Press Releases

    HR/CT/657
    11 March 2005

    Background Release

    Human Rights Committee to Hold Eighty-Third Session in New York from 14 March to 1 April 2005

    Experts to Review Reports of Kenya, Iceland, Mauritius, Uzbekistan, Greece

    (Reissued as received.)

    GENEVA, 10 March (UN Information Service) -- Reports submitted by the Governments of Kenya, Iceland, Mauritius, Uzbekistan and Greece on measures taken to implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights will be reviewed by the Human Rights Committee at its eighty-third session, which will be held at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 14 March to 1 April 2005. 

    On the first day of the session, the 18-member Committee will elect its Chairperson, three Vice-Chairpersons and Rapporteur. It will adopt its agenda and programme of work. The Committee will also hear from representatives of non-governmental organizations and intergovernmental organizations on the situation in the countries which it will review.

    The Committee is scheduled to examine the second periodic report of Kenya on 14 and 15 March; the fourth periodic report of Iceland on 16 March; the fourth periodic report of Mauritius on 17 and 18 March; the second periodic report of Uzbekistan on 21 and 22 March; and the initial report of Greece on 22 and 23 March.  The Committee will present its concluding observations on the country reports at the end of its three-week session on 1 April.

    The Committee's concluding remarks on the initial report of Kenya, considered in March 1991, can be found in document CCPR/C/1/Add.47.  Its recommendations on the third periodic report of Iceland, reviewed in October 1998, can be found in document CCPR/C/79/Add.98. Its observations on the third periodic report of Mauritius, considered in March 1996, can be found in document CCPR/C/79/Add.60.  Its recommendations on the initial report of Uzbekistan, reviewed in March 2001, can be found in document CCPR/CO/71/UZB. 

    The countries presenting reports are among the 154 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 the promotion and protection of civil and political rights. Representatives of those governments introduce the reports and respond to oral and written questions from Committee members.

    Under the Optional Protocol to the Covenant, 104 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. More than 320 communications are currently pending before the Committee.  During the course of the present session, in particular in the last week, the Committee will review a portion of these communications.

    Fifty-four States parties have ratified or acceded to the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant, which aims to abolish the death penalty.

    In addition to the country reports being considered at the session, the Committee will examine the country situation in Barbados on Thursday, 24 March in the absence of a report. 

    The Committee’s Special Rapporteur for follow-up on concluding observations is also scheduled to provide a progress report on his activities during the current eighty-third session.

    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 another 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 154 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, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iraq, Islamic Republic of Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, 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, Serbia and Montenegro, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, 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.  The Committee can receive no communications if it concerns a State party to the Covenant that is not also a party to the Optional Protocol.

    The following 104 States are parties to the Optional Protocol: Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, 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, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, 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, Serbia and Montenegro, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, 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 Covenants 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.

    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 54 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, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia and Montenegro, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor Leste, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

    Membership of Committee

    The States parties to the Covenant elect the Committee's 18 expert members who serve in their individual capacity 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); Alfredo Castillero Hoyos (Panama); Christine Chanet (France);  Maurice Glèlè-Ahanhanzo (Benin); Walter Kälin (Switzerland); Ahmed Tawfik Khalil (Egypt); Rajsoomer Lallah (Mauritius); Rafael Rivas Posada (Colombia); Nigel Rodley (United Kingdom); Ivan Shearer (Australia); Hipolito Solari-Yrigoyen (Argentina); Ruth Wedgwood (United States); Roman Wieruszewski (Poland); Elisabeth Palm (Sweden); Michael O'Flaherty (Ireland); and Edwin Johnson Lopey (Ecuador).

    Tentative Timetable for Consideration of Reports

    Monday, 14 March

    Morning

    Opening; Meeting with representatives on non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations

    Afternoon

    Kenya:  Second periodic report (CCPR/C/KEN/2004/2)

    Tuesday, 15 March

    Morning

    Kenya (continued)

    Wednesday, 16 March

    Morning

    Iceland:  Fourth periodic report (CCPR/C/ISL/2004/4)

    Afternoon

    Iceland (continued)

    Thursday, 17 March

    Afternoon

    Mauritius:  Fourth periodic report (CCPR/C/MUS/2004/4)

    Friday, 18 March

    Morning

    Mauritius (continued)

    Monday, 21 March

    Afternoon

    Uzbekistan:  Second periodic report (CCPR/C/UZB/2004/2)

    Tuesday, 22 March

    Morning

    Uzbekistan (continued)

    Afternoon

    Greece:  Initial report (CCPR/C/GRC/2004/1)

    Wednesday, 23 March

    Morning

    Greece (continued)

    Afternoon

    Greece (continued)

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