Highlights: UN Human Rights Committee publishes findings on Bolivia, Cambodia, Iraq, Israel and Qatar

Geneva, March 30, 2022.- The UN Human Rights Committee on Wednesday published its findings on the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Cambodia, Iraq, Israel and Qatar, after reviewing the countries during its latest session.

The findings contain the Committee’s main concerns and recommendations on implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as positive aspects. Highlights include:

Plurinational State of Bolivia
The Committee was concerned that violence against women, including femicides and sexual violence, continued to happen in Bolivia. It recommended that Bolivia intensify its efforts to prevent, combat and eradicate all forms of violence against women and girls.

The Committee also expressed concern about the administration of justice. It called on the State party to redouble its efforts to ensure and protect the complete autonomy, independence and impartiality of judges and prosecutors.

There have been reports of closure of national and international media outlets, blockage of news websites, widespread harassment and use of criminal and civil legal actions against journalists and human rights defenders in Cambodia. The Committee urged the State party to ensure that everyone can freely exercise the right to freedom of expression. It also asked Cambodia to stop prosecuting and imprisoning journalists, human rights defenders and other civil society.

The Committee was gravely concerned about threats, arbitrary arrests, mass trials, revocation of passports, and acts of violence against members of the opposition. The Committee urged Cambodia to end all unlawful restrictions on participation in public affairs, and ensure that all political parties can carry out an equal, free and transparent electoral campaign, particularly for the upcoming elections in 2022 and 2023.

The Committee was concerned that the legislative provisions in Iraq’s Criminal Code, such as those concerning rape and providing lenient punishment for the so-called “honour” killings in certain circumstances, remain discriminatory against women. It called on Iraq to expedite the adoption of the bill on domestic violence and review its domestic legislation to repeal or amend all provisions that discriminate against women and permit violence against them.

Regarding the overly broad definition of terrorism in the country’s Counter-Terrorism Act and the implementation of the death penalty for a wide range of crimes, the Committee urged Iraq to ensure that its anti-terrorism legislation, including the draft amendment to the Counter-Terrorism Act and the National Counter-Terrorism Strategy, are in line with international human rights standards, particularly by defining terrorism more precisely. It also called on the State party to refrain from mandatory imposition of the death penalty for offences under the Counter-Terrorism Act.

The Committee expressed concerns about the Israel’s increased and intensified demolitions of Palestinian houses and other infrastructure in the West Bank, including schools, water facilities, and sanitation and hygiene structures. The Committee urged an end to implementing evictions and demolition orders based on discriminatory planning policies, laws and practices affecting Palestinians, including Bedouins, in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. It also called on the State party to review and reform its planning and zoning regime.

Concerning the continued absence of specific legislation on prohibition of torture, the Committee called for an absolute ban on torture in the country. The Committee also noted the lack of an independent monitoring mechanism over detention facilities. It urged the State party to establish an independent and effective monitoring mechanism over all detention facilities within its territory and occupied territories, keep audio and visual documentation of all interrogations in the Israeli Security Agency’s detention facilities and ensure that such documentation can be used as evidence in court.

Regarding the deaths of migrant workers on construction sites, including those taking part in building the 2022 World Cup facilities, the Committee recommended that Qatar intensify its efforts to prevent the death of migrant workers, in particular by ensuring the strict enforcement adopted measures to protect the safety and health of workers, and the legal framework concerning investigations of workplace incidents and reparations for the families.

Qatar’s newly adopted electoral laws granted the right to vote only to Qatari nationals and those whose grandfather is Qatari and born in Qatar, excluding all other naturalized Qatari citizens. The Committee recommended that the State party eliminate any restrictions on the rights to vote of naturalized Qatari citizens, bringing its electoral legal framework into full compliance with the Covenant.

The above findings, officially named Concluding Observations, are now available online on the session webpage.

The Human Rights Committee will hold its next session from 27 June to 29 July to review Hong Kong, Macau, Georgia, Ireland, Luxembourg, Russia, Sri Lanka and Uruguay.

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