Human Rights Committee Adopts Report Chapter Concerning Individual Communications Received under Optional Protocol to Civil, Political Rights Convention

27 March 2012

Human Rights Committee Adopts Report Chapter Concerning Individual Communications Received under Optional Protocol to Civil, Political Rights Convention

27 March 2012
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Human Rights Committee

104th Session

2885th & 2886th Meetings* (AM & PM)

Human Rights Committee Adopts Report Chapter Concerning Individual Communications

Received under Optional Protocol to Civil, Political Rights Convention


The Human Rights Committee today adopted its report on follow-up on individual communications, containing an update on individual communications filed with the expert body under the First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The First Optional Protocol establishes a mechanism allowing individuals to complain to the 18-member Committee about violations of rights protected by the Covenant.  States parties to the Optional Protocol recognize the Committee’s competence to “receive and consider” those complaints.

Special Rapporteur Krister Thelin, expert from Sweden, presented the report (document CCPR/C/104/R.4/Add.6), which will be Chapter VI of the draft report the Committee will submit to the General Assembly at its sixty-seventh session.  It reflected the Committee’s more nuanced approach to assessing its follow-up dialogue, agreed to last July and October.  He recalled there had been suggestions to close the follow-up dialogue with a finding of satisfactory or non-satisfactory; to suspend dialogue with a non-satisfactory finding; and to always assess the current status of dialogue, whether satisfactory or non-satisfactory.  All those ideas had been carried out in the drafting of the progress report.

In other areas, he said the report referred to failed attempts to meet with State parties, citing section B, page 39, of the English version, which noted that the Secretariat had tried to arrange meetings with the representatives of Belarus, Cameroon and Kyrgyzstan without success, a situation he “deplored”.  He had met in Geneva with representatives of Nepal, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

In most of the 46 cases reviewed in the progress report, the Committee decided to consider the follow-up dialogue ongoing.

In 16 cases, the Committee decided to suspend the follow-up dialogue on implementation of its recommendations, with a finding of non-satisfactory.  In 15 of those cases, it suspended dialogue on grounds that the State party — Tajikistan — believed it had taken measures that were in line with its domestic laws and that no violations of the Covenant had been committed.  Hence, there was no need to follow the Committee’s recommendations, which it considered invalid.  The Committee also decided to suspend dialogue with the Philippines in the Pimentel et al case.

The Committee decided to close follow-up dialogue with Australia in the Kwok case, and with Kyrgyzstan, in the Toktakunov case.

In a final discussion on the progress report, Yuji Iwasawa, expert from Japan and Committee Vice-Chairperson, suggested including language about the fact that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) often was late in publishing the Committee’s views, a mantle that had, instead, been taken up by the Centre for Civil and Political Rights.  Several Committee experts agreed, with Michael O’Flaherty, expert from Ireland and Committee Vice-Chairperson, underlining that the language should make clear that the Centre was not being placed in a privileged position.

The Committee then turned to its working methods, with Cornelis Flinterman, expert from the Netherlands, presenting its draft position on the treaty body strengthening process.  He recalled that the Committee had held consultations with Member States in Geneva, prior to the start of the 104th session in New York.  The Bureau had been asked to reflect on steps to enhance the functioning of the treaty bodies.

He said the working paper, dated 20 March 2012, recalled that there were two processes under way:  the High Commissioner’s initiative; and the General Assembly process.  The Committee would still consider the idea of having a code of conduct for treaty body members.  But, he suggested the focus be on the main proposals that had been presented and included in the “Dublin II” outcome document, which had been adopted at the 10 to 11 November 2011 meeting in Dublin, Ireland.  The key issues included:  resources; the follow-up procedure; General Comments; where the Committee’s mandate had been disputed by Member States; and page limits.  Mr. Flinterman said he had categorized the “Dublin II” recommendations into three categories:  those that the Committee had implemented; those that the Committee could implement; and those that required more resources.

In lively debate on the working paper, some experts said there was a political problem posed by the fact there were two processes under way, which could not be ignored.  Others said that strengthening the treaty bodies was a shared goal.  Still others suggested adopting a paragraph to the effect that reflection on the strengthening process would remain an ongoing part of the Committee’s working methods.

The Human Rights Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. Thursday, 29 March, to take up its annual report to the General Assembly.

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*     The 2883rd and 2884th Meetings were closed.

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.