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COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE

Information for Civil Society Organisations and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs)


The mandate of the Committee against Torture

Under article 19 of the Convention against Torture (the Convention), the Committee against Torture (CAT) is mandated to examine reports on the measures that States parties are taking to implement the provisions of the Convention. CAT's mandate also includes the possibility, among other functions, to undertake confidential inquiries when reliable information is received with well-founded indication that torture is being systematically practiced in a State party is received (article 20) and to consider individual complaints (article 22) which is only applicable with regard to States parties that have recognized the competence of the Committee to receive such complaints.

CAT meets for a three to four-week session three times a year in Geneva, in April-May, July-August and November-December and is examining up to 8 or 9 reports per session. During these sessions, the Committee meets with NGOs, NHRIs and National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) before meeting with the State party's delegation to examine the report. Following the examination of a State party's report, in a dialogue with the State party's delegation, the Committee adopts concluding observations. These include concerns and recommendations, some of which are to be followed-up within one year. The concluding observations reflect the Committee's position with respect to the status of the implementation of the Convention in the State party as well as of its previous recommendations. They are transmitted to the State party for implementation, made public on the last day of the session and posted on the website.

Participation of NGOs, NHRIs and NPMs

The Committee receives information from NGOs at different stages of the reporting process and also meets with them during the session examining the report for which they have submitted information. These briefings take place prior to the examination of the State party's report by the Committee. CAT has long recognized the work of NGOs and expresses its appreciation for their reports and participation in these briefings, especially with regard to local and national NGOs, which provide direct country-specific information to the members of the Committee. ECOSOC status is not required for NGOs neither to submit information to the Committee nor to participate to the briefings.

NHRIs are bridges between the national and international protection mechanisms and treaty bodies should have procedures that allowed them to hear their views during the reporting process, as recommended by the Chairpersons and Inter-Committee Meetings. NHRIs should also have the opportunity to address the treaty bodies separately from the State party's delegation and NGOs. Thus, the Committee also receives information from NHRIs and, since 2005, has also met with them. As of the November 2010 session, the country rapporteurs and relevant members of the Committee met with the NHRIs outside the plenary. At its April-May 2015 session, the Committee decided to offer the  possibility to have a private plenary meeting with the whole Committee. Similarly to NGOs, this briefing also takes place prior to the examination of the State party's report. At the same session, the Committee decided to offer this opportunity of a private plenary meeting to National Preventive Mechanisms to be established by States parties as provided for under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

The ways in which NGOs, NHRIs and NPMs may engage with the Committee include:

  • Written information for the LOIs and LOIPR;
  • Written information for the examination of the State party's report;
  • NGOs in-session briefings as well as NHRIs and NPMs briefings;
  • Written information for the follow-up to the Committee's concluding observations recommendations.

I. Written information for LOIs and LOIPR

A. The Committee adopts LOIs at least one session ahead of the session during which it will examine the State party's report and meets with the State party's delegation. The States parties' reports are available on the website under each respective session.

The written information that NGOs, NHRIs and NPMs wish to submit to the Committee for the LOIs must be received by the Secretariat (see contacts below) within specific deadlines before the opening of the session. Once adopted by the Committee, the LOIs are sent to the State party and posted on the website. The State party's replies to the LOIs are also posted on the website.

- For the 56th session (9 Nov-9 Dec 2015), the deadline is 29 June 2015

Note that the Committee does not adopt LOIs for the examination of initial reports neither for reports submitted under the new optional reporting procedure.

B. The Committee has adopted an optional reporting procedure, also known as list of issues prior to report (LOIPR).

The written information that NGOs, NHRIs and NPMs wish to submit to the Committee for the LOIPR must be received by the Secretariat within specific deadlines before the opening of the session at which they will be adopted. Once adopted by the Committee, the LOIPR are sent to the State party and posted on the website.

- For the 56th session (9 Nov-9 Dec 2015), the deadline is 29 June 2015

For more information, please consult the optional reporting procedure page. 

2. Written information for the examination of the State party's report

The written information submitted by NGOs, NHRIs or NPMs to the Committee for the examination of the State party's report, must be received no later than two weeks before the opening of the session. The Committee will not accept any written information after this deadline.

- For the 55th session (27 July-14 August 2015), the deadline is 13 July 2015
- For the 56th session (9 Nov-9 Dec 2015), the deadline is 26 October 2015

If NGOs, NHRIs and NPMs wish to have paper copies of their reports distributed to all the members of the Committee, 15 hard copies must also be received by the Secretariat no later than 2 weeks before the session (see contacts below).

3. NGOs in-session briefings and NHRIs-NPMs in-session briefings before the examination of the State party's report (dialogue with the State party's delegation)

NGOs that have submitted written information to the Committee in respect of a given State party may meet with the Committee. These briefings take place prior to the dialogue with the State party's delegation, in private meeting, with interpretation. If needed, NGOs may bring their own interpreters.

During these one-hour briefings, the NGOs representatives have approximately 30 minutes to address the Committee, the remaining time being used for the members of the Committee to pose questions. In the course of these briefings NGOs should not repeat the written information already provided but highlight and update the most important issues. NGOs are also expected to coordinate their presentations in order not to repeat each others information.

As of the July-August 2015 session, NHRIs and National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) established under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture that have submitted written information to the Committee may also meet with the Committee. These briefings take place prior to the dialogue with the State party's delegation, in private meeting, with interpretation. If needed, NHRIs and NPMs may bring their own interpreters.

During these one-hour briefings, the MHRIs-NPMs representatives have approximately 20 minutes to address the Committee, the remaining time being used for the members of the Committee to pose questions. In the course of these briefings NHRIs-NPMs should not repeat the written information already provided but highlight and update the most important issues.

NHRIs that have submitted written information but are unable to come to Geneva to attend the session may contact the Geneva Representative of the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) of NHRIs. The ICC Representative is available to represent "A status" NHRIs before the country rapporteurs outside the plenary. NHRIs may contact the National Institutions Unit of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for further information (see contacts below).

In order to participate to the session, representatives of the NGOs, NHRIs and NPMs have to be accredited by the Secretariat and enroll for the briefings and/or meetings. The accreditation form (English | French) has to be filled out and sent to the Secretariat two weeks before the session (see contacts below).

For the examination of a State party's report, the Committee meets with a delegation of the State party in an interactive constructive dialogue. Committee rapporteurs and members ask questions to the delegation on the implementation of the Convention, based on the State party report, the replies to the LOIs, and any additional information they might have, including from NGOs, NHRIs and NPMs.

During this dialogue, neither NGOs nor NHRI and NPMs may intervene but, as these meetings are public, accredited representatives of NGOs, NHRIs and NPMs may attend as observers, even if they have not submitted any information to the Committee.

4. Written information for the follow-up to the Committee's recommendations

In May 2003, the Committee adopted a follow-up procedure, which specifically identifies a number of concerns and recommendations in the concluding observations that are serious, protective and can be achieved within one year. States parties are asked to provide information on the measures taken to give effect to these follow-up recommendations.

Information submitted by States parties under the follow-up procedure is made public, as are the letters from the Committee's Rapporteur for follow-up. NGOs and NHRIs may also submit written information to the Committee under this follow-up procedure on the implementation of these recommendations by the State party. All these documents are made available on the website under the follow-up webpage.

Presentation of information

The Committee encourages NGOs, NHRIs and NPMs to present their information organized under the respective articles of the Convention and/or thematic issues, including relevant concerns and recommendations.

The Committee also encourages NGOs to coordinate their inputs and to submit consolidated reports with factual, reliable, precise, and clear information. The information/report must identify the submitting NGO, as anonymous information is not accepted, and be drafted in a non-abusive language. It must be relevant to the mandate of the Committee and the examination of the State party's report. The information should not contain names of victims except if related to public cases or if the consent of the victims or their families is obtained.

The information submitted by NGOs, NHRIs and NPMs must also be sent electronically to the Secretariat within the mentioned deadlines, as well as the hard copies to be distributed to the members.

Additional information for NGOs and NHRIs may be found on OHCHR website about us, including the handbook for Civil Society on how to work with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

OHCHR does not send letters of invitation to NGOs, NHRIs and NPMs to attend the sessions and cannot assist nor fund their travel to Geneva.

National NGOs may wish to contact Geneva based NGOs for additional information and/or assistance.

Secretariat of the Committee

Human Rights Treaties Division (HRTD)
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais Wilson - 52, rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva (Switzerland)
Tel.: +41 22 917 97 06
Fax: +41 22 917 90 08
E-mail: cat@ohchr.org

For individual complaints
Petitions Team
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10 (Switzerland)
Fax: + 41 22 917 9022
E-mail: petitions@ohchr.org

Mailing address
Secretariat of the Committee against Torture
UNOG-OHCHR
CH-1211 Geneva 10 (Switzerland)

Hand delivery:
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Secretariat of the Committee against Torture
Palais Wilson
52 Rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva
Switzerland
National Human Rights Institutions Unit
Email: nationalinstitutions@ohchr.org
Fax: + 41 22 928 90 14

Country-specific information