French Southern Territories and the EU

EU ANNUAL REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY IN THE REPUBLIC OF KIRIBATI, 2019

23/06/2020 - 06:48
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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.

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