Human Rights Committee
16 July 2002
The Human Rights Committee this afternoon adopted a General Comment on reporting obligations by States parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Committee started its discussion on the text of the General Comment during its previous session held in New York last March.
According to the General Comment, the Committee noted that only a small number of the 149 States parties submitted their reports on time. Most of them were submitted with delays ranging from a few months to several years. Some States parties were still in default despite repeated reminders by the Committee. Other States announced that they would appear before the Committee but did not do so on the scheduled date.
To remedy this situation, the Committee said that it had adopted new rules. If a State party submitted a report but did not send a delegation to the Committee, the Committee might notify the State party of the date on which it intended to consider the report or might proceed to consider the report at the meeting that had been initially scheduled. When a State party did not present a report, the Committee might, at its discretion, notify the State party of the date on which the Committee proposed to examine the measures taken by the State party to implement the rights guaranteed under the Covenant.
If the State party was represented by a delegation, the Committee would, in the presence of the delegation, proceed with the examination at the date assigned; and if the State party was not represented, the Committee might, at its discretion, either decide to proceed at the initial date or notify the State party of a new date. For purposes of the application of those procedures, the Committee would hold its meetings in public, if a delegation was present, or in private, if a delegation was not present.
In the text adopted, the Committee said that after it had adopted concluding observations, a follow-up procedure should be employed to establish, restore and maintain a dialogue with the State party. For that purpose, the Committee would appoint a special rapporteur who would report back to it.
There was a discussion among the Experts on whether to consider a country situation in public or in private in the absence of a delegation. Some Experts said that the concluding observations should be provisional and should be adopted in private. The Gambia's situation of "no-report, no-delegation" was referred to. The Gambia's human rights situation had been scheduled to be considered yesterday in the absence of a report but in the presence of a Government delegation. However, because of the failure of a delegation to show up, the Committee decided to consider the situation in private.
Article 40 of the International Covenant stipulates that "the States parties to the Covenant undertake to submit reports on the measures they have adopted which give effect to the rights recognized herein and on the progress made in the enjoyment of those rights: within one year of the entry into force of the present Covenant for the States parties concerned; and thereafter whenever the Committee so requests".
The Committee has so far adopted 29 General Comments to assist States parties in fulfilling their obligations under the International Covenant. The purpose of the General Comments is to make the Committee's experience available for the benefit of all States parties in order to promote their further implementation of the Covenant; to draw their attention to insufficiencies disclosed by a large number of reports; to suggest improvements in the reporting procedure; and to stimulate the activities of those States and international organizations in the promotion and protection of human rights. Those comments could also be of interest to other States, especially those preparing to become parties to the Covenant and thus to strengthen the occupation of all States in the universal promotion and protection of human rights.
The Committee will meet at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 17 July to discuss in private its draft concluding observations on country reports already considered this session. It will meet in public at 3 p.m. to start its consideration of the third periodic report of Yemen.
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