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Submission of information and of complaints from individuals or groups of individuals

In the framework of his/her mandate, the Special Rapporteur receives information on alleged violations of cultural rights. To the limit of available resources, he/she may accordingly write to the concerned government (through a “communication”), either jointly with other special procedure mandate-holders or independently, inviting comment on the allegation, seeking clarification, reminding the Government of its obligations under international law and requesting information, where relevant, on steps being taken by the authorities to redress the situation in question. The Special Rapporteur urges all stakeholders to respond promptly to his/her communications and to take all steps necessary to redress situations involving the violation of cultural rights.

Communications of the Special Rapporteur can take various forms including:

  • Urgent appeals, which are used in cases where the alleged violations are time-sensitive in terms of involving loss of life, life-threatening situations or either imminent or ongoing damage of a very grave nature to victims that cannot be addressed in a timely manner by the procedure of allegation letters.
  • Allegation letters, which are used to communicate information about violations that are said to have already occurred or in cases not covered by urgent appeals.

Submitting a complaint - To see all communications sent by the Special Rapporteur, click here

In order for a complaint to be assessed, the following information is needed:

  • Who is the alleged victim(s) (individual(s), community, group, etc.); Please also indicate whether:
    • The victim(s) has given you his or her consent to send this communication on his or her behalf. Please make sure you obtain the victim’s consent, whenever possible.
    • The victim(s) has been informed that, if the Special Rapporteur decides to take action on his or her behalf, a letter concerning what happened to him or her will be sent to the authorities.
    • The victim(s) is aware that, if this communication is taken up, a summary of what happened to him/her will appear in a public report of the Special Rapporteur.
    • The victim(s) would prefer that his or her full name or merely her initials appear in the public report of the Special Rapporteur.
  • Who is the alleged perpetrator(s) of the violation; Please provide substantiated information on all the actors involved, including non-state actors if relevant.
  • Date, place and detailed description of the circumstances of the incident(s) or the violation, in chronological order; The information submitted can refer to violations that are said to have already occurred, that are ongoing or about to occur. Information should include the legal remedies, if any, taken at the national level or regional level, and any other relevant information, such as relevant legislation, on the various aspects of the case.
  • Identification of the person(s) or organization(s) submitting the communication (this information will be kept confidential); As a general rule, the identity of the source of information on the alleged violation is always kept confidential. When submitting information, please indicate whether there is any of the submitted information which you would like to remain confidential.

It is also recommended to explain in detail why you believe the incident is relevant to the Special Rapporteur’s mandate. For example, which cultural rights are allegedly infringed upon, taking into consideration the relevant international standards, as well as to, where relevant, the thematic reports of the Special Rapporteur?

As a general rule, communications that contain abusive language or that are obviously politically motivated are not considered. Communications should describe the facts of the incident and the relevant details referred to above clearly and concisely. The information should be submitted by any person or group of persons claiming to be victim of violations and/or to have direct or reliable knowledge of those violations.

The Special Rapporteur is open to receiving communications under any format. You may also use our model questionnaire. Annexes such as pictures and copies of documents, etc., can also be included.

Please submit information preferably in English, French or Spanish.

A complaint can be submitted by:

E-mail: urgent-action@ohchr.org or srculturalrights@ohchr.org
Fax: +41 22 917 90 06

or Postal mail:

Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

Follow-up

Communications from the Special Rapporteur to the government are confidential at an initial stage until the letters and the answer of the State are included in the communications reports of Special Procedures, which are submitted to each regular session of the Human Rights Council (in March, June and September).

It is important for the Special Rapporteur to receive updated and relevant information on the situations referred to in the complaints submitted to enable him/her to continue to follow-up on the issue through his/her dialogue with the involved Parties. Person(s) or organization(s) that have submitted information and complaints are urged to consider the response made by Government and to submit their comments, if necessary, to the Special Rapporteur.

Also note that several other individual complaint mechanisms have been established as part of the international human rights system. For more information please visit the Special Procedures page and the Human Rights Bodies-Complaints Procedures page.

Allegations that cover several human rights issues

The Special Rapporteur constantly consults with other Special procedures mandate holders whose own mandates are implicated in a particular case and frequently sends joint letters of concern with these mandate holders.

Complaints addressed by the mandate

In the table below, you will find all the communications the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights has addressed since the establishment of the mandate in 2009. The list is organized in alphabetical order, according to the name of the country. Allegation letters are identified with (AL), urgent appeal with (UA). Most communications are addressed jointly with other Special procedure mandates, and are therefore joint communications, identified with as JAL or JUA.

Original letters and the response received by concerned States can be accessed through the joint communication reports, published on this page: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/CommunicationsreportsSP.aspx

Latest communications:

Country

Date

Type of comm and ref.

Summary of the allegations transmitted  (original language)

Reply from State

Australia

20/04/2016

JAL
AUS 3/2016

Alleged adverse human rights impact related to numerous provisions within the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). According to the information received, the TPP was drafted opaquely, without broad consultations, preventing certain stakeholders, including indigenous peoples, from meaningfully participating in the negotiation process. Certain provisions of the TPP related to intellectual property rights may have a detrimental effect on the realization of the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, to live in a clean environment, to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and to participate in cultural life. Serious concern is expressed at provisions relating to the dispute settlement mechanisms before which individuals do not have legal standing and thus are deprived of the right to an effective remedy, and at the investor-State dispute resolution mechanism, which allows investors to challenge laws and policies that promote and protect human rights. The negative impact on access to medicines by the TPP was the subject of a previous communication sent on 19 July 2011, see A/HRC/19/44, case nos. AUS 4/2011, BRN 1/2011, CHL 3/2011, MYS 8/2011, NZL 1/2011, PER 3/2011, SGP 2/2011, USA 13/2011 and VNM 5/2011.

yes
2/08/2016
(request of extension 20/06/2016)

Brunei Darussalam

20/04/2016

JAL
BRN 1/2016

Alleged adverse human rights impact related to numerous provisions within the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). See Australia above for details on this communication.

Yes
30/06/2016 (through NZL)

Canada

20/04/2016

JAL
CAN 1/2016

Alleged adverse human rights impact related to numerous provisions within the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). See Australia above for details on this communication.

YES
19/08/2016
(request for extension 2/05/2016)

Chile

20/04/2016

JAL
CHL 2/2016

Alegaciones acerca del impacto adverso en el disfrute de los derechos humanos de varias disposiciones contenidas en el Acuerdo Transpacífico de Cooperación Económica (en adelante ‘TPP’ por sus siglas en inglés). De acuerdo a la información recibida, el TPP habría sido redactado de forma no transparente, sin consultas amplias, impidiendo que ciertos actores, como algunos grupos indígenas, participasen activamente en el proceso de negociación. Ciertas disposiciones del TPP relativas a los derechos de propiedad intelectual podrían tener un efecto perjudicial sobre el derecho de toda persona al disfrute del más alto nivel posible de salud física y mental, el derecho a una alimentación adecuada, a vivir en un ambiente limpio, a gozar de los beneficios del progreso científico y a participar en la vida cultural. Se expresa gran preocupación sobre las disposiciones relativas a los mecanismos de solución de controversias ante los cuales los individuos no tienen capacidad legal y por lo tanto se ven privados del derecho a un recurso efectivo, así como sobre el mecanismo de solución de controversias entre inversores y el Estado que permite a los inversores desafiar la aplicación de las leyes y políticas que promuevan y protejan los derechos humanos. El impacto negativo en el acceso a medicamentos por parte del TPP fue objeto de una comunicación anterior enviada el 19 de julio de 2011, ver A/HRC/19/44, casos no. AUS 4/2011, BRN 1/2011, CHL 3/2011, MYS 8/2011, NZL 1/2011, PER 3/2011, SGP 2/2011, USA 13/2011 y VNM 5/2011.

Yes
30/06/2016 (through NZL)

Iran

30/05/2016

JAL
IRN 14/2016

Alleged patterns of continuous discrimination against the Bahá’í community in Iran, inter alia, through the destruction of historical and religious sites. According to the information received, the Bahá’í population of Iran has experienced a long history of discrimination, which is undermining their human rights in the area of religion and culture. Since 1979, numerous sites of historical, cultural and religious significance, including cemeteries, have been seized, desecrated and destroyed. Despite the importance of these sites, no consultation process about the closure of some of these cemeteries involved the affected families and co-religionists. Efforts of the Bahá’ís to redress the destruction of their cultural heritage and bring the perpetrators to justice have been unsuccessful to date. The desecration of the Bahá’í cemetery in Shiraz was subject of two previous communications sent on 8 May 2014, see A/HRC/27/72, case no. IRN 8/2014; and on 20 August 2014, see A/HRC/28/85.

 

Japan

20/04/2016

JAL
JPN 2/2016

Alleged adverse human rights impact related to numerous provisions within the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). See Australia above for details on this communication.

Yes
30/06/2016 (through NZL)

Malaysia

20/04/2016

JAL
MYS 5/2016

Alleged adverse human rights impact related to numerous provisions within the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). See Australia above for details on this communication.

Yes
30/06/2016 (through NZL)

Mexico

20/04/2016

JAL
MEX 3/2016

Alegaciones acerca del impacto adverso en el disfrute de los derechos humanos de varias disposiciones contenidas en el Acuerdo Transpacífico de Cooperación Económica (en adelante ‘TPP’ por sus siglas en inglés). Ver el Chile arriba por los detalles de esta comunicación.

Yes
30/06/2016 (through NZL)

New Zealand

20/04/2016

JAL
NZL 1/2016

Alleged adverse human rights impact related to numerous provisions within the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). See Australia above for details on this communication.

YES,
30/06/2016

Peru

20/04/2016

JAL
PER 2/2016

Alegaciones acerca del impacto adverso en el disfrute de los derechos humanos de varias disposiciones contenidas en el Acuerdo Transpacífico de Cooperación Económica (en adelante ‘TPP’ por sus siglas en inglés). Ver el Chile arriba por los detalles de esta comunicación. 

Yes
30/06/2016 (through NZL)

Saudi Arabia

31/05/2016

AL
SAU 3/2016

Alleged destruction of numerous sites of historical, religious and cultural importance in Yemen. According to the information received, the military coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia has destroyed many sites across the country, through what appears to be indiscriminate airstrikes on civilian targets or systematic targeting and destruction of cultural heritage in Yemen. These destructions cause grave and lasting violations of the human rights of people to access and enjoy cultural heritage, and the strikes which produced them may have failed to meet the principles of distinction, proportionality and military necessity, in violation of international human rights and humanitarian law

YES
25/08/2016
(requested extension of deadline 19/07/2016)

Singapore

20/04/2016

JAL
SGP 1/2016

Alleged adverse human rights impact related to numerous provisions within the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). See Australia above for details on this communication.

Yes
30/06/2016 (through NZL)

United States of America

20/04/2016

JAL
USA 4/2016

Alleged adverse human rights impact related to numerous provisions within the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). See Australia above for details on this communication.

Yes
30/06/2016 (through NZL)

Viet Nam

20/04/2016

JAL
VNM 2/2016

Alleged adverse human rights impact related to numerous provisions within the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). See Australia above for details on this communication.

Yes
30/06/2016 (through NZL)

For all communications in alphabetical order please click here.