Human Rights Committee Discusses Progress Reports on Follow-up to concluding observations and to views

The Human Rights Committee today discussed the progress report on the Follow-Up to Concluding Observations, and the progress report on the Follow-up to Views.
Mauro Politi, Committee Member and Rapporteur on Follow-Up to Concluding Observations, presented a draft report on follow-up to the concluding observations of the following States parties: Ukraine, Malawi, France, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Uzbekistan.

Photini Pazartzis, Committee Member and the Interim Rapporteur on Follow-Up to Views, presented her draft report and informed that the current report concerned 24 communications related to 12 States parties: Algeria, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, Slovakia and Sri Lanka.

The Committee adopted the draft report on the Follow-Up to Concluding Observations, but it deferred the adoption of the draft report on the Follow-up to Views.

The Committee will next meet in public on Wednesday, 1 November, at 10 a.m. to resume the second reading of the draft General Comment No. 36 on article 6 (right to life).

Report on Follow-up to Concluding Observations

MAURO POLITI, Committee Member and Rapporteur on Follow-Up to Concluding Observations, presented the draft report on follow-up to the concluding observations of the following States parties: Ukraine, Malawi, France, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Uzbekistan.

Experts expressed concern that there was only one civil society submission, noting that there was a need to improve their participation in the process. There was no list of countries with a D grade for the failure to provide follow-up to the Committee's concluding observations. What was the status of engagement with such countries?

Experts also raised the issue of periodicity of the reporting procedures under the follow-up procedure, and the Committee's backlog in dealing with them. Some of the evaluation language asked States parties to provide statistical data, whereas the Committee should be focused on monitoring of the implementation of specific recommendations. Furthermore, the Committee should be more economic with the amount of information it demanded.

Mr. Politi clarified that no State had received a D grade and agreed that the Committee needed to reflect on the procedure followed in that respect. As for the periodicity of reporting, that issue had been discussed in various circumstances and he would be happy to address it in the working methods' session. As for specific information sometimes requested from States, the Committee tried to be economic. Mr. Politi said he would be happy to simplify those requests.

One Expert suggested that the Committee add a section explaining that there were no States with D grade. Mr. Politi accepted that proposal, adding that it would increase the transparency of the Committee's work.

Mr. Politi then presented the situation in Ukraine, adding that the information provided by the State party on the Committee's views adopted under the First Optional Protocol was not relevant to the recommendation. The Committee nevertheless noted the submission to the Parliament on 19 May 2015 of a bill that would recognize decisions related to human rights protection adopted by international organizations as grounds for review of national judicial decisions, and it required information on the progress of the bill in question, including clarification whether the views adopted by the Committee under the First Optional Protocol would constitute grounds for review. With respect to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, the Committee appreciated the information on the anti-discrimination legal framework, and the explicit prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace. However, it regretted that the State party had provided no concrete information on the implementation of the Committee's recommendation to combat hate speech, discrimination or violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons. The Committee appreciated Ukraine's positive developments in combatting torture and ill-treatment, but it regretted that the State party had not provided specific information related to the investigation and prosecution of torture and ill-treatment. As for the independence of the judiciary, the Committee appreciated the taken measures but it required additional information on the status and content of the bill amending the Constitution and on the extent to which political interference with the judiciary was eliminated, and appointment, promotion, suspension and dismissal of judges was governed by clear and objective criteria. A letter should be sent informing the State party of the discontinuation of the follow-up procedure. The information requested should be included in the State party's next periodic report.

Experts questioned the grade given to Ukraine with respect to the bill submitted to the Parliament on 19 May 2015, and inquired about the evaluation of the State party's practice of video recording of police interrogations, developments in the judiciary and guarantees for the right to a fair trial. Mr. Politi said that he was open to change the grades with respect to the anti-discrimination framework and explicit prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. He was hesitant about increasing the grade for the part referring to the independence of the judiciary and guarantees for the right to a fair trial.

With respect to Malawi, Mr. Politi said that the Committee had required additional information on investigations, prosecutions and convictions regarding the cases of extrajudicial killings other than those committed during the demonstrations of July 2011. The Committee regretted the considerable delay in establishing the Independent Police Complaints Commission and that no information had been provided on whether a central system to keep track of all complaints of torture and ill-treatment had been established. The Committee also required clarification on the use of firearms, and it regretted that the State party had provided no information on steps to criminalize all forms of sexual abuse of children. The Committee also regretted that the State party had provided no information on the implementation of its recommendations on forced and child marriages. The Committee recommended that a letter be sent informing the State party of the discontinuation of the follow-up procedure. The information requested should be included in the State party's next periodic report.

Experts wondered whether the information provided by the State party on the Police Act was new. If that information was not new, then a lower grade would be appropriate. Mr. Politi answered that he did not know whether the information submitted by the State party was new, but he accepted that a lower grade be granted. Experts noted that in their follow-up responses States should provide information about actions taken after the Committee's concluding observations.

On France, Mr. Politi said that the Committee noted the information provided by the State party on the practice of post-sentence preventive detention, but it requested further information on the State party's consideration of measures that could replace detention, the criteria used to evaluate “dangerousness" and the existence of a “very high risk of reoffending", and the guarantees in place to prevent convicted persons from being placed in post-sentence preventive detention for a potentially indefinite period. The Committee noted the national debate surrounding that issue and in particular the report issued in December 2015 by the commission established to review the law on criminal sanctions. However, the Committee requested further information on the Ministry of Justice's follow-up to the opinions issued by various national institutions recommending the abolition of post-sentence preventive detention. As for surveillance activities, the Committee requested further information on the measures taken to guarantee the strict interpretation of the principles of legality, proportionality and necessity, and on definition of the categories of persons likely to be placed under surveillance. In connection with the collection and use of data, the Committee requested further information on the use, in practice, of data collection, the procedures employed for the use and storage of data collected, and the measures in place to ensure that authorized intelligence-gathering techniques did not allow for de facto mass surveillance. The Committee also requested further information on the measures taken to ensure that the general public was aware of the existence of the National Commission for the Control of Intelligence Techniques, the duty to inform individuals that they had been placed under surveillance, and access to effective remedies in the event of abuse. With respect to sexual abuse in the Central African Republic, the Committee acknowledged the State party's willingness to cooperate with the United Nations and the Central African Republic. Nevertheless, the Committee requested information on all measures being taken to ensure that the investigations were carried out in an effective and timely manner, that any punishments be imposed on those found responsible, and that measures of redress were made available to the victims. A letter should be sent to the State party reflecting the evaluation of the Committee.

Some Experts expressed doubt about the relevance of information provided by the State party. The focus of the State party's response should be to zoom in on the actions made after the Committee's concluding observations. Part of the problem in the Committee's backlog was partly self-inflicted because the Committee again asked questions about something that should not be part of the follow-up exercise. Experts agreed that most of the State party's response consisted solely of repeating the legislative framework. Mr. Politi responded that he would not like to see further discussion on the scope of the follow-up exercise, adding that he would prefer to focus on finalizing the adoption of the follow-up report on concluding observations.

On The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Politi said that the Committee had appreciated the information provided on the prosecution of crimes related to human trafficking and the specialized training offered to police and border police. It required updated information on the status of the draft National Strategy for Combatting Human Trafficking and Illegal Migration, its implementation in practice and any interim results achieved thus far. As for the freedom of movement, the Committee required specific information on whether border management policies and practices aimed at preventing potential asylum seekers from leaving the country were still in effect, and on the State party's response to allegations of discriminatory targeting and ethnic profiling of Roma people. With respect to mass surveillance of communications, no information had been received on measures taken to ensure that any interference with the right to privacy complied with the principles of legality, proportionality and necessity. A letter should be sent to the State party reflecting the evaluation of the Committee.

Experts expressed doubt whether the State party had in fact provided any new information. Mr. Politi said that he thought that the statistics provided were relatively fresh, which would justify the given evaluation.

With respect to Uzbekistan, Mr. Politi said that the Committee noted that a bill on the state of emergency had been under preparation and it required information on the status and content of the bill, including clarification on whether derogations from non-derogable provisions of the Covenant were explicitly prohibited. As for torture, the Committee regretted the State party's argument that the definition of torture in its Criminal Code was fully compliant with article 1 of the Convention against Torture, and it regretted the State party's erroneous application of the principle of non-discrimination to justify the admissibility of amnesty for persons convicted of torture or ill-treatment. As for forced labour, the Committee required additional information on any further measures taken to reduce the risk of forced labour of adults and students above 16 years of age in the cotton harvest. The Committee regretted that no information had been provided on measures taken to ensure financial transparency and address corruption in the cotton industry and to prevent deaths in connection with cotton harvesting. A letter should be sent informing the State party of the discontinuation of the follow-up procedure. The information requested should be included in the State party's next periodic report.

Experts wondered about the grade given to Uzbekistan on torture, but agreed to keep the grade proposed by the Rapporteur.

The Committee then proceeded to adopt the draft report on follow-up to the concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee.

Report on Follow-up Progress on Individual Communications

PHOTINI PAZARTZIS, Committee Member and Interim Rapporteur on Follow-Up to Views, introduced the report that covered the period between March 2016 and July 2017, and explained that it contained information regarding 24 communications in 12 States parties: Algeria, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, Slovakia and Sri Lanka.

Experts flagged some discrepancies in the grading approach to the follow-up to views and the follow-up to concluding observations. Both reports should follow the same grading criteria. Furthermore, there was no D list of States that failed to submit the follow-up progress on individual communications. Without that information, the Committee would encourage States not to cooperate. Ms. Pazartzis responded that the grading criteria was uniform across the reports on the follow-up to views and the follow-up to concluding observations. As for the list of D States, she suggested that the issue be discussed under methods of work.

Ms. Pazartzis started by presenting the situation in Algeria, involving a case of summary execution. The Committee asked the State party to conduct a thorough and rigorous investigation in the alleged summary execution of Mohammed Belamrania, to provide his family with detailed information on the results of the investigations, to prosecute, try and punish those responsible for the violations, and to provide the victim's family with appropriate compensation and redress. The Committee decided to suspend the follow-up dialogue, with a note of unsatisfactory implementation of the Committee's recommendation.

Responding to Experts' reservations about suspending the dialogue with the State party, Ms. Pazartzis explained that this decision was the right one because a large number of views remained unimplemented by the State party. The Chairperson added that the Committee sometimes suspended the follow-up procedure if the State party clearly stated that it did not accept the Committee's views.

Turning to Australia, Ms. Pazartzis presented two cases concerning detention and conviction for smuggling of persons, and indefinite detention of migrants. In both cases, the Committee decided to suspend the follow-up dialogue, with a note of unsatisfactory implementation of the Committee's recommendation.

Experts reminded that the Committee had had extensive dialogue with the State party on the issue of migration, adding that the grading from the previous sessions should be included in the report.

As for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ms. Pazartzis presented two cases concerning enforced disappearance. The Committee decided to keep follow-up dialogue ongoing in both cases. Experts questioned the use of ungraded category of “no information," and warned against harsh grading for certain actions made by the State party.
Ms. Pazartzis explained that the grades given to cases in Bosnia and Herzegovina were based on previous Committee's assessments under the old grading system. There was no information on whether the State party had published the Committee's views, or information regarding non-repetition measures.

Turning to Cameroon, Ms. Pazartzis presented a case of arbitrary detention in which the Committee recommended immediate release and the provision of adequate ophthalmological treatment. The State party had proceeded to immediately release the detainee. The Committee recommended keeping the follow-up dialogue ongoing.

With respect to Canada, Ms. Pazartzis presented three deportation cases to Tunisia, Nigeria and Thailand. In the first case, the Committee decided to close the follow-up dialogue, with a note of satisfactory implementation of the Committee's recommendation, whereas in two other cases the Committee decided to keep the follow-up dialogue ongoing. Ms. Pazartzis also introduced a new case of deportation to Sri Lanka, in which the author had been granted a residence permit in Canada. In that case, the Committee decided to close the follow-up dialogue, with a note of satisfactory implementation of the Committee's recommendation.

Experts amended the grades for the publication of views by the State party and recommended that non-repetition measures be changed.

On Denmark, Ms. Pazartzis presented cases of deportations to Egypt, Bangladesh and Somalia. In all cases, the Committee decided to close the follow-up dialogue, with a note of satisfactory implementation of the Committee's recommendation.

Experts questioned the grades given for non-repetition measures, to which Ms. Pazartzis responded that those grades referred to non-repetition in future.

Turning to Ireland, Ms. Pazartzis presented a communication on the case of termination of pregnancy in a foreign country. The Committee recommended that the State party amend its law on the voluntary termination of pregnancy, and it decided to keep the follow-up dialogue ongoing. The Chairperson explained that there was no grading in that case because the Committee had not received any information from the State party.

As for Kazakhstan, Ms. Pazartzis presented four communications on cases of unlawful detention, conditions of detention and unfair trial, freedom of religion, and freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. In all four cases, the Committee decided to keep the follow-up dialogue ongoing.

Turning to Kyrgyzstan, Ms. Pazartzis presented a case of torture and unfair trial, and a case of death in police custody. In both cases, the Committee decided to keep the follow-up dialogue ongoing, and to meet with a representative of the State party during its one hundred and twenty-second session.

Experts raised doubts whether the Committee should be only giving grades based on the information provided by the State party.

On the Russian Federation, Ms. Pazartzis presented two cases of forced confession, unfair trial, torture and arbitrary detention. The State party had not provided any information on any of the cases, which was why the Committee had decided to keep the follow-up dialogue ongoing. The State party had received a grade of D in all categories, based on the information provided by the State party in previous meetings.

Experts expressed some reservations about the grading criteria when the State party provided no information about cases, and they suggested to start the discussion from the very beginning. The Chairperson suggested to defer the decision about the two cases.

With respect to Slovakia, Ms. Pazartzis presented a case of dismissal under duress and undue process. The State party noted that the authors had not exhausted domestic remedies, which was why it could not provide the authors with compensation. The Committee decided to suspend the procedure, with a note of unsatisfactory implementation of the Committee's recommendation.

On Sri Lanka, Ms. Pazartzis presented a case of death in custody allegedly resulting from torture. The Committee decided to defer the case until information had been received from the State party.

The Committee deferred the adoption of the draft report on the Follow-up to Views.

https://www.unog.ch/

Created at : 1.11.2017, 11:25, Updated at : 1.11.2017, 11:25