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22 July 2019

The Human Rights Committee this afternoon discussed and adopted a progress report by the Special Rapporteur on follow-up to concluding observations.

Vasilka Sancin, Committee Expert and Special Rapporteur on follow-up to concluding observations a.i., presented the Committee’s assessments of Argentina, Ecuador, Burkina Faso, Namibia and Turkmenistan. After further discussions and amendments, the Committee adopted the draft report.

Documents relating to the Committee’s work can be found on the session’s webpage. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed at http://webtv.un.org/.

The Committee will next meet in public on Tuesday, 23 July, at 10 a.m., to continue the first reading of the draft General Comment number 37 on article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the right of peaceful assembly.

Report on Follow-up to Concluding Observations

VASILKA SANCIN, Committee Expert and Rapporteur on follow-up to concluding observations a.i., on behalf of Marcia Kran, Committee Expert and Rapporteur on follow-up to concluding observations, explained that the report contained the Committee’s assessments of Argentina, Ecuador, Burkina Faso, Namibia and Turkmenistan.

Beginning with Argentina, Ms. Sancin said the Committee had asked the State party to revise its legislation on abortion, including its criminal legislation, by inter alia introducing additional exceptions to the prohibition on voluntary termination of pregnancy. There was a lack of specific information on measures taken to revise abortion legislation and ensure that women were not obliged to resort to clandestine abortions. Turning to Argentina’s stance on torture and ill-treatment, the Committee requested information on steps taken to provide additional human and financial resources to the local prevention mechanism. While it noted the establishment a unit coordinating the provision of support and assistance to victims of crime, it requested more information on the unit’s work to ensure appropriate reparation was provided. On conditions of detention in Argentina, the Committee noted the information provided on the measures taken to reduce overcrowding and improve material conditions in prisons. It also noted the increase in the use of electronic monitoring devices but requested information on the use of other non-custodial measures to tackle overcrowding.

On Ecuador, the Committee reminded that the State party should adopt the necessary measures to expedite judicial investigations into the cases of human rights violations set out in the report of the Truth Commission. The Committee required more information on, inter alia, the workshops with victims organized by the Attorney General’s Office as well as on the progress made in ensuring that all victims and their families received full reparations. Concerning Ecuador’s stance on the conditions of detention and violence in prison, the Committee asked the State party to step up efforts to prevent and put a stop to violence in places of the deprivation of liberty. The Committee requested more information, notably on the rate of overcrowding in detention centres over the last three years. As for the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly, the Committee welcomed the information provided by the State party, but regretted that no additional information had been provided on recent steps taken regarding investigations into complaints of excessive use of force; efforts to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice and impose appropriate punishments; and on training activities conducted in the past three years to prevent and eliminate all forms of excessive use of force by law enforcement officials in the context of peaceful assemblies.

Moving on to Burkina Faso, the Committee regretted the lack of information on steps taken to reduce and abolish polygamy in the State party and reiterated its recommendations on equality between men and women and practices that were harmful to women. It required statistical data on the practice of female genital mutilation. Regarding Burkina Faso’s engagement with mob justice and vigilante groups, the Committee expressed appreciation for the information on the actual and the planned increases in the number of security officers and capacity building, amongst others. The Committee required more specific information on the number of investigations carried out, prosecutions made, and sentences imposed on perpetrators who had been found guilty in the last three years. Finally, in assessing Burkina Faso’s efforts to address human trafficking and child labour, the Committee welcomed the State party’s information on, and strongly encouraged the continuation of, awareness-raising activities to combat the economic and sexual exploitation of children. The Committee required additional information on measures taken to combat child trafficking, child labour and the exploitation of children, and regretted the lack of disaggregated data on the extent of trafficking for purposes of sexual and economic exploitation, and forced labour of children.

Speaking of Namibia’s efforts regarding non-discrimination, Ms. Sancin regretted the denial of the existence of discriminatory laws and of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. The Committee appreciated the information on efforts made to combat discrimination against persons with disabilities and requested information on efforts to combat discrimination against HIV-positive persons. Turning to the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment, the Committee welcomed the fact that a bill would be brought to parliament to criminalize torture but required more information, notably on the timeline for its adoption. The Committee regretted that no information was provided on sex workers. On torture, violence, including sexual violence against women, and the right to life, the Committee regretted that no information was provided by Namibia on any investigations conducted to identify, prosecute and punish perpetrators of “passion killings”. It requested more information on how victims of violence were protected from stigma and reprisals.

On Turkmenistan, the Committee discussed the State’s accountability for secret detentions and enforced disappearances, regretting the lack of information provided on these practices as well as the lack of measures taken to ensure that cases of enforced disappearance were investigated and that perpetrators were brought to justice. Regarding torture and ill-treatment, the Committee had appreciated the State party’s efforts to provide training on torture and humane treatment to law enforcement officials but noted that the State party had not provided information about the periodicity of this training. The Committee also sought clarification on the use of the complaint mechanism for prisoners who were victims of torture. As for Turkmenistan’s practices concerning the treatment of prisoners, the Committee regretted that no new information was provided on measures taken and progress made since the adoption of the concluding observations. Further, no information was provided on the availability of an effective complaint mechanism, measures taken to investigate violations of inmates’ rights, and efforts to bring perpetrators to justice with appropriate penalties.

For use of the information media; not an official record