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2004 | Human Rights Committee General Comment No. 31 on The Nature of the General Legal Obligation Imposed on States Parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

In its General Comment No. 31 on The Nature of the General Legal Obligation Imposed on States Parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Human Rights Committee focusses on Article 2 ICCPR imposing a general obligation on States Parties to respect the Covenant rights and to ensure them for all individuals in their territory and subject to their jurisdiction and to those within the power or effective control of the forces of a State Party acting outside its territory, regardless of the circumstances in which such power or effective control was obtained.

Article 2(3) requires that, in addition to effective protection of Covenant rights, States Parties must ensure that individuals also have accessible and effective remedies in the case of violation of these  rights. The Committee explains that remedies must take into account the special vulnerability of certain categories of persons (e.g. children). Expressing its sustained concern at the impunity for human rights violations such as torture, and arbitrary killing, the Committee explains that effective remedies may also include bringing to justice the perpetrators of Covenant rights violations. On the international plane, individuals can be held accountable for crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court, whereas on the national level, States Parties must establish appropriate judicial and administrative mechanisms for addressing claims of human rights violations. Domestic courts can ensure ICCPR rights in many different ways, including direct applicability of the Covenant, application of comparable constitutional or other provisions of law, and by interpreting national legal provisions in a way that assumes the obligations imposed by the statute. Administrative mechanisms are particularly required to give effect to the general obligation to investigate allegations of violations promptly, thoroughly and effectively through independent and impartial bodies.