MINELRES: OHCHR Minorities Newsletter - No. 21, September - November 2009

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sat Dec 19 15:44:02 2009


Original sender: Belen Rodriguez de Alba <brodriguezdealba@ohchr.org>


Dear all, 

I am pleased to share with you the N21 of the OHCHR  Minorities
Newsletter on activities and news related to minorities, 
which have taken place in the months of September, October and November
2009. 

Best regards,

Belen Rodriguez de Alba
Human Rights Officer
Indigenous and Minorities Unit
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights 
Avenue G. Motta 48, 1211 Geneva,  Switzerland.
Phone: + 41 22 928 9472
Fax. +41 22 928 9066 
E-mail: brodriguezdealba@ohchr.org

======================================

Minority Update N21 
September-October-November 2009

United Nations
OHCHR Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Unit  
mbuteau@ohchr.org
brodriguezdealba@ohchr.org
ialexander@ohchr.org


Table of contents
 New staff in the Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Unit
 Minority Fellowship Programme 2009 and 2010
 Regional Expert Consultation on Good Practices in Policing and
Minority Communities in Africa
 Independent Expert on Minority Issues
 2nd Session of the Forum on Minority Issues and related events
 Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
 Universal Periodic Review 
 Durban Follow-Up
 Treaty Bodies and country reviews
 New African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of IDPs


New staff in the Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Unit

On 28 September 2009, Ms. Belen Rodriguez de Alba joined the Minorities
team, having previously worked in the OHCHR Secretariat servicing Treaty
Bodies as well as for OHCHR country offices in Colombia and Guatemala.


Minority Fellowship Programmes 2009 and 2010

The 2009 Arabic-speaking fellowship took place from 26 October to 20
November 2009, coinciding with the 2nd session of the Forum on Minority
Issues (see below). 
The candidates who participated in the 2009 Arabic- speaking programme
were: 
 Ms. Haliz Abdulbaqi (Kurd from Iraq) 
 Ms. Farahnez Rezaei (Iranian Bahaii from Kuwait) 
 Mr. Oubeid Ould Imijine (Haratin from Mauretania) 
 Mr. Moustafa Mouammad (Kurd from Syria) 
 Mr. Mohamed Badarne (Palestinian from Israel) 

The 2010 English-speaking fellowship will take place at the OHCHR office
in Geneva in April and May 2010. The selection process is at its final
stage and the names of successful candidates will be announced in this
newsletter and on the website below by the beginning of 2010. 

For more details see:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/minorities/fellowprog.htm.

Contact person: Belen Rodriguez de Alba: brodriguezdealba@ohchr.org.


Regional Expert Consultation on Good Practices in Policing and Minority
Communities in Africa

OHCHR organized a "Regional Expert Consultation on Good Practices in
Policing and Minority Communities in Africa" on 12-13 October 2009 in
Johannesburg, South Africa.  The event brought together senior police
officers and other experts on policing from Cameroun, Kenya, Mauritius,
Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda to identify ways to
build trust between the police and minorities and to ensure respect for
non-discrimination and other human rights in policing.

During the two days, one of the key questions discussed was how to
ensure representation and participation of minorities in policing.
Participants highlighted a number of good practices that could be
expanded.  Participants also discussed how to enhance accountability,
including through independent complaint mechanisms, as a means to
address human rights violations and to build confidence in policing
within minority communities. They also examined how to monitor the
process of institutional change, including through data collection,
clear targets and time-tables.   

The consultation, organized in co-operation with the Government of
South-Africa, will be followed by similar events in other regions of the
world. They will all contribute to a compilation of good practices, to
be used as a tool to address minority concerns in policing.  

Contact person for more information: Michele Buteau:  mbuteau@ohchr.org.


Independent Expert on minority issues

>From 13 to 23 October 2009, the Independent Expert on minority issues,
Ms. Gay McDougall, conducted an official visit to Canada, visiting
Ontario, British Colombia and Quebec.  The Independent Expert was
pleased to see a richly diverse society including citizens with over 200
ethnic backgrounds, numerous languages, religions and cultural
practices. Persons belonging to minorities generally described Canada as
a society open to and accepting of cultural, religious and linguistic
differences, where they can express their identities, speak their
languages and practice their faiths freely and without hindrance.

However, representatives of African and Caribbean Canadians, Asian
Canadians and Arab and Muslim communities (officially identified as
visible-minorities in Canada) identified a number of issues facing
minorities and people of colour that require further attention and
action by the Government. These include poverty, issues relating to
equality in education such as not taking into account their different
cultures of learning, curriculum and textbooks that do not reflect the
history or contributions of minorities and high drop-out rates for Black
and some other minority children.  She also noted that income levels
generally are significantly lower, unemployment rates are higher and
minorities are disproportionately living in the poorest neighborhoods
and in social housing with relatively poor access to services. Poor
minority representation was also noted at the federal, provincial and
municipal levels in political structures and institutions in Canada.

The Independent Expert will present a comprehensive report on her visit
to Canada to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2010. The statement of
preliminary findings during this visit can be found at:

http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/minorities/expert/docs/Canada_Statement_231
009.doc

The Independent Expert is now preparing for her next official country
visit -- to Colombia - which is scheduled to take place in early 2010.

Contact person for more information: Graham Fox: gfox@ohchr.org or
minorityissues@ohchr.org


Forum on Minority Issues

The second Forum on Minority Issues took place on 12 and 13 November
2009 at the United Nations, Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The thematic focus of this year's Forum was "Minorities and effective
political participation". A background document on "Minorities and
Effective Political Participation" and a set of draft action-oriented
recommendations were made available to all Forum participants, and
constituted the basis for discussions during the two-days. The Forum was
extremely well attended with over 500 people accredited. Minority
political actors from all regions attended and provided statements based
upon their own extensive experience and work to promote the political
participation of minorities. 

Representatives of more than 100 NGOs working on minority issues also
participated. The Forum was attended by UN Member States from all
regions, representatives of UN Treaty Bodies and UN Specialized
Agencies, participants from regional bodies and mechanisms and
academics. Participants from all categories made substantive
contributions to the discussions and recommendations.

The Forum seeks to provide concrete and tangible outcomes in the form of
thematic recommendations of practical value to all stakeholders. These
recommendations will be included in the report by the Independent Expert
on the second session of the Forum, which will be presented to the Human
Rights Council at its thirteenth regular session in March 2010. 

OHCHR also made available for participants a document which provides an
overview of the work that the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights and United Nations human rights bodies
have carried out on the theme of minorities and the right to effective
participation. 

The Forum was preceded by two workshops. A preparatory workshop was
organized by OHCHR jointly with Minority Rights Group on 11 November for
representatives of NGOs and minorities accredited to the 2nd session of
the UN Forum on Minority Issues. 

Another workshop was organized by OHCHR for invited minority political
actors (elected officials as well as NGO representatives) on 11 November
2009, with the objective of discussing prior to the main Forum their own
priorities and strategies for increasing minority political
participation in countries around the world.

A side event on "Minority Women and Effective Political Participation"
was organized by Minority Rights Group International (MRG) in
collaboration with Gay MacDougall, UN Independent Expert on Minority
Issues (IEMI) on 12 November to coincide with the second session of the
United Nations Forum on Minority Issues. 

A panel of speakers outlined some of the main obstacles to minority
women's political participation in three regions of the world.
Discussions focused on how these obstacles to effective political
participation of minority women can be overcome and how minority women,
their communities, NGOs, Governments and the UN can collaborate to
ensure that the right of minority women to effective political
participation is realized.

An OHCHR side event took place on 13 November on "The Minorities
Declaration: Challenges and opportunities". Six panelists from various
regions examined to what extent regional organizations, civil society
actors and other stakeholders have bee using the UN Declaration on the
Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and
Linguistic Minorities by key actors, including regional organizations
and civil society. The activity was aimed at providing an opportunity
for experts, minorities, NGOs and others concerned to examine and
encourage the use of the Declaration, in light of its unique status as a
key international document providing explicit guidance for the
implementation of minority rights. 

More information about the second session of the Forum can be found at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/minority/forum.htm.

Contact Email for more information: minorityforum@ohchr.org


Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief

On 30th November, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or
belief, Ms. Asma Jahangir, issued a press release regretting the outcome
of the vote on the initiative to prohibit the construction of minarets
in Switzerland. She expressed deep concern at the negative consequences
that the outcome of the vote will have on the freedom of religion or
belief of members of Muslim community in Switzerland. 

On the same topic, The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said she
regretted Switzerland's ban on building minarets, which will be enacted
as a result of 29 November's referendum on the subject, adding that such
ban is "discriminatory, deeply divisive and thoroughly unfortunate step
for Switzerland to take and risks putting the country on a collision
course with its international human rights obligations.

The Special Rapporteur conducted an official visit to the Lao People's
Democratic Republic, from 23 to 30 November 2009. 

The Special Rapporteur very much welcomed the fact that the Lao People's
Democratic Republic has recently ratified the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits religious discrimination and
unreasonable restrictions on the movements of individuals, including in
the exercise of religious freedom. 

Ms. Jahangir remained concerned regarding the isolation of religious
minorities, who seem to have little or no access to higher education.
She also referred to a "glass ceiling in terms of their promotion in
public service and their effective participation in decision making."
The Special Rapporteur emphasized that members of religious minorities
must not be marginalized and she expressed the hope that the growing
awareness within the Government of respecting religious diversity will
be sustained and fostered. "The test of freedom of religion or belief
lies with the level of tolerance extended to religious minorities," she
added.

Ms. Jahangir will present her mission report with a detailed analysis
and recommendations at the March 2010 session of the United Nations
Human Rights Council.

Contact person for more information: Michael Weiner: mwiener@ohchr.org.


Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

In 2006 the General Assembly (GA) decided that the Human Rights Council
(HRC) shall "undertake a universal periodic review, based on objective
and reliable information, of the fulfillment by each State of its human
rights obligations and commitments" (GA resolution 60/251). 
At the HRC's 12th regular session (14 September to 2 October 2009), the
HRC held on 25 September a general debate on the UPR. It was noted,
inter alia, that the reviews of 80 States had enjoyed 100 per cent
participation of States and resulted in a number of commitments,
including ratifications of international human rights conventions,
strengthening of national human rights institutions and human
rights-related projects on the ground. It was also stated that civil
society and national human rights institutions played a key role, and
all States were encouraged to engage in broad consultation processes at
the national level with all relevant stakeholders in accordance with the
agreed modalities. 
At the 6th session of the UPR Working Group (WG), which is taking place
from 30 November-11 December 2009 in Geneva, the following 16 countries
are reviewed: Albania, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Costa Rica,
Cote d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic
Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea,
Eritrea, Ethiopia, Norway and Portugal. The outcomes of the UPR
regarding these countries will be adopted at the HRC's 13th regular
session in March 2010.  

As usual, all available UPR documentation is accessible at: 
www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/documentation.aspx. 

All UPR meetings are webcasted live and archived at
www.un.org/webcast/unhrc.

NGOs are invited to contribute with information for consideration and
possible inclusion by OHCHR in a summary of stakeholders' input for
future UPR WG sessions. Please note that the page limit for submissions
is 5 pages when submitted by individual stakeholders, and 10 pages when
submitted by large coalitions of stakeholders. More detailed reports may
be attached for reference only. This information will be made available
on-line for others to access. A note of information and guidelines for
relevant stakeholders on the UPR is available at
www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBODIES/UPR/Documents/TechnicalGuideEN.pdf.
Submissions should be sent to OHCHR at the following email address:
UPRsubmissions@ohchr.org. 

The 7th and 8th sessions of the UPR WG will be held from 8-19 February
2010 and 3-14 May 2010.  The deadlines for the submission of
stakeholders' input for these sessions have passed. The pre-session
documentation for the 7th session has been released and is available at
the above OHCHR weblink. 

The 9th session of the UPR WG is scheduled to take place from 22
November - 3 December 2010. Submissions from stakeholders are invited by
the following deadlines:
 12 April 2010 for submissions on Lebanon, Liberia, Libyan Arab
Jamahiriya, Malawi, Maldives, Marshal Islands, Mauritania, Micronesia; 
 19 April 2010 for submissions on Andorra, Bulgaria, Croatia, Honduras,
Jamaica, Mongolia, Panama, United States of America.

For these and future deadlines ahead see
www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/NewDeadlines.aspx. 

Contact for further details: 
OHCHR Civil Society Unit
Tel: + 41 22 917 96 56
Fax: + 41 22 917 90 11
Email: civilsocietyunit@ohchr.org.


The Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of
the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (IGWG) held its seventh
session from 5-16 October 2009 at Palais des Nations in Geneva. The
Ambassador of Djibouti H.E. Mohamed Siad Douale was elected
Chairman-Rapporteur by acclamation.

The Working Group discussed extensively issues related to organizational
matters. Furthermore, invited experts made presentations on issues
pertaining to migration, protection of children and employment. 

E-mail contact for further information:
adusecretariat@ohchr.org


Treaty Bodies and country reviews

Committee on the Rights of the Child

On 8 and 9 October, OHCHR, the Committee of the Rights of the Child
(CRC) and other partners organized a two-day commemoration to mark the
20th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the
Child.  The event brought together more than 500 participants from
States parties, United Nations bodies and other intergovernmental
organizations, national human rights institutions,  international and
national non-governmental organizations, children's and youth groups,
academics  and all others interested in the CRC. 

Six working groups discussed a set of recommendations that will guide
policy makers and other stakeholders in implementing the CRC. These
recommendations will be reviewed and formally adopted by the CRC at its
next session, in January 2010. In the mean time, the draft outcome and
recommendations can be used and replicated in events which will be
organized world-wide ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Convention on
20 November. 

Stakeholders in the field are invited to contribute with additional
input and suggestions, which can then be considered by the Committee in
their January deliberation and included in the publication dedicated to
the 20th anniversary. Inputs and suggestions can be sent to HRTB (CRC
secretariat) who will convey them to the Committee.

You can find all the relevant information on the event and the 20th
anniversary at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/20thAnnivCRC.htm
E mail contact for further information: CRC20Anniversary@ohchr.org

52nd Session - 14 September to 2 October 2009 - CRC

The Committee on the Rights of the Child held in Geneva its 52nd session
from 14 September to 2 October 2009 during which it considered State
reports of Philippines, Mozambique, Bolivia, Pakistan and Qatar. The
Committee also reviewed State party reports from Poland and Yemen under
the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the sale of children, child
prostitution and child pornography and State party reports from Poland
and Turkey under the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the involvement of
children in armed conflict.

In relation to the report submitted by Pakistan, the Committee was
concerned at the persistence of discriminatory societal attitudes and
discrimination against children belonging to a religious or other
minority group, children with disabilities, children living in poverty
and children living in rural and remote areas.

The Committee recommended that the State party take all appropriate
measures, such as comprehensive public education programmes, to combat
and prevent discrimination and negative societal attitudes and mobilize
political, religious and community leaders to support efforts to
eradicate traditional practices and attitudes which discriminate against
children belonging to religious or other minority groups, children with
disabilities, and children living in poverty and in rural and remote
areas. 
The Committee requested that specific information be included in the
next periodic report on the measures and programmes relevant to the
Convention undertaken by the State party to follow up on the Durban
Declaration and Programme of Action adopted at the 2001 World Conference
against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related
Intolerance and the 2009 Durban Review Conference, taking into account
the Committee's general comment No. 1 (2001) on the aims of education
(article 29 (1) of the Convention). 
In relation to the report submitted by Philippines, the Committee
reiterated its concern at the lack of disaggregated data by region,
gender and age and at the insufficient data on children in need of
special protection, in particular, children living in extreme poverty,
abused and neglected children, children in conflict with the law and
children belonging to minorities and indigenous groups. 

The Committee recommended that the State party further expand its
existing data collection system and ensure that the data is
disaggregated by region, gender and age and that it is updated and
includes information on children in need of special protection. 

The Committee welcomed the State party's various initiatives to promote
and strengthen knowledge about the Convention, including at the local
level, but it was concerned that its awareness-raising campaigns and
training activities are insufficient to reach all parts of the country,
including rural and remote areas, and to cover all persons working with
or for children. 

The Committee recommended that Philippines continue to strengthen its
awareness-raising campaigns and ensure that such campaigns reach the
rural and remote areas, including children belonging to indigenous
communities and minorities. 

The Committee, while acknowledging steps taken to address the precarious
situation of indigenous children, such as the inclusion for the first
time of indigenous people's concerns in the Medium-Term Philippine
Development Plan 2004-2010 (MTPDP), reiterated its concern at the
widespread poverty among minorities and indigenous peoples and the
limited enjoyment of their human rights, in particular, concerning their
access to social and health services and education. The Committee was
also concerned at the lack of information in the State party report and
during the dialogue with the delegation of the actual impact of the
application of the 1997 Indigenous People's Rights Act (IPRA) on
children. 

The Committee recommended that the Philippines take the necessary steps
to ensure that indigenous children and children belonging to minorities
fully enjoy all of their human rights equally and without
discrimination. In this respect, the Committee recommended that the
State party strengthen its efforts to implement the IPRA and develop and
implement policies and programmes in order to ensure equal access for
indigenous and minority children to culturally appropriate services,
including social and health services and education. The Committee
further recommended that the State party strengthen its mechanisms for
data collection on minority and indigenous children so as to identify
existing gaps and barriers to the enjoyment of their human rights and
with a view to developing legislation, policies and programmes to
address such gaps and barriers. Furthermore, the Committee recommended
that the State party raise awareness in communities and schools of the
multicultural nature of the Filipino society and the need for education
to be sensitive to traditions, languages and views by different ethnic
groups. 

More information can be found at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/crcs52.htm


Human Rights Committee

97th Session - 12 to 30 October 2009 - HRC

The Human Rights Committee held in Geneva its 97th session from 12 to 30
October 2009 during which it considered State reports of Switzerland,
Moldova, Croatia, Russian Federation and Ecuador.

The Committee expressed concern about the sharp rise in apparent
anti-Semitic incidents occurring in Switzerland. The Committee was also
concerned at reports that the police in Geneva have not fully
investigated the pattern of these incidents. The Committee recommended
that the Swiss state should effectively investigate any and all threats
of violence against minority religious communities, including the Jewish
community. 

The Committee further showed concern with the generally low rate of
minorities in the police force, despite the high percentage of
minorities in the population at large. The Committee called upon
Switzerland to increase efforts to ensure that minorities are adequately
represented in the police forces.

In relation to the report submitted by Moldova, he Committee expressed
its concern at the lack of significant progress in the implementation of
many of the Committee's previous recommendations, among those the one
relating to the discrimination faced by minorities such as the Roma. The
Committee recommended that the State party should strengthen its efforts
to implement the Committee's recommendations in this area.

It is observations on the State party report by the Russian Federation,
the Committee expressed its concern at reports of an increasing number
of hate crimes and racially motivated attacks against ethnic and
religious minorities as well as persistent manifestations of racism and
xenophobia in the State party, including reports of racial profiling and
harassment by law enforcement personnel targeting foreigners and members
of minority groups. The Committee was also concerned about the failure
on the part of the police and judicial authorities to investigate
prosecute and punish hate crimes and racially motivated attacks against
ethnic and religious minorities, often qualified merely as
"hooliganism", with charges and sentences that are not commensurate with
the gravity of the acts. 

The Committee recommended that the Russian Federation should make a
sustained effort to improve the application of laws punishing racially
motivated crimes and ensure adequate investigation and prosecution of
all cases of racial violence and incitement to racially motivated
violence. Adequate reparation, including compensation, should be
provided to the victims of hate crimes. The State party is also
encouraged to pursue public education campaigns to sensitize the
population on the criminal nature of such acts, and to promote a culture
of tolerance. Furthermore, the State party should intensify its
sensitization efforts among law enforcement officials, and ensure that
mechanisms to receive complaints of racially motivated police misconduct
are readily available and accessible. 

In relation to the report submitted by Ecuador, the Committee, while
noting that the specific rights of indigenous peoples are enshrined in
chapter IV of the current Constitution, the Committee remained concerned
that indigenous peoples and Afro-Ecuadorians continue in practice to be
the victims of racial discrimination. It is also concerned that Title
II, article 11.2 of the Constitution does not establish racial
non-discrimination as a principle for the exercise of rights.
 
The Committee recommended that Ecuador should take appropriate measures
to ensure the practical implementation of the Constitutional and legal
provisions that guarantee the principle of non-discrimination against
indigenous peoples and full compliance with articles 26 and 27 of the
Covenant.

More information can be found at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/hrcs97.htm


Committee against Torture

On 13th October 2009 the election of 5 members for the Committee against
Torture was held in Geneva. Ms. Saadia BELMIR, Mr. Alessio BRUNI,
Mr.Fernando MARINO MENENDEZ, Ms. Nora SVEAASS and Mr. Xuexian WANG are
the elected or re-elected members of the Committee against Torture for a
term of four years beginning 1 January 2010.

43rd Session - 2 to 20 November 2009 - CAT

The Committee against Torture held in Geneva its 43rd session from 2 to
20 November 2009 during which it considered State reports of Colombia,
Eslovaquia, El Salvador, Yemen, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Spain.

It is observations on the State party report by Moldova, the Committee
noted with concern reports of violence and hatred towards minorities,
especially Roma, and other vulnerable groups in the Republic of Moldova.
The Committee recalled in light of its General Comment No. 2 on the
implementation of article 2 that the special protection of minorities or
marginalized individuals or groups especially at risk is part of the
State party's obligation to prevent torture or ill-treatment. 

In this respect, the Committee recommended that Moldova should
incorporate in its Criminal Code an offence to punish hate crimes as
acts of intolerance and incitation to hatred and violence based on
sexual orientation. Moreover, the State party should continue to be
vigilant in ensuring that the relevant existing legal and administrative
measures are strictly observed and that training curricula and
administrative directives constantly communicate to staff the message
that incitation to hatred and violence will not be tolerated and will be
sanctioned accordingly;

The Committee also requested Moldova to provide detailed information and
statistics on the number and type of hate crimes as well as on the
administrative and judicial measures taken to investigate and prosecute
such crimes and the sentences imposed.

In relation to the report submitted by Slovakia, the Committee expressed
concern about reports of mistreatment of Roma by police officers during
arrest and while in custody.  It was also concerned about the high
percentage of Roma children in schools for children with mental
disabilities. It was further concerned about discrimination against the
Roma minority which has lead to violations of the rights protected under
this Convention. 

In light of its General Comment No. 2 on the implementation of article
2), the Committee recalled that the special protection of certain
minorities or marginalized individuals or groups especially at risk is
part of the State party's obligations under the Convention. In this
respect, the State party should strengthen its efforts to combat
ill-treatment of Roma detainees by ensuring the exercise of their legal
rights as from the outset of detention; and enforce the School Act No
245/2008 by ensuring that Roma children are admitted to mainstream
education, unless a proper assessment concludes that the child has a
mental disability and the child's legal guardian has requested placement
into such special schools. Further, in particular it should decouple the
term "socially disadvantaged" from the term "mental disability". 

More information can be found at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cat/cats43.htm
Committee on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights
43rd Session- 2 to 20 November 2009- CESCR
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights held its 43rd
session from 2 to 20 November 2009 during which it considered the
Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Poland, Madagascar and Republic of
Corea.

In relation to the report submitted by Poland the Committee continued to
be concerned, in spite of the appointment of a Plenipotentiary for Equal
Treatment in April 2008, at the de facto discrimination experienced by
some of the disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, such
as ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, and 'lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender persons', in the enjoyment of their economic,
social and cultural rights. The Committee was further concerned that the
draft Act "on implementation of some of the EU directives in the field
of equal treatment" does not provide comprehensive protection against
all forms of discrimination in all areas related to the Covenant rights.

The Committee strongly urged Poland to amend the provisions of the draft
Act on "on implementation of some of the EU directives in the field of
equal treatment" to conform with the Committee's General Comment No.20
on non-discrimination in economic, social and cultural rights. The
Committee further recommended that the State party ensure effective
enforcement of existing anti-discrimination legislation and strengthen
measures to combat de facto discrimination, including through campaigns
aimed at combating stereotypes, especially concerning disadvantaged and
marginalized individuals and groups. The Committee invited Poland to
include in its next periodic report information on the results of the
work undertaken by the Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment.

The Committee was further concerned that the distinction between
'National Minorities' and 'Ethnic Minorities' as provided for in the Act
on National and Ethnic Minorities and Regional Language, adopted by the
State party in 2005 is discriminatory towards some minorities and that
some minorities present in the territory of the State party are excluded
from the definition of these two groups, and therefore do not benefit
from the implementation of the Act. The Committee further regretted that
it has not received information on the implementation of the provision
of the Act allowing persons belonging to linguistic minorities to use
their own languages as 'auxiliary languages' in dealing with public
authorities. (art. 2.2, 15)

The Committee called on the State party to review the criteria used to
identify minorities so that all sizeable communities in the territory of
the State party are officially recognized under the Act. The Committee
requested the State party to include in its next periodic report
information on measures taken to implement the recommendation of the
Committee in this regard as well as detailed information on the
implementation of the Act itself. 

The Committee remained concerned that the Roma communities in the State
party continue to face widespread discriminations in area such as
employment, education, land tenure, access to welfare benefits, housing
and health care, which impair the enjoyment of their economic, social
and cultural rights. 

The Committee reiterated its recommendation to the State party to combat
discrimination against the Roma communities in areas such as employment,
education, land tenure, access to social welfare benefits, housing and
health care. The Committee also urged the State party to take all
effective measures for the advancement of Roma communities, including by
allocating sufficient funds for the realization of programmes in their
favour. The Committee also called on the State party to ensure that the
implementation of the various national social inclusion programmes take
account of the specific situation of Roma communities in the Poland.

More information can be found at
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/cescrs43.htm


Incoming sessions

11 to 29 January 2010 - CRC

The Committee on the Rights of the Child will hold its 53rd session from
11 to 29 January 2010 which it will consider State reports from Burkina
Faso, Cameroon, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mongolia, Norway, Paraguay and
Tajikistan. The Committee will also review State party reports from
Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Mongolia and Sierra Leone under the
Optional Protocol to the CRC on the sale of children, child prostitution
and child pornography and State party reports from Ecuador, Israel,
Liechtenstein, Mongolia and Sierra Leone under the Optional Protocol to
the CRC on the involvement of children in armed conflict. 

More information can be found at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/crcs53.htm

18 January to 5 February 2010 - CEDAW
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women will
hold its 45th session from 18 January to 5 February 2010, during which
it will consider State reports from Botswana, Egypt, Malawi,
Netherlands, Panama, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan. 
More information can be found at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws45.htm

15 February to 12 March 2010 - CERD
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will hold its
76th session from 15 February to 12 March 2010, during which it will
consider State reports from Argentina, Cambodia, Cameroon, Guatemala,
Island, Japan, Kazakhstan, Monaco, Netherlands, Panama and Slovak
Republic.

More information can be found at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/cerds76.htm

16 March to 3 April 2009 - HRC
The 98th session of the Human Rights Committee will take place from 8 to
26 March 2010. During the session the Committee will consider the State
Party reports of Mexico, Argentina, Uzbekistan and New Zealand.
More information can be found at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/hrcs98.htm


New AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of IDPs

On 23 October 2009, at an African Union (AU) Special Summit on Refugees,
Returnees and International Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Africa, 17
States signed the AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of
IDPs in Africa, known as the Kampala Convention. The Kampala Convention
will come into force 30 days after the deposit of instruments of
ratification or accession by 15 AU Member States. It has been heralded
as the first legal framework of its kind worldwide, and will "promote
and strengthen regional and national measures to prevent or mitigate,
prohibit and eliminate the root causes of internal displacement as well
as provide for durable solutions". It provides for the obligations and
responsibilities of States Parties as well as for the respective
obligations, responsibilities and roles of armed groups, non-state actor
and other relevant actors, including international humanitarian
organizations and the
AU.

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