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Committee discusses individual commnications, case management of individual communications and follow-up to concluding observations

22 July 2013

The Human Rights Committee this morning heard a progress report on follow-up to individual communications on the status of pending cases in a number of countries; a report on case management in connection with individual communications; and a report on follow-up to concluding observations.

Yuji Iwasawa, Rapporteur on follow-up to individual communications, presented his report on the status of pending cases in Argentina, Australia, Algeria, Belarus, Cameroon, Canada, France, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Mauritius, Nepal, Paraguay, Peru, Russian Federation, Spain, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Zambia.

Mr. Iwasawa, speaking as Committee Rapporteur on case management in connection with individual communications, presented a report on how to strengthen his mandate and to improve the management of communications. The Committee agreed that flexibility was needed in this regard.

Finally, Christine Chanet, Committee Rapporteur for follow-up to concluding observations, presented a report containing proposals for the revision of the procedure of follow-up to concluding observations. The discussion focused on the appointment of an additional mandate holder as Rapporteur for follow-up to concluding observations. Taking into account the time requested for the procedure, it was agreed that a deputy Rapporteur should be appointed. The Committee also discussed criteria to identify follow-up recommendations and their number. It was agreed to limit the number of recommendations to three.

The next public meeting of the Committee will be today at 3 p.m. at the Palais des Nations, when it will meet with States parties.

Follow-up Progress Report on Individual Communications

YUJI IWASAWA, Rapporteur on follow-up to individual communications, presented a report on the status of pending cases in Argentina, Australia, Algeria, Belarus, Cameroon, Canada, France, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Mauritius, Nepal, Paraguay, Peru, Russian Federation, Spain, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Zambia.

He proposed to close several cases, including a case concerning Argentina. The State party informed the Committee that there had been a symbolic reparation ceremony held in April 2009 and the author of the complaint had received $ 53,000 in monetary compensation as well as a monthly life pension. The Committee Rapporteur deemed it a satisfactory compensation. In another case concerning Uruguay, the communication was closed since the State party had partially implemented the Committee’s recommendations.

The author of a complaint concerning a case of miscarriage of justice in Canada had received an appropriate compensation. The Committee’s recommendations had been implemented in a satisfactory manner and the follow-up consideration of the case was closed. Another case concerning Australia was closed. Further action was not necessary but the Committee considered that its recommendation had been implemented in an unsatisfactory manner.
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There were also 16 pending cases concerning Algeria, but the State party had not followed up on the Committee’s recommendations. One Expert said that a non-governmental organization had suggested that the Committee could organize a visit in the country, together with the Committee against Torture. Another Expert said that the conclusions and recommendations of the different cases had to be coherent. If the dialogue with the State party did not continue, the communications should be included in the next State report. The Rapporteur said that the closure of a case meant the closure of the follow-up dialogue; an indication of unsatisfactory implementation would be included in the Committee’s annual report.

With regard to a case concerning Belarus, the Rapporteur said that the State party had challenged the fact that it was bound by the rules of procedures of the Committee. In addition, Belarus was not cooperating in the implementation of the Committee’s recommendations. An Expert underlined that the follow-up dialogue was closed by the State party and this should be mentioned in the report. The Committee had to make it clear that it did not accept the position of the State party in that specific case. Committee Experts agreed that a follow-up meeting with the State party would be useful.

With respect to a case regarding Nepal, the State party had informed the Committee that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission would be established to address various complaints, including the communications submitted to the Committee. According to one of the authors’ counsel, the mandate of the Commission did not comply with international standards. The author’s counsel invited the Committee to remind the State party of its obligations to investigate and try those alleged to be responsible for the crimes in the communications through the normal criminal justice system.

Follow-up dialogue was on-going in cases concerning Belarus, Cameroon, Greece, France, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Mauritius, Nepal, Paraguay, Peru, Russian Federation, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Zambia. A meeting with representatives of Libya would be scheduled at the next Committee’s session, in October 2013, to discuss a pending case.

An Expert said that treaty bodies’ conclusions and recommendations on individual communications should be included in the summary report produced by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the framework of the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review.

Report on Case Management in Connection with Communications Submitted under the Optional Protocol to the Covenant

YUJI IWASAWA, who is also the Committee Special Rapporteur on case management, presented the report on case management in connection with communications submitted under the Optional Protocol to the Covenant. The report summarized the current practice of the Committee with regard to management of individual communications and offered proposals to enhance the transparency and predictability of the proceedings. New provisions could be added to the rules of procedures in this regard. The absence of written guidelines on the matter did not contribute to transparency in the proceedings. Some predictability about the length of proceedings would be welcomed by all involved parties. Committee Experts discussed guidelines for complainants and the Secretariat with regard to the submission of communications. The general principle was to consider the communications by chronological order. The report noted that certain types of cases had to be considered by the Committee in priority. Committee Experts agreed that the Committee had to show some flexibility in the prioritization of communications. The Committee would resume the discussion on case management at its next session.

Proposals for the Revision of the Procedure of Follow-up on Views to Concluding Observations

CHRISTINE CHANET, Committee Rapporteur on follow-up to concluding observations, presented a report containing proposals for the revision of the procedure of follow-up to concluding observations, in accordance with a 2003 recommendation of the Inter-Committee Meeting. The Inter-Committee Meeting re-emphasized that recommendation in 2009, underlining that follow-up procedures were an integral part of the reporting procedure. So far, the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Committee against Torture had followed the recommendation. The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was in the process of adopting such a procedure.

The report described the existing procedure of follow-up to concluding observations and made recommendations as to the points that could be modified to simplify or clarify the procedure. Taking into account the amount of work required for the procedure, it was suggested that the follow-up to concluding observations could be divided between the Special Rapporteur and a deputy. Several Experts concurred with the idea of appointing an additional Rapporteur for follow-up to concluding observations. One Expert said that it would be better to have two persons within the Secretariat who would be in charge of the follow-up to concluding observations.

Other issues addressed during the discussion included criteria to identify follow-up recommendations and the number of such recommendations. Ms. Chanet said that the main criteria for the selection of the recommendations to be prioritized should be the level of gravity and the emergency of the referred situation. A hierarchy of the level of gravity and emergency was needed. Several Experts said that the recommendations had to be concise and their number limited. In principle, the Committee should avoid the duplication of recommendations made by other treaty bodies or recommendations on issues that were pending before other committees. It was agreed that the Committee should in principle limit its recommendations to three.

The Committee will resume its discussion on methods of work on Friday, 26 July 2013.

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For use of the information media; not an official record