Human Rights Committee grades countries for continued protection follow-up during COVID-19

A man holds a placards denouncing violence against women during a protest in Amman, Jordan. The country received an A rating due to work combatting violence against women. © EPA-EFE/ANDRE PAINFive countries in 2021 have received top grades for their implementation of selected priority recommendations by the Human Rights Committee. These include Jordan, Liechtenstein, Mauritius, the Republic of Moldova, and New Zealand that all received at least one 'A's during the Committee's follow-up examination.

The Human Rights Committee periodically examines reports on the implementation of the legal obligations of countries that have ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Despite the challenges to its work brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee was able to hold online follow-up reviews of 12 countries during its three regular sessions this year.

A few years ago, the Committee held constructive dialogues with these countries after which it adopted its concluding observations. The Committee selected between two to four of these concluding observations for each State party and they were asked to provide information on their implementation. The Committee assessed the information received from the State parties, as well as from civil society organisation, where submitted, and adopted follow-up reports in 2021.

This follow-up procedure has been used by the Committee since 2013. Grades from ‘A’ to ‘E’ are assigned to countries based on their action on the Committee’s recommendations. The 'A' grade reflects "largely satisfactory" action taken towards implementing recommendations. The other grades are: ‘B’ ‘partially satisfactory’; ‘C’ ‘not satisfactory’; ‘D’ ‘no cooperation with the committee or no follow-up report was received’; and ‘E’ ‘measures taken in response to the recommendation are contrary to or reflect a rejection of it’.

Country follow-up also benefits from the participation of civil society organizations and national human rights institutions that also submit information, thus offering important contextual insight about the domestic civil and political rights situation and the impact of the actions taken by countries to implement the Committee’s recommendations.

“It is particularly noteworthy that, not only did five States parties receive ‘A’ grades during the 2021 follow-up processes, but also that there were no ‘D’ or ‘E’ grades issued for any of the 12 States parties assessed this year,” said Vasilka Sancin, the Committee’s Special Rapporteur for follow-up on concluding observations. “This demonstrates remarkable commitment to cooperating with the Human Rights Committee, the great importance and added value of continuous dialogue on the implementation, and unwavering respect for the standards set in the Covenant regardless of the additional challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“While a number of recommendations still remain to be satisfactorily implemented, such a positive trajectory signals a promising opening of possibilities to rebuild better in the years to come,” she added.

Five follow-up frontrunners in 2021

This year, Jordan was awarded an ‘A’ for efforts made around combatting violence against women, including domestic violence, by undertaking research on the root causes of violence against women and using that research as a basis for enhanced awareness-raising efforts to prevent and eliminate violence against women.

Liechtenstein received an ‘A’ for its response to recommendations on the prohibition of torture. Liechtenstein held a public consultation on the revision of its Criminal Code and plans to propose legislation based on the consultation.

Mauritius received two “As” for the implementation of recommendations linked to its treatment of asylum seekers, refugees and stateless persons residing in its territory. Mauritius collected data and published on these groups. The country also provided information on the measures it had taken in regards to juvenile justice, including the training police officers to handle cases relating to juvenile justice.

“The Republic of Mauritius expresses its appreciation for the recognition of its works and efforts by the Human Rights Committee for the promotion and integration of the rights of children in Mauritius, with a special focus on juvenile justice,” said a representative from Mauritius’ Permanent Mission to the United Nations. “The upcoming promulgation of the Children’s Act 2020, the Children’s Court Act 2020 and the Child Sex Offenders Register Act 2020 would reinforce our efforts and commitment to further enhance and uphold Human Rights which encompass Children’s Rights in the juvenile justice system.”

Moldova was also graded ‘A’ for the implementation of its recommendations issued in its    adoption of the new National Human Rights Action Plan in consultation with stakeholders, in accordance to the Committee’s recommendations linked to National Human Rights Frameworks.

Finally, New Zealand received an ‘A’ for strengthening its efforts to combat all forms of gender-based violence, including domestic violence, particularly in relations to Māori and Pasifika women and girls, as well as women and girls with disabilities; and for enforcing its criminal legislation on domestic and gender-based violence across its territory.

To date, 173 countries have ratified the Covenant. An additional six countries have signed the Covenant but have yet to ratify it, while 18 have taken no action.

31 December 2021

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