Mukjar Camp to Close as Chadian Refugees Return Home

Mukjar Camp to Close as Chadian Refugees Return Home

KHARTOUM, Sudan, April 9, 2018/ — After more than 10 years of hosting Chadian refugees in Central Darfur, Mukjar refugee camp in Central Darfur is set to close, as the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Commissioner of Refugees (COR) assisted the last refugees to return to their home country.

On Friday 6 April 2018, over 500 Chadian refugees still living in Mukjar camp were provided with return packages and transportation to a reception center in Eastern Chad, where UNHCR and the Government of Chad will provide further assistance for reintegration. UNHCR and COR are now making the final arrangements to hand over the land and camp facilities to local authorities and the host community.

“Throughout the time I lived in this refugee camp, I had never lost hope that one day I will be able to return home,” says Eissa Abakar, a 44-year old Chadian refugee who fled to Sudan 12 years ago after conflict broke out in his country. “I feel privileged that I can finally be able to return home with my family.”

Taken by emotions as she boards the bus to Chad, Eissa’s wife, Acha Abdala is more than happy that her six children, half of them born in Sudan, are going to see their relatives and home village in Chad. “I have never wished for anything other than returning home. I feel like my dreams have come true,” she says as she sweeps tears with a shaky hand.

Mukjar camp was established in 2006, after refugees fled to the area following surge of hostilities between the government and opposition in Chad in 2006 and 2007. Since then, with the support of UNHCR, COR and Save the Children, Sweden, refugees have accessed basic services alongside the host community and internally displaced Sudanese, and have also been provided with protection services, non-food items, and food.

Upon the request for assistance of the Chadian refugees and with conditions improved in Chad, a tri-partite agreement was signed in May 2017 by the Governments of Sudan and Chad and UNHCR to provide a legal framework for the voluntary return of Chadian refugees in Darfur. In December 2017, UNHCR began assisting refugees to return to Chad, and has since supported the voluntary repatriation of nearly 4,000 refugees from Um Shalaya and Mukjar camps.

“UNHCR extends its appreciation to the Government of Sudan and residents of Darfur for welcoming and hosting the Chadian refugees for more than a decade,” said UNHCR Representative, Noriko Yoshida. “Finding durable solutions is a cornerstone of our work, so we are very pleased to be able to work with the Governments on both sides of the border to help refugees return home in dignity and safety”.

Over 8,300 Chadian refugees were living in Sudan prior to the start of the voluntary return at the end of 2017. UNHCR continues to assist the voluntary return of the remaining refugees who wish to do so in 2018.

Revamped UN strategy aims to address root causes of Sahel crisis

Revamped UN strategy aims to address root causes of Sahel crisis

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania, March 30, 2018/ — “The Sahel is a priority for the Secretary-General and the entire United Nations system,” Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told a conference being held in Nouakchott, Mauritania, to discuss strategies to tackle the Sahel crisis, which leaves 24 million people in need of humanitarian assistance this year.

A largely semi-arid region, the Sahel stretches from Senegal on Africa’s Atlantic coast, through parts of Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Sudan to Eritrea on the Red Sea coast.

It is plagued by the increasing threat posed by terrorism and violent extremism and its spread in surrounding countries and regions. This is compounded – or caused – by weak development progress in the Sahel and the impacts of climate change on food supplies, migration flows and conflict over land and resources.

“The complexity and multi-dimensional nature of these challenges attest to the necessity to respond collectively to the Sahel crisis, and in a more coherent, comprehensive and integrated manner,” Ms. Mohammed explained.

These challenges promoted changes to the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel to better meet the needs of the 10 countries in the region.

The Deputy Secretary-General said five key priorities on addressing the root causes of the crisis are: inclusive and equitable growth; public good services, including access to basic service, governance and rule of law; climate and energy; gender equality and women’s empowerment; and security, including preventing violent extremism, transnational crime and human trafficking. Empowering youth is an overall priority, she added.

Japan donates US $1,000,000 to Mine Action in South Sudan

Japan donates US $1,000,000 to Mine Action in South Sudan

JUBA, South Sudan, March 28, 2018/ — The Government of Japan has contributed US $1,000,000 for the mine action project “Enhancing the Humanitarian Mine Action Programme in South Sudan”. Over the past six years, Japan has contributed over US $14 million to mine action operations in South Sudan, enabling the clearance of 3,034,713 sqm of land, the removal of 20,180 explosive hazards and the delivery of Mine Risk Education to 140,800 people, including 91,144 children.

Decades of civil war and continued conflict has littered vast areas of South Sudan with explosive hazards. Despite the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities signed by the Government of South Sudan and opposition parties in December 2017, armed violence and clashes have continued throughout the country. The continued use of explosive weapons, such as rockets, grenades and mortars, has hindered the safe movement of the civilian population as well as the delivery of critical humanitarian assistance. An estimated 6.3 million people in South Sudan – half the population – now live in counties where their safety is threatened by the presence of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). While approximately 150 new hazardous areas are discovered every month, the full extent of contamination is unknown with large areas of the country requiring survey.

Continued funding from the people of Japan will support four Field Assessment Teams (FATs) to mitigate the impact of explosive hazards, through survey and clearance as well as the provision of Mine Risk Education for conflict-affected populations. The teams will provide national coverage from their bases in Bentiu, Bor, Malakal, and Wau, to facilitate response in areas prioritized by humanitarian and development partners. In South Sudan, mine action is a critical enabler of humanitarian aid, a key driver of socioeconomic development, and a strong promoter of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Ambassador of Japan to South Sudan, H.E. Mr. Seiji Okada stated, “the Government of Japan is committed to providing humanitarian, capacity building, and development assistance to South Sudanese people. The US $1,000,000 assistance announced recently is part of the US $34 million assistance package to South Sudan. We trust UNMAS, together with its partners, will continue its important work of clearing land for people to go back to that land, so that they can engage in livelihood activities such as agriculture.”

Mr. Tim Lardner, UNMAS South Sudan Programme Manager, stressed the importance of Japan’s support. “We admire Japan’s strong initiative and vital support for global mine action activities and for UNMAS. The Japanese people’s US $9.3 million donations to UNMAS for this year will benefit mine action programmes in six countries, including Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Sudan, Syria as well as South Sudan. Japan has continued to be a supportive partner in mine action to South Sudan. Last year alone, Japan supported risk mitigation of explosive hazards through survey and clearance, as well as risk education, but also maintained an important role in allowing UNMAS to work with the government of South Sudan, through the National Mine Action Authority. It is great to have such a steady and reliable partner.”

Human Rights Council Holds Interactive Dialogue on the Human Rights Situation in Libya

Human Rights Council Holds Interactive Dialogue on the Human Rights Situation in Libya

GENEVA, Switzerland, March 22, 2018/ — The Human Rights Council this morning held an interactive dialogue with Andrew Gilmour, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, on the human rights situation in Libya under its technical assistance and capacity building agenda item.

Mr. Gilmour regretted that the situation in Libya had not improved. The proliferation of armed groups throughout Libya had led to a situation in which human rights violations and abuses remained acute and widespread. Places of detention remained a huge concern, with those run by armed groups, including with links to ministries, having the worst records. Detainees were held often arbitrarily, incommunicado, subjected to torture and denied adequate medical treatment. Another concern was the approximately 200 Tawergha families, blocked by armed groups, who had remained displaced en route to Tawergha in harsh winter conditions without the most basic services. Mr. Gilmour called on all actors to protect civilians and to resolve the current deadlock, and to ensure that a process was swiftly put in place to guarantee the right to return, allowing demining to begin, rebuilding and delivering basic services to Tawergha. Finally, Mr. Gilmour stressed that reports of open slave markets where captured migrants were bought and sold were absolutely intolerable. There was a need for the broader engagement of Member States on human rights issues in Libya, including when working with the security forces there.

Libya, speaking as the concerned country, said it had reviewed the report and stressed that some information, especially regarding shelters for illegal migrants, was inaccurate. Despite its limited resources, Libya was assisting migrants. Libyan authorities did not have the capacity to combat organized crime and terrorism. The report failed to mention Government efforts to achieve national reconciliation and failed to acknowledge the work of the working group on migration. Additionally, the report failed to mention efforts to unify the military in the country and Libya called on the United Nations to contribute to that goal. The situation in Libya necessitated escalated efforts by the international community to assist the Government of National Unity. Libya called on the international community to deploy all efforts to grant the country access to frozen funds in order to implement development programmes.

In the ensuing discussion, speakers expressed serious concern about the deteriorating situation which had become fertile ground for criminal, armed and terrorist groups, which engaged in drug and arms trafficking, as well as trafficking of migrants, and which committed torture, forced labour, and extrajudicial and arbitrary detention. While some speakers supported the efforts of the Libyan Government and central and local institutions to promote national reconciliation, others blamed the inability of the justice system to function effectively which had led to widespread impunity, particularly for violations and abuses perpetrated by armed groups. They were highly concerned that despite efforts, Government violations of human rights and international humanitarian law were still being committed. All speakers condemned Daesh and other terrorist and armed groups engaged in trafficking, and reiterated the importance of supporting the Government in facing illegal migration and terrorism. They urged the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide capacity building and technical assistance in accordance with the needs of the country.

Speaking were European Union, Jordan, on behalf of the Arab Group, Russian Federation, Egypt, Estonia, Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Bahrain, China, Qatar, Greece, Netherlands, Algeria, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Jordan, Germany, Sovereign Order of Malta, United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Yemen. United Nations Children’s Fund also spoke.

The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Human Rights Watch, Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, United Nations Watch, Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme, International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD), and United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation.

The Council will continue its session at noon today, when it will hold an interactive dialogue with the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation in Ukraine under its agenda item on technical assistance and capacity building.

Documentation

The Council has before it the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Libya, including on the effectiveness of technical assistance and capacity-building measures received by the Government of Libya ( A/HRC/37/46 )

Presentation by the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights

ANDREW GILMOUR, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, regretted that the situation in Libya had not improved. The proliferation of armed groups throughout Libya had led to a situation in which human rights violations and abuses remained acute and widespread. Armed groups continued to be the main perpetrators of grave human rights violations, and they acted with almost complete impunity for even the most serious of crimes. Extrajudicial and unlawful killings were rampant. In what had become an increasing pattern in and around Benghazi over the past two years, more bodies with signs of torture and hands bound were being found in the streets. The west of the country had not been spared either. Places of detention remained a huge concern, with those run by armed groups, including with links to ministries, having the worst records. Detainees were held often arbitrarily, incommunicado, subjected to torture and denied adequate medical treatment. It would be good if the Government declared its public and unequivocal condemnation of torture, ill-treatment and summary executions and its determination to ensure accountability for such crimes. Derna remained surrounded by forces allied to the Libyan National Army who restricted the movement of civilians and entry for essential goods and humanitarian assistance into the city. Those forces had arbitrarily detained and were continuing to hold, sometimes incommunicado, Derna residents, including medical professionals, when they tried to leave or enter the city.

Turning to the issue of the returns of Tawerghans, Mr. Gilmour noted that they were blocked by armed groups, adding that around 200 Tawergha families had remained displaced on route to Tawergha in harsh winter conditions without the most basic services. Mr. Gilmour called on all actors to protect civilians and to resolve the current deadlock, to ensure a process was swiftly put in place to guarantee the right to return, allowing demining to begin, rebuilding and delivering basic services to Tawergha. Mr. Gilmour stressed that reports of open slave markets where captured migrants were bought and sold were absolutely intolerable. Such reports were part of a widespread pattern of serious human rights violations against migrants in Libya. Since November 2017, a continuation of a pattern of torture, including by the Department for Combatting Illegal Migration officials, had been noted. Male detainees were subjected to forced labour, women to strip and intrusive cavity search by male staff, and all faced extortion. Relevant States parties should take all necessary legal, political and diplomatic measures to ensure that cooperation with Libya was consistent with the absolute prohibition of torture. Mr. Gilmour reiterated the High Commissioner’s call to the European Union to adopt a human rights due diligence approach to their support to the Libyan authorities. He further urged all Member States to prioritize addressing impunity, including through active support for the International Criminal Court, and other accountability mechanisms that complemented it. There was a need for broader engagement of Member States on human rights issues in Libya, including when working with security forces there.

Statement by the Concerned Country

Libya, speaking as the concerned country, said it had reviewed the report and stressed that some information, especially regarding shelters for illegal migrants, was inaccurate. Despite its limited resources, Libya was assisting migrants. Libyan authorities did not have the capacity to combat organized crime and terrorism. The report failed to mention Government efforts to achieve national reconciliation and failed to acknowledge the work of the working group on migration. Libya reaffirmed calls for cooperation with the international community in order to establish projects in countries where migrants originated. Additionally, the report failed to mention efforts to unify the military in the country and Libya called on the United Nations to contribute to that goal. The situation in Libya necessitated that the international community escalate efforts to assist the Government of National Unity. Libya called on the international community to deploy all efforts to grant the country access to frozen funds in order to implement development programmes.

Interactive Dialogue

European Union supported the efforts of the Libyan institutions, including local communities, to promote national reconciliation and welcomed the effective participation of Libyan women in the political process. Despite the valuable commitment of the Government, violations or abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law were still being committed. Jordan, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said Daesh and other terrorist groups were engaging in trafficking in Libya, and in this respect it was important to support the Government so that it could face the effects of illegal migration as a country of transit. The Arab Group supported the political agreement and thanked the Arab League and the European Union for efforts made to support the Government of National Accord. United Nations Children’s Fund said the plight of children in Libya remained very severe. Some 36,000 migrant children were in need of assistance, of which more than 14,000 were unaccompanied. In 2017 alone, nearly 15,000 unaccompanied children had reached Italy by sea, traveling across the perilous Central Mediterranean route, while an estimated 500 of these had tried to make the trip and many had suffered abuse, exploitation, enslavement and detention.

Russian Federation said despite the attempt to establish a dialogue, the prospect of a settlement was not on the horizon due to the lack of cooperation by the two competing centres of power. The chaos had become fertile ground for armed and terrorist groups, and the entire situation was the result of action by the coalition under the aegis of NATO in 2011. Egypt urged Libya to pursue activities against Daesh and other armed terrorist groups. There were criminal and other groups engaged in drug running and arms trafficking, as well as networks involved in illegal migration. Estonia said the report documented human rights violations and abuses committed against women, children and migrants. The inability of the justice system to function effectively had led to widespread impunity, particularly for violations and abuses perpetrated by armed groups.

Senegal welcomed Libyan efforts to restore stability. The perilous situation of civilians should galvanize the international community to act. Armed groups were also taking a toll on the greater Sahel region. Tunisia reiterated its full support for the Libyan Government and hoped institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights would be strengthened. Tunisia would continue to assist Libya and called on the international community to honor its obligations. Spain said attacks by armed groups against civilians and civilian infrastructure were dismaying. Hostilities and human rights violations against civilians must stop immediately and mechanisms to prevent impunity must be established.

Saudi Arabia reiterated the importance of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in providing technical assistance and capacity building in Libya. Saudi Arabia strongly condemned attacks by extremists groups. Czechia supported United Nations efforts to assist all Libyan stakeholders in a national reconciliation process. The report provided disturbing information regarding the suffering of civilians in Libya. The situation of women and children was particularly alarming. United States encouraged all Libyan parties to work towards the common goal of a peaceful, united country. The United States stressed the importance of protecting civilians during national stabilization efforts.

Italy reaffirmed its full support to the Libyan authorities to bring the country out of the long political transition as well as to the work of United Nations Support Mission in Libya. As the first western country which had reopened its embassy in Tripoli, Italy had been working closely with Libyan authorities to improve migrants’ living conditions. Bahrain said that despite efforts deployed by the Government of National Accord to build a modern state, many challenges and threats remained pertaining to migrants, securing borders and fighting transnational organized crime. Libya was a hub for attracting migrants which was a further aggravating crisis in the country and more resources had to be allocated by the Office of the High Commissioner to confront this. China said that Libya’s future had to be decided by its own people and the international community had to respect that choice and its national sovereignty. The international community was urged to step up its efforts towards combatting terrorism.

Qatar was concerned about the continuous fighting between Libyan factions, violations of human rights, besieging of towns, and impunity, and invited all parties to adhere to the Skhirat agreement. The situation of migrants was concerning and the Government was urged to hold perpetrators accountable. Greece strongly supported the implementation of the Action Plan presented by the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General Salamé aimed at advancing the Libyan-owned political process. The Skhirat agreement was the only viable framework to end the Libyan political crisis. Netherlands welcomed the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in Libya and called for full cooperation. An important role had to be played by the Office of the High Commissioner, and Special Rapporteurs in relevant fields such as human rights defenders, migrants, human trafficking had to accept the standing invitation from the Libyan authorities to visit Libya as well.

Algeria supported Libya’s efforts to counter terrorists and armed groups and smugglers, and called upon the international community to help the country to face these challenges, and to support it in accordance with the principle of non-interference. The main objective was to reach a consensus-based political solution that would preserve Libya’s integrity and sovereignty and to rule out any military solution. Sudan supported Libya’s efforts to combat illegal migration and terrorism which undermined the stability in the country. It welcomed the accession of Libya to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and invited the Office of the High Commissioner to provide capacity building and technical assistance in accordance with the needs of the country. Burkina Faso said it was imperative to bring an end to the free circulation of weapons and to the activities of armed groups which were financed by human trafficking. It was highly concerned about the insecurity, trafficking and terrorism in Libya, the scale of which required an urgent and collaborative effort to deal with this asymmetrical war.

Nigeria said the inhuman treatment and enslavement of migrants in Libya, as well as the activities of traffickers were repugnant and condemnable. It was important that perpetrators of these heinous crimes were brought to justice. Nigeria had been engaging with Libyan authorities with a view to ensuring that Nigerian migrants and others were duly respected, secured and treated with dignity. United Kingdom welcomed Libya’s continued cooperation with the Human Rights Council and was grateful for the High Commissioner’s latest joint report with the United Nations Support Mission in Libya. This report made it clear that political divisions and the continued impunity enjoyed by armed groups in Libya had created an environment of intimidation and fear. Ireland expressed its deep concern at the grave and ongoing human rights violations in Libya which resulted from a culture of impunity, due in part to the weakness of Government institutions and a vacuum of State authority. It remained gravely concerned about the inhumane conditions in which thousands of migrants were being detained, and especially at reports of torture and violence, including sexual and gender-based violence being perpetrated against migrants.

Jordan emphasized the need to support Libya in defending its sovereignty and building strong national institutions. Jordan supported the Government of National Accord. The success of Libyan institutions would foster peace and security. Germany said it was extremely worried about the situation in Libya, adding that it was committed to assisting Libya as it worked to restore human rights and accountability. Germany was particularly concerned about the appalling situation of migrants. Sovereign Order of Malta voiced concern over the plight of civilians and migrants in Libya. The United Nations must continue supporting Libya in efforts to strengthen the judicial system to ensure that perpetrators of crimes were held accountable.

United Arab Emirates said that Libya was facing illegal migration problems that were burdening the Government. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights must provide increased assistance to the country in order to address the migration crisis. Morocco welcomed the positive cooperation of Libya with the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Libya was also open to work constructively with United Nations Special Procedures. Yemen took note of the obstacles faced by Libya in the field of human rights. Libya required increased support and assistance to shoulder its human rights responsibilities. Financial and technical assistance was needed to combat organized crime.

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom welcomed the efforts to include a gendered dimension in the report, especially taking into account the targeting of women and girls, attacks against female activists, and abuses suffered by women migrants. Recommendations from the report were echoed, and an appeal was launched to cease all hostilities and for the international community to include women in disarmament activities. Human Rights Watch said that over 160,000 people remained internally displaced because of the conflict and thousands who had left their homes during fighting in Benghazi had been unable to return, due to reprisal crimes carried out by forces affiliated with the Libyan National Army. Given that the Council members had consistently fallen short of taking measures within their mandate to curb the raging impunity, such as establishing the mandate of an independent expert, how could the Council justify the lack of a reporting mechanism? Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development said that Libya had become a living hell for thousands of migrants fleeing across the Mediterranean and locked in detention centres.

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies stressed that the High Commissioner had noted near-complete lawlessness throughout Libya, with almost total impunity for the most serious crimes. Impunity in Libya had also emboldened armed extremist groups linked to Al Qaeda, the Salafists and ISIS and it was of great concern that the current resolution put before the Council by the African Group had failed to dedicate resources to address serious human rights violations or to create an international investigative mechanism. United Nations Watch asked whether the Office of the High Commissioner could have acted differently over the past years, during all crimes committed by Colonel Gadhafi? Did the Council regret that Jean Ziegler, the longest serving expert at the United Nations, had created the Gadhafi prize? Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme was concerned over the prolonged fragmentation of conflict and interest groups, including build-up of armed forces in Sabha. Given Libya’s fragmentation, particularly the growing number of militias and jihadist groups, how could progress be made regarding the Libyan Political Agreement’s aim of demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of members of armed groups?

International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD), in a joint statement with International-Lawyers.Org, said the weak system in Libya was allowing the exploitation of basic human rights. Although the transitional justice system was being implemented, the effect of these efforts was debatable. United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation said despite mechanisms in place to overcome the crisis, people were living in extremely difficult situations, especially because they were prevented from going back to their villages. It called on the international community to bring an end to the suffering brought onto these children and to find proper resources to ensure the return of these families.

Concluding Remarks

ANDREW GILMOUR, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, said his Office recognized that Libya could not possibly be expected to deal with the migrant situation alone and needed international assistance. The report had put forth recommendations in this regard. He welcomed information that would refute anything in the report that was deemed incorrect, and said the Office stood ready to enhance its support and engage with the Government of Libya on technical assistance. In this regard, steps could be taken to establish or strengthen key mechanisms. His Office had called upon the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to strengthen human rights brigades. The establishment of oversight and accountability mechanisms was critical, and impartial and effective investigations had to be carried out. Armed groups should close detention centres as agreed in the political agreement, and hand over detainees. This, and accountability for all perpetrators, was a priority.

Regarding migrants, the alleged slave auction incident was shocking, but must not be treated in exclusion, as it was part of a large pattern. He urged those groups on the ground to stop all detention of migrants. He also urged the European Union and Member States to fully respect the rights of migrants – by urging them to return, they were putting them into a situation of high likelihood of torture and ill-treatment. Regarding addressing gaps in assistance to migrants and refugees, assistance in the reform of the criminal justice system was essential. Assistance to the due diligence system was also needed, however, migrants and detainees held in detention should not be the only focus. Libyans were also being subjected to this. Torture, forced labour, extrajudicial and arbitrary detention should be the priorities. Mr. Gilmore reiterated other speakers’ calls for Libya to issue a standing invitation for Special Procedures.

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya stood ready to support the Constitution-Drafting Assembly, which benefited from the participation of all sections of the society, including women. He hoped that the final draft would represent a vision of Libya built on human rights and the rule of law. He agreed with those who raised the failure of previous human rights mechanisms for not speaking out regarding abuses under the Gadhafi regime. He was sure that the current leadership of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights would not have hesitated to speak out. He welcomed and repeated the call for an end to impunity. The situation of vulnerable groups, including women detainees, was of particular concern, and his Office would continue to work on this with the Government of Libya and all other States.

Libya, speaking as the concerned country, expressed profound gratitude to the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights. There was no slavery in Libya; there had been trafficking in human beings by organizations and to counter that problem, Libya required technical assistance since it could not cope with such problems on its own.

Human Rights Council Adopts Universal Periodic Review Outcomes of Benin, Pakistan and Zambia

Human Rights Council Adopts Universal Periodic Review Outcomes of Benin, Pakistan and Zambia

GENEVA, Switzerland, March 20, 2018/ — The Human Rights Council this morning (March 19, 2018) adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Benin, Pakistan and Zambia.

Eloi Laourou, Permanent Representative of Benin to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Benin was doing all it could to implement the recommendations, including the abolition of the death penalty, ratification of international human rights instruments and treaties, modernizing the prison administration and good governance. Efforts toward meeting the 2030 Agenda objectives continued, particularly in the areas of education, access to water and energy, and food safety. The country needed capacity building to assist victims of trafficking, set up a human rights database, and conduct education in human rights areas.

In the ensuing discussion, speakers commended Benin for its strategies aimed at the promulgation of human rights in recent years, notably the adoption of an act on the rights of persons with disabilities, and of the draft Criminal Code which would more effectively tackle child labour. They reminded that Benin faced a lack of resources for implementing previous Universal Periodic Review recommendations. Harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and the so-called “witch children” continued to be prevalent and go unpunished. The country needed to strengthen capacities to combat violence against women and girls, and children.

Speaking were Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia, United Nations Population Fund, Venezuela, Algeria, Angola, Burundi, China, Republic of the Congo and Cuba.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: World Organisation Against Torture, (in a joint statement with Franciscans International and International Catholic Child Bureau); International Volunteerism Organization for Women, Education and Development VIDES, (in a joint statement with Franciscans International; Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco and International Catholic Child Bureau), Action Canada for Population and Development, Franciscans International, (in a joint statement with International Catholic Child Bureau), Amnesty International, Rencontre Africaine pour la defénse des droits de l’homme, and International Catholic Child Bureau, (in a joint statement with International Movement of Apostolate in the Independent Social Milieus).

The President of the Human Rights Council informed that out of 198 recommendations received, Benin accepted 191 and noted seven. The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Benin.

Farukh Amil, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, acknowledged the importance of the Universal Periodic Review for its transparency and the level playing field it offered to all States. The Council had to continue to support and strengthen that mechanism, in line with its agreed rules and procedures. Democracy, the rule of law, and protecting human rights were cherished ideals for the people of Pakistan. The democratic Pakistan of today was marching toward these ideals with an elected and sovereign parliament, an independent judiciary, a free media, and a vibrant civil society.

In the discussion, speakers commended the commitment of Pakistan to promote and protect human rights, albeit constant threats to the country’s security and social fabric. They noted the establishment of the Ministry of Human Rights, provincial human rights departments, human rights committees at the district levels, and the launch of the national Action Plan for Human Rights. However, speakers remained concerned about the use of the death penalty, reports of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, intimidation of journalists, and limitations on freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Speaking were Ghana, Greece, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, Philippines, China, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, and the United Nations Population Fund.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: British Humanist Association, European Centre for Law and Justice, Article 19, Action Canada for Population and Development (in a joint statement with the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women ARROW), International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Amnesty International, International Commission of Jurists, and World Environment and Resources Council.

The Vice President of the Human Rights Council informed that out of 289 recommendations received, Pakistan accepted 168 and noted 121. The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Pakistan.

Margaret Mary Lungu Kaemba, Deputy Permanent Representative of Zambia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, stated that the Universal Periodic Review was a platform which provided an opportunity for all Member States to declare what actions they had taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights. With respect to abolition of the death penalty, the Constitution required that such amendments be subjected to a referendum. Despite having retained the death penalty in its statute books, Zambia was a de facto abolitionist country as the last executions had been carried out in 1997.

The Human Rights Commission of Zambia also spoke.

In the discussion, speakers recommended that Zambia expedite the process of the enactment of the Children’s Act, and requested the Government to finalize and present the Child Code Bill in Parliament in order to harmonize various pieces of legislation. They also asked Zambia to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 12 years, and to combat child poverty. While Zambia had committed to curbing the high rates of maternal mortality, its acceptance of the recommendation to limit abortion was in contravention with its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Maputo Protocol.

Speaking were Algeria, Angola, Burundi, China, Republic of the Congo, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Honduras, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, and Madagascar.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: International Save the Children Alliance, Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, Action Canada for Population and Development, Franciscans International, Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII, Amnesty International, CIVICUS-World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme.

The Vice President of the Human Rights Council informed that out of 203 recommendations received, Zambia accepted 183, partially accepted one recommendation, and noted 19. The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Zambia.

 

The Council will next consider the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Japan, Ukraine and Sri Lanka.

 

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Benin

ELOI LAOUROU, Permanent Representative of Benin to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Benin remained committed to the promotion of human rights and the creation of an environment where human rights would be respected. The Ministry of Justice in particular underscored both the achievements and difficulties conducted during the previous period. During the interactive dialogue, 198 recommendations were made, out of which 191 were accepted and seven were noted. Since then, Benin had been doing all it could to implement the recommendations, including the abolition of the death penalty, the ratification of international human rights instruments and treaties, modernizing the prison administration, and ensuring good governance. The Council of Ministers had adopted a decree that changed the death penalty for 14 prisoners to life imprisonment, thus making Benin an abolitionist country. The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances had been ratified. The process for setting up a prison agency was underway. Initiatives to combat corruption were progressing. Efforts towards meeting the 2030 Agenda objectives continued, particularly in areas of education, access to water and energy, and food safety. The Council’s members were thanked for their support and the High Commissioner and partners were asked to provide technical and financial support to assist in implementing actions and programmes. Activities included devising a national human rights action plan, and supporting prison system reforms, including the building of prisons. Capacity building was needed for victims of trafficking, setting up a human rights database, and conducting education in human rights areas.

Sierra Leone commended Benin for its strategies aimed at the promulgation of human rights in recent years, notably the adoption of an act on the rights of persons with disabilities, and the draft Criminal Code which would more effectively tackle child labour.

South Africa welcomed Benin’s continued work on the protection of children’s rights, especially the adoption of a Children’s Code in 2015 that would raise the status of children and afford them protection in all areas. South Africa also took positive note of Benin’s adoption of the Information and Communication Code.

Sudan commended the commitment of Benin to the Universal Periodic Review and its positive response to the recommendations, especially with respect to continued efforts to raise awareness on birth registration.

Togo took positive note of Benin’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the adoption of a national policy for child protection. Togo also welcomed the will of the authorities to adopt almost all of the received recommendations.

Tunisia noted that Benin’s acceptance of the majority of the recommendations showed its commitment to strengthen human rights. Tunisia welcomed the creation of an independent human rights commission.

United Nations Population Fund said Benin faced a lack of resources for implementing previous Universal Periodic Review recommendations. Harmful practices such as female genital mutilation continued to be prevalent and go unpunished. The Fund would help strengthen capacities to combat violence against women and girls.

Venezuela noted that Benin had openly cooperated with the Universal Periodic Review and engaged in productive dialogue. Benin had accepted the overwhelming majority of recommendations received and the Human Rights Council must recognize the State’s efforts to promote and protect human rights.

Algeria hailed efforts in Benin to strengthen its national legal framework and create national human rights institutes to help protect women and combat corruption.

Angola welcomed Benin’s efforts to promote and protect human rights, particularly its close relationship with international human rights mechanisms. Angola noted that Benin was implementing supplementary measures to combat child labour.

Burundi thanked Benin for accepting the majority of recommendations received. Benin was taking positive measures to combat corruption and improve the protection of children. Benin worked positively with international human rights mechanisms and was implementing projects to protect women and girls.

China appreciated the constructive engagement of the Government of Benin in the dialogue and thanked it for accepting China’s recommendations. It appreciated ongoing efforts in Benin to promote health and medical care as well as food security.

Republic of Congo wished a warm welcome to Benin, and commended its acceptance of almost all the recommendations made to it. In particular, it thanked Benin for accepting the Congolese recommendations for development plans in order to improve the living conditions of the population.

Cuba said 191 of 198 recommendations had been accepted by Benin and this was commendable. Among the accepted recommendations, two were made by Cuba, including on human rights training and the improvement of the living conditions of the population.

World Organisation Against Torture, in a joint statement with Franciscans International and International Catholic Child Bureau, saluted the engagement of Benin, and noted that of the 199 recommendations, seven had been noted, including that by Honduras on preventing the deaths of so-called “witch children.” At the same time, recommendations by the Republic Korea and Switzerland on the same issue had been accepted.

International Volunteerism Organization for Women, Education and Development VIDES, in a joint statement with Franciscans International; Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco and International Catholic Child Bureau, commended the acceptance of the recommendation concerning the adoption of the application of the Children’s Code and a new Penal Code. It called upon the Government to proceed to implement these recommendations in the briefest delays.

Action Canada for Population and Development said article 36 of the Constitution of Benin guaranteed the right to respect and non-discrimination, but high levels of violence and discrimination were prevalent. This was a consequence of the fact that the patriarchal society was not confronted nor addressed.

Franciscans International, in a joint statement with International Catholic Child Bureau, deplored the fact that Benin had only taken note of the recommendation concerning measures to prevent infanticide of the so-called witch children. The organization called on the Government to accelerate the adoption of the draft Criminal Code with respect to that issue.

Amnesty International welcomed the imminent establishment of a human rights commission in Benin, and commended the Government’s decision to commute the death sentence for 14 men. However, it called on Benin to guarantee the freedom of expression, and cease arbitrary arrests and excessive use of force against peaceful protesters.

Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme voiced concern about shrinking space for civil society, threats against the effective exercise of the right to strike, prison overcrowding, systematic use of detention, the absence of information about economic rights, and crimes against the so-called “witch children” in Benin.

International Catholic Child Bureau, in a joint statement with International Movement of Apostolate in the Independent Social Milieus, drew attention to the problem of murder of the so-called “witch children” in Benin, calling on the Government to take concrete measures and without delay to implement the 2015 Code of Children. It also called on the Government to take stock of the previously implemented recommendations.

The President of the Human Rights Council informed that out of 198 recommendations received, Benin supported 191 and noted 7.

ELOI LAOUROU, Permanent Representative of Benin to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said such dialogues helped States move forward as they pursued policies to promote and protect human rights. The number of supported recommendations showed the Government’s commitment to issues of human rights and governance. Some recommendations were only noted as Benin assessed certain institutional activities. Still, Benin would work to integrate reform efforts in order to address those recommendations. The State did not have the information at its disposal to properly address issues arising from children being accused of witchcraft. The Government was working with religious institutions, local authorities, and women’s organizations to raise awareness of such abuses against children. The Government continued to implement major educational reform programmes and relied on support from the international community to achieve its goals.

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

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan

FARUKH AMIL, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Pakistan acknowledged the importance of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism for its transparency and the level playing field it offered to all States. The mechanism positively contributed toward improving human rights on the ground. The Council must continue to support and strengthen this mechanism, in line with its agreed rules and procedures. The people of Pakistan were committed to democratic ideals. Pakistan was a country born out of a democratic choice exercised in 1946 by 250 million Muslims of the Indo-Pak Subcontinent. Democracy, rule of law, and protecting human rights were cherished ideals for the people. The democratic Pakistan of today was marching toward these ideals with an elected and sovereign parliament, an independent judiciary, a free media, and a vibrant civil society. The strength of these institutions had gone a long way in promoting civil liberties, and ensuring fundamental freedoms. They had also helped in steady mainstreaming of human rights in overall policy priorities and national discourse. Out of 289 recommendations, 168 recommendations enjoyed the support of the Government and most were being implemented. Some 117 recommendations had been noted. These had not been rejected, but the due process of consultations had not been completed yet. The remaining four had been rejected for being factually incorrect and politically motivated.

Ghana commended the commitment of Pakistan to promote and protect human rights, albeit constant threats to the country’s security and social fabric. It noted the establishment of the Ministry of Human Rights, provincial human rights departments, human rights committees at the district levels, and the launch of the national Action Plan for Human Rights.

Greece remained concerned about the use of the death penalty and it urged Pakistan to reinstate a moratorium on its use as the first step towards its abolition. Greece also reiterated concern about the reports of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, intimidation of journalists, and limitations on freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Honduras expressed hope that Pakistan would consider the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in order to guarantee gender equality, as well as to consider the ratification of the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrants and Their Families.

Iran encouraged Pakistan to accomplish the goals to promote the economic and social rights of the people, and to accelerate the efforts towards the full operationalization of the National Commission for Human Rights.

Iraq welcomed Pakistan’s spirit of cooperation and transparency during the Universal Periodic Review, and wished it success in the implementation of all the accepted recommendations.

Philippines appreciated Pakistan’s acceptance of its recommendation to strengthen the national and provincial commissions on the status of women through increased funding and support. It also acknowledged Pakistan’s continued efforts to mainstream human rights in the overall policy priorities and national discourse.

China commended Pakistan for continuously strengthening national human rights mechanisms. China thanked Pakistan for accepting its recommendations and urged the Government to continue assisting low-income citizens.

Saudi Arabia said it paid close attention to the position of Pakistan in relation to the recommendations in the report. Pakistan was lauded for its continued cooperation with human rights mechanisms. Saudi Arabia welcomed the accepted recommendations and noted that Pakistan was working to promote and protect human rights at all levels.

Sierra Leone noted with interest Pakistan’s efforts to improve access to health services. Sierra Leone was disappointed that none of the recommendations that it put forward had been accepted and urged Pakistan to consider acceding to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

Sri Lanka noted that recommendations on improving maternal and neo-natal health services had been accepted by Pakistan for implementation. Pakistan was urged to expedite efforts to cooperate with treaty bodies and strengthen human rights institutions at all levels.

Sudan commended efforts in Pakistan to promote and protect human rights. Sudan noted with satisfaction that Pakistan had accepted the recommendations it put forth, namely on the mainstreaming of human rights and the promotion of the right to development.

Tunisia thanked Pakistan for accepting a majority of recommendations. Tunisia welcomed the creation of a national development plan aimed at consolidating the social rights of Pakistanis.

United Nations Population Fund commended the Government of Pakistan on its Universal Periodic Review report. It, however, drew attention to several challenges that remained. These included the harmonization of human rights standards and obligations at the federal and provincial levels, as well as the lack of standardized disaggregated data collection mechanisms on violence against women.

British Humanist Association drew the Council’s attention to the repeated recommendations of Member States to the Pakistani Government to abolish the country’s anti-blasphemy laws. The notion of ‘blasphemy’ had been repeatedly criticized as inconsistent with normative human rights standards.

European Centre for Law and Justice said in Pakistan discrimination against Christians and other minorities was commonplace and the Government had failed to bring the perpetrators to justice. Blasphemy laws were still a major concern, and police torture prevailed and remained unpunished.

Article 19-International Centre against Censorship said the review came at a time when freedom of expression was highly restricted in Pakistan. Journalists and human rights activists were being tried in courts, including under the Counter-Terrorism Act, and they endured assault, judicial harassment, and attacks which remained unpunished.

Action Canada for Population and Development in a joint statement with the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), said it was concerned about the insufficient attention paid to the sexual and reproductive health needs of young people, both in policy and in implementation. Pakistan had one of the highest maternal mortality rates, due to child, early and forced marriages.

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues said Pakistan’s Government had missed yet another opportunity to show its commitment to human rights, and this was apparent through enforced disappearances, the use of the death penalty, persecution of minorities, and extrajudicial killings. It urged the Government to immediately begin the implementation of the recommendations that it did not accept, including those to abolish the anti-blasphemy laws.

Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches expressed concern about discriminatory blasphemy laws in Pakistan. Lynching by mobs raised serious concern about the misuse of the blasphemy laws. The organization called on the Government of Pakistan to repeal all discriminatory legislation, namely blasphemy laws.

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia regretted that a recommendation to protect online freedom had been merely noted by Pakistan. The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act of 2016 empowered telecommunication regulators to arbitrarily filter or censor “objectionable content” which had restricted online expression.

Amnesty International reminded that the United Nations Working Group on Enforced Disappearances had more than 700 pending cases from Pakistan, and Pakistan’s State Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances had received reports of hundreds more. No one had ever been held accountable for an enforced disappearance in Pakistan.

International Commission of Jurists regretted that Pakistan had not supported recommendations related to amending its blasphemy laws, which were frequently misused. They blatantly discriminated against minority religions and sects, infringed on freedom of expression and religion, and gave rise to serious fair trial concerns.

World Environment and Resources Council noted that the collapse of the criminal justice system, the culture of impunity, and the Government’s refusal and inability to act in accordance with international human rights laws had left millions vulnerable and suffering in Pakistan, particularly in the province of Sindh.

The Vice President of the Human Rights Council informed that out of 289 recommendations received, Pakistan accepted 168 and noted 121.

FARUKH AMIL, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said as a State party to seven core international and human rights instruments, Pakistan was already fulfilling its duties in the area of human rights. Some of the recommendations were currently being examined, however this process entailed alliance with national laws as well as practical implementation. Pakistan continued to implement and report to the main treaty bodies. The Foreign Minister had identified a series of steps in identifying and consolidating the national human rights institutions and in this respect, the Government had accepted almost all recommendations. A number of recommendations aimed at improving the socio-economic conditions of the people, and poverty alleviation had been accepted. The Government tackled these issues by improving the right to development, economic progress and anti-poverty measures, including through, inter alia, micro-credit schemes, strengthening the social safety nets on health and education, as well as ending child labour, improving vaccination, and other measures.

Mr. Amil said Pakistan’s progress had been realized despite the challenges of terrorism and extremism. As a result of targeted actions by security forces, all terrorist hideouts had been eliminated and this extraordinary fact had to be recognized. Minorities which were primary targets by these terrorist groups had enormously benefited from these actions. Minorities in Pakistan had the constitutional right to freely profess their religion – a case in point was the Christian Missionary Schools. A five per cent quota was ensured for minorities in employment, and deliberations on a Minority Protection Bill were in the pipeline. Blasphemy laws were instrumental in targeting discrimination issues. The death penalty was still in place due to the democratic will of the people. It was a consequence of the challenges related to terrorism, whereby public pressure to bring perpetrators to justice had pushed the moratorium back. The Government was committed to improving the status of women, who accounted for 25 per cent of all Members of Parliament. The Government was also working on trans-gender rights.

The outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan was then adopted.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Zambia

MARGARET MARY LUNGU KAEMBA, Deputy Permanent Representative of Zambia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, stated that the Universal Periodic Review was a platform which provided an opportunity for all Member States to declare what actions they had taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights. Since its review, the Government of Zambia had examined all the recommendations which had been received and had held consultations with various stakeholders, through the Ministry of Justice. Zambia supported previously noted recommendations, namely those relating to the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as well as three Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Zambia had noted the recommendations relating to the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.

Consequently, Zambia had accepted 183 recommendations, partially accepted one recommendation, and noted 19 recommendations. The accepted recommendations would form the basis for the preparation of an action plan to be used as a guide for the implementation process. Zambia had also started the process to establish a permanent mechanism which would be responsible for monitoring all recommendations. With respect to the abolition of the death penalty, the Constitution required that such amendments be subjected to a referendum. Despite having retained the death penalty in its statute books, Zambia was a de facto abolitionist country as the last executions had been carried out in 1997. In conclusion, Ms. Kaemba noted that Zambia remained resolute on enhancing human rights for all persons without distinction.

Human Rights Commission of Zambia recognized the 78 countries which had made oral and written submissions, non-government organizations which provided parallel reports and the Zambian Government for their commitment to an open and transparent process in reporting to the Council. The Human Rights Commission took the Universal Periodic Review seriously as it provided practical steps towards the promotion of human rights and opportunities for learning from other jurisdictions. It was noted that the Government had accepted 183 recommendations and was expected to ratify a number of Optional Protocols, especially regarding the death penalty as it had accepted a moratorium on the implementation of the sentences. The Commission was optimistic that the Government would continue its ongoing dialogue regarding the expansion of the bill of rights, including the incorporation of economic, social and cultural rights as envisaged in the failed referendum of 2018.

Algeria commended Zambia for accepting 183 recommendations, including those of Algeria concerning the granting of necessary means to the national commission on human rights and the protection of human rights and the environment in mining areas.

Angola was pleased that Zambia had accepted favourably recommendations made by States, particularly the one made by Angola on the improvement of healthcare centres and the reduction of mortality rates. Support was expressed to Zambia for continuing its cooperation with the United Nations bodies in fighting poverty, combatting trafficking against persons, and guaranteeing socio-economic conditions.

Burundi welcomed that Zambia had accepted recommendations after its active participation in the third Universal Periodic Review cycle, including on the establishment of a mechanism to combat corruption. Measures to combat trafficking and slavery were also welcomed, as well as the establishment of an inter-ministerial steering committee for raising the awareness of the public and for providing assistance to victims of trafficking.

China appreciated Zambia’s constructive participation in the Universal Periodic Review and supported its efforts to achieve sustainable development and raise living standards to build a solid foundation for the enjoyment of human rights. Health care improvements, including prevention of HIV/AIDS, should continue.

Republic of the Congo noted with satisfaction the presentation of the final report of Zambia and its acceptance of the majority of the recommendations, as well as supplementary information provided. Materialization of such recommendations, in addition to existing efforts of the Government, would bring a consolidation of the rule of law.

Cuba commended Zambia for not only reviewing the recommendations it had noted, but going further and accepting 183 recommendations. Now it was time to implement these and Cuba knew that the country would do so without hesitation. It wished Zambia success in doing so, and recommended the adoption of the report.

Egypt recalled with appreciation the active work of Zambia in the promotion and protection of human rights, which had been crowned with an amended Constitution in 2016. Egypt was glad that the recommendations accepted included those that it had proposed on the advancement of women and improving the situation of persons with disabilities.

Ethiopia thanked Zambia for accepting the recommendations given by many delegations, including by the Ethiopian delegation on the continuation of intensifying Zambia’s effort in combatting human trafficking and to further continue boosting birth registration by existing nation-wide awareness campaigns among Zambian citizens.

Honduras commended Zambia for the transparency, cooperation and spirit with which it had worked on the Universal Periodic Review. It also commended the acceptance of Honduras’ recommendation on children and on the sexual and reproductive rights of women. It hoped Zambia would review its decision not to abolish the death penalty.

Kenya commended Zambia for accepting many recommendations, including three made by Kenya which called for the increase in funding of the health sector, implementing laws aimed at protecting the right to life of the unborn, and on education reforms to increase the quality of education.

Lesotho said whilst Zambia had made remarkable progress, it remained cognizant of the challenges which the country was grappling with in the field of human rights. It therefore echoed the call for continued support from development partners and the international community in general.

Libya thanked Zambia for its active participation in the Universal Periodic Review and welcomed the progress made in implementing the recommendations, particularly in the field of women’s rights.

Madagascar commended Zambia’s actions to guarantee the rule of law and human rights, especially measures to promote women’s rights. Madagascar encouraged Zambia to continue the same dynamic and to maintain the current efforts to protect human rights.

International Save the Children Alliance recommended that Zambia expedite the process of the enactment of the Children’s Act, and requested the Government to finalize and present the Child Code Bill in Parliament in order to harmonize various pieces of legislation. It also asked Zambia to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 12 years, and to combat child poverty.

Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, in a joint statement, noted that while Zambia had committed to curbing the high rates of maternal mortality, its acceptance of the recommendation to limit abortion was in contravention with its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Maputo Protocol.

Action Canada for Population and Development, in a joint statement, said that out of the 203 recommendations received, Zambia had noted significantly more recommendations than it had accepted. The social and legal criminalization of gender and sexuality posed a great threat to the lives and wellbeing of women and girls, sex workers and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.

Franciscans International said there were governance gaps that had to be filled in Zambia to counter negative socio-economic and environmental impacts of extractive industries. Zambia should adopt specific legislation on development-based displacement.

Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII was concerned about some practical obstacles that prevented the fulfilment of human rights. The Zambian Government was advised to strengthen nutrition education in schools, establish a national schools mapping mechanism for planning renovations and upgrading educational facilities, and carry out awareness-raising programmes for social and labour inclusion of children with disabilities.

Amnesty International welcomed assurances by Zambia that it upheld the principles of the Universal Periodic Review. It was extremely disappointed that Zambia had rejected 111 recommendations, including guaranteeing freedom of assembly, association and expression and abolition of the death penalty. The authorities continued to stifle freedom of the press, targeting journalists and human rights defenders.

CIVICUS-World Alliance for Citizen Participation said since the last review, Zambia had not implemented three of the four recommendations related to civic space. Restrictions to civic space had not been repealed. In September 2017, several persons had been arrested following a peaceful protest in front of Parliament in protest of government spending.

Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme commended the enactment of the persons with disabilities act, the gender equity and equality act, and the anti-corruption mechanisms, as well as the ratification of international agreements. Several challenges remained, including the retention of the death penalty.

MARGARET MARY LUNGU KAEMBA, Deputy Permanent Representative of Zambia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked the participants for the constructive dialogue. She noted that certain issues required urgent attention. These included the rights of children, the rights of women, the abolition of the death penalty, and an expanded bill of rights related to abortion, among other issues. She expressed her gratitude to the Troika for their support. Zambia remained committed to the review process and would continue to implement human rights.

The Vice President of the Human Rights Council informed that out of 203 recommendations received, Zambia accepted 183, partially accepted one recommendation, and noted 19.

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