UPR Info, together with 76 NGOs from all over the world, expressed concerns today at Human Rights Council (HRC) 23rd session about States' practice to modify Working Group Reports in order to weaken them and called on the HRC President to issue a statement to end such practice.
The NGOs regretted current attacks on the format of the Working Group report and notably that during the UPR 16th session two recommendations were taken out of the body of a draft report and added as footnotes because they were considered as "not relevant" by the State under review. These organisations feared that this action would run the risk of setting a dangerous precedent.
They stated that the format of the Report of the Working Group should be the same for all countries in order to guarantee equal treatment. According to Resolution 5/1, the Report is a "summary of the proceedings" and should be drafted in an objective manner. Its content should reflect the discussion held in the room and should not be subjected to negotiations by countries, as stated in Presidential statement A/HRC/PRST/8/1 from 9 April 2008.
Indeed, both accepted and noted recommendations should be included in the report, irrespective of the country making them and the issue raised. Under no circumstances should States have the possibility to remove recommendations from the list, not even on the grounds that recommendations are considered as being "not relevant".
They also reminded the HRC that comments from States under Review on the reasons why they do not accept recommendations should be incorporated in the addendum. The chapeau or headers of the categories of recommendations in Section two of the Working Group report should therefore be streamlined as follow: recommendations which enjoy the support, recommendations which are noted and recommendations pending until the HRC adoption.
The 77 NGOs called on HRC President to issue a Presidential statement to immediately end any attempts to tamper with the Working Group Report and clarify its format as soon as possible.