At its 107th Session (11 to 28 March 2013) the Human Rights Committee reviewed the reports of five States Parties and considered one State, Belize, in the absence of a report. It adopted Lists of Issues in relation to the reports of eight States, of which half are initial reports and considered 29 Individual Communications. Two meetings were also devoted to the first reading of draft General Comment 35 on article 9 (Liberty and Security of Persons). Five new members joined the Committee at this session.
Traditionally the March session of the Human Rights Committee has taken place at the UN Headquarters in New York, but last year, due largely to financial constraints, the OHCHR took the decision to hold this session in Geneva.
For a full overview of the session read the Centre for Civil and Political Rights' Overview of the Session in English, French or Spanish. See the Centre's photos from the 107th Session.
II. Review of State Reports
The examination of the Initial Report of Angola (CCPR/C/ANG/1) took place over nine hours on 14 and 15 March 2013. The Committee members identified various areas of concern, notably with regard to the situation of women. The Committee was concerned at the persistence of gender-based violence and the lack of prosecutions in this area (recommendation 10). The State’s inability to provide statistics on this problem was also noted. Furthermore, the Committee instructed the State to take measures to combat various forms of discrimination faced by women, such as polygamy and forced marriages (recommendation 11), the criminalisation of abortion (recommendation 13), and trafficking of women (recommendation 17). Read more...
On 15 March 2013 the Committee reviewed Belize in the absence of a report and a delegation. The decision to review Belize in the absence of a report was due to the on-going failure to submit its initial report, which was due in 1997. Substantive areas of concern identified by the Committee on the basis of available information included the criminalisation of same sex relations and prohibition on the immigration of homosexuals (recommendation 13); the State’s refusal to comply with decisions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and its own Supreme Court, which would prevent it issuing concessions for resource exploitation of Mayan lands (recommendation 25); and the lack of a functional asylum system (recommendation 16). Read more...
A large civil society delegation, co-ordinated by the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, attended the review of the third periodic report of Hong Kong (CCPR/C/CHN-HKG/3) on 12 and 13 March. The relationship between Hong Kong and Mainland China was, inevitably, one of the major themes of the review with questions being asked about the return of detainees to face trial on the Mainland if they might face the death penalty, and discrimination against migrants from the Mainland who are not protected by the Race Discrimination Ordinance (recommendations 15 and 19). The Committee was especially concerned that the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress has the power to interpret the Basic Law of Hong Kong (recommendation 5). Read more...
The Committee considered the initial report of Macao (CCPR/C/CHN-MAC/1) on 18 and 19 March 2013. As with Hong Kong, the Committee expressed concern about the power of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress to interpret the Basic Law, noting that for a legislator to interpret its own legislation might weaken the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary (recommendation 6). The Committee also regretted the very limited nature of the electoral reforms that have taken place, with elections for the Chief Executive currently involving less than 1% of the population. It welcomed the consultations initiated by State on the subject and urged it to move towards universal and equal suffrage (recommendation 7). Read more...
The examination of Paraguay by the Committee took place months after the impeachment and subsequent removal of former President Fernando Lugo in June 2012, following a raid Curuguaty. One novelty of the review was that the Committee asked the delegation what lessons were learned in Paraguay after the impeachment of former President Lugo and how such processes might be prevented in the future. The delegation noted that the process was legal and respected due process, making it unnecessary to discuss lessons learned. Perhaps because of that reply the Committee, unusually, included a recommendation (24) urging the state to ensure that the impeachment of a President always takes place in full accordance with the basic principles of due process. Read more...
A large state delegation took part in the review of the fifth periodic report of Peru (CCPR/C/PER/5). Excessive use of force during social protests was one of the main subjects of discussion, in light of the 24 civilian deaths during a social protest against the current administration. Another major focus of the discussion was the legalisation of abortion. Unlike other Latin American countries, Peru allows therapeutic abortion when the health or life of the mother is in danger. However, the national protocol governing access to health facilities has still not adopted, which, in practice, prevents access to abortion in many hospitals. The Committee also asked the State whether it was reconsidering the legalisation of abortion in other cases, in view of the large numbers of clandestine abortions. Read more...
III. List of Issues
During the 107th session the Committee adopted Lists of Issues on:
IV. Follow-up to Concluding Observations and to Decisions on Individual Communications
On Monday 25 March, the Rapporteurs on Follow-up to Concluding Observations and on Follow-up to Views presented their progress reports. The report on follow-up to the Concluding Observations analyses and grades the implementation of the Concluding Observations selected for the follow-up procedure in: Tanzania, Colombia, Mexico, Belgium, Hungary, Serbia, Togo, Kazakhstan, Norway, and Jamaica. The report on follow-up to Views assesses the implementation of the Committee's decisions on 76 Communications affecting 32 States parties.
The CCPR Centre webcast the presentation of these reports, which can now be watched on the webcast archive.
V. First Reading of the General Comment on Article 9
Draft text: English, French, Spanish
On Thursday 21 March and Tuesday 26 March the Human Rights Committee began its first reading of a new General Comment on Article 9 (Liberty and Security of Person). The Committee first discussed some general points relating to the General Comment and then began a paragraph-by-paragraph consideration of the text, reaching paragraph 9 in the course of this session.
The rapporteur will now re-draft the paragraphs discussed and at the next session the Committee will resume its discussion.
Read more about the discussion of the text in the CCPR-Centre's Overview of the Session (in English, French, or Spanish) or watch the webcast of the discussions.
VI. Next Session
8 - 26 July 2013 - Geneva