The Human Rights Committee today opened its one hundred and thirty-fifth session, during which it will examine the reports of Luxemburg, Uruguay, Ireland, Georgia, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China and Macao Special Administrative Region of China on their implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Committee adopted its agenda and programme of work for the session.
Photini Pazartzis, Committee Chair, said the consideration of the report of the Russian Federation, which was scheduled to start this afternoon, would be rescheduled to the Committee’s one hundred and thirty-sixth session in October, at the request of the State party.
Wan-Hea Lee, Chief of the Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Section, Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Representative of the Secretary-General, congratulated the Committee members who were re-elected at the thirty-ninth meeting of States parties this year in New York. The thirty-fourth annual meeting of the Chairs of the treaty bodies took place earlier this year and focused on the follow-up to the review of the treaty body system. The Chairs agreed to establish a predictable schedule for reviewing States parties’ reports. This represented a major step forward toward a treaty system where all States parties would be reviewed on an equal basis, giving practical meaning to the United Nations aims of universality and non-discrimination, which would hopefully provide sustainable results for the treaty bodies system.
Ms. Lee said the Human Rights Council was currently holding its fiftieth session, and there were two panel discussions which were of relevance to the Committee. One of the panels focused on the human rights of vulnerable people in the context of climate change. The people most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change were often marginalised, and States’ obligations would be increasingly invoked by those who crossed borders due to climate impacts on livelihoods. Ms. Lee referenced the views adopted by the Committee in 2019 involving a man from Kiribati seeking asylum in New Zealand, which had constituted the first human rights treaty body decision directly addressing the human rights impact of climate change.
The second debate was a discussion on countering the negative impact of disinformation on human rights, which would be the first opportunity for the Human Rights Council to focus on the challenges posed by disinformation. Widespread disinformation could be harmful in times of public emergency and could be utilised by States as part of influence operations that undermined liberty in societies, and could accompany serious violations of international law. Ms. Lee extended her best wishes to the Committee for a successful and productive session.
A Committee Expert said the Committee faced a backlog of more than 1,000 communications and currently there was no prospect of delivering timely reviews in the foreseeable future. The Expert was concerned about the Committee’s ability to fulfil its mandate and hoped the approach from the secretariat would be responsive to suggestions made. This would help boost the confidence of States and rights holders alike in the efficiency of bolstering communications.
Ms. Pazartzis said the backlog issue was addressed by the Chairs of the treaty bodies in their meeting in June.
Ms. Lee said the letter had been well received and the unit was conducting internal reflections. There was progress which would be reported on during the course of the session.
Hélène Tigroudja, Committee Expert, in her capacity as Chair of the Working Group on individual communications, reported that the Working Group had considered and discussed 35 draft decisions, covering 49 communications from 18 States parties submitted from 2014 to 2021. Topics included expulsion from the territory and the detention of children in these removal procedures, the conditions of detention of persons deprived of their liberty, political rights, fair trial conditions, access to information for journalists in a democratic society, ill-treatment, enforced disappearances, the fight against impunity, and the negative effects of climate change on the rights of the Covenant.
The Working Group put forward to the consideration of the plenary twenty-six communications for which it proposed to find of a violation of the Covenant; five communications finding the communications inadmissible; three communications putting forward two different options for the consideration of the plenary; and one draft where a conclusion had yet to be determined.
The Human Rights Committee’s one hundred and thirty-fifth session is being held from 27 June to 27 July. All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage. Meeting summary releases can be found here. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed via the UN Web TV webpage.
The Committee will next meet in public on Wednesday 29 June at 3 p.m. to begin its consideration of the fourth periodic report of Luxemburg (CCPR/C/LUX/4).