Credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
During the fall of 2014, at each of their respective sessions, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee), and the Committee Against Torture (CAT) adopted key decisions on topics including the definition of disability; enforced disappearances; freedom of religion; freedom of expression; juvenile life imprisonment; gender-based violence, including in situations of domestic violence; and risk of torture upon return to Algeria, Iran, Kosovo, and Yemen.
Office of the OHCHR in Geneva
Credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre)
This week, the Human Rights Committee will commence its 114th session in Geneva, Switzerland. The session will take place from June 29 to July 24, during which time the Committee will review the State reports of Canada, France, Macedonia, Spain, the United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, and Venezuela. The Committee will also review reports submitted by civil society organizations and national human rights institutions (NHRIs) concerning the States’ implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). At the conclusion of the review process, the Committee will issue concluding observations for each State, containing its concerns and recommendations on each State’s implementation of the Covenant. All States are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee within one year of accepting the Covenant and thereafter whenever the Committee requests.
On June 16, 2015, at the 45th Regular Session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, D.C., Member States elected four commissioners to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and four judges to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR). [IACHR Press Release] These eight positions comprise more than half of the total seats on the Commission and the Court and the outcome of the elections is expected to “affect both the composition and identity of the Commission and the Court for years to come.” [Open Society Foundations Press Release] Only one seat was filled by an incumbent candidate, although several current members were eligible for reelection.
The European Court of Human Rights
Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Fred Schaerli
On May 12, 2015, in Identoba and Others v. Georgia, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that Georgian authorities failed to protect participants in a 2012 peaceful march marking the International Day Against Homophobia from homophobic attacks, even after agreeing to provide police protection. The Court further held that authorities failed to properly investigate the incident and, particularly, the homophobic motivations behind the violence. Finally, the Court held that the State failed to ensure the right to peaceful assembly by not taking positive steps to protect the march participants from bias-motivated violence. On this basis, the State failed to meet its obligations under European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention) Article 3, prohibiting inhuman or degrading treatment; Article 11, affirming freedom of assembly and association; and Article 14, prohibiting discrimination. See ECtHR, Identoba and Others v. Georgia, no. 73235/12, Judgment of 12 May 2015.
The UN Office in Geneva
Credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) commenced its 55th session in Geneva, Switzerland on June 1. During this session, which will end on June 19, the Committee will review the State reports of Chile, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Thailand, Uganda, and Venezuela concerning the States’ implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). During the session, representatives from each State will engage in a dialogue with members of the CESCR regarding the list of issues, which consists of those topics the Committee had previously asked each State to address in its report. The Committee will also review reports submitted by civil society organizations and national human rights institutions (NHRIs). At the conclusion of the review process, the Committee will issue concluding observations for each State, containing its concerns and recommendations on each State’s implementation of the Convention. All States are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee within two years of accepting the Covenant and every five years thereafter.
Archived Committee sessions are available on the UN Treaty Body Webcast.
The 56th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR in Session
The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) adopted Resolution 303 on the right to rehabilitation for victims of torture during its 56th Ordinary Session, held from April 21 – May 7, 2015, in Banjul, the Gambia. See ACommHPR, Res. 303: Resolution on the Right to Rehabilitation for Victims of Torture, 56th Ordinary Session, 21 April- 7 May, 2015. The resolution, which is the first that the African Commission has adopted that focuses on the importance of rehabilitation for victims of torture as part of the fight against torture, urges State parties to take steps to prevent and prohibit torture and to ensure that those who suffered from torture receive proper care and rehabilitation. The resolution is a tool which civil society organizations can use in promoting and advocating for torture victims’ right to rehabilitation before the African Commission as well as other African Union bodies. [African Commission Adopts Landmark Resolution]
David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
On May 22, 2015, David Kaye, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression (Special Rapporteur), submitted his annual report to the Human Rights Council. His report evaluates whether the rights to privacy and freedom of opinion and expression protect secure online communication by methods including encryption and anonymity. Secondly, his report analyzes whether States may impose restrictions on encryption and anonymity in accordance with their human rights obligations. See UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression (David Kaye (Special Rapporteur), A/HRC/29/32 (2015).
A Women’s Prison in Pétionville, Haiti
Credit: UN Photo/Victoria Hazou
On May 22, 2015, the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) gathered in Vienna and adopted the Mandela Rules, which are revisions to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMR), the leading international principles on the treatment of prisoners, which had not been updated since they were drafted in 1955. The Mandela Rules honor the late South African President Nelson Mandela, who was imprisoned for 27 years by the country’s apartheid regime. [UNODC Press Release] See U.N., Econ. & Soc. Council, U.N. Standards Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Mandela Rules), E/CN.15/2015/L.6/Rev.1 (2015). The Mandela Rules will be presented to the UN General Assembly for approval in the fall. [ACLU Blog]
The United Nations in Geneva
Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Norbert Aepli
On May 1, 2015, in L.G. v. Republic of Korea, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) ruled that mandatory HIV/AIDS and drug testing for foreign English teachers violated articles 2, 5, and 6 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). [UN News Center Press Release]. See Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, L.G. v. Republic of Korea, No. 51/2012, Judgment of 1 May 2015.