Dutch advised to assist islands in human rights

POSTED: 06/1/12 12:31 PM

GENEVA – Participants at the Universal Periodic Review have advised the Dutch government to continue assisting Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten in the development of human rights institutions, laws and policies. This aid should be given based on a request from the country.

The recommendation is one of 19 that were given in response to the report on human rights developments that was presented by Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Liesbeth Spies. The minister highlighted developments in the Netherlands and a review of information posted on the website of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights shows that Aruba and Curacao have also highlighted the gains that they have made. No mention is made of St. Maarten on the website. The country is likely not included because a reporting mechanism was only established around March of this year.

“We have created such a platform to ensure that the different reporting that we need to make happens in a timely fashion and that information is collected from all of the sources,” Wescot-Williams said at the Council of Ministers press briefing on March 28.

The report Spies presented highlights the Dutch government’s establishment of a national human rights institution that will become active within a few months. The group’s core task will be monitoring respect for human rights in the Netherlands. The minister also highlighted the establishment of the Children’s Ombudsman in 2011. That agency presented its first monitoring report two weeks ago.

Spies also pointed out that the fall of the Dutch government may stall the full endorsement of respect for human rights such as “equality for every citizen, promoting integration, fighting domestic violence and combating human trafficking.”

“The Government was preparing for ratification of the (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) CRPD in 2012 and also planned to accede to the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing Violence against Women and Domestic Violence while an anti-discrimination action plan has been sent to the House of Representatives in 2010 and 2011; the Netherlands was also the first country in Europe to enact anti-discrimination legislation,” Spies told the 49 countries who witnessed her presentation.

The highlights for Aruba and Curacao include the adoption of a new criminal code, the criminalization of trafficking in persons, compulsory education, the modernization of juvenile criminal law and the role of women in parliament.

The observers and human rights council members (working group) lauded the Netherlands for having programmes and policies in place to advance Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights as well as playing a lead role in internet freedom. However the working group took issue with the recognition of the rights of immigrants and asylum seekers within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The areas of justice and detention drew many queries. The working group also questioned what measures were in place to eliminate violence against women and domestic violence. The state’s freedom of expression policies and legislations were also questioned.

The adoption of the report of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group on the Netherlands is scheduled to take place on Monday.

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