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Date: 11 Jun 2012
Title: SA's report to UN group welcomed
Johannesburg - South Africa's report to the United Nations Universal Peer Review Mechanism Working Group was warmly received by a number of member states, says Justice Deputy Minister Andries Nel.
South Africa presented its second report to the 13th Session of the United Nations Universal Peer Review Mechanism Working Group in Geneva on 31 May.
The Universal Periodic Report is a unique process which involves a review of human rights records of all 192 United Nations Member States on every four years.
On Monday, the Department of Justice and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation met with representatives from Chapter 9 Institutions to give feedback South Africa's presentation to the Working Group and discuss a way forward.
International Relations Deputy Minister Marius Fransman was also part of the meeting.
"South Africa's country report highlighted a consolidation of constitutional democracy, as well as progress made in the realisation of socio-economic and cultural rights such as housing, health and social development as well as civil and political rights enshrined in the Constitution," Nel said.
The report was warmly received by many member states, who commended South Africa for its commitment to human rights and improving the lives of its citizens, the delivery of basic services such as housing, health and education.
In addition, South Africa was also praised for its leading role in the UN Human Rights Council, especially with regards the rights of Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Intersex persons.
Delegations also noted positive achievements in areas such as:
* Efforts to provide universal health care and steps taken to improve school enrolment rates;
* The provision of ARV treatment for HIV/AIDS and the fight against HIV/AIDS in general;
* The setting up of a national agency on youth development;
* The promotion of regional human rights programmes;
* The promulgation of the law on National Languages;
* The setting up of the Ministry for Women, Children and People with Disabilities.
Nel said South Africa's report generated a number of recommendations relating to how to tackle racism and xenophobia, gender based violence, maternal and infant mortality, the ratification of international instruments as well as the Protection of State of Information.
Many states recommended that South Africa continue and intensify existing initiatives.
Among the number of recommendations were:
* stepping up efforts to prevent and combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, in particular against foreigners;
* enhancing the prevention, investigation and prosecution of crimes of violence against individuals on the ground of their sexual orientation or gender identity and to publicly denounce such crimes;
* ensuring that efforts to eliminate HIV and AIDS-related discrimination will continue;
* maintaining and build on HIV and AIDS prevention and cure and treatment programmes;
* taking measures to guarantee access to clean drinking water for all;
* ensuring that the new Protection of State Information Bill fully complied with international human rights law so as to ensure the freedom of the press; to engage civil society, activists, NGOs and media to seek common ground on the Bill.
With regards to Monday's meeting Nel said: "Government reiterated its support for Chapter 9 Institutions as instruments established with a view to support constitutional democracy and further commended them for their commitment to the promotion of human rights and improving the lives of all citizens and the delivery of basic services."
Government undertook to give attention to key issues such as updating progress on the 22 recommendations received during the first cycle of reporting, and also to report to internal monitoring mechanisms of government with a view to reporting on progress.
Policy structures within government will be expected to take further decisions on the implementation of all the acceptable recommendations.
"The same structures were also to decide on which of the recommendations generated by the UPR Process are acceptable to South Africa. An indication in this regard will be submitted to the 21st Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva during September 2012," Nel added.
Chapter 9 institutions are expected to study the recommendations. - BuaNews