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Human Rights Committee
2626th Meeting (AM)
COMMITTEE MONITORING COMPLIANCE WITH CIVIL, POLITICAL RIGHTS COVENANT
CONCLUDES THREE-WEEK NEW YORK SESSION
Considered Rwanda, Australia, Sweden Reports; 30 Individual Communications
The Human Rights Committee, the United Nations expert body that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, concluded what its Chairman called a “very efficient” three-week session at Headquarters in New York today, having taken up the compliance reports of Rwanda, Australia and Sweden.
During its ninety-fifth session, the Committee also continued consideration of matters related to streamlining the guidelines for presentation of State reports under the Covenant and its Optional Protocol, which provides for confidential consideration of communications from individuals claiming to have suffered violations of any rights proclaimed in the Covenant.
The 18-member body discussed proposals that could lead to possible changes to its rules of procedure governing undue or excessive delay in submission of individual communications. It also considered a range of issues aimed at improving interaction and communication with States parties and disseminating information about its work to the wider public. The Committee also heard progress reports from its Special Rapporteurs for follow-up to concluding observations, and for follow-up to individual communications.
Summing up some of the key decisions taken during the session, Committee Chair Yuji Iwasawa, expert from Japan, said the experts had considered a total of 30 individual communications under the Optional Protocol. Eight of those had dealt with admissibility and, in that regard, the Committee had found two cases to be admissible and six to be inadmissible. Further, on the merits of 22 of those cases, the Committee had found evidence of violations of civil and political rights in 19 cases. It found no rights violations in the remaining two.
The Committee had been scheduled to hear the initial compliance report of Chad, and Mr. Iwasawa said it was unfortunate that the delegation had been late and the experts had been unable to review the country’s efforts to implement the Covenant. Chad would be added to the schedule of reporting countries set for the Committee’s ninety-sixth session, which would be held in Geneva from 13 to 31 July. Chad’s absence had allowed extra time to consider individual communications and the Committee had made some considerable headway working efficiently to that end. Nevertheless, there was still quite a large backlog of such cases and he hoped the Committee could continue to work efficiently to reduce it.
Turning next to decisions taken by the Bureau, he announced that Rafael Rivas Posada, expert from Colombia, and Iulia Antoanella Motoc, expert from Romania, would represent the Committee at the 2009 inter-committee meeting of United Nations human rights monitoring bodies. On the Committee’s relations with the media, he said that this past October, the Bureau had decided that such initiatives would be carried out by the Chair but that the Chair would be assisted by a member of the Bureau. With that in mind, the Bureau during this session had chosen Sir Nigel Rodley, expert from the United Kingdom, to fill that role.
Among other actions, Mr. Iwasawa said the Bureau had decided that Hellen Keller, expert from Switzerland, would continue the Committee’s work on its revised guidelines, and Michael O’Flaherty, expert from Ireland, would continue work on its revised General Comment on article 19 of the Covenant on freedom of expression. He added that he had received an invitation to the Durban Review Conference on Racism and Racial Discrimination ( Geneva, 20-24 April 2009), but because of prior obligations, he would not be available. Zonke Zanele Majordina, expert from South Africa, would, therefore, represent the Committee at that Conference.
As for the Committee’s July work programme, he said that, along with Chad, the experts planned to examine the compliance reports of the Netherlands, Azerbaijan, and the United Republic of Tanzania. They also planned to review compliance by one country in absence of a periodic report. The Committee also planned to finalize its lists of issues for five States parties: Argentina; New Zealand; Ecuador; Uzbekistan; and Mexico.
In closing remarks, Mr. Iwasawa said he had been grateful for all the support given him during his first term as Chairman of the Committee. He also thanked the Secretariat staff for all the hard work they had put in over the past three weeks.
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