Human Rights Council Adopts Universal Periodic Review Outcomes of Oman, Austria, and Rwanda

OHCHR

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Oman, Austria, and Rwanda.

Speaking on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Oman were Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Nations Population Fund, and Venezuela.

The following civil society organizations also took the floor on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Oman: Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights Association, Centre for Global Nonkilling, CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Ingenieurs du Monde, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain Inc, Iraqi Development Organization, and Alsalam Foundation.

Speaking on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Austria were Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Algeria, Australia, Barbados, Belarus, Botswana, Burkina Faso, China, and Cuba.

The following civil society organizations also took the floor on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Austria: World Jewish Congress, International Lesbian and Gay Association, World Evangelical Alliance, Association Ma’onah for Human Rights and Immigration, and Amnesty International.

Speaking on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Rwanda were Namibia, Nepal, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Russian Federation, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, United Kingdom, United Nations Population Fund, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Belgium, and Botswana.

The following civil society organizations also took the floor on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Rwanda: East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme, Minority Rights Group, Article 19 – International Centre Against Censorship, Advocates for Human Rights, CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Elizka Relief Foundation, and Amnesty International.

The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here.  All meeting summaries can be found here.  Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s forty-seventh regular session can be found here

The Human Rights Council will next meet on Friday, 9 July at 9 a.m. to continue with the consideration of the Universal Periodic Review outcome documents of Georgia, Sao Tome and Principe, and Nauru.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Oman

Documentation

The Council has before it the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Oman (A/HRC/47/11) and an addendum (A/HRC/47/11/Add.1).

Presentation by Oman

HUMAID ALI SULTAN AL MAANI, Head of the International Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Oman, noted that the Sultanate of Oman supported 208 out of a total of 264 recommendations.  It also took note of 49 recommendations due to conflict with national legislation, while 7 recommendations were both supported and taken note of.  Accepted recommendations constituted more than 81 per cent of the total recommendations, which was an indication of the Sultanate’s positive interaction with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.  Oman’s accession to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was the culmination of the efforts it had made since the second Universal Periodic Review, which resulted in its accession to three other basic human rights conventions.  Oman was working to establish mechanisms to follow up on the agreements it had joined in 2020, and was working on preparing the required reports, both for the agreements which it had previously joined or which it had recently joined.

Discussion

Speakers commended Oman for accepting a high number of recommendations, and welcomed measures undertaken at the legislative and institutional levels to consolidate all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country.  Speakers noted the reforms underway that would strengthen efforts to uphold human rights.  They congratulated Oman on ratifying the Convention on the Prevention of Genocide.  Several speakers expressed deep concerns about freedom of expression in Oman.  Noting that Omani authorities often suspended social media accounts of activists, they said authorities also used the Penal Code, the Press and Publications Law, and the Telecommunications Act to stifle freedom of expression.  The Special Rapporteur on peaceful assembly had said that there was a “pervasive culture of silence and fear affecting anyone who wants to speak and work for reforms in Oman”, speakers recalled.  Since the outbreak, individuals had been harassed or arrested for merely publishing information about the sanitary situation.

The Vice President of the Council informed that out of 264 recommendations received, 208 enjoyed the support of Oman and 49 were noted.  Additional clarification had been provided on 7 recommendations. 

Concluding Remarks

HUMAID ALI SULTAN AL MAANI, Head of the International Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Oman, said the Government would examine recommendations and consider them positively as long as they led to the promotion of human rights, and were consistent with the principles and values ​​on which the Sultanate was based.  Any observations or comments on any matter related to human rights in the Sultanate should take into account the reality of the society in addition to the human and material resources that the State enjoyed.  A committee had been set up in the International Affairs Department to follow up on recommendations stemming from the Universal Periodic Review.

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

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Austria

Documentation

The Council has before it the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Austria (A/HRC/47/12) and an Addendum (A/HRC/47/12/Add.1).

Presentation by Austria

ELISABETH TICHY-FISSLBERGER, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations Office at Geneva, stated that Austria had accepted 213 recommendations immediately, while 70 were noted.  The decision was deferred on only 34, as extensive consultations were held with all relevant national authorities, after which another 23 had been accepted.  In total, 236 recommendations were supported.  Austria attached very high importance to the prevention of and protection against racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and related intolerance, and had been able to accept almost all recommendations in this area.  The prevention and protection of women from violence had been and – unfortunately – would have to remain a key priority and challenge.  Austria had significantly expanded support for national minorities since last year by doubling the annual financial contribution.  Reaching the Official Development Assistance level of 0.7 per cent of gross national income – as several States recommended – was admittedly a severe challenge for Austria.

Discussion

Speakers praised Austria’s openness during the Universal Periodic Review process and lauded its adoption of a National Action Plan against Discrimination and Racism as part of broader measures to tackle racism and xenophobia.  Some speakers expressed regret regarding Austria’s unwillingness to accept recommendations seeking to stem the significant increase in racism, hate speech, xenophobia, Islamophobia and racial violence against minorities, refugees and migrants, driven by the rise of extremist far right forces.  The country must end the systematic use of excessive force, torture and ill-treatment by the police.  Other speakers were pleased that Austria had agreed to improve the functioning of the Ombudsman in line with the Paris Principles.  Speakers noted that while Jews did not face any limitations in their ability to exercise their religion and traditions, anti-Semitism remained an issue.  Austria was urged to promptly implement measures protecting intersex children from non-consensual and unnecessary treatments, as well as protecting non-binary people’s right to freely access non-binary gender markers.

The Vice President of the Council informed that out of 317 recommendations received, 236 enjoyed the support of Austria, while 81 had been noted. 

Concluding Remarks

ELISABETH TICHY-FISSLBERGER, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations Office at Geneva, was particularly thankful for the interventions by civil society today, assuring them that Austria would closely consider their statements during the follow-up process.  She highlighted two important challenges to the protection of human rights that were not raised during the review: the new and emerging technologies and the risks they posed, as well as environmental degradation and climate change.

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

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Rwanda

Documentation

The Council has before it the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Rwanda (A/HRC/47/14) and an addendum (A/HRC/47/14/Add.1).

Presentation by Rwanda

MARIE CHANTAL RWAKAZINA, Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations Office at Geneva, underlined the invaluable role of civil society in the Universal Periodic Review process.  She noted Rwanda’s increased active, meaningful, open and honest engagement through the last five years.  This showed that all of Rwanda was working toward a common goal and shared values as a country.  Compared with the 2015 review where 21.83 per cent of received recommendations had been supported, there was an increase of 34.51 per cent in the acceptance rate.  A few recommendations which had been deferred during the review, after examination and reflection, did not enjoy the Government’s support and it would not consider them further.  The reasons were that those recommendations were either unrealistic, not reflecting the reality on the ground, repeating unfounded allegations, or were irrelevant or based on wrong information.  This said, however, the Government of Rwanda wished to reiterate its commitment to an open and constructive engagement with any interested party acting in good faith to discuss any issues that would contribute to the further advancement of human rights in the country. 

Discussion

Speakers, welcoming the constructive engagement of Rwanda, underscored that the Government had enacted comprehensive policies to address hunger and judicial reforms.  The laws on trafficking and violence were also cited as positive steps.  Speakers regretted that recommendations regarding the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation had not been supported.  Having documented concerning levels of harassment and intimidation against journalists, media workers and human rights defenders, speakers regretted that Rwanda had taken an ambiguous approach by both accepting and noting various recommendations on their safety.  Consensual same-sex relationships must be decriminalised, speakers said.  Rwanda should ratify the Convention on Enforced Disappearances.  It was concerning that since the last Universal Periodic Review, Rwanda had failed to implement recommendations it had received regarding torture, arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearances, and freedom of expression. 

The Vice President of the Council informed that out of 284 recommendations received, 160 enjoyed the support of Rwanda, and 124 were noted.

Concluding Remarks

MARIE CHANTAL RWAKAZINA, Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Rwanda had listened attentively to the valuable contributions made.  The high number of recommendations accepted reflected the Government’s clear commitment to the advancement of human rights.  Rwanda would continue to enact reforms to ensure Rwandans enjoyed the best legislation possible.

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

Link: https://www.ungeneva.org/en/news-media/meeting-summary/2021/07/afternoon-human-rights-council-adopts-universal-periodic-review

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