Human Rights Committee
28 October 2013
Continues Discussion on Draft General Comment on Liberty and Security of Person
The Human Rights Committee this morning discussed a progress report by the Special Rapporteur on follow-up to concluding observations, and continued to consider its draft General Comment on the right of everyone to liberty and security of person.
Fabian Omar Salvioli, the Special Rapporteur on follow-up to concluding observations, said his first report referred to the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The main concerns of the Committee were access to information for family members of persons who had disappeared, reparations, as well as the return of displaced persons to their homes, and the Committee had requested more information on these issues. UNMIK responded, saying that legislation was in place to provide benefits and reparation to family members of disappeared persons and progress had been made in identifying remains of the victims. UNMIK also pointed out difficulties in implementation of the measures. Thus UNMIK had provided the provisions and norms and outlined some effective implementation, especially regarding access of family members of the disappeared to justice. More information was needed on reparation and benefits to family members. UNMIK had provided information on measures to guarantee that displaced persons could return to their homes, but there had been difficulties in implementing these measures and the Committee had recommended additional measures. Information had also been provided on compensation and reparations. On the sustainable return of displaced persons, initial action had been taken but additional information and measures were necessary. On providing restitution, the Committee considered that the response was largely satisfactory. The Committee would also send a letter to UNMIK informing them about discontinuing the follow-up procedure, and the pending issues would be raised in the list of issues for the next report.
Concerning Uzbekistan, Mr. Salvioli said the Committee had communicated to the State party concerns with respect to the assassination of certain individuals, the punishment and sanctions of the perpetrators, and the use of weapons by the authorities. The replies provided by Uzbekistan more or less repeated the information provided earlier and actions taken did not implement the recommendation. No information was received on the review of the use of fire arms by the police. The Committee had expressed other concerns on torture and sanctions against it; the State had repeated the information provided earlier on legislation to fight it, but actions taken did not implement the recommendation. On concerns about habeas corpus, the State provided some information about the legislation in place, but it seemed that it was not making efforts to implement it. As for the major concern on the freedom of non-governmental organizations to work, the response of Uzbekistan was disappointing because it flatly denied the issue. The Committee would suspend the procedure and would include all pending matters in the forthcoming list of issues.
With regard to the Slovak Republic, in the Committee’s dialogue with the State party, problems were raised about the implementation of international treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and on acts of racism and the treatment of the Roma people. The State party responded by saying it would not be possible to create a bill on racism as that would necessitate a change of the Constitution. The State party had thus acknowledged the problem but did not inform the Committee of any measures to rectify it. Concerning racist acts perpetrated by law enforcement officers as well as compensation for the victims, the State party provided legal information on what procedures were in place but actions taken did not implement the recommendation. The Committee recognized that the State party had made some efforts, including providing training, but more information was required, in particular on the result of the training in the effective implementation of the Istanbul Protocol. As for the issue of forced sterilization of women, particularly targeting Roma women, the Slovak Republic had referred to a draft decree on guidelines to be followed concerning women’s consent, so initial action had been taken but additional information and measures were required. The State party would be informed that the Committee would discontinue its consideration and the issues would be on the list of issues for the next report.
Concerning Bulgaria, Mr. Salvioli said the Committee had been concerned about the treatment of persons by police, and the State party had responded with replies, repeating information that they had established a committee on human rights and police ethics and they had also set up a special registration system for complaints of ill-treatment by police and carried out training for the police. They had received some information from the State party, but no additional information on how investigations were conducted on cases of mistreatment by police and prosecutions carried out, thus initial action had been taken but additional information and measures were required. On the rules on the use of weapons, it seemed that the State party had adopted some possible measures, but the Committee had to see how they were being implemented. Concerning the independence of the judiciary, Bulgaria had reiterated that the independence of the judiciary was guaranteed, but had not adopted any measures in response to the Committee’s concerns. The Committee had requested more information.
On Kuwait, the Committee had expressed concerns about the rights of foreign migrant workers. In response, Kuwait had mentioned its Act on private sector labour, and an entity which was responsible for regulating migrant labour, but according to non-governmental organizations, no further steps had been taken to abolish the concerns of the Committee on the sponsorship system; the Committee found that a response had been received but actions taken did not implement the recommendation. The Committee would request more information. The Committee also had problems with the law on the media and provisions on defamation, and the State party had provided no additional information on that, while non-governmental organizations said that Kuwait had not revised its media laws, therefore the Committee found that no response to the specific question had been received. The Committee would send Kuwait a letter.
Concerning Guatemala, Mr. Salvioli said this was one of those cases where they had a lot of information, but it was difficult to pin down the real substance. The Committee had concerns, and Guatemala had responded with information on reparations which showed that initial action had been taken but additional information and measures were required. The Committee had also expressed concerns about human rights defenders, including putting an end to their harassment and bringing the perpetrators to justice. Guatemala repeated information that it had established a body to investigate attacks on human rights defenders and protect journalists and freedom of expression. The formal response of Guatemala seemed to show that they were taking steps, but this was not true as many of these measures led to nothing and did not improve the situation. Therefore the Committee considered that no response had been received. On investigations taken in cases of attacks on human rights defenders, substantive action had been taken but additional information was required. The Committee would send a letter requesting more information.
With regard to Turkmenistan, the Committee’s most important concern was on torture and cruel and inhuman treatment and punishment, including the laws in place and necessary training of personnel to be able to implement the Istanbul Protocol, and access to detention centres. Turkmenistan had provided some information, including on training, mechanisms to bring perpetrators to justice, and establishing supervisory commissions for prisons, but apparently these commissions were not independent. The Committee considered that initial action had been taken but additional information and measures were required. Concerning the situation of journalists and human rights defenders in Turkmenistan and censorship of the internet, the State party said it was taking certain measures, including a bill that was in the pipeline and steps to ensure further access to the internet. However, non-governmental organizations said the situation was of great concern, there was a lot of cases of intimidation of journalists and human rights defenders and internet censorship was quite extensive.
The Committee then continued its consideration of the draft General Comment on article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the right of everyone to liberty and security of person, based on the text prepared by Committee Rapporteur Gerald L. Neuman. The Committee already discussed this issue on 17 and 18 October, and on 24 October. Committee Members this morning discussed measures that should be taken by States parties to implement the provisions of article 9.
The Committee will hold two more public meetings on Tuesday, 29 October, in the morning and Thursday, 31 October, in the morning to continue its discussion on the draft General Comment, before closing its session on Friday, 1 November after adopting its concluding observations and recommendations on the reports of Bolivia, Djibouti, Mauritania, Mozambique and Uruguay, which were considered during the session.
For use of the information media; not an official record