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A summary of the activities of the Human Rights Committee during its 136 session

* With thanks to the Petitions Unit for parts of this information concerning the individual communications.

The Human Rights Committee concluded its one hundred and thirty-sixth session after adopting concluding observations on the reports of Ethiopia, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Nicaragua, Philippines and the Russian Federation. The Committee’s concluding observations on these reports are available on the webpage of the session.

The Committee held constructive dialogues with the delegations of Ethiopia, Japan, Kyrgyzstan and the Philippines, and also reviewed the periodic reports of Nicaragua and the Russian Federation, unfortunately in the absence of the delegation. In all reviews, the Committee noted positive developments, identified areas of concern, and made recommendations.

The Committee adopted three lists of issues on Iran, Kuwait and Venezuela. In addition, it adopted 63 decisions on individual communications. Of those, 19 were decided on the merits, 10 were declared inadmissible and 29 communications were discontinued (9 with satisfactory settlement). Regarding the cases decided on the merits, the Committee found violations in all 19 of them.

Further, the Committee adopted two progress reports on follow-up to concluding observations and to Views, and guidelines on the procedure for follow-up to Views. The guidelines shall help to ensure that States parties responded to follow-up to Views.

Individual communications

The Committee adopted 63 decisions on individual communications. There were 21 documents covering 34 communications. One case combined 10 communications and another case combined 5 communications. A brief overview of the individual communications follows below.

In terms of years:

•           2015 – one communication

•           2016 – 10 communications

•           2017 – 4 communications

•           2018 –4 communications

•           2019 – 2 communications

•           2020 – 3 communications

•           2021 – 10 communications

In terms of subject matter:

•           Deportation – 3 communications

•           Arbitrary detention, torture – 5 communications

•           Fair trial, forced eviction, political rights – 3 communications

•           Forced displacement – 10 communications

•           Enforced disappearances – one communication

•           Discrimination – 3 communications

•           Freedom of expression/assembly – 9 communications

In terms of outcome:

•           10 communications finding the claims admissible

•           5 communications finding the claims inadmissible

•           19 communications finding a violation of the Covenant

In terms of States parties:

•           Guatemala – 10 communications

•           Belarus – 9 communications

•           Sweden, Denmark – 2 cases each

•           One communication for each of Algeria, Azerbaijan, Canada, Ecuador, Latvia, Netherlands, Russian Federation, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkmenistan and Türkiye.

Follow up to COBs

The Human Rights Committee adopted reports by the Special Rapporteur on follow-up to concluding observations concerning Algeria, Angola, Bulgaria and Viet Nam.

According to the Committee’s procedure, the Committee selects a minimum of two and maximum of four recommendations, termed the follow-up recommendations, to be included in the follow-up procedure; these recommendations are indicated in the Committee’s concluding observations issued to a State party following their review by the Committee. When reviewing follow-up reports, the Committee assesses the replies using the scale from A for largely satisfactory replies to E for replies that indicate that the measures taken go against the Committee’s recommendations.

Regarding Algeria, recommendations concerned enforced disappearance; refugees, migrants and asylum seekers; and the right to peaceful assembly.

Concerning Angola, recommendations concerned voluntary termination of pregnancy and maternal mortality; excessive use of force by law enforcement officers; and freedom of assembly.

As for Bulgaria, recommendations concerned hate speech and hate crimes; national, ethnic and religious minorities; and freedom of expression.

Concerning Viet Nam, recommendations concerned the death penalty; freedom of expression; and human rights defenders.

The draft reports were adopted by the Committee as amended during the discussion and will be available on the web page dedicated to the follow-up procedure for concluding observations.

Follow up to individual communications

The communication regarding the Czech Republic concerned discrimination based on citizenship with respect to restitution of property. The Committee’s Views had called for an effective remedy, including by providing adequate compensation, and to ensure that State laws and policies concerning the restitution of property were applied without discrimination of any kind. The Committee found that the State party had failed to provide adequate compensation or return property, and to make efforts to prevent repetition. It decided to continue a follow-up dialogue with the State party on the issue. 

The communication regarding Estonia concerned the refusal of the State party to allow a defendant to be represented by counsel of his choice throughout criminal proceedings, and to allow adequate time or facilities for the preparation of the defendant’s defence. The Committee’s Views had called for an effective remedy, including by providing the author with adequate compensation and preventing similar violations in the future. The Committee found that although the State party had responded to the Committee’s Views, it had not provided sufficient evidence that it had provided an effective remedy to the case. It decided to continue a follow-up dialogue with the State party on the issue.

Regarding Italy, the communication concerned rescue operations at sea. The Committee’s Views had called on the State party to conduct independent and effective investigation and, if found necessary, to prosecute and try those responsible for the death and disappearance of the authors’ relatives; and to take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future. The State party had provided information on ongoing criminal proceedings, but had asked the Committee to revoke its Views on the case. The Committee would request a meeting on the issue with a representative of the State party during one of its future sessions.

The communication regarding Mexico concerned enforced disappearance. The Committee’s Views had called on the State party to conduct a prompt, independent, and transparent investigation into the disappearance; ensure the release of the victim if he was still alive; hand over his remains to his family if deceased; prosecute and punish the persons found responsible for the violations committed, and make the results of those proceedings public; grant the author, and the victim if still alive, full reparation; and take steps to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future. The Committee found that the State party had made some positive responses to the Committee’s recommendations, but had not provided sufficient evidence of progress in conducting investigations and providing an effective remedy. It decided to continue a follow-up dialogue with the State party on the issue.

Regarding New Zealand, the communication concerned compensation for wrongful arrest and detention. The Committee’s Views had called on the State party to provide the author with adequate compensation; and to ensure that individuals who had been unlawfully arrested or detained could apply to receive adequate compensation. The Committee found that the State party had failed to provide adequate compensation or take steps to prevent repetition. It would request a meeting on the issue with a representative of the State party during one of its future sessions.

The communication regarding the Russian Federation concerned unlawful detention, torture and mistreatment of the authors. The Committee’s Views had called on the State party to conduct a thorough, prompt and impartial investigation into the authors’ allegations of torture and, if confirmed, prosecute those responsible; provide full redress to the authors; and take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future. The Committee found that the State party had not conducted an effective investigation, prosecuted the perpetrators or provided just compensation to the authors. It decided to continue a follow-up dialogue with the State party on the issue.

The communication regarding Türkiye concerned arbitrary arrest, detention and access to justice. The Committee’s Views had called on the State party to release the authors; provide them with adequate compensation for the violations suffered; and take all necessary steps to prevent the occurrence of similar violations in the future. The Committee found that the State party had not made efforts to release the authors, provide them with adequate compensation, or prevent repetition. It decided to continue a follow-up dialogue with the State party on the issue.

Session 137, 27 February to 24 March 2023

The Committee will review the periodic reports of Egypt, Panama, Peru, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan and Zambia. The Committee would adopt lists of issues in relation to Namibia, Serbia and Syria and a list of issues prior to reporting on Kazakhstan. Further, the Committee would evaluate the reports of Belarus, Estonia, the Netherlands and Tajikistan under the follow-up procedure to concluding observations.

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