U.S. Statement at the Universal Periodic Review of Iceland
As delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper
The United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva
26th Session, November 1, 2016
The United States warmly welcomes the Iceland delegation to the UPR Working Group.
The United States commends Iceland’s longstanding commitment to the promotion of human rights both domestically and internationally, and especially for its progressive steps in the areas of tolerance, gender equality, and rights of LGBTI persons.
We commend the reception of dozens of Syrian refugees for resettlement in cooperation with UNHCR. We also welcome the recent changes in the Law on Foreigners that establish a reception center for asylum seekers and human trafficking victims, which will improve Iceland’s capability to respond to the growing influx of foreign nationals seeking protection.
We welcome the opening of a new prison on the outskirts of Reykjavík and the closing of reportedly substandard detention centers in the capital area.
We are concerned that gender-based violence, violence against children, and societal discrimination against immigrants continue to be problems. We are also concerned that, for the third consecutive year, the government did not prosecute or convict human trafficking offenders.
Bearing in mind these concerns, we recommend that Iceland:
- Ensure that victims of domestic, gender-based and sexual violence are able to report incidents and press charges without fear of adverse consequences in case of losing in court.
- Ensure that sentencing laws appropriately and adequately address domestic and sexual violence.
- Increase efforts to prosecute and convict human traffickers through the training of investigators, prosecutors, and judges on detecting and prosecuting such crimes.