At UN, Human Rights Committee wraps up review of Madagascar, Chile, Barbados
The Human Rights Committee, which monitors compliance with a landmark treaty on civil and political rights, today concluded a session held at United Nations Headquarters in New York after reviewing reports by Madagascar.
During the three-week session, officials from Madagascar said the country had transformed its human rights legislation and reformed its legal and prison systems, but the 18-member expert Committee had several concerns, including that the appointment and tenure of judges might be in the hands of a few politicians, and that decisions about their possible misconduct seemed to be shrouded in secrecy. Experts also faulted the registration system for detainees, saying it unduly burdened the affected individuals.
The head of Chile’s delegation said that an ambitious social programme, spearheaded by the nation’s first female President, Michelle Bachelet, had led to profound reform of the social security and educational systems, and a constitutional review had removed the remaining “authoritarian enclaves,” such as lifetime senators. Committee members raised questions about the criminalization of abortion, discrimination against women and homosexuals, reported violations of the rights of mentally disabled and the effects of anti-terrorism laws on indigenous people.
The representative of Barbados described steps the country was taking to combat the trafficking in persons, arms and illegal drugs. Experts urged assistance to victims of trafficking. In addition, they tackled the treatment of juvenile offenders, questioning why they were housed in the same prisons as adult inmates. To the experts’ questions about corporal punishment in the schools, the delegate said there was no “constant thrashing,” only “reasonable discipline,” guided by specific principles.
The Human Rights Committee monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which has 160 States parties and entered into force in 1976.
During a planned July session in Geneva, the Committee will consider the Czech Republic, Grenada, Sudan and Zambia. The Committee Chairman, Rafael Rivas Posada, an expert from Colombia, today said he anticipated “blazing enthusiasm for a particularly charged session.”