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News & Media

20 July 2012

The Human Rights Committee this afternoon continued its discussion on working methods, specifically its proposed retreat to The Hague in 2013, the forthcoming Day of General Discussion to take place in October 2012 and the mandate of the Working Group on Communications for its next session.

It was proposed that the three-day Committee retreat would take place in The Hague from 24 to 26 April 2013. Committee Members suggested that the agenda could include discussions on the report of the High Commissioner on treaty body strengthening and the implications of its recommendations on the Committee’s work. A discussion of amendments to the individual communications template under the Optional Protocol was also proposed. Committee could arrange meeting with Judges working at the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia. The retreat, funded by the Government of the Netherlands, would be an opportunity to brainstorm and discuss in depth issues of interest, but would not be a decision-making venue. Any conclusions from the retreat would be discussed in regular Committee sessions.

In the ensuing discussion, Committee Members said it was important to be clear that the retreat was not a regular session of the Committee and wondered whether a better date for the retreat would be after the 108th regular session in July 2013. Several Members noted that only serving Committee Members should be invited to the retreat.

The Day of General Discussion, on the subject of Article 9 of the Convention (the right to liberty and security of persons), would be an opportunity to receive comments before drafting of the General Comment on Article 9 began. The concept paper drafted by the Committee indicated interesting issues for the October discussion, but was not exclusive. The discussion – which was actually scheduled for half a day – would be an opportunity for civil society and State parties to comment on Article 9. The Committee should announce the discussion and request submission of papers or oral presentations. Any presentation would be followed by an interactive dialogue with the Committee.

Members suggested including national human rights institutions, academia and possibly United Nations Special Procedures in the Day of General Discussion. An Expert noted that the issue was sufficiently important to accord it a full day, while another said that because it was the first time the Committee had held a General Discussion it should be modest and begin with a half day. Several speakers cautioned about inviting State parties at this stage and suggested that, if invited, a separate slot be accorded to State parties. Their comments should be heard separately from non-State actors. An Expert said that General Comments had direct implications for States and that comments of States should be invited after the first reading; otherwise, the whole process would risk becoming politicized. Several Committee Members underlined the importance of involving States in the process from the beginning. The Committee decided to bring States parties into the process at the later stage, in accordance with its usual practice.

During the meeting the Committee also considered the mandate of the Working Group on Communications for its next session. A Committee Member said that there was a need to discuss in the Working Group issues pertinent to procedures and working methods on communications. Another Member said that if a five-day session was too long, the Committee might consider a four-day session. There was value in the Working Group discussing work related to individual communications, which should be based on a very clear plan. A speaker suggested that the opinions of the Working Group be discussed by the Committee in plenary.

The Committee will next meet in public on Tuesday, 24 July at 11 a.m. to hear the progress report of the Special Rapporteur on Follow-up to Concluding Observations and the Special Rapporteur on Follow-up to Views.

For use of information media; not an official record