Indonesia urges Vanuatu to improve treatment of women

Indonesia's government has called on Vanuatu to improve its treatment of women.

Vanuatu's government has this week been undergoing its universal periodic review at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

A number of countries have sought updates on gender equality from Vanuatu.

Indonesia's representative, Irwansyah Mukhlis, said his country had deep concerns regarding the condition of women in Vanuatu.

He said despite Vanuatu's attempts at improving human rights since its last review, violence against women remained a problem.

"Considering the sex ratio proximity between the population of men and women in Vanuatu, women should not be viewed as a second class citizen," Irwansyah Mukhlis said.

"Indonesia would like to recommend the following to the government of Vanuatu: Take immediate steps to improve women rights and prevent violence against women in accordance with CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women)."

Irwansyah Mukhlis said Indonesia also recommended Vanuatu ratify various international human rights instruments, and try harder to stop police brutality.

Vanuatu's Minister of Justice, Don Ken, led his country's response to the review in Geneva.

It included updates on advancing women's rights under ongoing implementation of the National Gender Equality Policy.

Vanuatu said it had identified and resourced priority areas to address including reducing domestic and gender-based violence, promoting women's leadership and equal participation; building a foundation for gender mainstreaming; enhancing women's economic development and promoting women's leadership and equal participation.

Meanwhile, Mr Mukhlis encouraged Vanuatu to "respect international law and state sovereignty" in discussions of human rights.

Vanuatu has repeatedly used UN platforms to question Indonesia's record of human rights in Papua region.