(SKNIS): Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Kaye Bass, has articulated the position of St. Kitts and Nevis in Geneva, Switzerland, where she gave a report on the Universal Periodic Review for Consideration to the 46th Meeting of the 31st Regular Session of the Human Rights Council.
Ms. Bass said that out of 133 recommendations, St. Kitts and Nevis had accepted 58, whereas it had noted 75. The 75 that have been noted are due to the fact that they would require greater commitment of resources, prolonged assessments of the implications on the overall national agenda, and consultation with multi-stakeholders before the next cycle.
Ms. Bass emphasized to the Human Rights Council that although St. Kitts and Nevis was not always able to comply with internationally accepted practices due to fiscal and human resources, it remained willing to do so. She indicated that St. Kitts and Nevis recognized the importance of ratifying international human rights instruments but that it was unable on its own to comply and was in need of international technical assistance.
According to the permanent secretary, St. Kitts and Nevis has created a proper structure to follow up, monitor and implement recommendations with two senior representatives of St. Kitts and Nevis who participated in a Trainers Workshop jointly sponsored by the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Development Programme. Also, a multi-sector core group would be formulated and would be responsible for following up on recommendations, monitoring, implementation and research.
In outlining some of the progress made by St. Kitts and Nevis in human rights, Ms. Bass highlighted that “Saint Kitts and Nevis continued to make significant strides to ensure that both men and women were afforded equal rights in the areas of employment, education, and access to health and social services” but that “the legal framework should continue to be strengthened and more initiatives had to be implemented in the area of equal pay for equal work.”
With respect to children’s rights, she said the National Child Protection body was now operational and it provided guidance to the agencies and professionals involved in child abuse cases.
Other areas of progress in human rights mentioned by Ms. Bass include a health management information system operationalized at public health institutions that offers a more seamless and less time-consuming process at doctors’ offices and a soon to be implemented National Social Protection Bill, which the Government would soon table in the Parliament. She also said that the Government had made major progress in the provision of education services to its population, particularly primary and secondary education.
St. Kitts and Nevis received commendation for strides in human rights from several countries represented in Geneva including Malawi, Maldives, Pakistan, Paraguay, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Venezuela, Bahamas, Cuba, Gabon and the European Union of Public Relations.
Some of the praise to St. Kitts and Nevis were in the areas of improvement in the economy, ensuring higher standards of living, combatting poverty, promoting social plans and projects focusing on family well-being, efforts undertaken to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights and the rule of law, and reform and the creation of bodies for the promotion and protection of human rights. St. Kitts and Nevis was encouraged to continue its efforts and calls were made for international support to St. Kitts and Nevis.
Permanent Secretary Bass expressed appreciation to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other international agencies for having provided technical assistance to St. Kitts and Nevis in order to further improve its human rights situation.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honourable Mark Brantley said “I am delighted that the position of St. Kitts and Nevis on human rights has been articulated in Geneva. We continue to work to protect the basic rights and dignity of our people”.