Limitations must respect the non-derogable nature of certain rights and may not undermine the exercise of rights protected by other international obligations of the state.
- No State party shall, even in time of emergency threatening the life of the nation, derogate from the Covenant's guarantees of the right to life; freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and from medical or scientific experimentation without free consent; freedom from slavery or involuntary servitude; the right not to be imprisoned for contractual debt; the right not to be convicted or sentenced to a heavier penalty by virtue of retroactive criminal legislation; the right to recognition as a person before the law ; and freedom of thought, conscience and religion. These rights are not derogable under any conditions even for the asserted purpose of preserving the life of the nation. (59) States parties to the Covenant, as part of their obligation to ensure the enjoyment of these rights to all persons within their jurisdiction (article 3, paragraph 1), and to adopt measures to secure an effective remedy for violations (article 2, paragraph 3), shall take special precautions in time of public emergency to ensure that neither official nor semi-official groups engage in a practice of arbitrary and extrajudicial killings or involuntary disappearances, that persons in detention are protected against torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and that no persons are convicted or punished under laws or decrees with retroactive effect. (60) The ordinary courts should maintain their jurisdiction, even in a time of public emergency, to adjudicate any complaint that a non-derogable right has been violated.
- The limitation clauses to the Covenant shall not be interpreted to restrict the exercise of any human rights protected to a greater extent by other international obligations binding upon the state.
- The Committee recommends that States parties: Ensure that new constitutions provide for temporary special measures, apply to citizens and non-citizens, and guarantee that women’s human rights are not subject to derogation in states of emergency.