its obligations and had confirmed its commitment to fulfill the human rights obligation in different areas, and serious improvements had been made. Bosnia and Herzegovina recommended the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review report and wished all success to this country in the future and human rights improvements.

GANCHO GANEV (Bulgaria) said that Bulgaria had closely followed the proceedings of the review of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. They had noted that during the meeting of the Working Group several delegations had observed that some improvements had occurred in the country in the legislative and institutional framework. However, Bulgaria remained concerned about cases of ethnic intolerance and discrimination and appealed to the authorities to take all appropriate measures to prevent discrimination based on ethnic affiliation and foster tolerance and respect for ethnic diversity. It would also be recommendable that the Macedonian authorities took systematic efforts to guarantee the independence of the media.

MARKO HAM (Slovenia) said the Minister's presence today was further proof that the Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was seriously committed to the Universal Periodic Review process. The Government should further strengthen the system of balances including the Office of the Ombudsman. Slovenia thanked the Government for having addressed and replied to the questions it had raised during the dialogue, particularly with regard to the independence of the judiciary, the anti-discrimination law, and implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement. Slovenia also welcomed that the recommendation on the consolidation of the independence and overall capacity of the judicial system enjoyed the support of the Government.

COURTNEY MUSSER (United States) said that the United States noted with concern the ethnic segregation which was increasing taking place in schools in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The United States therefore welcomed the commitment of the Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to address the roots of ethnic violence and foster tolerance and multi-ethnic cohesion.

BRANISLAV LYSAK (Slovakia) said that Slovakia welcomed the dedication that was paid by the Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the Universal Periodic Review process. Slovakia appreciated the constructive approach of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the recommendations and took note of the commitments regarding many areas that had been mentioned during the review. As such, they welcomed the decision to fully implement the recommendations for improving the election legislation. Slovakia was also pleased with the fact that the reform of the judiciary and the promotion of its independence and efficiency remained the major priorities of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Efforts should be undertaken to achieve full compliance of the anti-discrimination law currently in preparation with the international human rights standards.

ARVIND NARRAIN, of European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation (ILGA-EUROPE), in a joint statement with Canadian HIV/Aids Legal Network, and Federatie Van Netherlandse Verenigingen Tot Integratie Van Homoseksualiteit Coc Nederland, said the Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was strongly commended for accepting the recommendations on the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. These commitments were consistent with international principles of equality and non-discrimination. The Government was explicit in its response in identifying sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination, but should clarify whether gender identity would also be included in the Anti Discrimination Law in accordance with the recommendations, and should make this explicit in order to better protect the rights of transgender people. It should also provide information about what reforms were proposed to ensure that same-sex partners were provided with equal rights and responsibilities as opposite-sex partners.

LUKAS MACHON, of International Commission of Jurists, said that the International Commission of Jurists requested the Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to take prompt measures to fulfill all recommendations of the Council’s Universal Periodic Review mechanism. The International Commission of Jurists remained concerned by frequent allegations of ill-treatment by law enforcement authorities and the failure to take effective measures to prosecute and punish the perpetrators, as required by the international human rights obligations of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Further, the International Commission of Jurists regretted that the Working Group did not address some of the key issues for the effective prevention of torture, including the lack of prompt, effective and confidential access to a lawyer, and the need for a prompt and independent medical examination of those alleging torture or ill-treatment. The International Commission of Jurists also called on the Government to institute an independent investigation into the circumstances of Mr. El-Masri’s abduction and detention in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

ENISA EMINOVSKA, of Action Canada for Population and Development, urged the Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to fully implement the Ohrid Framework Agreement especially with respect to the Roma communities and strongly urged the Government to prioritize the process of formulating an anti-discrimination legal framework and strengthening the administrative structures to sanction any form of discrimination. With respect to Kosovo Roma refugees in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, it had been their concern that the process of granting asylum was not fully gender sensitive. Concerning the rights of Roma begging children, they urged the Government to introduce affirmative measures in an effort to eliminate begging in the country.

SVETLANA GELEVA, Head of the Department for Multilateral Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, said the delegation had followed the suggestions made with great attention. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia knew that there was always more that could be done to improve human rights, and lived by that credo. The country was developing into a tolerant society, with its own specifics, and some difficulties on that part, but was seeking to resolve these through a dialogue, and was open to any further discussions on the issues raised here by some delegations. The Universal Periodic Review process was an excellent opportunity to assess achievements, both in terms of national and international commitments, and see where the country stood on a number of issues. The recommendations would serve as useful guidance in policy design and action on human rights, and the recommendations and suggestions given today would be included therein. The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia would continue to cooperate fully and engage with the Universal Periodic Review process in the future.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review on the Comoros

MOHAMMED JAFFAR ABBAS, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Public Functions, Administrative and Institutional Reforms and Human Rights of the Comoros, said that he would like to express his country’s gratitude for being allowed to participate at this meeting. Mr. Abbas also wished to thank the Secretariat, as well as Mexico, the United Kingdom and Ghana for the intellectual assistance they had provided to the Comoros. It was clear that in the less than six months that had passed since the last meeting, one could rightly expect that those speakers who had expressed concerns at that time could today see positive progress. It was for this reason that Mr. Abbas wished to announce that the separatist military detainees were free today and had regained Anjouan, their island of origin. Further, the politicians on the island of Grand Comoros who refused to submit to the respect of the revised Constitution on 17 May were not under judiciary and penitentiary concern any more. These two examples reflected clearly the progress that had been made since the last meeting in May. The 52 recommendations the Comoros had subscribed to constituted an engagement to which the Comoros was firmly committed. Moreover, the Comoros continued to subscribe to the ideals of human rights and very much hoped that the adoption of the report would take place.

MANSOOR ABDULLA AL-SULAITIN (Qatar) thanked the delegation of the Comoros for their presentation which provided answers to the recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review. Qatar valued the acceptance by the Comoros of 52 of the recommendations that had been made during the process, including recommendation 45, which had been presented by Qatar, on deploying efforts to provide education free of charge to children that were of school age. In spite of the lack of financial resources and challenges posed by poverty Qatar could only pay tribute to the Comoros for the efforts it was making in combating corruption and poverty and in trying to reach good governance, which were priority issues in order to reach human and social development.

IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria) said the Government of the Comoros was commended for its efforts in protecting and promoting human rights, and bolstering security in the country despite difficulties and challenges due to the paucity of resources in the country. The Comoros had accepted 51 out of 58 recommendations, showing its commitment to enhancing human rights. The release of detained rebels was commended, and the efforts made to fight poverty and eliminate all forms of discrimination against women were also commended. Algeria applauded efforts made to draw up a National Poverty Alleviation and Growth strategy and a National Action Plan for Access to Education for All, which should be supported by the international community. The acceptance of recommendations on training for police and security officers was welcome, and the international community should help the Comoros in this field.

BUDOOR ABDULAZIZ AHMED (Bahrain) said all the positive measures and steps taken by the Comoros were welcome, as was the attachment of the Comoros to human rights principles and values, and their commitment to implement the recommendations was applauded, despite economic and social problems. Efforts made to promote human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, to attain the Millennium Development Goals were also noted, as were efforts to increase the spread of education and health to all, and improve the situation of women, encouraging their participation in public life and economic activity. Bahrain recommended the adoption of the report.

MALAK SALIM (Libya) said that the participation of the Comoros in the Universal Periodic Review was an indication of the importance given by the Comoros to human rights. In spite of the difficulties faced by the country, the Comoros had set up a number of structures for the protection of women’s rights and for the protection of children. New strategies had been put in place in the Comoros to improve the access to education. The Comoros had also made efforts to combat poverty and to continue securing access to education. Qatar welcomed the accession of the Comoros to numerous international human rights instruments and hoped that the United Nations and the international community would offer assistance to the Comoros as required in order to support the country in its efforts to improve the situation of human rights.

MOHAMED ACHGALOU (Morocco) said nothing showed better the determination of the Government of the Comoros to go forward in a spirit of transparency and objectivity than its acceptance of the majority of the recommendations made, which deserved the full attention of the Human Rights Council and the international community. The acceptance of the recommendations on improving the situation of women and the promotion of education were welcomed. The remarkable openness of the authorities to suggestions to take measures to consolidate the mechanisms aiming to reduce maternal and child mortality and the improvement of access of children to healthcare were a courageous initiative which required aid and assistance from the relevant international agencies, including the World Health Organization. Equally, the constant efforts, despite the paucity of resources, showed the determination and strong will of the country to push forward the process of modernisation and democraticisation of the State. Substantial assistance from the international community on the technical and financial levels was necessary and justified.

BABACAR CARLOS MBAYE (Senegal) said that Senegal welcomed the delegation of the Comoros. By accepting the majority of the recommendations, the Comoros’ Government had confirmed its readiness to improve the human rights situation in the Comoros against the difficult context it found itself in. Senegal also looked favorably on the recommendation to establish a national human rights institution. Further, Senegal had the pleasure to encourage the authorities of the Comoros to ensure the effective implementation of the recommendations the Comoros had accepted, and it encouraged the international community to support the Comoros in this endeavor.

MERCY YVONNE AMOAH (Ghana) said that Ghana congratulated the Comoros on their constructive engagement in the Universal Periodic Review process. She also recalled that during the review by the Working Group, the representative of the Comoros had informed them of his country’s strong attachment to human rights ideals and commitment to foster real human development despite the many economic, social and psychological constraints it was facing. Ghana appreciated that the Comoros had accepted 52 of the 59 recommendations that had been made. The Comoros deserved the support of both the Council and the international community.

JIDE MACAULAY, of European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation (ILGA-EUROPE) in a joint statement with Canadian HIV/Aids Legal Network, said one of the recommendations urged the Comoros to review the provisions of the criminal law penalising consensual same-sex activity between adults, and to organise awareness-raising campaigns promoting tolerance in this regard. Same-sex activity between consenting adults was criminalised. The United Nations Human Rights Committee had repeated confirmed that such laws violated the rights to both privacy and non-discrimination. During the Working Group discussion, the delegation of the Comoros responded that homosexuality was not prosecuted and the law was not enforced - if this was the case, then the Government should be willing to accept the recommendation and repeal the offending law. The Comoros should bring its Penal Code into conformity with its international human rights obligations by repealing those provisions which criminalised same-sex activity between consenting adults and accepting the recommendation to organise awareness-raising campaigns promoting tolerance in that regard.

SYED FAIZ NAQSHBANDI, of International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, said that while appreciating the recommendation of the outcome report, the International Human Rights Association of American Minorities was concerned by reports of the harsh and unsanitary conditions in which people were held in under detention in the Comoros. It appreciated that the Comoros had ratified additional instruments, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Against Torture. The International Human Rights Association of American Minorities also appreciated the Comoros’ efforts to improve the situation of children, to reduce the infant mortality rate and to fight against poverty in this regard. However, the International Human Rights Association of American Minorities also recommended that the Comoros modified its legislation to eliminate corporal punishment.

MOHAMMED JAFFAR ABBAS, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Public Functions, Administrative and Institutional Reforms and Human Rights of the Comoros, in concluding remarks, said that he had listened with a great deal of attention to the statements made today and he had appreciated the speakers that had said that the human rights of the Comoros needed to be supported. Promoting human rights was a constant struggle and this needed the support of the international community. Focusing on the statement by the International Lesbian and Gay Association, he noted that developments were not equal in all parts of the world. For the Comoros, there had never been a single prosecution of consenting homosexual adults yet. The International Lesbian and Gay Association had asked that the Comoros’ penal code provision be reformed but he thought that one had to realize that time was needed to make changes because it was difficult to have certain provisions respected, despite the existing tolerance by the people of the Comoros towards the lesbian and gay community. In the 30 years since the independence of the Comoros, they had been working to make human rights a reality in their country.

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

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