26 March 2020
The Human Rights Committee this afternoon closed its online one hundred and thirty-first session after adopting its concluding observations and recommendations on the reports of Finland and Kenya.
Photini Pazartzis, Chairperson of the Committee said this session had been one of, if not the most challenging session this Committee had undertaken, which had included a return to the Committee’s important role of reviewing State parties. She noted though that nothing could replace in-person meetings. During the session, the Committee had completed reviews of both Finland and Kenya and adopted concluding observations for each. The Committee would continue to refine the process going forward, and any online review of States parties at the Committee’s one hundred and thirty second session in July 2021 would continue to be strictly on a pilot and exceptional basis due to COVID-19, should the in-person session not take place.
The Committee had adopted lists of issues prior to reporting for nine countries: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Fiji, Grenada, Iceland, Malawi, Nepal, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles and Tanzania. The list of issue for Burundi was postponed to the next session. It had also adopted 47 decisions on individual communications, including 24 on the merits (so-called views); 7 cases were declared inadmissible and 16 communications were discontinued. Regarding the cases decided on the merits, the Committee found violations in 20 of them and postponed to the next session the consideration of 3 communications. The Committee had also adopted progress reports on follow-up to concluding observations and on follow-up to views.
Ms. Pazartzis said that throughout the pandemic, and despite the online setting and the difficult circumstances it had entailed, the Committee had made remarkable accomplishments across the three sessions held exclusively online. It had adopted 34 lists of issues prior to reporting and lists of issues, and four follow-up reports to concluding observations and four follow-up reports to views. The Committee had issued one substantive statement on derogations from the Covenant during COVID-19; adopted General Comment N. 37 on the right of peaceful assembly; and had held an online colloquium with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. In terms of individual communications, since the outbreak of the pandemic in early 2020, the early suspension of the March session and the online setting of the July and October/November sessions, the Committee had adopted 200 individual communications. While this might not be much when looking at the backlog, it was considerable considering the current situation. And now, the Committee had reviewed two State parties, namely Finland and Kenya, and adopted concluding observations for each.
Duncan Muhumuza Laki, Rapporteur of the Committee, presenting the annual report of the Committee and listing the activities during the three sessions of the Committee, said the report once more stressed the need for additional staff and facilities for the effective performance of the Committee’s functions, including by increasing the staffing capacity of the Petitions Section. It also made very clear its desire to move back to holding in-person sessions as soon as possible. The Committee adopted the annual report.
The concluding observations and recommendations on the reports of Finland and Kenya will be available on the webpage of the session next week.
The Committee’s one hundred and thirty-first session took place from 1 to 26 March. All documents related to the session can be found here.
The one hundred and thirty-second session of the Human Rights Committee is scheduled to take place from 28 June to 23 July 2021.
For use of the information media; not an official record