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COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE OPENS FIFTY-SEVENTH SESSION

18 April 2016

The Committee against Torture this morning opened its fifty-seventh session, hearing a statement by the Director of the Human Rights Treaties Division, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, hearing the solemn declaration from four new Members, electing a new Bureau, and adopting its agenda for the session.

In an opening statement, Ibrahim Salama, Director of the Human Rights Treaties Division, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the work of the Committee against Torture was indispensable, as torture and ill-treatment continued to be the cause and consequence of violence and conflicts.  He underlined the importance of the principle of non-refoulement, as fear of torture and ill-treatment provoked individuals and their families to seek a better life in more peaceful countries.  Referring to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was grounded in international human rights law, he said it placed the struggle against exclusion and inequalities at its heart, and specifically aimed at achieving peace, and ending abuse against women and children.  The treaty bodies had a unique opportunity to bring human rights to the front and centre of sustainable development issues and contribute to accountability for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Strengthening the treaty body system should ultimately contribute to a better protection of human rights on the ground, especially for the most vulnerable populations.  Mr. Salama recalled that the General Assembly resolution 68/268 on strengthening and enhancing the effective functioning of the human rights treaty body system invited States to further enhance the functioning of the treaty body system in 2020, and said that Costa Rica, Norway and Switzerland, as well as the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, had already started initiatives in that regard. 

Simon Walker, Chief of the Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Section, Human Rights Treaties Division, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, invited Abdelwahab Hani, Claude Heller Rouassant, Ana Racu and Sébastien Touzé to make a solemn declaration as new Members of the Committee. 

Committee Members then elected by consensus Jens Modvig as Chairperson of the Committee.  Also by consensus, Essadia Belmir, Felice Gaer and Claude Heller Rouassant were elected as Vice-Chairpersons, and Sébastien Touzé was elected as Committee Rapporteur. 

The Committee then proceeded to adopt the agenda of the fifty-seventh session.

The Committee will next meet in public on Tuesday, 19 April at 10 a.m., to start its consideration of the seventh periodic report of France (CAT/C/FRA/7).

During the session, the Committee will consider the reports of France, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Philippines and Israel.  The session will conclude on Friday, 13 May 2016.  The detailed programme of work, along with the links to the related documentation, is available in the background press release.         



For use of the information media; not an official record

CAT16/002E