COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE HOLDS FIFTY-SECOND SESSION IN GENEVA FROM 28 APRIL TO 23 MAY 2014
Experts to Consider Reports of Uruguay, Thailand, Sierra Leone, Holy See, Montenegro, Cyprus and Lithuania, Situation in Guinea in Absence of a Report
24 April 2014
The Committee against Torture will meet at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 28 April to 23 May 2014 to examine measures adopted by Uruguay, Thailand, Sierra Leone, Holy See, Montenegro, Cyprus and Lithuania to prevent and punish acts of torture. Representatives of these 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. The situation in Guinea will be considered in absence of a report, which is overdue for more than 23 years.
On Monday, 28 April at 10 a.m., the Committee will hear an address by a representative of the Secretary-General, will hear new members of the Committee make their solemn declaration, will elect a new Chairperson and Bureau, and will adopt its agenda and programme of work for the session.
During this session, in addition to its consideration of the reports of the States parties, the Committee will meet with the Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on 9 May as well as with a member of the Voluntary Fund for the Victims of Torture on 14 May. It will also consider, in closed meetings, information appearing to contain well-founded indications that torture is systematically being practised in some States parties, as well as complaints from individuals claiming to be victims of violations to the provisions of the Convention by a State party.
The Committee will also meet in private with representatives of United Nations agencies as well as national human rights institutes and non-governmental organizations from States whose reports are being considered at this session. It will also discuss follow-up to articles 19 and 22 and follow-up on reprisals.
Thailand is presenting its initial report (CAT/C/THA/1). Sierra Leone is also presenting its initial report (CAT/C/SLE/1), as is the Holy See (CAT/C/VAT/1).
Uruguay is presenting its third periodic report (CAT/C/URY/3), and the Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the second periodic report of Uruguay, which was considered in November 1996, can be found in (A.52.44,paras.81 to 94). Montenegro is presenting its second periodic report (CAT/C/MNE/2), and the Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the initial report of Montenegro, which was considered in November 2008, can be found in (CAT/C/MNE/CO/1).
Cyprus is presenting its fourth periodic report (CAT/C/CYP/4), and the Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the third periodic report, which was considered in November 2002, can be found in (CAT/C/CR/29/1). Lithuania is presenting its third periodic report (CAT/C/LTU/3), and the Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the second periodic report, which was considered in November 2008, can be found in (CAT/C/LTU/CO/2).
For further information, including links to the reports to be considered at this session and the programme of work, are available on the Committee’s web page for the current 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" maybe invoked as a justification for acts of torture nor "higher orders" could 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 155 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, Estonia, Ethiopia, 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, 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, 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, Yemen and Zambia.
The following 11 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, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Syrian Arab Republic and the United Arab Emirates.
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, Moldova, 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 – NPMs), which must be established or designated by each State party.
As of today, 72 States have ratified or acceded to the Optional Protocol: Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Nauru, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, 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 Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (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, 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: Essadia Belmir (Morocco); Alessio Bruni (Italy); Satyabhoosun Gupt Domah (Mauritius); Felice Gaer (United States); Abdoulaye Gaye (Senegal); Claudio Grossman (Chile); and George Tugushi (Georgia).
New members Jens Modvig (Denmark) and Kening Zhang (China) will make their solemn declarations at the opening meeting. Bhogendra Sharma (Nepal), who resigned on 6 February 2014, has been replaced by Ms. Sapana Pradhan-Malla (appointed by Nepal on 28 March). She will make her solemn declaration on 13 May, pending approval from the others States parties until 12 May).
Provisional Timetable of Public Meetings
Monday, 28 April 2014
10 a.m. Opening of session, swearing in of new members, election of Chairperson and
officers, adoption of the agenda, organizational and other matters
3 p.m. Closed meeting
Tuesday, 29 April 2014
10 a.m. Consideration of the third periodic report of Uruguay (CAT/C/URY/3)
3 p.m. Meeting with States parties
Wednesday, 30 April 2014
10 a.m. Consideration of initial report of Thailand (CAT/C/THA/1)
3 p.m. Replies of Uruguay
Thursday, 1 May 2014
10 a.m. Consideration of initial report of Sierra Leone (CAT/C/SLE/1)
3 p.m. Replies of Thailand
Friday, 2 May 2014
10 a.m. Meeting with non-governmental organizations
3 p.m. Replies of Sierra Leone
Monday, 5 May 2014
10 a.m. Consideration of initial report of Holy See (CAT/C/VAT/1)
3 p.m. Inquiry procedure (closed)
Tuesday, 6 May 2014
10 a.m. Consideration of situation in Guinea (no report submitted)
3 p.m. Replies of Holy See
Wednesday, 7 May 2014
10 a.m. Consideration of second periodic report of Montenegro (CAT/C/MNE/2)
3 p.m. Replies of Guinea
Thursday, 8 May 2014
10 a.m. Consideration of fourth periodic report of Cyprus (CAT/C/CYP/4)
3 p.m. Replies of Montenegro
Friday, 9 May 2014
10 a.m. Meeting with Chair of Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture
3 p.m. Replies of Cyprus
Monday, 12 May 2014
10 a.m. Consideration of third periodic report of Lithuania (CAT/C/LTU/3)
3 p.m. Closed meeting
Tuesday, 13 May 2014
10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Replies of Lithuania
Wednesday, 14 May 2014
10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Closed meeting
Thursday, 15 May 2014
10 a.m. Follow-up to articles 19 and 22
11:30 a.m. Follow-up on reprisals
Friday, 23 May 2014
10 a.m. Adoption of annual report, programme for next session
5 p.m. Closing of the session
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The Committee will publish its concluding observations here on Friday 23 May:
A press conference is tentatively scheduled for Friday 23 May at 14:00 at the Palais des Nations.
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