GENEVA (6 December 2019) – The UN Committee Against Torture has published its findings on the rights record of countries it examined during its latest session from 11 November to 6 December 2019: Burkina Faso, Cyprus, Latvia, Niger, Portugal and Uzbekistan.
The countries above are among the 169 States parties to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and are required to undergo regular reviews by the Committee of 10 independent international experts.
The findings, officially termed concluding observations, contain positive aspects of the respective State’s implementation of the Convention, as well as main matters of concern and recommendations. The findings are now available online on the session webpage. Some of the key findings include:
Burkina Faso: The Committee welcomes positive reforms in criminal law, but remains concerned about conditions of detention, impunity, impacts of counterterrorism measures on human rights, and actions by members of self-defence militias (Koglweogo) who are reportedly carrying out illegal arrests, detention, murder and acts of torture. The Committee encourages the State to speed up the establishment of a national preventive mechanism of torture with the appropriate human and financial resources.
Cyprus: The Committee praises amendments to the legal rights of detainees and prisoners, but remains concerned about reports of ill-treatment and sexual abuse of detainees by police officials, and urges effective measures, inter alia, to ensure the implementation of fundamental legal safeguards. The Committee is also concerned about failures to identify victims of torture among asylum seekers and migrants, which means that they do not get medical examination and treatment but rather risk being detained and possibly deported, with the risk of being tortured again.
Latvia: The Committee commends progress on the implementation of the Citizenship Law and improvements to the asylum legal framework, prison condition norms and definition of torture. It remains, however, concerned about pre-trial detention in police stations, conditions in old correctional facilities, the inadequate implementation of the criminal provision of torture, and lack of: prosecution of the crime of human trafficking, independence of complaint systems, and a national preventive mechanism of torture.
Niger: The Committee welcomes improved prison laws, efforts to fight trafficking, and the prohibition of female genital mutilation. It is, however, concerned about the poor conditions in detention centres, criminalization of immigration, harmful traditional practice of Wahaya, and impacts of the state of emergency and fight against terrorism on human rights. It recommends accelerating the amendment of the Penal Code to criminalize torture, ensuring the prohibition of incommunicado detention, and establishing a national preventive mechanism of torture with necessary resources.
Portugal: The Committee welcomes legislative changes and policies adopted in relation to the Convention. It is, however, concerned about allegations of excessive use of force and other political abuse against persons belonging to racial and ethnic groups, conditions of detention, and overcrowding of penitentiary institutions. The Committee recommends the State ensures full operational autonomy of the national prevention mechanism of torture with the necessary human and financial resources.
Uzbekistan: The Committee commends a variety of legal and policy changes since 2016, particularly the release of a number of human rights defenders and journalists from detention, including many named in the Committee’s 2013 concluding observations. It, however, remains concerned by reports of widespread, routine torture, lack of effective investigations, low numbers of prosecutions, and reported obstacles to victims obtaining redress. Further, while welcoming the closure of the Jaslyk prison as a federal detention facility, the Committee is concerned it has been transferred to the control of regional authorities, and recommends the prison be permanently closed, no longer used for any detention by any authority in the State.
The Committee will present the findings in a press conference today in Press Room 1 of Palais des Nations at 12h30. Committee members will be available after the press conference for interviews.
The Committee Against Torture will next meet from 20 April to 15 May 2020 to review Cuba, Iceland, Kenya, Montenegro, United Arab Emirates and Uruguay. More information is available on the webpage for the upcoming session.
The Committee Against Torture monitors States parties’ adherence to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which to date has 169 States parties. The Committee is made up of 10 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Committee’s concluding observations are an independent assessment of States’ compliance with their human rights obligations under the treaty.
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