[Press-releases] Tuvalu engages with Human Rights Council
HannahH at spc.int
Mon Dec 15 23:03:59 EST 2008
Tuvalu engages with Human Rights Council
Tuesday 16 December, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Geneva, Switzerland Tuvalu came before the Human Rights Councils Universal Periodic Review Working Group for the first time late last week, during which 23 Council members and observers raised a number of issues concerning the human rights situation in the country.
During a three-hour discussion, country delegations to the United Nations noted a number of positive achievements in Tuvalu.
These included the provision of free basic health care and education; measures taken to uphold the rights of young people and women; accession to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); progress made in achieving the Millennium Development Goals; efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change; the high rate of literacy in Tuvalu 95 per cent; and progress made in human rights, in general, despite severe capacity restraints.
However, they also raised a number of issues concerning gender equality, violence against women, freedom of religion and access to court services, particularly for those living on outer islands.
Several delegations made specific recommendations for consideration by the Tuvalu Government, particularly concerning the rights of women and children.
These included eliminating any laws that discriminated against women and amending the constitution to include freedom from discrimination on the grounds of sex, as well as to ensure greater public awareness of domestic violence issues and the need to penalise all acts of rape regardless of the perpetrator.
Concerning the protection of children, it was recommended that Tuvalu reform the Penal Code to cover offences of sexual abuse against minors, eliminate corporal punishment and fully incorporate in its legislation the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The majority of delegations also called on Tuvalu to sign up to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as soon as possible, and to set up a national human rights institution.
The international community was also called on to pay heed to the request for technical and financial assistance to meet human rights goals, in particular towards setting up human rights institutions. One delegation suggested that a single permanent mission in Geneva for all Pacific Islands be established as a means of fostering respect for human rights in the region.
Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Labour H.E. Enele Sopoaga headed Tuvalus four-member delegation, which also included Attorney General Eselealofa Apinelu, Multilateral and International Affairs Officer Manaema Saitaia Takashi and Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs and Rural Development Seve Lausaveve.
Imrana Jalal, Human Rights Adviser at the Pacific Regional Rights Resource Team of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, served as an adviser to the delegation.
The UPR Working Group adopted the outcome report for Tuvalu yesterday (Monday 15 December).
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process that involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN member states once every four years. It provides an opportunity for all states to declare what actions they have taken to improve human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights. The UPR process also includes sharing best human rights practices around the globe and is one of the key elements of the new Human Rights Council, which reminds states of their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The ultimate aim of this new mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur.
Tonga was the first Pacific country to submit its Universal Periodic Report earlier this year. Vanuatu is scheduled to present its report in 2009. Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia are scheduled to report in 2010 and Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Solomon Islands in 2011.
RRRT provides human rights training, technical support, and policy and advocacy services tailored specifically for the Pacific region. RRRT is an SPC programme under the Social Resources Division.
For more information, please contact Hannah Harborow, RRRT/SPC Communications Coordinator at (+61) 400628997 or email: HannahH at spc.int.
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