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COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE DISCUSSES FOLLOW-UP TO RECOMMENDATIONS AND INDIVIDUAL COMMUNICATIONS

Also Considers the Issue of Reprisals against Members of Civil Society
6 May 2015

The Committee against Torture this afternoon considered the issue of follow-up to concluding observations and recommendations and to individual communications, and the issue of reprisals, hearing oral presentations by Committee members Jens Modvig, Rapporteur on follow-up to concluding observations, Satyabhoosun Gupt Domah, Rapporteur on follow-up to individual communications, and George Tugushi, Rapporteur on reprisals.

Presenting the report on follow-up to article 19 on concluding observations, Mr. Modvig said approximately 75 per cent of States parties submitted follow-up reports and made suggestions for ways in which the follow-up procedure could be strengthened, such as making the Committee’s recommendations clearer and more implementable, inviting States parties to meet with the Committee on follow-up, using an assessment grading system to assess compliance, and using quantitative indicators to assist with the assessment of implementation.  Mr. Modvig also highlighted the role of civil society organizations in the follow-up procedure.

Mr. Domah presented his report on compliance with individual communications based on article 22 and briefed the Committee on 14 individual cases from eight States: Australia, Germany, Kazakhstan (three cases), Switzerland (five cases), Russia, Bulgaria, Algeria and Burundi.  Thanks to good compliance from Switzerland and Bulgaria the cases there had been discontinued, he noted.

Concerning reprisals, George Tugushi, Committee Vice-Chairperson and Co-Rapporteur on reprisals under Article 19 of the Convention, said there had been no new cases of reprisals against persons who cooperated with the Committee in the context of State party reviews since the last session but the Committee may take up a case in Bahrain. 

Alessio Bruni, Committee Member and Co-Rapporteur on reprisals under Article 22 of the Convention, referring to reprisals against persons who cooperated with the Committee in the context of individual communications, said he would present his report to the Committee next week. 

The Committee will next meet in public at 10 a.m. on Friday, 15 May to adopt its annual report and programme of work for future sessions.  Later that day the Committee will release its concluding observations and recommendations for the eight State party reports considered (New Zealand, Republic of Congo, Romania, Luxembourg, Spain, Serbia, Colombia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and close its fifty-fourth session.

Follow-up to Concluding Observations

JENS MODVIG, Committee Expert and Rapporteur on follow-up to concluding observations, said the aim of the Committee’s follow-up procedure on periodic State party reporting was to establish changes that occurred as a result of the Committee’s recommendations to a State party.  Since the recommendations selected for the follow-up procedure had to be achievable within one year, the Committee decided the procedure should be limited to four issues which involved serious concerns and were protective in their nature.  The four issues were: access to fundamental safeguards in connection with the deprivation of liberty; prompt, impartial and effective investigations of allegations of torture and ill-treatment; prosecution of persons accused of acts of torture and punishment if found guilty; and redress to the victims of torture or ill-treatment. 

For reports considered in the fiftieth session (follow-up reports due 31 May 2014) six out of eight States parties submitted a follow-up report, and for the fifty-first session (follow-up reports due 22 November 2014) six out of nine States parties reported.  In general, between 75 and 80 per cent of States parties had responded to the follow-up procedure since its introduction in 2003 but that number was slightly decreasing.  Mr. Modvig noted that if a State party did not comply with the one-year follow-up report, despite reminders, the issues selected for follow-up were automatically presented to the State party when the subsequent periodic report was due.  The follow-up procedure could be strengthened in several ways, suggested Mr. Modvig, such as making the recommendations clearer and more implementable, inviting States parties to meet with the Committee on follow-up, using an assessment grading system to assess compliance, and using quantitative indicators to assist with the assessment of implementation.  Mr. Modvig also highlighted the role of civil society organizations in the follow-up procedure.

In the ensuing discussion Committee Experts considered the merits of limiting the focus to four issues, and suggested developing a questionnaire for the assessment of follow-up.  One Expert said follow-up fell short of what was required by the Convention and she had the impression that some States parties believed the work ended once the report and the concluding observations had been published.  In response Mr. Modvig said he would be in favour of opening up follow-up to other issues but cautioned that the challenge was to get the most implementation from one procedure, and emphasized that the recommendations had to be implementable within one year.  One area to consider could be the recommendation to allow civil society into places of detention for monitoring purposes, which was an effective and cheap measure that did not require legislation, and would be easily implementable. 

Follow-up to Individual Communications

SATYABHOOSUN GUPT DOMAH, Committee Expert and Rapporteur on follow-up to individual communications, presented his report on compliance with individual communications based on article 22 of the Convention and which included information on 14 individual cases from eight States: Australia, Germany, Kazakhstan (three cases), Switzerland (five cases), Russia, Bulgaria, Algeria and Burundi.  Thanks to excellent compliance from Switzerland and Bulgaria, the cases there had been discontinued, noted Mr. Domah.

Reprisals

GEORGE TUGUSHI, Committee Vice-Chairperson and Co-Rapporteur on reprisals under article 19 of the Convention, spoke about reprisals against persons who cooperated with the Committee in the context of State party reviews and said there had been no new cases since the last session.   However, the Committee may take up a case of the imprisonment of a Deputy Director of a leading human rights non-governmental organization in Bahrain, and he would provide an update next week.  Mr. Tugushi welcomed the seriousness with which the issue of reprisals was taken by other bodies such as the Human Rights Council and said the Committee’s webpage should be improved to make it easier for the public to read about its work on reprisals.

ALESSIO BRUNI, Committee Member and Co-Rapporteur on reprisals under article 22 of the Convention, referring to reprisals against persons who cooperated with the Committee in the context of individual communications, said he would present his report to the Committee next week.  For today, he could only say there was one case, about which he would brief the Committee in a private meeting, and a second case for which he could only say action was pending. 


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