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UPR of Solomon Islands: Concerns over children and women’s rights
Monday, 09 May 2011 11:10

 

The Working Group on the UPR examined the human rights record of the Solomon Islands on 4 May 2011. The Solomon Islands were represented by a high level delegation comprised of three men and three women. The delegation was headed by Mr Peter Shanel Agovaka, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade. Mr Shanel Agovaka introduced his delegation and thereafter was the only representative who answered questions.

The Minister addressed the issues raised in an organised and structured manner; in his opening statement he answered some of the written questions that States had submitted in advance. Key issues that were raised included the ongoing violence against women; ill treatment of children, including corporal punishment; sexual as well as labour exploitation of children and their lack of full enjoyment of education and health.

 

Some of the more specific recommendations and questions put to the delegation included:

 

  • Encouragement to establish an independent national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles in order to allow for effective implementation of all human rights efforts.
  • Raising the minimum age for criminal responsibility and entry into the workforce in accordance with international standards.
  • Revising existing laws on the criminalisation of same-sex relationships and reducing the discrimination towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
  • Implementing a national action plan to establish gender equality, particularly in regards to the representation of women in political positions and inheritance laws.
  • Ratifying all outstanding conventions, such as the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention Against Torture, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • Strengthening the electoral system and reforming the judiciary.
  • Making primary education and the registration of newborns mandatory.
  • Passing legislation to make rape, sexual harassment, and all forms of human trafficking, a crime.
  • Extending a standing invitation to special procedure mandate holders.
  • Continuing efforts to tackle global warming and reminding developed states of the importance of cutting their greenhouse emissions due to the effect of climate change on the full realisation of human rights.
  • Ensuring access to clean water to all persons, especially those residing on remote islands.

 

Many States praised the engagement of the Solomon Islands in the UPR and the delegation for its initiatives regarding issues such as climate change. States such as the Maldives offered assistance to the Solomon Islands in developing policies to address the consequences of climate change on human rights. On a procedural level China stated its dissatisfaction that Taiwan was referred to in the UPR report. China reiterated its desire for the report to change the reference to 'China'.

 

In conclusion, Mr Shanel Agovaka highlighted the country's commitment to the UPR and human rights, and the country's aim to ratify all outstanding conventions. During the adoption Mr Agovka agreed that his country would extend an open invitation to special procedure mandate holders, and committed to ratifying most conventions to which they are not yet a party. He indicated that the Solomon Islands will accept most (if not all) of the recommendations made. He noted that some recommendations needed to be referred back to the government for further consideration, and that the final figures concerning recommendations accepted and rejected will be made available in time for the 18th session of the Human Rights Council.

 

For more information, including statements delivered and the report of the Working Group, see the OHCHR extranet (username: hrc extranet, password: 1session).

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 May 2011 10:46
 
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