7 November 2013
The Committee against Torture today concluded its consideration of the initial report of Burkina Faso on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Julie Prudence Nigna Somda, Minister of Human Rights and Civic Promotion of Burkina Faso, said torture was a manifestation of man’s cruelty in its most absolute form and the negation of what was fundamentally a part of human nature: dignity. Torture and other cruel or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment were absolutely banned in Burkina Faso. A draft bill on the definition, prevention and suppression of torture had been submitted to the Government for adoption. Efforts had been made to humanize places of detention. Concerning deportation, refoulement or extradition, current laws only allowed this once guarantees existed that ensured that persons extradited or deported would not be submitted to acts of torture. Burkina Faso remained aware of the importance of education for a permanent eradication of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading acts.
Committee Experts noted that Burkina Faso law did not exactly use the Convention against Torture’s definition of torture. This was an absolute necessity, a minimum standard and a precondition for the implementation of the Convention. Could a state of emergency be invoked to justify torture? Questions were also raised, among others, with regards to extradition procedures and the situation of refugees; if statistics could be provided on whether the regime set up to resolve the problem of female genital mutilation was delivering; overcrowding in prisons; lack of prompt access to a lawyer; investigations of allegations of torture; and developments concerning the National Human Rights Commission.
In concluding remarks Claudio Grossman, Chairperson of the Committee, thanked the delegation for its responses and for the provision of elements that would be considered by the Committee as a whole. The Committee would deliver concluding remarks and observations with the purpose of assisting the country with the collective experience of the Committee in terms of complying with the Convention.
The delegation of Burkina Faso included the Minister of Human Rights and Civic Promotion, Director for Education on Human Rights, Director on follow-up to international agreements, Director of Judiciary Police of the National Gendarmerie, and representatives from the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Security, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation, and the Permanent Mission of Burkina Faso to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will reconvene in public on Friday, 8 November, at 3 p.m., to hear the replies of Portugal to questions which were raised on Thursday, 7 November in the morning.
The initial report of Burkina Faso (CAT/C/BFA/1) can be seen here.
Presentation of the Report
JULIE PRUDENCE NIGNA SOMDA, Minister of Human Rights and Civic Promotion of Burkina Faso, said that it was an honour to present the initial report of Burkina Faso to the Committee. Burkina Faso attached great importance to the Committee’s remit and the fight against torture. Torture was a manifestation of man’s cruelty in its most absolute form and the negation of what was fundamentally a part of human nature: dignity. Burkina Faso had ratified the Convention against Torture on 4 January 1999 and the Minister apologised for the delay in the submission of the report. Torture and other cruel or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment were absolutely banned in Burkina Faso, which was party to several other instruments, including regional treaties, aimed at fighting torture. The principle of banning of torture was set in Article 2 of the Constitution, in addition to other texts. Concerning implementation of the Convention and its Optional Protocol, a draft bill on the definition, prevention and suppression of torture had been submitted to the Government for adoption.
Training and awareness-raising for security and police forces had been undertaken. Burkina Faso had a new national policy for human rights and civic promotion 2013-2022. Efforts had also been made to humanize places of detention. There had been major innovations in terms of health, softening of prison conditions and overcrowding. The National Commission on Human Rights and other bodies of civil society carried out regular visits to places of detention in order to prevent torture. The draft law on this also provided for the creation of a national observatory for the prevention of torture, which had its own legal status and financial independence. Concerning deportation, refoulement or extradition, current laws only allowed this once guarantees existed that ensured that persons extradited or deported would not be submitted to acts of torture. Burkina Faso’s legislation dealing with penitentiary establishment formally forbade any employee or anyone on the premises to carry out acts of violence on detainees, including foul or unbecoming language.
Burkina Faso was aware of the importance of education in order to ensure the permanent eradication of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading acts and was committed to ensure that all perpetrators were brought before the courts for judgement. The international community would always be a staunch ally to meet these challenges in the fight against torture.
Questions by Committee Experts
ABDOULAYE GAYE, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for the report of Burkina Faso, said that the report was indeed somewhat late, but the Committee was usually quite flexible on these matters. What really mattered was that there was a dialogue, even if there was a delay in submission. To Burkina Faso’s credit, its creation of the Ministry of Human Rights and Civic Promotion, its accession to numerous human rights instruments, and its decision to adopt a moratorium on the death penalty were to be commended. Could the delegation clarify which parts of civil society were consulted when the report was being put together? Dialogue with civil society was very important as a significant source of information, in addition to reports provided by States. In future, there should perhaps be emphasis on statistics in the report. It was noted that Burkina Faso’s law did not exactly use the Convention against Torture’s definition of torture; this was an absolute necessity. This was a minimum standard and a precondition for the implementation of the Convention. In courts, could people directly invoke the provisions of the Convention against Torture? If so, could examples be given?
Burkina Faso’s provisions and mechanisms governing remand should evolve in such a way as to better protect the human rights of persons. On the fight against organized crime, the remand for organized crime could be up to 15 days. What did the law mean when it said organized crime? The system had flaws and when non-governmental organizations spoke of ill-treatment and torture the Committee had to put two and two together. Cases had been heard of rebellion or mutiny of the military that directly attacked citizens, behaving like hooligans in doing so. The feeling that there was impunity for these acts was spreading.
The report described the state of emergency under the Constitution. Could such a state of emergency be invoked to justify torture? This was the answer being sought, which had not yet been answered.
The State party had set forth rules that applied to extradition and extradition procedures. They had heard additional information in the introduction. The procedures had clearly been set forth but on expulsions, the Committee wished to hear what body was empowered to issue an expulsion order and whether an expelled person could appeal this decision.
Could more details be given about the situation of refugees in Burkina Faso and how the refugee status was acquired? More information was also needed on the number of applications for refugee status received and how many persons had been granted refugee status. Refugee children found it very difficult to receive birth certificates. The appeal body under refugee law still had not been set up and thus refugees did not have a right to appeal, or have access to remedy on a first instance decision concerning them. There was also a problem of refugees not being told which rights they were entitled to.
On statelessness, Burkina Faso was not party to the 1961 Convention on the reduction of cases of statelessness. There were conditions in Burkina Faso that would appear to give rise to statelessness. Accession to this Convention had already been recommended.
The report maintained that the definition of torture was not yet used exactly in domestic laws and the act of torture was not categorized as such yet, but was nonetheless punished. Information had been received whereby the State party had several times promised to remedy that flaw in the law, but it appeared that these promises were never kept. This strengthened the idea that acts of torture existed in practice and were not punished. It would appear that the judicial system lacked means and that people had lost trust in the judicial system.
SATYABHOOSUN GUPT DOMAH, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for the report of Burkina Faso, said that a number of flaws were noted in the report with respect to failure to respect obligations which the State party had undertaken but was not abiding by. The objective of the Convention was to make more effective the struggle against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment throughout the world. Each party should ensure that the prohibition against torture was a module fully included in the training of law enforcement officers, covering civil, military, medical and public officials and other persons. The organization of conferences was an achievement and commendable.
It was noted that a very interesting regime had been set-up to resolve the problem of female genital mutilation, including awareness-raising campaigns and help lines. Could statistics be provided on whether there had been an assessment on the ground on whether these measures were delivering the goods? The most important part of any training was whether it was delivering the goods.
Was there a judicial education institute? If not, in today’s day and age, no judicial officer could go on the bench without being properly trained in this increasingly complex society.
What was being done with respect to overcrowding in prisons and could more information be given on a plan of action regarding this?
The code of criminal procedure was noted, as well as the code of military justice and by-law of 2003 on internal regulations, but no updating was seen of these with respect to interrogation rules, instructions and methods, taking into account obligations under Article 11 of the Convention.
It was astounding that prompt access to a lawyer was not available due to ‘secret de l’instruction’. A lawyer was not a third party in an ‘instruction’, but part of the justice system. He could not be ousted as a third party in an ‘instruction’. There was a lot of candidness in the report which admitted that there was a lack of space in correctional facilities and that it would be better to separate adults and juveniles, convicts and accused, and first time and repeat offenders. This was a candidness which was to be commended. However, action was needed and the State party had to develop a plan for this action. The National Human Rights Commission had been set up in 2009. They were now in 2013. What had been the programme and development in this area? It appeared that it was basically inept and that the Government had developed cold feet with respect to implementation on the functions and the plans of the National Human Rights Commission.
Under Article 12 of the Convention, prompt and impartial investigation of any allegation of torture had to be carried out. Could more information be given on this? Was there a witness protection regime? It appeared that complainants as well as witnesses were inhibited from coming forward.
Under Article 14 of the Convention, redress was expected to be given to the victims of torture. How much had been paid over the past three years to the claimants of torture. Another disquieting aspect was the number of children maimed in road accidents. Had there been reparations to their parents and their families? The state of children was very disquieting. It would take a lifetime to change systems, methods and techniques, but if you were treating children well in five years’ time you would be sure to get results. If there was a culture of torture, you were turning today’s angels into tomorrow’s torturers. A serious reform of the legal and judicial system in the present state of affairs was long overdue.
The report stated that evidence obtained through torture was declared inadmissible by the court. Could cases that so decided be provided? What provision was there for access to court for women, and to resolve the problem of spousal abuse, as well as on protection available to a complainant?
An Expert said that the report was good, comprehensive and honest, including in the way of communicating clearly where laws were not respected. Reference had been made to a special detention centre that was being refurbished. Were there concrete plans for other detention centres?
On monitoring, could more information be provided on how monitoring visits were taking place? Were they spontaneous visits? Were independent mechanisms able to speak with detainees?
On the situation of human rights defenders, there had been alarm regarding the understanding that there had been strong force used to crackdown on demonstrations, especially if these demonstrations were in relation to human rights.
Could more information be given on the separation of women from men in prison? A United Nations Children’s Fund report from 2010 referred to the fact that as many as 83 per cent of children between the ages of 2 and 14 had experienced violent discipline. Could clarification be given on measures taken to deal with this?
Another Expert recalled that reference was made to a draft law giving a definition of torture. Would this in fact become a law? Time was going by fast. Was there any kind of a schedule with regard to this draft law?
Concerning the Optional Protocol to the Convention, its ratification by Burkina Faso was commendable. However, this required the setting up of a national preventative mechanism within a year. Three and half years had gone by and the mechanism was still not there. Again, was there a timetable and were there plans to make this a reality?
On overcrowding, had alternatives to prison sentences been developed, such as working for the community, electronic tagging, among others? Pertaining to the death penalty, they knew that since 1988 the death penalty had not been applied. However, a report from a non-governmental organization published recently said that at least 10 people were on death row and had been so since December 2012. Could this allegation be confirmed by the delegation and, if this was true, why were they being kept on death row? Was it not time to abolish the death penalty, since it had not been used in so long?
Another Expert enquired, with regards to jurisdiction of the army’s court, whether this was only extended to military personnel for military acts? Why was there not a complete abolition of the death penalty? On the issue of oversight bodies in charge of inspecting places of deprivation of liberty, whose task was it to establish if torture or ill-treatment was occurring. There was the National Human Rights Commission; however, investigations were not carried out by it because of a lack of resources, according to the Commission. Why could the National Human Rights Commission not be the National Preventative Mechanism?
It was indicated in the report that the conditions in prisons were not very satisfactory, noted an Expert. A lawyer could not intervene at the stage of a police investigation. If there could be no lawyer in the investigation stage, at which point in the pre-trial stage could there be a lawyer and if they could not, were these people at risk? Was there protection available at the pre-trial stage?
It was understood that there was a large number of deaths in custody, according to reports from non-governmental organizations. Could more information be given about this?
On witches and elderly women confined in government-run facilities, what was being done to provide them with their rights and to overcome this problem?
Another Expert said that a Universal Periodic Review recommendation on the independence of the judiciary had been rejected and it was not known why. What did the Government believe about the independence of the judiciary?
CLAUDIO GROSSMAN, Committee Chairperson, enquired about the status of the draft bill on torture. When would it be ready? Note was taken that overcrowding had been reduced but human rights activists estimated that two to four inmates died every week due to poor conditions. Was this correct and what was being done to address this situation? On trafficking, in 2011, 13 suspected traffickers were arrested and three of these were convicted. Was there also data on victims of trafficking, other than children? On complaints, had acceptance of Article 22 of the Convention been considered?
More information was requested about dedicated patrol units on the issue of female genital mutilation; witchcraft and what was being done to reintegrate individuals into their community; and regarding child labour in mines.
What was the regime of solitary confinement? Was it allowed for juveniles or persons with disabilities?
ABDOULAYE GAYE, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for the report of Burkina Faso, referred to cases of a person who had committed an act of torture but was not a national of Burkina Faso. If there was no extradition, there was an obligation to know how this person would be prosecuted. On female genital mutilation, significant effort was being made by Burkina Faso to remedy the issue, but it was not clear whether there was a law that specifically criminalized it. Could this be confirmed? On the phenomenon of lynching, could the delegation comment on this?
SATYABHOOSUN GUPT DOMAH, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for the report of Burkina Faso, said information on lynching seemed to show the tip of the iceberg. The legal and judicial system had not been attended to, to the extent that police officers were happy to surrender their powers to private individuals. Was this being addressed?
Responses by the Delegation
Responding to these questions and comments and others, the delegation of Burkina Faso thanked the Committee for the questions put forth, which had been taken note of. Some members of the Committee had welcomed efforts made by Burkina Faso in the prevention of torture. Unlike other countries, it did not have immense natural resources and only had its brave men and women that were helping the country emerge from the situation in which it found itself.
As far as the answers were concerned, on the issue of the draft bill on the prevention of torture and the punishment for torture, as set out in the report, Burkina Faso remained aware of efforts that needed to be made to bring domestic law into line with international standards, and in particular those standards that stemmed from the Convention against Torture. The bill was part of all the efforts of the Government to do this. The time taken, or delay, in adopting this law, far from being a lack of will on behalf of the Government, was to involve as much as possible all stakeholders, including civil society. The bill, it was hoped, would be adopted by the National Assembly at its first sitting in 2014. Each State had been given the freedom to choose the format that best met the power that they wished the National Prevention Mechanism to have, and Burkina Faso had chosen a National Observatory.
With regards to medical examination during police custody at any moment, the prosecutor, upon the request of family members, could appoint the doctor who would examine the person. Any complaint of an act of torture by a police officer was subject to a preliminary enquiry. If responsibility was established, the officer would be subject to criminal proceedings.
Concerning the National Human Rights Commission, created in 2001, it had at the time been deemed not to be in conformity with the Paris Principles. To make it more credible, Burkina Faso in 2009 had adopted a law to revamp it to be in conformity with the Paris Principles. It was strongly hoped that in 2014 an autonomous budget would be set up and made available to the Commission. A second difficulty was linked to the fact that the members should not really be involved in the elections. However the law did enable them to be involved in the elections without standing for the elections, which was deemed not in conformity with the Paris Principles, and this would be reviewed in future. The powers of the Commission included visits to places of detention and investigating incidents. However, these investigations could not have to do with files that were covered by national security, among others.
On involvement of civil society organizations in the preparation of the report, the report was put together through an inclusive and participatory mechanism. Civil society organizations provided reports themselves or took part in the national validation process.
Regarding the law on organized crime, the law was adopted in a context in which criminalization was on the rise. Serious injuries, rapes, and massive disruptions affecting public and private property had been occurring, which had to be countered by rapidly repressing the phenomenon through the adoption of a law. Acts of organized crime were threats characterized by weapons and violence against persons, among others.
Burkina Faso was traditionally a host country for refugees. Within the country, the law 042 of 2008 on the status of refugees defined the notion of a refugee. The competent structure to manage refugee flows and mechanisms to determine refugee status was the National Commission for Refugees. To date, members of the Appeals Committee had been appointed and set up. Appeal sessions had been scheduled but sadly had not yet taken place. Status had been granted in prima facie to 50,000 persons, including 30,000 refugees from Mali. A planned response to cope with the influx of refugees from Mali had been set up by the Government. Schools had been built to host refugee children. In cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund, several birth certificate issuing sessions had been organized.
There was a law with procedures for the protection of the person involved in extradition. If an extradition request was rejected, this was the final sentence. As to expulsion, this was an administrative measure that could be the subject of remedy of abuse of power and a decision could be appealed. A foreigner who might have committed acts of torture and may reside in Burkina Faso could be extradited to another State.
On training in relation to the Convention against Torture, the training plan had brought about a notable change in the behaviour of staff receiving training, as shown by ad-hoc assessments after training. A real impact assessment of training was planned for the future. Regarding the manual for the police forces, with the Danish Human Rights Institute’s support, the manual was being prepared with the police, and this should be completed very soon.
On the situation of overcrowding in prisons, in addition to the building of 14 new facilities, a number of measures were being considered. Regular visits were organised by the judiciary and these were unannounced visits. Separation of children occurred in all prisons. To combat trafficking in persons, Law 029 had been adopted in 2008. A bilateral agreement to combat child trafficking had been concluded between the First Ladies of Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire.
On corporal punishment, national legislation specifically forbade this. On female genital mutilation, in view of the fact that excision was extremely dangerous for the further development of girls, normative and institutional measures had been taken and a special National Committee had been set up to combat the practice of excision.
On violence against women and the exclusion of women accused of witchcraft, this was of major concern and awareness raising was carried out in this regard. Women that had been accused of witchcraft were the subject of a special theme at the Economic and Social Council and all Ministries concerned were invited so that recommendations that came out of the session could make it possible to identify approaches to the problem. Some women had been reintegrated into their social environment. Forced marriage was forbidden in the criminal code. A draft law was initiated on violence against women and had gone to the Government for assessment.
On the protection of human rights defenders, defenders benefitted from a lot of support in Burkina Faso. The Ministry of Human Rights and Civic Promotion was doing a lot of work with human rights defenders; 209 civil society organizations were on a list at the Ministry of Human Rights and were working hand in glove with the Ministry.
Regarding the code of conduct of the police, the police officer responsible if special care was required by a person had to call upon medical personnel or take measures to help the person requiring this attention. A subordinate had to respect the authority except in the case where an order was clearly illicit. If the superior maintained the order then the subordinate had to refer to the first authority above the person issuing the order and note had to be taken of this opposition.
Exceptional circumstances were those during which the State found itself in a situation described as a crisis when it could not ensure safeguards except by not fulfilling certain legal obligations governing their actions in normal situations. Such foreseen situations were a state of emergency or siege. None of these situations could or may be invoked to justify whatever torture that had taken place, including inhuman, cruel or degrading treatment.
Burkina Faso was very much attached to the power it had through the provision of Article 22 of the Convention against Torture. It was fully aware of the importance of this instrument to combat torture and reserved the right to assess whether it wished to make this declaration of competence. On abolition of the death penalty, it had acceded to the moratorium in 2007 and there had been no executions in recent years. However, provisions for the death penalty still existed in text and could be applied or implemented. National talks had been held in 2011 to arrive at some changes on the abolition of the death penalty but had not reached consensus. Consultations would continue.
With regards to the submission of the report under the obligations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in cooperation with treaty bodies, Burkina Faso had made efforts to remedy the lateness of the preparation of the reports due under the human rights treaty bodies.
Regarding statelessness, Burkina Faso at its latest Universal Periodic Review accepted the recommendation of the accession to the 1960 Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons and would take measures to that effect.
Regarding the Norbert Zongo case, the case file was dealt with by a competent examining magistrate in a public fashion who rejected the case in 2006. The legal standards and the legal system in force provided for any person the right to ensure that his rights were protected. Given that all domestic remedies were exhausted, the rights-holder of the journalist and his colleagues through a communication of complaint had in 2011 seized the African Court for Human Rights. The Government had striven to carry out action to give a follow-up to a diagnosis that the justice system was not functioning properly. In 2011 it had adopted a national justice policy to strengthen the role of the justice system in the rule of law and within society, to make the system a key component democratic construction and Burkina Faso’s development. Despite efforts made, difficulties remained. There was the lack of material and human resources, the insufficiency and mismatching of the law. However, all efforts would be made to ensure justice met the needs of the population.
Further Questions by Committee Experts
ABDOULAYE GAYE, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for the report of Burkina Faso, said that a significant aspect which was underscored from the outset was the idea that countries were not all in the same situation and that Burkina Faso was a country like other countries deemed to be underdeveloped, with limited means at its disposal and it was understood that it might undergo difficulties in implementing instruments such at the Convention against Torture. However, it was noted that a significant effort was made to respond in good faith to all points set out yesterday. It was believed that the very first step that had to be taken to give effect to the Convention was to define and criminalize torture.
States were sovereign as to what prison sentence they could attach to acts of torture or any crime. The problem was that torture was particularly stigmatized in the international community and was deemed to be a particularly serious act. Therefore the minimum prison sentence should reflect the gravity of the crime and one year was deemed insufficient by the Rapporteur.
Concerning the prevention of torture, it was recalled that acts of torture were often committed during the police custody stage when the person was on his or her own with public security officials. Relatives had to be informed, and there had to be access to a lawyer and a doctor. Could a detainee ask for a medical examination to take place and even choose the doctor? It would be much safer if the code explicitly stipulated that the detained person was entitled to inform his or her relatives from the beginning.
On the National Human Rights Commission, the answer provided by the Committee prompted another question. What powers did it have? It had been said that it had a right to visit detention centres and carry out investigations but was it empowered to make recommendations afterwards?
Moving onto orders issued by a superior, the order to torture could not bring about the obedience of the enforcement personnel. A slight issue had been raised. What happened in the follow-up of the events if an officer refused to comply with such an order, in terms of career? There was the chance that the superior officers may want to retaliate and therefore promotion prospects could be jeopardised.
Regarding extradition and expulsion issues, a question had been put yesterday which had not been answered with regards to appeal on the grounds of abuse of power. Did appealing have a suspending effect?
With regards to refugees, it had been said that 50,000 persons had obtained refugee status of which 30,000 were Malian refugees. Sometimes refugee status was denied. How many applications for refugee status had been received and how many had been denied?
SATYABHOOSUN GUPT DOMAH, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for the report of Burkina Faso, was impressed by the sincere way in which the information had been provided in the report. It had to be pointed out however, that the Committee was here to make sure that all these good intentions actually all yielded results. The Convention did not require a lot of resources for its implementation.
It was important to provide courses to the people who really needed them. With regards to an institute for the training of judges and officers and members of the judiciary, if there was no such institute, was there cooperation with another country to raise the level of the education imparted to these persons?
It had also been asked whether there was a regime for the protection of witnesses. This was an important question that should be replied to. On road accidents involving children, why was it that there were so many children injured on the road network of Burkina Faso. Was this deemed abnormal and how would this be addressed?
An Expert enquired as to who would investigate a case of torture that had taken place in military zones in circumstances where the security of the State had been deemed to be at stake.
Another Expert raised the question of what the jurisdictional scope of the army was and what the competence of military courts was to try acts which were criminal and were committed by non-military staff or people.
A lot had been said about the National Human Rights Commission. There had also been information on the setting up of the National Observatory for the Prevention of Torture, which would be the national mechanism for the prevention of torture. Would there thus be two mechanisms? Was this a plan of action? Both of these institutes would need financial autonomy.
A question was also raised by an Expert on the collaboration with civil society organizations and human rights defenders groups, perhaps one of the most important resources in a society. On reprisals against human rights defenders, had a discussion on avoiding these sorts of conflicts between the State and civil society been held?
An Expert had seen that after the military mutinies in 2011 and the crisis, there had been a number of cases brought against members of the security forces for alleged security attacks against women. Was there an update on these cases?
Another Expert recalled a specific question put yesterday on the matter of the behaviour of the judges’ union that complained about the intervention of the Ministry of Justice in their own affairs, tantamount to violation of their independence and rejection of the relevant Universal Periodic Review recommendation.
CLAUDIO GROSSMAN, Committee Chairperson, said the Committee valued Burkina Faso’s effective abolition of the death penalty. The number of detainees per prison officer was also valued. Six prisoners had been said to have died from illness in 2012. There was conflicting information that there were two to four deaths per week. Did the delegation agree with this?
On the issue of the creation of a toll-free number to denounce actions of corruption, what was the experience with that? Had there been success?
Further Responses by the Delegation
The delegation of Burkina Faso, in additional responses to questions by Committee Experts, said that some questions had been put which had already been answered. With regards to prison sentences for torture ranging from one year to life sentence, acts of torture were gradual and some were worse than others. For some acts of torture a one year sentence was deemed fitting and the country was sovereign and free to organise the range of sentences handed down. Sentencing would depend on gravity of the act and the conviction of the judge.
With regards to police custody, the doctor could intervene at any point of the police custody if the prosecutor asked for this and if the detainee requested it. As far as the law was concerned, this had been criticised several times. The code for criminal proceedings was being reviewed. The issue of confidentiality had not been raised and would be later. The National Human Rights Commission could make recommendations, which in fact was its main power. There was no specific programme for witness protection but there was a mechanism to anonymously report acts of torture which could trigger an investigation.
There was surprise to hear Experts say that to implement the Convention against Torture did not require resources. To inform persons across the territory, resources were needed, for transport, schools, or to visit places of detention, for example. Magistrates, judicial and security officials and civil society organizations, among others, had indeed been trained to have ownership of the contents of the Convention and to pass on the information to populations with which they were in contact. There was indeed a judicial training school, which also received students from other States.
On traffic accidents involving children, there was no awareness of the number of victims being a high figure. If the perpetrator of the accident was insured then the child would be insured and, if not, then there would perhaps be resort to social action to compensate. Awareness-raising on the issue was taking place.
On cooperation with civil society, the delegation was surprised to hear comments on the matter. Today, civil society organizations did express themselves loudly and clearly and annual discussions were held with them and they had become strong partners of the State.
Women victims of domestic violence were cared for and were extremely well informed about what domestic violence consisted of and about the lodging of complaints. Efforts to cover the needs of street children were underway and for professional training to ensure that children in the streets could be picked up and trained on health, hygiene, and find their way towards a job.
The delegation was surprised on the statistics of two to four deaths per week in prisons, a very high number, and they did not know where this came from.
CLAUDIO GROSSMAN, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for its responses and for the provision of elements that would be considered by the Committee as a whole. The Committee would deliver concluding remarks and observations with the purpose of assisting the country with the collective experience of the Committee in terms of complying with the Convention.
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