Saturday, July 22, 2017

Table of pending cases, Human Rights Committee

A table of pending cases has finally been posted by the U.N. Human Rights Committee. It was announced at their March 2017 session and can be found here.  These are individual complaints that have been registered since January 1, 2017.  There are no dates on the table so it is not clear how current the latest registered case is.

The cases are numbered 2925 through 2966, a total of 42 cases. The largest number of cases deal with deportations, 16.  There are also 5 cases on religious discrimination of one type or another, primarily dealing with believers of the Jehovah's Witnesses, a Christian group. There are also five cases dealing with sexual orientation.

Russia is mentioned in the most number of complaints (10), followed by Austria (5), Belarus (4), Canada (4), Azerbaijan (2), Colombia (2), Denmark (2) and one each for Australia, Finland, France, Hungary, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Korea, and Slovakia.  One case, #2964/2017, has no country listed so far.

The Committee's backlog of cases is quite extensive. On average it will probably take 3 to 4 years for these 2017 cases to be concluded.  The Committee has recently decided that it will accept submissions from interested third parties on these registered cases, but I have not found any rules posted yet on how this new procedure will work. If interested in submitting such a brief, I would encourage you to contact directly the petitions unit for the OHCHR.

Suggestions I would make to those who are maintaining this table:

  • please indicate the latest date of the table every time it is revised
  • please provide links to the procedures for submitting third party briefs on any of these cases
  • please indicate final outcomes whenever possible, including cases that are dismissed or discontinued without a public decision being issued
  • correct item #2964/2017 in the table which at the moment has no country identified with it

Sunday, July 9, 2017

None of the countries currently under review by the treaty body system have filed their report on time

One common criticism of the human rights treaty system is the failure of states to file their reports on time. This disrupts the system in several ways, including scheduling, allocation of resources, backlogs and slowdowns in the workflow. 

There are several ways to measure this non-compliance, but one is to take a quick snapshot of the current workload in the treaty body system. Two treaty bodies are currently in session, the Human Rights Committee (July 3-28) and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (July 3-21). 

Fifteen (15) countries in total are being reviewed by these two Committees.  None of the fifteen has filed on time.  The average amount of delay in filing the report has been 5.4 years. 

Here are some details. 


Filed on time?
Within page/word limits?
Is there a response to prior Concluding Observations?
No, 15 years late
Costa Rica
No, 3 months late
No, 4 months late
No, 9 months late.
No, 3 years late.
No, 16 months late.
No, it appears to be 2X the applicable limit
Yes but in an annex only
No, 6 years late
n/a LOIPR report
No 5 years late
Apparently not, but hard to tell for sure.

     * note that all reports were late. Average degree of lateness was 5.9 years, but if you remove Barbados from the calculation, the average is 2.3 years.

o   Barbados – combined 5th through 8th periodic reports. Due 9/3/99. Submitted 7/20/15. 15 years late.  44 pages. 17,419 words.  Yes, Part One responds to the prior recommendations.
o   Costa Rica – 7th periodic report. Due 7/1/15. Submitted 9/22/15. 3 months late. 32 pages. 15, 021 words.  There is general reference, but I could not find specific point by point responses to prior recommendations of the Committee.
o   Italy – 7th periodic report. Due 7/1/15. Submitted 10/27/15. 4 months late. 43 pages. 19,907 words.  I could not find responses to prior recommendations.
o   Montenegro – 2nd periodic report. Due 10/1/15. Submitted 6/13/16. 9 months late. 42 pages, 19,209 words.  Yes, the report is structured as a response to the prior recommendations.
o   Niger – combined 3rd & 4th periodic reports. Due 11/7/12. Submitted 8/13/15. 3 years late. 30 pages, 11,913 words.  Yes, the report highlights prior recommendations and provides responses.
o   Nigeria --  combined 7th and 8th periodic reports. Due 7/13/14. Submitted 10/7/15. 16 months late. 65 pages. 52,824 words.  My method of counting words is approximate, but this report certainly seems to be way over the limit of 21,200 words.  According to the introduction to the report, a synopsis of the responses to all of the prior recommendations is contained in Annex 1.  This annex is 12 pages, in table form.  It appears to be comprehensive.  But it does not cross reference to the parts of the main report where these responses are covered; instead it is a point by point reference in addition to the report itself. Very strange.
o   Romania – combined 7th & 8th periodic reports.  A LOIPR report. Due 2/1/11. Submitted 2/6/17. 6 years late.  42 pages. 21,044 words.  I could not find any reference to the prior recommendations or any responses to them.  No table of contents either, apparently due to lack of available space under the word limit. Note that this is an LOIPR report, so that is probably why there is no response to prior recommendations.
o   Thailand – combined 6th & 7th periodic reports. Due 9/1/10. Submitted 6/18/15. 5 years late.  35 pages, 14, 258 words.  There are references to prior recommendations, but it does not appear complete. However, it is difficult to be sure. No index or table of references.  There are general references like “Thailand has made serious efforts to implement the Committee’s recommendations” but without any details.

Human Rights Committee


On time?
Within word limits?
Response to last COs?
No, 5 yrs late
No, 6.5 yrs late
No, 4.5 yrs late
No, 1 yr late
No, 4 yrs late
Not applicable – initial report
No, 1 year late
Not applicable – LOIPR report
No, 12 yrs overdue
Not applicable – no report
Not applicable – no report
*note that all 7 reports are late or overdue. Average is 4.8 years late.
o   Honduras – 2nd periodic report. Due 10/31/10. Submitted 10/21/15.  5 years late.  12 annexes also submitted. Also 20 annexes submitted to the reply to the list of issues. 11 NGO reports. 2 NHRI reports.  31 pages. 17,581 words.  There are general references to the prior recommendations, but apparently not a point by point response.
o   Liechtenstein – 2nd periodic report. Due 8/1/09. Submitted 3/24/16.  6-1/2 years late. 1 NGO report.  36 pages. 20,990 words.  There is general reference to the prior recommendations, but I could not find point by point responses.
o   Madagascar – 4th periodic report. Due 3/23/11. Submitted 11/09/15. 4-1/2 years late. 6 NGO reports. Report is available in French and Spanish only.  56 pages. Approximately 19,200 words. No apparent reference to prior recommendations, but it is difficult to know for sure since the report is not available in English.
o   Mongolia – 6th periodic report. Due 4/1/15. Submitted 3/30/16. One year late. 7 NGO reports. 1 NHRI report. 25 pages. 13,194 words. No apparent reference to prior recommendations. No index or table of contents.  No introduction where comments might be found on the prior recommendations.
o   Pakistan – initial report. Due 10/23/11. Submitted 10/19/15. 4 years late. 27 NGO reports.  45 pages. Approximately 24,500 words.  Not applicable re prior recommendations, because this is an initial report.
o   Switzerland – 4th report. An LOIPR report. Initially due in 2015. Then due 7/1/16 and submitted 7/7/16. One year late. 4 annexes also submitted to the report. 12 NGO reports. 34 pages, 20,500 words.  Responses to prior recommendations not applicable since this is an LOIPR report.
o   Swaziland (reviewed in the absence of a report) – initial report.  Due 6/26/05. 12 years overdue. List of issues was issued in the absence of a report in March 2017. The government submitted a reply to the list of issues on May 15, 2017. 17 pages. 8760 words. 2 NGO reports.