9th Session of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group
UPR Session for Maldives
Statement by the Delegation of the United States
Delivered by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe
UN Human Rights Council, Geneva, Switzerland
November 3, 2010
Thank you Mr. Chair:
The United States welcomes the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed and the distinguished delegation of the Maldives, at today’s UPR session. We have been pleased to see the Maldives strong commitment to promoting human rights as an active Member of this Council and the excellent leadership shown by your delegation.
We applaud the Maldives peaceful transition to democracy and commend the government for implementing reforms that enshrine respect for human rights in public policies. We are concerned that the Constitution does not provide for religious freedom and that citizenship is granted only to Muslims. The law prohibits citizens from practicing religions other than Islam and non-citizens are only allowed to practice non-Muslim religious beliefs privately. We are troubled that non-Muslims are not allowed to vote or hold public office and that the government controls all religious matters, including the practice of and expression about Islam.
The United States recommends that the government include constitutional measures to provide for freedom of religion or belief to all persons residing in the country.
We further commend you for joining the International Labor Organization (ILO) and for enacting the new Employment Act in consultation with the ILO.
The United States recommends the Maldives drafts and enacts legislation prohibiting and punishing all forms of trafficking in persons (including forced labor of migrants); promulgates laws imposing stricter punishments for violations; holds employers who violate those laws accountable; and establishes a national minimum wage.
We commend the Maldives for removing the constitutional bar preventing women from running for high political office. The participation of women in public life is vital, as is protection of their rights in the home and workplace.
The United States recommends that additional mechanisms for protecting citizens against domestic violence be established, and provisions that would ensure legal redress for gender-based violence be adopted. Important steps in this regard include expeditious passage of legislation to promote women’s rights, prohibit sexual harassment, and criminalize domestic violence.
Thank you, Mr. President.