A United Nations panel of independent experts meeting in New York today completed a three-week review of human rights conditions in Croatia, the Dominican Republic, Syria, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.
The Chairman of the Human Rights Committee, which monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, told reporters at a press briefing today that the session had been especially productive. "We had very effective participation from all the members," said Chairman Pratfullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati of India, referring to the 18 experts serving on the panel.
In a brief overview of the Committee's observations on each country, he noted that with respect to Uzbekistan, there had been concern about prison conditions, allegations of torture, and the independence of the judiciary. On Croatia, Mr. Bhagwati reviewed the country's recent history and said that most of the concerns related to cases of killings which had not been adequately investigated. Regarding Venezuela, he observed that there were "a large number of problems of extrajudicial executions, deaths in custody and various other issues of concern."
Another Committee member, Christine Chanet of France, told the press that the experts had noted positive developments in Syria, including the release of many political detainees. Concerns persisted, however, with respect to the country's state of emergency, which appeared to be permanent, and the widespread use of the death penalty.
Expert, Nisuke Ando of Japan, reported on the Committee's conclusions regarding Costa Rica, noting that "the big problem there is the constant flow of illegal workers from Haiti." Most of those people worked in sugar cane fields under uncertain conditions.
Mr. Bhagwati said the countries monitored at the current session had fully cooperated with the experts. "All these delegations were very frank in their discussion with us, and we could see that they were quite sincere in desiring to carry out our recommendations," he said.
The Committee will meet next from 9 to 27 July in Geneva to consider the reports of Monaco, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Guatemala and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.