Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 01, 2016 (SKNIS): On this week’s (March 30) edition of “Working for You”, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kaye Bass, spoke about her recent trip to Geneva, Switzerland, where she gave a report on the position of St. Kitts and Nevis on human rights.
The Universal Periodic Review (human rights report) was brought for consideration to the 46th Meeting of the 31st Regular Session of the Human Rights Council.
Ms. Bass said that many of the human rights issues stem from social and community development.
“Therefore, I was accompanied to Geneva by the Permanent Secretary in social services Janelle Lewis-Tafari and we were ably assisted by her assistant Azilla Clarke to write the report and also by the legal department,” said Ms. Bass. “The aspects of that report considered the vulnerable groups, the marginal groups, children, youth, women, the elderly and the disabled. So, we had to address all of those needs.”
Ms. Bass said that she made mention of the debt situation which hindered making some progress as “a lot of it required some resources, financial and otherwise.”
“So we were not able to fulfil all of the recommendations but we made it clear that St. Kitts and Nevis is willing to fulfil its obligations under international instruments,” she said. “Most of the recommendations that were noted, as opposed to being accepted, pertained to the death penalty.”
Continuing the discussion, it was said that St. Kitts and Nevis has the death penalty on its law books although studies have shown that it is not deterrent to crime. To remove it will require national consultation.
“However, based on our situation in St. Kitts and Nevis, we know the realities and how we have been plagued by the increase in homicides amongst our young people and it’s because of social problems,” said the Permanent Secretary. “What we try to do in presenting our report was to appeal to the international community to give assistance to help us to be able to address the social issues that may be engendering the rising and surging crime. We hope that the message was received and that we will be able to address the problems that lead to crime.”
Ms. Bass stated that the report pointed out the fact that no hangings occurred in St. Kitts for over seven years.
“We put the facts forward and it was now for the international community to examine our human rights,” she said.
The Universal Periodic Review is a mechanism within the Human Rights Council of the United Nations which came about in 2006. Previously only a few countries’ human rights were looked into. In 2006, a decision was made that all countries of the United Nations have to give a report or are accountable for their human rights.
St. Kitts and Nevis as a member of the United Nations is mandated to report on its human rights progress every 4 ½ years. It was done in 2010-2011. In 2015-2016, a report was again made to present the advances the countries have made with respect to those recommendations that were issued.
Ms. Bass reported that forty-seven countries were in attendance and “they made recommendations as to how we can improve on our human rights. They commended us as well on some of the efforts that we were making to promote and protect our human rights.”