GIS - 16 October, 2013: The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Dr Arvin Boolell, will be proceeding to the 17th Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)Working Group to be held in Geneva from 21 October to 1 November 2013, where the Universal Periodic Review Report on Mauritius will be reviewed. In that context, the Minister chaired a meeting yesterday in Port Louis with all stakeholders to finalise all preparations.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique cooperative mechanism which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 United Nations (UN) Member States. It aims at promoting and protecting human rights as well as improving the human rights situation in every country through technical assistance, capacity building and sharing of best practices. A first cycle was organised from 2008 to 2009 where all UN Member States have been reviewed. The second cycle officially started in May 2012 with the 13th session of the UPR Working Group and will see 42 States reviewed each year. Mauritius will be under review on 23 October 2013.
In a statement to the press, prior to the opening of the meeting with local stakeholders, Minister Boolell highlighted the importance of the UPR in ensuring that all Mauritians are able to exercise effectively their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. He said that collaborative efforts among all Ministries/Departments, National Human Rights Institutions, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and international partners are essential in improving human rights in Mauritius.
Recalling that Mauritius was reviewed for the first time in February 2009 at the 11th Session of the UPR Working Group where its report was adopted by the Human Rights Council, Dr Boolell pointed out that despite constraints, Government took the commitment to implement the recommendations made during that first review as well as on any developments in the field of human rights. The Minister stated that the actions and initiatives of Government for the promotion and protection of human rights in Mauritius are guided by the basic philosophy of “Putting People First”.
Among steps taken by Government, the Minister spoke of the development brought to the human rights framework namely the consolidation of the institutional and legislative framework to ensure adequate legal protection to all sections of the population, as well as adjustments to policies and programmes, where necessary, to secure greater realisation of economic, social and cultural rights. The Minister added that new pieces of legislation have also been enacted to better guarantee the protection of human rights.
Those legislations comprise, among others, the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act 2012 which restructures the National Human Rights Commission; the Police Complaints Act 2012 providing for the setting up of a Police Complaints Division to investigate complaints made against members of the Police Force; the Equal Opportunities Act (Recommendation 41) to ensure better protection against discrimination; and the Criminal Code (Amendment) Act 2012 which came into force on 15 October 2012 that allows termination of pregnancies in specified circumstances.
The UPR, which falls under the remit of the Human Rights Council is a State-driven process based on the principles of interactive dialogue, universality, impartiality, objectivity, non-selectivity and on equal treatment with respect to all countries when their human rights situations are assessed. It provides an opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their respective countries, to fulfil their human rights responsibilities and to overcome challenges related to human rights issues.
Reviews take place through an interactive discussion between the State under review and the UPR Working Group, which consists of the 47 members of the Human Rights Council. The documents on which the reviews are based are: information provided by the State under review, which can take the form of a “national report”; information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities; and information from other stakeholders including national human rights institutions and non-governmental organisations.
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