16 March 2021
Begins Consideration of Universal Periodic Review Outcome of Panama
The Human Rights Council this morning adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Belarus, Libya and Malawi. It also began its consideration of the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Panama.
Speaking on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Belarus were Ethiopia, Germany, India, Iran, Lithuania, Nepal, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Syria, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Venezuela.
The following civil society organizations also took the floor on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Belarus: Right Livelihood Award Foundation, Human Rights House Foundation, International Bar Association, Amnesty International, Advocates for Human Rights, and United Nations Watch.
Speaking on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Libya were Qatar, Russian Federation, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, UN Women,
United Kingdom, United Nations Population Fund, Venezuela, Viet Nam and Algeria.
The following civil society organizations also took the floor on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Libya: Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, World Evangelical Alliance, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, International Commission of Jurists, Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights Association, Next Century Foundation, Amnesty International, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme, Ingenieurs du Monde, and International-Lawyers.Org.
Speaking on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Malawi were Sudan, Tunisia, UN Women, United Nations Population Fund, Venezuela, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, China, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba and Egypt.
The following civil society organizations also took the floor on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Malawi: Centre pour les Droits Civils et Politiques - Centre CCPR, World Evangelical Alliance, Plan International, Inc., Action Canada for Population and Development, International Bar Association, CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Amnesty International, and Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme.
Speaking on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Panama were Oman, Russian Federation, Tunisia, United Nations Population Fund, Venezuela, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, Cuba, India and Nepal.
The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council's forty-sixth regular session can be found here.
The Council will next meet at 3 p.m. this afternoon to continue with its consideration of the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Panama, and consider the outcomes of Mongolia, Maldives, Andorra and Honduras, which were examined during the thirty-sixth session of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Belarus
The Council has before it the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Belarus (A/HRC/46/5).
Presentation by Belarus
YURY AMBRAZEVICH, Permanent Representative of Belarus to the United Nations Office at Geneva, noted that Belarus had accepted 266 recommendations for consideration, which related to just over 100 thematic issues. Belarus had accepted most of them - 155 recommendations - which was 58 per cent of the total. Of these, 18 recommendations were partially adopted, another 33 were considered as implemented or being implemented. Belarus always cited the Universal Periodic Review as an example of an instrument of the Human Rights Council that was based on constructive dialogue and cooperation with States. Unfortunately, not everyone shared this view, as some countries politicised the process: their counterproductive, factually incorrect recommendations were rejected.
Speakers regretted that recommendations related to the ongoing and unprecedented human rights crisis had not been accepted; impunity only served as a breeding ground for further violence and violations of human rights. Some speakers congratulated Belarus for its efforts to combat human trafficking. The adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by Belarus and the decision to name a national coordinator for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals were commendable. Interagency cooperation in the area of the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence should be increased. Regretting the Government's refusal to engage with the Special Rapporteur on Belarus, speakers expressed concerns about the freedom of expression and assembly; the climate of fear and impunity; the Government's disregard for due process and fair trial; arbitrary arrests; and allegations of torture.
The President of the Council informed that out of 266 recommendations received, 137 enjoyed the support of Belarus, and 111 had been noted. Additional clarification had been provided on 18 recommendations.
YURY AMBRAZEVICH, Permanent Representative of Belarus to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Belarus disagreed with most of the assessments made by non-governmental organizations. Mr. Ambrazevich underlined that Belarus had areas for further improvement of the human rights situation, and it was consistently working on this. There was political pressure being exerted on Belarus, including here at the Human Rights Council.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Belarus.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Libya
The Council has before it the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Libya (A/HRC/46/17).
Presentation by Libya
MOHAMED ABDULWAHED LAMLOM, Minister of Justice of Libya, said Libya affirmed its firm commitment to respect and promote human rights as it was a constitutional and religious obligation, expressing full support for the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. After receiving 285 recommendations, a number of relevant Libyan bodies had considered all of them, and Mr. Lamlom was pleased to announce that most of them had been accepted. The Government was working to create a permanent national human rights mechanism, and a ceasefire was reached last October. Libya realised that fighting impunity and holding accountable those responsible for crimes and violations was a very important matter. The work of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya was extremely important to assist Libya during this transitional phase.
Speakers expressed hope that the current situation in Libya would be resolved via a political solution, noting that Libya's progress was impressive given the difficult situation in the country. It was important to ensure the end of human slavery, forced labour and human trafficking, and to investigate war crimes. Speakers called on Libya to repeal discriminatory laws, remove reservations to international treaties and conventions, and credibly investigate human rights violations, including against women human rights defenders. The exploitation and torture of migrants and refugees in detention centres must stop. The meaningful participation of women and young people in Libya's political processes remained limited despite their active role. Speakers were concerned about the climate of impunity, called for demilitarization and an end to all arms transfers, and sought the inclusion of minorities in the political process.
The President of the Council informed that out of 285 recommendations received, 181 enjoyed the support of Libya, while 104 had been noted.
TAMIM BAIOU, Permanent Representative of Libya to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that feedback would be channelled to the appropriate stakeholders. The Government of National Accord was transitioning its power to the newly formed Government of National Unity - this was a milestone and a celebration of reunification of all Libyans, but the work ahead was long and hard.
NASSER ALGHITTA, Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Libya to the United Nations Office at Geneva, noted that the commitment to human rights in Libya was clear, as proven by the Constitution. He acknowledged the weakness of State institutions to exercise control over the entire territory of the country. The violations against migrants and refugees were exercised by non-State actors, and the Government was undertaking action to ensure accountability.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Libya.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Malawi
The Council has before it the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Malawi (A/HRC/46/7).
Presentation by Malawi
ROBERT SALAMA, Permanent Representative of Malawi to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that after engagement with various key players in Malawi, some recommendations which had been previously noted had now been accepted. These related to sexual and reproductive health rights. The following bills would be processed through Parliament soon: the Sentencing Guidelines, which would bring some uniformity and predictability in sentencing criminal cases; the Adoption Bill, which radically changed the law of adoption in Malawi and enhanced the protection of children as well as met international adoption standards; and the harmonisation of the law on the age of the child bills, which would align all laws with the constitutional definition which was in line with both the Convention of the Rights of a Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
Stressing that Malawi had taken several positive steps in the field of human rights, speakers welcomed the Constitutional amendment that raised the minimum age of marriage and criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 years, in alignment with international human rights instruments. Speakers commended Malawi for publishing guidelines on gender equality, birth registration, combatting violence against people with albinism, trafficking and child labour. Malawi had refused to accept the recommendations related to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex community, and the hate crimes, physical violence, and mental health issues that its members faced. It was concerning that the Government had not supported several recommendations on sexual and reproductive health services. The use of torture and ill-treatment by police officers was prevalent in Malawi. Malawi should abolish the death penalty and decriminalise consensual same-sex sexual activity, while ensuring victims' access to justice and reparations.
The President of the Council informed that out of 232 recommendations received, 192 enjoyed the support of Malawi, while 39 had been noted. Additional clarification had been provided on 1 recommendation.
PACHARO KAYIRA, Chief State Advocate, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, said Malawi was de facto an abolitionist State, as a moratorium on the death penalty had been in force since 1994. On civic space, while there had previously been challenges, Malawi had moved on and commitments had been made. Civil society organizations were now free to assemble and express themselves. The Government's Implementation Plan was straightforward. It would disseminate the recommendations as soon as possible. This would be followed by a stakeholders' session to develop an Implementation Plan, which would be aligned with various human rights plans and initiatives already in existence and have clear timelines and specific institutions for the implementation of the recommendations.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Malawi.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Panama
The Council has before it the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Panama (A/HRC/46/8).
Presentation by Panama
ERIKA MOUYNES, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama, said the Government was promoting the ratification of the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance and the Inter-American Convention on the Protection of the Human Rights of Older Persons, to prevent and correct any type of discrimination and promote respect and fundamental guarantees of the elderly. After examining the 181 recommendations received, it was identified that there was congruence with the obligations established in Panama's internal legislation and the existing relationship with State policies, plans and programmes that were already in execution. Accordingly, Panama had committed to advancing the implementation of the 146 recommendations that had been fully accepted.
EDUARDO LEBLANC GONZÁLEZ, Ombudsman's Office, Defensoria del Pueblo Panama, noted that the Office safeguarded human rights in Panama, monitoring the instruments signed by the State. The COVID-19 health emergency remained, causing restrictions on the free enjoyment of human rights. Public policies and programmes that supported children, adolescents, women, persons of African descent, indigenous persons and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals in this context were essential. Harmonious cooperation between all State entities was required to protect vulnerable groups, as well as proper staffing and funding for these programmes. The Office remained committed to its work in the protection of human rights.
Speakers noted that despite certain progress, the human rights situation remained complex in Panama. The efforts in improving the social integration of the indigenous population were welcomed. Recent commitments at the Nairobi summit in line with the 2030 Agenda provided an opportunity for progress in Panama. Discrimination of vulnerable groups and police violence during protests were concerning to speakers, who reiterated their calls for Panama to ratify the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention. Measures to combat poverty were commendable, as well as the establishment of a national mechanism for the prevention of torture. Speakers welcomed the adoption of a National Strategy for Prevention of Violence against Children and Adolescents, as Panama was urged to combat violence against women.
For use of the information media; not an official record