Committee against Torture
2 November 2006
Experts to Consider Reports of Tajikistan, Mexico, Burundi,
Russian Federation, Guyana, South Africa and Hungary
The Committee against Torture will meet at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 6 to 24 November 2006 to review measures adopted by Tajikistan, Mexico, Burundi, the Russian Federation, Guyana, South Africa and Hungary to prevent and punish acts of torture. Representatives of the seven countries are expected to come before the Committee to defend national efforts to implement the rights enshrined in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
At the first meeting, the Committee will adopt its agenda. During the three-week session, the Committee’s 10 Independent Experts will also consider, in closed session, information appearing to contain well-founded indications that torture is systematically being practised in some States parties; and complaints from individuals claiming to be victims of a violation by a State party of the provisions of the Convention.
The Committee was established in 1987 to monitor compliance with the Convention and to assist States parties in implementing its provisions.
Tajikistan, Burundi, Guyana and South Africa are presenting initial reports to the Committee; and Mexico, the Russian Federation and Hungary are presenting fourth periodic reports. The Committee's conclusions and recommendations on the third periodic report of Mexico, considered in April and May 1997, can be found in document A/52/44, paras. 153-170. Its conclusions on the third periodic report of the Russian Federation, reviewed in May 2002, can be found in document A/57/44, paras. 87-96. The Committee's conclusions and recommendations on the third periodic report of Hungary, considered in November 1998, can be found in document A/54/44, paras. 78-87. These documents are available at the following web address: www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf.
At the opening meeting, the newly elected member of the Committee, Luis Benigno Gallegos Chiriboga (Ecuador), will make a solemn declaration to perform his duties as a member of the Committee honourably, faithfully, impartially and conscientiously. Mr. Gallegos Chiriboga replaces his fellow compatriot, Julio Prado Vallejo, who died on 20 October 2006.
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 are explicitly prohibited from using "higher orders" or "exceptional circumstances" as excuses for acts of torture. The Convention introduced two significant new elements to the United Nations fight against torture: first, it specifies that alleged torturers may be tried in any State party or they may be extradited to face trial in the State party where their crimes were committed; secondly, under article 20, it provides for investigation of reliable reports of torture, including visits 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 practised in the territory of a 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 142 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, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Yemen and Zambia.
The following 52 States have recognized the competence of the Committee under articles 21 and 22: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovak Republic, 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, Burundi, Guatemala, Mexico and Seychelles have recognized the competence of the Committee under article 22 only.
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 has repeatedly appealed 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.
Membership and Officers
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); Luis Benigno Gallegos Chiriboga (Ecuador); Guibril Camara (Senegal); Felice Gaer (the United States); Claudio Grossman (Chile); Fernando Mariño Menendez (Spain); Andreas Mavrommatis (Cyprus); Nora Sveaass (Norway); Xuexian Wang (China); and Alexander Kovalev (Russian Federation).
Provisional Timetable for Consideration of Reports
In ratifying or acceding to the Convention, States are obliged to submit reports on the measures they have taken to implement its provisions. States are invited to send representatives to attend the meetings during which their reports are considered. For this session, the Committee has drawn up the following provisional timetable for the consideration of reports:
Tuesday, 7 November
Morning Tajikistan: initial report CAT/C/32/Add.5
Wednesday, 8 November
Morning Mexico: fourth periodic report (CAT/C/55/Add.12)
Afternoon Tajikistan (continued)
Thursday, 9 November
Morning Burundi: initial report (CAT/C/DBI/1)
Afternoon Mexico (continued)
Friday, 10 November
Morning Russian Federation: fourth periodic report (CAT/C/55/Add.11)
Afternoon Burundi (continued)
Monday, 13 November
Morning Guyana: initial report (CAT/C/GUY/1)
Afternoon Russian Federation (continued)
Tuesday, 14 November
Morning South Africa: initial report (CAT/C/52/Add.3)
Afternoon Guyana (continued)
Wednesday, 15 November
Morning Hungary: fourth periodic report (CAT/C/55/Add.10)
Afternoon South Africa (continued)
Thursday, 16 November
Afternoon Hungary (continued)
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