MINELRES: OHCHR Update on Minority Issues (May-June 2009)

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sun Jul 19 18:55:41 2009


Original sender: Oyuna Umuralieva <OUmuralieva@ohchr.org>


Dear representatives of minority NGOs and colleagues, 

Please find attached the Minority Issues newsletter covering period of
May to June 2009. Should you have any questions please do not hesitate
to contact me. 


Best regards,
Oyuna Umuralieva

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights 
Avenue G. Motta, 1211 Geneva 10,  Switzerland 
Phone: + 41 22 928 9647 
Fax. +41 22 928 9050 

----------------------------------------

Minority Update 
N19 - May - June 2009

United Nations
OHCHR Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Unit  

mbuteau@ohchr.org
ialexander@ohchr.org
oumuralieva@ohchr.org


Table of contents
 Minority Fellowship Programmes 2009 and 2010
 Independent Expert on Minority Issues
 Forum on Minority Issue
 Universal Periodic Review 
 Treaty Bodies and country reviews


Minority Fellowship Programmes 2009 and 2010

The 2009 Arabic-speaking fellowship is planned to take place from 26
October to 20 November 2009, to coincide with the next session of the
Forum on Minority Issues (see below). The deadline for the 2009
programme is July 15, 2009.

The 2009 English-speaking fellowship takes place at the OHCHR office in
Geneva from 1 April to 17 July 2009.
The candidates selected for the 2009 English- speaking programme are: 
 Ms. Angie Cruickshank Lambert (Afrodescendant, Costa Rica)
 Ms. Samah Hadid (Lebanese Muslim, Australia) 
 Mr. Sabir Michael (Christian, Pakistan)
 Mr. Oktam Gaziev (Uzbek, Kyrgyzstan)

As our fellowship is becoming more and more established, we are changing
our selection procedures in order to give a greater voice to minority
representatives in selecting the fellows. All applications for the
English-speaking 2010 fellowship will thus be pre-screened by the 2009
fellows who will shortlist 15 candidates. The final selection will be
made based on phone interviews and the decisions of an advisory board.
In order to facilitate the pre-selection by the 2009 fellows, the
application deadline for the 2010 fellowship was 3 July 2009 (for the
fellowship dates of approximately April-June 2010). The call for
applications and the application form are posted on our website:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/minorities/fellowprog.htm

Contact person: Oyuna Umuralieva oumuralieva@ohchr.org


Independent Expert on Minority Issues

The Independent Expert on minority issues, Ms. Gay McDougall, undertakes
a country visit to the Republic of Kazakhstan from 6 to 15 July 2009, at
the invitation of the Government. The Independent Expert will consult
with the senior Government officials, representatives of
non-governmental organizations, with community members, academics, and
others working in the field of minority issues, social inclusion, and to
promote equality and non-discrimination.

The visit offers an opportunity to consult on legislation, policy and
practice relating to minority communities and a wide variety of issues
relevant to diverse communities in Kazakhstan. The Independent Expert's
visit will include travel to Astana, Almaty and surrounding regions.

Following her visit, the Independent Expert will present a report
containing her findings and recommendations to the United Nations Human
Rights Council in March 2010. The reports of the Independent Expert are
available at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/minorities/expert/index.htm

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


Forum on Minority Issues

The first Forum on Minority Issues was held on 15 and 16 December 2008
with the thematic subject of Minorities and the Right to Education. The
recommendations of the first Forum on Minority Issues can be found at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/10session/A.HRC.10.11.Add.1.
pdf

On 3 of July 2009, a consultation was organized with different
international NGOs and UN agencies including Chairs of Human Rights
Treaty Bodies to discuss the set up of the 2nd session of the Forum that
will be focused on the subject of "Minorities and political
participation" to be held on 12 and 13 November 2009. 

Contact person for more information: Lydie Ventre lventre@ohchr.org   
   

Contemporary forms of slavery

A Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, its causes and
consequences was appointed by the Human Rights Council at its 6th
session.  Ms. Gulnara Shahinian took up her mandate on 1 May 2008 for a
period of three years.  As mandated by the Council, she will inter alia,
focus principally on aspects of contemporary forms of slavery, which are
not covered by existing mandates of the Human Rights Council; promote
the effective application of relevant international norms and standards
on slavery; and  recommend actions and measures applicable at the
national, regional and international levels to eliminate slavery
practices wherever they occur, including remedies which address the
causes and consequences of contemporary forms of slavery, such as
poverty, discrimination and conflict as well as the existence of demand
factors and relevant measures to strengthen international cooperation. 
In addition, Ms Shahinian will take into account the gender and age
dimensions of contemporary forms of slavery.   The Special Rapporteur is
aware that victims of slavery and slavery-like practices frequently
belong to minority groups, particular racial groups or categories of
people who are especially vulnerable to a wide range of discriminatory
acts, including women, children, indigenous people, people of 'low'
caste status and migrant workers.  

Ms Shahinian can be reached at srslavery@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). 

The Human Rights Council adopted during its 11th plenary session (2-19
June 2009) the outcomes of the UPR regarding the 16 countries reviewed
at the 4th UPR Working Group session in February 2009: Cameroon,
Djibouti, Mauritius, Nigeria, Senegal, Bangladesh, China, Jordan,
Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Mexico, Canada, Germany, Russian
Federation and Azerbaijan. At the HRC plenary session, the States under
Review, HRC Member States and Observers, and stakeholders including
national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations
made interventions. 

At the 5th session of the UPR Working Group which took place from 4 to
15 May 2009 in Geneva the following 16 countries were reviewed: Central
African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Yemen and
Afghanistan, Uruguay, Belize, Chile, Malta, Monaco, New Zealand,
Slovakia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The outcomes of
the UPR regarding these countries will be adopted at the 12th plenary
session of the Human Rights Council (September 2009).

NGOs are invited to contribute information for consideration and
possible inclusion by OHCHR in a summary of stakeholders' input for the
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. This information will be available on-line
for others to access. A note of information and guidelines for relevant
stakeholders on the UPR is available at:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBODIES/UPR/Documents/TechnicalGuideEN.pdf. 

Submissions should be sent to OHCHR at the following email address:
UPRsubmissions@ohchr.org. 

The deadlines for submissions of stakeholders input regarding countries
under review at the 7th session which will take place in February 2010
are:

 1 September 2009: Angola, Egypt, Madagascar, Gambia, Qatar, Fiji, Iran
and Iraq. 
 8 September 2009: Kazakhstan, Bolivia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Italy,
San Marino, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

The deadlines for submissions of stakeholders input regarding countries
under review at the 8th session, which will take place in May 2010, are:

 2 November 2009: Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Kiribati,
Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan and Lao PDR;
 9 November 2009: Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Spain, Sweden, Turkey,
Armenia and Belarus.

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

All available UPR documentation is posted at
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR. 

The reviews are webcasted live and the archives can be accessed at
www.un.org/webcast/unhrc.

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


Treaty Bodies and country reviews

27 April to 15 May 2009 - CAT
The Committee against Torture held its 42nd session from 27 April to 15
May 2009. During this session the Committee considered the following
State reports: Chad, Chile, Honduras, Israel, New Zealand, Nicaragua,
Philippines.

In its concluding observations to the report of New Zealand, the
Committee was concerned at the over-representation of Maoris at all
levels of the criminal justice process, as well as at the insufficient
safeguards in place to protect the rights of minorities from
discrimination and marginalization, which put them at a higher risk of
torture and ill-treatment. The Committee recalled that the protection of
certain minorities or marginalized individuals or populations especially
at risk of torture is a part of the obligation of the State party to
prevent torture and ill-treatment. In this regard, the State party
should take further measures including legal, administrative and
judicial measures, to reduce the over-representation of Maoris and
Pacific Islands people in prison, in particular women. The State party
should also provide adequate training to the judiciary and law
enforcement personnel that takes into account the obligation to protect
minorities, and integrates a gender perspective. Also, the State party
should undertake an in-depth research on the root causes of this
phenomenon in order to put in place adequate safeguards to ensure full
protection of minorities from discrimination and marginalization, which
put them at a higher risk of torture and ill-treatment. Further, the
Committee appreciated the various initiatives taken by the State party
to eliminate violence against women, yet it remained concerned about the
continued prevalence of violence against women, particularly Maori,
Pacific and minority women, and the low rates of prosecution and
convictions for crimes of violence against women. 

More Information can be found at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cat/cats42.htm 

4 May to 22 May 2009 - CESCR
The 42nd session of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights held its session from 4 May to 22 May 2009.  During the session,
the Committee considered the State reports of Australia, Brazil,
Cambodia, Cyprus, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
Ireland. Also at this session, the Committee adopted a General Comment
(No. 20) on Non-Discrimination in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
which aims to clarify the provisions of Article 2 (2) of the Covenant,
including the scope of State obligations, the prohibited grounds of
discrimination, and national implementation. The Comment discusses
direct and indirect discrimination; provides guidance with regard to
expressly prohibited grounds of discrimination; expands on the concept
of "other grounds" and provides examples of such cases; and spells out
State obligations with regard to a number of areas, including
elimination of systemic discrimination and monitoring, indicators and
benchmarks. The Comment stipulates that in order to eliminate
substantive discrimination, among others, special measures may include
interpretation services for linguistic minorities. It further provides
an example of indirect discrimination when requiring a birth
registration certificate for school enrolment may discriminate against
ethnic minorities or non-nationals who do not possess, or have been
denied, such certificates. The comment further provides clarifications
on formal and substantive discrimination across a wide range of Covenant
rights against indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities amongst others.
For more information see:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/docs/gc/E.C.12.GC.20.doc

Regarding the report submitted by Brazil, the Committee recommended that
the State party continues to strengthen its legal and institutional
mechanisms aimed at combating discrimination in the field of employment
and facilitating equal access to employment opportunities for women and
for persons belonging to racial, ethnic and national minorities. 

In its concluding observations on the report of Cyprus, the Committee
was deeply concerned that de facto discrimination persists against third
country migrants, Turkish Cypriots and members of national minorities,
especially Romas and Pontian Greeks. The Committee was also concerned
about the lack of anti-discrimination case law despite the measures
adopted by the State party to enhance its legal and institutional
mechanisms aimed at combating discrimination. Also, the Committee noted
with concern that Turkish Cypriots continue to face administrative and
linguistic obstacles to obtain official documents. Further, the
Committee urged the State party to take all appropriate measures to
increase opportunities for Turkish Cypriot children to receive teaching
in their mother tongue. The Committee also encouraged the State party to
strengthen its efforts to ensure that education in school meets the
needs of a diverse society and revise school curricula to include a
better understanding of the contribution of Cypriot's communities and
minorities to the State party's history.

Pertaining to the report submitted by United Kingdom of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland, the Committee continued to be concerned about the
de facto discrimination experienced by some of the most disadvantaged
and marginalized individuals and groups, such as ethnic minorities and
persons with disabilities, in the enjoyment of their economic, social
and cultural rights, especially in the fields of housing, employment,
and education, despite the measures adopted by the State party to
enhance its legal and institutional mechanisms aimed at combating
discrimination. Furthermore, the Committee was concerned about the
discriminatory impact of some counter-terrorism measures on the
enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights of certain groups in
the State party, in particular ethnic and religious minorities, despite
the State party's commitment to adopt policies aimed at promoting
integration, equal treatment and diversity. It recommended that the
State party ensures that its counter-terrorism measures do not have a
discriminatory effect on the enjoyment of the Covenant rights on certain
groups in the State party, in particular ethnic and religious
minorities. The Committee was concerned that the unemployment rate of
some groups, especially ethnic minorities, continues to be higher than
that of other workers, and that they continue to be employed in low-paid
jobs. The Committee recommended that the State party takes immediate and
appropriate measures to reduce unemployment among ethnic minorities and
to provide them with better employment opportunities. The Committee was
concerned that pension entitlements do not provide the most
disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, including women,
persons with disabilities and ethnic minorities, with an adequate
standard of living. The Committee was concerned that the increase of age
from 18 to 21 for foreign partners to join their British partners has a
discriminatory effect on some groups, in particular ethnic minorities
and women. The Committee continued to be concerned that poverty and fuel
poverty, especially among children, remain wide-spread in the State
party, despite the level of its economic development and the positive
steps it has taken. The Committee was also concerned that poverty levels
vary considerable between and within regions and cities as well as
between different groups of society, with higher poverty levels among
ethnic minorities, asylum-seekers and migrants, older persons, single
mothers, and persons with disabilities. The Committee was concerned that
significant disparities in terms of school performance and drop-out
rates continue to exist between pupils belonging to ethnic, religious or
national minorities, in particular Roma/Gypsies, Irish Travellers, and
other students, in spite of the efforts undertaken by the State party to
address the social and economic inequalities existing in the field of
education. It recommended that the State party adopts all appropriate
measures to reduce the achievement gap in terms of school performance
between British pupils and pupils belonging to ethnic, religious or
national minorities in the field of education, inter alia, by ensuring
the adequate provision of English-language courses for those students
who lack adequate language proficiency and avoiding the
over-representation of minority students in classes for children with
learning difficulties. The Committee further recommended that the State
party undertakes further studies on the correlation between school
failure and social environment, with a view to elaborating effective
strategies aimed at reducing the disproportionate drop-out rates
affecting minority pupils. The Committee recommended that the State
party, or the devolved administration in Northern Ireland, adopts an
Irish Language Act, with a view to preserving and promoting minority
languages and cultural heritage, and invites the State party to provide
detailed information on the progress made in its next periodic report. 

In its concluding observations to the report of Cambodia, the Committee
noted with appreciation the legislative and other measures adopted by
the State party to promote the enjoyment of economic, social and
cultural rights, including the 2006-2010 Strategic Plan of the Ministry
of Labour and Vocational Training, providing special services for
persons with special needs such as the youth, persons with disabilities
in particular among minority groups. The Committee noted that primary
education continues to be a problem for the various ethnic minorities in
the north and east of the country where there are 20 minority languages
spoken by these groups as their mother tongue while the formal education
curriculum has only used Khmer as the medium of instruction. It
recommended to the State party to extend the coverage of the Education
Law to ensure the right to education to all Cambodian children whose
first language is not Khmer.

More information can be found at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/cescrs42.htm 

25 May to 12 June 2009 - CRC 
The Committee on the Rights of the Child held its 51st session from 25
May to 12 June 2009 and considered the following State reports:
Bangladesh, France, Mauritania, Niger, Romania and Sweden.

In its concluding observations to the report of Bangladesh, while noting
the State party's commitment in its Constitution and "Vision 2021" to
create an equitable, just and non-discriminatory society, the Committee
was nevertheless concerned that the principle of non-discrimination
contained in article 2 of the Convention is not fully respected in
practice. Girls continue to face discrimination and disparities,
particularly with regard to healthcare, nutrition and early marriage, as
do particular groups of children, including refugee children, children
with disabilities, children in slums and rural areas and children of
ethnic and religious minorities. The Committee recommended that the
State party takes the necessary measures to ensure that efforts to
address persistent discrimination and reduce disparities are adequate
and effective in the family, schools and other settings, and in
particular among marginalized and excluded children, including girls,
children of ethnic minorities and refugee children.  It further
recommended adopting specific measures to ensure that minority and
indigenous children are not discriminated against in the enjoyment of
their right to access basic and specialized health services. The
Committee also recommended considering making multilingual education
available in remote areas for minority and indigenous children. 

Regarding the report submitted by France, the Committee reiterated its
recommendation to the State party to review its position with respect to
children belonging to minority groups and to consider withdrawing its
reservation to article 30, of the Convention, as well as both
declarations to articles 6 and 40, of the Convention. While welcoming
the inclusion in school curricula of activities to counter racism,
anti-Semitism and xenophobia, the Committee expressed concern at
persistent discrimination, in particular in the field of economic and
social rights, hampering social progress, justice and non
discrimination, especially with respect to children residing in the
Overseas Departments and Territories, asylum seeking and refugee
children, as well as children belonging to minority groups such as Roma,
travellers ("gens du voyage") and religious minorities. It urged the
State party to continue its efforts to eliminate regional disparities
and to take measures to prevent and combat the persistent discrimination
of foreign children and children belonging to minority groups, and
create a climate of social progress, justice and equality. The Committee
was concerned at the stigmatisation, including in the media and in
school, of certain groups of children, in particular vulnerable children
and children living in poverty, such as Roma and disabled children,
children belonging to minorities and children living in suburbs
(banlieues), which leads to a general climate of intolerance and
negative public attitudes towards these children, especially
adolescents, and may be often the underlying cause for further
infringements of their rights. The Committee reiterated its concern that
equality before the law may not be sufficient to ensure equal enjoyment
of rights of minority groups and indigenous peoples of Overseas
Departments and Territories, who may face de facto discrimination. It
further expressed concern over the lack of validation of cultural
knowledge transmitted to children belonging to minority groups, in
particular travellers and Roma children and the discrimination they face
in particular with regard to economic, social and cultural rights,
including right to adequate housing and standard of living, education
and health. The Committee recommended that the State party ensures that
minority groups and indigenous peoples of Overseas Departments and
Territories enjoy equal enjoyment of their rights and that children
receive the possibility to validate their cultural knowledge without
discrimination. It further urged the State party to take measures to
eliminate all discrimination of children belonging to minority groups,
in particular with regard to their economic and social rights. 
 
Pertaining to the report submitted by Mauritania, the Committee noted
the lack of information on children belonging to minority groups in the
State Party's report. It urged the State party to provide information on
the fulfilment of the rights of children belonging to minority groups in
its next periodic report. 

In its concluding observations to the report of Romania, the Committee,
while welcoming the State party's efforts to implement the concluding
observations on the previous State party's report, noted with regret
that some of the recommendations contained therein have not been fully
implemented, in particular, those related to discrimination against
children belonging to the Roma minority. The Committee was concerned
that while, persons can be identified as belonging to a minority group
only through self-reporting, abandoned or very young children who are
not able to identify themselves are often identified as Roma by social
workers and others, resulting in discriminatory practices, including
segregation. The Committee recommended that additional resources and
improved capacities are employed to meet the needs of children with
mental health problems throughout the country, with particular attention
to those at greater risk, including, inter alia, children belonging to
minority groups. Further, the Committee noted that article 118 of the
Law on Education recognizes the right of persons belonging to national
minorities to receive education in their mother tongue, and that the
State party has ensured in practice that education conducted completely
or partially in their mother tongue, or the study of their mother
tongue, is available to children belonging to a number of minorities,
including the Roma. However, the Committee noted that despite efforts to
improve the situation, there may be too few opportunities to use their
mother tongue and culture for all minorities with special attention to
the Roma. The Committee further noted with satisfaction that
opportunities have been created for the persons belonging to minorities
in law and in practice to interact with courts and local public
administration in their mother tongue, as well as to broadcast their own
TV and radio programmes, as well as to receive state funding for various
projects, inter alia, in the area of education, culture, and youth
programmes. The Committee recommended that the State Party ensures that
its policies, measures and instruments apply without discrimination and
aim to protect the rights of children belonging to all minorities,
including Roma, and their rights under the Convention. As regards
children of Roma minority, the Committee noted that schools and other
institutions do not take into account the cultural and other needs of
Roma children. The Committee noted that despite efforts, the Roma have
limited opportunities to raise awareness of issues affecting them
through the media, and that certain local authorities have resisted the
use of minority languages in interactions with local administration. The
Committee in particular recommended that the State party: a) develop
comprehensive policy frameworks for the delivery of sustainable services
to address the complex situation of Roma children and Roma families,
including language, education and culture; b) enhance models for
intra-community interventions and campaigns to address the issues of
early marriage and early pregnancy; c) strengthen its efforts to remove
discrimination and to continue developing and implementing - in close
collaboration with the Roma community itself - policies and programmes
aimed at ensuring equal access to culturally appropriate services,
including early childhood development and education; d) initiate
campaigns, including throughout the media at all levels and regions,
aimed at addressing the negative attitudes towards the Roma in society
at large, including among police and other professionals. 

Regarding the report submitted by Sweeden, the Committee reiterated its
previous concern that, despite the adoption of legislative guarantees,
including the new Anti-Discrimination Act, the principle of
non-discrimination is not fully respected in practice, and it is
particularly concerned about de facto discrimination against and
xenophobia and racist attitudes towards children of ethnic minorities,
refugee and asylum-seeking children and children belonging to migrant
families. 

More information can be found at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/crcs51.htm 

13 July to 31 July 2009 - HRC 
The Human Rights Committee will hold its 96th session from 13 July to 31
July 2009 and will consider the following State reports: Azerbaijan,
Chad, Netherlands, and United Republic of Tanzania.

More information can be found at: 
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/hrcs96.htm
 
20 July to 7 August 2009 - CEDAW
The 44th session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
against Women will take place from 20 July to 7 August 2009.  During the
session, the Committee will consider the state reports by Argentina,
Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Denmark, Guinea Bissau, Lao People's Democratic
Republic, Japan, Liberia, Spain, Switzerland, Timor Leste, and Tuvalu.

More information can be found at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws44.htm

3 August to 28 August 2009 - CERD
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is holding its
75th session from 3 August to 28 August 2009, considering the following
State reports: Chad, Poland, Colombia, Azerbaijan, Chile, China, Greece,
Monaco, Philippines, Ethiopia, Peru, Panama, and United Arab Emirates. 
It will consider the country situation in the absence of a State party
report for Maldives and Kuwait.  

More information can be found at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/cerds75.htm 

14 September to 2 October 2009 - CRC
The Committee on the Rights of the Child will hold its 52st session from
14 September to 2 October 2009 and will consider the following State
reports: Bolivia, Mozambique, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar; OPSC:
Poland, Yemen and OPAC: Poland, Turkey 

More information can be found at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/crcs51.htm 

12 October to 16 October 2009 - CMW
The Committee on Migrant Workers will hold its 11th session from 12 - 16
October 2009 and consider the States report of Sri Lanka. 

More information can be found at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cmw/cmws11.htm

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