COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. The Committee considered the second to ninth periodic reports of Gabon
(CERD/C/315/Add.1), at its 1286th and 1294th meetings, on 10 and 14 August
1998. At its 1299th and 1301st meetings, on 19 and 20 August 1998, it
adopted the following concluding observations.
2. Although the Committee
welcomes the submission of the report by the State party, it regrets
that the report does not follow the general guidelines established by
the Committee for the presentation of reports. While the Committee understands
that factors beyond the control of the Government of Gabon impeded the
presence of a State party delegation at the examination of the report,
it welcomes the oral replies made by the State party's representatives
at a later stage and the readiness of the Government of Gabon to resume
its dialogue with the Committee.
B. Factors and difficulties impeding the
implementation of the Convention
3. The Committee notes that
Gabon is going through a difficult economic period and that limits on
resources available in the public service have hampered the full implementation
of the Convention.
C. Positive aspects
4. Gabon's accession to
the major international human rights instruments, including the 1981
African Charter on Human and People's Rights, is welcomed by the Committee.
5. The Committee welcomes
the fact that the Convention was incorporated into the Constitution
of Gabon in April 1997.
6. The establishment of
the Ministry for Human Rights, which has the mandate to implement the
Government's human rights policy and to coordinate the steps undertaken
in this area, is welcomed by the Committee. More information concerning
this institution would be appreciated.
7. The State party's achievements
in the field of education, especially its high school attendance rate,
D. Principal subjects of concern
8. The Committee notes the
insufficiency of the information on the demographic composition of the
population, including the composition of the foreign community and indigenous
9. The Committee, while
noting with satisfaction that the Constitution of Gabon establishes
that all acts of racial discrimination are punishable by law, expresses
its concern at the lack of information on the implementation of article
4 of the Convention, especially on how this principle is reflected in
other domestic legislation (for example, the Penal Code) and applied
by judges, lawyers and civil servants.
10. Although the Committee
notes that the Constitution of Gabon provides for the enjoyment of rights
contained in the Convention, it is still concerned at the lack of information
on the protection of all the rights enumerated in article 5 of the Convention.
11. While the Committee
notes the role of the judiciary in efforts to eliminate racial discrimination,
it is concerned at the lack of information on the existence of available
legal mechanisms to lodge complaints in cases of racial discrimination,
and that members of the public may not be sufficiently aware of the
protection against racial discrimination provided by the Convention.
In this connection, the lack of information on complaints concerning
racially motivated offences as well as the absence of lawsuits in courts
claiming racial discrimination may indicate that awareness of the Convention
is not high among judges, lawyers and the public at large.
12. With respect to article
7 of the Convention, the lack of information on programmes for the training
of magistrates, law enforcement officials, teachers and social workers,
aiming at raising their awareness of problems related to racial discrimination,
E. Suggestions and recommendations
13. The Committee recommends
that the State party, in its next report, provide fuller information
on the demographic composition of the population in the light of paragraph
8 of the reporting guidelines.
14. The Committee requests
the State party to provide information in its next periodic report on
the implementation of article 4 of the Convention, especially on how
this principle is reflected in domestic legislation (for example, the
Penal Code) and is applied by judges, lawyers and civil servants.
15. The Committee recommends
that comprehensive information be provided by the State party in its
next periodic report on the effective enjoyment by all groups of the
rights under article 5 of the Convention, in particular concerning participation
in public life under article 5 (c) and enjoyment of economic, social
and cultural rights under article 5 (e).
16. Emphasizing the role
of the judicial system in eliminating racial discrimination, the Committee
requests the State party to provide information in its next periodic
report on the existing legal mechanisms available to lodge complaints
in cases of racial discrimination. Additionally, the Committee requests
the State party to provide information on measures undertaken or envisaged
for improving public awareness of the Convention.
17. In connection with the
implementation of article 7 of the Convention, the Committee recommends
that the State party take all necessary measures to ensure the training
and education of law enforcement officials, teachers, social workers
and students in the prevention of racial discrimination, and to include
the teaching of human rights in school curricula.
18. The Committee recommends
that the State party ratify the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6,
of the Convention, adopted on 15 January 1992 at the Fourteenth Meeting
of States Parties to the Convention.
19. It is noted that the
State party has not made the declaration provided for in article 14
of the Convention, and some members of the Committee requested that
the possibility of such a declaration be considered.
20. The Committee suggests
that the Government of Gabon may wish to avail itself of the technical
assistance offered under the advisory services and technical assistance
programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,
with the aim of submitting a comprehensive report in accordance with
the reporting guidelines.
21. The Committee recommends
that the State party's next periodic report, due on 30 March 1999, be
a comprehensive report and that it address all the points raised in
these concluding observations and during the consideration of the report.