mardi 15 avril 2008

UPR - Brazil

Universal Public Review on Brazil - 11.04.2008, afternoon

(Head of Brazilian delegation: H.E. Mr. Rogério Sottili – Executive Secretary, Special Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic on Human Rights)


In his introduction, Mr. Sottili stressed the importance of human rights in Brazil, which is remembered not only by various holidays, but also discussed in congresses.

Next, the secretary of social development & hunger reduction took the floor in order to present recent steps the Lula government in Brazil has taken to address problems such as hunger and poverty:

  • “Fome Zero” (“Zero Hunger”), to improve the distribution of agricultural goods and fight hunger in threatened regions
  • “Bolsa Família” - a family allocation program for poor families in order to permit them to feed their children while sending them to school at the same time

On violence and homicides, the Brazilian delegation also presented an optimistic outlook, despite certain problems:

  • The homicide rate in Brazil is still relatively high, but it has been falling over the past years
  • They also mentioned a program of of contributions to poor policemen who earn low salaries, contributions that are conditioned on the police officers attendint Human Rights courses in order to guarantee that (suspected) criminals are treated correctly

The delegation also briefly addressed some other problems that Brazil is still working to improve:

  • Problem of Land Distribution
  • Women’s rights
  • Racial Equality (Here, the delegation mentioned a conference for the revision of the Durban declaration that will take place in Brasília)

Questions 1

  • Slovenia expressed concern about discrimination against young women (who may not be receiving pensions, have other types of low financial support, or even adolescents deprived of liberty); they inquired as to what Brazil has done to improve this situation, and what will be done in the future?
  • Colombia offered praise to Brazil’s achieved progress and efforts in human rights and exprest interest in Brazil’s approach to domestic violence and women’s rights as it faces similar problems.
  • China took the floor mostly expressed approval for the human rights situation in Brazil, and the delegation's presentation
  • Azerbaijan congratulated Brazil for its good human rights record, and for its participation in all key HR treaties. They also noted that Brazil has created many different secretariats/ministries for human rights subjects within the government structure; they asked whether this has been an effective strategy?
  • Peru declared that Brazil has enacted some of the most effective laws in human rights in various areas: combating torture, prosecuting police murders, as well as promoting racial an gender equality. They asked if the results of Brazil’s special commission on the aftermath of the military dictatorship has been effective? In closing, they stressed the importance of freedom of expression and of easy public access to information.
  • India expressed praise for Brazilian law giving international human rights treaties constitutional status in domestic law
  • Malaysia offered compliments for Brazil’s efforts in fighting HIV/AIDS, and requested more information on how Brazil has fought this epidemic. They also expressed interest in knowing Brazil’s strategy to bring primary education to poor and remote areas.
  • Ghana inquired whether Brazil’s education system include programs to fight youth violence, which is responsible for a large part of overall violence in the country?
  • Cuba offered Brazil its congratulations for having made so much progress for a developing country so little time after a 21-year period of military dictatorship (1964 - 1985), and offered praise for Brazil’s “flowering democracy”, as well as for the “Fome Zero” program –they also requested more information on how this program worked.
  • Pakistan inquired about the reasons for the persistence of human rights problems in Brazil; whether it was because of a "need to change attitudes" or something else? (The question was not expressed in a very specific manner)
  • The Netherlands lauded Brazil's exemplary human rights legislation and offered praise for the free press in Brazil that permits an open discussion on this subject. They also expressed strong approval for Brazil's policy of turning human rights legislation into federal law. However, they noted that there is always a gap between legislation and reality; concerning the problem of torture, they asked what has been done to end and prevent torture in PRACTISE (and not only law)?
  • South Korea was next to take the floor
  • Syria asked the Brazilian delegation to further elaborate on its program to eliminate poverty and hunger
  • France requested more detailed information penal responsibility in Brazil.
  • Norway commended the legal framework for human rights in Brazil and offered praise for government efforts to combat slave labor and racial discrimination as well as Brazil’s efforts to respect sexual orientation. Concerning freedom of opinion, however, they stated that it seems as if legislative bodies have failed to address the problem of MEDIA CONCENTRATION in Brazil, which makes it hard to investigate corruption (and which can lead to violence and threats in order to keep news hidden). They asked what actions the Brazilian government has taken to address the problem of concentration of media ownership?

Answers 1 (from the Brazilian delegation)

  • To Peru, the delegation answered first by mentioning Brazil’s amnesty law at the end of the military dictatorship, which allowed exiles to return to Brazil without fear of persecution or arrest. They also stated that in 1995, the state recognized its responsibility for the cases of the dead/“disappeared” political opposition members during the dictatorship – 221 of cases gained financial compensation. In 2007, the secretariat for human rights in Brazil created a DNA database to try to identify the family members of political disappearances that hadn’t yet been found, so that they can be compensated. Another challenge in this area was the opening of the Archives: The archives from the dictatorship have now become part of the national archives, and the government is committed to making all the information from the military years.
  • On women’s questions (In response to Slovenia, Azerbaijan), the delegation first mentioned the “Pacto Nacional” (National Pact), and the implementation of the “Maria da Penha” law against discrimination, as well as the governments continuous efforts to guarantee reproductive rights and sexual freedom
  • In response to South Korea, France, Norway, concerning criminal Justice, the delegation responded by mentioning the 1990 law introduced which extended the possibility to be judged to adolescents, in order to combat youth crime; however, this made the prison population explode. In 2007, the law was revised. To France, the delegation responded that Brazil opposes changing the law concerning the legal age for penal responsibility, which remains fixed at 18.
  • In response to the Netherlands: Concerning torture, in 2006, Brazil adopted a plan of torture prevention (mostly in the Northeast of the country), they also permitted visits of prisoner detention sites in order to prevent torture and make it possible to react in case of abuses.
  • Response to China, Cuba and Syria: Dr. Rosilene of the delegation presented the “Fome Zero” ("Zero Hunger") program in more detail, explaining that it is an inter-ministerial initiative, involving all levels of government (federal, state and municipal). It involves specific payments to families (the payments are higher or lower based on the number of children in a family) as well as providing basic “food baskets” and free nutrition in certain schools.
  • Response to China and Syria on health issues: The delegation mentioned Brazil's universal health care system, which is used by about 60%-70% of Brazilians. However, they also pointed out some remaining problems in this area concerning the qualification of health personnel as well as limited capacities. In response to Malaysia’s questions on AIDS, they stated that the Brazilian government had made a very large investment in AIDS treatment.

Questions 2

  • Australia asked if Brazil plans to establish a national Human Rights institution
  • Algeria stated interest in the measures used to implement the laws on agriculture and foods and it congratulated Brazil for its use of the remains of sugar cane in order to produce ethanol fuel. They also used this opportunity to CRITICIZE the use of corn in ethanol production, since this aggravates the world's food problem!!
  • The United States expressed concern about reports of state police committing extrajudicial killings; they asked what the government doing against this? They also spoke of allegations of torture in the adult as well as in the juvenile penal system.
  • Russia was next to take the floor.
  • They were followed by Senegal.
  • Chile expressed praise for the “Bolsa Família” (Family allocation) plan, in the context of the great importance of programs to help children complete their primary education.
  • Argentina highlighted the importance of Brazilian-Argentinean cooperation through MERCOSUR's supranational human rights department, as well as inquiring about Brazil's efforts to work through the history of its military dictatorship.
  • The United Kingdom stated its approval for the Brazilian federal government’s active role in promoting human, but added that at the state and municipal levels, the government's role is not nearly as good. They mentioned problems in the judicial system, especially in the juvenile court system, and expressed concern over police violence (for example, while invading favelas). They also expressed concern about the ill-treatment in some cases of human rights defenders, especially when they confront powerful local authorities. They also expressed a preoccupation with remaining problems of child and slave labor as well as human trafficking in Brazil.
  • Sri Lanka mostly offered praise for Brazil’s achievements (especially in terms of its health efforts), and asked which strategies can be adopted to address health issues.
  • Guatemala also expressed praise for Brazil’s high right of mandatory schooling for children, citing a 94% success rate of children enrolled in school.
  • Canada reiterated the UK's concertn about Brazil’s efforts to protect and defend human rights protectors; they also voiced concerns about the low proportion of women, Afro-Brazilians and indigenous people in government positions.
  • Germany mentioned the problematic situation in Brazil’s prisons (overpopulation,..) the inquired about future measures of the government to improve the situation. They also voiced concern about ongoing violence of police officers, and wondered how Brazil could bring about a change in a “culture of violence” at local and state levels.
  • Venezuela mainly stressed the right to land. They stated that this is a very important basic right, and they were concerned with the fact that most land in Brazil is owned by few people, implying limited access to land for people - they inquired about Brazil’s plan for agrarian reform.
  • Ecuador asked how is Brazil dealing with the problems of children who live on the street, and thus have incentives to use/sell drugs and resort to violence?
  • Palestine offered great praise for Brazil’s HR record; they did not express any specific concerns or questions.
  • Belgium offered its congratulations for Brazil’s stand for the abolition of the death penalty on the world stage. They also cited remaining problems in Brazil in guaranteeing public security, recommending enhanced security for human rights defenders. They asked fr further details on the possibility of the implementation of such a program.
  • Indonesia also offered praise for Brazil’s human rights record, but cited problems of violence against women. They also mentioned violence in certain parts of the country – specifically, recent violent outbreaks in Brazil's 2 largest cities, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. They asked what Brazil does to deal with police violence?
  • Japan was next to take the floor.
  • Mauritania inquired about the measures that are being taken against forced labor (especially concerning people of African descent).
  • Nigeria said that it welcomed the democratic reconstruction brought about through Brazil’s 1988 constitution and commended Brazil’s economic and social developments. However, they also expressed concern about remaining racial inequalities, despite laws against racism. They requested that Brazil guarantee racial equality through programs in health care, education, and other areas; they also recommended that Brazil pursue public policies to improve the living conditions of indigenous people and African descendents.
  • Mexico compared itself to Brazil as a similar country with similar challenges, expressing that they hoped to continue to learn from Brazil’s experience. They also wanted to know, like Australia, whether Brazil plans to create a national human rights committee?
  • Angola expressed concern about problems with salary inequality between men and women and also about the fact that there is little female representation in public offices. They also mentioned other problems related to racial equality, and challenges for descendents of Africans – they asked to know how Brazil’s affirmative action program can be further developed.
  • Bangladesh expressed admiration with Brazil’s success in reducing extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS.
  • Egypt also voiced approval for Brazil’s human rights efforts, especially in addressing the treatment of African descendents (despite certain remaining problems). They also inquired about how Brazil plans to collect “disaggregated statistics” on racial equality.
  • Morocco also expressed praise for Brazil’s human rights record. They inquired about Brazil’s efforts to reduce poverty, asked about the possibility of establishing an indicator for human rights respect in Brazil.
  • South Africa complimented Brazil for its efforts to eliminate racism and xenophobia, and to end discrimination. They reiteraded praise for the “Fome Zero” program – they had orignially intended to request further information on the family allowance program, but their question had already answered earlier. They confirmed that they see this approach as the best response to poverty and underdevelopment.
  • Jordan was next to take the floor.
  • Bolivia offered mostly praise for Brazil, and stressed the importance of their bilateral relations.
  • Uruguay also offered mostly thanks for Brazil's presentation, and praise for their human rights record and their important bilateral relations as members of MERCOSUR.

Answers 2:

  • The Brazilian delegation agreed that Brazil must continue to investigate threats and violence against human rights defenders. They mentioned that there had been a total of 45 such cases of threats until 2007.
  • To Argentina, concerning the process of working through the aftermath of the military regime, they mentioned their program “Direito à Verdade e à Memória” (“The right to Truth and Memory”), a program meant to expose the events that occurred during the dictatorship an offer compensation.
  • They also stated that children’s situation in Brazil is still a sensitive issue; in 2007, Brazil adopted a social agenda to address adolescents' problems.
  • They also cited the adoption of the program “Brasil sem homofobia” ("Brazil without homophobia") in order to promote equal rights regardless of sexual orientation.
  • In response to Algeria, on agrarian reform, the delegation stated that Brazil uses ecological zoning in order to increase the use of renewable fuel as well as maintain the capacity to produce nutrition.
  • To Venezuela, they responded Brazil’s focus is to guarantee sustainable development while respecting social and labor rights - they did not mention any specific plan for agrarian reform.
  • Concerning extreme poverty and education, the delegation stated that Brazil intends to increase its minimum salary again (which is around $270/month at the moment) and possibly index it to inflation
  • In response to Japan, Mauritania and South Africa, concerning racial equality, the delegation responded that in statistics over the past years in economic studies, Brazil already has many indicators showing the roots of inequality. They stated that the Brazilian government has been promoting education on Africa and African immigrants as well as indigenous peoples.

- Nathan J. Wooden

lundi 14 avril 2008

UPR- Philippines-

11/04/2008 - Afternoon session

  • The Philippine Commitment to Human Rights. Report on the Philippines presented by Hon. Eduardo R. ERMITA, Executive Secretary and Chairman of the Presidential Human Rights Committee.
  • National Report. A/HRC/WG.6/1/PHL/1 + A/HRC/WG.6/PHL/1/Corr.1
  • Compilation prepared by the OHCHR. A/HRC/WG.6/1/PHL/2
  • Summary prepared by the OHCHR. A/HRC/WG.6/1/PHL/3

Presentation made by Hon. Eduardo R. ERMITA:
The Philippine National Report focuses on several sectors such as children, women, indeginous peoples, poverty, security concerns, human rights education...

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The Philippines are 1 of the largest migrant sending countries around the globe. Estimation: 10% of its population is abroad. The Government has created the Overseas Workers' Welfare Administration to protect the OFWs and their families by providing a wide range of comprehensive services and programs.
The Philippine Government has concluded several Social Security Bilateral Agreements with a number of countries, that aim to protect the OFWs. 

'Long tradition of women's participatory inclusion and empowerment' (A/HRC/WG.6/1/PHL/1, §66, p. 9)
Rising percentage of women going abroad to find a job. 
Issue of violence against women, and women's health services : improvement, however, the Philippines 'needs to enact a comprehensive legal framework that will integrate CEDAW in the national legal system through the passage of the Magna Carte of Women bill' (A/HRC/WG.6/1/PHL/1, §79, p. 10).
Problem of equality: often, women have a lower wage and insecure jobs. In the informal economy, their presence is dominant.

To strengthen their protection = great priority
Adoption of the National Strategic Framework for Plan Development for Children. Aim: to build a child-sensitive and child-friendly society.
Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006:
'Prohibits cruel and inhuman treatment and punishment
Introduces restorative justice
Provides for diversion programs for children in conflict with the law
Prohibits detention of youth offenders aged 15 years old and below in jails' (A/HRC/WG.6/1/PHL/1, § 156, p. 20)

-Indigenous people
Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, 1997: provide the opportunity for indigenous people to exercise self-governance and to participate in determining economic development.
Respect of the tradiotnal institutions.

-Muslim community (A/HRC/WG.6/1/PHL/1, §20, p. 4)
Recognition of the Shari'a justice system based on Islamic religious law. 
Criminality continues to remain within the purview of the Revised Penal Code and other laws and not the Shari'a justice system.

-Lack of human and financial ressources

Civil and Political Rights

-In 1987, the Philippine Constitution created an independent commission on human rights = Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, a 'vigilant and vocal guardian of human rights including civil and political rights, holding public hearings, conducting investigations and issuing advisories on specific cases and national issues such as the protection of human rights even during a state of national emergency' (A/HRC/WG.6/+/PHL/1, §101, p.13).

-In 2006: Abolition of death penalty

-Human Rights Education: Improvement
HR offices have been established in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as well as in the Philippine National Police and, finally in the National Bureau of Investigation.
The Department of Education has incorporated basic HR Education in the elementary and secondary schools. 

-Corruption = serious concern
The Philippine Constitution created the Office of the Ombudsman, an 'independent body to protect the people from governmental corruption and abuse with its prosecutorial and investigative powers' (The Philippine Commitment to Human Rights, p. 2). Concrete and practical measures to counter corruption are being implemented

-Issue of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
Main issue: impunity of the perpetrators. The Philippine government has 'taken firm measures to address' these problems, and give the priority in the prevention of such killings.
Extrajudicial killings decrease in 2007.
Creation of an Interagency Task Force Against Political Violence: mandated to investigate, prosecute and punish all political violence.
Writ of Amparo: new rules to enhance HR protection.

-Issue of terrorism
Human Security Act of 2007
2 active insurgencies: 
Communist rebels
Secessionist movement in the Southern part of the country

The Constitution prohibits the use of torture (ratification of the Convention against Torture) but no ratification of the Optional Protocol on the Convention against Torture.
Ratification of the Protocol I of the Geneva Convetions of 1949 = ongoing process.

After the presentation, many states took the floor and asked several questions, particularly on the issues of migration, rights of women, children, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances...

The United Kingdom stresses on the fact that the Philippines are not a party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (as well as to the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court as the Summary prepared by the OHCHR noticed it). It has expressed its doubts about the measures taken against corruption. There exists another problem: the slowness of the implementation of treaties.

The Netherlands recommended to criminalize torture, and to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

Italy asked if the Government will integrate the CEDAW nationally.

Other countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India or the Holy See were interested about the situation of migrant workers. Most of them asked how does the Government manage to protect its citizens abroad. Furthermore, questions were the positive (remittances...) and the negative effect (brain drain, social problem...) of migration.

Singapore recognized that the Philippines have a leading position in emphasizing the role of women. Pakistan noticed that the Government has made some efforts to fight against violence against women.

China too admitted that the Philippines have succeeded to reduce extreme poverty, to improve health services, guaranteed women's rights, as well as rights of workers... The Philippines have still to face some challenges, however the situation is getting better. 


vendredi 11 avril 2008

Human Rights Council – Universal Periodic Review

9 April 2008 (morning)

The Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group reviewed the fulfilment of human rights obligations by Indonesia this morning, during which 43 Council members and observers raised a number of issues pertaining to the human rights situation in the country.

· Presenting the national report of Indonesia was REZLAN ISHAR JENIE, Director-General of Multilateral Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, who noted that Indonesia was a country of 222 million people scattered over 33 provinces, said that per its Law on Local Government representatives of government held consultations with all relevant stakeholders, including NGOs and national human rights institutions in relation to the current review. It was the view of Indonesia that the review should be replicated from the multilateral to the local level consistent with the State’s National Action Plan on Human Rights as guided by the principle of popular participation in a democratic environment. Responding to written questions posed beforehand, the Director-General said Indonesia had formulated a series of National Action Plans on Human Rights for successive period of five years during which concrete steps were implemented at the national level. Systematic and comprehensive implementation of the Indonesian National Action Plan on Human Rights was designed to help a culture of respect for human rights. Through a strengthened culture of respect for human rights throughout Indonesian society it was possible to create a conducive atmosphere in combating impunity. The Second National Action Plan on Human Rights had been strengthened by additional pillars. Chief among these were the establishment and enhancement of the institutions that were either directly responsible for or instrumental in the promotion and implementation of the National Action Plan on Human Rights. Since 2002, hundreds of local regulations had been revoked for infringing universal human rights values. Building up the capacity of local committees to establish a complaint procedure and to manage with the drafting of legislation was imperative if the committees were to function effectively in supporting the full implementation of the National Action Plan.

The Government was also in the process of boosting the capacity of the legal bureau of the local government throughout Indonesia to better guarantee the compliance of local regulations with the ratified human rights instruments, the Director-General added. To this end, the Government passed the Law on Lawmaking and concluded a draft Guidelines on the Harmonization of the Local By-Laws to be in conformity with the human rights standards. This achievement was followed by the strengthening of democratic processes in the 33 provinces in order to enhance the autonomy of the Indonesia regions through the direct election of governors, district heads and other local officials. Heads of local government and legal bureaus were consequently expected to play an important role between the local government and local human rights defenders. The Government intended to involve the participation of heads of local government legal bureaus and members of criminal investigation units of the national police in Indonesia’s national delegations to future regular meetings of the Council and it dialogues with treaty bodies. A wide selection of Indonesia’s national human rights NGOs, national human rights institutions and human rights activists worked together in an alliance known as the National Alliance for the Revision of the Penal Code, which had actively contributed its expertise to the drafting of the Bill in compliance with human rights standards. In the area of criminal policy, the Penal Code had increased the minimum age from 8 to 12 years and had stipulated that the crime of torture was a human rights violation.

The Director-General noted that Indonesia was currently in the final stages of the establishment of a national institution for the protection of witnesses and victims in order to guarantee the effective investigation and prosecution of certain crimes. Indonesia was in the process of harmonizing its laws, administrative practices and polices, including bringing the Penal Code in to line with the principles of the ratified International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Many initiatives had also been introduced at the community level at the initiative of the prominent think-tank, which had a wide network all over Indonesia. National efforts to achieve full-fledged democracy in Indonesia were ongoing and will continue to be strengthened. In this regard, on 4 April 2008 Indonesia’s national parliament passed the Freedom of Public Information Law through which all State agencies and public institutions were obliged to disclose, among other things, their financial reports to the public. Under the new law, political parties, judicial bodies and international NGOs were expected to reveal information about their activities. The State was also undertaking to strengthen its efforts to ratify the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture by 2009.

· During the three-hour interactive discussion delegations noted a number of positive achievements of the State under review. These included the State’s efforts to enhance human rights on the ground; the eradication of child labor and the protection of the rights of the child, in general; protecting the rights of women; combating poverty; efforts to combat terrorism; the respect of the rights of migrant workers; the State’s capacity-building measures in support of the programmes and projects; efforts to achieve religious freedom; combating trafficking in humans; and the establishment of the national commission on violence against women.

· Questions posed by the Working Group, comprised of the 47 members of the Council, and Observers participating in the interactive discussion, related to the enhancement of the role of national human rights institutions through civil society; the independence of the judiciary; measures to reinforce the independence and impartiality of the national commission on human rights; engagement with Special Procedures and how their recommendations have assisted in the promotion and protection of human rights in the country; steps taken in amending the State Constitution and the role of the Constitutional Court since its establishment in the promotion and protection of human rights; experiences in combating trafficking of persons; plans to raise the status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in line with national laws and information on efforts to combat child pornography and prostitution; and detailed information on the State’s campaign to eradicate trafficking in children. Several speakers posed questions concerning the efforts of the State to promote and protect the rights of women and children and the progress made with respect of ratifying the optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Other issues and questions raised dealt with intercultural and interfaith dialogue; measures adopted or planned to implement the decision to have 30% of women represented in political parties and electoral commissions, as set out by the Government; measures taken to safeguard freedom of expression and opinion; the results of steps taken to eradicate extreme poverty; unequal pay between men and women; ending impunity for human rights for human rights violators; how the crime of torture was addressed in the National Action Plan; plans to install a special contact persons for human rights defenders within the provincial government; the approach taken to address priority issues such as those which arose in the aftermath of the Tsunami; illiteracy rates; the human rights of individual in Papua; steps taken to ensure the protection of economic, social and cultural rights, in general; and combating discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities.

Information was also sought on the State’s plans to include torture as a crime stipulated in the Penal Code; the exploitation of natural resources; juvenile courts; protection of human rights defenders; the intention of the State to sign and ratify the Convention on enforced and involuntary disappearances; steps taken to promote the independence of the judiciary.

The Brazilian delegation noted some concerns related to the implementation of certain specific measures and their results. Noting Indonesia’s demonstrated willingness to undertake important legal reforms aimed at promotion of civil and political rights, it asked what concrete steps have been taken to promote independence of the judiciary and the administration of justice. It asked also about the main results achieved in the prosecution of those responsible for gross human rights violation in Timor Leste by the Indonesia Human Rights Courts and about the outcomes of the Ad Hoc Human Rights Courts for Timor Leste.

A number of delegations also posed specific recommendations, some of which addressed withdrawing reservations to the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the consideration of providing additional human rights training to security forces; taking additional steps to ensure that the rights of minorities protected, especially in respect of reported abuse on non-State actors;

The delegation of Indonesia provided responses to a series of questions posed to it during the course of the discussion. With regard to the protection of women and children, the delegation said that in the fight against trafficking in women and children Indonesia had established a task force against trafficking and enhanced cooperation with countries in the region to combat this scourge. Legal assistance and shelters had been provided for victims of trafficking, in line with the National Action Plan. Concerning the national commission of human rights, it was noted that this body was an independent body, as stipulated in a law of 1999, and was an important partner with the Government towards the promotion and protection of human rights. The Government had benefited from the expertise of the Commission in many ways.

With regard to the Special Procedures, it was recalled that Indonesia had received 11 Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council and it was the intention of the State to welcome other Special Procedures to visit the country. Concerning the situation in Papua, efforts had been taken to improve the welfare of those living on the island focused on the development of rural areas aimed at improving the quality of life of Papuans. Many human rights capacity-building projects had also been instituted. On migrant workers, it was noted that 2.5 million Indonesians were working overseas. The legal system had been strengthened with regard to the protection of all migrant workers.

Responding to questions on Timor Leste, the delegation said the two nations now had excellent bilateral relations. They are working together with a vision of reconciliation. Most of the outstanding issues of the past had been resolved. Emphasis was now on the closure of the chapter involving allegation of human rights violations in 1999. The Government was now expecting the results and findings of the Commission on Truth and Friendship. The Indonesian delegation also noted that their leader and the Timorese one are committed to continuing this process, in a spirit of friendship. Responding to another question, the delegation said the law of 1999 upheld the respect for freedom of association and assembly. As to judicial independence, the Const stipulated that the judiciary had full independence without influence from other bodies.

· States taking the floor during the interactive discussion were the Philippines, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Uruguay, Azerbaijan, the Russian Federation, China, Germany, South Africa, Japan, Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, Bangladesh, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Cuba, France, Egypt and Slovenia, Thailand, Belgium, Iran, Belarus, Singapore, Australia, Tunisia, Algeria, Kuwait, Syria, Bhutan, the United States, the Sudan, Morocco, Turkey, Latvia, New Zealand, Palestine, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Sweden.

The three Council members serving as rapporteurs – troika - for the review of Indonesia are Jordan, Canada and Djibouti.

The UPR Working Group is scheduled to adopt the report of Indonesia on Friday, 11 April.

mardi 8 avril 2008

Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Monday 7 April 2008

The first meeting of the first session of the Working Group on the UPR (7-18 April 2008) was opened by the Council President, who noted the "historic day" of this new mechanism. Many delegations echoed these remarks during the day of the Council having embarked on an historic process. The Council President concluded the day by noting the positive spirit in which the review had taken place and that a standard had been set by today's exercise.


Review of Bahrain

H.E. Dr. Nizar Albaharna, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Bahrain presented the national report and headed the 27-member State delegation. 36 Members States and Observer States took the floor during the inter-active dialogue.

H.E. Dr. Nizar Albaharna, quoting UN former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said how the UPR represents the first human rights innovation of this millennium, as it is the spirit of our age. Bahrain has a deep commitment in the respect and protection of human rights, and considers the UPR as a privilege and a responsibility.

Issues addressed during the review included steps taken and planned to ensure equality and non-discrimination of women, the role of the Supreme Council of Women and reform measures to eliminate forced marriages; the independence of the judiciary; the freedom of expression and association; labour polices; the access to water, health services and adequate housing; access to primary and secondary education; and efforts to improve conditions for migrant workers. Other issues raised included the State’s intention to sign and ratify the Convention on Forced Disappearances; plans to lift its reservation to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women; and steps taken to ensure that the State’s counter-terrorism law was in compliance with the ICCPR. The State noted its process towards establishing an NHRI, which it expected to be operational in 2008, and referred to campaigns against human trafficking as well as current debates of a draft law on nationality.

Concerning the capital law, H.E. Dr. Nizar Albaharna underlined how this practise is hardly applied, except for very serious cases.

The Bahraini representatives expressed their country’s dedication to learn from other countries how to better guarantee the respect of human rights, also by sharing experiences and practices.

Considering the UPR as an effective tool of technical assistance for the protection of human rights, Bahrain is committed to country visits and special rapporteurs.

During the inter-active dialogue, all countries which took the floor pleased Bahrain for their report, for being the first country to be reviewed and for its commitment in the field of human rights.

India and Switzerland expressed their desire to know the effective steps taken by Bahrain for the protection of migrant workers.

The French delegation asked Bahrain how it is actually guaranteeing the independence of the juridical system, which reforms have been undertaken to prevent forced weddings, and if Bahrain is willing to sign the convention against enforced disappearance.

The UK pleased Bahrain for the good steps carried out since independence, its move to democracy also regarding the improvement of human rights. Nonetheless the UK underlined how press freedom must be ensured.

In response to those countries who asked Bahrain how it is actually improving the condition of women, the Bahraini delegation stated that women’s role is growing in the country, as the Supreme Council ensures women rights. The King has also enabled women to stand for elections and vote. (the first woman member of the parliament also took the floor).

The Bahraini delegation also pointed out the assistance provided to the victims of violence and human trafficking.

In all Bahraini schools’ curricula, a new subject has been introduced aimed to spread the awareness of human rights-related issues and international conventions.

H.E. Dr. Nizar Albaharna stated that his Government is proud of the health care and education provided to its population. Quoting the words of the King, H.E. Dr. Nizar Albaharna said that by developing the people, Bahrain will develop.

The three Council members serving as the rapporteurs (i. e. the troika) for the review of Bahrain are Slovenia, the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka.

The UPR Working Group is scheduled to adopt the report of Bahrain on Wednesday 9 April.