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COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE MEETS WITH CHAIRPERSON OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE PREVENTION OF TORTURE

16 May 2013

The Committee against Torture today met with the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture to discuss areas of collaboration between the two bodies.

Malcom Evans, Chairperson of the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture, presenting the Subcommittee's fifth annual report to the Committee, noted that 2012 was a busy and important year which saw the development of new working methods, completion of the first cycle of grants through the Special Fund, and innovations in the visiting programme to address the low visiting capacity within the existing resource constraints.  There were now 68 States parties to the Optional Protocol and ratifications continued to be received from across regional groupings, demonstrating the universal appeal of the instrument.  The Subcommittee had discussed at length the Addis Ababa guidelines, which were a very important step in the development of the treaty bodies system, and had adapted its rules of procedure accordingly.

In the ensuing discussion, Committee Experts asked questions concerning the monitoring of the success of the projects supported by the Special Fund and whether the money from it could be used to support the implementation of recommendations given by the Subcommittee to national preventive mechanisms.  They stressed that questions related to the national preventive mechanisms were now systematically raised during dialogues with States Parties and asked how the Subcommittee ensured that the traditional indigenous rights which could be discriminatory against women were not endorsed in the Subcommittee’s work on indigenous justice systems.

The Subcommittee Chairperson responded to these questions and said that the monitoring and evaluation of funding provided by the Special Fund was indeed taking place; it was hoped that education programmes of national preventive mechanisms would soon be eligible for funding.  He welcomed the practice of the Committee to systematically raise questions on national preventive mechanisms and suggested a deeper cooperation between the Committee and the Subcommittee prior to the dialogue taking place in November 2013.  The Working Group on reprisals would be an ideal issue to put on the agenda for an in-depth discussion during the joint meeting of the two bodies in November 2013, as would the work on the substantive issue of indigenous justice systems.  

The next public meeting of the Committee against Torture is scheduled at 3 p.m. today, 16 May, when it will continue its consideration of the second periodic report of Kenya (CAT/C/KEN/2).

Statements


MALCOLM EVANS, Chairperson of the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture, introducing the fifth annual report, presented his excuses for his absence during the marking of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Committee against Torture, which coincided with the field visit to New Zealand.  This annual report had marked the end of the foundation period of the Subcommittee, in which five founding members of the Subcommittee were no longer eligible for re-election and six new members had been welcomed.  Last year had been an important one as new working methods had been developed, such as the inauguration of the national preventive mechanism advisory visits, which allowed the Subcommittee to increase the number of visits from three to six.  The first cycle of the grants through the Special Fund had been completed and further grants under article 26 had been issued as well.  The focus had been on responding in confidence to replies received from States parties, thus enabling a constructive dialogue as prescribed by the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.  There were now 68 States parties to the Optional Protocol or, in other words, half of the States parties to the Convention were now parties to the Optional Protocol.  It was expected that this number would significantly rise in the upcoming years.  The ratifications continued to be received from across regional groupings, demonstrating the universal appeal of the instrument.  The regional teams within the Subcommittee, which formed the bedrock of its work, had been strengthened.  In 2012 the Subcommittee had conducted five visits, including three of the new advisory visits which had been considered a great success. 

Turning to the national preventive mechanism, 43 States parties had notified of their designation and 18 were not in compliance with their obligation to create a national preventive mechanism within the agreed time-frame.  This was considered of great importance and the Subcommittee was in constant contact with those States to address the issue.  The Second Call of the Special Fund was ongoing and had received additional pledges.  The Subcommittee had discussed at length the Addis Ababa guidelines, which were a very important step in the development of the treaty bodies system and had adapted its rules of procedure accordingly.  Innovations had been introduced in the visiting programme to address the low visiting capacity within the existing resource constraints.  For example, two confidential reports were now produced at the end of any visit, one aimed at the State party and another at the national preventive mechanism.  The Ad Hoc Working Group had been established to discuss a number of key issues, such as standard minimum rules, issues of reprisals and others.  Substantive issues taken up by the Subcommittee in 2012 included the role of the judiciary process in reviewing torture in prisons and the issue of indigenous justice in connection with torture.  One of the ways the quality of work could be improved was through greater cooperation with the Committee against Torture to make sure that the enormous scope of complementarity was harnessed.

ESSADIA BELMIR, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee against Torture, agreed that the Subcommittee was indeed complementary to the Committee and expressed hope that the cooperation would continue in the future.  At the beginning of the meeting, Ms. Belmir provided information about the recent meeting the Committee had with the delegation of Romania concerning the entry into force of the Optional Protocol in this country.

Questions and Comments by Committee Experts


Committee experts wondered about monitoring of the success of the projects supported by the Special Fund and whether the money from it could be used to support the implementation of recommendations given by the Subcommittee to national preventive mechanisms.  The Committee now systematically raised questions related to the national preventive mechanisms in their dialogues with States parties. 

An Expert expressed concern about the work of the Subcommittee on the issues of indigenous justice systems which contained traditional rights known to have discriminatory aspects against women, and asked how the Subcommittee ensured that those were not endorsed and how it addressed abuses it encountered in the indigenous justice systems.  Another Expert congratulated the Subcommittee on the innovative working methods it was developing, from which the Committee could learn.

Answers by the Subcommittee’s Chairperson


Mr. Evans, in reply to the Experts, said that monitoring and evaluation of funding provided by the Special Fund was indeed taking place; it was hoped that education programmes of national preventive mechanisms would soon be eligible for funding.  Mr. Evans welcomed the practice of the Committee to systematically raise questions on national preventive mechanisms and suggested a deeper cooperation between the two bodies prior to the dialogue taking place in November 2013.  The Working Group on reprisals would be ideal to put on the agenda for an in-depth discussion during the joint meeting of the two bodies in November.  Mr. Evans further suggested that the November meeting also address the work on the substantive issue of indigenous justice systems.  


For use of the information media; not an official record

CAT13/010E