The Human Rights Committee this morning concluded its consideration of the fourth periodic report of Luxembourg on how it implements the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Committee Experts commended Luxembourg on the comprehensive report, while asking about constitutional procedures to include treaties in domestic law and female genital mutilation.
A Committee Expert commended Luxembourg on the report, which was comprehensive and well put together, with detailed responses. Another Committee Expert greatly appreciated the clarity of the report and the abundance of statistics included, which was evidence that the State took the matter of human rights seriously.
A Committee Expert asked if the delegation could specify the constitutional procedures to include treaties in domestic law? What happened if there was a conflict between a human rights convention and the Constitution of Luxembourg? How would a clash be fixed?
One Expert said that the issue of female genital mutilation had become of interest to Luxembourg recently. What was the percentage of women in the country suffering from this practice, compared to the total population? Were there planned awareness campaigns against this practice among concerned communities? In view of the absence of female genital mutilation in the most recent national action plan, what was being done to ensure the effective implementation of existing laws on the practice?
The delegation said that the legal order in Luxembourg recognised international and European standards above national law. If there was a contradiction between international and national standards, the Constitution would have to be changed to align them. The Constitution provided for the adoption of international treaties. There was a special procedure for the amendment of the Constitution.
Luxembourg was unfortunately not spared from the practice of female genital mutilation, said the delegation. Seventeen per cent of girls in Luxembourg who had lived in a country where this was practiced were at risk of female genital mutilation. The National Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation was an opportunity to raise awareness of the practice and on its consequences. A campaign aimed to act proactively and demystify the subject and to indicate the risk for girls and women were they to be victims of this practice. A national strategy had been implemented which involved prevention, training, and caring for victims.
Sam Tanson, Minister of Justice of Luxembourg and head of the delegation, presenting the report, said Luxembourg had set four international-level priorities for human rights, as part of its mandate started at the United Nations Human Rights Council earlier this year. These included support for the rule of law, civic space, and human rights defenders; sustainable development and climate action; gender equality; and the protection of children’s rights. Ms. Tanson said that despite this progress, there was an international context of fragility from the crises which had impacted the world, including the pandemic, the unjustifiable war waged by Russia against Ukraine, and the questioning of women’s rights in the United States.
In concluding remarks, Marc Bichler, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked the Committee and was convinced that such meetings could lead to progress. Mechanisms like the Committee were the best way to ensure all that was said politically was met in reality. Human rights were a government-wide commitment in Luxembourg.
Photini Pazartzis, Committee Chairperson, in concluding remarks, said the dialogue had been very constructive over the past two days. The Committee could see the commitment expressed by the Luxembourg delegation to human rights. Having such a thorough report and eloquent replies greatly contributed to the success of the dialogue. Ms. Pazartzis congratulated Luxembourg on their first mandate in the Human Rights Council
The delegation of Luxembourg was made up of representatives of the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs; the Ministry of State Legal Service; the Ministry of Family; the Ministry of Health; the Ministry of Labour; and the Permanent Mission of Luxembourg to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Human Rights Committee’s one hundred and thirty-fifth session is being held from 27 June to 27 July. All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage. Meeting summary releases can be found here. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed via the UN Web TV webpage.
The Committee is next scheduled to meet in public at 3 p.m. this afternoon to consider the sixth periodic report of Uruguay (CCPR/C/URY/6).
The Committee has before it the fourth periodic report of Luxembourg (CCPR/C/LUX/4).
Presentation of Report
SAM TANSON, Minister of Justice of Luxembourg and head of the delegation, presenting the report, said Luxembourg had set four international-level priorities for human rights, as part of its mandate started at the United Nations Human Rights Council earlier this year. These included support for the rule of law, civic space and human rights defenders; sustainable development and climate action; gender equality; and the protection of children’s rights.
Ms. Tanson said that a constitutional review was currently underway in parliament. The Government was leading several bills concerning access to justice, with a focus on digitalisation to simplify procedures, judicial assistance, the training of legal professions, and the ongoing project for the creation of a national council of the judiciary. Following years of important work, the Government had officially tabled three essential bills relating to children’s rights in March 2022, covering criminal and procedural law for minors and a reform of youth protection. A report was published in March on racism and ethno-racial discrimination in Luxembourg, which found that many people were victims of racial discrimination. The report presented a series of concrete recommendations to improve the situation.
An important bill was tabled in June this year concerning hate crimes, which introduced an aggravating circumstance in criminal law for a crime which had discriminatory characteristics. In compliance with data protection, two bills were underway relating to police and justice files, strengthening the fundamental rights of those in contact with the authorities. Several awareness-raising campaigns had also been carried out with a focus on women, domestic violence, and the rights of victims of trafficking in human beings, or different forms of exploitation.
Ms. Tanson said that despite this progress, there was an international context of fragility from the crises which had impacted the world, including the pandemic, the unjustifiable war waged by Russia against Ukraine, and the questioning of women’s rights in the United States. During the pandemic, Luxembourg’s Government had had to make difficult decisions which had sometimes impacted the fundamental rights of its residents. A key challenge was to find a balance between individual rights and collective rights, and the interests of public health and safety. The main COVID-19 law, established in July 2020, had undergone many changes to adapt the measures by gauging their impact on the lives of people in Luxembourg. National debates on the measures were also conducted. Avenues for improvement in the crisis would be studied to prepare for the next crisis.
The war in Ukraine was another example of a crisis. Luxembourg was working to ensure the needs and rights of people who had come to find refuge, through providing them with temporary protection in Luxembourg, in accordance with international, European, and national provisions. Ms. Tanson concluded by stating that Luxembourg would focus on honouring the implementation of the recommendations that the Committee would make.
Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert greatly appreciated the clarity of the report and the abundance of statistics included, which was evidence that the State took the matter of human rights seriously. Could the delegation explain why a reservation was in place under article 10? How and why did the withdrawal of the reservation depend on the adoption of the draft bill on criminal justice for minors? Could the link to the constitutional amendment and the reservation to article 19 be explained? Could the delegation specify the constitutional procedures to include treaties in domestic law? What happened if there was conflict between a human rights convention and the Constitution of Luxembourg? How would a clash be fixed?
Another Committee Expert commended the delegation on the measures taken to raise awareness of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its Optional Protocol. An inter-ministerial human rights committee had been appointed, tasked with implementing the recommendations made by the Committee. Had all the recommendations made by the Committee now been implemented in the State? What was the impact of the recommendation on the State party’s fight against discrimination, and was it efficient? Could information be provided on the difference between Luxembourg nationals and non-nationals when it came to the principles of equality for all before the law?
A Committee Expert commended Luxembourg on the report, which was comprehensive and well put together, with detailed responses. The Expert asked if Luxembourg took any measures to limit risks of terrorist activities from areas known to be under the control of terrorist groups? Was there cooperation between Luxembourg and other States outside the European Union in the domain of combatting terrorism? What was done to protect the rights of victims of terrorism? Could information be provided on the status of adoption of the bill pertaining to accessibility to public places for all, especially persons with disabilities?
One Committee Expert noted concern at the delay in the legislative process necessary to make the national action plan on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons a reality. How many non-urgent surgical procedures were conducted on intersex children over the reporting period? How many discriminatory cases pertained to intersex persons? Could the delegation clarify if the rules concerning homosexual men donating blood were being monitored in practice?