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Hears Solemn Declaration from Three New Members and Elects New Bureau
23 April 2018

The Committee against Torture this morning opened its sixty-third session, hearing a statement by Maja Andrijašević-Boko, Chief a.i., Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Section, Human Rights Treaties Branch, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.  The Committee also heard a solemn declaration from three new Members, elected a new Bureau, and adopted its agenda and programme of work for the session.

Having welcomed the new members elected at the sixteenth m eeting of States parties in October 2017, Ms. Andrijašević-Boko, in her opening statement, reminded that the objectives of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – which was celebrating its seventieth anniversary this year – had not yet been matched on the ground.  That was why, and in the spirit of the Secretary-General’s Human Rights Up Front initiative, defending and promoting human rights should be at the core of all United Nations efforts.  In that context, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights had a central role to play, including in the fight against torture and other ill-treatment, she stressed, while the work of the human rights mechanisms complemented the Secretary-General’s focus on prevention by providing indicators for early warning of human rights violations.

The decisions taken by the General Assembly during its seventy-second session at the end of 2017 would have serious operational and financial implications on the work of treaty bodies, said Ms. Andrijašević-Boko, but noted that the Committee’s meeting time would not be affected.  The Office was aware of the insufficient resources provided to the Committee’s important work on individual complaints, for which there was a backlog, and was looking at ways and means to address this situation through the appropriate budgetary process.  Limited resources notwithstanding, the Committee, with the support of the Secretariat, had managed to deliver on the yearly target of taking final decisions on around 64 individual complaints.  Its recent adoption of the General Comment N°4 on article 3 of the Convention should facilitate the adoption of a rigorous jurisprudence on the principle of non-refoulement, which remained a prevailing subject of the individual complaints received.  In conclusion, Ms. Andrijašević-Boko reiterated the continued commitment of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to providing all treaty bodies with the highest quality of support.

Ms. Andrijašević-Boko then invited Diego Rodríguez-Pinzón of Colombia, Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov of Russia, and Honghong Zhang of China to make a solemn declaration as new Members of the Committee.

Committee Members elected by consensus Jens Modvig as Chairperson of the Committee.  Felice Gaer, Essadia Belmir, and Claude Heller Rouassant were elected as Vice-Chairpersons and Sébastien Touzé as Committee Rapporteur.

The Committee then proceeded to adopt the agenda of the sixty-third session.  During the session from 23 April to 18 May, the Committee will review reports presented by Belarus, Czechia, Norway, Qatar, Senegal and Tajikistan.  All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage.

The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings will be available via the following link: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/.

The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 24 April to start the consideration of the eighth periodic report of Norway (CAT/C/NOR/8).

For use of the information media; not an official record