The Committee against Torture this morning concluded its sixty-sixth session after adopting concluding observations and recommendations on the reports of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mexico, Germany, South Africa, Benin, and the United Kingdom, on the implementation of the provisions of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Committee also adopted its annual report.
The Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the reviewed countries will be available on the session’s website.
Sébastien Touze, Committee Rapporteur, introduced the Committee’s draft annual report on the activities carried out between May 2018 and May 2019, and said that during this period, the Committee had examined sixteen country reports and 54 individual communications, of which 25 had been decided on substance, seven had been declared inadmissible, and 22 had been closed. There was a significant backlog in the examination of communications as 160 were pending, noted Mr. Touze.
The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment had been ratified by 166 states and 68 States parties had accepted the Committee’s competence to receive communications, leading to a significant increase in the number of communications received during the reporting period. The Committee had received 37 requests for interim measures of which it had accepted 28. In this context, the threat of the cancellation of the third session of the Committee in November 2019 due to financial reasons would be included in the report as a major concern as it would have a catastrophic effect on the organization of work, said the Rapporteur.
The Committee then adopted the annual report.
Jens Modvig, Committee Chairperson, in his closing remarks, said that on 30 April the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights had informed the Committee and other treaty bodies that due to a shortfall in funding it might not be able to hold a number of treaty bodies sessions scheduled for later this year. This situation might have a serious consequence for the treaty bodies system as a whole and it was unfortunate that it was happening in the run up to the review of the system by the United Nations General Assembly in 2020, the Chair said and stressed that responding to the financial crisis by cutting back on the legally obligatory oversight of human rights commitment set a poor example and merely encouraged those States whose human rights required critical scrutiny to continue to evade their responsibilities by cutting funding even further. A more effective response would be to protect the integrity of the human rights treaty body system, thereby sending a clear message to States that the legal oversight of their human rights obligations would remain intact.
During the sixty-sixth session, the Committee had heard from civil society organizations and discussed country reports on the agenda. It had also considered the follow-up to articles 19 and 22 of the Convention concerning the concluding observations and individual communications. The Committee had met with the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and the Convention against Torture Initiative, and it had held its first-ever meeting with the Working Group on Business and Human Rights.
The Committee thanked the non-governmental organizations supporting the work of the Committee, inlcuding the World Organization against Torture, the Association for the Prevention of Torture, the Omega Foundation, and Amnesty International.
Summaries of the Committee’s public meetings held during the session can be read here.
The sixty-seventh session of the Committee against Torture will be held from 22 July to 9 August 2019, during which the Committee will review the reports of Greece, Poland, and Togo, and will examine the situation in Bangladesh in the absence of a report.