Press Releases

    HR/CT/671
    8 March 2006

    Background Release

    Human Rights Committee to Meet in New York, 13 - 31 March

    Experts to Review Reports of Norway, Democratic Republic of Congo, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region-China

    GENEVA, 8 March (UN Information Service) -- Reports, submitted by Norway, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region-China, on measures taken to implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, will be reviewed by the Human Rights Committee at its eighty-sixth session, which will be held at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 13 to 31 March.

    The Committee will also consider the situation of civil and political rights in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, in the absence of a report.

    On the first day of the session, the 18-member Committee 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 that it will review at its eighty-sixth and eighty-seventh sessions.

    The Committee is scheduled to examine the fifth periodic report of Norway on 14 March; the third periodic report of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 15 and 16 March; and the second periodic report of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region-China on 20 and 21 March.  It will consider the country situation in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on 22 March.  The Committee will present its concluding observations at the end of its three-week session, on 31 March.

    The Committee's concluding remarks on the fourth periodic report of Norway, considered on 21 and 22 October 1993, can be found in document CCPR/C/79/Add.27; its comments on the second periodic report of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, considered on 17 and 18 July 1990, can be found in document A/45/40 paragraphs 538-583; and its observations on the initial report of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region-China, which was considered on 1 and 2 November 1999, can be found in document A/55/40 paragraphs 229 to 259.

    The countries presenting reports are among the 156 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, 105 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.  A total of 321 communications were pending before the Committee as of 1 March 2006.  During the course of the present session, in particular in the last week, the Committee will review a portion of these communications.

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

    The Committee will continue with its consideration of a draft revised general comment on article 14, on the right to a fair trial.

    The Committee's Special Rapporteur for follow-up on concluding observations is also scheduled to provide a progress report on his activities.

    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 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 156 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, Indonesia, Iraq, Islamic Republic of Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, 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 of America, 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 105 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, Honduras, 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, 48 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 57 States have ratified or acceded to the Second Optional Protocol: Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liberia, 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); Edwin Johnson Lopez (Ecuador); Walter Kälin (Switzerland); Ahmed Tawfik Khalil (Egypt); Rajsoomer Lallah (Mauritius); Michael O'Flaherty (Ireland); Elisabeth Palm (Sweden); Rafael Rivas Posada (Colombia); Sir Nigel Rodley (United Kingdom); Ivan Shearer (Australia); Hipolito Solari-Yrigoyen (Argentina); Ruth Wedgwood (United States); and Roman Wieruszewski (Poland).

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