Reporting Killings as Human Rights Violations Handbook

Reporting Killings as Human Rights Violations Handbook

How to document and respond to potential violations of the right to life within the international system for the protection of human rights

By Kate Thompson and Camille Giffard

Handbook links: website home page
Table of Contents - Search - Part I: Essential Reading - Part II: Identifying a Potential Violation - Part III: How to Document Allegations of Unlawful Killings - Part IV: Responding to the Information Collected - Part V: Where can you Seek Further Help? - Appendices
IV. Responding to the Information Collected: section links...
1. Introduction to Possible Courses of Action - 2. What You Should Know About International Reporting Mechanisms and How To Use Them - 3. What You Should Know About International Complaint Procedures and How To Use Them - 4. The Mechanisms and Procedures: United Nations - 5. The Mechanisms and Procedures: Regional - 6. Comparative Evaluation Tables of the International Procedures - Summary of Part IV

PART IV - RESPONDING TO THE INFORMATION COLLECTED

SUMMARY
PART IV - RESPONDING TO THE INFORMATION COLLECTED

1. INTRODUCTION TO POSSIBLE COURSES OF ACTION

Action can be taken

  • At the international level
  • At the national level

If effective remedies are available at the national level, you should try to use them first before turning to the international mechanisms. Possible remedies at the national level might include: criminal proceedings; civil proceedings; human rights proceedings in national courts; administrative proceedings; disciplinary proceedings; asylum claims or national human rights commissions.

When selecting a course of action at the international level, you should consider:

  • The availability of the mechanism: is it open to you?
  • The suitability of the mechanism: is it suited to your objectives?

2. WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT INTERNATIONAL REPORTING MECHANISMS AND HOW TO USE THEM

An international reporting mechanism is one which receives and/or seeks out information in order to report or comment on whether states are respecting their obligations under international human rights law. The information it receives can concern both individual and general allegations, but the ultimate objective is to obtain an accurate picture of the general situation and make recommendations.

The most common ways in which international reporting mechanisms carry out their functions are through:

  • Monitoring
  • The examination of state reports
  • Fact-finding visits

The content and form of your submission will vary according to the functions of the mechanisms (see main text for suggestions), but all communications should be:

  • Accessible
  • Balanced and Credible
  • Detailed

3. WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT INTERNATIONAL COMPLAINT PROCEDURES AND HOW TO USE THEM

An international complaint procedure involves a formal judicial-style process in which an individual or group of individuals make a complaint to an international judicial body alleging that their individual rights have been violated in a specific case. A complaint under such a procedure may also be referred to as an application, a petition or a communication.

When considering an individual complaint, the relevant body asks two main questions:

  • Is the body allowed to examine the complaint? This is the question of admissibility. If the body finds that the case is inadmissible (that it is not allowed to examine the complaint), the case is over and the facts are not examined. (See main text for reasons why a complaint might be declared inadmissible).
  • Do the facts indicate that a violation of the state's obligations has occurred? This is called consideration of the merits of the case, and only happens if the case is found to be admissible.

A communication under an international complaint procedure should always include:

  • A cover letter setting out a minimum number of details (see main text for suggestions).
  • As much supporting documentation as possible (see main text for suggestions).

4. THE MECHANISMS AND PROCEDURES: UNITED NATIONS

Relevant reporting mechanisms and procedures within the United Nations system are:

  • The 1503 Procedure
  • The Special Procedures of the UN Commission on Human Rights: Thematic and Country Rapporteurs
  • The Human Rights Committee
  • The Committee on the Rights of the Child
  • The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
  • The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  • The Committee Against Torture

Relevant complaint procedures within the United Nations system are based on:

  • The Optional Protocol of the ICCPR (implemented by the Human Rights Committee)
  • The Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (implemented by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination)
  • The Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (implemented by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women)
  • The Convention Against Torture (implemented by the Committee Against Torture)

5. THE MECHANISMS AND PROCEDURES: REGIONAL

EUROPE:

The relevant complaint procedure within the European system is based on:

  • The European Convention on Human Rights (implemented by the European Court of Human Rights)

AMERICAS:

The relevant reporting mechanism within the Inter-American system is:

  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

The relevant complaint procedure within the Inter-American system is based on:

  • The American Convention on Human Rights or the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (implemented by the Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights)

AFRICA:

The relevant reporting mechanisms within the African system are:

  • The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
  • The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
  • The Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions in Africa
  • The Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Conditions of Detention in Africa

The relevant complaint procedures within the African system is based on:

  • The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (implemented by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights)
  • The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (implemented by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child)

 

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Handbook links: website home page
Table of Contents - Search - Part I: Essential Reading - Part II: Identifying a Potential Violation - Part III: How to Document Allegations of Unlawful Killings - Part IV: Responding to the Information Collected - Part V: Where can you Seek Further Help? - Appendices
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