September 2016: Three Regional Courts Hold Hearings, UN Reviews States
During the month of September 2016, several supranational bodies will review States’ implementation of their treaty obligations, regional judicial bodies will conduct hearings, and four UN special procedures mechanisms will conduct country visits.
Four United Nations treaty bodies will hold interactive dialogues with more than 20 States regarding their implementation of treaty obligations related to economic, social, and cultural rights and to the rights of persons with disabilities, children, and migrants and their families. The UN Human Rights Council and two working groups under it will conduct sessions as well. The UN General Assembly will host the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants. In addition, UN independent experts will visit Israel and Palestine, Kuwait, Azerbaijan, and Mexico to assess the country situations with regard to violence against women, human trafficking, the intersection of human rights and business enterprises, and human rights defenders, respectively.
The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) will hold a session on State compliance with employment related rights. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hear a case on freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) will complete its consideration of cases against Ecuador, Guatemala, and Colombia during its 55th Special Session. The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) will hold its third ordinary session of the year.
Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 16th Session
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) will complete its 16th Session in Geneva, Switzerland on September 2. Its review of Bolivia, Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay’s compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities began on August 15. According to the programme of work, the CRPD will wrap up its session on September 1st and 2nd with closed meetings and has already completed reviewing the six States on the agenda. The CRPD will adopt concluding observations on each States’ best practices and areas of concern as well as recommendations for the State based on the information it received from both the States parties and civil society. The Committee also adopted a list of issues for consideration when reviewing Canada at a future session, and a briefing on Canada is schedule for September 2, according to the note to stakeholders issued by the Committee.
The Committee was also scheduled in its provisional agenda to review general comments that working groups have begun drafting, and, according to the programme of work, the Committee conducted a public reading of the General Comment No. 4 on Article 24: the right to inclusive education.
For more information and session materials, visit the 16th Session webpage or IJRC’s August Sessions news post.
Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 6th Pre-Sessional Working Group
The CRPD will hold its 6th Pre-Sessional Working Group in Geneva, Switzerland from September 5 to 9 to adopt lists of issues for upcoming reviews of States’ implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. During the meeting it will consider the State reports from Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Honduras, Iran, and Jordan and information from non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations. Unlike in the formal sessions, the pre-sessional meeting is done in the absence of the State party, and the adopted lists of issues are submitted to the States afterward. The States are given time to respond prior to or during the interactive session.
While civil society may not participate in the adoption of lists of issues, they may participate in country briefings. According to the note to stakeholders issued by the Committee, country briefings for Armenia and Jordan will be held on September 5, for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Cyprus on September 6, and Iran on September 7. It provides an opportunity for third parties, such as civil society organizations, to brief the Committee on potential issues that should be raised to the States parties under consideration.
For more information and session materials, including State reports and third party reports, visit the 6th Pre-Session webpage.
Committee on Migrant Workers 25th Session
The Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW) will continue its 25th Session that began in Geneva, Switzerland on August 29. Its assessment of the States’ reports regarding their compliance with the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families will continue through September 7. The CMW, according to its programme of work, has already reviewed Honduras and Niger, and it will continue to review Nicaragua on September 1st and begin reviewing Sri Lanka on the same day. After its review of these four States, the Committee will issue concluding observations on its findings regarding State compliance. The Committee will end its session with closed meetings.
Committee on the Rights of the Child 73rd Session
Between September 13 and 30, the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) will conduct its 73rd Session in Geneva, Switzerland. The Committee will assess Nauru, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Suriname on their compliance with their obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It will also review New Zealand and South Africa’s implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children child prostitution and child pornography. According to the provisional agenda, the CRC will have an interactive dialogue with the States regarding their reports. The lists of issues adopted by the Committee at its pre-sessional working group was conveyed to the States parties beforehand, and the States were given an opportunity to submit responses, which the Committee will have before it during its session. After its session, the Committee will adopt concluding observations on State compliance, best practices, and areas of concern as well as recommendations to the State based on its review of States parties’ reports and information from civil society.
The CRC will also continue working on three different general comments. The topics of the general comments are on adolescents, children in street situations, and children in the context of migration. The general comment on the last issue is set to be prepared and published in collaboration with the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights 59th Session
The Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR) will hold its 59th Session in Geneva, Switzerland to consider States’ implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). It will review Costa Rica, Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, Lebanon, the Philippines, Poland, and Tunisia. Based on its review of reports from State parties and information from civil society, the Committee will adopt concluding observations on best practices and areas of concern for each State party and issue recommendations.
According to the provisional agenda, in addition to reviewing the States compliance with the ICESCR it will draft general comments on substantive issues, including State obligations in the context of business activities. The CESCR will also consider individual communications submitted to it in accordance with the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.
For more information and session materials, including the civil society reports and the agenda, visit the 59th Session Webpage.
Human Rights Council 33rd Session
The Human Rights Council, an intergovernmental body in the United Nations with a mandate to protect human rights, will hold its 33rd Session in Geneva, Switzerland from September 13 to 30. This session will include panel discussions on the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training and on youth and human rights. It will also have its annual panels on indigenous peoples’ rights – this year focused on violence against women and girls – and on integrating a gender perspective into the body’s work, particularly gender-based considerations in recommendations and resolutions.
The Human Rights Council will also consider several reports on different thematic issues from the United Nations Secretary General, the High Commissioner on Human Rights, and independent experts. The reports are listed in the agenda and include reports on the death penalty, the rights of indigenous peoples, and the rights of migrants, among others.
The Council will consider and adopt the final outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) conducted at recent sessions of the UPR Working Group regarding Antigua and Barbuda, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Papua New Guinea, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, and Trinidad and Tobago. According to the agenda, the Human Rights Council will also consider the Syrian crisis as a situation that requires the body’s attention.
For more information and session materials, such as the agenda and list of reports, visit the 33rd Session Webpage.
Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances 110th Session
The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances will hold its 110th Session from September 19 to 23. During its triannual meetings, the Working Group considers both newly-submitted applications alleging a forced disappearance and information on previous applications. In addition to specific cases, the body considers general situations, patterns of violations, and barriers to implementation of protections against forcible disappearances as found in the Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances. The Working Group meets with families of the disappeared, non-governmental organizations, and government representatives on issues and practices. If the procedure makes a decision regarding a country it will submit the findings to them. See OHCHR, Sessions of the Working Group.
Working Group on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises 15th Session
The Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises is holding its 15th Session in Geneva, Switzerland from September 26 to 30. During the closed session the Working Group will meet with States parties and civil society organizations separately. It will also hold open consultations. The session activities will work toward the priorities the Working Group established for for 2016 and 2017, including calls to States to develop national action plans regarding human rights and business, country visit plans, and the new priorities suggested by members recently appointed. See Human Rights Council, Outcome of the fourteenth session of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, UN Doc. A/HRC/WG.12/14/1, 22 June 2016, paras. 4-7.
More information, including the outcome document, will be posted to the Working Group’s Sessions Page after the Session is completed.
UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants
The United Nations General Assembly has called together States’ governments to develop a better and more unified international response to massive refugee and migration movements. The UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants will be held in New York on September 19. The event will consist of several round table sessions on topics such as addressing the root causes of large refugee movements, global agreements for responsibility-sharing for refugees and respect for international law, and addressing vulnerabilities and needs of refugees and migrants. Leaders of several key organizations and UN bodies will also be in attendance, representing the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UN Women, the World Bank Group, and others. During the opening ceremony, the new agreement on cooperation between the UN and the IOM will be formally signed, establishing a stronger connection between the two entities. See UN, Summit for Refugees and Migration – September 19. For more on the IOM agreement, see IJRC’s prior news post.
The United States will host a complementary event on September 20 with co-hosts Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Jordan, Mexico, and Sweden. The event is the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees and is meant to provide a venue for governments to make commitments on refugees. See UN, Summit for Refugees and Migration – September 19.
Special Procedures Country Visits
Four UN special procedure mandate holders will be making country visits in September. Special procedures are established under the Human Rights Council and are intended to promote and monitor human rights throughout the world on particular thematic issues. The Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises will continue its visit to Mexico, which began August 26, through September 7. The Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children will conduct a country visit in Kuwait from September 4 to 9. The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences will visit Israel from September 12 to 23 and the Occupied Palestinian Territory from September 17 to 21. The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders will visit Azerbaijan between September 14 and 22.
During their country visits, the experts will assess the general human rights situation in the country as well as the specific institutional framework addressing the thematic area of human rights under the special procedure’s mandate. Typically, special procedure mandate holders will meet with civil society, government, and national human rights institutions if available during their country visits. Their findings are published in reports to the Human Rights Council. See OHCHR, Country visits and Special Procedures.
Inter-American Court of Human Rights 55th Special Session
The 55th Special Session of the IACtHR began on August 17 and will continue through September 2 in Mexico according to its list of session dates. The session featured seminars on various human rights topics, including the intersection of criminal law and human rights, protection of migrants’ rights, gender-based justice, and freedom of expression. The Court was also scheduled to hold panels regarding its own jurisprudence, challenges and goals, and jurisdictional issues.
The Court was scheduled to hold hearings on four individual cases during this session, one on provisional measures and three on the merits of the case. Vásquez Durand and Othersv. Ecuador concerns the forcible disappearance of a Peruvian merchant by the Ecuadorian government. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) found the State in violation of the rights to be recognized as a person before the law, to life, to humane treatment, to personal liberty, to a fair trial, and to judicial protection under the American Convention on Human Rights. The case of Gutiérrez Hernández and Others v. Guatemala also alleges enforced disappearance by a State. The applicants claim that the victim was targeted for her activism and work at the San Carlos University, and the IACHR held Guatemala violated the rights to a fair trial and judicial protection. The IACtHR previously held that Colombia violated the rights to life, to humane treatment, and personal liberty based on allegations of a massacre of 15 judicial officers by a paramilitary group in the Case of “the Rochela Massacre”v. Colombia. The Court issued provisional measures in November 2009 and is following up on Colombia’s actions to protect the life and personal integrity of the companions and spouses of the deceased. Lastly, in Valencia Hinojosa v. Ecuador the IACHR held that Ecuador violated the rights to life, humane treatment, fair trial, and juridical protection when the victim, a police officer, was killed by another police officer.
For more information on the agenda of the session, including details of the cases and panels under discussion, as well as live webcasts, visit the 55th Special Session webpage or IJRC’s August Sessions news post.
European Committee of Social Rights 287th Session
The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) will hold its 287th Session from September 5 to 7 in Strasbourg, France to review States’ compliance with the European Social Charter. The ECSR will examine draft conclusions for Andorra, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Malta, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The conclusions are based on reports submitted to the Committee from each of the States parties under review. According to the Committee’s reporting schedule, the conclusions will focus on employment, training, and equal opportunities, which falls under articles 1, 9, 10, 15, 18, 20, and 24-25 of the European Social Charter. The Committee will also continue their consideration of pending collective complaints submitted to it. [Council of Europe Press Release]
More information will be available on the ECSR’s Sessions Webpage, including the session agenda and synopsis.
African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights 42nd Ordinary Session
The (AfCHPR) will meet in Arusha, Tanzania for its 42nd Ordinary Session from September 5 to 16. See AfCHPR, 42nd Ordinary Session of the Court 5-16 September 2016. The AfCHPR typically examines individual applications, conducts public hearings, and addresses requests for advisory opinions. [AfCHPR Press Release: 41st Session; AfCHPR Press Release: 40th Session]
More information on the outcome of the cases and advisory opinions decided during the session will be available on the AfCHPR’s Cases Webpage.
European Court of Human Rights: Satakunnan Markkinapörssi Oy and Satamedia Oy v. Finland
On September 14, the ECtHR will hold a Grand Chamber hearing in the case Satakunnan Markkinapörssi Oy and Satamedia Oy v. Finland. ECtHR, Calendar of Hearings- Forthcoming Hearings. During its meeting on December 14, 2015, the Grand Chamber panel referred the case to the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR at the request of the applicants. The applicants, two Finnish companies, were the subject of administrative proceedings in Finland for publishing a magazine on taxation information, including individual’s taxable income and assets. Subsequently, one of the applicants created an SMS based service that allowed individuals to receive tax information from the database. Over 1.2 million Finnish citizen’s income and assets were available through the publication and application. The Supreme Administrative Court found that the publication was not journalistic activity but merely sharing personal information, which was not legal. The SMS service stopped running and the publication was reduced. [ECHR Press Release]
The applicants alleged that the ban on publishing the data violated the rights to freedom of expression and non-discrimination – taking under consideration that other news sources were still able to publish similar information – under the European Convention on Human Rights. They also alleged that the six and a half year duration of the proceedings against them constituted a violation of the right to a fair trial within a reasonable amount of time. [ECHR Press Release]
The Chamber judgment in July 2015 ruled that there was no violation of the right to freedom of expression, specifically noting that the domestic court fairly balanced the competing rights to free expression and privacy. It found the discrimination claim to be manifestly unfounded. The Chamber did, however, find Finland in violation of the right to a fair trial due to the prolonged proceedings. [ECHR Press Release]
For more information on UN Treaty Bodies, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the European Committee on Social Rights, and the UN Special Procedures, or for upcoming sessions and hearings, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.