Human Rights Committee Adopts Report on Follow-up to its Concluding Observations Concerning Bahrain, El Salvador, Lithuania and Romania
The Human Rights Committee this afternoon adopted a report by the Special Rapporteur on follow-up to concluding observations concerning Bahrain, El Salvador, Lithuania and Romania.
According to the Committee’s procedure, the Committee selects a minimum of two and maximum of four recommendations, termed the follow-up recommendations, to be included in the follow-up procedure; these recommendations are indicated in the Committee’s concluding observations issued to a State party following their review by the Committee. When reviewing follow-up reports, the Committee assesses the replies using the scale from A for largely satisfactory replies to E for replies that indicate that the measures taken go against the Committee’s recommendations.
Vasilka Sancin, Committee Vice-Chair and the Special Rapporteur on follow-up to concluding observations, presented the assessment of the responses provided by Bahrain, El Salvador, Lithuania and Romania.
Beginning with Bahrain, discussing the topic of military courts, Ms. Sancin said the Committee noted the information on the 2017 amendment to the Constitution and the safeguards available in military court proceedings, but regretted the lack of measures taken to ensure that military courts were prevented from exercising jurisdiction over civilians. The Committee noted the information on the safeguards in death penalty cases and the State party’s intention to consider abolishing the death penalty if other States did so. Nevertheless, it regretted the lack of measures taken to reinstate the moratorium on the death penalty and to ensure that it was imposed only for serious crimes and not by military courts.
Regarding freedom of expression in Bahrain, while the Committee welcomed the prohibition of the imprisonment of journalists under the amended press, printing and publishing law, regret was expressed at the lack of measures taken to amend the Criminal Code. The Committee also regretted that the State party considered existing national legislation to be sufficient in this area, and on the lack of measures taken to decriminalise defamation. The Committee also expressed regret at the lack of measures taken to protect journalists, activists, and human rights defenders, and reiterated its recommendation on plans to release three human rights defenders.
Ms. Sancin then addressed El Salvador, stating that on the issue of voluntary termination of pregnancy and reproductive rights, the Committee regretted the absence of legislative measures taken to guarantee safe and legal access to voluntary termination of pregnancy. While noting the release of some women imprisoned for abortion-related offences, the Committee remained concerned at the continued criminalisation in this regard and the lack of measures taken to ensure rights to legal counsel and patient confidentiality. While noting the safeguards against forced sterilisation of persons with disabilities, the Committee regretted the absence of measures taken to ensure consent of persons with disabilities and to provide health personnel with training on the harmful consequences of forced sterilisation. The Committee welcomed the reduced maternal mortality rate and national strategies to improve access to sexual and reproductive health services, requesting information on impact of these strategies.
On the right to life and security of person in El Salvador, while noting the information on the special unit’s regular budget, the Committee remained concerned at reports that the unit had insufficient resources to process its caseload and that access to military files was being hindered. The Committee noted the number of cases resolved by the two National Commissions but regretted the lack of information around their resources. The Committee regretted the dismissal of the Attorney General, among others, and the amendments made to several acts, which allowed for the removal of judges. On extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and torture, the Committee noted the implementation of the Territorial Control Plan, but expressed regret at the lack of information taken to strengthen the role of the National Civil Police. While the Committee noted information on the specialised prosecution units investigating cases of extrajudicial execution, it regretted the absence of further information on these cases, as well as other cases of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance, strongly reiterating its recommendation and request for statistics on these cases, including information on investigations conducted and their outcomes, especially reparation provided to the victims.
Ms. Sancin provided an update on Lithuania, initially addressing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. While noting the implementation of the Action Plan for the Promotion of Non-Discrimination, the Committee regretted the lack of application of the legislation, reiterating its recommendation to assess the impact of the plan on the Covenant rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. While welcoming the Constitutional Court’s decision recognising a same-sex couple’s union concluded abroad, the Committee remained concerned at the lack of measures taken to fully recognise the equality of same-sex couples and provide administrative procedures for gender reassignment. On migrants and asylum seekers, the Committee welcomed the decrease in the number of asylum seekers in detention, requesting information on the alternatives to detention used. The Committee regretted the lack of information on investigations into denials of entry and access to asylum procedures. While noting the training courses provided for State Border Guard Service officials, the Committee requested more information on these courses.
The Committee welcomed the renovation of the Foreigners’ Registration Centre in Lithuania, while expressing regret at the lack of measures taken to ensure against unlawful or arbitrary detention of asylum seekers at the border. Regarding persons deprived of liberty and detention conditions, the Committee welcomed the measures taken to improve material conditions and overcrowding in prisons. The Committee was concerned about the low number of investigations conducted into ill-treatment by prison staff and the lack of effective remedies provided to the victims, requesting statistics on the number of complaints received on excessive use of force, and their outcomes.
On Romania, Ms. Sancin addressed the equality and non-discrimination of Roma, stating that the Committee welcomed the amendment made to the law on territorial planning and urbanism, requesting information on the implementation of this amendment, regarding legal challenges relating to eviction orders against Roma. The Committee also welcomed information on the Education, Scholarships, Apprenticeships and Youth Entrepreneurship Programme, requesting information on the enrolment status of Roma children in preschool and on measures taken to prevent cases of segregation of Roma children. The Committee noted the ongoing assessment of the National Strategy for the inclusion of Romanian citizens but regretted the lack of a comprehensive data-collection system, requesting information on the assessment of the Strategy, and the sanctions imposed on local authorities for discriminatory acts against Roma.
The Committee regretted the lack of information on measures taken to ensure that persons with disabilities in Romania were not discriminated against in the enjoyment of their rights. While welcoming the Constitutional Court’s decision which found full deprivation of legal capacity to be unconstitutional, the Committee regretted the lack of information on measures taken to pursue legal amendments in this regard and on any efforts made to restore the legal capacity of persons with disabilities. The Committee was concerned about the absence of specific measures taken to strengthen complaints mechanisms for persons with disabilities and persons in psychiatric institutions to investigate cases of abuse and prosecute those responsible. On the protection of minors and rights of the child, while welcoming the decrease in the number of children in residential institutions, the Committee regretted the lack of measures taken to avoid the institutionalisation of children from single-parent households, reiterating its recommendation in this respect.
The draft report was adopted by the Committee, as amended during the discussion and will be available on the web page dedicated to the follow-up procedure for concluding observations.
The Human Rights Committee’s one hundred and thirty-fifth session is being held from 27 June to 27 July. All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage. Meeting summary releases can be found here. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed via the UN Web TV webpage.
The Committee is next scheduled to meet in public at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, 27 July to close its one hundred and thirty-fifth session.
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