The UN Human Rights Committee has published its findings on the civil and political rights record of Central African Republic, Portugal, Tunisia, Uzbekistan and Dominica which it reviewed during its latest session.
Although the session, which was due to end on 27 March, was suspended in mid-March because of the outbreak of COVID-19, the Committee members continued their tasks, including the adoption of concluding observations of the above-mentioned countries, through distance working.
The findings, available online, contain positive aspects of each country’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Committee’s main concerns and recommendations. Some of the key highlights include:
Central African Repubic: The Committee commended the Central African Republic for signing the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in 2019, and for positive legal reforms towards transitional justice. It remained, however, concerned about the persistence of gender-based violence, extra-judicial executions, human trafficking, corruption affecting judicial independence, forced displacement of civilians, and attacks on human rights defenders.
Portugal: The Committee was pleased to see measures to increase women’s representation among top civil servants in the public sector, efforts to combat corruption and actions to accommodate increasing numbers of migrants. It remained, however, concerned about domestic violence against women, racial discrimination against Roma and African descent in education, employment and housing, as well as prolonged detention of asylum-seekers.
Tunisia: The Committee welcomed measures taken to combat impunity and improvement towards equality between women and men. It remained, however, concerned at the small number of cases processed by the Truth and Dignity Commission; the improper use of emergency and counter-terrorism legislation, persistent use of torture in the security sector; and criminalisation of activities related to the exercise of freedom of expression.
Uzbekistan: The Committee was pleased to see progress in combating corruption, preventing violence against women, reform of the judiciary, and the elimination of child and forced labour, in particular during the cotton harvest. However, it remained concerned about torture and ill-treatment of people deprived of liberty, as well as restrictions on the freedom of conscience and religious belief, freedom of expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly.
Dominica: The Committee was pleased to review the State party for the first time since its ratification of the Covenant in 1993. It welcomed measures to ensure gender equality, to protect its citizens from the effects of climate change and to abolish death penalty. The Committee, however, called for more progress in a variety of areas, including pre-trial detention and reducing infant mortality.
The Committee also began the second and final reading of the guidance for States that it is preparing on the right of peaceful assembly. The guidance, formally known as General Comment, deals with article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Committee has taken the approach that the right of peaceful assembly also applies to gatherings in online and private spaces.
The UN Human Rights Committee is due to hold its next session from 29 June to 24 July 2020 this year to review Bolivia, Botswana, Israel, Nicaragua, Peru, Togo, Ukraine and Uruguay.