29 June 2015
The Human Rights Committee this morning opened its one hundred and fourteenth session, hearing an address by Shahrzad Tadjbakhsh, Chief of the Universal Periodic Review Branch of the Human Rights Council and Special Procedures Division of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Committee adopted its agenda and programme of work, and heard a report from its Working Group on Communications.
Fabián Omar Salvioli, Chairperson of the Committee, opened the session by deploring recent events around the world, including attacks on civilians in many places, and the plight of refugees fleeing from one tragedy only to be met by another.
Shahrzad Tadjbakhsh, Chief of the Universal Periodic Review Branch of the Human Rights Council and Special Procedures Division of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke of the opportunities for engagement and synergies between the Human Rights Committee and the Human Rights Council. The intergovernmental nature of the Human Rights Council supported the work of the Human Rights Committee by acting as a counterweight, often political, to the work of the independent experts interpreting the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Seizing the opportunity to work together on contemporary as well as long-standing issues would strengthen the interpretation of the international human rights law as well as the protection of rights-holders.
Some of the opportunities for engagement were the issue of reprisals and the examination by the Human Rights Council of the report of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Assembly and Association; the issue of the right to privacy in the digital age and the appointment of the new Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy; the issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights and the High Commissioner’s report on “Discrimination and violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity;” the Universal Periodic Review mechanism; and the work of the Commissions of Inquiries and human rights country situations. There was no doubt that the two bodies could complement each other. For example, the Universal Periodic Review mechanism could be used in a strategic manner by Committee Experts to advance their agenda, namely through their recommendations. State recommendations at the Human Rights Council were much more vague than those of the Experts. The Human Rights Council was therefore currently working on a set of guidelines that would indicate how recommendations had to be drawn up, making them more specific and factual, drawing upon the example of the Human Rights Committee.
Sarah Cleveland, Committee Expert, and Fabián Omar Salvioli, Chairperson of the Committee, thanked Ms. Tadjbakhsh for her timely and important reflection on the collaboration between the two bodies. They were glad to hear that the follow-up process was important for the work of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.
Margo Waterval, Chair of the Pre-sessional Working Group on Individual Communications, reported on the Group’s work. The Working Group had considered 29 draft recommendations and adopted 20, on cases in which there had been a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It found five recommendations not to be in violation of the Covenant, while it declared 4 as inadmissible. The report was then adopted.
The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. today to begin its consideration of the fourth periodic report of Venezuela (CCPR/C/VEN/4/).
During its 114th session, the Committee will also consider the reports of the United Kingdom, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Spain, Canada, Uzbekistan and France. The programme of work can be found in the background press release.
For use of the information media; not an official record