Committee Against Torture Opens Seventy-Fifth Session in Geneva


The Committee against Torture this morning opened its seventy-fifth session, which is being held in Geneva from 31 October to 25 November, during which it will review efforts by Australia, Chad, El Salvador, Malawi, Somalia and Uganda to implement the provisions of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Committee adopted the session’s agenda.

Mahamane Cisse-Gouro, Director of the Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Representative of the Secretary-General, conveyed to the Committee the greetings of the new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk. Mr. Cisse-Gouro said the Office of the High Commissioner had established a task force to put forward options to operationalise the predictable schedule and corresponding costing, in coordination with the relevant United Nations departments. The implementation of the predictable schedule would also require concrete measures to align treaty bodies’ working methods. With regard to the ongoing ‘digital uplift’ process, a modern case management system for individual complaints and urgent actions was being developed.

Civil society organizations and victims brought crucial information and testimonies to the Committees, said Mr. Cisse-Gouro. However, according to the report of the Secretary-General, surveillance of individuals and groups who cooperated with the United Nations continued to be reported in all regions with growing evidence of online surveillance and cyberattacks. The report showed that intimidation and reprisals disproportionally affected certain populations and groups, including representatives of indigenous peoples and minorities. Unfortunately, this Committee was not an exception, and Mr. Cisse-Gouro commended the Committee for efforts to address these concerns when they arose. In another development, he said that during its fifty-first session, the Human Rights Council adopted, without a vote, a resolution further encouraging States to establish or strengthen national mechanisms for implementation, reporting and follow-up, which was positive for the work of the Committee.

Another important development was the publication of the report mandated by a Human Rights Council resolution on the promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Africans and people of African descent in the face of the excessive use of force and other human rights violations committed by law enforcement officials. The international independent expert mechanism to advance racial justice and equality in law enforcement was considering the collection, publication, and analysis of ethnically disaggregated data on the interactions of people of African descent with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Those two reports could be excellent resources for the Committee in its work on the issue of excessive use of force, including racially motivated violence. Mr. Cisse-Gouro commended the Committee’s efforts to combat torture by examining States parties’ reports and individual communications and conducting inquiries. He concluded by assuring the Committee of the Secretariat’s full support and wished the Committee Experts a successful session.

Claude Heller, Committee Chairperson, said that during the session, the Committee would review the reports of Australia, Chad, El Salvador, Malawi, Somalia and Uganda. The Committee would also consider individual communications, and report on follow-up to concluding observations and on reprisals. It would consider 12 communications on the merits, 3 communications on admissibility, as well as 4 requests for discontinuance on communications. Follow-up reports would be presented by the Committee’s Rapporteur for follow-up to concluding observations, and the Committee’s Rapporteur on reprisals would also present cases and allegations of reprisals. Mr. Heller thanked States, national human rights organizations, civil society organizations and the Secretariat for their support to the Committee.

The Committee adopted its provisional agenda for the session.

Summaries of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here, while webcasts of the public meetings can be found here. The programme of work of the Committee’s seventy-fifth session and other documents related to the session can be found here.

The Committee will next meet in public on Tuesday, 1 November, at 10 a.m. to consider the second periodic report of Chad (CAT/C/TCD/2).


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