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United States Intervention for Timor Leste at the UPR Working Group

12th Session of the UPR Working Group

The United States welcomes the delegation of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste to the UPR Working Group.

We commend Timor Leste for its strong voice promoting human rights and democracy around the world and its further development of domestic institutions, including draft legislation on the creation of a Memory Institute and the award of compensation to victims of past human rights violations.

We are concerned by reduced staffing levels in the legal system. This year Timor-Leste’s justice sector had only 20 judges, 17 prosecutors, and 19 public defenders. These staffing levels limit the legal system’s efficiency.

Timor-Leste has made laudable progress in its efforts to professionalize its police and military forces. However, we are concerned that roles for security forces have not been clearly defined and training on how to protect human rights is insufficient.

Despite the creation of the Office of the Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality and the enactment of the Law against Domestic Violence, gender-based violence remains a critical concern. In addition, human trafficking remains a serious problem for vulnerable populations—including migrants, children, and workers. We note the government’s increased efforts to raise public awareness of human trafficking. However, investigations into reports of trafficking-related complicity by immigration officials and prosecutions of trafficking cases have both lagged.

Periodic tensions between Catholics and some Protestant denominations have raised concerns about the status of freedom of religion in Timor-Leste. Recent official statements reinforce those concerns, and the proposed law on NGOs may impede the work of these religious groups.

Bearing in mind these concerns, the United States makes the following concerns that Timor Leste:

1. enact the legislation creating the Memory Institute.

2. increase judicial staffing levels.

3. develop a national security policy that includes clear definitions of various security institutions’ roles and missions

4. train security forces to conduct their duties in conformity with the country’s human rights obligations and commitments.

5. enact legislation prohibiting sexual harassment. And finally

6. enact comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, and make robust efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders and those complicit in human trafficking.

 


United States Intervention for Zimbabwe at the UPR Working Group

12th Session of the UPR Working Group

The United States welcomes His Excellency Minister Chimasa and the Zimbabwe delegation to the UPR Working Group.

We commend Zimbabwe for creation of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission; however, we note with disappointment that it is not operational and is not set up to be an independent constitutional body able to effectively execute its mandate.

We are concerned by the increase of politically motivated violence; the failure of state institutions to hold security forces accountable for ongoing human rights violations against human rights defenders and perceived opponents of the ZANU-PF party; and other obstacles to citizens’ free and equal participation in the upcoming elections.

We are concerned by recurring attempts by officials to facilitate the arbitrary arrest and harassment of lawyers who represent human rights defenders, to use the law on civil and criminal defamation to control the mass media, and to infringe on individual rights to freedoms of expression and assembly.

We recognize there has been some progress by Zimbabwe to secure the Marange diamond producing area. We remain deeply concerned, however, about the failure of military forces to withdraw from the diamond fields, diamond-smuggling, corruption, diamond-related violence by state and non-state security agents, and the denial of access to civil society groups attempting to report on the diamond fields.

Bearing in mind these concerns, the United States would like to make the

following recommendations:

That Zimbabwe fully implement the GPA provisions supporting the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee.

That Zimbabwe repeal or significantly reform the Public Order and Security Act, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and criminal code provisions that restrict freedoms of assembly and expression.

That Zimbabwe invite the Special Rapporteur on Torture and other mandate holders to conduct independent and impartial investigations.

And finally, we recommend that Zimbabwe create stronger mechanisms to ensure greater revenue transparency from diamond mining, demilitarize the diamond industry, and thoroughly investigate cases of beatings and abuse by government and private security services in the Marange area.

 


United States Intervention for Venezuela at the UPR Working Group

12th Session of the UPR Working Group

The United States welcomes Foreign Minister Maduro and the Venezuelan delegation to the UPR Working Group. We view as positive the draft law to extend protections to all victims of human trafficking.

We remain concerned about specific actions taken by the Venezuelan government to limit freedom of expression and criminalize dissent, including using administrative pretexts to close media outlets and harassing media owners and members of the political opposition through judicial action. We note Venezuela’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to respect freedom of expression, as well as the protections in the Venezuelan constitution.

Additionally, we note the importance of an independent judiciary to representative government, and express our concern about increasing evidence that the Venezuelan judiciary lacks the independence necessary to fulfill its role in society. We further note the obligations contained in the Venezuelan constitution to respect judicial independence and permit judges to act according to the law and without fear of retaliation. In this context, we join others in the international community in urging for the release of Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni, whose arrest and continued imprisonment demonstrate inappropriate executive involvement in judicial functions and constitute a violation of her human rights.

Finally, we are concerned by continued anti-Semitism expressed in the official media.

In light of these concerns, we recommend that Venezuela:

1. Respect the independence of the judiciary.

2. Investigate allegations of executive branch interference in judicial decision-making.

3. Direct officials to cease anti-Semitic commentary and condemn any such statements.

4. Urge the National Assembly to adopt the draft legislation on trafficking in persons.

5. Intensify its efforts to provide protection to asylum seekers and refugees, including through the timely provision of documentation as to their legal status and rights.

6. Accept visit requests from the UN Special Rapporteurs and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

 
 

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