Foreign Minister defends Guyana’s human rights record at UN review

CarolynRodrigues-Birkett-1Georgetown, Guyana (GINA) — The members of the Guyana delegation slated to attend the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) comprising presidential adviser Gail Teixeira, Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and legal adviser Damone Younge, in Geneva, Switzerland, were unable to do so, with the exception of Rodrigues-Birkett, due to blizzard conditions in the northeast US.

According to Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon, only the foreign minister managed to make the trip to Switzerland for the event which entails an examination of Guyana, and other nations’ report of the set of rights, treaties and conventions that have been signed on to or subscribed.

The report, Luncheon said addresses not only compliance, but also recommendations that had arisen in its previous report when Guyana last presented it case in 2010.

The cabinet secretary explained that Guyana’s foreign minister presented the country’s report on Wednesday.

“That engagement allows members of the international community, nation states, participating parties, NGOs – international and local – to indeed join in the review of the government’s reports, which spans a period from our last review, to I believe October or November of 2014. That outcome is actually broadcast live. Transcripts are formally available within 48 hours,” Luncheon said.

He explained that, once the report is acceptable to all, it is then submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Guyana will meet the Council in June of this year to confirm mutual satisfaction and Guyana’s official report to the UPR would then be available publicly.

Having obtained some reports on the proceedings, Luncheon said that some issues raised by countries, which accused the government of certain alleged violations, were addressed by Guyana’s foreign minister.

“Essentially when established as having occurred, the law takes its course. When established as not having occurred, the security forces, the officers essentially would go ‘scot-free’,” he said.

The UPR is a mechanism of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC) that emerged from the 2005 UN reform process. Commonly referred to as the UN-UPR, it was established by General Assembly resolution 60/251 of 3 April 2006, the UN-UPR periodically examines the human rights performance of all 193 UN member states.

It is intended to complement, not duplicate, the work of other human rights mechanisms, including the UN human rights treaty bodies. This is the first international human rights mechanism to address all countries and all human rights. The Working Group on the UPR, which is composed of the HRC’s 47 member states and chaired by the HRC president, conducts country reviews.

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