HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE TO HOLD ITS NINETY-THIRD SESSION IN GENEVA FROM 7 TO 25 JULY 2008

Human Rights Committee
BACKGROUND RELEASE 3 July 2008


Experts to Review Reports of United Kingdom, France, San Marino and Ireland

Reports submitted by the Governments of the United Kingdom, France, San Marino and Ireland on measures taken to implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights will be reviewed by the Human Rights Committee at its ninety-third session, which will be held in Geneva at the Palais Wilson from 17 to 25 June 2008.

On the first day of the session, the 18-member Committee will adopt its agenda and programme of work. The Committee will also hear, in a closed meeting, from representatives of non-governmental organizations and intergovernmental organizations on the situation in the countries that it will review.

The Committee is scheduled to examine the sixth periodic report of the United Kingdom on Monday, 7 July and Tuesday, 8 July; the fourth periodic report of France on Wednesday, 9 July and Thursday, 10 July; the second periodic report of San Marino on Friday, 11 July; and the third periodic report of Ireland on Monday, 14 July and Tuesday, 15 July, in formal public meetings. The Committee will present its concluding observations on the implementation of the Covenant by these countries at the end of its three-week session on 25 July.

The Committee's concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of the United Kingdom, which was considered on 17 and 18 October 2001, can be found in document CCPR/CO/73/UK and CCPR/CO/73/UKOT; the concluding observations on the third periodic report of France, which was reviewed on 20 and 21 July 1997, can be found in CCPR/C/79/Add.80; the Committee's concluding observations on the initial report of San Marino, which was considered on 9 July 1990, can be found in document A/45/40 paragraphs 452-454; and the Committee's concluding observations on the second periodic report of Ireland, which was considered from 13 to 15 July 2000, can be found in document A/55/40 paragraphs 422-451.

The countries presenting reports are among the 161 States parties to the Covenant, which was adopted in 1966 by the General Assembly. The Committee, as a monitoring body, periodically examines reports submitted by States parties on the promotion and protection of civil and political rights. Representatives of those Governments introduce the reports and respond to oral and written questions from Committee members.

Under the Optional Protocol to the Covenant, 111 States parties recognize the competence of the Committee to consider confidential communications from individuals claiming to be victims of violations of any rights proclaimed under the treaty. At present, 430 communications are pending before the Committee. During the course of the present session, the Committee will review a portion of these communications. The Committee will also hold two public meetings to review a draft General Comment on States parties' obligations under the Optional Protocol to the Covenant.

Sixty-six States parties have ratified or acceded to the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant, which aims to abolish the death penalty.

Also at its ninety-third session, the Committee's Special Rapporteurs for follow-up on concluding observations and for follow-up on views are scheduled to provide progress reports on their activities.

Background on the Covenant

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was adopted by the General Assembly and opened for signature in 1966, together with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Both entered into force in 1976.

The Civil and Political Rights Covenant begins by stating that all peoples have the right of self-determination. It recognizes that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. It prohibits torture, cruel or degrading treatment or punishment, and the arbitrary deprivation of life. Anyone arrested is to be informed of the reasons for the arrest, and anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge is to be brought promptly before a judge or another legally authorized person.

The Covenant also provides, among other rights, for freedom of movement, and places limitations upon the expulsion of aliens present lawfully in the territory of a State party. In addition, the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and to freedom of expression are recognized by the Covenant, which also prohibits any propaganda for war or any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred.

States Parties to Covenant

The following 161 States have ratified or acceded to the Covenant: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Optional Protocols to Covenant

The Optional Protocol to the Covenant provides for the confidential consideration of communications from individuals who claim to be victims of a violation of any rights recognized in the Covenant. The Committee can receive no communications if it concerns a State party to the Covenant that is not also a party to the Optional Protocol.

The following 111 States are parties to the Optional Protocol: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Zambia.

The Human Rights Committee is also mandated, under article 41 of the Covenant, to consider communications from a State party alleging violations of the Covenants provisions by another State party. This procedure can be applied when both States recognize this competence of the Committee by a relevant declaration. So far, 48 States have made the declaration under article 41.

The Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant, which aims at the abolition of the death penalty, was adopted by the General Assembly on 15 December 1989 and entered into force on 11 July 1991. The following 66 States have ratified or acceded to the Second Optional Protocol: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Membership of Committee

The States parties to the Covenant elect the Committee's 18 expert members who serve in their individual capacity for four-year terms. Article 28 of the Covenant requires that "they shall be persons of high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights." They are: Rafael Rivas Posada (Colombia); Elisabeth Palm (Sweden); Ivan Shearer (Australia); Ahmed Tawfik Khalil (Egypt); Abdelfattah Amor (Tunisia); Christine Chanet (France); Prafullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati (India); Maurice Ahanhanzo Glèlè-Ahanhanzo (Benin); Edwin Johnson (Ecuador); Rajsoomer Lallah (Mauritius); Michael O'Flaherty (Ireland); Nigel Rodley (United Kingdom); Ruth Wedgwood (United States); Yuji Iwasawa (Japan); Zonke Zanele Majodina (South Africa); Iulia Antoanella Motoc (Romania); José Luis Perez Sanchez-Cerro (Perú).

Committee Expert Walter Kaelin (Switzerland) resigned on 8 April 2008.

The Committee Chairperson is Mr. Rivas Posada. The Vice-Chairpersons are Ms. Palm, Mr. Shearer and Mr. Tawfik Khalil. Mr. Amor is the Rapporteur.


Tentative Timetable for Consideration of Reports

Monday, 7 July

Morning: Opening of session (public)
(11-1 p.m.) Meeting with representatives of non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations represented at the United Nations Office at Geneva (closed)

Afternoon: Sixth periodic report of United Kingdom (CCPR/C/GBR/6)


Tuesday, 8 July

Morning: United Kingdom (continued)


Wednesday, 9 July

Afternoon: Fourth periodic report of France (CCPR/C/FRA/4)


Thursday, 10 July

Morning: France (continued)


Friday, 11 July

Morning: Fourth periodic report of San Marino (CCPR/C/SMR/4)

Afternoon: San Marino (continued)


Monday, 14 July

Afternoon: Third periodic report of Ireland (CCPR/C/IRL/3)


Tuesday, 15 July

Morning: Ireland (continued)

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For use of the information media; not an official record