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COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE TO HOLD FIFTY-SEVENTH SESSION IN GENEVA FROM 18 APRIL UNTIL 13 MAY 2016

14 April 2016

The Committee against Torture will meet at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 18 April until 13 May to examine measures adopted by France, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Philippines and Israel to prevent and punish acts of torture.  Representatives of those countries will 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.

The fifty-seventh session of the Committee against Torture will open at 10 a.m. on Monday, 18 April at the Palais Wilson with an address by the High Commissioner for Human Rights or his representative. In that meeting the Committee will swear in newly elected members, elect a Chairperson and Committee officers, adopt its agenda and discuss organizational matters.

The consideration of the six country reports, which will be webcast live, will take place on the following dates: 19 and 20 April (France), 20 and 21 April (Tunisia), 22 and 25 April (Saudi Arabia), 26 and 27 April (Turkey),  27 and 28 April (Philippines), and 3 and 4 May (Israel). A detailed schedule with links to the reports and related documentation can be found below.

During the session the Committee will meet with the Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, who will present the Subcommittee’s annual report.  A discussion will be held on a draft revised General Comment on article 3 of the Convention on non-refoulement of a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that they would be in danger of being subjected to torture.  The Committee will also meet with the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, and discuss follow-up to concluding observations and recommendations under Articles 19 and 22 of the Convention and reprisals against persons who cooperate with the Committee. The Committee will meet in private with non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions and national preventive mechanisms from States under consideration during the session. The Committee will also convene in private to consider communications, including information alleging that torture was systematically being practiced in some States parties, and complaints from individuals claiming to be victims of violations to the provisions of the Convention by a State party. On the final day of the session, the Committee will adopt its annual report as well as the programme of work for future sessions.

France is presenting its seventh periodic report (CAT/C/FRA/7), while the Committee’s concluding observations on its combined fourth to sixth periodic report, which was considered in April 2010, can be found here: CAT/C/FRA/CO/4-6.

Tunisia is presenting its third periodic report (CAT/C/TUN/3 and Add.1), and the concluding observations on its second periodic report, considered in November 1998, can be read in this document: A/54/44(SUPP).

Saudi Arabia is presenting its second periodic report (CAR/C/SAU/1).  The Committee’s concluding observations on Saudi Arabia’s initial report, considered in May 2002, are available here: CAT/C/CR/28/5.

Turkey is presenting its fourth periodic report (CAT/C/TUR/4), and the concluding observations issued by the Committee on Turkey’s third periodic report, which was considered in November 2010, can be found here: CAT/C/TUR/CO/3.

The Philippines is presenting its third periodic report (CAT/C/PHL/3), whereas the Committee’s concluding observations on its previous, second periodic report, considered by the Committee in April 2009, can be read here: CAT/C/PHL/CO/2.

Israel is presenting its fifth periodic report (CAT/C/ISR/5), and the Committee’s concluding observations on Israel’s fourth periodic report, discussed in May 2009, are available in this document: CAT/C/ISR/CO/4.

The public meetings will be webcast live here: http://www.treatybodywebcast.org.
Detailed meeting coverage can be found in English and French on the United Nations Information Service Geneva’s webpage and further information, including documentation and the programme of work, is available on the Committee’s webpage for the session.

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" may be invoked as a justification for acts of torture nor can "higher orders" 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 159 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, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, 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, Republic of 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, South Sudan, Spain, State of Palestine, 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, Viet Nam, Yemen and Zambia.

The following 14 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, Eritrea, Fiji, Israel, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Syrian Arab Republic, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam.

The following 59 States have recognized the competence of the Committee under articles 21 and 22: Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, San Marino, 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 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 within one year after ratification/accession.

As of 1 April 2016, 81 States had ratified or acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Nauru, Netherlands, Niger, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Rwanda, Senegal, Serbia, Slovenia, South Sudan, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom 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 Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) after its visit to a State party, as well as education programmes for 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: Ms. Essadia Belmir (Morocco); Mr. Alessio Bruni (Italy); Ms. Felice Gaer (United States); Mr. Abdelwahab Hani (Tunisia); Mr. Claude Heller Rouassant (Mexico); Mr. Jens Modvig (Denmark); Ms. Sapana Pradhan-Malla (Nepal); Ms. Ana Racu (Moldova); Mr. Sébastien Touzé (France); and Mr. Kening Zhang (China).



Programme of Work


Monday, 18 April


10 a.m. Opening of session, swearing in of new members, election of the Chairperson and officers, adoption of agenda, organizational and other matters
12 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Closed meeting

Tuesday, 19 April


10 a.m. Consideration of the seventh periodic report of France (CAT/C/FRA/7)
3 p.m. Closed meeting

Wednesday, 20 April


10 a.m. Consideration of the third periodic report of Tunisia (CAT/C/TUN/3)
3 p.m. Replies of France

Thursday, 21 April


10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Replies of Tunisia

Friday, 22 April


10 a.m. Consideration of the second periodic report of Saudi Arabia (CAR/C/SAU/1)
3 p.m. Closed meeting

Monday, 25 April


10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Replies of Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, 26 April


10 a.m. Consideration of the fourth periodic report of Turkey (CAT/C/TUR/4)
3 p.m. Closed meeting

Wednesday, 27 April


10 a.m. Consideration of the third periodic report of the Philippines (CAT/C/PHL/3)
3 p.m. Replies of Turkey

Thursday, 28 April


10 a.m. Meeting with the Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture: presentation of the Subcommittee’s annual report 
11 a.m.         Closed meeting
3 p.m. Replies of the Philippines

Friday, 29 April


10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Closed meeting

Monday, 2 May


10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Closed meeting

Tuesday, 3 May


10 a.m. Consideration of the fifth periodic report of Israel (CAT/C/ISR/5)
3 p.m. Closed meeting

Wednesday, 4 May


10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Replies of Israel


Thursday, 5 May

UN Holiday

Friday, 6 May


10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Closed meeting

Monday, 9 May


10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Closed meeting

Tuesday, 10 May


10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Follow-up to articles 19 and 22 and reprisals

Wednesday, 11 May


10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Closed meeting


Thursday, 12 May


10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Closed meeting

Friday, 13 May


10 a.m. Adoption of annual report; Programme of work for future sessions and public closing of the session

12:30 p.m.    Press conference at the Palais des Nations (to be confirmed)
3 p.m. Closed meeting



For more information and media requests, please contact Liz Throssell +41 (0) 22 917 9466/ +41 79 752 0488 ethrossell@ohchr.org )

To learn more about the Committee Against Torture, please visit:http://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/cat/pages/catindex.aspx



For use of the information media; not an official record

CAT16/001E