UN Press Release after the US UPR Adoption

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Human Rights Council adopts outcomes of Universal Periodic Review of Belarus, United States and Malawi

Human Rights Council
MORNING 24 September 2015

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Belarus, the United States and Malawi.

Vadim Pisarevich, Head of Department for Global Policies and Humanitarian Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said that the Universal Periodic Review was an important international mechanism for the objective assessment of human rights situations in all parts of the world.  Belarus had received 259 recommendations during its second cycle, of which it had accepted 168.  The 91 noted recommendations largely related to the situation of political prisoners, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus, and the abolition of the death penalty.  Belarus had accepted the recommendations on adopting a comprehensive legal framework to combat discrimination, on registration of non-governmental organizations, on protection of human rights defenders, and on adopting measures to prevent the detention and persecution of peaceful protesters. 

In the discussion that followed, speakers welcomed the adoption by Belarus of the majority of recommendations, and acknowledged the progress made in combatting human trafficking, and advancing the rights of women and children, education and economic development.  Many speakers were concerned about the human rights situation which had deteriorated since 2011 as a result of repressive practices, such as arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, abductions and continued harassment of human rights defenders.  They called upon the Government to engage with international human rights mechanisms, allow a visit to the country by the Special Rapporteur, and establish an independent national human rights institution.  Delegations regretted the rejection of the recommendations on a moratorium on the death penalty with a view to its abolition, and on amending the laws to guarantee freedom of peaceful assembly.

Speaking were: Myanmar, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium, China, and Cuba.  

Also speaking were: United Nations Watch, International Federation of Human Rights, Human Rights House Foundation, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Action Canada for Population and Development (joint statement), Amnesty International, and CIVICUS. 

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Belarus.  

Keith Harper, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations Office at Geneva, reiterated the importance of the Universal Periodic Review, whose universality ensured openness and accountability.  Civil society in the United States was robust.  State, local and tribal officials were often the best positioned to solve the problems of local populations, creating and testing different solutions. 

Scott Busby, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, said that the United States had accepted in whole or in part 260 out of 343 recommendations in the current cycle, and it was continuing to work towards eliminating racial discrimination and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers, and improving conditions in prisons and places of detention.  Numerous recommendations had been received on capital punishment, and most of those had not been accepted.  The United States Freedom Act of 2015 had been enacted, and contained a number of provisions that modified surveillance and other national security authorities, and increased transparency regarding their use.  President Obama continued to work with Congress, the courts and other countries in order to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in a responsible manner; there were currently 114 detainees there, 53 of whom were designated for transfer. 

Speakers commended the United States for its active engagement to improve the human rights situation domestically and internationally.  They welcomed the commitment to eliminate racial discrimination; address the use of excessive force in policing; and to ensure that its use of force, including targeted strikes, conformed to law and the principles of proportionality and distinction.  The United States, however, had a poor record in implementing international recommendations even when it appeared to support them, whether in the Universal Periodic Review or from the Treaty Bodies or the Special Procedures.  Speakers regretted that the recommendations concerning the abolition of the death penalty had not been accepted, and that the United States had not agreed to impose a moratorium on executions in advance of abolishing the death penalty nationwide.  The United States should embark upon a programme of ratification of human rights instruments and withdrawal of reservations.

Taking the floor were: Greece, Honduras, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Libya, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Togo. 

The non-governmental organizations that spoke were: International Gay and Lesbian Association, American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, India Council of South America, Action Canada for Population and Development, the United States Human Rights Network, Amnesty International, International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, World Association for the School as an Instrument of Peace, and Indigenous World Association.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of the United States.

Janet L. Banda, Solicitor General and Secretary for Justice of Malawi, said that in May 2015, Malawi had received 199 recommendations, out of which it had adopted 154 recommendations.  In deciding which recommendations to support, the Government and the people of Malawi had been guided by the country’s constitutional values and ideals, national priorities and various sectorial policies.  The recommendations were used as key benchmarks for the development of the National Human Rights Action Plan 2016-2020.  Malawi appreciated the role played by all key stakeholders in Malawi, including civil society.  In 2006, the Government had attempted to eliminate the death penalty, but the general public had stopped it.  Despite that setback, the Government continued to work on the elimination of the death penalty, which was very sensitive issue.  Regarding same sex relationships, Malawi was encouraging free debate, so that wider acceptance across the country could be ensured.  

Speakers commended Malawi for its constructive approach to the first Universal Periodic Review cycle, and for its efforts to ensure the rights of vulnerable groups, such women, children, elderly and detainees.  They particularly hailed its efforts to address the HIV pandemic and to reduce infant mortality in the country, which was one of the most important challenges in Africa.  They called on the United Nations human rights mechanisms to provide technical support and capacity building to Malawi.  Other speakers remained concerned that the Government of Malawi rejected the recommendations to repeal provisions in the Penal Code criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual activities between adults.  They also warned of the persistent inequality between men and women, saying that this was a matter of concern.  

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Malawi.

Malawi Human Rights Commission took the floor, as did Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Ireland, Lesotho, Libya, Norway, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Togo, Venezuela, Angola, Benin, Botswana, and China.

Also speaking were: International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, UPR Info, Action Canada for Population and Development, Amnesty International,  Renconctre Africaine pour le defense des droits de l’homme, and Centre for Civil and Political Rights.  

The Council is holding a full day of meetings today.  At noon it will hold a panel discussion on good governance in public service.  In the afternoon it will consider the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Mongolia, Panama and Maldives, followed by the continuation of the general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms. 

Consideration of the Outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Belarus 

Presentation by Belarus

VADIM PISAREVICH, Head of Department for Global Policies and Humanitarian Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said that the Universal Periodic Review was an important international mechanism for the objective assessment of the human rights situation in the world.  In order to implement the recommendations it had received during the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, Belarus had put in place an interdepartmental work plan and had presented an interim report on the subject to the Council.  Belarus had received 259 recommendations during its second cycle, of which it had accepted 168 and took note of 91.  With regards to noted recommendations, Belarus said that there were no political prisoners in Belarus and all persons in prisons were there because they had committed criminal offences.  Six persons who had been previously considered political prisoners had been pardoned.  Another group of recommendations related to the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus.  The position of Belarus on this politicised mandate was very clear and Belarus did not feel bound by this obligation.  On the death penalty, Mr. Pisarevich said that this was an exceptional measure, which did not apply to pregnant women, minors and persons over the age of 65.  A national survey had revealed that the majority of its population was in favour of the death penalty.  

Belarus had accepted the recommendations on adopting a comprehensive legal framework to combat discrimination, on registration of non-governmental organizations, on protection of human rights defenders, and on adoption of measures to prevent the detention and persecution of peaceful protesters.  In terms of recent positive developments in the human rights situation in the country, Mr. Pisarevich said that Belarus was in the final stages of signing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and would undertake a study on the establishment of an institution of ombudsmen, in cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Council of Europe.  In June, it had adopted the law on alternate military service, while the law on combatting corruption and the anti-tabaco law were under public debate at the moment.  In October this year, Belarus would hold Presidential elections and the Government was doing its utmost to ensure they were free, open and independent.  

Discussion

Myanmar voiced satisfaction that Belarus had accepted the majority of the recommendations, including those suggested by Myanmar, and called for the adoption of the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Belarus.

Pakistan expressed satisfaction that Belarus had accepted the majority of the recommendations, and praised its cooperation with the Human Rights Council and it mechanisms.

Russian Federation commended Belarus’ cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.  It noted that Belarus had made significant progress in human rights protection, particularly of the most vulnerable groups.

Rwanda welcomed Belarus’ efforts to protect and promote human rights, and recommended that the Council adopt its Universal Periodic Review.

Sierra Leone commended Belarus for having engaged in the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review.  It noted that the death penalty was maintained for serious crimes, and called on the Government to abolish it.

Sudan appreciated that Belarus had accepted most of the recommendations of the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review and recommended that the Council adopt the outcome of the review.

Syria said that the review of Belarus was evidence that the Universal Periodic Review was an objective tool for the assessment of human rights situations in countries without discrimination.  Syria wished Belarus success in the implementation of the human development strategy to 2030.

Tajikistan noted that the report of Belarus demonstrated the work to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights and to strengthen the relationship with the international community.  Tajikistan wished Belarus all success in implementing the Universal Periodic Review recommendations.

Turkmenistan appreciated the acceptance of the vast majority of recommendations and highly valued the progress made in Belarus in combatting human trafficking and in the area of the rights of children and women.

United Kingdom said it would welcome more engagement from Belarus with all the United Nations human rights instruments, including the Special Rapporteur.  It was disappointing that Belarus had not accepted the recommendation on a moratorium on the death penalty with a view to its abolition. 

Uzbekistan was pleased to note that Belarus had adopted the majority of the recommendations made and believed that their effective implementation would strengthen the effective protection of human rights in Belarus.

Venezuela said that Belarus had provided total cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review and welcomed major achievements attained by this country, particularly in the area of economic, social and cultural rights, despite the harassment and unilateral coercive measures imposed by some countries.

Zimbabwe commended the fact the Belarus had been open and constructive in its engagement with all stakeholders, which was clear proof of its commitment to protect human rights.

Azerbaijan commended Belarus’ constructive approach to the Universal Periodic Review process, and expressed satisfaction that it had accepted Azerbaijan’s recommendation to continue active cooperation with human rights mechanisms.

Bahrain hailed the efforts and progress made by Belarus to protect and promote human rights, and its efforts with ensure the wellbeing of its people.  The fact that it had jumped 15 places on the United Nations Human Rights Index was commendable.

Belgium attached particular attention to the death penalty and was pleased that Belarus had accepted discussion on the issue, but regretted that it had not accepted to improve cooperation with human rights mechanisms.

China commended Belarus for its active cooperation with human rights mechanisms, which reflected its positive attitude towards efforts to protect and promote human rights.  Belarus had done much to improve the right to development, as well as the economic, social and cultural rights of its people.

Cuba highlighted the large number of recommendations accepted by Belarus, which reflected its active cooperation with human rights mechanisms, and the will of the Government of Belarus to improve the wellbeing of its people.

United Nations Watch was deeply concerned about the situation of human rights in Belarus, and strongly supported calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners.  Another issue of concern was the suppression of basic freedoms and it was regrettable that Belarus had rejected the recommendation to guarantee freedom of expression. 

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues called upon the Government to show that it had accepted to consider abolishing the death penalty in good faith by instituting a moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards its abolition.  It was deplorable that Belarus had rejected the recommendations on protecting human rights defenders and journalists.

Human Rights House Foundation deeply regretted that the Universal Periodic Review remained the only mechanism recognized by Belarus and that it failed to engage with other United Nations human rights mechanisms.  None of the six political prisoners who had been released had been rehabilitated in terms of civil and political rights, and they were still facing criminal charges.  

International Fellowship of Reconciliation said that finally in May this year Belarus had passed the law on alternative service, which would enter into force in July 2016.  This law however was far from meeting international standards, because it only considered conscientious objection based on religion.

Action Canada for Population and Development, in a joint statement, called on the Government of Belarus to work to eliminate abortion stigma, age restrictions and parental consent that limited adolescents’ ability to make free and informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health, as well as to introduce mandatory national comprehensive sexual education in schools.

Amnesty International deeply regretted Belarus’ rejection of recommendations by 22 States to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to abolishing it.  It also regretted that Belarus had rejected to amend its legislation to guarantee freedom of peaceful assembly.

CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation noted that the human rights situation in Belarus had deteriorated since 2011 as a result of repressive practices, such as arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, abductions and continued harassment of human rights defenders.  It called on Belarus to guarantee freedom of expression, assembly and association, and peaceful protest. 

The President of the Council said that out of 259 recommendations, Belarus had accepted 168, and took note of 91 recommendations. 

Concluding Remarks

VADIM PISAREVICH, Head of Department for Global Policies and Humanitarian Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, thanked the delegations that had made positive comments on Belarus’ progress since the last Universal Periodic Review.  It closely listened to the criticism expressed by some delegations, adding that it was ready to continue cooperating with civil society in order to further promote and protect human rights.    


The Council then adopted the outcome of the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of

Consideration of the Outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of the United States 

Presentation by the United States

KEITH HARPER, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations Office at Geneva, reiterated the importance of the Universal Periodic Review, whose universality ensured openness and accountability.  Civil society in the United States was robust and was working constantly to ensure that the Government lived up to American values.  In July, consultations had been held with civil society on the Universal Periodic Review recommendations.  State, local and tribal officials were often the best positioned to solve the problems of local populations, creating and testing different solutions. 

SCOTT BUSBY, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, said that the value of the Universal Periodic Review process was in asking each State to look inward and to make commitments to improve.  The United States Government had accepted in whole or in part 260 out of 343 recommendations in the current cycle.  Work was continuing towards eliminating racial discrimination and excessive use of force by law enforcement, an example in case being the city of Cleveland.  The United States also supported recommendations to improve conditions in prisons and places of detention and would continue to do so.  Numerous recommendations had been received on capital punishment.  While the United States had not accepted most of those recommendations, it respected those who had made them.  The United States Freedom Act of 2015 had been enacted, and contained a number of provisions that modified surveillance and other national security authorities, and increased transparency regarding their use.  President Obama had continued to work with Congress, the courts and other countries in order to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in a responsible manner; there were currently 114 detainees there, 53 of whom were designated for transfer.  Under the United States Constitution, international treaty ratification required approval not only by the executive branch, but also a two-thirds supermajority of the Senate, which had proven a difficult threshold to meet.  The United States never stopped striving to create a more perfect union, for which the Universal Periodic Review process was a vitally important mechanism.

Discussion

Greece welcomed the repealing of capital punishment by three states in the United States and the overall steady decline in the number of executions since the last Universal Periodic Review and hoped that those developments would continue.

Honduras welcomed efforts to tackle racial discrimination and violence, and to protect the rights of unaccompanied minors and called upon the United States to intensify its efforts to protect children and migrants, in accordance with the principle of the best interest of the child.

India was concerned about the disproportionate use of force and was reassured by the delegation’s response that the United States took great care to ensure that its use of force, including targeted strikes, conformed to all applicable domestic and international law, and the principles of proportionality and distinction. 

Iran urged the United States to address the shortcomings, including discrimination against ethnic minorities and migrants and the use of racial profiling; and racial discrimination and excessive use of force, notably with regards to recent events targeting the black community.

Iraq commended the United States’ commitment to human rights instruments and its positive cooperation with human rights mechanisms, and applauded the awareness raising programmes for State officials, and their interactions with civil society.   

Ireland welcomed the commitment to eliminate racial discrimination and to address the use of excessive force in policing.  Ireland regretted the non-acceptance to impose a moratorium on executions in advance of abolishing the death penalty nationwide.  

Israel stated that there was no doubt that the United States had demonstrated its commitment and devotion to fulfil its human rights obligations.  It noted that the United States had not only been working to promote human rights at home but also across the globe. 

Latvia commended the United States for its active engagement to improve the human rights situation domestically and internationally.  It noted with satisfaction that it had accepted the recommendation regarding accession to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

Libya thanked the United States for its active participation in the Universal Periodic Review and commended the fact that it had accepted the majority of the recommendations.  It commended its willingness to address the issue of excessive use of force and discrimination against African Americans.

Philippines expressed satisfaction that the United States had accepted to ratify important international human rights conventions, and hoped that the United States would harmonize its legislation with international standards.  It welcomed the commitment to combat trafficking of persons and discrimination against minorities.

Romania congratulated the United States on its presentation of the Universal Periodic Review report.  It expressed satisfaction that the United States had given consideration to the recommendation on the ratification of international human rights legal instruments.

Russian Federation expressed hope that the United States would close Guantanamo, eliminate ethnic and racial discrimination, reform its penitentiary system, improve the rights of migrants, stop committing violations of international humanitarian law, and that it would accept fair criticism from the international community.

Rwanda welcomed the significant progress and achievement made by the United States in the promotion and protection of human rights, and recommended that its Universal Periodic Review outcome be adopted.

Senegal welcomed the political will of the United States to combat police violence against African-Americans, and invited the Member States to adopt the report.

Sierra Leone was disappointed that many recommendations put forward to the United States had received a lukewarm welcome, including on the establishment of a national human rights institution.  

Sudan encouraged the United States to consider ratifying core international human rights treaties and to continue fighting racial discrimination.

Togo noted with satisfaction that the United States had accepted the majority of the recommendations made under the second cycle, which was why the report should be adopted.

International Lesbian and Gay Association said that despite significant steps forward, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual individuals in the United States continued to face discrimination in different States.  The United States should enact laws at federal and state levels which explicitly prohibited such discrimination. 
American Civil Liberties Union said the United States had failed to meet its obligations to its people and the international community.  Actions spoke louder than words, and the Obama Administration had a chance to shape its human rights legacy, especially in the areas of racial and criminal justice, national security and immigration.

Human Rights Watch said that no study on racial disparity in the application of the death penalty had been conducted.  The United States was urged not to treat the Universal Periodic Review process as a static one, but rather as a dynamic commitment to improve its domestic human rights record. 

India Council of South America was disappointed that the United States did not accept the recommendation to address the cases of Alaska, Hawaii and Dakota, and to address those through the United Nations decolonization process.  The many human rights violations in Alaska, and the abuses to lands, resources and culture would continue to escalate as long as the United States was not held accountable.

Action Canada pour la population et le développement regretted the lack of support to ratify the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and was deeply concerned about the Government’s refusal to allow its foreign assistance to be used for safe abortion services where legal and in situations of conflict.

United States Human Rights Network Inc.was deeply disappointed that the United States had refused the recommendations related to the death penalty, including the use of the  lethal injection.  The United States was still the world’s largest economy, and yet, it ranked second among developed countries in child poverty rates.

Amnesty International said that the United States had a poor record in implementing international recommendations, even when it appeared to support them.  The United States should embark upon a programme of ratification of human rights instruments and withdrawal of reservations.

International Human Rights Association of American Minorities said that the United States had yet again dodged the issue of the decolonization process for Alaska, Hawaii and Dakota.  It would continue to do so with impunity as long as the Human Rights Council allowed it to sidestep the issue.  

World Association for the School as an Instrument of Peace noted that young African Americans continued to be attacked, drone attacks continued, and Guantanamo Bay still had not been closed.  The United States had to establish meaningful cooperation with civil society and genuinely involve them in policy-making, and it yet had to achieve racial equality.

Indigenous World Association remained concerned because of the lack of protection of sacred places in the United States.  There were three major impediments: the United States’ continued insistence that this was an unbinding document;  a failure to implement existing domestic laws on the protection of sacred places; and a failure to accomplish compliance with international human rights instruments.

The President of the Council said that out of 343 recommendations, the United States had accepted 260 in whole or in part, and noted 83.

Concluding Remarks

SCOTT BUSBY, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of the United States, thanked all the delegations for sharing their views, which would be considered very carefully by the United States.  Issues of racial discrimination and the excessive use of force by law enforcement agents had been raised by several delegations and deserved due attention.  Those officers who used excessive force would be prosecuted; over 400 policemen had been brought to justice in recent years.  The Government looked forward to continuing cooperation with civil society on a wide array of human rights.  

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of the United States.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Malawi
 
Presentation

JANET L. BANDA, Solicitor General and Secretary for Justice of Malawi, said that in May 2015, Malawi had received 199 recommendations, out of which it had adopted 154 recommendations.  In deciding which recommendations to support, the Government and the people of Malawi had been guided by the country’s constitutional values and ideals, national priorities and various sectorial policies.  The supported recommendations therefore spoke to the aspirations of the people of Malawi.  Malawi was keen to ensure that the supported recommendations were implemented.  The recommendations were used as key benchmarks for the development of the National Human Rights Action Plan 2016-2020.  Malawi appreciated the role played by all key stakeholders in Malawi, including civil society.  

In 2006, the Government had attempted to eliminate the death penalty, but the general public had stopped it.  Despite that setback, the Government continued to work on the elimination of the death penalty, which was a very sensitive issue.  Regarding same sex relationships, Malawi was encouraging free debate, so that wider acceptance across the country could be ensured.  

GRACE MALERA, Head of the Malawi Human Rights Commission, noted the considerable progress recorded in the promotion and protection of human rights in the area of gender and women’s rights, children’s rights, vulnerable categories, economic, social and cultural rights, and civil and political rights.  However, it was concerned that the Government of Malawi did not support recommendations concerning the ratification of the Convention of Migrant Workers, and the decriminalization of defamation laws.  The Commission was also concerned about the delays in implementing some already adopted pieces of legislation, such as the Trafficking in Persons Bill and the provision in the Education Act on compulsory education.

Discussion

Ethiopia commended Malawi for its constructive approach to the first Universal Periodic Review cycle, and for having implemented the national human rights strategy.  It called on the United Nations human rights mechanism to provide technical and capacity building to Malawi.

Gabon hailed the commitment demonstrated by Malawi for the follow-up to its Universal Periodic Review.  It also commended its efforts to ensure the rights of vulnerable groups, such women, children, elderly and detainees.  

Ghana expressed hope that Malawi would soon be in a position to provide more favourable responses to Ghana’s recommendations on decriminalization of defamation and ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

Ireland noted the progress made by Malawi in the tripartite elections and efforts to improve its election legislature.  It was pleased that Malawi had accepted both of Ireland’s recommendations.  It also noted progress in taking relevant steps to ensure free trial, and to uphold the right to food.

Lesotho praised efforts by the Government of Malawi to address the HIV pandemic through the adoption of the 2011 HIV strategy, which was a step in the right direction.  It also hailed its steps to reduce infant mortality in the country, which was one of the most important challenges in Africa. 

Libya applauded the approach and openness shown by Malawi during its Universal Periodic Review process, which reflected their commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights. 

Norway said that the Penal Code was now increasingly being used to prosecute persons involved in trafficking.  Malawi was encouraged to review provisions related to medical abortions in cases of sexual assault.  

Rwanda welcomed Malawi’s acceptance of recommendations to review the Constitution and ensure harmonization of laws in line with the international definition of the child.  It was commendable that human rights education was promoted.

Sierra Leone noted that Malawi had been fulfilling its human rights obligations, which were in line with the United Nations and African Charter provisions.  Malawi’s moratorium on the death penalty was applauded.

South Africa welcomed Malawi’s leadership in combating HIV/AIDS.  South Africa encouraged Malawi to continue efforts in tackling the constraints and challenges, particularly those related to combating extreme poverty, inequality and hunger.

Sudan appreciated the efforts by Malawi for the promotion and protection of the human rights of its citizens, in particular, the legislative and policy making developments in the field of human rights.  

Togo congratulated Malawi and welcomed that the majority of recommendations, including those on fighting maternal and child mortality, had been accepted.  

Venezuela appreciated Malawi’s commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process and noted the progress it had made in the field of human rights, such as ratification of international human rights instruments, notably on persons with disabilities, and its focus on the most vulnerable groups.

Angola congratulated Malawi for having accepted a large number of recommendations.  It commended its efforts to strengthen cooperation with regional and international human rights mechanisms.  It called on Malawi to continue efforts to eliminate inequalities between men and women.

Benin noted with satisfaction the efforts made by Malawi to produce reports on the implementation of the Convention against Torture and other Cruel and Degrading Treatment, and on the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  

Botswana commended Malawi for having adopted legislation and implemented the Trafficking in Persons and the Gender Acts, among others.  It encouraged the Government to finalize the review process and ensure implementation of the Prison’s Act.

China welcomed Malawi’s commitment to implement the recommendations it had already adopted.  It urged the Government to adopt steps to address the issue of poverty.  It called on the international community to strengthen its aid to Malawi in order to achieve its right to development.

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, in a joint statement with International Lesbian and Gay Association, welcomed that Malawi had accepted two recommendations on sexual minorities and gender.  Concern remained that 17 recommendations related to sexual orientation had not been accepted.  The Government of Malawi was urged to repeal all discriminatory clauses in its legislation. 

UPR Info said that the reviews in Geneva would remain an empty shell unless concrete actions were taken at the national levels by all stakeholders.  The implementation of Universal Periodic Review recommendations depended on political will coming from the top level.  Such will existed in Malawi. 

Action Canada pour la population et le développement welcomed the acceptance of recommendations to end gender-based violence, advance gender equality and strengthen the HIV response.  Malawi should ensure the availability of referral health facilities close to police stations and decriminalize all forms of consenting sexual activity between adults.  

Amnesty International regretted the Government’s rejection of recommendations to repeal provisions in the Penal Code criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual activities between adults.  The Government was strongly encouraged to work towards abolishing the death penalty and guaranteeing free trial. 

Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme commended Malawi for its success in democratic transition and organizing free elections in 2014.  The persisting inequality between men and women was a matter of concern.  The courts continued to sentence persons to death, even if no execution had taken place in a year.  

Centre for Civil and Political Rights commended the Government for being so progressive in enacting good laws in the best interests of citizens.  At the moment, Malawi was in the process of drafting a national human rights plan.  It was unfortunate that Malawi had rejected recommendations on the death penalty and the rights of sexual minorities.

Concluding Remarks

JANET L. BANDA, Solicitor General and Secretary for Justice of Malawi, expressed gratitude to Member States which had commended Malawi for its efforts to promote and protect human rights.  It also took note of the criticisms.  As for the alleged information on human rights violations, it urged those who had documentation and reports to bring them in front of the relevant national human rights bodies.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Malawi.
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