October 6

Human Rights Committee ends session with reports on UN mission and two

The panel of experts monitoring the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) today wrapped up its latest session after examining compliance reports by the Central African Republic and the United States and, for the first time, a United Nations peacekeeping operation – the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).The countries that presented their reports for the consideration of the 18-Member Human Rights Committee, meeting in Geneva, are among the 156 States parties to the Covenant, which was adopted in 1966 by the General Assembly.UNMIK’s report was presented in response to a request by the Committee in its final observations on the initial report of the country known as Serbia and Montenegro when its report was submitted in 2004. As Kosovo is a UN-administered Serbian province, presentations were made by UNMIK and the Provisional Institutions of Government in Kosovo, as well as representatives of Serbia.The ICCPR affirms that all peoples have the right to self-determination as well as the right to life, liberty and security of person. It prohibits torture, cruel or degrading treatment or punishment, and the arbitrary deprivation of life. The Covenant also provides, among other protections, for freedom of movement, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and freedom of expression.Under the Covenant’s Optional Protocol, 105 States parties recognize the Committee’s competence to consider confidential communications from individuals claiming to be victims of violations of rights proclaimed under the treaty. Some 57 States parties have ratified or acceded to the Covenant’s Second Optional Protocol, which aims to abolish the death penalty.In its discussion of the combined second and third report of the US discussed in the session that ended today, the committee praised a number of recent Supreme Court decisions on criminal detention and prosecution, but expressed concern over “credible and uncontested information” of secret detentions and extreme interrogations techniques, the abandonment of which it welcomed. It also noted with concern reports of shortcomings in the investigation of maltreatment in detention facilities in Guantanamo, Afghanistan, Iraq and other overseas locations.Turning to the UNMIK report, the Committee welcomed the work of the Ombudsperson Institution and the promulgation of a Provisional Criminal Code, while expressing concern over the continuing impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the ethnic violence that preceded the UN mission’s mandate, as well as the low priority given to cases of missing persons and the lack of investigation of accusations of the use of force by various security units in Kosovo.While expressing satisfaction with legal measures in the Central African Republic (CAR) to ensure greater respect for human rights, the Committee noted with concern the persistence of discrimination against women, and requested that the country raise women’s awareness of their rights, abolish polygamy and take other measures in that regard. Troubled by the large number of forced disappearances, summary executions, reports of torture and other penal abuses, the Committee also requested the CAR to monitor the conditions in its prisons.The Committee, which traditionally holds three sessions per year, will convene next on 16 October, in Geneva, to consider reports of Honduras, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine and the Republic of Korea. read more