Current Affairs

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has said that civil rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan’s conviction for criminal contempt of court by the Supreme Court seemed to be inconsistent with the freedom of expression law guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that India was a party to.

What did the ICJ say?

It said that “while some restrictions of freedom of expression are permitted by international standards, a particularly wide scope must be preserved for debate and discussion about such matters as the role of the judiciary, access to justice, and democracy, by members of the public, including through public commentary on the courts”.

About International Commission of Jurists

  • The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) is an international human rights non-governmental organisation.
  • It is a standing group of 60 eminent jurists—including senior judges, attorneys and academics—who work to develop national and international human rights standards through the law.
  • Commissioners are known for their experience, knowledge and fundamental commitment to human rights. The composition of the Commission aims to reflect the geographical diversity of the world and its many legal systems.
  • The Commission is supported by an International Secretariat based in Geneva, Switzerland, and staffed by lawyers drawn from a wide range of jurisdictions and legal traditions.
  • The Secretariat and the Commission undertake advocacy and policy work aimed at strengthening the role of lawyers and judges in protecting and promoting human rights and the rule of law.

About International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

  • The ICCPR is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The ICCPR is monitored by the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
  • The covenant commits (not legally binding) its parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial.
  • The ICCPR is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
  • The Covenant was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1966 and came into force in 1976. As of December 2018, 172 countries have ratified the Covenant.