Viewing cable 09LISBON162
Title: PORTUGUESE FOLLOW GERMAN STRATEGY FOR UN UNIVERSAL

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
09LISBON1622009-03-17 16:11:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Lisbon
VZCZCXYZ0004
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLI #0162/01 0761611
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 171611Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY LISBON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7472
INFO RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0164
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0546
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1555
C O N F I D E N T I A L LISBON 000162 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR DRL, IO 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/17/2019 
TAGS: PHUM PREL UN PO
SUBJECT: PORTUGUESE FOLLOW GERMAN STRATEGY FOR UN UNIVERSAL 
PERIODIC REVIEW OF HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
REF: 08 STATE 130829 
 
 ¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Portugal is preparing for a December 
Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the UN Human Rights 
Council (HRC).  Portuguese MFA Director for Human Rights Sara 
Martins outlined Portugal's plan to consult with NGOs, 
coordinate a unified GOP response, and prepare for the HRC 
Review in December.  She noted that Germany and Russia 
established different strategies for responding to the HRC's 
inquiries, and said Portugal planned to follow the German 
model with "murder boards" and one well-prepared spokesperson 
to represent the government position.  Martins added that the 
U.S. decision to return to the HRC and close Guantanamo by 
January 2010 would greatly enhance the tenor going into the 
UPR in 2010.  End summary. 
 
¶2. (C) Portuguese MFA Director for Human Rights Sara Martins 
told us that Portugal had begun consultations over a year ago 
to formulate a proactive strategy for its Universal Periodic 
Review (UPR) in December 2009.  She said the MFA was busily 
organizing a first draft of the GOP's report on its progress, 
and planned to meet with interested NGOs in April to discuss 
the draft and solicit input from civil society.  According to 
Martins, the German government advised that the Portuguese 
follow this "strawman" approach rather than just asking for 
NGO feedback generally.  She said the NGOs were able to offer 
better suggestions when presented with a framework and 
recommended that the USG consider a similar approach next 
year. 
 
¶3. (C) After the initial NGO outreach, Martins said the MFA 
planned to meet with the Portuguese Parliament's First 
Committee, which addresses human rights issues, to encourage 
additional GOP input into the report.  Although the 
Parliament may not have significant input, she said the idea 
was to be as inclusive as possible to ensure a united front 
at the UN's review process.  Likewise, Martins is working 
with senior officials at MFA to encourage interagency 
involvement, particularly from the Ministry of Interior, to 
respond to outstanding issues of excessive police force, 
prison conditions, and immigration.  Martins admitted that 
the same problems that the USG highlights for Portugal in the 
annual human rights report are likely to be the areas of 
weakness cited by the UN officials. 
 
¶4. (C) After the GOP submits its report to the UN in October, 
it will have two months to prepare for its hearing before the 
Human Rights Commission.  Martins outlined two approaches - 
one recommended by Germany, the other by Russia - to respond 
to the panel's questions.  The German model, she said, had 
the Deputy Foreign Minister as the head of delegation with 
representatives from other key agencies.  After extensive 
"murder boards," the delegation was able to answer any of the 
key problem areas and could also respond to any issue 
mentioned in the NGO's report to the UN.  The Deputy FM 
addressed the Commission and took written responses from the 
rest of the delegation but was the only speaker.  The Russian 
model, according to Martins, involved a bigger delegation of 
roughly twenty members, each speaking on his or her area of 
expertise.  As a result, the UN Panel had a more complete 
answer, but this method made the Russian government appear to 
lack a coherent approach, Martins reported.  The GOP is 
aiming to copy the German model and select one high-ranking 
MFA official, comfortable in English and with public speaking 
skills, to head the delegation.  Unfortunately, the GOP will 
have just come out of legislative elections and will be 
establishing a new cabinet at that time, so Martins expressed 
concern that the MFA might not have a Foreign Minister in 
time to prepare properly for the review. 
 
¶5. (C) Martins mentioned that Portugal will use the first 
twenty minutes of its hour-long question and answer section 
to outline the major human rights shortcomings and the 
strategies for addressing the issues.  She said the advantage 
of using the initial remarks was that it allowed the 
government to control the direction of questions; conveyed a 
firm understanding of the issues; and limited the number of 
questions that the panel could ask in those areas.  If the 
Review Panel asks about prison conditions, for example, 
Martins said the delegation could offer a brief answer, 
referring to the initial remarks rather than opening up to a 
question and answer series that could focus on Portugal's 
shortcomings. 
 
¶6. (C) Regarding the US review in 2010, Martins predicted 
that the United States would benefit from its return to 
observer status with the Human Rights Council.  She commented 
that it demonstrated U.S. interest and willingness to work 
 
with UN human rights agencies.  Martins predicted that the 
U.S. might even fare better than Canada did in its review if 
it is able to follow some of the strategic techniques used by 
other western nations to limit the damage and control the 
hearing. 
 
 
For more reporting from Embassy Lisbon and information about Portugal, 
please see our Intelink site: 
 
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/portal:port ugal 
 
STEPHENSON