Press Releases

    Background Release

    HR/CT/612
    18 March 2002

    HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER REPORTS OF
    GEORGIA, SWEDEN, HUNGARY, GAMBIA,
    18 MARCH – 15 APRIL

    NEW YORK, 14 March (UN Headquarters) -- Reports submitted by the Governments of Georgia, Sweden and Hungary on their implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights will be considered by the Human Rights Committee at its seventy-first session, which will be held at Headquarters from 18 March to 5 April. And for the first time, it will examine the implementation activities of a country in the absence of a report -– in this instance, the second periodic report of the Gambia.

    The countries being considered this session are among the 148 States parties to the International Covenant. 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 introduce their country reports and respond to oral and written questions from the Committee's 18 members, who are elected by States parties and serve in their personal capacity.

    The Committee was established to monitor the implementation of the Covenant and its related Protocols in the territory of the States parties. Its 18 members -- independent experts -- are persons of high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights and serve for a period of four years. The Committee meets three times a year for three-week sessions, which are normally held in March at Headquarters in New York, and in July and November at the United Nations Office in Geneva.

    The Committee is empowered to consider reports on measures adopted and progress made in achieving the observance of the rights enshrined in the Covenant. In addition, under the First Optional Protocol to the Covenant, a number of States have recognized the competence of the Committee to consider communications from individuals regarding alleged violations of human rights.

    According to the provisional agenda, the Committee will take up the second periodic report of Georgia on 18 March, the fifth periodic report of Sweden on 19 March, and the fourth periodic report of Hungary on 22 March. The expert panel will hear an oral presentation from the Gambia on 28 March.

    The Committee is also expected to consider the report of the Chairperson(s)/Rapporteur(s) of the working groups and continue the examination of working methods. An informal working group on working methods will be convened during the session by the Rapporteur of the Committee.

    Also during this session, the Committee's designated representative at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Hipólito Solari Yrigoyen, as well as several other human rights experts from the Commission on Human Rights who attended the Conference -- Rajsommer Lallah, Abdelfattah Amor and Maurice Glèlè-Ahanhanzo -- will brief the Committee on proceedings at the Durban conference on racism and their implications for treaty body activities.

    Under the First Optional Protocol to the Covenant, the Committee will also consider communications from individuals claiming to be victims of violations of any of the rights proclaimed in the Covenant. There are currently 215 such cases pending. In accordance with the provisions of the Protocol and the Committee's rules of procedure, consideration of such communications will take place in closed meetings.

    Background on Covenant

    The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, its corresponding Optional Protocol and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights were adopted by the General Assembly on 16 December 1966 and opened for signature. They came into force on 23 March 1976.

    The Covenant on Civil and Political Rights begins by stating that all peoples have the right to 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 reason 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 lawfully present in the territory of a State party. In addition, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and freedom of expression are recognized by the Covenant, which also prohibits any propaganda for war or any advocacy of national, racial and religious hatred.

    The following 148 States have ratified or acceded to the Covenant: Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Algeria, 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, Eritrea, 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 and Jordan.

    Also 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.

    China, Guinea-Bissau, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Liberia, Nauru, Sao Tome and Principe and Turkey are signatories of the Covenant.

    First Optional Protocol to Covenant

    The First Optional Protocol provides for the confidential consideration of communications from individuals who claim to be victims of a violation of any of the 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 99 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, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala and Guinea.

    Also Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, 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 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Nauru and Sao Tome and Principe are signatories of the Optional Protocol.

    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, 48 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, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, 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.

    Second Optional Protocol to Covenant

    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 44 States have ratified or acceded to the Second Optional Protocol: Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Portugal, Romania, Seychelles, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Venezuela.

    Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Lithuania, Nicaragua, Poland and Sao Tome and Principe are also signatories of the Second Optional Protocol.

    Membership of Committee

    The Committee's 18 expert members are: Abdelfattah Amor, of Tunisia (Vice- Chairperson); Nisuke Ando, of Japan; Prafullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati, of India (Chairperson of the Committee); Christine Chanet, of France; Maurice Glèlè Ahanhanzo, of Benin; Louis Henkin, of the United States; Eckart Klein, of Germany (Vice-Chairperson); David Kretzmer, of Israel; Rajsoomer Lallah, of Mauritius; Cecilia Medina Quiroga, of Chile; Rafael Rivas Posada, of Colombia; Nigel Rodley, of the United Kingdom; Martin Scheinin, of Finland; Ivan Shearer, of Australia; Hipolito Solari Yrigoyen, of Argentina (Vice Chairperson); Ahmed Gwafik Khalil, of Egypt; Patrick Vella, of Malta; and Maxwell Yalden of Canada.

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