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EU ANNUAL REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY IN TUVALU, 2019

23/06/2020 - 06:09
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1. Overview of the human rights and democracy situation: There have been no reports of systematic violation of human rights in Tuvalu in 2019. Phenomena such as violence against women  are  often  accepted  as  social  norms  and  practices  and  are  deeply  rooted  in  the  patriarchal power imbalance. They often remain unreported due to the ‘culture of silence’. Tuvalu  has  a  normative  framework  in  place  to  address  violence  against  women  and  a  Domestic  Violence  Unit  has  been  established  within  the  police.  However, women’s rights  and   gender   equality   require   further   improvement,   including,   inter   alia,   employment   discrimination, land inheritance aspects or local governance arrangements. Legislation does not prohibit  discrimination  based  on  gender  or  sexual  orientation.  Consensual  same-sex relations  between  men  remain  criminalised  under  the  Penal  Code,  although  there  are  no  reports of law enforcement.

A Constitutional review, initiated to address the pertaining issues and conducted through a participatory approach, has been facing challenges and is still on-going. The review provides an   opportunity   to   strengthen   the   protection   and   enforcement   of   human   rights   and   fundamental freedoms to ensure alignment with international human rights standards. The government  has  been  reviewing  a  bill  on  child  protection  policy  and  a  policy  to  protect  people  with  disabilities.  Tuvalu held  its  four-yearly parliamentary  election  on  9  Septemb er 2019 with a large turnout. Political transition was peaceful and orderly. 

2.  EU  action  -  key  focus  areas:  Gender  based  and  domestic  violence  are  among  the  key  human rights’ concerns.

Tuvalu is one of the most environmentally fragile countries in the Pacific. An adverse impact of  climate  change  on  the  ecosystem,  sources  of  livelihoods,  infrastructure  and,  most  importantly,  the  population,  is  affecting  human  rights  such  as,  inter  alia,  the  rights  to  life,  development, food, health, housing, water and sanitation.

3. EU bilateral political engagement: On 26 April 2019, the EU and Tuvalu held their second high-level Enhanced Political Dialogue under Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement in Funafuti. The parties discussed, inter alia, preparation to the general election, progress in the area of human  rights,  accession  to  the  core  Human  Rights  Conventions  and  some  outstanding  human rights issues in Tuvalu, including domestic violence and empowerment of women, as well  as  the  impact  of  climate  change  challenges  on  human  rights.    Tuvalu's  Human  Rights  National Action Plan 2016-2020, first in the Pacific, was developed with EU co-funding. Areas for  political  engagement  have  been  further  discussed  in  the  bilateral  meetings  at  various  levels, including in the margins of the Pacific Islands Forum summit in Tuvalu in August 2019. 

The  EU  carried  out  demarches  and  outreach  activities  inviting  Tuvalu  to  support  human  rights initiatives and priorities at the UN level.

4.  EU  financial  engagement: Awareness-raising  and  support  to  civil  society  and  non-state actors were essential elements for the implementation of the regional roadmap for CSOs in the Pacific. One of the focal areas for EU assistance to Tuvalu is environmental protection, more   specifically   waste   management.   This   assistance   is   implemented   through   the   ‘Sustainable Waste Programme in Tuvalu’, in the form of sector budget support of EUR 5.9 million. A complimentary support provides EUR 300,000 for the engagement of civil society, to actively engage in the programme and promote its sustainability, and is currently under tendering  process  with  a  foreseen  start  in  mid-2020.  The  activities  aim  to  encourage  participation   and   involvement   from   civil   society,   especially   community-based   groups,   women  and  youth,  in  awareness  activities,  promotion  and  support  of  behavioural  change.  CSOs participation includes involvement in monitoring of the Integrated Waste Action Plan and  other  national  strategic  documents.  The  programme  addresses,  inter  alia,  limited  capacities  of  CSOs  and  weak  linkages  between  CSOs  and  the  government  in  development  cooperation.

Tuvalu  has  become  a  focus  country  under  the  regional  programme  ‘Pacific  Partnership  to  End Violence Against Women and Girls’, launched in November 2018 and bringing together governments,  CSO,  communities  and  other  partners  to  promote  gender  equality,  prevent  violence  against  women  and  girls  and  increase  access  to  quality  response  services  for  survivors. This regional programme is funded primarily by the EU with targeted support from the Australian Government and cost-sharing from UN Women. Tuvalu, in particular, benefits under the components focusing on enhancement of formal in-school and informal education on gender equality and prevention of violence against women and girls, and on empowering national  and  regional  CSOs  to  advocate,  monitor  and  report  on  regional  institutions  and  government commitments to enhance gender equality and prevent violence.   

5.   Multilateral   context:    Tuvalu  is  a  party  to  three  core  international  human  rights instruments:  the  Convention  on  the  Elimination  of  All  Forms  of  Discrimination  against  Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the  Rights  of  Persons  with  Disabilities  (CRPD).  The  recommendation  to  increase  efforts  to  ratify   fundamental   human   rights   treaties,   which   Tuvalu   has   accepted,   is   yet   to   be   implemented.

Recommendations from its third Universal Period Review (from May 2018) focus largely on increase  the  accession  to  the  core  human  rights  treaties,  introducing  into  legislation,  including  at  constitutional  level,  of  a  prohibition  against  discrimination  based  on  gender,  disability  and  sexual  orientation,  proceeding  with  establishment  of  the  national  human  rights institution, implementing policies aimed at mitigation of the effects of climate change, taking  into  consideration  a  focus  on  human  rights,  decriminalisation  of  homosexuality  and  full  implementation  of  the  national  Human  Rights  Action  Plan.  The  next  UPR  for  Tuvalu  is  scheduled for 2023.

There is limited potential for administrative capacity due to the low population (10,000), and this creates particular constraints with regard to the supplying of regular reports under UN instruments. Tuvalu’s report to the CEDAW Committee is due since March 2019.

Tuvalu has extended a standing invitation to the special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council  and  in  September  2019  received  the  visit  of  the  Special  Rapporteur  on  Cultural Rights. Tuvalu is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

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