ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE TO HOLD FIFTY-NINTH SESSION IN GENEVA FROM 7 NOVEMBER TO 7 DECEMBER 2016

Committee to Review Situation in Ecuador, Finland, Monaco, Sri Lanka, Namibia, Turkmenistan, Armenia and Cabo Verde
3 November 2016

The Committee against Torture will meet at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 7 November until 7 December to examine measures adopted by Ecuador, Finland, Monaco, Sri Lanka, Namibia, Turkmenistan, Armenia and Cabo Verde 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 consideration of the seven country reports and a country situation (review of Cabo Verde in the absence of a report), which will be webcast live, will take place on the following dates: 8 and 9 November (Ecuador), 9 and 10 November (Finland), 11 and 14 November (Monaco), 15 and 16 November (Sri Lanka),  18 and 21 November (Namibia), 21 and 22 November (Turkmenistan), 23 and 24 November (Armenia), and 24 and 25 November (Cabo Verde).  A detailed schedule with links to the reports, country situation and related documentation can be found below.

During the session the Committee will have a joint session with the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture. It will meet, in closed session, with, the European Court of Human Rights and with Interpol. It will have a thematic briefing on collecting and using data from torture victims, organized by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims .  The Committee will discuss, in a closed meeting, 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.  It will also discuss a follow-up to concluding observations under Article 19 of the Convention and to individual complaints under article 22 of the Convention as well as 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 the programme of work for future sessions.

The Committee’s dialogues with the delegations will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Palais Wilson – First floor. Live webcasts of these meetings can be viewed on http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/.

The reports and country situation that the Committee will review during the session as well as other documentation can be found on the session’s webpage. The Committee’s findings, officially termed concluding observations, on the countries reviewed will be published on the same page on 7 December 2016.

Ecuador is presenting its seventh periodic report CAT/C/ECU/Q/7.  The Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the combined fourth to sixth periodic report, considered in November 2010, can be found in CAT/C/ECU/CO/4-6.

Finland is presenting its seventh periodic report CAT/C/FIN/7.  The Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the fifth and sixth combined periodic report, considered in May 2011, can be found in CAT/C/FIN/CO/5-6.

Monaco is presenting its sixth periodic report CAT/C/MCO/6.  The Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the fourth and fifth combined periodic report, considered in May 2011, can be found in CAT/C/MCO/CO/4-5.

Sri Lanka is presenting its fifth periodic report CAT/C/LKA/5 and Add.1.  The Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the third and fourth combined periodic report, considered in November 2011, can be found in CAT/C/LKA/CO/3-4.

Namibia is presenting its second periodic report CAT/C/NAM/2.  The Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the initial report, considered in May 1997, can be found in A/52/44(SUPP) paras. 227-252.

Turkmenistan is presenting its second periodic report CAT/C/TKM/2.  The Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the initial report, considered in May 2011, can be found in CAT/C/TKM/CO/1.

Armenia is presenting its fourth periodic report CAT/C/ARM/4.  The Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the third periodic report, considered in May 2012, can be found in CAT/C/ARM/CO/3.

Cabo Verde has not presented its initial report which is overdue since 3 July 1993.  In conformity with rule 67 of its Rules of Procedure, the Committee will proceed with a review on the implementation of the Convention in the absence of the State party’s report.  The State party has been invited to participate to the dialogue during the examination of the country situation.

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 160 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, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czechia, 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, Czechia, 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.

Eighty-three 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, Central African Republic, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, 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 as the international tool that makes the right to rehabilitation of thousands of victims worldwide a reality.  The Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights 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.  Contributing to the Fund is a concrete manifestation of the commitment towards the elimination of torture and the rehabilitation of victims, in line with article 14 of the Convention against Torture. 

In 2016 alone, with the critical support of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, over 47,000 victims in 81 countries are being assisted by specialised practitioners from rehabilitation centres, non-governmental organizations and legal aid groups, through a net investment in direct assistance services totalling over $ 7.1 million.

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.  Since its establishment in 2011, the Fund has provided grants for 37 projects in 11 countries across four regions.  The projects supported by the Special Fund have had a real impact and have contributed to addressing real needs identified by the SPT in order to assist preventing torture and ill-treatment.  The Special Fund also acts as an encouragement to publish visit reports, which further assists more general oversight of the implementation of SPT recommendations.  In the coming year, the Special Fund will focus on projects supporting national preventive mechanisms, which play a vital role in preventing torture and ill-treatment through their visits to places of detention, identification of risks and recommendations concerning how to address those risks.

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).

Mr. Modvig is the Chairperson.  The Vice-Chairpersons are Ms. Belmir, Ms. Gaer and Mr. Heller Rouassant.  Mr. Touzé is the Rapporteur.



Proposed Programme of Work


      Monday, 7 November
      10 a.m.
      Opening of the session, adoption of the agenda
      11 a.m.
      Working methods (closed meeting)
      3 p.m.
      Closed meeting
      Tuesday, 8 November
      10 a.m.
      Consideration of the seventh periodic report of Ecuador CAT/C/ECU/Q/7
      3 p.m.
      Closed meeting
      Wednesday, 9 November
      10 a.m.
      Consideration of the seventh periodic report of Finland CAT/C/FIN/7
      3 p.m.
      Replies of Ecuador
      Thursday, 10 November
      10 a.m.
      Closed meeting
      3 p.m.
      Replies of Finland
      Friday, 11 November
      10 a.m.
      Consideration of the  sixth periodic report of Monaco CAT/C/MCO/6
      3 p.m.
      Closed meeting
      Monday, 14 November
      10 a.m.
      Closed meeting
      3 p.m.
      Replies of Monaco
      Tuesday, 15 November
      10 a.m.
      Consideration of the fifth periodic report of Sri Lanka CAT/C/LKA/5
      3 p.m.
      Closed meeting
      Wednesday, 16 November
      10 a.m.
      Closed joint meeting with the SPT
      3 p.m.
      Replies of Sri Lanka
      Thursday, 17 November
      10 a.m.
      Closed meeting
      3 p.m.
      Closed meeting
      Friday, 18 November
      10 a.m.
      Consideration of the second periodic report of Namibia CAT/C/NAM/2
      3 p.m.
      Closed meeting
      Monday, 21 November
      10 a.m.
      Consideration of the second periodic report of Turkmenistan CAT/C/TKM/2
      3 p.m.
      Replies of Namibia
      Tuesday, 22 November
      10 a.m.
      Closed meeting
      3 p.m.
      Replies of Turkmenistan
      Wednesday, 23 November
      10 a.m.
      Consideration of the fourth periodic report of Armenia CAT/C/ARM/4
      3 p.m.
      Closed meeting
      Thursday, 24 November
      10 a.m.
      Consideration of Cabo Verde
      3 p.m.
      Replies of Armenia
      Friday, 25 November
      10 a.m.
      Closed meeting
      3 p.m.
      Replies of Cabo Verde
      Monday, 28 November
      Closed session
      Tuesday, 29 November
      10 a.m.
      Closed session
      3 p.m.
      Follow-up to arts. 19 and 22 and reprisals (public and private)
      Wednesday, 30 November
      Closed session
      Thursday, 1 December
      Closed session
      Friday, 2 December
      Closed session
      Monday, 5 December
      Closed session
      Tuesday, 6 December
      Closed session
      Wednesday, 7 December
      10 a.m.
      Public closing of the session
      12.30
      Press conference at Palais des Nations (tbc)
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For use of the information media; not an official record

CAT16/022E