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Congo reviewed under the UPR
Thursday, 07 May 2009 03:03

 

The review was initially characterised by a relatively low attendance in the Working Group, both by States and NGOs. This might be in part due to the early start (the Working Groups started its session at 9 am), especially since the room filled up a bit more during the review. But it is certainly also a reflection of the relative importance States attach to the different reviews.  Overall, the review went smoothly, and most interventions where appreciative of Congo’s efforts to improve its human rights record and understanding of its need for technical assistance by the international community. The following main issues were raised:

 

  • Many States regretted that the National Human Rights Commission was no longer accredited by the International Coordinating Committee of national human rights institutions (ICC). They suggested that the mandate of the NHRI be reviewed in compliance with the Paris Principles to enable it to seek accreditation again, and that it be equipped with adequate resources to carry out its mandate.
  • In view of the upcoming elections, many States enquired about measures Congo was taking to ensure these take place in a free and fair way. In this regard, special focus was put on the role of the media to ensure a transparent process, and States recommended that freedom of expression and freedom of assembly was expanded to allow for better political participation for all.
  • States also deplored the conditions of detention, in particular the lacking separation of male and female, and adult and minor prisoners, as well as the many reported cases of torture in detention. This theme had featured prominently in the compilation of stakeholders’ information. It was recommended that Congo establish an independent system of monitoring places of detention, investigate all allegations of torture, and consider non-custodial measures as alternatives to detention.
  • Much emphasis was put on the situation of vulnerable groups, including women and children. Several States recommendation that Congo develop laws and policies to effectively counter discrimination against women, and stop the continuing practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). In its answers, the delegation said that while some societies living in the Congo still practice this, the Government does everything to stop it. Education, particularly for girl children was also raised as a persisting problem.
  • Many States drew attention to discrimination against indigenous peoples, and in particular the pygmies, and sought more information about the State’s action plan to combat discrimination against them. The situation of pygmies featured also very prominently in the recent examination of the Congo by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
  • Several delegations recommended that Congo repeal its law criminalising same-sex consensual conduct among adults as required by the ICCPR, and pointed out that this would also have a positive impact on the health of homosexual persons. In its answers, the delegation said that there was ‘no major audience’ for this, since ‘Congolese are not yet ready to handle such relationships’.
  • A number of States recommended the ratification of additional human rights instruments. They also made recommendations in relation to overdue reports to treaty body reports and on issuing a standing invitation to all special procedures
  • Other issues raised but not discussed in detail included policies to combat HIV/AIDS, trafficking in persons, rampant corruption, access to health care and in particular the high levels of maternal mortality, the situation of persons with disabilities, and the abolition of the death penalty.

The draft UPR report of Congo was presented to the UPR Working Group at midday on 8 May. In its final comments, the representative of Congo noted that the State had accepted 50 of the 59 recommendations made to it, and that one recommendation - on finalising a plan to elaborate a law on the protection of internally displaced persons - was pending consideration. It explained that the remaining eight recommendations were rejected either on the basis that they have been taken into account in national policy or for ‘other reasons of a sociological kind'. It concluded that Congo needed the assistance of the international community to realise its commitments.  

The report was then adopted by the UPR Working Group without further comment. Congo's rejected recommendations concerned:

  • Decriminalisation of same sex relations (paras. 23 (g), 27 (d), 59 (g))
  • Ending the practice of jailing children found in prostitution (26 (f))
  • Implement CEDAW recommendation to remove the prohibition on the advertising of contraceptives and to provide safe houses for sheltering victims of domestic violence (54 (d), 63 (c))
  • To ‘step up efforts to make the community aware of the risks of HIV and to establish a campaign to increase awareness among young people (58 (a))
  • Provide police training in the protection of human rights, including in relation to sexual orientation (59 (b))
  • Amend matrimonial legislation (63 (c)) 
Last Updated on Friday, 08 May 2009 09:23
 
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