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Human Rights Committee discusses draft General Comment on the right to liberty and security of person

20 March 2014

The Human Rights Committee today reviewed its draft General Comment on Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, on the right of everybody to liberty and security of person, after yesterday completing its review of the last State party report submitted this session.

Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law. Anyone who is arrested shall be informed of the reasons for his arrest, shall be brought promptly before a judge and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody.”

Committee Member Gerald Neuman presented the draft General Comment with general remarks on Article 9 of the Covenant. It addressed the issues of arbitrary and unlawful detention, the requirement of notice for reasons of arrest and criminal charge, judicial control of detention in the context of criminal charge, the right to proceedings for release from unlawful or arbitrary detention, the right to compensation for unlawful or arbitrary detention, and the relationship of Article 9 with other Articles of the Covenant.

In its meeting the Committee considered the relationship of Article 9 with other articles of the Covenant by discussing proposals for paragraphs 59 to 71. Committee Members insisted that provisions and safeguards of Article 9 served to reduce the risks of acts of torture and ill-treatments prohibited under Article 7 of the Covenant. Members said that prolonged incommunicado detention not only violated Article 9 but also amounted to torture, which was prohibited in Article 7. Experts underlined the overlapping and complementary links between Article 9 and Articles 10 and 12 of the Covenant on the rights of persons deprived of their liberty and the liberty of movement, respectively.

The Committee also discussed the question of the applicability of Article 9 of the Covenant outside States parties territory and in situations of armed conflict. During discussions on paragraph 65, Experts noted that States Parties must not arbitrarily or unlawfully arrest individuals outside their territories or subject them to prolonged incommunicado detention. The compatibility or Article 9 with provisions of the Geneva Conventions and their additional protocols were also discussed. It was noted that Article 9 also applied in situations of armed conflict to which the rules of international humanitarian law were applicable.

The Human Rights Committee publishes its interpretation of the content of human rights provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in the form of General Comments on thematic issues. To date, it has issued 34 General Comments.

The next public meeting of the Committee will be on Friday 21 March at 10 a.m. when it will conclude its first reading of the draft general comment on Article 9.

For use of the information media; not an official record