During the month of May 2016, supranational human rights bodies’ activities will include review of dozens of States’ compliance with their treaty obligations, public hearings on individual complaints, and 11 country visits.
The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hear a Finnish case concerning the tension between privacy and freedom of expression and a Belgian case challenging the conditions in reception centers for asylum seekers. The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) will review States’ practices related to employment, training, and equal opportunities and will also consider pending cases.
The Universal Periodic Review Working Group (UPR Working Group) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) will each meet to assess States’ human rights practices. These sessions can be viewed on UN Treaty Body Webcast and UN Web TV, respectively.
Eleven special procedures appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council are scheduled to carry out country visits to assess the human rights situation on particular topics in Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Hungary, Mauritania, and South Korea.
As detailed in our April overview, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Committee Against Torture, and Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will conclude sessions that began last month. To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar.
European Court of Human Rights
The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights will hold a hearing on May 25, 2016 in V.M. and Others v. Belgium, a case on appeal from a chamber decision. [ECtHR Press Release] The case was brought by members of a family of Roma origin who were born in Serbia but sought asylum in France and then Belgium after fleeing an environment of discrimination and ill-treatment of Roma people in Serbia. The family alleged that the poor conditions in the reception centers in which they were temporarily housed resulted in their daughter’s death in violation of the right to life, that the period of time in which they were not provided with any accommodation violated the right to humane treatment, and that their forced return to Serbia violated the rights to life, humane treatment, and an effective remedy. The Chamber held that Belgium had violated the families’ rights to humane treatment and to an effective remedy. See ECtHR, V.M. and Others, no. 60125/11, Judgment of July 7, 2015. The Grand Chamber’s hearings are typically webcast live from the Court’s homepage.
For more information on the European Court of Human Rights, visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub.
European Committee on Social Rights
The European Committee of Social Rights will hold its 285th Session in Strasbourg, France from May 17 to 20, 2016. During the session, the Committee will review State reports on implementation of provisions of the European Social Charter and Revised European Social Charter relating to employment, training, and equal opportunities. The Committee will review the reports of Malta, Andorra, the United Kingdom, Montenegro, Belgium, Spain, Austria, Finland, Denmark, Georgia, Slovak Republic, Portugal, Germany, Azerbaijan, Italy, and Poland. Additionally, the ECSR will follow up on collective complaints it has previously decided regarding the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and Slovenia and will discuss its work related to articles of the European Social Charter that States have not accepted (“non-accepted provisions”). According to the session agenda, the Committee will also examine the progress 18 pending collective complaints, brought against Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, and Norway and involving a wide range of social rights. See the full list of ongoing complaints on the Committee’s webpage.
To learn more about the European Committee of Social Rights, visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub.
Universal Periodic Review
During its 25th session, held in Geneva, Switzerland from May 2 to 13, 2016, the UPR Working Group will consider the State reports of Antigua and Barbuda, Hungary, Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The Universal Periodic Review is a process intended to review the human rights situation of all of the 192 UN Member States. While a State-led process, the UPR is the UN Human Rights Council’s primary way of evaluating States’ protection and implementation of international human rights standards and includes consideration of information prepared by independent UN human rights bodies and by civil society. The Working Group meets for three two-week sessions each year and reviews 16 countries per session. Each review is facilitated by groups composed of representatives from three other Member States, known as “troikas.”
For additional information on this session, including a timetable and list of troikas, visit the UPR webpage. For additional information on the Universal Periodic Review process, visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub.
Committee on the Rights of the Child
The Committee on the Rights of the Child will meet for its 72nd Session in Geneva, Switzerland from May 17 to June 3, 2016 to review States’ reports on their implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. According to the session agenda, the CRC will review the reports of Bulgaria, Gabon, Nepal, Pakistan, Samoa, Slovakia, Suriname, and the United Kingdom.
For more information and session materials, including reports submitted by States and civil society, visit the 72nd Session webpage. For more information on the Committee on the Rights of the Child, visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub.
Country Visits by Special Procedures
A number of UN special procedure mandate holders will embark on missions in May.
The Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health is conducting a country visit in Algeria from April 26 to May 10, 2016.
The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants will visit Angola from May 3 to 10, 2016.
The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism will carry out a visit to Argentina from May 16 to 23, 2016.
The Working Group on arbitrary detention will conduct a country visit to Azerbaijan from May 16 to 25, 2016.
The Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt will visit Belgium from May 30 to June 3, 2016.
The Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons will conduct a country visit to Brazil from May 10 to 19, 2016.
The Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons will visit Costa Rica from May 9 to 18, 2016.
The Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights will conduct a visit to Cyprus from May 23 to June 2, 2016.
The Working Group on discrimination against women in law and practice will visit Hungary from May 17 to 27, 2016.
The Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty will conduct a country visit in Mauritania from May 2 to 11, 2016.
The Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises will visit South Korea from May 23 to June 1, 2016.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights provides some substantive coverage of such visits in its press releases. For more information on UN special procedures, visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub.