UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navenethem Pillay (right), addressing the media at the briefing. At left is UNDP Resident Coordinator, Michelle Gyles-McDonnough. (A. Miller/BGIS)

For Barbados to achieve developed country status, every Barbadian needs to be fully empowered, especially those persons who are most vulnerable and excluded.

Urging Barbadians to adopt a stronger culture of human rights and respect for the dignity of every human being, the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has called on government to "step up its efforts to incorporate international human rights law into national legislation".

She was speaking today at a press conference at the UN House, Hastings, Christ Church, at the end of a three-day mission to this island.?? She stated that the Barbados government had identified capacity challenges in being able to speedily implement some of the recommendations of its 2008 Universal Periodic Review.??

Commissioner Pillay, however, remarked that the Office of High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) was prepared to support government’s efforts for the further promotion and protection of human rights.

She observed that her presence on the island was to not only to "soley remind Barbados of its international obligations, but also to offer my assistance in addressing persisting problems."

In applauding the progress made by Barbados on human rights, she appealed for action to be taken on the "remaining gaps".??

The top human rights activist outlined that this island needed to tackle: "Citizen security; sensitising civil society about discrimination against women; the disabled and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity; developing programmes for human rights education; conducting campaigns to raise awareness on issues like domestic violence and corporal punishment; efforts to put an end to violence against women; and deal with sexual harassment."

Emphasising that discrimination across the board needed to be tackled, she stressed:?? "International human rights law is clear, no one, no one at all, should be discriminated against because of the group they belong to, and that, of course, includes discrimination based on race, gender or sexual orientation or identity."

Suggesting that local laws needed to include legislative definitions of discrimination, based on gender, race or sexual orientation, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights observed: "Barbados has to ensure not only that laws conform to international norms, but that they are adequately implemented and translated into corresponding day-to-day action."??

During her mission here, Commissioner Pillay held talks with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and members of the Cabinet; senior Government officials from across various ministries; the Chief Justice of Barbados and the President of the Caribbean Court of Justice. She also met with civil society and members of the academic community.

Coming out of those discussions, the OHCHR has promised to provide Barbados with technical capacity and expertise in achieving its human rights goals and implementing recommendations. She noted that this country’s request for a Human Rights Advisor would also be fulfilled.


Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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