Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


Universal Periodic Review Working Group – 11th Session

Universal Periodic Review of Belgium

Statement by Australia

2 May 2011

Australia welcomes the delegation from Belgium and appreciates its engagement in the Universal Periodic Review process.

We acknowledge Belgium’s strong commitment to protection of human rights and its constructive engagement with international human rights treaty bodies. Australia looks forward to engaging with Belgium for the remainder of its term on the Human Rights Council.

Australia notes recent human rights issues faced by Belgium, including prison overcrowding and excessive use of force by the police.

Australia welcomes the Government’s plan of action to combat trafficking in human beings and adoption of measures to prevent trafficking and protect victims.

We commend the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol on 2 July 2009. Australia supports the implementation of mechanisms which will promote greater respect for the human rights of persons with disabilities.

Australia welcomes Belgium’s efforts to combat racism, extremism and xenophobia. We commend the contribution of Belgium to the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

We welcome the reforms to legislation and institutional mechanisms to achieve equality between men and women. It is a positive development that women are making significant progress in political decision making in Belgium.

Australia welcomes the development of the Centre for Equal Opportunity and Action to Combat Racism. We encourage Belgium to establish a national commission for the protection and promotion of all human rights in accordance with the Paris Principles, and thank the Deputy Prime Minister for his additional explanations on this subject today.

Australia recommends Belgium:

1. Improve conditions in Belgium’s prisons, including in relation to overcrowding; and
2. Establish a comprehensive national human rights commission that is fully compliant with the Paris Principles.