Press Releases

    Background Release

    HR/CT/609
    7 July 2001

    HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE TO HOLD SEVENTY-SECOND
    SESSION AT GENEVA FROM 9 TO 27 JULY

    Experts to Examine Reports of Netherlands, Czech Republic,
    Monaco, Guatemala and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

    (Reissued as received.)

    GENEVA, 6 July (UN Information Service) -- Reports submitted by the Governments of the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Monaco, Guatemala and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on measures taken to implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights will be considered by the Human Rights Committee at its seventy-second session, to be held at the Palais Wilson at Geneva from 9 to 27 July.

    The opening meeting will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, 9 July, when the Committee members will adopt their programme of work. Under organizational and other matters, the experts will consider the report of its newly established pre-sessional working group, as well as working methods. The Committee will also discuss and finalize its contribution to the World Conference against Racism which will be held in Durban, South Africa, from 31 August to 7 September.

    According to the provisional timetable, the Committee will examine the third periodic report of the Netherlands on 9 and 10 July; the initial report of the Czech Republic on 11 and 12 July; the initial report of Monaco on 13 July; the second periodic report of Guatemala on 17 and 18 July; and the second periodic report of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on 19 and 20 July.

    The countries presenting reports are among the 148 States parties to the Covenant which was adopted in 1966 by the General Assembly. The Committee, as a monitoring body, periodically examines reports submitted by States parties on their promotion and protection of civil and political rights. Representatives of those Governments will introduce their country reports and respond to oral and written questions by the Committee’s 18 members, who serve in their personal capacity.

    Under the Optional Protocol to the Covenant, 98 States parties recognize the competence of the Committee to consider confidential communications from individuals claiming to be victims of violations of any rights proclaimed under the treaty. Since the procedure began in 1977, the Committee has found violations in 268 cases. One hundred and eighty-one communications are pending before the Committee.

    In addition, the Committee will have before it summaries of a number of recently registered communications and summaries of new communications registered after its last session, together with an indication of any action which may have been taken by the Special Rapporteur on new communications. One hundred and eighty-five communications are pending before the Committee.

    Forty-five States parties have ratified or acceded to the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant, which aims at the abolition of the death penalty.

    At this session, the Committee should continue and conclude consideration of its draft general comments on article 4 of the Covenant concerning states of emergency and derogations.

    Concluding Observations on Last Reports Submitted by Netherlands, Guatemala and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

    When it reviewed the second periodic report of the Netherlands in November 1988, the Committee thanked the delegation for its cooperation and the constructive spirit that had marked its dialogue with the Committee. It said that the Netherlands was exemplary in that it recognized its shortcomings and tried to remedy them through an ongoing process of legislative review. It was particularly satisfying to the Committee that the Netherlands delegation had affirmed the importance of its accession to the two Covenants and to the Optional Protocol. The Committee was convinced that the Netherlands would take into account the suggestions relating to certain important questions, and that all outstanding replies would appear in the third periodic report.

    In its final observations on the initial report of Guatemala, reviewed in March 1996, the Committee welcomed the delegation’s willingness to engage in a frank and fruitful dialogue with the Committee. It was satisfied with positive changes for the protection of human rights since the signing of the Central American Peace Accords in August 1987. The Committee expressed concern about the absence of a State policy for combating impunity and the continuation of human rights violations. It strongly encouraged the Government to undertake a thorough review of the legal framework for the protection of human rights in Guatemala, and urged the authorities to continue working in the process of national reconciliation which may bring lasting peace to Guatemalan society.

    And in its concluding observations on the initial report of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, considered in April 1984, the Committee thanked the delegate for the report and asked him to convey the Committee’s appreciation to the Government. The Committee requested more information about the independence of the judiciary in the country. It hoped that the information provided in future reports would enable members of the Committee to grasp the realities and the rights enjoyed in the civil and political fields in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and would facilitate a fruitful dialogue on the implementation of the Covenant’s provisions on such fundamental issues as freedom of thought, belief, press, publication and assembly.

    Background on Covenant

    The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was adopted by the General Assembly and opened for signature in 1966, together with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Both entered into force in 1976.

    The Civil and Political Rights Covenant begins by stating that all peoples have the right of self-determination. It recognizes that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. It prohibits torture, cruel or degrading treatment or punishment, and the arbitrary deprivation of life. Anyone arrested is to be informed of the reasons for the arrest, and anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge is to be brought promptly before a judge or other legally authorized person.

    The Covenant also provides, among other things, for freedom of movement, and places limitations upon the expulsion of aliens present lawfully in the territory of a State party. In addition, the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and to freedom of expression are recognized by the Covenant, which also prohibits any propaganda for war or any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred.

    States Parties to Covenant

    The following 148 States have ratified or acceded to the Covenant: Afghanistan. Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

    Optional Protocols to Covenant

    The Optional Protocol to the Covenant provides for the confidential consideration of communications from individuals who claim to be victims of a violation of any rights proclaimed in the Covenant. No communications can be received by the Committee if it concerns a State party to the Covenant that is not also a party to the Optional Protocol.

    The following 98 States are parties to the Optional Protocol: Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Republic of the Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Mongolia, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Zambia.

    The Human Rights Committee is also mandated, under article 41 of the Covenant, to consider communications from a State party alleging violations of the Covenant’s provisions by another State party. This procedure can be applied when both States recognize this competence of the Committee by a relevant declaration.

    So far, 47 States have made the declaration under article 41. They are: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Congo, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, Gambia, Germany, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and Zimbabwe.

    The Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant, which aims at the abolition of the death penalty, was adopted by the General Assembly on 15 December 1989 and entered into force on 11 July 1991. The following 45 States have ratified or acceded to the Second Optional Protocol: Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Portugal, Romania, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, Turkmenistan, Uruguay and Venezuela.

    Membership of Committee

    The Committee's 18 expert members, who serve in their individual capacity, are elected by the State parties to the Covenant for four-year terms. Article 28 of the Covenant requires that "they shall be persons of high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights".

    They are: Abdelfattah Amor (Tunisia); Nisuke Ando (Japan); Prafullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati (India); Christine Chanet (France); Maurice Glele Ahanhanzo (Benin); Louis Henkin (United States); Eckart Klein (Germany); David Kretzmer (Israel); Rajsoomer Lallah (Mauritius); Cecilia Medina Quiroga (Chile); Rafael Rivas Posada (Colombia); Nigel Rodley (United Kingdom); Martin Scheinin (Finland); Ivan Shearer (Australia); Hipolito Solari Yrigoyen (Argentine); Ahmed Tawfik Khalil (Egypt); Patrick Vella (Malta); and Maxwell Yalden (Canada).

    Mr. Bhagwati is Chairperson of the Committee. Mr. Kretzmer and Mr. Yrigoyen are Vice-Chairpersons and Mr. Klein is the Rapporteur.

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