session (Geneva, 14 October to 1 November 2002)
Reports by States
(3rd and 4th periodic report)
The Committee reviewed the 3rd and
4th periodic reports of Egypt, after a lapse of 8 years. The reports
were seen as detailed and exhaustive, however the Committee felt that many
were left unattended. The Committee complemented Egypt on the progress made
in implementing the human rights and on the information process in the framework
of human rights education decade (1994-2004).
Committee complimented Egypt on the initiatives taken by the State party in
recent years regarding human rights, in particular the creation of human rights
divisions within the ministries of justice and foreign affairs and the introduction
of human rights training and awareness programmes in schools and universities
for law-enforcers. It also noted some improvements in the status of women and
appreciated the creation of the National Council for Women and the introduction
of legal reforms.
understanding the security requirements associated with efforts to combat terrorism,
the Committee voiced concern at their effects on the human rights situation
in Egypt. Among other things, the Committee recommended that the State party
ensured that steps taken in the campaign against terrorism were fully in accordance
with the Covenant. The Committee noted with alarm that military courts and State
security courts had jurisdiction to try civilians accused of terrorism although
there were no guarantees of those courts' independence and their decisions were
not subject to appeal before a higher court.
members of the Committee raised a number of questions specifically regarding
the maintenance of the state of emergency in place since 1981 and which had
been recently renewed until 2003 and asked for a justification to that. The
Committee suggested envisaging reviewing the necessity of maintaining the state
Committee noted with concern the very large number of offences, which under
Egyptian law, were punishable by death, and recommended that the State party
take measures to abolish the death penalty. While noting the creation of institutional
machinery and the introduction of measures to punish any violations of human
rights by employees of the State, the Committee expressed concern over the persistence
of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment by law-enforcement personnel.
It was equally concerned at the general lack of investigations into such practices,
punishment of those responsible, and reparations for the victims.
is due to submit its next periodic report by 1 November 2004.
Togo (Third periodic report)
considering Togo's report, the Human Rights Committee acknowledged a very constructive
dialogue with the Togolese delegation. Considerable progress had been made towards
the incorporation of the Covenant into the Constitution and a special place
had been given to other human rights instruments. The Committee welcomed the
adoption of 1998 law on prohibiting female genital mutilation.
all the positive changes, the Committee expressed concern about reports from
Amnesty International regarding a number of extra-judicial executions, arbitrary
arrests, threats and intimidations perpetrated by the Togolese security forces
against members of the civilian population, particularly the members of the
opposition. It urged the State party to adopt legislative measures to prevent
and punish the perpetrators of human rights violations, and to carry out appropriate
investigations on allegations of human rights violations.
the status of women in Togo, the Committee condemned the compromise between
law and practice, as man was still the head of the family, that only men could
inherit land and that the age of criminal liability for women is 17 and for
men it is 20. The Committee suggested that strong measures were put in place
against the discrimination of women.
Committee noted with concern that detention conditions in Togo were deplorable,
particularly in the civilian prisons of Lome and Kara, which were characterized
by overcrowding and food shortages. Experts were also deeply concerned about
continued harassment, intimidation and detention of journalists, and the practice
of governmental censorship. In this respect, the Committee suggested that the
Code on the Press and Communications should be reviewed, political parties should
have equal access to the public and private media and the right to freedom of
peaceful assembly should be respected.
no execution had been conducted in Togo for the last five years, the Experts
were concerned that the death penalty still remained in the statute book and
urged Togo to acceded to the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant or at
least limit the number of crimes that can be punished by death penalty.
Committee noted that without statistics it was hard to judge if Togo fulfilled
their obligations. It was however underlined that the Government needs to continue
educating on human rights, both the population and the administration.
Togo is to submit the next periodic report by
1 November 2004.
of States Parties
its 76th session, the Human Rights Committee reviewed the human rights
situation of Suriname in the absence of a second periodic report, but in the
presence of a delegation that had provided answers to the list of issues. A
time of 20 years had elapsed before the last meeting with Suriname.
other concerns, the Committee expressed regret about Suriname failing to
with the reporting obligations under article 40 of the Covenant. The Committee
reminded that Suriname had obligations not only towards the Committee, but
vis-ŕ-vis other States. Considering that the State had not submitted a report,
the Committee had gathered information from the NGOs.
Committee members expressed surprise over the unsatisfactory investigative process
for the three massacres that took place in 1982, 1986, and in 1987 in Suriname.
The Committee highlighted the undisputed responsibility of the State in the
massacres, and expressed concern over the impunity surrounding the alleged perpetrators
of the massacres. The Committee expressed regret over the lack of compensations
for the victims and their families.
Committee also questioned the lack of bail system, long pre-trial detention
periods, restrictions on communications between detainees and their lawyers,
incommunicado detention as well as allegations of trafficking women and
the high rate of incidents of sexual harassment of women in the workplace.
other things the Committee urged Suriname to provide more human rights training
to police, prison guards and magistrates and encouraged it to ratify the Second
concluding observations were issued on Suriname as it had not submitted a periodic
report for 20 years. A second periodic report is expected to be submitted by
1 May 2003.
new High Commissioner for Human Rights informed the Human Rights Committee that
Secretary General of United Nations had asked him to prepare a report by 2003
on the possible innovations and changes in treaty-bodies. Secretary General
asked for consolidation of human rights instruments, reduction of the amounts
of documents and the length of country reports, to focus on country level actions
addressing also potential human rights violations victims. Regarding directly
the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights (ICCPR), the reform
would include the creation of a special unit (Treaty-body Rapporteur Unit) to
strengthen and extend the mandate, also to inform the general society about
the activities of ICCPR and have a more substantial two-way communication between
States Parties and the Committee. Also some technical issues were mentioned,
notably to improve the text translation and allocate more funds. The Human Rights
Committee decided to set up two working groups on reservations on multilateral
treaties and on Secretary-General's proposal on streamlining the reporting procedures
among treaty bodies. The working group was expected to meet before the Committee's
seventy-seventh session in March 2003.
Communications under the Optional Protocol
the 76th session, the Committee also considered communications from
individuals submitted to it under the first Optional Protocol to the Covenant.
Sixteen communications have been
adopted and 6 more are pending.
of the Special Rapporteur for follow-up on concluding observations
the Special Rapporteur for follow-up on concluding observations to States periodic
reports, gave a report to the Human Rights Committee on the new procedures.
This post was introduced in the 71st session of HRC in 2001. The
questions raised by the Special Rapporteur where what steps to take if a States
Party did not respond in one years time to the concluding observations. Normal
proceedings are as follows: first there is a reminder with a telephone call
to the Permanent Representation of the State concerned, then the second reminder
is a written note and, if there is still no response, it is under consideration
weather to speak to the Representative, to publish a reminder in HRC annual
report or re-fix the final date of the report due. Another issue that needed
to be addressed, as this was a new procedure, was how to deal with the reports
NGOs submit relating to the issues in the last paragraph of Concluding Observations
on a State party concerned – does the Committee take it into account, does
it take any further steps?
Special Rapporteur suggested to the Committee that the issues in the last paragraph
of Concluding Observations should be both concise and precise in order for States
parties to be able to respond on time and in substance. The States that have
replied fully or partially to the Committee since 71st session are
Dominican Republic, Syria, Uzbekistan, Venezuela,
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ukraine and Viet Nam.
meeting of States’ parties
Human Rights Committee held the Second Meeting with States parties on 24 October
2002 in Geneva to discuss mutual cooperation and coordination. Taking part in
this debate were representatives of Australia,
Sri Lanka, Morocco, Switzerland, Canada, Denmark,
the Russian Federation, Colombia, Chile, Germany,
Mexico, India, Egypt, Brazil, Madagascar,
Peru and Japan.
main issues discussed were the new procedures for non-reporting States, new
working methods of the Committee for addressing the problems with States failing
to hand in reports, the procedure of follow-up on concluding observations and
difficulties encountered by States parties in meeting their reporting obligations.
The Committee said that some periodic reports were exceedingly voluminous, and
did not focus on concerns expressed by the Committee after examining the previous
reports, and most part were long after the due date. The Rapporteur informed
that of the 151 countries obliged to report, 93 were delayed, 35 were more than
5 years late and 5 more than 10 years late.
States Parties welcomed the adoption of the new procedures by the Committee
aiming at encouraging non-reporting States parties to fulfil their obligations.
The Russian Federation spoke against the new procedures, which it found contrary
to Article 40 of the Covenant. The Committee, in turn, stressed that the new
measures had to be seen as additional pressure to receive the reports, which
is the initial aim of the Article 40. The Committee had always emphasised a
need for an active dialogue, and even if sometimes critical, it is in the interest
of the State. The Committee maintained that consideration of the human rights
situation in a States party without a report had to be seen as additional means
of getting in touch with a State that has not submitted for a long time.
the suggestions from the Committee were to limit the number of pages for States
Party's periodic reports, to develop clearer lists of issues and specify the
recommendations in concluding observations. The Committee noted that in order
to have a dialogue, the State Party had to be present. States Parties asked
for technical assistance to the Government, and the Committee suggested that
the Government takes into consideration civil society and cooperate with them
also on a national level. The Committee drew attention to the fact that some
of the States that were late with their reports were developed countries, suggesting
it was unwillingness rather than technical problems that prevent them from submitting