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Human Rights Council adopts Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Seychelles, Latvia, Singapore and Sierra Leone

Human Rights Council adopts Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Seychelles, Latvia, Singapore and Sierra Leone

The Human Rights Council at its midday meeting today adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Seychelles, Latvia, Singapore and Sierra Leone.

Speaking on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Seychelles were Djibouti, Egypt, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Libya, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Nepal and Cuba.

The following civil society organizations also took the floor on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Seychelles: Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Action Canada for Population and Development, and Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme.

Speaking on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Latvia were Russian Federation, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Belarus, China, Cuba, India, Libya and Nepal.

World Jewish Congress also took the floor on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Latvia.

Speaking on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Singapore were Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines and Qatar.

The following civil society organizations also took the floor on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Singapore: International Fellowship for Reconciliation, International Lesbian and Gay Association, Conscience and Peace Tax International, Amnesty International, International Federation for Human Rights League, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Advocates for Human Rights, CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, SPD and Singapore Children Society.

Speaking on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Sierra Leone were Togo, United Nations Women, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Nations Children’s Fund, United Nations Population Fund, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Botswana, Burkina Faso, China and Côte d’Ivoire.

The following civil society organizations also took the floor on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Sierra Leone: Joint statement: Defence for Children International Co-sponsor: SOS Kinderdorf International, International Service for Human Rights, Plan International, Inc., Lutheran World Federation, Centre for Global Nonkilling, Advocates for Human Rights, Amnesty International, and Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme.

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-eighth regular session can be found here.

The Human Rights Council will next meet at 3:30 p.m. to hold a general debate on agenda item 6, the Universal Periodic Review.  It will then hear the presentation of reports by the High Commissioner for Human Rights followed by a general debate on agenda item 7 on the human rights situation in Palestinian and other occupied Arab territories.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Seychelles

Presentation by Seychelles

VIVIANNE FOCK TAVE, Principal Secretary of Foreign Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tourism of Seychelles, said that 113 out of 215 recommendations had been promptly accepted, given they were addressing matters already implemented in the national policies of Seychelles.  The remaining 102 recommendations were deferred and went through a series of national consultations and considerations where they had been studied with great care for a decision to be taken on whether Seychelles would accept or note them.  Seychelles welcomed the Human Rights Council’s work on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, a matter which remained at the top of Seychelles’ own agenda.  Seychelles along with other small island States remained exposed to the adverse effects of climate change and it was confident that the Human Rights Council would continue to serve as a valuable platform to urgently address this critical issue.

Discussion

In the discussion, speakers welcomed efforts by the Government in establishing the national human rights commission as well as legislative steps taken to address money laundering and corruption.  Speakers praised that Seychelles had accepted recommendations on combatting trafficking in persons, particularly child trafficking and prostitution, as well as their efforts towards combatting climate change.  Progress achieved in areas of social justice, health, education and non-discrimination was welcomed.  Some speakers stressed the progress achieved in gender equality and gender mainstreaming.  Other speakers warned that young people were among the most vulnerable groups when it came to gender-based violence as substantial proportions of youth were victims of sexual abuse.

The Vice-President of the Council informed that out of 215 recommendations received, 208 enjoyed the support of Seychelles, while 6 had been noted.  Additional clarification was provided on 1 recommendation.

Concluding Remarks

VIVIANNE FOCK TAVE, Principal Secretary of Foreign Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tourism of Seychelles, was grateful to Member States for providing their valuable input to human rights development.  While appreciating the progress that was achieved since the first Universal Periodic Review, Seychelles was also aware of the remaining challenges, as human rights kept on evolving.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Latvia

Presentation by Latvia

BAHTIJORS HASANS, Permanent Representative of Latvia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Latvia had fully accepted 145 recommendations and partially accepted another 12 recommendations.  The recommendations addressed a number of issues, including adherence to the international human rights instruments, domestic violence, human trafficking, society integration and others.

Ombudsman of Latvia welcomed recommendations from the Member States, focusing on the most crucial issues and including those on the rights of persons with disabilities and the provision of inclusive education.  While the Government had taken steps to combat trafficking, there were important shortcomings to be tackled, including insufficient cooperation between various institutions.  Comprehensive legislation should be adopted to allow for a strong referral mechanism.  Combatting hate speech had to be increased and the Penal Code on this issue amended.

Discussion

In the discussion, some speakers regretted that Latvia had not adopted recommendations regarding the language policy, including the recommendation to review the State Language Law, which discriminated against linguistic minorities.  The adoption of a National Action Plan on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security was welcomed.  Some speakers welcomed Latvia’s decision to prohibit the violation of the rights of minorities and to adopt measures to eradicate racism and hate speech.  Women’s participation in public life should be strengthened.  Some speakers stressed that authorities were ignoring the plight of migrants and were not granting them the right to seek asylum, while others regretted the stigmatisation of persons of Asian descent during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Vice-President of the Council informed that out of 244 recommendations received, 145 enjoyed the support of Latvia, while 87 had been noted.  Additional clarification had been provided on 12 recommendations.

Concluding Remarks

BAHTIJORS HASANS, Permanent Representative of Latvia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, affirmed that the Universal Periodic Review did not end today, but rather the implementation period started.  Since the restoration of its independence, Latvia had achieved great progress in human rights, including since the last Universal Periodic Review.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Singapore

Presentation by Singapore

UMEJ SINGH BHATIA, Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Singapore was deeply committed to achieving better outcomes for its people in a manner that reflected its national context and realities.  Human rights did not exist in a vacuum and must take into account a country’s specific cultural, social, economic, and historical contexts.  The rule of law was a cornerstone for the promotion and protection of human rights.  Singapore had continued to apply these principles amidst the new challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Singapore supported 210 out of the 324 recommendations received.

Discussion

In the discussion, speakers praised efforts taken by Singapore to build an inclusive, cohesive and resilient society as well as to strengthen the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, ensure protection of vulnerable groups, and address climate change.  Singapore’s cooperation with the United Nations human rights mechanisms was welcomed, including the development of human rights institutions.  Singapore was called on to enhance its efforts to eradicate all forms of discrimination against minority groups.  Initiatives taken for the protection of the rights of the child, elderly persons and persons with disabilities were appreciated.  Concern was raised that the right to conscientious objection to military service was not yet recognised in law and practice.

The Vice-President of the Council informed that out of 324 recommendations received, 210 enjoyed the support of Singapore, while 114 had been noted.

Concluding Remarks

UMEJ SINGH BHATIA, Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that international law did not prohibit the death penalty as there was no international consensus on this issue.  In Singapore it was reserved for the most serious crimes and it acted as a powerful deterrent.  The right to freedom of religion was protected under the Constitution, as well as the right to freedom of speech, but they were not absolute.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Sierra Leone

Presentation by Sierra Leone

ANTHONY YEIHWOE BREWAH, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of Sierra Leone, said that out of 274 recommendations received, Sierra Leone had accepted 216 recommendations and noted 58 recommendations.  The Government was committed to fully implementing all the 216 accepted recommendations to build a better human rights architecture in Sierra Leone.

National Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone welcomed that the Government had accepted 216 recommendations, including recommendations 27 to 45, which highlighted the commitment to support the Commission for the Promotion of Human Rights.  Recommendations 11,12 and 13 and those from 174 to 179 were very important as they aimed to improve the situation of women and girls.

Discussion

In the discussion, speakers encouraged authorities to increase their efforts to combat female genital mutilation in order to guarantee better protection of the rights of girls and women.  The adoption of the Gender Equality and Empowerment Policy and the subsequent formulation of the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Bill were significant achievements.  One speaker welcomed Sierra Leone’s engagement with the Universal Periodic Review and its determination to make progress on human rights.  Speakers commended the vote of the Parliament to abolish the death penalty, saying that it was an important step forward on democratic freedoms and rights in Sierra Leone and urged the President to sign the bill into law as soon as possible.  One speaker regretted that Sierra Leone did not accept recommendations to end female genital mutilation, asking the country to reconsider the recommendations, and to join the global movement to end female genital mutilation.

The Vice-President of the Council informed that out of 274 recommendations received, 216 enjoyed the support of Sierra Leone, while 58 had been noted.

Concluding Remarks

ANTHONY YEIHWOE BREWAH, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of Sierra Leone, speaking on noted recommendations, such as those relating to female genital mutilation and on the laws affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, said these recommendations were not rejected.  The Government wanted to first engage in wide-ranging national consultations to forge consensus on those issues because they involved significant cultural and legal implications.  Sierra Leone would now continue to engage with stakeholders on the accepted recommendations and would commence their implementation immediately.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Sierra Leone.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
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