By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Bahamas’ human rights record is going to be examined by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) this week.
The Bahamas is one of 14 countries that will be reviewed during UNHRC’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group session, held tomorrow in Geneva. This will mark the third time in ten years the country will be examined by this organisation.
According to a UPR press release: “The Bahamas’s first and second UPR reviews took place in December 2008 and January 2013, respectively.
“The documents on which the reviews are based are: 1) national report - information provided by the state under review; 2) information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the special procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities; 3) information provided by other stakeholders including national human rights institutions, regional organisations and civil society groups.
“The UPR is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN member states. Since its first meeting was held in April 2008, all 193 UN member states have been reviewed twice within the first and second UPR cycles. During the third UPR cycle, states are again expected to spell out steps they have taken to implement recommendations posed during their previous reviews which they committed to follow-up on, as well as to highlight recent human rights developments in the country.”
Attorney General Carl Bethel will lead the Bahamian delegation.
According to the UNHRC website, other countries which will be reviewed during this time include Barbados, Botswana, France, Israel, Liechtenstein and Romania.
According to the website: “Representatives of the 14 countries are scheduled to come before the Working Group, which comprises the entire membership of the 47-member Human Rights Council, to present efforts they have made in fulfilling their human rights obligations and commitments, in particular since their last UPR review, assessing both positive developments and identifying challenges.
“During the session, an interactive dialogue between the country under review and the Working Group takes place. Each country review lasts three and one-half hours and an additional half hour for each country will be devoted to the adoption of the recommendations put forward by their peers. The review for each state is facilitated by groups of three council members from different regional groups, or troikas, who act as rapporteurs.”
The three country representatives who will serve as “rapporteurs” for the Bahamas’ review are Senegal, Qatar, and Chile.
The Bahamas’ relationship with international organisations and human rights violations has been the subject of heated debate over the last few weeks. In December 2017, a visit by the UN special rapporteur on violence against women, Dubravka Šimonović, reignited the issue of marital rape in the country.
Days later Marion Bethel, UN expert, attorney, and UN Committee on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (CEDAW) representative also voiced her opinion on the matter. She said the Bahamas has signed on to several human rights treaties and has an obligation to comply with international obligations. She said in October 2018, she will have to make a national report on the status of women before CEDAW and now “I have to go and say once again, that we have not done anything.”