HRC: UN Human Rights Committee issues findings on Ethiopia, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Nicaragua, Philippines and Russia

Geneva, 3 November, 2022.- The UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) has issued its findings on Ethiopia, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Nicaragua, the Philippines, and Russia, after examining the implementation of civil and political rights in the respective States.

The findings contain the Committee’s main concerns and recommendations on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), as well as positive aspects. Some of the key issues include:

The Committee is concerned about reports of serious and widespread human rights violations against civilians by all parties to the conflict in Tigray and parts of Afar and Amhara. Ethiopia should investigate alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by non-State and State actors in the conflict, prosecute and punish them, and ensure victims receive full reparation. The Committee urged Ethiopia to protect freedom of expression, citing harassment, attacks, arbitrary arrests, and detentions of dissidents, as well as the use of criminal provisions to silence dissent. It also notes unjustified and prolonged internet and phone shutdowns and requests that all such restrictions be legal, proportional, and independently overseen.

The Committee regrets the vague and general information provided by Japan on establishing an independent national human rights institution. The HRC called on Japan, as a matter of priority, to establish a Paris Principles-compliant national human rights institution with sufficient funding and staff. The Committee is concerned about reports on the removal of children from their families without a court order and calls on Japan to establish clear criteria for the removal of a child, ensuring it is a last resort. It is also concerned about the well-being of people deprived of their liberty, including in immigration detention facilities, where three detainees died between 2017 and 2021. It expressed concern that prisoners’ procedural rights have been denied, calling on Japan to ensure that anyone arrested or detained enjoys all fundamental legal safeguards, including access to counsel, family contact, and adequate medical care. Japan should also refrain from imposing prolonged solitary confinement and take all appropriate measures to ensure immigrants are not mistreated.

The Committee was concerned about reports of government pressure on human rights defenders, lawyers, politicians, journalists, and others for expressing their opinions, particularly those critical of the government, including the criminal prosecution of bloggers and journalists. Kyrgyzstan was advised not to use criminal prosecution to stifle critical reporting on issues of public interest. Reports of torture-related deaths in custody deeply concerned the Committee. Poor detention conditions, especially for those sentenced to life imprisonment, are concerning. The Committee urged Kyrgyzstan to urgently investigate all deaths in custody, hold perpetrators accountable, and compensate victims’ families.

The Committee is concerned that the November 2021 elections did not meet international standards for free and fair elections and questioned election-related legislative reforms. It urged Nicaragua to fully implement the constitutional right of all citizens to participate in public affairs without discrimination. The Committee also expressed concern about reports of due process violations, the use of ambiguous criminal definitions during investigations and prosecutions, and the difficulties faced by lawyers in accessing court hearings, case files, and communicating freely and privately with their defendants. Nicaragua should ensure that criminal offences comply with international standards and that lawyers can advise and represent defendants without restrictions, influence, pressure, or interference. The Committee also urged Nicaragua to encourage the Public Prosecutor’s Office to call for the immediate release of people detained during the 2018 socio-political crisis and the November 2021 election unrest, subject to their being duly prosecuted, if appropriate.

The Committee is concerned about reports of grave human rights violations and the extremely high number of extrajudicial killings, particularly in the context of the government’s campaigns against illegal drugs. The Philippines should replace an exclusively punitive approach to drug control with one fully in line with the ICCPR. Noting the overcrowding in prisons caused by the anti-drug campaign’s arrests, the Committee recommends that the Philippines immediately reduce prison and police detention by expanding non-custodial measures and should intensify its efforts to improve detention conditions for all detainees. It should also ensure that women in detention, especially pregnant or parenting women, have access to medical care and other services that meet their needs. The Committee is concerned about the long pretrial detention of former Senator Leila de Lima since 2017 and politically motivated charges of rebellion and sedition against opposition members, and it urges the Philippines to refrain from using criminal laws to harass, intimidate, and exclude opposition members from public life and electoral processes.

Russian Federation
The Committee is extremely concerned about the ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine, initiated by the Russian Federation, which has resulted in a large-scale deprivation of lives and many other violations of the ICCPR attributable to the Russian Federation. It calls on the Russian Federation to fully comply with its obligations to protect the right to life, including in armed conflict, and respect all other ICCPR rights. The Russian Federation should investigate all violations, punish the perpetrators, and compensate victims. The Committee also expressed grave concern about increasing allegations of harassment, violence, and killing of opposition politicians, journalists, lawyers, and human rights defenders, including the use of unwarranted prosecutions, psychiatric evaluations, and illicit substances to discredit or otherwise silence government critics. It urged the Russian Federation to stop such acts, investigate these allegations, punish perpetrators, and compensate victims.

The Committee regretted that Nicaragua and the Russian Federation did not participate in the constructive dialogue with the HRC and reminded both countries that the ICCPR requires full participation as a key component of the periodic review process.

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

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