UN Committee against Torture publishes findings on Austria, Azerbaijan, Finland, Honduras, Liechtenstein, and North Macedonia


The Committee expressed concern about reports alleging that the State party has breached the principle of non-refoulement in some instances during the review period. It was concerned about the absence of a formal national mechanism to identify vulnerable asylum-seekers, such as victims of torture, trafficking and gender-based violence, upon arrival in reception centres. The Committee recommended that the State party ensure all asylum-seekers and others needing international protection have access to fair and efficient refugee status determination procedures and non-refoulement determinations. It requested Austria to establish and apply a formal national mechanism to identify victims of torture, trafficking and gender-based violence among asylum-seekers and others in need of international protection and prioritise their access to the refugee determination procedure and to treatment for urgent health conditions.

The Committee recommended Austria immediately stop detaining individuals with mental health issues in so-called security cells in detention deportation facilities. It was also concerned by reports of poor conditions and lack of access to adequate health services, including mental health services, due to chronic understaffing in some detention deportation facilities. The Committee recommended that the State party improve living conditions in detention deportation centres and guarantee access to social, educational and mental and physical health services for detainees. It also was concerned about legislation allowing for involuntary detention and compulsory treatment on the basis of impairment for persons with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities, and the continued and, in some cases, prolonged use of solitary confinement, seclusion, physical and chemical restraints and other restrictive practices, including for children, in forensic psychiatric facilities. It urged the State party to consider reviewing laws that enable deprivation of liberty on the basis of impairment and forced medical interventions for persons with disabilities.


The Committee was alarmed by alleged extra-judicial killings, torture, and ill-treatment of national and ethnic Armenians during armed conflict and anti-terrorism operations, and the perceived lack of investigations and prosecutions of these allegations. It also expressed concerns over the continued detention of 23 individuals of Armenian ethnic or national origin for terrorism and related offences. The Committee urged Azerbaijan to state at the highest levels that any violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law are unacceptable. It also called for independent, impartial, transparent, and effective investigations into the allegations of serious violations and urged the State party to bring those responsible to justice.

The Committee was concerned about allegations that human rights defenders and journalists continue to face physical and judicial harassment, and in some cases, are subjected to torture and ill-treatment in Azerbaijan. It was troubled by the shrinking civic space in the country, recalling that a free and vibrant civil society was key to prevention of torture and ill-treatment. The Committee called on the State party to ensure an enabling environment for human rights defenders and journalists to carry out their work, free from threats, reprisals, violence, and other forms of harassment.


The Committee was concerned that the closure of Finland’s Eastern land border since 30 November 2023 in response to alleged instrumentalisation of migration by a third country, may lead to breaches of the principle of non-refoulement and prohibition of collective expulsion. It recommended that the State party introduce safeguards to ensure all asylum-seekers and others in need of international protection arriving at its eastern border have access to fair and efficient refugee status determination procedures and non-refoulement determinations.

The Committee was concerned about reports that, in practice, non-citizens who enter the territory of the State party undocumented continue to be detained and that detention of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children between 15 and 17 years is still allowed when the child has already received an enforceable negative decision. It recommended that the State party ensures immigration detention is applied only as a last resort and for as short a period as possible. The Committee asked Finland to intensify efforts to expand application of non-custodial measures and ensure children and families with children are not detained solely because of their immigration status. The Committee was concerned by the State party’s failure to repeal section 2 of Act No. 283/1970 on Sterilization, which permits the sterilisation of women with “mental disabilities” and urged Finland to take immediate steps to repeal the section and provide effective remedies for women victims of forced or involuntary sterilisation.


While noting Honduras’ efforts to demilitarise and professionalise the management of its penitentiary system, the Committee expressed concern about structural deficiencies, particularly insecurity inside facilities, lack of effective control by authorities and shortage of prison officers, pointing to violent events and deaths in custody in several prisons in the country in the period under review. It was also troubled by frequent military interventions in prisons between 2019 and 2021 and the assumption of control and administration of prisons by the Military Police of Public Order for one year in June 2023. The Committee asked the State Party to transfer prison administration to a civilian, independent entity and step up efforts to implement a prison policy that addresses these structural deficiencies in the system.

The Committee expressed serious concern about murders and attacks, enforced disappearances, threats, searches and other acts of intimidation targeting human rights defenders, land rights defenders, indigenous leaders, and journalists. It requested Honduras to strengthen protection mechanisms and guarantee adequate resources to ensure they can implement protection measures effectively. It also recommended that the State party investigate violations against human rights defenders and prevent the misuse of criminal law against them.


The Committee expressed concern about Liechtenstein’s practice of sending convicted prisoners to Austria and Switzerland. It urged Liechtenstein to review its treaty with Austria to ensure that fundamental legal safeguards against torture and ill-treatment are guaranteed for detainees held abroad. The State party should also ensure that its own authorities and the national preventative mechanism (NPM) can conduct visits to detainees held abroad and clarify uncertainties regarding Liechtenstein’s responsibilities under the Convention, including to investigate allegations of torture and ensure redress.

Noting the State party’s efforts to update facilities in Vaduz National Prison, the Committee remained concerned by reports of limited employment integration opportunities, and that women detainees at the facility could be subjected to conditions akin to solitary isolation due to the low number of detainees. It also expressed concern that detainees are not examined by an independent medical doctor within 24 hours of arrival. The Committee called on Liechtenstein to ensure detainees have access to medical examination upon admission to prison and whenever necessary, to ensure health needs, infectious diseases and possible cases of ill-treatment can be identified.

North Macedonia

The Committee raised concerns about the overall lack of funding and understaffing of the prison system and chronic deficiencies in staffing levels, especially at the Idrizovo prison, which led to the declaration of a crisis situation at the prison facility on 6 June 2023. It asked the State party to continue recruiting sufficient prison personnel to ensure an adequate prisoner-to-staff ratio, improve security and reduce violence. Taking note of North Macedonia’s measures to address inter-prisoner violence and record and report cases of coercion by prison police, the Committee underscored the particular need to address the crisis situation declared in Idrizovo prison.

While recognising North Macedonia’s efforts to improve the juvenile justice system and living conditions in the Tetovo correctional education institution, the Committee was seriously concerned about reports of a high rate of mental health conditions among children in conflict with the law placed in correctional institutions and their over-medication. It asked the State party to ensure that the needs of child detainees afflicted by mental health conditions are properly assessed, adequate individual treatment programmes are developed and children are properly informed about such treatment. The Committee recommended that the practice of automatically resorting to medical approaches and coercive practices in these cases cease immediately.

The above findings, officially known as Concluding Observations, are now available on the session page.

/Public Release. View in full here.