GENEVA (1 November 2018) — There have been some improvements in the situation of human rights in Montenegro, Greece, Rwanda, Benin and the Republic of Korea, experts from the UN Human Rights Committee said after completing a follow-up review of those countries.
“In a world where much news about human rights is bleak, it’s heartening to see clear progress in specific areas the Committee helped states identify as priorities for improvement,” said Yuval Shany, Chair of the Human Rights Committee.
The 18-member Human Rights Committee monitors how states which have signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) are living up to their obligations, such as the right to life, freedom of expression and freedom of conscience.
The Committee performs its regular monitoring work by reviewing reports and holding meetings with state representatives, discussing the situation of human rights in their respective countries and also hearing from non-governmental organizations and other members of civil society. The Committee later issues detailed recommendations for how to improve the human rights situation in those countries. On 22 October, the Committee reviewed ‘follow up’ reports describing the implementation of specific ‘high-priority’ recommendations it issued in 2014-2016 to Montenegro, Greece, Rwanda, Benin and the Republic of Korea.
“All five states have adopted specific measures representing significant progress in the implementation of the Covenant,” said Shany. Those measures included the appointment of a special prosecutor for war crimes in Montenegro, the creation of the function of an ombudsperson in Greece to investigate claims of excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, the abolition of the death penalty in Benin, and the decriminalisation of defamation in Rwanda.
The Committee also noted with satisfaction recent information it received on the decision of the Constitutional Court in the Republic of Korea requiring that alternatives to military service be offered to conscientious objectors. All of these measures had been recommended to the respective states by the Committee.
“Although many of the Committee's recommendations for the five reviewed States and others remain unfulfilled or only partly fulfilled, the concrete progress made in the five States underscores the value of the ongoing dialogue between the Committee and member states to the ICCPR”, Shany said.
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The Human Rights Committee monitors States parties’ adherence to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which to date has been ratified by 171 States parties. The Committee is made up of 18 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Committee’s concluding observations are an independent assessment of States’ compliance with their human rights obligations under the treaty.
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