Posts Tagged ‘Universal Periodic Review’

Philippines shows the weakness of the UPR system: spinning only on one side

September 23, 2017

On 23 September 2017 quite a number of observers and some media responded to the ill-deserved claim by the Philippines Government that it has scored a “big victory” in the UN’s UPR (Universal Periodic Review).  The problem remains that the UN itself does not have the outreach and ‘spinning’ capacity to counter the propaganda spread, especially at the national level in the Philippines.

Seat of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. UN Brief photo

In reality it was ignoring important issues raised and rejected key recommendations made by other States. The Philippine delegation on Friday at the session in Geneva accepted only 103 out of 257 recommendations made by member-states. On Saturday, the Department of Foreign Affairs claimed the country “scored a big victory in Geneva” when the UN body “overwhelmingly adopted Manila’s human rights report card.” (Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano claimed the “adoption” of Manila’s report means that the country “has nothing to hide with its human rights record.“)  [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/11/02/duterte-is-wrong-human-rights-defenders-are-beautiful/]

Adoption of the UPR outcome report, however, cover both the report by the Philippines’ and also the other states’ positions on its human rights record, which included calls to investigate killings (the final document “consists of the questions, comments and recommendations made by States to the country under review, as well as the responses by the reviewed State,” according to a UN human rights office’s brief on its website.)

While member-states welcomed the Philippines’ acceptance of some of the recommendations such as on poverty and education, many expressed concern over its decision not to take action on most of the points raised. Key recommendations merely “noted” by the Philippines—a move interpreted as a rejection by observers—include 44 related to extrajudicial killings in the Duterte government’s campaign against illegal drugs. The Philippines also snubbed recommendations relating to the protection of journalists and human rights defenders, as well as those urging it to lift conditions to allow access of the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings.

A farce”. This was how human-rights group Karapatan described the Philippine government’s supposed “victory”. Karapatan secretary general Tinay Palabay said on Saturday the Philippine government delegation to Geneva “conveniently glosses over” the fact that it did not accept a number recommendation that aimed to resolve pressing issues on human rights. The Philippine delegation, however, practically denied before the UN body the existence of extrajudicial killings in the drug war despite the increasing number of deaths of suspects without trial.

International watchdog Human Rights Watch also reminded the Philippines to cooperate as a member of the council in all of its mechanisms, such as in allowing the special rapporteur without conditions to look into cases in the Philippines.

Sources: Ignoring issues raised, Philippines claims ‘victory’ in UN review | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star | philstar.com

http://www.interaksyon.com/dedma-blues-human-rights-watch-dismayed-at-ph-rejection-of-review-recommendations/

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/160441/karapatan-downplays-ph-delegates-victory-unhrc-united-nations-unhrc-dfa-cayetano-karapatan-human-rights-group#ixzz4tUkOfpcR

Retaliation now reaches even Human Rights Commissioners in the Maldives: UN deeply concerned

October 19, 2014


(Ravina Shamsadani, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Photo: UN Multimedia)

On 17 October 2014 the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights felt duty bound to express deep concern about a criminal case initiated by the Supreme Court of the Maldives against members of the country’s own official Human Rights Commission!

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), noted that five members of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives were now facing “serious criminal charges” following the submission of their written contribution to their country’s second Universal Periodic Review (UPR), presented to the UN Human Rights Council (the actual UPR of the Maldives is scheduled to be held between April and May 2015). “The Government has a responsibility to ensure a safe operating space for the Commission and for civil society actors in the country, so that they are able to coöperate with UN human rights mechanisms without fear of reprisals.” the spokesperson stated.

[It is not the first time the Supreme Court of the Maldives has come under rebuke from OHCHR. In 2013, former High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for reforms to the judiciary to safeguard the rule of law following the Supreme Court’s repeated interventions in the presidential election process in the Maldives which, she said, were undermining the country’s democracy. In that specific case, the Court had nullified the first round of the election on the basis of irregularities in the process, despite conclusions by national and international observers that the election was free and fair.]

United Nations News Centre – Maldives: UN ‘deeply concerned’ as Supreme Court prosecutes rights advocates.

Call for more moderate Muslim voices in Malaysia’s human rights debate

November 18, 2013

An interesting example of how human rights defenders should tackle the pernicious issue of islamic opposition to human rights progress comes from Malaysia:

According to Bar Council member Andrew Khoo, Muslim-majority countries were among those which have asked Malaysia to obey international human rights standards in the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review (UPR) last month. “These are not Western, European-centric recommendations… For anyone to attempt to say this is a Western agenda, sorry you’re barking up the wrong tree,” said Khoo, who is the co-chairman of the Bar Council’s Human Rights Committee.  Read the rest of this entry »

218 Extremely courageous Human Rights Defenders in China

October 26, 2013

Two hundred and eighteen human rights defenders in Shanghai signed a public appeal urging the United Nations not to elect China to the 47-member Human Rights Council. The election will be held on 12 November in the General Assembly.

China is one of the five candidates for the four seats to be filled by Asia-Pacific states. The other candidates are Jordan, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam. Among the voluntary pledges made by China for its membership are: “To continue to strengthen the development of democracy and the rule of law [and] push forward the reform of the judicial system.” The appeal is dated October 21, 2013, the day before China’s Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Below are copies of the original signature sheets. Read the rest of this entry »

UN criticises China’s rights record at Geneva UPR meeting

October 23, 2013

On 22 October the BBC and others reported that many member states of the UN Human Rights Council expressed concern at the arrest of dissidents, the continued use of the death penalty and the use of torture in prison, but Chinese officials maintained major progress had been made in improving social and economic rights.  Julie de Rivero, of Human Rights Watch, told the BBC that China’s focus on economic progress was a way of avoiding the real issues: “The question is why does China continue to torture people in prisons and why is it systematic? Why do they not allow human rights defenders to raise questions that party members are even raising, about corruption? When it comes from the mouth of a human rights defender it earns them a place in prison”. Members of the UN panel also expressed concern about the treatment of a number of Chinese human rights activists in recent weeks.

Students for a Free Tibet banner
(Activists from Students for a Free Tibet defied security to display a banner
on scaffolding in front of the United Nations (via BBC))

Under the UPR system, all UN member states undergo the review by the UN once every four years. [The UN panel – with a rotating membership of 47 states that does not currently include China – has no binding powers.]  The report on China is expected later this week.

via BBC News – UN criticises Chinas rights record at Geneva meeting.

 

At UN, Saudi Arabia receives praise for Protecting “Women’s Rights”!

October 23, 2013

Although extreme right-wing media and NGOs who are basically against the UN should not be given more airing than they deserve, one has to admit that the UN makes it sometimes very easy for them to portray it as out of touch with reality. The following excerpt from FrontPage Magazine shows why:

Today’s United Nations punchline has been brought to you by billions of your tax dollars. It’s your money. You deserve a good laugh. As the UN Human Rights Council [the UPR] scrutinized Saudi Arabia’s domestic rights record this morning… out of 95 countries who took the floor, 82 praised Saudi Arabia. Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch, said the country is poised to win a seat on the Human Rights Council. “A country whose legal system routinely lashes women rape victims rather than punish the perpetrators should not have been praised effusively by members of the UN’s top human rights body,” said Neuer. “Instead the world should have addressed the Saudi regime’s use of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments, such as flogging, amputations and eye-gouging.” But look at who lined up to praise Saudi human rights.

Afghanistan: “We commend Saudia Arabia as they continue to enhance the protection and promotion of human rights…”

Palestine: “We take notice of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to protect and promote human rights…”

Somalia: “Saudi Arabia maintains a high priority for protection and promotion of human rights…”

Libya: “Saudi Arabia continues to strengthen human rights and promote them and this deserves our appreciation…”

Mauritania: “We commend Saudi Arabia for always seeking to strengthen human rights…We commend Saudi Arabia in terms of the progress on guaranteeing fundamental rights and freedoms, socioeconomic progress, participation of women at all levels and participation in society.

China: “We appreciate efforts made to protect the rights of children and to have dialogues of religious tolerance…”

Pakistan: commended “laudable steps taken by Saudi Arabia to promote and protect the rights of children and women…

The procedure of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) has indeed in-built idiocies like these. On the other hand there is also criticism possible (which was not reported here, of course, see Voice of America link below), while big countries like China, Russia, India and the US, who are otherwise not often subject of public discussion in the UN human rights proceedings, now  get their turn as shown in the reports on the current consideration of China in the UPR.

via At UN, Pakistan Praises Saudi Arabia for Protecting “Women’s Rights” | FrontPage Magazine.

Clashing Views of China’s Human Rights Record at UPR session today

October 21, 2013

The New York Times of Monday 20 October carries a post by Chris Buckley which looks at the documentation submitted for today’s UPR session on China and concludes that it seems as if there are two different countries facing scrutiny in Geneva. Read the rest of this entry »

Monday 21 October NGO event in preparation of China’s UPR

October 18, 2013

China’s Second Universal Periodic Review: Challenges and Opportunities on MONDAY 21 October in Room XXV of the Palais des Nations in Geneva 12:30-14:30 

logo FIDH_seul

FIDH league members will lead an NGO information meeting on key civil society trends and challenges since 2009.

The panel will discuss:

  • Civil society’s important role in advancing progress and addressing China’s human rights challenges
  • The challenges to fundamental rights and freedoms presented by national security laws

 

Example of open attitude by Mauritius: side event organised by Government itself

October 18, 2013

The Permanent Mission of the Republic of Mauritius to the UN in Geneva does something special: it organises a side event on its own human rights record in preparation of the Universal Periodic Review. Would other countries please follow? 

“The promotion and protection of human rights in Mauritius” on Tuesday 22 October 2013 from 16.00 to 18.00 hours at Palais des Nations Room XXII in Geneva.

Programme

  • Opening Remarks by A. Boolell, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Sharing best practices

–       Presentation of the National Action Plan on Human Rights for Mauritius

–       Presentation on the UPR Preparation Process for Mauritius

  • Role of national institutions in the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, by Mr Brian Glover, Chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission.

 

 

UN alarmed by reprisals against Chinese activists

October 16, 2013

A group of United Nations experts has expressed serious concern at reports that Chinese human rights defenders have suffered reprisals for seeking to participate in a major UN human rights assessment of China. Read the rest of this entry »