In light of the hostilities that erupted in and around Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020 and beyond, the Committee was deeply concerned about allegations of grave human rights violations committed by the Azerbaijani military forces against prisoners of war and other protected persons of Armenian ethnic or national origin. It was also disturbed by reports on the destruction of Armenian cultural heritage, including churches, monuments, landmarks and cemeteries. It recommended that the State party conduct thorough and impartial investigations of all human violations and strengthen its efforts to ensure accountability and end impunity.
Regarding stateless people, the Committee recommended that the State party strengthen its efforts to resolve the remaining cases of statelessness. It asked Azerbaijan to develop and adopt a legislative framework for statelessness determination procedure, to enable all stateless persons, without discrimination, to have their status ascertained and obtain identity documents.
The Committee was concerned about reports that people with albinism are often subjected to extreme physical attacks, stigmatisation and discrimination based on beliefs related to witchcraft and skin colour. It urged Benin to take effective measures to protect people with albinism from violence, abduction and stigmatisation, and to ensure that they have equal access to education, health and employment.
The Committee noted the apparent absence of complaints of racial discrimination or racist hate speech and crimes filed with Benin’s complaints mechanism. It recalled that the absence of complaints might indicate a lack of awareness of available judicial remedies, a lack of confidence in the justice system or fear of reprisals on the part of victims. The Committee recommended that Benin strengthen its efforts to educate the general public about racial discrimination and provide information on available judicial and non-judicial remedies.
The Committee deeply regretted the State party’s absence during the review. It was gravely alarmed by the alleged violence and assaults on indigenous peoples and Afrodescendents, particularly the numerous attacks against indigenous peoples in the Mayangna Sauni As territory in the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve. It urged Nicaragua to take urgent action to prevent violence and attempts on the lives of indigenous peoples and Afrodescendents, particularly in the autonomous regions of the Caribbean Coast. It also asked the State party to immediately investigate all such acts of violence and prosecute those responsible.
Concerning the impact of extractive, agro-industrial and infrastructure projects on the natural resources in the lands of indigenous peoples and Afrodescendents, the Committee stressed that the protection of human rights and the elimination of racial discrimination are essential to sustainable economic development. It recommended that Nicaragua conduct independent studies on social, environmental and cultural impacts before granting licenses for projects involving the development and exploitation of natural resources in indigenous territories.
Despite the implementation of the Anti-Discrimination Act, racial discrimination persists in Slovakia, especially against Roma and persons of African descent. The Committee remained concerned that court proceedings in racial discrimination cases continue to be excessively lengthy, impeding victims’ effective access to justice. The Committee recommended that Slovakia take appropriate measures to address the problem of prolonged court proceedings and take necessary steps to guarantee that all victims of racial discrimination have access to adequate legal remedies.
As many Roma children could not participate in online learning due to the lack of Internet access, the Committee was concerned about the disproportionately negative effect on Roma children’s education during the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of school closures. It requested that Slovakia take necessary measures to address the root causes of discrimination and segregation of Roma children in the education system and intensify its efforts to ensure that Roma children enjoy equal opportunities in access to quality education.
The Committee was concerned about reports of ongoing mercury and other toxic pollution of land and rivers by gold mining, deforestation, road construction, and illegal airstrips, all of which negatively impact the environment and the health of indigenous and tribal peoples. It recommended that Suriname strengthen its efforts to prohibit and penalise the import and use of mercury. It also asked the State party to ensure that contaminated areas are cleaned up, that affected indigenous and tribal peoples have access to clean drinking water and health services, and that they have the right to adequate compensation.
The Committee was concerned about the long delay in adopting a legislative framework on the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples and the lack of information on measures taken to ensure the views of indigenous and tribal peoples are heard in the drafting process. It called on Suriname to expedite the adoption of the draft law with effective and meaningful participation of indigenous and tribal peoples.
United States of America
The Committee was concerned that racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionally impacted by higher maternal mortality and morbidity rates, higher risk of unwanted pregnancies and lack of means to overcome socioeconomic barriers to access safe abortion. Regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v JWHO in June, the Committee was deeply concerned about the disparate impact on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of racial and ethnic minorities, particularly those with low incomes. It recommended that the State party take further steps to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in sexual and reproductive health and rights. It also requested that the State party adopt all necessary measures to address the profound disparate impact of Dobbs v JWHO on women of racial and ethnic minorities, Indigenous women and those with low incomes.
The Committee expressed concern over the brutality and use of excessive or deadly force by law enforcement officials against racial and ethnic minorities and the continued impunity for abuses by Police and Customs and Border Protection officers. The Committee urged the State party to review federal and state legislation regulating the use of lethal force by law enforcement officials to ensure that they are in line with international law and standards. It also asked the USA to create or strengthen independent oversight bodies to ensure accountability of law enforcement officials for inappropriate use of force.
The Committee was disturbed by reports that the Gukurahundi atrocities, which resulted in the killing of around 20,000 Ndebele speakers in the 1980s, continue to be a source of ethnic tension, with many victims remaining traumatized and barred from participating in mourning and commemorative activities by State agents. It urged Zimbabwe to take measures to ensure that mourning and commemorative activities can be conducted without restrictions or threats. It also called on the State party to ensure that the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission fulfils its responsibilities to provide a platform for post-conflict public truth-telling.
The Committee also expressed concern that legislation to protect labour rights and prevent discrimination does not explicitly cover the informal sector and domestic work, which are dominated by Black women who face low wages, poor working conditions and racist, dehumanizing treatment. It requested that Zimbabwe amend its labour laws to explicitly cover the informal sector and domestic work, and take measures to address discrimination on the intersecting grounds of race, class and gender in all areas of employment.
The above Concluding Observations of the Committee are now available online on the session webpage.