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COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE HOLDS SIXTY-SECOND SESSION IN GENEVA FROM 6 NOVEMBER TO 6 DECEMBER 2017

Committee to Review Reports of the Republic of Moldova, Cameroon, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Mauritius, Bulgaria, Timor-Leste and Rwanda
2 November 2017

The sixty-second session of the Committee against Torture will be held from 6 November to 6 December 2017 at the Palais Wilson in Geneva, during which the Committee will examine measures adopted by the Republic of Moldova, Cameroon, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Mauritius, Bulgaria, Timor-Leste and Rwanda to implement the provisions of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The consideration of the country reports will take place on the following dates: Republic of Moldova on 7 and 8 November; Cameroon on 8 and 9 November; Bosnia and Herzegovina on 10 and 13 November; Italy on 14 and 15 November; Mauritius on 17 and 20 November; Bulgaria on 20 and 21 November; Timor-Leste on 22 and 23 November; and Rwanda on 23 and 24 November.

In addition to examining the States’ reports, the Committee will discuss, in public and private meetings, follow-up to articles 19 and 22 and to reprisals, and will meet in private with non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions and national preventive mechanisms from States under consideration during the session.

A draft revised General Comment on article 3 of the Convention against Torture 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 will be discussed in three private meetings, on Wednesday, 15 November, Friday, 24 November and on Tuesday, 5 December.

The Committee will hold a private meeting with the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and a private meeting with the European Court of Human Rights, the African Court on Human and People’s Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and will receive a briefing on the issue of ill-treatment in psychiatric institutions by the Association for the Prevention of Torture.

The Committee will convene in private to consider communications, including information alleging that torture is 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. It will also discuss its methods of work and other matters.

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 the Palais Wilson and will be webcast live. Summaries of the public meetings, in English and in French, will be available on the United Nations Office at Geneva news and media page.

The reports that the Committee will review during the session and other documentation can be found on the session’s webpage.

Republic of Moldova is presenting its third periodic report (CAT/C/MDA/3); the Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on its second periodic report, discussed in November 2009, are available in this document: CAT/C/MDA/CO/2.

Cameroon is presenting its fifth periodic report (CAT/C/CMR/5) and the concluding observations on its fourth periodic report, which the Committee considered in April and May 2010, can be read here: CAT/C/CMR/CO/4.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is presenting its sixth periodic report (CAT/C/BIH/6). The Committee’s concluding observations on its combined second to fifth periodic report reviewed in November 2010, can be found in CAT/C/BIH/CO/2-5.

Italy is presenting its combined fifth and sixth periodic report (CAT/C/ITA/5-6); the Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on its fourth periodic report, discussed in May 2007, are available in this document: CAT/C/ITA/CO/4.

Mauritius is presenting its fourth periodic report (CAT/C/MUS/4). The Committee considered its third periodic report in May 2011, for which the concluding observations can be read here: CAT/C/MUS/CO/3.

Bulgaria is presenting its sixth periodic report (CAT/C/BGR/6). The Committee’s concluding observations on its combined fourth and fifth periodic report, which was reviewed in November 2011, can be found in CAT/C/BGR/CO/4-5.

Timor-Leste is presenting its initial report under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT/C/TLS/1).

Rwanda is presenting its second periodic report (CAT/C/RWA/2). The initial report was considered in May 2012 and the Committee’s concluding observations can be found here CAT/C/RWA/CO/1.

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 162 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, Comoros, 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, Sao Tome and Principe, 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, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic, 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, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Venezuela.

In addition, Japan, Uganda, United Kingdom and the United States have recognized the competence of the Committee under article 21 only.

Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burundi, Guatemala, Mexico, Morocco, Seychelles and Sri Lanka 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 on national bodies for the prevention of torture (national preventive mechanism), which must be established or designated by each State party within one year after ratification/accession.

Eighty-four 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, Madagascar, 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 has set up the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Torture as an 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 have been assisted by specialised practitioners from rehabilitation centres, non-governmental organizations and legal aid groups, through a net investment in direct assistance services of over US$ 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 after its visit to a State party, as well as to fund 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 Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture 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, 6 November
10 a.m. Opening of the session, adoption of the agenda
11 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Closed meeting

Tuesday, 7 November
10 a.m. Consideration of the Republic of Moldova (CAT/C/MDA/3)
3 p.m. Closed meeting

Wednesday, 8 November
10 a.m. Consideration of Cameroon (CAT/C/CMR/5)
3 p.m. Replies of the Republic of Moldova

Thursday, 9 November
10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Replies of Cameroon

Friday, 10 November
10 a.m. Consideration of Bosnia and Herzegovina (CAT/C/BIH/6)
3 p.m. Closed meeting

Monday, 13 November
10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Replies of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Tuesday, 14 November
10 a.m. Consideration of Italy (CAT/C/ITA/5-6)
3 p.m. Closed meeting

Wednesday, 15 November
10 a.m. Discussion of a draft revised General Comment on article 3 (private meeting)
3 p.m. Replies of Italy

Thursday, 16 November
10 a.m. Meeting with the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (private meeting)
3 p.m. Closed meeting

Friday, 17 November
0 a.m. Consideration of Mauritius (CAT/C/MUS/4)
3 p.m. Closed meeting

Monday, 20 November
10 a.m. Consideration of Bulgaria (CAT/C/BGR/6)
3 p.m. Replies of Mauritius

Tuesday, 21 November
10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Replies of Bulgaria

Wednesday, 22 November
10 a.m. Consideration of Timor-Leste (CAT/C/TLS/1)
3 p.m. Closed meeting

Thursday, 23 November
10 a.m. Consideration of Rwanda (CAT/C/RWA/2)
3 p.m. Replies of Timor-Leste

Friday, 24 November
10 a.m. Discussion of a draft revised General Comment on article 3 (private meeting)
3 p.m. Replies of Rwanda

Monday, 27 November
10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. APT thematic briefing on the issue of ill-treatment in psychiatric institutions (private meeting)

Tuesday, 28 November
10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Follow-up to arts. 19 and 22 and reprisals (public and private)
Inquiry procedure (private)
4 p.m. Closed meeting

Wednesday, 29 November
Closed meetings

Thursday, 30 November
Closed meetings

Friday, 1 December
Private meeting with the European Court of Human Rights, the African Court on Human and People’s Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Monday, 4 December
Closed meetings

Tuesday, 5 December
10 a.m. Discussion of a draft revised General Comment on article 3 (private meeting)
3 p.m. Closed meeting

Wednesday, 6 December
10 a.m. Public closing of the session



For use of the information media; not an official record

CAT/17/21E