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At the UN in Geneva, Slovakia Discusses with Member States Options for Strengthening the Protection and Enhancement of Human Rights in the Slovak Republic

At the UN in Geneva, Slovakia Discusses with Member States Options for Strengthening the Protection and Enhancement of Human Rights in the Slovak Republic

28.1.2019 | Aktivity štátnych tajomníkov | Ľudské práva

On Monday (28 January 2019), the Slovak delegation led by the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, František Ružička, took part in the third, general, periodical UN evaluation of Slovakia’s compliance with human rights. Representatives of several central state administration authorities and institutions constituted the delegation, including the Ministry of Culture of the SR, the Slovak Ministry of Justice of the SR, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sports, the Ministry of Health Care and the Office of the Government’s Plenipotentiary for the Roma communities. 

 

The general, periodical evaluation is a special mechanism of the UN Committee for Human Rights that makes it possible for UN member states to evaluate, at regular intervals, the status quo of the protection and support of human rights in a selected country. The mechanism of the general, periodical evaluation serves as a unique platform, whose key task is to objectively point to challenges and potential issues in the area of human rights. The goal of the evaluation is to provide a comprehensive and unbiased picture of the state of human rights in a specific country and offer suggestions to the country and recommendations for improving and strengthening human rights.

 

To begin with, State Secretary Ružička presented to the member states the progress made by the Slovak Republic in the past period in the area of human rights and their protection. Then the Slovak delegation presented proactive and positive measures, strategies and the policy of the Slovak Republic on the selected human-rights topics, which have been prepared as a result of cooperation between governmental and non-governmental institutions. The Slovak Republic informed the partners about actions taken in the fight against extremism, xenophobia, and hate speech, and in support of freedom of expression. František Ružička also presented the policy on minorities, including, in general, issues related to the Roma community, strategies to eliminate the discrimination of women, measures to combat racial discrimination and the protection of the rights of children. 

 

The member states acknowledged the progress made by the Slovak Republic in building and strengthening the legislative and institutional framework, particularly the establishment of the position of Commissioner for People with Disabilities, the Commissioner for Children, and also the adoption of several mid-term strategies of the Slovak Republic for the human rights protection.

 

Some 82 speakers from member states participated in the discussion, submitting suggestions to Slovakia for improving and strengthening of the protection and support of human rights. Several of these focused on the strengthening of the position of women, the Roma community and the elimination of discrimination, particularly on ways to improve their access to education, health care or appropriate housing. The recommendations of the member states focused on supressing extremism and hate speech, as well as protecting journalists better. In this context, there were calls for the speedy investigation of the murder of the journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée, and the punishment of perpetrators.

 

State Secretary Ružička appreciated the active role of the member states and their constructive approach to the process of evaluation. He emphasized that the submitted suggestions and recommendations will be thoroughly assessed by the government in collaboration with civil society and other partners. Further the methods for the implementation of the recommendations will be investigated in order to further strengthen and support human rights in Slovakia. In the final round, the State Secretary, specifically highlighted the need to protect the freedom of expression and the rule of law and to support multilateralism when dealing with global issues, which, without a doubt, include the protection and support of human rights.

 

As part of the visit to Geneva, State Secretary Ružička also held talks with the Executive Secretary of the UN  Economic Commission for Europe Oľga Algayerova, with whom he discussed the options and progress in achieving sustainable development goals. František Ružička also visited the Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), where he discussed his support of security sector reform within the framework of Slovakia’s OSCE Chairmanship in 2019. To conclude, he also held talks with Michael Moeller, Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva with whom he exchanged opinions on the current challenges of multilateralism and the possibilities of enhancing cooperation between regional organisations and the UN, and the possible role of the Slovak OSCE Chairmanship in fulfilling this task.