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Advancing women’s rights and sexual rights in the Mano River region of Africa
Monday, 05 August 2013 15:07

 

(Freetown, Sierra Leone – 5 August 2013) – From 5 to 7 August, the International Service for Human Rights, together with the National Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone and the National Human Rights Defenders Network of Sierra Leone, is holding a workshop on the implementation of recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) related to women’s and sexual rights.

 

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Statement: Israel decision to boycott human rights review threatens the rule of law
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 18:46

 

Israel’s unilateral decision to withdraw from a periodic review of its human rights record risks undermining international accountability and the rule of law, according to the International Service for Human Rights.

 

The Human Rights Council resolved on 29 January to postpone the Universal Periodic Review of Israel after the state indicated that it would not cooperate with the process. This is the first time that a state has withdrawn from the UPR, which is the preeminent international mechanism by which the human rights record of every state is systematically reviewed by all 193 states which comprise the UN.

 

‘The UPR provides an important opportunity for the international community to constructively engage with the state under review in order to ensure accountability for international obligations and to discuss ways to better promote and protect human rights on the ground. It is also a critical forum for human rights defenders and non-government organisations to voice their concerns about the recognition and protection of human rights in the country under review,’ said Michael Ineichen of the International Service for Human Rights.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 12:28
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States call for Bahamas to abolish death penalty
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 10:30

 

While the Bahamas was commended for its decriminalisation of same-sex relations, States undertaking a review of the Bahamas’ human rights record were concerned that the country continues to use the death penalty. The concerns were expressed during Bahamas’ review by fellow UN member States under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), held on 23 January 2013.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 12:00
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Cultural values clash with key human rights recommendations in Barbados
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 00:00

 

The statutory existence of the death penalty and the criminalisation of homosexuality were two criticisms levelled by States at Barbados during a review of its human rights record. The review took place in Geneva under the process of Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and is the second time Barbados has faced questioning from States in this forum.  

Last Updated on Monday, 25 February 2013 22:42
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Botswana struggles to achieve gender equality and ethnic minority rights
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 00:00

 

Women’s rights dominated the criticisms and recommendations received by Botswana from UN member States during its second Universal Periodic Review (UPR). States pointed out that three out of four women in Botswana are subject to gender-based violence.

 

Botswana’s Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Mr Dikgakgamatso Ramadeluka Seretse, presented the country’s second UPR report. He said out that in 2009, for the first time, a woman was elected the head of Botswana’s legislature. Further, women became heads of the Central Bank, Attorney General, and Ombudsman.

 

Botswana also created a National Children’s Council, and as per recommendations from the first cycle, became members of several human rights treaties. However, several States recommended that Botswana ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, a recommendation it has not implemented from the first cycle.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 12:05
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States call on Burundi to ensure space for human rights defenders
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 00:00

 

While many States continue to resist calls to abolish the death penalty, Burundi was congratulated, in its second review by its peer States under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), for having passed legislation to abolish it in 2009. However, the criminalisation of homosexuality, reprisals against human rights defenders. and the need for a truth and reconciliation commission were amongst concerns voiced during the session, held on 24 January 2013.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 12:04
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States call for greater efforts from Liechtenstein for minority rights and gender equality
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 00:00

 

Liechtenstein faced calls to improve opportunities for women in the labour market as well as in the political sphere during a review of its human rights record carried out by its fellow States. States specifically encouraged Liechtenstein to continue addressing inequality in wages between women and men.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 12:04
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Conflict in Mali loses out to focus on progress made in the country
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 00:00

 

Against the background of the ongoing conflict in the country, Mali appeared before UN member States for a review of its human rights record as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. Mr Malick Coulibaly, Minister of Justice, representing the State, spoke of the ‘negative impact’ that the crisis has had one the human rights situation in the country. He called for assistance from the international community to maintain what he described as ‘the progress’ already made in this area. The review took place on 22 January in Geneva.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 12:03
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Attacks on journalists overshadow Montenegro’s treaty accomplishments
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 00:00

 

Recurring attacks on journalists were the focus of many States' criticisms of Montenegro during a review of its human rights record. States called for more effective responses to attacks against both journalists and human rights defenders.

Last Updated on Monday, 25 February 2013 22:52
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Despite efforts to cooperate with international human rights system, minority groups in Romania continue to face discrimination
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 00:00

 

States have called on Romania to improve the situation of its minority groups, including Roma, sexual minorities, and persons with disabilities, during a review of its human rights record. The calls came as the delegation stressed the further steps it had taken to cooperate with the international human rights system.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 12:02
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New democracy in Tonga faces old human rights challenges
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 00:00

 

Since the first State-conducted review of its human rights record under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Tonga has made the transition to a democratically-structured government. Tonga held its first-ever national election under the new political system in November 2010. The legislative assembly’s new representatives elected Tonga’s first prime minister. In January 2011, the first elected cabinet took office.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 12:02
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Worrying restrictions on freedom of expression in UAE
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 00:00

 

The poor working conditions of migrant workers and the denial of freedom of expression dominated the discussion during the second review by its peer States of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The review took place under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), and was held on 18 January 2013. The State was strongly criticised in particular for its restrictive cyber-crime laws, which prevent free speech on a number of subjects, including religion and the Government.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 12:01
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Luxembourg called on to re-examine migrant related policies
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 00:00

 

Luxembourg faced criticism from its fellow States in relation to its treatment of migrants and asylum seekers in what was overall a positive review of the country’s human rights record.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 12:01
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LGBT community and human rights defenders need better protection in Serbia
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 00:00

 

Serbia’s ban of the Gay Pride parade in 2011 and 2012 and its failure to prevent and investigate attacks on human rights defenders and journalists were the key areas of criticism during a review of its human rights record conducted by fellow States.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 12:01
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International community calls on France to take action to combat racial and religious discrimination
Monday, 28 January 2013 16:07

 

France has been called upon to reverse its ban on the hijab and to take measures to address racial discrimination and profiling during an international review of its human rights record.

 

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of France opened the 15th session of the UPR on 21 January 2013. It was the first session held under the newly elected UN Human Rights Council president, Mr Remigiusz Henczel.

 

The review recognised that while France has made significant progress in the realisation of women’s rights, a range of human rights problems have persisted since France’s last review in 2008, including police violence, discrimination against Roma people, and inhumane conditions of detention.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 09:20
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UPR of Switzerland: concerns over domestic violence and freedom of religion
Wednesday, 21 November 2012 10:47

 

Switzerland presented its national report under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 29 October. Represented by Mr Didier Burkhalter, the Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the delegation outlined the challenges that still remain and noted Switzerland’s commitment to constantly improve its human rights situation. Mr Burkhalter made reference to Switzerland’s election by the General Assembly to serve a second term (2010–2013) on the Human Rights Council as recognition of that commitment.

 

States were generally positive in their review of Switzerland with a broad appreciation of the openness and layout of Switzerland’s national report. Mauritania opened the floor for recommendations noting that human rights can always be improved, which is the very aim of the working group.

 

The most prominent element of the debate was the repeated and unequivocal recommendations for the establishment of a Paris Principle-compliant national human rights institution.

 

States also made strong recommendations on the issue of ongoing gender issues in Switzerland and the high domestic violence rates. One in five women in Switzerland falls victim to domestic violence at least once in her life – including threats, blackmail, beatings, and sexual violence. According to Swiss victim support centres in 2011, nearly 4500 cases of violence were investigated in Switzerland - three out of four of these victims are attacked by family members or people within their social circle.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 10:49
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UPR of Sri Lanka: rhetorical aspirations fail to mask lack of progress and obstructive approach
Wednesday, 07 November 2012 16:44

 

The review of Sri Lanka during the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) took place on 1 November, and marked the first review since the end of the country’s civil war in 2009.

 

Sri Lanka has repeatedly refused calls from the international community to enable an independent international report to be prepared detailing the events of the final months of the war; the manner of Sri Lanka’s engagement with the UPR process was therefore a matter of some anticipation.

 

Mr Mahinda Samarasignhe, Minister of Plantation Industries and Special Envoy to the President on Human Rights, presented Sri Lanka’s lengthy State report. Though Mr Samarasignhe did emphasise that the UPR process was ‘the ideal platform to discuss all aspects of interest’, he also articulated that human rights situations should not be discussed without understanding of the context on the ground.

 

The report was exhaustive, and covered progress made by Sri Lanka since the UPR in 2008 in the areas of children’s rights, women’s rights, economic, social and cultural rights, the prevention of torture, and the rights of internally displaced persons and migrants. Mr Samarasignhe also described in depth the initiation of the National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP), designed to implement policies on these issues.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 November 2012 11:04
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UPR of Pakistan: ongoing concerns include violence against women and blasphemy laws
Tuesday, 06 November 2012 11:22

 

Pakistan’s second review under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) took place on the 30 October 2012, and was attended by a large delegation led by Ms Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and including the Advisor on Human Rights and the Advisor on Minorities.

 

Ms Rabbani Khar opened the session with a positive report on the progress made in Pakistan since 2008, while outlining the obstacles to human rights protection the country has faced and continues to face, such as terrorism and extremism, drone strikes, the economic crisis, and natural disasters. She described the steps taken to transform the constitution; as part of an effort to 'engender long-term democratic values' in Pakistan, the historic amendments have curbed the executive power of the President, instead creating a balance betwen the President and Prime Minister. 

 

Other changes to the 18th amendment in particular were mentioned, including the legal recognition of the right to education and the right to information, as well as giving autonomy to smaller provinces. The Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) has come under greater government control, and security forces in the area have had arbitrary arrest powers curtailed.

 

Many of the recommendations from 2008 addressed Pakistan’s failure to ratify important core human rights treaties; the delegation was pleased to announce that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture (CAT) were ratified on 2010, while the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was signed in 2011.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 November 2012 17:37
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UPR of Peru: calls to intensify the fight against poverty and protection of vulnerable groups
Tuesday, 06 November 2012 11:04

 

States called for further action on poverty, trafficking, and the rights of indigenous people, women and persons with disabilities in response to the delegation of Peru’s outline of its legislative and institutional developments since the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Peru was reviewed in the second cycle of the UPR on Thursday 1 November 2012.

 

The delegation of Peru was led by Dr Henry José Avila Herrera, Vice-Minister for Human Rights and Access to Justice, who outlined progress on recommendations made in the first cycle and described Peru’s progressive institutionalisation of human rights. Commenting on Dr Herrera’s opening remarks, the President of the Human Rights Council, Ms Laura Dupuy Lasserre (Uruguay) cited the creation and reorganisation of Ministries, including the addition of Human Rights to the Ministry of Justice and the creation of the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion, as evidence of Peru’s commitment to its international human rights obligations.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 November 2012 14:12
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UPR of Japan: minimal progress as recommendations to end death penalty are repeated
Monday, 05 November 2012 11:26

 

The second review of Japan under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process took place on 31 October 2012. Mr Hideaki Ueda, Ambassador in charge of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, presented the country report. In his opening statement Mr Ueda described the steps taken to implement the recommendations of the first cycle, facilitated through ongoing interaction with civil society including through Facebook and Twitter.

 

The UPR of Japan saw significant engagement by NGOs and the broader civil society with a substantial number of written submissions. This engagement by international NGOs and state NGOs is reflective of a strong civil society that acts as a model for other State reviews.

 

Japan’s presentation appeared defensive and dismissive language was used by the delegation regarding recommendations made during the current and previous cycle. A recurring theme of the review was Japan’s stance on the death penalty, with Japan reiterating its position from the first cycle that the abolition of the death penalty is inappropriate. At the time of its first review, Japan rejected a number of recommendations regarding the death penalty, including to establish a moratorium on executions and to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (on abolition of the death penalty).

 

Last Updated on Friday, 23 November 2012 10:33
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