GENEVA (3 December 2021) – The UN Committee against Torture (CAT) on Friday published findings on the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Nigeria, Serbia and Sweden, the six States parties that it reviewed during its latest session.
The findings contain positive aspects of each country's implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as well as the Committee's main concerns and recommendations. Some of the key highlights include:
The Committee was concerned about the insufficient progress in the investigation of the alleged torture, ill-treatment, and excessive use of force that occurred during the socio-political crisis of 2019-2020. The Committee called on Bolivia to promptly investigate all these acts, and prosecute and punish all perpetrators.
The Committee also expressed its serious concern at the lack of independence and autonomy of the Judiciary and the Public Prosecutor's Office. The Committee urged the State party to carry out an urgent reform of the justice system to ensure the professionalism and independence of all judges and prosecutors.
The Committee remained deeply concerned about the allegations of torture and ill treatment of people deprived of their liberty, in particular by law enforcement officials while in police custody. It called on Kyrgyzstan to conduct prompt and independent investigations into all such allegations, including against LGBT people.
Concerning the large number of detainees unlawfully held in temporary detention facilities throughout the entire pre-trial period, the Committee underlined that prolonged detention of a person in temporary holding facilities might amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. It requested the State party to ensure that the period of pre-trial custody does not exceed 48 hours.
The CAT appreciated the recent legislative developments in Lithuania, which provide additional legal safeguards for detainees and people subjected to involuntary hospitalization and medical treatment in psychiatric institutions. It also noted the measures taken by the State party to prohibit corporal punishment of children.
The Committee observed that Lithuania was facing unprecedented challenges from an ongoing refugee and migrant crisis. It expressed concerns over the reported instances of collective expulsion of asylum-seekers and pushback operations at its borders. It called upon Lithuania to ensure access for all asylum-seekers to asylum procedures, as well as to ensure appropriate reception conditions in accommodation sites for refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants.
The Committee noted the State party’s steps taken to investigate allegations of torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and extrajudicial killings by the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force. It recommended the State party make the findings public and to prosecute those responsible and redress victims.
The Committee was further alarmed by allegations of ongoing sexual and gender-based violence in the state-run camps for internally displaced people, as well as by continued practice of female genital mutilation and the high rate of maternal mortality often resulting from rape. The Committee urged the State party to step up its efforts to combat all forms of sexual and gender-based violence, and protect internally displaced persons, especially women and girls.
The Committee expressed concern about the generalized impunity of police officers, prison staff and other state agents, given that most criminal complaints lodged against them were not investigated. It recommended that all complaints of torture and ill-treatment be promptly and independently investigated, that suspected perpetrators be immediately suspended from duty for the duration of the investigation and that all crimes of torture be punished.
To ensure that all suspects of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including high-ranking police officers, military personnel and political officials, are brought to justice, the Committee recommended that the State party either extradite the alleged perpetrators to a State with jurisdiction over the crime, or transfer them to an international criminal court, or prosecute them domestically.
With regard to the detention restrictions imposed by Sweden, including solitary confinement, the Committee recommended that restrictions on remand prisoners be used only as an exceptional measure on specific personal grounds and only when strictly necessary for the purposes of criminal investigation or order and security. It also called on the State party to abolish solitary confinement for minors.
The Committee also requested Sweden to guarantee that all foreign nationals at risk of deportation, including those from “safe countries of origin”, have access to fair procedures, and to ensure that all credibility assessments are undertaken in a non-arbitrary way by trained professionals.
The above Concluding Observations of the Committee are now available online on the session webpage.
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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 173 State 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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