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.
When a State party's report is submitted to CAT (article 19), the Committee will make an analysis of the report, upon which a list of issues (LOI) will be drafted, especially by two members of the Committee chosen as rapporteurs for this particular country (country rapporteurs), adopted in plenary by the Committee, and sent to the State party prior to the examination of the report. The State party will reply to the LOI in writing and will send a delegation to Geneva to engage in an interactive constructive dialogue with the Committee at a designated session.
CAT meets for a four-week session twice a year in Geneva, normally in May and November and is examining 8 or 9 reports per session. During these sessions, the Committee meets with NGOs and NHRIs 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 and NHRIs
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 will meet with the NHRIs. Similarly to NGOs, this briefing also takes place prior to the examination of the State party's report.
The ways in which NGOs and NHRIs 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 and NHRIs meetings with the country rapporteurs and relevant members prior to the examination of the State party's report;
- Written information for the follow-up to the Committee's concluding observations recommendations.
1. Written information for LOIs and LOIPR
A. The Committee adopts LOIs one session ahead of the session during which it will examine the State party's report and meets with the State party's delegation. For example, LOIs are adopted at the May session for reports that will be examined at the following November session. The States parties' reports are available on the website under each respective session.
The written information that NGOs and NHRIs wish to submit to the Committee for the LOIs must be received by the Secretariat (see contacts below) no later than 10 weeks 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 52nd session (28 April to 23 May 2014), the deadline is 14 February 2014.
- For the 53rd session (3 to 28 November 2014), the deadline is 22 August 2014.
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 and NHRIs wish to submit to the Committee for the LOIPR must be received by the Secretariat no later than two months 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 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 or NHRIs 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 52nd session (28 April to 23 May 2014), the deadline is 11 April 2014.
- For the 53rd session (3 to 28 November 2014), the deadline is 17 October 2014.
The working languages of the Committee are the official languages of the United Nations (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish). However, if NGOs or NHRIs cannot provide the information in all the languages of the Committee, documents provided in English would reach more members of the Committee, especially as these documents are not translated. The working languages of the rapporteurs for the particular country are also important to consider. The information must be submitted electronically and is posted on the website, thus made public. In exceptional cases, duly justified, confidential reports may be accepted.
If NGOs or NHRIs 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 two weeks before the session (see contacts below).
3. NGOs in-session briefings and NHRIs meetings with the country rapporteurs and relevant members 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.
NHRIs that have submitted written information to the Committee may meet with country rapporteurs and relevant members of the Committee in a private meeting. These meetings take place prior to the dialogue with the State party's delegation. If needed, NHRIs may bring their own interpreters. During this briefing, the NHRIs representatives 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. 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 and NHRIs 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 and NHRIs.
During this dialogue, neither NGOs nor NHRI may intervene but, as these meetings are public, accredited representatives of NGOs and NHRIs 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 and NHRIs 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 and NHRIs 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 or NHRIs 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
For individual complaints
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10 (Switzerland)
Fax: + 41 22 917 9022
Secretariat of the Committee against Torture
CH-1211 Geneva 10 (Switzerland)
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Secretariat of the Committee against Torture
52 Rue des Pâquis
National Human Rights Institutions Unit
Fax: + 41 22 928 90 14