Centre for Civil and Political Rights
How did the Human Rights Committee address corruption in 2018?

Possibilities for Civil Society to engage with the Human Rights Committee in 2019


This newsletter presents the latest developments on the  Human Rights Committee's approach towards corruption and its negative impact on the enjoyment of civil and political rights. The analysis is based on the Concluding Observations (Cobs) adopted during the 122nd, 123rd and 124th session of the Human Rights Committee. 

Corruption is a prominent issue for the Human Rights Committee: in 46% of the Cobs adopted in 2018, the issue of corruption, including bribery, extortion, and other related matters are addressed.

Most recommendations are about corruption in general. Many recommendations are about corruption in the judiciary, which has been an important issue for the Committee for years. Freedom of expression and association also come up in relation to the consequences to Human Rights Defenders that expose corruption. 
In the case of Bulgaria and Guinea , the Committee dedicated a section of the Cobs to corruption in general. In Guinea, the recommendation on corruption is even considered an urgent issue that was selected for the follow-up procedure. This means that the State has to report to the Committee within two years on the implementation status of this recommendation. This shows the importance that the Committee awards to this issue. In the Cobs on Guatemala , the Committee considered the issue of corruption in the judiciary as urgent.  The same matter is a concern in El Salvador, linked to the obstruction of investigations into human trafficking, and in Liberia, where the State is recommended to pursue a reform of the justice system.  Furthermore, the Committee recommended Bahrain to prosecute high-ranking officials suspected of corruption. Moreover, it is concerned about the alleged forced hospitalisation of Igor Postnov , a doctor who investigated corruption in Belarus

In This Issue
Admissible Concluding Observations
El Salvador  

Key issues: 
  • Human trafficking 
  • Obstruction of investigations due to corruption in the judiciary 
State Review March 2018
Follow-up State report due 6 April 2020
Next State report due 6 November 2023
 
Prohibition of slavery, forced labour and trafficking in persons

25. While the Committee recognizes the efforts made by the State party to combat trafficking in persons, it is concerned about the persistence of this phenomenon, particularly as it affects women, children and LGBTI persons; the lack of protection and assistance provided to victims; the low number of prosecutions and convictions; and reports on the obstruction of investigations due to corruption in the judicial system. (...) (arts. 3, 7, 8 and 24).

26. The State party should step up its efforts to prevent, combat and punish trafficking in persons and ensure that the measures it takes are implemented effectively. It should ensure that crimes of trafficking in persons are investigated, the perpetrators prosecuted and punished, and victims given access to adequate protection and assistance measures. (...)

The Cobs are available here.
 
Key issues: 
  • Adoption of an anti-corruption act
  • Corruption within detention facilities
  • Political decisions hamper progress in fight against corruption
  • Strengthened support for the International Commission against Impunity 
State review March 2018
Follow-up State report due 6 April 2020
Next State report due 6 April 2023

Conditions of detention

28. (...) The Committee is further concerned about the large percentage of prisoners who are being held in pretrial detention and the large number of violent deaths, extortion networks and riots and about the authorities' lack of effective control inside these centres (arts. 6, 7, 9 and 10). 

29. The State party should: (...) (c) Investigate and prosecute all cases of deaths that may have resulted from criminal acts, as well as cases of violence and corruption occurring within these facilities, and punish those responsible. 

Judicial independence, autonomy of the public prosecution service and efforts to combat corruption

30. (...) While the Committee commends the Public Prosecutor's Office and the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) on the progress they have made in combating corruption, it remains concerned about political decisions that may hamper further progress, such as the attempt made by the President of the Republic to have the CICIG Commissioner, Ivan Velázquez, declared persona non grata. The Committee is further concerned that the selection of a new Attorney General and the Comptroller General by the corresponding nominating committees may be subject to political interference. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned about reports of frequent attempts at outside interference in judicial decisions, the initiation of allegedly baseless disciplinary proceedings against justice officials and the spurious complaints, threats and attacks directed at judges, prosecutors, victims and witnesses involved in high-impact cases (arts. 14 and 25).

31. The State party should: (b) Ensure that the selection and appointment of magistrates, judges and prosecutors, as well as of the Attorney General and the Comptroller General, are based entirely on the use of objective, transparent criteria for the assessment of candidates' merits in terms of their qualifications, competence and integrity; (...) (e) Strengthen support for the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala and for the Attorney General's Office and ensure that they remain independent so that they can effectively combat corruption and impunity. 

The Cobs are available here
 
Key issues: 
  • Corruption amongst government figures
  • Prosecute high-ranking officials suspected of corruption 
State Review July 2018
Follow-up State report due 27 July 2020
Next State report due 27 July 2022

Right to take part in the conduct of public affairs

63. (..) In addition, the Committee is concerned about allegations of gerrymandering and voter fraud during elections. Despite the existence of the National Audit Office, in charge of investigating cases of public corruption, the Committee finds it regrettable that high-ranking officials suspected of corruption are rarely punished (arts. 2, 25 and 26).

64. The State party should guarantee equal enjoyment of the rights of all citizens to ensure effective participation in public life, as required under article 25 of the Covenant. It should review decisions to dissolve opposition parties and ensure that political parties and their members are allowed to participate in political life, in line with article 25. The State party should step up its efforts to combat corruption, particularly among government figures. 

The Cobs are available here
Liberia 
mauritania
Key issues: 
  • Corruption within the judiciary
  • Reform of the justice system 
State Review July 2018
Follow-up State report due
27 July 2020
Next State report due
27 July 2022

Administration of justice and fair trial

36. The Committee is concerned at the considerable backlog of court cases, resulting in lengthy periods of pretrial detention for a large number of people and prison overcrowding. This is attributed notably to the shortage of judges, prosecutors and public defenders, as well as at alleged corruption within the judiciary. (...) (arts. 2, 9 and 14).

37. The State party should pursue its efforts to reform the justice system and ensure that all court proceedings are conducted in full observance of the due process guarantees set forth in article 14 of the Covenant. In particular, it should: (a) Effectively address the court backlog, including by strengthening financial resources allocated to the judiciary and increasing the availability of trained judges, prosecutors and public defenders and by reducing registration fees for lawyers; (b) Take measures to curb incidents of corruption within the judiciary and ensure that disciplinary procedures against unethical judges and magistrates are duly applied; (...).

The Cobs are available here
Belarus 
mauritania
Key issues: 
  • Preventive detention of Human Rights Defenders 
  • Alleged forced hospitalisation of Igor Postnov, a doctor who investigated corruption
State Review October 2018
Follow-up State report due 2 November 2020
Next State report due 2 November 2022

Preventive detention and forced psychiatric hospitalization of human rights defenders

33. (...) The Committee is concerned at continued reports of the possible arbitrary compulsory psychiatric hospitalization of human rights defenders, and regrets that the State party provided no information on the outcome of reviews undertaken by the judiciary into the alleged forced hospitalization of Igor Postnov, a doctor who had investigated corruption in the health system (...) (arts. 2, 9, 10, 14, 19 and 21).

34. (...) The State party should end the practices of the preventive detention of human rights defenders and journalists and the arbitrary forced psychiatric hospitalization of human rights defenders, which are inconsistent with the State party's obligations under articles 9, 14, 19 and 21 of the Covenant. 

The Cobs are available here
Bulgaria 
mauritania
Key issues: 
  • Insufficient capacity of the anti-corruption commission
  • Threats and harassment of journalists who expose corruption 
  • Investigate cases of corruption, incl. the case of Victoria Marinova 
  • Ensure protection of whistle-blowers
State Review October 2018
Follow-up State report due 2 November 2020
Next State report due 2 November 2023
 
Freedom of expression

37. The Committee is concerned about numerous reports of attacks, threats and harassment of journalists, which go unpunished, and of political pressure on journalists and the media through, inter alia, advertising funding and threats of slander to secure favourable media coverage and suppress criticism, including of corruption. The Committee is concerned at reports of excessive fines against the media reporting on the banking and financial sectors, and of insufficient transparency of media ownership and financing, resulting in strong media concentration. It also notes with concern that defamation remains a criminal offence sanctioned by criminal fines and public censure (arts. 2, 6-7 and 19).

38. The State party should: (a) Continue training police officers, judges and prosecutors in human rights standards relating to freedom of expression and assembly and the lawful use of force; (b) Protect journalists against any form of harassment, attack or excessive use of force, promptly investigate such acts and bring those responsible to justice, including the recent murder of journalist Victoria Marinova; (c) Increase media pluralism and the diversity of views and information accessible to the public, taking into account the Committee's general comment No. 34 (2011) on the freedoms of opinion and expression; (d) Ensure that any form of public funding for the media and journalists is allocated in a transparent and non-discriminatory manner using objective criteria, and that no fines or other regulatory measures are imposed on the media other than in strict compliance with article 19 (3) of the Covenant, so that independent journalists and media can function without undue interference; CCPR/C/BGR/CO/4 10 (e) Consider repealing all criminal provisions against defamation and ensure that they do not serve to stifle freedom of expression. 

Corruption

41. The Committee welcomes the adoption in 2018 of the Anti-Corruption and Forfeiture of Assets Act, creating a single anti-corruption commission. It is, however, concerned about the fact that so far very few convictions for high-level corruption were confirmed by final court decisions, reportedly due to the insufficient prosecutorial capacity to handle complex cases in an effective manner, limited access to external expertise and lack of effective cooperation between the prosecution and investigation services. The Committee is equally concerned about the low percentage of public institutions that complied with the requirement to publish the conflict of interest declarations of their employees (arts. 2, 9, 14 and 25).

42. The State party should increase its efforts to combat corruption, mainly by addressing the shortcomings in the investigation and prosecution of high-level corruption, while ensuring that its legal procedures are consistent with protections under articles 9 and 14 of the Covenant, increasing compliance with the legislation related to conflicts of interest and ensuring that whistle-blowers are guaranteed sufficient protection against prosecution for reporting corruption and other wrongdoings.

The Cobs are available here
Guinea 
 
Key issues: 
  • Adoption de la loi anticorruption
  • Le caractère courant de la corruption dans les service de l'Etat
  • Le manque de moyens de l'Agence nationale de lutte contre la corruption 
  • Le faible nombre d'enquêtes dans le cadre de la corruption
State Review October 2018
Follow-up State report due 2 November 2020
Next State report due 2 November 2022

Lutte contre la corruption

11. Le Comité prend note de l'adoption de la loi anticorruption du 7 juillet 2017, de l'introduction dans le Code minier de 2013 du principe de transparence dans l'attribution des concessions minières ainsi que de la mise en place en 2004 de l'Agence nationale de lutte contre la corruption et la promotion de la bonne gouvernance. Il constate toutefois avec préoccupation que la corruption demeure un phénomène systémique sur le territoire de l'État partie, qui a pour effet d'affaiblir l'état de droit et de mener à des violations des dispositions du Pacte. Il regrette en particulier les informations faisant état : a) du caractère courant de la corruption dans les services de l'État partie ; b) de l'absence de textes d'application de la loi du 7 juillet 2017 ; c) du manque de moyens de l'Agence nationale de lutte contre la corruption et la promotion de la bonne gouvernance. Il regrette le faible nombre d'enquêtes, poursuites et condamnations prononcées dans le cadre de la lutte contre la corruption, et ce, en dépit de CCPR/C/GIN/CO/3 3 l'introduction d'une définition plus large et de peines plus sévères dans le Code pénal réformé en 2016 (art. 2, 14 et 25).

12. L'État partie devrait : a) redoubler d'efforts dans sa lutte contre la corruption et l'impunité qui y est associée, notamment par l'adoption de textes d'application de la loi du 7 juillet 2017 ; b) veiller à ce que l'Agence nationale de lutte contre la corruption et la promotion de la bonne gouvernance soit un organe pleinement indépendant et efficace de lutte contre la corruption ; c) établir une politique rigoureuse à l'égard des actes de corruption dans les services publics, avec notamment des mesures préventives et correctives ; d) enquêter sur les responsables d'actes de corruption, y compris au plus haut niveau de l'État partie, et les poursuivre devant les tribunaux, dans le cadre de procès respectant les garanties fondamentales établies par l'article 14 du Pacte.

Indépendance du pouvoir judiciaire et administration de la justice

41. (...) Il s'inquiète également des informations faisant état d'une absence d'indépendance et de corruption au sein du corps judiciaire (art. 14).

42. L'État partie devrait : (...) d) renforcer l'indépendance du corps judiciaire, en particulier en garantissant la nomination de magistrats du siège et du parquet sur la base de critères objectifs et transparents et en renforçant les pouvoirs et l'indépendance du Conseil supérieur de la magistrature ; e) poursuivre et intensifier ses efforts visant à éliminer la corruption au sein du corps judicaire.

The Cobs are available here (FR). 
Admissible Engaging with the Human Rights Committee
mauritania
The 125th session of the Human Rights Committee will take place in Geneva, Palais Wilson, from 4 to 29 March 2019. It will review the State reports of Angola, Estonia, Niger and Viet Nam, and evaluate Eritrea and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in absence of State report. 

The deadline for NGO reports on State reviews is 4 February 2019. 
The deadline to register to attend the session is 22 February 2019. 

For more information on engaging with the Human Rights Committee, please visit our website