1. Overview of the human rights and democracy situation: The overall human rights situation in the country continues to improve and there is no systematic abuse of human rights. Kiribati acceded on 22 July 2019 to the 'UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT)'. Gender-based violence continues to be a concern, as it is deeply rooted in behavioural norms. Human rights violations in Kiribati typically include violence against women such as spousal abuse, child abuse and sexual exploitation of children that remain serious challenges in spite of the national legislation condemning it. Violence against children and child malnutrition remain serious concerns. Kiribati's biggest challenge remains climate change. The country is at risk of becoming uninhabitable by the end of the century, which will lead to migration issues.
The accession of Kiribati to the 'UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT)' on 22 July 2019 reinforces the country’s commitment to the promotion of human rights. The accession follows the Kiribati Government’s commitment during its 2015 Universal Periodic Review to thoroughly examine UNCAT and its capacity to implement the Convention. Kiribati has become the 6th Pacific nation to accede to the UNCAT and the 167th State party internationally. Kiribati’s accession also sends an important signal to the Pacific region, which has strategic importance in accelerating ratification and active implementation of the UNCAT within the overarching aspiration to achieve its universal ratification.
2. EU action - key focus areas: The fight against climate change is the priority in EU-Kiribati cooperation. Kiribati is vulnerable to climate change as sea level rise threatens the country’s existence. The EU delegation in Fiji continued to actively promote climate change awareness. In the Pacific region, climate change and human rights are closely intertwined.
EU actions also focus on the eradication of domestic and gender-based violence, Kiribati being a focus country under the Pacific Partnership to End Violence against Women and Girls.
3. EU bilateral political engagement: During 2019, the EU delegation for the Pacific carried out demarches and outreach activities inviting the Pacific Islands States including Kiribati, to support EU human rights initiatives and priorities at the UN level.
4. EU financial engagement: The Regional Financing Agreement worth EUR 13 million to tackle the root causes of gender inequality and violence against women and girls in the Pacific, signed in the margins of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ meeting in Apia in September 2017, continued being implemented. Awareness-raising and support to civil society and non-state actors were essential element for the implementation of the regional roadmap for Civil Societies Organisations (CSOs) in the Pacific. To this purpose, the EU also worked closely with the government, regional organisations, civil society and other donors. In the National Indicative Programme designed under the 11th EDF, a specific financial allocation has been set aside for CSOs (EUR 1 million). The support to CSOs is implemented by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat for which the EU allocated for Kiribati EUR 0.3 million. CSOs are empowered to effectively monitor implementation of national gender equality policies, primary prevention actions plans and challenge social norms and behaviours.
The EU also funds the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) human rights-related initiatives
5. Multilateral context: Kiribati is a party to five of the core International Human Rights Treaties, and notably to: the 'Convention against Torture (CAT)', 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)'. Kiribati has also acceded to the two optional protocols of the CRC – on the involvement of children in armed conflict (CRC-OP-AC), and on the sale of children child prostitution and child pornography (CRC-OP-SC). Kiribati acceded on 22 July 2019 to the 'UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment’ (UNCAT).
Despite this, legal protection of human rights remains weak. This is primarily due to poor incorporation of human rights treaties into domestic law and a lack of domestic legislative provisions for human rights protection. Kiribati’s capacity to implement international human rights treaties is constrained by financial considerations, as well as by the reporting burden. Nevertheless, in February 2019, Kiribati finally submitted its reports to the CEDAW Committee, the CRC Committee, and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which were due since 2005, 2011 and 2015 respectively.
Kiribati is yet to accede to the 'International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR)', the 'Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED)', the 'International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)', the 'International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)', and the 'International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW)'.
Kiribati has not extended a Standing Invitation to the UN Special Procedures, nor acceded to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for Kiribati took place in January 2015 and its third UPR, as scheduled in January 2020.