This week, the Human Rights Committee will commence its 114th session in Geneva, Switzerland. The session will take place from June 29 to July 24, during which time the Committee will review the State reports of Canada, France, Macedonia, Spain, the United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, and Venezuela. The Committee will also review reports submitted by civil society organizations and national human rights institutions (NHRIs) concerning the States’ implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). At the conclusion of the review process, the Committee will issue concluding observations for each State, containing its concerns and recommendations on each State’s implementation of the Covenant. All States are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee within one year of accepting the Covenant and thereafter whenever the Committee requests.
Category Archives: military and humanitarian intervention
On May 7, 2015, the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) presented its 2014 Annual Report, evaluating the state of freedom of expression in the Americas, to the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs of the Organization of American States (OAS). [IACHR Press Release] See also Executive Summary of the 2014 Annual Report of the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the IACHR.
The Human Rights Council is close to concluding its 22nd Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group which began on May 4 and will conclude on May 15, 2015 to examine 14 States’ human rights records. [OHCHR Press Release] During these Working Group discussions, UN Member States are reviewing the human rights practices of Belarus, Liberia, Malawi, Mongolia, Panama, Maldives, Andorra, Bulgaria, Honduras, the United States, Marshall Islands, Croatia, Jamaica, and Libya (listed in the order of their scheduled reviews). [OHCHR: Universal Periodic Review Timetable]
Last month, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued its Annual Report 2014, summarizing the Court’s structure, jurisprudence, and activities throughout 2014. The Report discusses the Court’s functions, summarizes the status of cases before the Court, breaks down the Court’s budget, and describes additional activities the Court undertook in 2014. See Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Annual Report 2014. The majority of the Report focuses on the hearings that the Court held, cases that were submitted to the Court, and judgments that the Court delivered in 2014. See id. at 12–33, 39–66.
On January 30, 2015, the United Nations Human Rights Council Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on the Draft United Nations Declaration on the Right to Peace held informal consultations with non-governmental organizations and Member States in preparation for the third session of the Working Group, which is scheduled for April 20 to 24, 2015. [Human Rights Centre of the University of Padua] The Working Group is tasked with developing a non-binding statement reflecting the international community’s consensus regarding the right to peace and outlining States’ obligations with regard to this right. Read more
On December 24, 2014, the watershed United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) entered into force. The treaty, which is the first international instrument regulating the trade in conventional arms, creates a human rights framework to govern transfers of conventional arms, with the goal of curbing the flow of weapons that may be used to perpetrate human rights violations and crimes of war. [OHCHR Press Release]
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, heralded the new treaty as “a tool for States to prevent the violence and insecurity resulting from the flow of arms, and in so doing to fulfil their human rights obligations.” [OHCHR Press Release]
If implemented effectively, the treaty will put in place new, higher standards for the global arms trade, and codifies strict controls on the arms trade in international law. States will be required to analyze how arms will be used after transfer, and will be accountable when weapons are traded to groups or individuals likely to use them to violate human rights. [Oxfam] Sixty-one States have ratified the treaty to date. Read more
On November 20, 2014, the European Court of Human Rights issued its judgment in the case of Jaloud v. the Netherlands, concerning the shooting death of an Iraqi national, Azhar Sabah Jaloud, at a military checkpoint overseen by Dutch troops serving as part of the Stabilisation Force in Iraq (SFIR) in April 2004. [ECtHR] The case is significant because it expands on the Court’s previous jurisprudence concerning the application of extraterritorial jurisdiction in armed conflict situations.
In his application to the Court, the applicant, Jaloud’s father, alleged that the Netherlands had violated the procedural aspects of Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to carry out an adequate investigation into the circumstances of his son’s death. [ECtHR] Holding that a State has jurisdiction over the acts of its military service personnel operating abroad under the State’s “exclusive direction or control,” the Court determined that the Netherlands’ exercise of “authority and control over persons passing through the checkpoint” indicated that it had jurisdiction over the shooting death of Jaloud within the meaning of Article 1 (obligation to respect human rights) of the European Convention. ECtHR, Jaloud v. the Netherlands [GC], no. 47708/08, Judgment of 20 November 2014, paras. 151-53.
As such, the Netherlands was under an obligation to conduct an effective investigation into Jaloud’s death. The Court found the Dutch investigation to be inadequate because it failed to preserve certain evidence, to ensure a suitable autopsy, to prevent potential suspects from colluding with key witnesses, and to provide critical reports to the reviewing court. Thus, the Court found that the Netherlands breached the procedural obligations of Article 2 of the European Convention. Id. at paras. 227-28. Read more
As Blackwater Security Guards Are Convicted for Nisour Square Killings, UN Working Group Pushes for Enhanced Regulation of Private Security Companies
On October 22, jurors in a United States federal district court found four former Blackwater security guards guilty of first-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter for the shooting deaths of 17 Iraqis on September 16, 2007. The killings occurred while a team of security guards – code-named Raven 23 – employed by the private security company escorted a U.S. State Department armored convoy through Nisour Square in Baghdad, Iraq. The guards, purportedly thinking they were under attack by insurgents, responded with gunfire from heavy machine guns and grenade launchers. Seventeen Iraqis were killed and 20 more were seriously injured. [Guardian] Read more
In Hassan v. United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rights Finds Extra-territorial Jurisdiction over Iraqi Detainee and Examines Interplay between Geneva Conventions and European Human Rights Obligations
On September 16, the European Court of Human Rights delivered its Grand Chamber judgment in Hassan v. United Kingdom, which involved the detention of an Iraqi national, Tarek Hassan, by the British army in Iraq in 2003. The applicant alleged that the United Kingdom was responsible for Tarek’s unlawful detention, ill-treatment, and death. The key issues before the Court were whether the British army’s actions were brought within the Court’s jurisdiction through extra-territorial application of the European Convention on Human Rights and to what extent the surrounding context of international armed conflict modified the State’s human rights obligations. [ECtHR Press Release]
The Court held that there was no violation of the European Convention on Human Rights because, although Tarek was within the UK’s extra-territorial jurisdiction pursuant to Article 1 of the Convention, the Court interpreted Article 5 of the European Convention to allow for the otherwise unauthorized detention of suspected combatants, in keeping with the Geneva Conventions, in the context of international armed conflict. Because it found that Tarek’s detention complied with international humanitarian law and there was insufficient evidence linking his ill-treatment and death to the actions of the British forces, the Court rejected the applicant’s claims. See ECtHR, Hassan v. United Kingdom, [GC], no. 29750/09, ECHR 2014, Judgment of 16 September 2014, paras. 62–64, 80, 108–111. Read more
The United Nations Human Rights Council held its 22nd special session this week to address human rights violations committed by the Islamic State and associated groups, which have been accused of mass atrocities as they move to take territory and eliminate minority groups in Iraq and neighboring countries. [OHCHR; Amnesty] The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution requesting the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to deploy an emergency fact-finding mission to Iraq in order to investigate human rights abuses committed by the Islamic State and to provide technical assistance to the government. The High Commissioner for Human Rights should provide the Human Rights Council with an oral update on the resolution’s implementation later this month. See UN Human Rights Council, Draft Resolution S-22/ . . . , The human rights situation in Iraq in the light of abuses committed by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and associated groups, UN Doc. A/HRC/S-22/L.1, 1 September 2014. Read more