UNITED NATIONS

Press Release



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HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE TO HOLD EIGHTY-SECOND SESSION IN GENEVA FROM 18 OCTOBER TO 5 NOVEMBER 2004

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Human Rights Committee
BACKGROUND RELEASE 14 October 2004

Experts to Review Reports of Finland, Albania, Benin, Morocco and Poland


Reports submitted by the Governments of Finland, Albania, Benin, Morocco and Poland on measures taken to implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights will be reviewed by the Human Rights Committee at its eighty-second session which will be held at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 18 October to 5 November 2004.

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

The Committee is scheduled to examine the fifth periodic report of Finland on 18 and 19 October; the initial report of Albania on 19 and 20 October; the initial report of Benin on 21 and 22 October; the fifth periodic report of Morocco on 25 October; and the fifth periodic report of Poland on 27 and 28 October. The Committee will present its concluding observations on the country reports at the end of its three-week session on 5 November.

The Committee's concluding remarks on the fourth periodic report of Finland, considered in April 1998, can be found in document CCPR/C/79/Add.91. Its recommendations on the fourth periodic report of Morocco, reviewed in October 1999, can be found in document CCPR/C/79/Add.113. Its observations on the fourth periodic report of Poland, considered in July 1999, can be found in document CCPR/C/79/Add, 119.

The countries presenting reports are among the 153 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, 104 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. Close to 300 communications are currently pending before the Committee. During the course of the present session, in particular in the last week, the Committee will review a portion of these communications.

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

During the course of the session, the third informal meeting between Committee Experts and States parties to the Covenant will be held on Thursday, 28 October, in Conference Room XII of the Palais des Nations.

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 things, 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 153 States have ratified or acceded to the Covenant: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, 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, Iraq, Islamic Republic of Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, 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 proclaimed 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 104 States are parties to the Optional Protocol: Algeria, 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, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, 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 and Montenegro, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, 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, 47 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 52 States have ratified or acceded to the Second Optional Protocol: Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor Leste, Turkmenistan, 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: Abdelfattah Amor (Tunisia); Nisuke Ando (Japan); Prafullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati (India); Alfredo Castillero Hoyos (Panama); Christine Chanet (France); Franco Depasquale (Malta); Maurice Glèlè-Ahanhanzo (Benin); Walter Kälin (Switzerland); Ahmed Tawfik Khalil (Egypt); Rajsoomer Lallah (Mauritius); Rafael Rivas Posada (Colombia); Sir Nigel Rodley (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland); Martin Scheinin (Finland); Ivan Shearer (Australia); Hipolito Solari-Yrigoyen (Argentina); Ruth Wedgwood (United States of America); Roman Wieruszewski (Poland); and Maxwell Yalden (Canada).



Mr. Amor serves as President of the Committee with Mr. Rivas Posada, Sir Nigel and
Mr. Wieruszewski serving as Vice Presidents. Mr. Shearer serves as Committee Rapporteur.



Tentative Timetable for Consideration of Reports


Monday, 18 October

Morning Opening; Meeting with representatives on non-governmental and Intergovernmental organizations
Afternoon Finland: Fifth periodic report (CCPR/C/FIN/2003/5)

Tuesday, 19 October

Morning Finland (continued)
Afternoon Albania: Initial report (CCPR/C/ALB/2003/1)

Wednesday, 20 October

Morning Albania (continued)
Afternoon Albania (continued)

Thursday, 21 October

Afternoon Benin: Initial report (CCPR/C/BEN/2004/1 and CCPR/C/BEN/2004/1/Add.1)

Friday, 22 October

Morning Benin (continued)
Afternoon Benin (continued)

Monday, 25 October

Morning Morocco: Fifth periodic report (CCPR/C/MAR/2004/5)
Afternoon Morocco (continued)

Wednesday, 27 October

Afternoon Poland: Fifth periodic report (CCPR/C/POL/2004/5)

Thursday, 28 October

Morning Poland (continued)



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