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Adopts Concluding Observations on Argentina, Burkina Faso, Denmark, Ecuador, Ghana, Kazakhstan and Kuwait, Also Discusses Reparations and Remedies
15 July 2016

The Human Rights Committee today concluded its one hundred and seventeenth session after adopting concluding observations on the reports of Argentina, Burkina Faso, Denmark, Ecuador, Ghana, Kazakhstan and Kuwait. The Committee also discussed a draft document dealing with reparations and remedies to the victims of human rights violations.

In the first part of the closing session, the Committee discussed the issues of reparation and remedies. The Committee referred to a draft document prepared by Fabian Omar Salvioli, Rapporteur on the issue. Mr. Salvioli said that some General Comments by the Committee provided valuable insight into the issues, including General Comment 33 on obligations of States Parties under the Optional Protocol. General Comment 31 said that the Covenant implied an obligation to provide an appropriate reparation or redress. Redress could take the form of restitution, rehabilitation, satisfaction, public excuse or apology, testimony, guarantees of non-repetition, changes of laws and practices, and bringing perpetrators to court. There were 163 footnotes in the document. Some of the measures proposed included restitution. The Committee had not held a wide-ranging debate on the document in a formal session, said Mr. Salvioli.

The first recommendation read that the Committee should set out one or more measures to secure full reparation to the victim once a violation had been established. The draft document made an appeal that the Petitions Unit of the Secretariat should see that there was a consistent approach. When a communication was presented to the Committee, the Petitions Unit should ask the complainant what kind of compensation they thought they should receive. There had been discussions on removing the term “non-material”, but it had remained in the text, said Mr. Salvioli. Enforced disappearance and torture, while separate offences, were covered by one paragraph. Taking a flexible approach and deciding on a case-by-case basis was a practice of the Committee. States parties ought to ensure that there would be no repetition.

A Committee Expert noted that the need to standardize the language on remedies had been expressed by the Committee several years earlier. The first draft document in Spanish had been discussed at a retreat in 2013, he reminded. The Rapporteur had made presentations in English and in French at the same retreat. The original paper, in the English translation, had been discussed in October 2013. Several Experts described the draft text, while not revolutionary in nature, as very useful, and encouraged Mr. Salvioli to continue guiding the Committee through the drafting process. Another Expert opined that the Committee was very close to adopting the draft document. Question was asked about the status of the document once it had been adopted. The request for reparations was very clearly described, said an Expert; the more specific such a request was, the higher chance would be for a follow-up. Classification of reparations was very important, said the Expert. Another Expert stated that the document was informative in nature, but also served to orient the Rapporteur on Communications. It should not be seen as a binding or standard-standing document.

The draft document would be updated and circulated around. Committee Members could provide their input and suggestions, before the Committee held further discussion on the draft paper at its next session in October, with the view of adopting it.

In the formal closing part of the session, Fabiàn Omar Salvioli, Committee Chairperson, said that the session had been difficult, but very productive. Seven country reports had been reviewed and the concluding observations had been published. During the session, the Committee had adopted decisions on 40 individual communications: violations had been identified in 17 of them; in six, no violations had been found; six had been declared as inadmissible, one had been admissible, one had been suspended and nine cases had been discontinued. Lists of issues had been approved for seven States parties. The Committee had adopted the follow-up reports on concluding observations and individual communications, as well as the San Jose Guidelines, which was an extremely important document. Mr. Salvioli said that the Committee had also approved criteria for adopting General Comments and General Observations, and a discussion had been held on a document on redress. The General Comment on the right to life had been discussed, and the Committee had reviewed 25 out of the 67 paragraphs. After its adoption in the first reading, input would be sought from various stakeholders before proceeding to the second reading.

In the course of the session, the Committee had held a first ever joint meeting with the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Interdependence and indivisibility of rights were important principles to be upheld. A meeting had also been held with the European Court of Human Rights, during which a number of substantive and procedural topics had been discussed.

The concluding observations are available here.

The Committee’s one hundred and eighteenth session will be held from 17 October to 4 November 2016, during which it will consider the reports of Azerbaijan, Colombia, Jamaica, Moldova, Morocco, Poland and Slovakia. Those reports and related documentation can be found on the Committee’s webpage for the one hundred and eighteenth session.

For use of the information media; not an official record