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CARIBBEAN NEWS NOW – The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for Saint Lucia was conducted on Thursday morning by the UN Human Rights Council’s UPR Working Group.
Saint Lucia was represented by two-member delegation headed by Menissa Rambally, Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia to the United Nations.
Some of the points raised in the opening statement by the Saint Lucia delegation were as follows:
- Saint Lucia’s second UPR comes at a critical period in the state’s history, amidst a process of constitutional reform and the incorporation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into the state’s national development plans;
- Since its first review in 2011, Saint Lucia has experienced a myriad of challenges that have impacted the government ability to maintains the delicate balance of meeting its international human rights obligations while responding to emerging crises;
- Three hours of rainfall on Christmas Eve in 2013 resulted in loss of life and property and damage estimated at US$99 million, the equivalent of 18.5% of the state’s annual budget;
- Saint Lucia has enacted domestic legislation – the Counter-Trafficking Act, 2010 – in advance of the accession of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, 2013;
- The formal process toward the ratification of the Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute has begun in Saint Lucia and the government anticipated ratifying them shortly;
- Since its independence (in 1979) the participation of women in key sectors in society has been significant; according to a January 2015 ILO report, 52.3% of managerial positions in Saint Lucia were held by women;
- In 2012, a National Action Child Protection Committee (NACPC) was established, with the goal of coordinating and reporting on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
- In terms of corporal punishment, the government introduced the Saint Lucia’s Child Friendly Schools Programme, which resulted in many education institutions embracing alternative methods of disciplining students as opposed to the use of corporal punishment;
- The government was currently in midst of considering whether further ordinary legislation addressing discrimination against persons due to their sexual orientation should be enacted, as suggested by the Constitutional Reform Commission;
- Amendments made to the Police Complaints Act in 2013 provided that the minister with responsibility launch an investigation into any alleged incidences of abuse of force by any member of the police against any member of the public; in September this year the government introduced “A Use of Force Policy” to ensure that proper practices were adhered to by the police force;
- The Constitutional Reform Committee recommended retaining capital punishment in law, and the question was currently being deliberated in parliament;
- The government has continued to address poverty reduction and sustainable development through the introduction and revamping of specific policies and programmes and has made progress in ensuring that adequate basic human rights including water, food and housing was its priority.
Positive achievements noted included, among others:
- The approval of the “Use of Force Policy” and the Police Complaints Act;
- Steps taken to reduce poverty and foster economic growth;
- Measures taken to ensure food security and to improve the water supply system;
- The creation of the National Action Child Protection Committee;
- The ratification of the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
- Steps taken towards achieving gender equality.
Issues and Questions
Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:
- Prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity;
- Combating sexual and domestic violence
- Child protection measures and systems in place;
- Addressing reported cases of extrajudicial killings by police;
- Steps to abolish the death penalty;
- Ratification of international human rights instruments.
States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Saint Lucia. These pertained to the following issues, among others:
- To adopt legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity; To repeal all legislation that may discriminate against LGBTI persons;
- To decriminalise same sex relations between consenting adults;
- To prosecute all perpetrators of sexual and domestic violence; to take additional steps to protect women and children from domestic violence;
- To amend the Criminal Code to include a provision on marital rape;
- To ensure the implementation of gender equality polices, including in the training and education sector;
- To adopt additional measures and programmes to prevent child labour; to review child protection systems;
- To provide the National Action Protection Committee with adequate resources;
- To fully align national legislation with the Rome Statute of the ICC;
- To take steps to abolish the death penalty by establishing a formal moratorium;
- To provide oversight to ensure investigation and prosecution as appropriate against police officers alleged to have been involved in extrajudicial killings;
- To set up a national human rights institution in compliance with the Paris Principles;
- Ratification of human rights instruments: the ICCPR, the ICESCR, the CAT and the OP-CAT, the Optional Protocol to the CRPD, the 2nd OP to the ICCPR, the Convention on enforced disappearances, and the Convention on the rights of migrant workers.
Adoption of report of Working Group
The adoption of the report – recommendations section – of the UPR Working Group on Saint Lucia is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, 10 November 2015.