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UN rights panel chair slams US conduct at ICCPR hearings

[JURIST] Christine Chanet [ICJ profile], the chair of the UN Human Rights Committee [official website], criticized the United States in comments to reporters Friday, accusing the US of avoiding its duty to submit to hearings regarding US conformity to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [text]. On Monday, the US told the committee [JURIST report] that the Covenant does not control US actions in the war on terror. Though the US did not change this position during the hearings, Chanet said the US submitted answers to questions on Guantanamo Bay and extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archives] at the last minute, in English, to impede the committee's mandate to examine the human rights record of the US. Chanet further noted that the committee's mandate to review the human rights record of the US has been upheld by the US Supreme Court, and that during the 1991 Gulf War, the US voted in favor of a UN General Assembly resolution clarifying that the Covenant applies to all actions taken by a government, within or without the country.

Under Article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, signatories must appear before the Human Rights Committee regularly. Although most countries face the committee every four years or so, the US had not done so since 1995, and its most recent report to the committee [PDF text] was seven years overdue. The committee is expected to issue nonbinding recommendations to the US by the end of the month. AFP has more. DPA has additional coverage.

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