Breaking the silence! Dominica undertakes to submit its Initial Report to the UN Human Rights Committee
Geneva, 9 August 2011 – Dominica has indicated to the UN Human Rights Committee that it intends to submit its initial report on the Implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This report should have been submitted in September 1994 (one year after the ICCPR entered into force for Dominica).
In the light of this information the UN Human Rights Committee decided not to review the situation in Dominica in the absence of a report, although it had planned to do so during its 102nd session in July 2011. “This decision reflects the Committee’s preference for a constructive engagement with States in order to promote the implementation of the ICCPR,” said Patrick Mutzenberg, Director of the Centre for Civil and Political Rights, an NGO that works closely with the Human Rights Committee.
The Human Rights Committee’s decision to begin regularly reviewing States whose reports are long overdue ensures that these States cannot escape scrutiny by failing to comply with their reporting obligations. In some cases, as has happened with Dominica, this encourages the State to submit its report.
The Centre for Civil and Political Rights welcomes the commitment by the government of Dominica to submit its overdue report and looks forward to seeing it in the near future. “The Centre is aware that reporting to UN bodies can be a burdensome for small States and in this context urges Dominica to take advantage of the availability of technical assistance from the UN and other States, if this will facilitate the rapid submission of its overdue report,” said Peggy Brett from the Centre for Civil and Political Rights.
The active involvement of Civil Society actors in monitoring the implementation of international treaties is essential and should also not be taken for granted. The Committee encourages States to discuss their reports with Civil Society in order to ensure a well-rounded evaluation of the situation. “The Centre for Civil and Political Rights actively promotes civil society engagement in all aspects of the Human Rights Committee’s work and, in particular, facilitates the preparation and submission of alternative reports during the review of States,” said Hamdi Addow from the Centre for Civil and Political Rights.
Since 1994 there has been silence from Dominica on the situation with regard to Civil and Political Rights and so the Centre urges that both the State and Civil Society actors come together to bring an end to this silence and ensure that the Human Rights Committee is able to carry out its function of monitoring the implementation of the ICCPR in Dominica. This review will enable the people of Dominica to be heard and the Government of Dominica to gain the support it needs from the international community in fulfilling its international obligations.
The Centre intends to monitor this situation closely and is here to support any Civil Society engagement with the reporting process.