Committee against Torture
24 April 2008
Experts to Consider Reports of Australia, Sweden, Algeria, Costa Rica, Indonesia,
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Zambia and Iceland
The Committee against Torture will meet at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 28 April to 16 May to review measures adopted by Australia, Sweden, Algeria, Costa Rica, Indonesia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Zambia and Iceland to prevent and punish acts of torture. Representatives of the eight 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, newly elected Committee member will be sworn in and the Committee will elect its Chairperson and bureau and adopt its agenda. During the session, it will also consider follow-up to State party reports and individual communications.
Also during the three-week session, the Committee’s 10 Independent Experts will 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.
Indonesia, Zambia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Costa Rica are presenting their second periodic reports; Australia, Algeria and Iceland are presenting their third periodic reports; and Sweden is presenting its fifth periodic report. The Committee's conclusions and recommendations on the second periodic report of Australia, considered in November 2000, can be found in document A/56/44 (paras. 47-53). Concluding observations on the fourth periodic report of Sweden, examined on 30 April and 1 May 2002, were issued in document CAT/C/CR/28/6. The Committee's conclusions on the second periodic report of Algeria, reviewed in November 1996, can be found in document A/52/44 (paras. 70-80). Conclusions and recommendations for the initial report of Costa Rica, considered in May 2001, are incorporated in document A/56/44 (paras. 130-136). The initial report of Indonesia was examined by the Committee in November 2001, and concluding recommendations on it can be found in document A/57/44 (paras. 36-46). In April 1999, the Committee took up the initial report of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and issued its recommendations in document A/54/44 (paras. 106-117). The Committee considered Zambia's initial report in November 2001, and conclusions and recommendations were made public in document A/57/44 (paras. 59-67). In May 2003, the Committee reviewed the second periodic report of Iceland, and final recommendations on it were made available in document CAT/C/CR/30/3. These documents are available at the following Web address: http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf
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 145 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, Montenegro, 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, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, 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 Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Yemen and Zambia.
The following 54 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, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, 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, created a panel of 10 Experts – the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – and national bodies to visit places where persons are deprived of their liberty in order to prevent torture. The third meeting of the Subcommittee on Prevention was held in Geneva from 19 to 23 November 2007. Currently, 34 States have ratified the Optional Protocol: Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Honduras, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Senegal, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, 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 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.
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); Abdoulaye Gaye (Senegal); Felice Gaer (the United States); Luis Gallegos Chiriboga (Ecuador); Claudio Grossman (Chile); Alexander Kovalev (Russian Federation); Fernando Mariño Menendez (Spain); Myrna Y. Kleopas (Cyprus); Nora Sveaass (Norway); and Xuexian Wang (China).
The Chairperson, Vice-Chairpersons and Rapporteur will be elected at the opening of the session, on Monday 28 April 2008.
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, 29 April
Morning Australia: third periodic report (CAT/C/67/Add.7)
Afternoon Sweden: fifth periodic report (CAT/C/SWE/5)
Wednesday, 30 April
Morning Sweden (continued)
Afternoon Australia (continued)
Friday, 2 May
Morning Algeria: third periodic report (CAT/C/DZA/3)
Monday, 5 May
Morning Costa Rica: second periodic report (CAT/C/CRI/2)
Afternoon Algeria (continued)
Tuesday, 6 May
Morning Indonesia: second periodic report (CAT/C/72/Add.1)
Afternoon Costa Rica (continued)
Wednesday, 7 May
Morning Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: second periodic report (CAT/C/MKD/2)
Afternoon Indonesia (continued)
Thursday, 8 May
Morning Zambia: second periodic report (CAT/C/ZMB/2)
Afternoon Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (continued)
Friday, 9 May
Morning Iceland: third periodic report (CAT/C/ISL/3)
Afternoon Zambia (continued) & Iceland (continued)
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