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UPR of Antigua and Barbuda: notable achievements in education but concerns over LGBTI rights
Friday, 07 October 2011 16:30


On 4 October 2011 the Working Group on the UPR considered the human rights situation in the Antigua and Barbuda. The delegation comprised of the Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Mr Conrad Hunt and the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr Justin Simon who presented the report. Mr  Simon reiterated Antigua and Barbuda’s commitment to enhancing the promotion and protection of human rights of its ‘citizens and residents’, but reminded delegations that their efforts in this regard should be considered in the context of the country being a third world, developing State with limited resources.

 

Antigua and Barbuda’s report highlighted its work in realising human rights.  This included efforts to fight human trafficking, such as adopting the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention) Act 2010; its focus on implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child in particular addressing the situation of vulnerable and at risk children; creating a HIV/AIDS Secretariat working on prevention, education, treatment and counselling, as well establishing a human rights desk addressing discrimination against infected persons; and the Government’s extensive work on education in Antigua and Barbuda, which includes using education to address gender inequality.

 

In the interactive dialogue that followed, specific recommendations, questions and comments included:

  • Recommendations that Antigua and Barbuda ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its first and second protocols, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other key human rights Conventions to which the State is not party.
  • Praise for the Government‘s efforts to provide free education at both the primary and secondary levels and assisting students from under-developed areas with lunches, uniforms, textbooks and transport.
  • Criticism of the Government’s maintenance of the death penalty in its legislation, despite the fact the last execution was carried out in 1991.
  • Criticism of ongoing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and calls for Antigua and Barbuda to decriminalise homosexual relations between consenting adults.
  • Criticism of the poor prison conditions in Antigua and Barbuda, which are overcrowded and lack basic physical amenities.
  • Criticism of the detention of juvenile offenders in the same facility as adult prisoners.
  • Recommendations that the Government prohibit corporal punishment, particularly against children in schools and homes.
  • Praise on the work done to ensure the rights of elderly persons, persons with disability and persons infected with HIV/AIDS.
  • Calls that the Government raise their age of criminal responsibility, which currently stands at eight years of age, in order to comply with international standards.
  • Recommendations that the State establish a National Human Rights Institution in line with the Paris Principles (Principles Relating to the Status and Functioning of National Institutions).
  • Calls to Antigua and Barbuda to extend open invitations to the special procedures.

In his conclusion, Mr Simon assured delegations that the government would look into these recommendations. He argued that the country did not have the political mandate to abolish the death penalty or decriminalise homosexual relations, but would seek to use education and awareness raising to change public opinion on these matters. He recognised the State’s criticisms of the prison system, but argued that with their limited resources they should be forgiven for putting matters such as health and education above the construction of a new prison facility. He also said that they would follow suggestions that they seek international assistance, and would be approaching OHCHR to ask for technical assistance and capacity building.

 

At the adoption of the report, the delegation accepted 34 recommendations and rejected 22. The remaining 33 recommendations were to be discussed by the Government and civil society and a position decided by the 19th session of the Council in March 2012. Mr Simon reiterated the argument that it is the citizens of Antigua and Barbuda who determine the priorities of the Government in relation to human rights, but gave assurances that those recommendations that had been accepted would be implemented as soon as possible. In conclusion Mr Simon said that his Government appreciated the offers for technical assistance that had been made and that they would follow up on these offers.

Last Updated on Monday, 10 October 2011 09:22
 
© by The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) 2018