Centre for Civil and Political Rights

UN Human Rights Committee 116th Session

7th to 31st March 2016 - Geneva

Overview of the Session

In Brief

At its 116th session (7 to 31 March 2016) the Human Rights Committee reviewed the reports of seven States on the implementation of the ICCPR: South Africa, Rwanda, Sweden, New Zealand, Slovenia, Costa Rica and Namibia.

The Committee also adopted the Lists of Issues in relation to the reports of six States: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Colombia, Jamaica, Morocco and Slovakia and the List of Issues Prior to Reporting in relation to Estonia.

The text adopted on the Follow-up to Concluding Observations assesses the recent information received on the implementation of the Committee’s recommendations in relation to Ireland, Japan, Mauritania, Djibouti, Iceland and the Dominican Republic. The report will soon be available and posted on our website.

In addition, the Committee held three public meetings to continue the discussion regarding the first draft of a General Comment on article 6 (Right to Life) of the ICCPR.

I. Review of State Reports

South Africa: First review of South Africa by the HR Committee

During the review, Committee members discussed with delegates issues such as racism, treatment of persons deprived of their liberty, police violence, treatment of asylum seekers and corporal punishment of children. There were additional questions around harmful traditional practices, such as ukuthwala (abduction and forced marriage), witchcraft, violence against women and polygamy. The Committee further questioned South Africa on the low number of complaints made under the first Optional Protocol, and measures taken following the Committee decision on the McCallum case of 2010.

[Read more and find out the recommendations of the Committee]

Sweden: Non-discrimination and the situation of refugees and asylum seekers among the main concerns of the Committee

The Committee experts’ major concerns were regarding: non-discrimination, use of force by the police, and the situation of refugees and asylum seekers. The Swedish delegation referred to legislative amendments in order to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation as well as prevent discrimination against people with disabilities. Prompted by the Committee, the delegation acknowledged the problems of the use of expandable bullets by the police and that they are reconsidering their use. The delegation also reported to be taking measures to combat, prevent and sanction hate speech.

[Read more and find out the recommendations of the Committee]

New Zealand: The Committee expresses concern for indigenous rights and gender equality

A variety of topics were discussed at the review of New Zealand, in particular the rights of indigenous peoples, gender-based discrimination and the right to privacy. Other issues included the provision of juvenile prison facilities, maritime exploitation, the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act (BORA), the use of tasers by police, family violence, child abuse, human trafficking and cancellation of identity documents.

[Read more and find out the recommendations of the Committee]

Slovenia: Committee and delegation in accord over challenges faced in the country

In the review of Slovenia by the HR Committee, discrimination against minorities (in particular the Roma community), the vulnerability of asylum seekers and the status of persons erased from the register after the dissolution of Yugoslavia were discussed at length. Violence against women, defamation and prison conditions were also thoroughly covered in the dialogue.

[Read more and find out the recommendations of the Committee]

Namibia: The Committee expresses concern over discrimination and women’s rights

Key issues raised by the Committee included various concerns within the criminal justice system and the rights of minorities, women, children and people with disabilities. On the issue of child abuse by police officers, the delegation reported action was being taken in this regard and that recent perpetrators had been sentenced to 13 years imprisonment, however the repeated references of the Committee to reports on abuse of sex workers by police officers was not acknowledged by the delegation.

[Read more and find out the recommendations of the Committee]

Costa Rica: Indigenous peoples’ rights and reproductive rights key concerns of HR Committee on Costa Rica

The interactive dialogue between the Costa Rican delegates and the Committee members covered a range of issues including prison overcrowding and incommunicado detention. Issues such as indigenous rights, discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, people living with HIV-AIDS, migrants and asylum seekers, freedom of religion and child labour featured among the topics discussed during the review.

[Read more and find out the recommendations of the Committee]

Rwanda: The Human Rights Committee alarmed by regression of civil and political rights

The National Commission for Human Rights and the appointment of its members by the executive was discussed extensively by the Committee. Moreover, the Committee was concerned about the numerous cases of violence against women and in particular the number of illegal abortions resulting in significant health risks to the mother. The main concern remains the many obstacles to public rights and freedoms including freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

[Read more and find out the recommendations of the Committee]

III. First reading of the draft of the General Comment on the right to life

The Human Rights Committee continued the first reading of the draft General Comment on article 6 (Right to life) of the ICCPR. The discussions were held in public meetings. After the first reading, the Human Rights Committee will call upon NGOs and State parties to submit material and comments on the draft General Comment.[Read more]

IV. Next session (20 June to 15 July)

The Centre for Civil and Political Rights works to improve the implementation of the ICCPR by promoting and enhancing NGO engagement with the UN Human Rights Committee.

More information is available from the Centre's website.

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