COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE HOLDS FORTY-NINTH SESSION IN GENEVA FROM 29 OCTOBER TO 23 NOVEMBER 2012
Experts to Consider Reports of Peru, Mexico, Norway, Qatar, Senegal, Tajikistan, Gabon, Russian Federation and Togo
24 October 2012
The Committee against Torture will meet at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 29 October to 23 November to examine measures adopted by Peru, Mexico, Norway, Qatar, Senegal, Tajikistan, Gabon, Russian Federation and Togo to prevent and punish acts of torture. Representatives of the nine countries are expected to come before the Committee to discuss national efforts to implement the rights enshrined in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
At the first meeting, on Monday, 29 October, the Committee will hear an address by the High Commissioner for Human Rights or her representative and an update on developments in human rights and other areas of concern to the Committee, and will adopt its agenda and programme of work for the session. In addition to its consideration of the reports of the States parties, the Committee will meet with the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on 14 November. The Committee will also consider, in closed meetings, information appearing to contain well-founded indications that torture is systematically being practised in some States parties, as well as complaints from individuals claiming to be victims of a violation by a State party of the provisions of the Convention. The Committee will also meet in private with representatives of United Nations agencies as well as national human rights institutes and non-governmental organizations from States whose reports are being considered at this session.
Peru is presenting its sixth periodic report under the optional reporting procedure; Mexico is submitting its fifth and sixth periodic report under the optional reporting procedure; Norway is also submitting its sixth and seventh periodic report under the optional reporting procedure; Qatar is presenting its second periodic report; Senegal is presenting its third periodic report; Tajikistan is submitting its second periodic report; Gabon is presenting its initial report; the Russian Federation is submitting its fifth periodic report under the optional reporting procedure; and Togo is presenting its second periodic report. The optional reporting procedure is a simplified procedure adopted by the Committee to assist States party to fulfil their reporting obligations.
With regard to reports previously presented by those countries the Committee's concluding observations can be found in the following documents: for the
fourth periodic report of Peru (CAT/C/PER/CO/4); for the fourth periodic report of Mexico (CAT/C/MEX/CO/4); for the fifth periodic report of Norway (CAT/C/NOR/CO/5); for the initial report of Qatar (CAT/C/QAT/CO/1); for the second periodic report of Senegal (A/51/44(SUPP); for the initial report of Tajikistan (CAT/C/TJK/CO/1); for the fourth periodic report of the Russian Federation (CAT/C/RUS/CO/4); and for the initial report of Togo (CAT/C/TGO/CO/1).
For further information, including links to the reports to be considered at this session and the programme of work, please see the Committee’s web page for the current session(http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cat/cats49.htm).
Background on the Convention and the Committee
The Convention, adopted unanimously by the General Assembly in 1984, entered into force on 26 June 1987. States parties to the Convention are required to outlaw torture and no "exceptional circumstances" maybe invoked as a justification for acts of torture nor "higher orders" can be an excuse for perpetrators. The Convention introduced two significant new elements to the United Nations fight against torture: first, it specifies that alleged torturers shall be tried in a State party if not extradited to face trial in another State, therefore ensuring that there are no safe havens for perpetrators of acts of torture who shall not escape justice; secondly, under article 20, it provides for an inquiry, including a visit to the State party concerned, with its agreement, if the Committee receives reliable information, which appears to contain well-founded indications, that torture is being systematically practiced in the territory of that State party.
Under article 21, a State party to the Convention may at any time declare that it recognizes the competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications to the effect that a State party claims that another State party is not fulfilling its obligations under the Convention.
Under article 22, a State party to the Convention may at any time declare that it recognizes the competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications from, or on behalf of, individuals subject to its jurisdiction who claim to be victims of a violation by a State party of the provisions of the Convention.
The Convention has been ratified or acceded to by the following 153 States: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Yemen and Zambia.
The following 11 States parties have declared that they do not recognize the competence of the Committee provided for in article 20 of the Convention: Afghanistan, China, Equatorial Guinea, Israel, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Syrian Arab Republic and the United Arab Emirates.
The following 56 States have recognized the competence of the Committee under articles 21 and 22: Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Venezuela.
In addition, Japan, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States of America have recognized the competence of the Committee under article 21 only. Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burundi, Guatemala, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, and Seychelles have recognized the competence of the Committee under article 22 only.
Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture
The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, which entered into force on 22 June 2006, established a system of regular visits by independent bodies to places where persons are or may be deprived of their liberty, in order to prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment. The Optional Protocol’s innovative two-pillar approach relies on an international body, the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT), which is composed of 25 independent Experts, as well as national bodies for the prevention of torture (national preventive mechanisms – NPMs), which must be established or designated by each State party.
As of today, 64 States have ratified or acceded to the Optional Protocol: Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Senegal, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Uruguay.
Other United Nations Activities against Torture
In addition to preventive measures, the United Nations has taken action to come to the aid of torture victims. In 1981 the General Assembly set up the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Torture. The Commission on Human Rights, and now the Human Rights Council, repeatedly appeal to all Governments, organizations and individuals in a position to do so to contribute to the Fund in order to allow it to respond to the constantly increasing number of requests for assistance.
In accordance with article 26 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, a Special Fund has been set up to help finance the implementation of the recommendations made by the SPT after its visit to a State party, as well as education programmes of the National Preventive Mechanisms.
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights, in resolution 1985/33, decided to appoint an independent expert, a Special Rapporteur, to examine questions relevant to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The mandate, which has subsequently been extended by the Human Rights Council, most recently in resolution 16/23, covers all countries, irrespective of whether a State has ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The mandate comprises three main activities: transmitting urgent appeals to States with regard to individuals reported to be at risk of torture, as well as communications on past alleged cases of torture; undertaking fact-finding country visits; and submitting annual reports on activities, the mandate and methods of work to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.
Membership and Officers of the Committee
The Committee's members are elected by the States parties to the Convention and serve in their personal capacity. The current members of the Committee are: Essadia Belmir (Morocco); Alessio Bruni (Italy); Satyabhoosun Gupt Domah (Mauritius); Felice Gaer (United States); Abdoulaye Gaye (Senegal); Claudio Grossman (Chile); Fernando Mariño Menendez (Spain); Nora Sveaass (Norway); George Tugushi (Georgia); and Xuexian Wang (China).
Mr. Grossman is the Chairperson; the Vice-Chairpersons are Ms. Belmir, Ms. Gaer and Mr. Wang. Ms. Sveaass is the Rapporteur.
Provisional Timetable of Public Meetings
Monday, 29 October
Morning Opening of Session, Adoption of Agenda, Organizational and other Matters
Afternoon Closed meeting
Tuesday, 30 October
Morning Sixth Periodic Report of Peru
Afternoon Closed meeting
Wednesday, 31 October
Morning Fifth and sixth periodic report of Mexico
Afternoon Replies of Peru
Thursday, 1 November
Morning Sixth and seventh periodic report of Norway
Afternoon Replies of Mexico
Friday, 2 November
Morning: Closed meeting
Afternoon Replies of Norway
Monday, 5 November
Morning: Second periodic report of Qatar
Afternoon Closed meeting
Tuesday, 6 November
Morning Third periodic report of Senegal
Afternoon Replies of Qatar
Wednesday, 7 November
Morning Second periodic report of Tajikistan
Afternoon Replies of Senegal
Thursday, 8 November
Morning Initial report of Gabon
Afternoon Replies of Tajikistan
Friday, 9 November
Morning Fifth periodic report of Russia
Afternoon Replies of Gabon
Monday, 12 November
Morning Second periodic report of Togo
Afternoon Replies of Russia
Tuesday, 13 November
Afternoon Replies of Togo
Wednesday 14 November
Afternoon Meeting with the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Friday 16 November
Morning Follow-up to articles 19 and 22
Friday, 23 November
Morning Adoption of the programme of work for future sessions and press conference
Afternoon Closing of the session.
For use of the information media; not an official record