COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE HOLDS FORTY-SEVENTH SESSION IN GENEVA FROM 31 OCTOBER TO 25 NOVEMBER
Experts to Consider Reports of Belarus, Bulgaria, Djibouti, Germany, Greece, Madagascar, Morocco, Paraguay and Sri Lanka
27 October 2011
The Committee against Torture will meet at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 31 October to 25 November 2011 to examine measures adopted by Belarus, Bulgaria, Djibouti, Germany, Greece, Madagascar, Morocco, Paraguay and Sri Lanka 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.
During the course of its four-week session, in addition to examining the situation in the nine countries cited, the Committee will consider follow-up to reports provided by States parties to their respective concluding observations. It will also consider, in closed meetings, information appearing to contain well-founded indications that torture is systematically being practiced 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 meet in private session with representatives of non-governmental organizations from States whose reports are being considered at this session. The Committee will also hold a meeting (public and private)with the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on Wednesday 16 November.
At the first meeting, on Monday, 31 October, the Committee will adopt its agenda and programme of work for the session, and discuss working methods and other matters. On the morning of Friday, 18 November, the Committee will hold a public meeting regarding follow-up to articles 19 and 22 of the Convention regarding the submission of State party reports and communications, respectively. On the last day of the session, Friday 25 November, the Committee will make public its concluding observations on the reports examined during the session, and will decide the States parties’ reports to be examined at its future sessions. The reports to be examined at the forty-seventh session are available on the Committee’s website.
Djibouti and Madagascar are presenting their initial reports; Sri Lanka is presenting its combined third and fourth periodic reports; Morocco and Belarus are presenting their fourth periodic reports, Bulgaria is presenting its combined fourth and fifth periodic reports; Germany is presenting its fifth periodic report and Greece and Paraguay are presenting their combined fifth and sixth, and combined fourth, fifth and sixth, periodic reports respectively.
The Committee's conclusions and recommendations on previous reports presented by Sri Lanka, Morocco, Belarus, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece and Paraguay can be found on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights document search page: select the convention (CAT) and the country name to view. For further information on the current session, links to the reports to be considered (including non-governmental organization reports) and the programme of work, please visit the Committee against Torture’s website.
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 are explicitly prohibited from using "higher orders" or "exceptional circumstances" as excuses for acts of torture. The Convention introduced two significant new elements to the United Nations fight against torture: first, it specifies that alleged torturers may be tried in any State party or they may be extradited to face trial in the State party where their crimes were committed; 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 a State party. To date, the Committee has undertaken seven enquiries. For further information, please visit the Committee’s webpage on Confidential Enquiries.
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 149 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, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, 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 Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Yemen and Zambia.
The following 9 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, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the Syrian Arab Republic.
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, 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), which must be established or designated by each State party.
As of today, 61 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, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, 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, 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); Felice Gaer (the United States); Abdoulaye Gaye (Senegal); Claudio Grossman (Chile); Myrna Y. Kleopas (Cyprus); Fernando Mariño Menendez (Spain); Nora Sveaass (Norway); and Xuexian Wang (China).
Luis Gallegos Chiriboga (Ecuador) resigned on 14 October 2011.
Mr. Grossman is the Committee Chairperson; Ms. Belmir, Ms. Gaer, and Mr. Wang are Vice-Chairpersons; and Ms. Sveaass is the Rapporteur.
Provisional Timetable for Consideration of Reports
In ratifying or acceding to the Convention, States are obliged to submit reports on the measures they have taken to implement its provisions. States are invited to send representatives to attend the meetings during which their reports are considered. For this session, the Committee has drawn up the following provisional timetable for the consideration of reports:
Monday, 31 October
Morning: Opening of Session, Adoption of Agenda, Organizational and other Matters
Afternoon: Closed Meeting
Tuesday, 1 November
Morning: Consideration of the fourth periodic report of Morocco (CAT/C/MAR/4)
Afternoon: Closed Meeting
Wednesday, 2 November
Morning: Consideration of the initial report of Djibouti (CAT/C/DJI/1)
Afternoon: Replies of Morocco
Thursday, 3 November
Morning: Consideration of the fourth, fifth and sixth period reports of Paraguay (CAT/C/PRY/4-6).
Afternoon: Replies of Djibouti
Friday, 4 November
Morning: Consideration of the fifth periodic report of Germany (CAT/C/DEU/5)
Afternoon: Replies of Paraguay
Tuesday, 8 November
Morning: Consideration of the third and fourth periodic reports of Sri Lanka (CAT/C/LKA/3-4)
Afternoon: Replies of Germany
Wednesday, 9 November
Morning: Consideration of the fourth and fifth periodic reports of Bulgaria
Afternoon: Replies of Sri Lanka
Thursday, 10 November
Morning: Consideration of the initial report of Madagascar (CAT/C/MDG/1)
Afternoon: Replies of Bulgaria
Friday, 11 November
Morning: Consideration of the fourth periodic report of Belarus (CAT/C/BLR/4)
Afternoon: Replies of Madagascar
Monday, 14 November
Morning: Consideration of the fifth and sixth periodic reports of Greece (CAT/C/GRC/5-6)
Afternoon: Replies of Belarus
Tuesday, 15 November
Morning: Closed Meeting
Afternoon: Replies of Greece
Friday, 18 November
Morning: Follow-up to articles 19 and 22
Afternoon: Closed Meeting
Friday, 25 November
Morning: Programme of work for future sessions
Afternoon: Closed Meeting
For use of the information media; not an official record