Country Situations: Overview

Country Visits

The UN Special Rapporteur visits several countries each year to investigate human rights violations, identify their causes, and recommend reforms. The Commission on Human Rights (replaced by the Human Rights Council in March 2006) has requested that Governments carefully examine the recommendations made and "report to the Special Rapporteur on the actions taken on those recommendations." In recent years, the Special Rapporteur has begun issuing follow-up reports two years after the original country visit to examine progress on the implementation of his recommendations.

The menu on the left provides links by country to any reports on visits, follow-up visits, and relevant news.

Communications

The Special Rapporteur corresponds with Governments regarding allegations of human rights violations that he has received. In general, the Special Rapporteur's initial communication summarizes the allegations that he has received and requests that the Government provide information on the alleged incident and on any investigations or remedial measures that it has taken.

The latest report of country communications, issued in May 2009, contains a comprehensive account of communications sent to Governments between 16 March 2008 and 15 March 2009, along with replies received between 1 May 2008 and 30 April 2009. It also includes responses received to communications that were sent in earlier years. Within this reporting period, the Special Rapporteur sent 117 communications to 42 countries concerning a total of more than 1100 individuals. Roughly half of all communications sent drew a response from the Government concerned within a reasonable time period.

The menu on the left provides links by country to country communication reports. The reports contain full reproductions of the correspondence. Since 2005, the Special Rapporteur has indexed the correspondence under four headings:

1. Violation alleged


Violations are classified into the following categories:
  • Non-respect of international standards on safeguards and restrictions relating to the imposition of capital punishment
  • Death threats and fear of imminent extrajudicial executions by State officials, paramilitary groups, or groups cooperating with or tolerated by the Government, as well as unidentified persons who may be linked to the categories mentioned above and when the Government is failing to take appropriate protection measures
  • Deaths in custody owing to torture, neglect, or the use of force, or fear of death in custody due to life-threatening conditions of detention
  • Deaths due to the use of force by law enforcement officials or persons acting in direct or indirect compliance with the State, when the use of force is inconsistent with the criteria of absolute necessity and proportionality
  • Deaths due to the attacks or killings by security forces of the State, or by paramilitary groups, death squads, or other private forces cooperating with or tolerated by the State
  • Violations of the right to life during armed conflicts, especially of the civilian population and other non-combatants, contrary to international humanitarian law
  • Expulsion, refoulement, or return of persons to a country or a place where their lives are in danger
  • Impunity, compensation and the rights of victims

2. Subject(s) of appeal


The subjects of communications are classified in accordance with paragraph 6 of Commission of Human Rights resolution 2004/37.

3. Character of reply


The replies received have been classified according to the following five categories designed to assist the Commission in its task of evaluating the effectiveness of the mandate:
  1. "Largely satisfactory response" denotes a reply that is responsive to the allegations and that substantially clarifies the facts. It does not, however, imply that the action taken necessarily complies with international human rights law.
  2. "Cooperative but incomplete response" denotes a reply that provides some clarification of the allegations but that contains limited factual substantiation or that fails to address some issues.
  3. "Allegations rejected but without adequate substantiation" denotes a reply denying the allegations but which is not supported by documentation or analysis that can be considered satisfactory under the circumstances.
  4. "Receipt acknowledged" denotes a reply acknowledging that the communication was received but without providing any substantive information.
  5. "No response".

There are two minor, additional characterizations: (i) Where a responses has been received but has not yet been translated by the United Nations, the response is characterized simply as "UN translation awaited". (ii) Where a response has not been received from the Government but less than 90 days has elapsed since the communication was sent, that fact is indicated by characterizing the response as: "No response (recent communication)".

4. Observations of the Special Rapporteur


Brief comments by the Special Rapporteur on the extent to which he considers each reply to have responded adequately to the concerns arising under the mandate. An indication is also provided in instances in which additional information is required to respond effectively to the information received.