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HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE CONCLUDES ONE-HUNDRED AND FIFTH SESSION
Adopts Concluding Observations and Recommendations on the Reports of Armenia, Iceland, Kenya, Lithuania and Maldives
27 July 2012

The Human Rights Committee concluded this afternoon its one hundred and fifth session, during which it considered and adopted concluding observations and recommendations on reports submitted by Armenia, Iceland, Kenya, Lithuania and Maldives.

During the session the Committee also adopted a statement on treaty body strengthening in response to the High Commissioner’s report, discussed its working methods and addressed the lists of questions posed during the examinations to State parties and national follow-ups to the Committee’s recommendations.  The session was opened with an address by Mona Rishmawi of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  In the opening meeting the Committee held a tribute to Rajsoomer Lallah, a former member since 1976 who passed away in June, and welcomed new member Yadh Ben Achour of Tunisia.  The Committee also held public meetings with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and to consider progress reports on follow-up to its concluding observations and to individual communications.

At the final meeting this afternoon, Zonke Zanela Majodina, the Chairperson of the Committee, said the session had been a very lively and productive one in which the Committee had engaged in rich discussions with States parties, as well as with one another.  The media had shown a good level of interest in the Committee’s work, and posts on the Committee’s social media platforms had received a good response.  Ms. Majodina specifically thanked the organization responsible for webcasting the Committee’s public meetings, and highlighted that Kenyan national TV had broadcast live the webcast of the Committee’s review of Kenya.  Ms. Majodina expressed concern about threats made to members of non-governmental organizations who provided reports to the Committee this session and emphasized that the Committee took such allegations very seriously.  She reminded all States to ensure the full protection of human rights defenders in such circumstances.

In concluding observations and recommendations on the second periodic report of Armenia, the Committee welcomed the ratification several international instruments, but expressed concern about the persistence of high levels of violence against women, the rising practice of sex-selective abortions and about ongoing impunity for excessive use of force by the police during the events of 1 March 2008.  The Committee expressed further concern about suspicious deaths in the Armenian Armed Forces under non combat conditions.


In concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of Iceland, the Committee commended the State party for its generally positive record in the implementation of Covenant provisions and for new legislation, but expressed concern that the State party had not yet adopted comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, and that very few cases of the sexual abuse of children that were reported to child protection services led to prosecution, and even fewer to conviction of the perpetrator. 

Following its review of the third periodic report of Kenya, the Committee welcomed several legislative and institutional steps taken by the State party, including the adoption of a new Constitution in 2010, laws prohibiting female genital mutilation and judicial reform.  However, the Committee raised concerns that sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex were still criminalized, and that the age of criminal responsibility in the State party remained at eight years.  While appreciating the efforts made by the State party to receive asylum seekers and refugees and to protect their rights, the Committee expressed further concern at the insecurity around refugee camps, particularly the Dadaab refugee camp. 


In concluding observations on the third periodic report of Lithuania, the Committee welcomed legislative reform including a new anti-discrimination law and ratification of several international instruments.  However the Committee expressed concern at the high prevalence of violence, in particular domestic violence, against women, and also that Roma continued to suffer from discrimination, poverty, low educational attainment, large-scale unemployment, and inadequate standards of living, in particular regarding housing. 

Concerning the initial report of the Maldives, the Committee welcomed legislative and institutional measures taken by the State, including the 2008 adoption of a Constitution which contained a Bill of Rights, but expressed concern at information that some individuals who had provided information to the Committee had been subject to threats and intimidation as a result, at reports that journalists were subjected to intimidation and harassment, and by reported cases of torture and of excessive use of force by the Police and the National Defence Forces.

The full text of the Committee's concluding observations on the reports submitted by Iceland, Lithuania, Maldives, Armenia and Kenya can be accessed at the following address:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/hrcs105.htm

During its next session, to be held from 15 October to 2 November 2012, the Human Rights Committee is scheduled to consider reports from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Côte d'Ivoire (in the absence of a report), Philippines, Portugal, Turkey and Germany.


Closing of the Session

At the final meeting this afternoon, Committee members updated their colleagues on their work on case management, on remedies and compensation, and on the Committee’s relationship with national human rights institutions. 

Closing Remarks

ZONKE ZANELE MAJODINA, Committee Chairperson, said the session had been a very lively and productive one in which the Committee had engaged in rich discussions with States parties, as well as with one another.  In addition to the adoption of concluding observations and lists of issues, the Committee also adopted a statement on treaty body strengthening in response to the High Commissioner’s report.  The media had shown a good level of interest in the concluding observations during Thursday’s press conference; a number of interviews and articles had already been published and a link posted on the Facebook page had received over 6,000 views.  Ms. Majodina specifically thanked the CCPR Centre organization for webcasting the Committee’s public meetings, and noted that Kenyan national TV broadcast live the webcast of the meeting in which the Committee reviewed the report of Kenya.  On a more concerning note, said Ms. Majodina, the Committee had been informed during the session of threats made to members of non-governmental organizations who provided reports to the Committee.  Ms. Majodina emphasized that the Committee took such allegations very seriously.  She reminded all States to ensure the full protection of human rights defenders in such circumstances.

As to the new general comment, the Committee agreed to hold a half day of general discussion at its next session, on 25 October, in preparation for a General Comment on Article 9 (Liberty and Security of Person) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  Interested members of national human rights institutions, civil society and academia were invited to participate and submit written information on the subject.  The Committee had made several decisions on working methods.  It gave the working group on communications a mandate to consider methods of work issues directly related to the communications procedure, if time permitted during its session.  The Committee also decided that the Secretariat should prepare an analysis of the effect of the Guidelines on the Independence of Treaty Body Experts on the Committee’s own guidelines adopted in the 1980s and its rules of procedure for discussion at the next session.  Ms. Majodina confirmed that she would attend the interactive dialogue with the General Assembly in New York in October 2012, although that meant she would be absent during part of the next session.  She also noted that the bureau had approved the addition of an extra State party for examination at the next session to reduce the backlog of reports and alleviate the petitions unit.  The Chairperson then adopted all the bureau decisions on behalf of the Committee.

Concluding Observations on Country Reports


Armenia

In considering the second periodic report of Armenia (
CCPR/C/ARM/2), the Committee welcomed the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in September 2010; the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture in September 2006; the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, in January 2011;  the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in September 2006; and the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in armed conflict, in September 2005 and on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, in June 2005. 

However, the Committee expressed concern about the persistence of high levels of violence against women, in particular domestic violence, and recommended that the State party should adopt legislation criminalizing all forms of domestic violence, as well as carrying out awareness-raising campaigns and training of officials to sensitize the population to those problems.  The Committee also expressed concern about the rising practice of sex-selective abortions, which reflected a culture of gender inequality, and recommended that Armenia adopt legislation to prohibit sex selection and tackle the root causes of the issue.  The Committee also expressed concern at allegations of persistent corruption among all branches of State institutions, especially the police and the judiciary, which undermined the rule of law.  It recommended that the State party increase efforts to combat corruption in all branches of government by investigating promptly and thoroughly all incidents of alleged corruption and punishing those responsible.

The Committee expressed concern about the ongoing impunity for excessive use of force by the police during the events of 1 March 2008, despite efforts to investigate the fatalities, and recommended that the State party establish effective investigative procedures to ensure that law enforcement officers found responsible were held accountable and appropriately sanctioned.  The State party should also guarantee that victims of those acts received adequate compensation, and that they had access to adequate medical and psychological rehabilitation.  The Committee expressed further concern about suspicious deaths in the Armenian Armed Forces under non combat conditions and about the alleged practice of hazing and the existence of other mistreatment of conscripts by officers and fellow soldiers.  It recommended that the State party guarantee the elimination of hazing and other such mistreatment in the armed forces. 

Iceland

Regarding the fifth periodic report of Iceland (CCPR/C/ISL/5), the Committee commended the State party for its generally positive record in the implementation of Covenant provisions.  In particular, it welcomed the adoption of a law on Exclusion Orders; the adoption on 17 March 2009 of the National Plan against Trafficking in Human Beings; the entry into force on 1 January 2009 of a new Code of Criminal Procedure; the passing of Act No.149/2009 which amended the General Penal Cod in order to ratify the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children; and the entry into force on 18 March 2008 of a new Gender Equality Act.

However the Committee regretted that the Covenant had not yet been incorporated into the domestic legal order and was also concerned that the State party had still not withdrawn all reservations to the Covenant.  In particular the Committee noted that Iceland had not yet established a consolidated national institution with competence in the field of human rights, in accordance with the Paris Principles and recommended that the State party did so, in line with the General Assembly resolution 48/134.  The Committee expressed further concern that the State party had not yet adopted comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation or prescribed sanctions against hate speech, and recommended that the State party should take steps to adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, and also adopt the pending Bill amending the Media Act so as to ensure that the sanctions prescribed also applied to hate speech, and ensure that its enforcement also extended to social media.

The Committee expressed concern that very few cases of the sexual abuse of children that were reported to child protection services led to prosecution, and even fewer to conviction of the perpetrator.  It recommended that the State party take urgent steps to ensure that all cases of sexual abuse of children were effectively and promptly investigated, and that perpetrators were brought to justice.  The State party should take steps to establish Government-coordinated measures aimed at the prevention of sexual abuse of children.  Furthermore, the State party should also ensure that education about child sexual abuse and prevention became a formal part of the curriculum in faculties training teachers and other professionals working with children, as well as for faculties training health professionals, lawyers and police officers.

Kenya

Following its review of the third periodic report of Kenya (CCPR/C/KEN/3), the Committee welcomed several legislative and institutional steps taken by the State party, including the adoption of the new Constitution in 2010; the Witness Protection (Amendment) Act of 2010; the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act, 2011; and the Kenyan Citizenship and Immigration Act No. 2 of 2011.  The Committee also welcomed progress in judicial reform, establishment of the National Gender and Equality Commission and of the Independent Police Oversight Authority, and Kenya’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008.  However, while noting the de facto moratorium on the death penalty since 1987, the Committee regretted that a total of 1,582 convicts still faced the death penalty and recommended that Kenya intensify awareness campaigns with a view to changing the mind-set of the public regarding the retention of the death penalty on the statute books.

The Committee recalled its previous concluding observations and regretted that the Penal Code continued to criminalise sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex. The Committee also regretted reports of acts of violence, harassment and abuse against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity.  The Committee recommended that the State party decriminalize sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex in order to bring its legislation in line with the Covenant, and take necessary steps to end the social stigmatization of homosexuality.  The Committee further regretted that the age of criminal responsibility in the State party remained at eight years, and that juveniles were often held in detention facilities and prisons with adults.  It recommended that the State party rectify those issues and raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility in line with international standards. 

While appreciating the efforts made by the State party to receive asylum seekers and refugees and to protect their rights, the Committee was concerned at the insecurity around refugee camps, particularly at Dadaab refugee camp, and recommended the State party take concrete measures to provide adequate security, particularly at Dadaab camp, bring perpetrators to justice and ensure that victims of the violence were adequately compensated.  While noting the efforts by the State party to cooperate with the International Criminal Court in prosecuting those who bore the greatest responsibility for the post-2007 election violence, the Committee regretted the lack of investigations and prosecutions of the other categories of perpetrators.  It recommended that the State party should, as a matter of urgency, pursue all cases of post 2007 election violence to ensure that all allegations of human rights violations were thoroughly investigated, that perpetrators were brought to justice and that victims were adequately compensated. 

Lithuania

With regard to the third periodic report of Lithuania (CCPR/C/LTU/3), the Committee welcomed legislative and institutional steps taken by the State party, including a new law prohibiting discrimination based upon age, sexual orientation, disability, racial or ethnic origin, religion, or beliefs; amendments to the Criminal Code; and the ratification by the State party of the following international instruments: the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Protocol, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

The Committee noted that the State party had not yet established a consolidated national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles.  It expressed concern at the high prevalence of violence, in particular domestic violence, against women, and also that Roma continued to suffer from discrimination, poverty, low educational attainment, large-scale unemployment, and inadequate standards of living, in particular regarding housing.  The Committee recommended that Lithuania allocate sufficient resources to ensure the effective implementation of the Law on Protection against Domestic Violence and the National Strategy for Combating Violence against Women, and evaluate the implementation of existing policies and programmes in order to assess the extent to which they have effectively contributed to improving the social and economic conditions of Roma.

The Committee expressed concern about the length of and routine use of administrative detention and detention on remand at the pre-trial phase of criminal proceedings.  It reiterated its recommendation that the State party should eliminate the institution of detention for administrative offenses, and also take appropriate measures to implement alternatives to sentences of imprisonment, such as probation, mediation, community service and suspended sentences.  Regarding the legal representation of persons deprived of their legal capacity, the Committee was concerned by the absence of legal representation in such cases and also by potential negative consequences of the courts’ authority to authorise procedures such as abortion and sterilisation to be performed on disabled women deprived of their legal capacity.  The Committee recommended that the State party ensure free and effective legal representation to individuals in all proceedings regarding their legal capacity, including actions to have their legal capacity reviewed.

Maldives

Concerning the initial report of the Maldives (CCPR/C/MDV/1), the Committee welcomed legislative and institutional measures taken by the State, including the 2008 adoption of a Constitution which contained a Bill of Rights; the removal by the Parliament of the gender bar on running for presidency and the enactment of the Anti-Domestic Violence Act.  The Committee welcomed the ratification by the State party of several international instruments including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol; the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; the Optional Protocols to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; and the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and on the involvement of children in armed conflict. 

However, the Committee considered the State party’s reservation to article 18 of the Covenant, including the right to have or adopt a religion, to be incompatible with the object and purpose of the Covenant, because it applied unrestrictedly, was not specific, and did not make clear what obligations of human rights compliance the State party had or had not undertaken.  The State party should withdraw its reservation to article 18 of the Covenant.  The Committee was further concerned that a non-Muslim may not become a citizen of the Maldives and recommended that the State party revised its Constitution to ensure that religion was not a basis for citizenship.  The Committee expressed concern at information that some individuals who had provided information to the Committee for the consideration of the State party’s initial report had been subject to threats and intimidation as a result, and said that the State party, as a matter of urgency, should take all necessary steps to protect individuals who had provided information to the Committee and should inform the Committee on measures taken in that regard.

The Committee expressed concern at alleged frequent attempts at obstruction of the media in the State party, in particular at reports that journalists were subjected to intimidation and harassment, and that some journalists had been detained and beaten, including during the 2012 protests.  The Committee recommended that the State party fully guaranteed the right to freedom of expression, avoided any kind of illegal interference in the media, investigated incidents of attacks on journalists and media and brought those responsible to justice.  The Committee was also concerned at reported cases of torture in some police stations in the State party and at reported cases of excessive use of force by the Police and the National Defence Forces during demonstrations, including during those from 16 January to 6 February 2012.  It recommended that the State party consider setting up an independent commission of inquiry to investigate all human rights violations, including torture, and adopt procedures for the police in controlling large crowds of protestors, in compliance with human rights standards.


For use of the information media; not an official record

CT12/013E


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