HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE ADOPTS ITS ANNUAL REPORT


25.07.02

Many States Parties Are Not Complying with their
Reporting Obligations, Report Says

The Human Rights Committee this morning adopted its annual report covering its activities during the period of 1 August 2001 to 31 July 2002 and its seventy-third, seventy-fourth and seventy-fifth sessions. The report will be submitted to the General Assembly for its consideration.
During the period under review, the Committee considered 11 initial and periodic reports under article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and adopted concluding observations on them. During the current seventy-fifth session, the 18-member Committee considered the reports of New Zealand, Viet Nam, Yemen and Moldova.
The report says that the Committee noted that many States parties did not comply with their reporting obligations under article 40 of the Covenant. In that connection, the Committee adopted a procedure for dealing with non-reporting States and applied it for the first time. It considered the situation of civil and political rights in the Gambia without a report and in the absence of a delegation from that State party.
Further, according to the annual report, the Committee continues to note with concern that generally, States parties whose reports were considered during the period under review had not offered comments on the implementation of the Committee's concluding observations. In that connection, the Committee adopted a procedure for following up on concluding observations in 2001.
One hundred and forty-nine countries are States parties to the International Covenant, while 102 States parties acceded to its optional protocol. Both instruments have been in force since 23 March 1976. Although there are 102 States parties to the optional protocol, the Committee is competent to consider communications concerning 104 States, including two former States parties that have denounced it. These countries are Jamaica, which denounced the protocol on 23 October 1997, with effect from 23 January 1998, and Trinidad and Tobago, which denounced the protocol on 27 March 2000, with effect from 27 June 2000. Thus, eight communications concerning Jamaica, which were submitted prior to 23 January 1998, and six communications regarding Trinidad and Tobago, which were submitted prior to 27 June 2000, are still under consideration by the Committee.
Concerning the second optional protocol, the report says that as of today, there were 47 States parties to this protocol, an increase since the Committee's last report of two. The protocol, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, entered into force on 11 July 1991.
There was no change in the number of States (47) which had made the declaration envisaged under article 41, paragraph 1, of the Covenant, the report says. The paragraph stipulates that "A State party to the present Covenant may at any time declare under this article that it recognizes the competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications to the effect that a State party claims that another State party is not fulfilling its obligations under the present Covenant". In that respect, the Committee appealed to States parties to make the declaration under article 41 of the Covenant and to use this mechanism, with a view to making more effective the implementation of the provisions of the Covenant.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson is scheduled to address the Committee this afternoon around 6 p.m. The Committee will meet in public at 12.30 a.m. on Friday, 26 July to close its three-week session. The next session of the Committee is scheduled to take place in Geneva from 14 October to 1 November 2002.
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