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Human Rights Committee continues discussion of draft General Comment on the right to life

Human Rights Committee

06 July 2018

The Human Rights Committee this afternoon continued the second reading of the draft General Comment No. 36 on article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the right to life.  

The Committee adopted introductory paragraph 16, 18, 22, 24 and 25 from the section on The Prohibition against Arbitrary Deprivation of Life, and ended the session with a discussion on paragraph 26 from the section three on The Duty to Protect Life.

Yuval Shany, Committee Rapporteur for the draft General Comment, recalled that at the previous discussion of the draft General Comment on 3 July, the Committee had postponed the adoption of paragraphs 18 and 22 from the section on The Prohibition against Arbitrary Deprivation of Life.  The Rapporteur presented a revised draft text, and moderated the discussion in which Committee Experts addressed issues and concerns raised by States and other contributors to draft General Comment.

The Committee quickly adopted paragraph 16 on non-arbitrary deprivation of life, which stated inter alia that “even those exceptional measures leading to deprivations of life which are not arbitrary per se must be applied in a manner which is not arbitrary in fact.”

The Committee's Experts discussed at length paragraph 18, which defined “arbitrariness” not as equal to “against the law” but was interpreted “more broadly to include elements of inappropriateness, injustice, lack of predictability, and due process of law, as well as elements of reasonableness, necessity, and proportionality.”  The Committee then adopted Paragraph 18.

The Committee then turned to the section three of the draft General Comment on The Duty to Protect Life, adopting, after some discussion, paragraph 22 which provided that the right to life “shall be protected by law”, which “implies that States parties must establish a legal framework to ensure the full enjoyment of the right to life by all Individuals.”  

Mr. Shany outlined the comments and proposals submitted by States, international organizations and individuals, and the Committee adopted by consensus paragraph 23, which stated that “since deprivation of life by the authorities of the State is a matter of the utmost gravity, the law must strictly control and limit the circumstances in which a person may be deprived of his life by such authorities.”

The Committee also adopted paragraph 24 which defined the duty of States to “enact a protective legal framework which includes effective criminal prohibitions on all forms of arbitrary deprivations of life by individuals” and to ensure that “the criminal sanctions attached to these crimes must be commensurate with their gravity, while remaining compatible with all provisions of the Covenant.”

The Experts heard concerns by States on paragraph 25 concerning due diligence obligation of States to undertake reasonable positive measures to protect the right to life, and after some discussion, adopted paragraph 25.

Finally, the Committee began the consideration of paragraph 26, which provided appropriate measures to protect individuals against deprivations of life by other States operating within their territory, and decided to continue this consideration at the next discussion on draft General Comment N° 36 on Wednesday, 18 July at 10 a.m.

The drafting of the General Comment started on 14 July 2015 with a half day of general discussion, and the first reading of the draft was completed at the Committee’s one hundred and twentieth session in July 2017.  The second reading of the draft started on 27 October 2017 (summary), and was followed by discussions on 1 November 2017 (summary), 2 November 2017 (summary), 28 March 2018 (summary), and on 5 April 2018 (summary).  Further information about draft General Comment No. 36 can be obtained here.

The Committee will resume at 3 p.m. on Monday, 9 July, when it is scheduled to start the consideration of initial report of Liberia (CCPR/C/LBR/1).

For use of the information media; not an official record
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